a new take on the halfling

2014-12-12 (updated : 2014.12.12)

I'm adapting the Dungeons and Dragons game "Labyrinth Lord" to my own tastes, and decided to redo the halfling.

One tricky bit is stripping the tiresome multiplicity of sentient demi-humans from the game (last night it was Brownies and P'xies). This has involved a complete reboot of the Halfling. Note that this uses text from several sources, including Labyrinth Lord, Dungeon World, Jonathan Becker's superb "B/X Blackrazor" blog (to which I am particularly indebted), and Gavin Norman's "Theorems and Thaumaturgy", the "Companion Expansion" by Barrataria Games, "Playing D&D with porn stars", and other blogs and websites.

I decided to discard the absurd Mary Sue aspects of the "Hobbit" of Tolkein, and merging the goblin and gnome to make a semi-civilized race with less-than-jake attitudes towards personal property, law, and things like that. What I wanted was a nation of goblins that wandered into the daylight and developed some skill color.


Attribute adj.: AGL +1, STR -1,
CHA +1, WIL -1

Size: Small

Base speed: 25’

Halflings, hobgoblins, hobbits, gnomes-known by many names they are small fey humanoids known for their stealth, cunning, and eccentric personalities. Like the elves and erdei, they are clearly non-human in appearance, outlook, and ability. Like goblins, halflings are short-lived, garrulous, mischievous, and unconcerned with the passing of the ages or the passing of laws. Unlike goblins, halflings are kind-hearted, charismatic, and loyal to one another (if easily misunderstood by other races). Goblins always sneeringly refers to halflings as hobgoblins.

Halflings stand between 100 and 125cm tall. They are skinny, and rarely weigh more than 25 kilograms. Their skin ranges in color from rosy to light green, and though only one in two has any cranial hair, that hair grows thick, course, fast-growing, and varies through the earth tones in color. This includes the rust red of garnet and even dusty blues of certain shale. Halfling eyes are sometimes slitted and are often glittering black or blue although more natural eye colors are also known. Some halflings have pronounced lower canines, wide-set or narrow eyes, an enormous nose, bat-like ears, claw-like fingernails, or even vestigial horns. Many have none of these features.

Language: Halflings speak halfian, common, dwarvel, and goblish. 50% speak passable elvese, the rest gnolltalk.

Names: Halflings consider names as semi-permanent aliases at best, and one usually goes by a different name in each non-halfling community he or she visits. When among their own kind, halflings usually stick to the names given by their parents.

Vision: A halfling can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. As distant cousins of goblins, halflings have black and white darkvision to 3 meters when underground.

Halfling abilities

Pick pockets: A halfling may pick the pocket of a creature of fewer or equal level/hit dice than the halfling without error. A creature of greater level/hit dice will automatically fail. The GM is need not tell the halfling beforehand what level the target is!

Climb walls: Attempting to climb sheer surfaces under abnormally hideous conditions (blizzards and magical wind storms, etc.) may require a climb roll on d00. At 1st level the success rate is 85%. This goes up at 1% per level until 99%.

Move silently: A halfling may move silently at will when encumbered by less than 600 coins weight (i.e. the equivalent of wearing metal armor). This skill progresses as climb walls.

Level 4: A halfling begins, with a 70% probability, to develop the following skills. See the table at right for these skills’ progression.

Open locks, hide in shadows, search for traps, or remove (small) traps: requires one turn per effort (during which time wandering monsters may well be encountered). If a halfling attempts to do so at a faster rate (like 1-2 rounds), require the skill roll.

Read languages: A halfling can read languages (any) not including magical writings. If the roll does not succeed, the halfling may not try to read that particular piece of writing until he reaches a higher level of experience.

Level 7: Halflings may cast one spell from the following lists once per day, subject to the same rules as witches: Charm person, Color spray, Dancing lights, Detect magic, Detect poison, Mending

Level 10: A halfling who merely passes within 5 feet of a secret or concealed door is entitled to a search check as though actively looking for it.

Deception: the master’s disciplined ear, study of language, and control over his own body movement allows the halfling to: disguise himself; mimic speech and mannerisms; and even throw his voice (as the 1st level spell ventriloquism). The GM should roll whenever the halfling attempts to deceive someone; the halfling will always believe his deception has succeeded. If the roll fails, the halfling’s opponent will not be deceived.

