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View Full Version : Rant: Halflings are NOT superfluous! Gnomes are.



Spore
2018-10-30, 12:17 AM
I had a discussion about Halflings about two years ago with my DM. He could not feasibly think of a reason why gnomes and halflings would be two distinct races in his setting. Gnomes would be either forest and mountain dwellers that are in tune with nature or technologically advanced. My player character at this point was a Halfling Paladin.

So he straight up came to me and said: Give me a reason to incorporate Halflings in my setting or you can keep everything you have on your sheet the way it is but you have to call yourself gnome. I proceeded to make Halflings somewhat diverse profiteers (Charisma bonus and all that) focussed on aquiring currency, influence on trading routes, who are fiercely determined when it comes to (humanoid) interaction. In the same vein, I made my character's father a corrupt merchant and my DM wrote a drug selling ring onto him.

The campaign died off due to a) the DM becoming tired of Pathfinder b) unsuccessful switch to 5e c) people moving away. But the question still stands really. And I am one that would turn the sentence "halflings are just the other flavor of small people" into "gnomes are actually superfluous".

Granted I am not versed in the fluff of most gnome variants but aren't they usually just either similar to really small dwarves (with similar roots in Germanic mythology to the point were elves, dwarves and gnomes are basically the same sort of creature in different outcroppings) or are there to justify a somewhat magepunkish setting in that they are suddenly - and mostly inexplicably - the inventor race. I say away with the gnomes. If you want to play a guy from the mountain tunnels of Whatchamacallit you go dwarf. If you want a small person, pick halfling. If you want a forest dweller in tune with nature, pick an elf.

Why Halflings and not Gnomes now? Well, Halflings have a few story-telling benefits and perks that Gnomes do not. They are brave, likeable, hard to corrupt, surprisingly hardy and ressourceful. If you want a Tolkienesque fantasy settings, why ignore one of the main four races? Why gnomes? I don't understand who got the idea to add gnomes to D&D and its ilk. You can spin fantastic stories around halflings. Be it Samwise, Mazzy Fentan of Baldur's Gate, Regis Rumblebelly (who actually is amazing when you consider him by D&D rules that he basically was a low level thief in a high level campaign that didn't die). Those characters had an arc and well, character. And now tell me of a gnome that wasn't purely comic relief. I am sure there are some but I assume they are largely unknown. On the top of my head I can only remember the gnome illusionist from the Dreaming Dark series (and she was a villain/employer rather than a protagonist).

lightningcat
2018-10-30, 01:38 AM
I have banned gnomes from every D&D and Pathfinder game I have run. The only thing worse than gnomes is kender. And it is usually the same people playing either of them.

noob
2018-10-30, 02:04 AM
I have banned gnomes from every D&D and Pathfinder game I have run. The only thing worse than gnomes is kender. And it is usually the same people playing either of them.

Was there not a way to be a kender gnome with stone blessed?

Mordaedil
2018-10-30, 02:15 AM
On the other hand, gnomes have stronger ties to actual old folklore, while halflings are bargin bin Hobbits. And Hobbits were mostly an invention by Tolkien inspired by Scandinavian folklore of gnomes.

Neither one really fits more or less than the other, but you also have to keep in mind that even the introduction book to Hobbits tell us they are practically invisible and mostly ignored. So as an answer to your DM's question, if you want to simply not introduce a main-stay area where gnomes and halflings dwell, that is entirely within lore of that race. They can dwell in the small space inbetween society where nobody ventures.

Like Fragglerock or something.

RedWarlock
2018-10-30, 02:22 AM
Halflings are inherently mundane by nature, whereas Gnomes are magical. Both are small, often sneaky, trickster types, (and yes, both can be any class, mundane or magical alike) but Gnomes are culturally more inclined, as small, almost-fey types, to be bards, beguilers (in 3.5e), illusionists, etc.

Basically, yes, if you allow either race to have "small" as their prime trait, then they are superfluous to each other, but they both have more interesting racial traits than that.

Different settings utilize gnomes in different ways. The most common one is making them better than most at creative applications of magic or near-magic technology (IE steampunk artificers). Eberron makes them the best elemental binders, FR has one of their cultures be the steampunk types, and WarCraft (which admittedly lacks halflings for contrast) makes them supremely utilitarian in their magic, the most creative magic-users in the setting.

Meanwhile, halflings are presented as extremely mundane-focused. The originals, the Hobbits, were more folksy-country types who fled from adventure, but had a natural knack for being stealthy, while their descendants in the adventure-focused D&D editions evolved that into a focus on thievery. Halfling mages are entirely possible, but undistinguished. Dark Sun made them cannibals (because country folk made no sense) while Eberron made them either dinosaur riders or urban mobsters (boromar clan), and a few other things besides (healing and hospitality houses, echoing their earlier-edition pleasant country nature).

