View Full Version : RPG Rant: Racial Names [YouTube Link]

Tetsubo 57
2011-01-14, 09:47 AM
I rant about the lackluster names used by writers for the races in role-playing games.


2011-01-14, 10:32 AM
I agree with you, at least about most of the stuff.
Halflings are about "half" the height of humans and other medium races, but I agree that they wouldn't call themselves small, but the other races big. The same applies to the other half-races.
I don't think people are actually supposed to call themselves by the name of their class. A Barbarian and a Fighter would probably both be "warriors", and I think a Dread Necromancer would just call themselves a necromancer. Clerics and Archivists would both be "priests" etc.

2011-01-14, 10:47 AM
Agree - but I still think there's a place for the "half-x" naming.

I re-fluffed the orcs and half-orcs in my campaign to be two separate engineered species that had gone wild after their intial release: the orcs were the brute soldiers, and the half-orcs were the officer caste. Each had their own name: Oaakesh and Haarak (which happen to have some significant meaning in ancient Egyptian) - but humans tended to call the Haarak "half-orcs".

Similarly, I often call myself "British" to be neutral about my ethnicity, but I'll often also call myself "half-Celtic" or "half-English". I think where ethnicity is sometimes harder to notice, and where some sort of cool assumptions go with either ethnicity (in Hollywood terms at least, the English are posh and the Celts are romantic), some people tend to call themselves "half-x".

The "Half-x" term only works when a race is genuinely half and half. Halflings should have their own racial names (dependent on their languages - they're not a mono-culture, after all) - but new racial names for half-human races? Less necessary.

2011-01-14, 10:57 AM
Well, remember that Halfling is aparently the human name for them. And it does have a reason for it:

Halfling is another name for J. R. R. Tolkien's Hobbit and a gnome, which can be a fictional race sometimes found in fantasy novels and games. In many settings, they are similar to humans except about half the size. Dungeons & Dragons began using the name halfling as an alternative to hobbit for legal reasons.[citation needed]
Originally, "Halflin" was the Scots word hauflin, pre-dating The Hobbit and Dungeons & Dragons. It meant an awkward rustic teenager, who is neither man nor boy, and so half of both. Another word for halflin is "hobbledehoy" or "hobby". The word halfling was used by Shakespeare to mean a boy-sized man.
Some fantasy stories use halfling to describe a person born of a human parent and a parent of another race, often a human female and an elf. Terry Brooks describes characters such as Shea Ohmsford from his Shannara series as a halfling of elf-human parentage. This kind of character is elsewhere called a half-elf and is distinct from the common fantasy race known as halflings. In Jack Vance's Lyonesse series of novels, "halfling" is a generic term for beings such as fairies, trolls and ogres, who are composed of both magical and earthly substances.