Level 14: is when a halfling reaches Master level, with the following abilities.

Craft device: The ability to construct elaborate traps of mechanical nature. Cost and time to construct will need to be decided by the GM. Failing the roll by more than 10% means the device was not constructed correctly, and all time, money, and components are wasted. Failing the roll by 10% or less indicated the halfling successfully created the device but falls victim to the device as he sets off the trap!

Halfling level progression

XP Level Hit points Deceive Skills
0 1 6 hp - -
1,250 2 +1d6 - -
2,500 3 +1d6 - -
5,000 4 +1d6 - 70%
10,000 5 +1d6 - 70%
20,000 6 +1d6 - 75%
50,000 7 +1d6 - 75%
110,000 8 +1d6 - 80%
220,000 9 +1d6 - 80% ‡
380,000 10 +2 hp* 2 85%
540,000 11 +2 hp* 2 85%
700,000 12 +2 hp* 2 90%
860,000 13 +2 hp* 3 90%
1,020,000 14 +2 hp* 3 95%
1,180,000 15 +2 hp* 3 95%
1,340,000 16 +2 hp* 4 97%
1,500,000 17 +2 hp* 4 97%
1,660,000 18 +2 hp* 4 98%
1,780,000 19 +2 hp* 4 98%
1,980,000 20 +2 hp* 5 99%

*hit point modifiers from strength are ignored

‡Read languages caps at 80%.


Small: As a Small creature, a halfling gains a +2 bonus to Armor Class, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls. Halflings use smaller weapons such as short bows, short swords, and scimitars. Their lifting and carrying limits are three-quarters of those of medium-sized characters. Halflings may use leather armor or a simple chain mail tunic.

+1 bonus on attack rolls with thrown weapons and slings.

+4 bonus to Armor Class against monsters of the giant type (such as ogres, trolls, and hill giants): Halflings learn tricks that previous generations developed in their battles with giants.


The name "gnome" is usually applied (by non-halflings) to a scattered population of halflings who prefer to live in more permanent towns. In fact, all halflings call themselves "gnome" but outsiders disregard their preferences. This more settled variety of halfling is found in remote locations and such as desert valleys, the frigid arctic, or high alpine climates. Slightly more diminutive than most halflings, gnomes of both genders stand around 1m tall and are of a tough, wiry build.

Gnomish wizards have a strong tendency to make use of their natural skills with illusion to become master illusionists. Much of the magic they have developed is known only to them. It's been rumored that they routinely hide entire villages from outsiders.

Arctic gnomes have large noses and eyes that resemble glacial ice in hue and depth. They have an innate connection to magic of the cold, and tend to live in small villages in pine forests and frosty caves. They tend to keep wolves and other boreal beasts in their villages, training them to act as pets and hunting companions.

Desert gnomes live in isolation far from civilizations in their own tribes. Desert gnomes are known for their vast catalogue of rare beasts found in climates much too unforgiving for other races, and they are experts at befriending them. With deep red skin, long ears, and narrow dark eyes, they more closely resemble their goblin cousins than do other halflings.

Desert gnomes have learned to exist through symbiosis with other desert species such as termites (using the termite nests and channels to store and distribute water) and giant desert arthropods. Desert gnomes are known for their hospitality among travelers; stumbling among a desert gnome settlement while crossing a desert is a godsend.


Redcaps are a twisted population of halfling that live in the most impenetrable of Sppang's old-growth forests. Eons of privation, isolation, and sharing a territory with the likes of trolls and ghouls have eliminated the compassion and hope from these groups, leaving a degenerate, desperate and resentful rump population that makes sport of cruelty and thinks nothing of killing. With pale skin, limpid eyes, and floppy red caps their appearance belies their nature.

Xnor syndicate

symbol of the Xnor syndicate

This is a band of gnomish master illusionists who have devoted their lives to a terrible mission, rumored to be the construction of an "Xnor gate". No outsider knows the details, but all encounters with a member of the Xnor syndicate are marked by considerable chaos. Xnor agents are willing to do whatever it takes to bring about their ends: if this means destabilizing a peaceful kingdom, stealing a priceless artifact, or ending a species - so be it. Armed with the skills of 5th level wizards, a mysterious intelligence network, and resourceful servants and allies, the Xnor syndicate is both competent and formidable.

