Monday, January 18, 2010

little BIG Men

As you may or may not remember, I discarded halflings in one of my first setting creation posts. However a few days ago an idea, how to detolkienize halflings, suddenly popped up in my head.

Think halflings = Mongolians.

Stupid? Perhaps, but take look for yourselves:

You should know that me and my friends have a soft spot for everything Mongolian and that's why I think this somewhat ridiculous idea might click with them just fine.

Anyway. I was toying with this concept for some time asking myself two questions:

1. Do I really want halflings in my setting?
2. How small would a halfling bow have to be, in order to make it useful from horseback and not cramp the style of eastern-archer-horseman-barbarian?

Few minutes ago I read Zak's post, which reminded me that sometimes you have to just let the creative juices flow and make up explanations later...

So yeah, there are nomadic, horse riding halflings in my setting.

Here are some facts about them:
  • they are bigger than the halflings of the Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk
  • they don't have hairy feet, nor do they have curly hair
  • they are proficient riders and archers (in my world, they are the inventors of composite bows)
  • they use war ponies that are much tougher than normal horses
  • I picture their culture as somewhat similar to Scythian
  • they tattoo their bodies in colorful and elaborate ways in order to distinguish their social position
  • they are divided into many clans and tribes that are constantly waging war against each other
  • their religion is an animistic one
  • they do not have written language and their culture is entirely based around oral tradition
  • they have a brutal law and are not a race of chubby morons
  • they are not called halflings (not even by other races), they refer to themselves as Zotharians ( but we say one Zohar)
  • they inhabit lands far enough that I don't have to worry about them on a day to day basis
Enough said.

I might not use it at all, but it's here in case anyone wants to play one.


  1. May I suggest you use 'Zothar' as the singular in place of 'Zohar', as the Zohar is the religious/mystical text of the Kabbalah.

    I am partly Turkish, and have a strong tie to Mongolian culture and folkways as a result, and I think that your treatment of the former halflings in this fashion is respectful in that fantasy sort of way of barrowing, s we all do, so don't sweat your decision.

    Best, :)

  2. It's not very old-school, but your halflings are remarkably similar to my favorite published halflings — the ones in the Eberron campaign setting. They are not chubby morons with hairy feet, but a tribal society of badass nomads. They tattoo themselves heavily, and have a very animistic religion. In fact, the major difference is that while your halflings ride "tougher than normal horses", the Eberron halflings ride (essentially) dinosaurs. Which sounds a little silly at first, I'll admit. But in a world with dragons and beholders, dinosaurs barely register on the weird scale.

  3. @Timeshadows - indeed, I've been reading about the Kabbalah in recent days, perhaps it was my subconscious decision to use the word "zohar". I have no problem in changing it to Zothar (perhaps it sounds better, now that I think of it).

  4. @Blue - now that you said it, I notice the resemblance. I only flipped through Eberron and barely noticed the halflings. In my opinion it's Dark Sun has the best halflings!

  5. WONDERFUL! Not only will I be getting crap from people I know about being geeky, retarded and playing D&D... I now get to be a Mongoł as well! *rejoice* Let's do this!

    (this is Katja, btw)

  6. Once I ran an adventure set in Warhammer Fatnasy Rolpelay's Old World, where I have prestented goblins as Tatars. You know, spiked helmets, furs, chainmails, reflex bows, sabres and of course wolves!