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Gano Cafe is a great alternative to regular coffee and decaffeinated.

Made from Brazilian coffee beans and Ganoderma.

Susan Eichler
Lind, WA USA
2005.02.04 00:00:00

Thanks for the tip!


very entertaining

I enjoyed reading your comments and getting to know you! Linked to your site via caffeine addiction!

2003.05.03 00:00:00

Good, good. That's certainly a response that's closer to the spirit in which I wrote the thing than was the call I had from the CBC about this page. The fellow I spoke with had an aggrieved tone as if I weren't taking 'what happened to me' WRT caffiene addiction seriously.


Caffeine Addiction!!!

Hi Michael,

I just read your article on Caffeine Addiction. I know what you're going through! Since 1989 I've been addicted to soft drinks. Especially Coke or Pepsi. I'm also addicted to chocolate! I remember when I first starting drinking soda. It was when my Mom and I moved out of my Dad's house. I was a senior in high school and I almost died that year from other health related isssues. When I was growing up; we were only allowed to have Soda at the holidays. Usually Christmas eve when we would have a big party.

Anway, in our new place my Mom started buying Soda on a regular basis. I remember that first week of her doing so. (Previously I was addicted to tea) I couldn't find a bottle opener (when we still had glass bottles) so I was trying to open it with a fork! I scraped my knuckles on the cap. I was shaking and nervous and wanted that dang soda!!! I guess it didn't take me long to be addicted to it. Now I have to have 3 servings a day plus chocolate.

I'm not even supposed to have caffeine because of my medicine.

I attempted to quite several times, but of course I had the usual headache. Then I would give up and grab another Soda. Soda is getting so expensive now. One six pack of 24oz bottles is more than six dollars a pack! A 2LTR is like 1:49 and cans 3.00 dollars. I know you're canadian so that doesn't mean anything to you :)

Canadians are great as far as I'm concerned. One of my best friends is from Ontario and my ancestors came from Quebec. I'm going to pray tonight for all those who are addicted to caffeine!!! Take care!

2003.08.11 00:00:00

Hi, Andrea. I just got the message you left on my site. Thanks for your comments. Your struggle sounds like trouble.... I wish you well.

I'm in the midst of my second attempt at going without coffee. It's been six weeks, and I'm down to about 3-6 cups a week (I think I'm stuck).

And non-Canadians are great as far as I'm concerned! All of my ancestors were non-Canadians at some point.



ha! Had such a good laugh - certainly enjoyed the smiles.

I have not had caffeinated coffee or soda for 8 days now. Prior to that I guzzled a pot of coffee and maybe 4 diet sodas a day. I'd become rather vain about how easily I had quit when I happened to look at the label on the Excedrin bottle (I've been taking quite a few this past week - smile)and noticed there were 65 mg. of caffeine per tablet. Hmmmm.... so much for having kicked the habit...

Thanks for posting such a funny biography snippet!

Glad you liked it, Michelle. My first attempt to quit is buried in my journal in mid 2000. It's pretty embarrassing, what with the swearing and the whining.

My most recent attempt to quit has ended in failure once again. But I'm down to one cup of coffee a day, and I'm only using half as much coffee per cup as I was (in all, I'm probably down to 1/4 of where I was two months ago). Now I know why my brother still smokes after all this time!

michelle evans
2003.08.22 00:00:00

Good luck to you. Eight days is a great start, tablets or no. 8)

P.S. Michelle: there was something puzzling me about your comment. You'd put the subject as 'mrs.' Then I realized that you'd read my label for the 'Subject' (which I called 'Title') as being 'your title'. I've changed the subject label to 'Subject'. ;)


i love soda

i am addicted to soda i couldnt give it up, if i dont have soda i refuse to do anything and i'm a bi*ch untill i get some, thats why i always have a coke or sprite with me

2003.10.08 00:00:00



Caffiene addiction

I cant live without my pepsis and frappucionos!!!i have to have a coke w every meal, and some sort of coffee every morning, if not i fell like sh*t the rest of the day! and i am so young, barely 18, is there something ot stop this madness! i dont know how many times ive tried quittin, but its so hard!!!:(

2003.10.13 00:00:00

Why not try slowing down, rather than quitting outright. I decided that I enjoy coffee too much to quit it outright, but I've cut my caffeine consumption to 1/3 of the levels of the Spring.



i am addicted 2 caffien badly..i have over doesed 2 tiems and now goign thru withdrawel i tried quitting but i need TO B IN OVEEEEEEEEEEERDRIVE..im really saaaaa..spazing right now i need it so bad..but soo i am getting htis stuff that has 100mgs of caffien evey oz and it has 24oz in all

2003.12.08 00:00:00

Holy moly, it's even affecting your spelling?


Caffeine Addiction

I was just told today by a ?!reputable?! dr that the reason I feel so badly all the time is that I'm over caffienated or a gasp! caffeine addict. I personally feel that he just couldn't help me & this was the best he could come up with. But hey I'll give it a shot.Although I do agree with you that why give up all together soda,coffee,&tea if you really enjoy the taste.Out of all the addictive stimulants, you could do a h*ll of a lot worse then have coffee. Well I guess it's just h20 for awhile. But if I don't feel better, I'm going to smack the good dr over the head with my mr coffee pot.

B. Summers
2003.12.22 00:00:00

Heh! Don't expect to be able to quit 'cold turkey'. It took me a couple of weeks to wean myself off, and while I did it, I found the habit - not to mention just the simple the ritual of making and drinking it - such a loss that I started it again.


I've got 2 months clean from caffeine!

I am using the 12-step program to keep off the caffeine. I found it was the only way to stay clean. I had to come to the realization that my addiction was similar to that of any drug addict. The process is the same. The only difference is that it's socially acceptable & not life threatening, BUT it is a threat to sanity & sense of well-being. I'm working my 3rd step with my sponsor now. There is a lot more to lose if I relapse now. It takes more than just your own will power to quit... at least that's what I have found. I highly recommend quitting for anyone that desires a quality life & a full experience in everything they do!

2004.01.06 00:00:00

Doesn't the twelve-step program involve going around and apologizing to all of the people you've wronged in your past bingeing? How do you do that with coffee... Anyway, good luck, quitting is a bitch, I know too well.


I am addicted to soda

I am addicted to soda. When I see a Coke or Pepsi logo, I urge for soda. I want to stop, but I have no will power. I also drink soda as a "quick pick me up". Hrlp me stop! I drink 3-5 cans per day. I know it is bad, but how do I stop.

Diane Fritz
2004.01.08 00:00:00

Whew. Good luck, Diane!


Other thoughts

After reading all the other posts, a few comments:

1) Caffeine has a bitter taste. It is well known that some people enjoy bitter tastes more or less than others. Also, it is popular to combine bitter with sweet. (coffee with cake, coca-cola, etc). Barq's unique flavor comes from the caffeine. This is why caffeine free versions of popular sodas are not as satisfying.

2) Decaf coffee and tea contain significant quantities of caffeine. Herbal teas that say caffeine free contain no caffeine.

3) Sprite is the only caf-free soda that is a satisfying substitute for me. It has a very, very strong acidity that substitutes for the taste of caffeine. However, I now think it is etching my teeth (sob).

4) Someone PLEASE, PLEASE develop a non-drug food alternative to caffeine!

Rich E
2004.01.17 00:00:00

Thanks for your comments, Rich.


My beliefs about caffeine

I'm a caffeine addict as well, though for me the effects of caffeine are more serious than the addiction. I believe that most people (i.e. nearly every person in the US) is probably addicted to caffeine, but either doesn't know it,or doesn't care.

For me, and certainly for many others, it caffeine is a mood altering drug. One key factor that makes it more dangerous than other drugs is that the addict can't tell they are suffering bad effects. You know when you're drunk, you know when you're high, but you don't know when you are being angry, violent, or depressed as a result of caffeine -- at least, I can't tell. After the three-day let down period, I can sometimes figure it out. I can tell, though, that my fatigue level is increasing on a daily basis, and that I'm gradually developing a shorter and shorter temper.

Here are some of my beliefs. Some of these have been corroborated by research, some of them MIGHT be contradicted by research, and many need to be researched:

IB means I Believe. You decide if you believe it too.

IB a single cup of coffee contains too much caffeine. Cutting back to a single cup may improve your sleep a little, but you will still be under the effects of caffeine all the time.

IB most people don't know what it's like to feel normal, or get a good night's sleep.

IB caffeine is cumulative. Therefore, a single cup of decaf might not be "too much", but a single cup every day is too much

For a while, I could "control" my addiction with hot chocolate. Today, the caffeine in hot cocoa is too much for me. IB that the more an addict gets away from caffeine, the stronger it's effects will seem to him.

IB Caffiene is far too powerful a drug to be uncontrolled. If it were just coffee, that would be one thing, but now (IB) soft drink manufacturers, iced coffee makers, and others are intentionally increasing caffeine levels.

IB soft drink makers are trying to addict kids the way cigarette makers used to do, without any notice from the public. Barq's root beer has 'bite' -- the bite is caffeine. Sunkist Orange, all kinds of cocoa drinks, the cola drink in Lunchables, A&W cream soda, and many other drinks you would not suspect contain caffeine (chocolate and coffee drinks don't list it as ingredients)

Rich E
2004.01.17 00:00:00

Wow, Rich. That's quite a lot that you had to say.


My beliefs about caffeine (cont/d)

(These two posts are under 4000 characters combined, but was rejected as a single post)

Psuedophedrine and acetiminophen (Sinus Tylenol) helps me "come down" from caffeine (on the second day, sometimes the third). However, this could create an additional addictive behavior, so be cautious. Psuedophedrine is said to be chemically similar to caffeine

Some aspirin makers recently started saying their "aspirin" was more effective than other asprins. These "aspirin" products (and some non-aspirin products) contained caffeine. IB they were more effective because the headaches they "cured" were actually caffeine addiction headaches. These people would probably get a headache every day using this product.

IB most recurrent headaches are caffeine induced in most people.

IB caffeine is a performance enhancing drug, and it is a mood altering drug, and it is highly addictive, and therefore should carry a surgeon's general warning label, at the least.

IB my Air Force career was ended prematurely because of the effects of severe caffeine overuse. This was before I realized that I was overusing caffeine, and also before people recognized caffeine as a drug. Caffeine free sodas were not available at that time, because no one thought twice about caffiene.

IB that my current personality and behaviorial problems that I have at work and with individuals are the residual effects of caffeine addiction. I know that the conflicts become worse after several days of extremely light caffeine use (a single daily cup of cocoa).

I believe that the vast majority of American citizens (at least) are addicted to caffeine, and are under it's affects all the time. It is impossible to be sure what gains might be made if we could have a caffeine free society.

Rich E
2004.01.17 00:00:00



Addicted to caffine & need ADVICE

Hey, um i kno wthis might sound weird, but i drink ATLEAST one can of diet coke in a day if not 2 or 3 (<< yesterday i had 3), and then i NEED CHOCOLATES to function. Infact yesterday i found myself going through our cabinets lookings for chocolate, as I am overweight my mom no longer buys anything. So yesterday i ate a whole 12 piece pack of ferrero rocher, and this wasn't the first time. I feel as if i need the chocolate to function.. can you please help me and help me find a way to stop these urges!? I have random mood swings and everything and my parents just don't understand.. but i really think i need a way to quit as I am only 16 and I have been like this for a full year now

2004.06.19 00:00:00

See a doctor, young lady. Some crank with a website is not someone to whom you should be turning at such a time of crisis. And all the best with your efforts.


comments on your site

Hi Michael,

I typed in Pics of Vancouver in google.com and came across your site. I have enjoyed it immensely. I am hoping to move to Canada (from the U.S.)and I enjoyed reading your comments. Two things: I recommend City of Glass, a coffee-table pic book by Douglas Coupland. Also, I was wondering if you have seen the Canadian film "Speaking Parts." It was made 86-90..not sure, but very entrenched in the '80s. I did not see a review of it, but I would be curious to see your reactions. I love the film. Have a good one, Ben

Ben Schmeiser
2003.07.02 00:00:00

Thanks for the tips! The movie rings a bell, I'll have to watch for it.

An American moving to Canada; there's a switch. Good luck, and lemme know when your "welcome" is due.


rand()m quote

The human capacity to ignore inconvenient facts and avoid unpleasantness is immense

—John Walker, from the Hacker's Diet