So yeah, if size is all you care about, gnomes and halflings are indistinct, because they both look near-human, but they have widely distinctive cultural and conceptual roles. If you think they should be merged or discarded, you might as well merge humans and elves, because hey, we've already got medium humanoids, just one's a little more nature-y with pointed ears, right?

noob
2018-10-30, 02:43 AM
Halflings are inherently mundane by nature, whereas Gnomes are magical. Both are small, often sneaky, trickster types, (and yes, both can be any class, mundane or magical alike) but Gnomes are culturally more inclined, as small, almost-fey types, to be bards, beguilers (in 3.5e), illusionists, etc.

Basically, yes, if you allow either race to have "small" as their prime trait, then they are superfluous to each other, but they both have more interesting racial traits than that.

Different settings utilize gnomes in different ways. The most common one is making them better than most at creative applications of magic or near-magic technology (IE steampunk artificers). Eberron makes them the best elemental binders, FR has one of their cultures be the steampunk types, and WarCraft (which admittedly lacks halflings for contrast) makes them supremely utilitarian in their magic, the most creative magic-users in the setting.

Meanwhile, halflings are presented as extremely mundane-focused. The originals, the Hobbits, were more folksy-country types who fled from adventure, but had a natural knack for being stealthy, while their descendants in the adventure-focused D&D editions evolved that into a focus on thievery. Halfling mages are entirely possible, but undistinguished. Dark Sun made them cannibals (because country folk made no sense) while Eberron made them either dinosaur riders or urban mobsters (boromar clan), and a few other things besides (healing and hospitality houses, echoing their earlier-edition pleasant country nature).

So yeah, if size is all you care about, gnomes and halflings are indistinct, because they both look near-human, but they have widely distinctive cultural and conceptual roles. If you think they should be merged or discarded, you might as well merge humans and elves, because hey, we've already got medium humanoids, just one's a little more nature-y with pointed ears, right?
Yes I think the following things could be removed from dnd 3.5: elves, orcs, half orcs, half elves and all their variants because they are fundamentally copy paste of humans which then are given standardized hats.
We should also remove dwarves, goblins, kobolds, halflings and gnomes because they fall in the same category as elves and orcs but with a sightly different size.
We should also remove all the dragons because they are in fact just human bards wearing disguises.(which is why they have so many fans: bards are awesome and charismatic)

weckar
2018-10-30, 03:00 AM
Stereotypically, among the small races the gnomes are the scholars, the halflings the wanderlust adventurers and the goblins the barbarian savages. They are nearly equivalent, I find, to the medium-sized Elves, humans and Half-Orcs, respectively.

Eldan
2018-10-30, 03:35 AM
Yeah, that. Gnomes have very strong mythological roots for me. If anything, I would even keep gnomes over dwarves and rename them dwarves. If it's them or halflings, it's no contest.

In all the legends and fairy tales I grew up with, dwarves are diminutive, grumpy, miserly tricksters who are phenomenally adept at illusion and curses, just as much as craftsmanship. That's gnomes. Dwarf stats represent Gimli reasonably well, but not fairy tale dwarves.

A dwarf should be much smaller than a human, an accomplished wizard and illusionist and good at stealth.

Silly Name
2018-10-30, 04:04 AM
I think that the main issue people have with Halflings is that they're Hobbits lite, and they tend to lack a precise identity. Tolkien's Hobbits have one, but D&D/PF Halflings are either a knock-off of Hobbits, or all over the spectrum (thieves! Kenders! Raptor-riders! Cannibals!), and while those can be cool concepts, they don't help creating an identity for Halflings as a whole.

But I think Gnomes are kinda stuck with the same problem, too. For decades, they've been stuck with being thinkerers, inventors and bringing steampunk in pseudo-medieval Fantasy. Sometimes they're back to being forest or tunnel dwellers, as in old folklore, but then they just become a different flavour of Dwarves or Elves. They, too, lack a precise identity.

This is why I have initially cut off both Gnomes and Halflings from one of my homebrew setting: I just couldn't think of a "something" that would have been unique to them, the thing that set them apart from everyone else and justified their existence as a separate race from Humans, Elves, Dwarves or Fey. I'll be introducing Gnomes fairly soon, though, but it took a while for me to make sense of their existence in the setting.

So, yeah, Gnomes and Halflings both lack an identity across settings and games, it's just that Gnomes have been associated with steampunk a bit more, and thus people who want to insert that in their fantasy campaigns see a reason to include Gnomes.

NovenFromTheSun
2018-10-30, 04:17 AM
D&D basically exracted the magical nature of dwarves from past depictions (as Eldan above notes) and put all that into gnomes (who if I got my sources correct were originally conceived as earth-spirits rather than a physical race). Add to that the race system not really being equipped to potray an inherently magical species with anything more than an extra cantrip (any more would be pretty overpowered) and I see where you're coming from.

Couatl
2018-10-30, 04:24 AM
Actually, I have always implemented halflings as adept farmers, living in a rural society (besides the one game I have ran in Eberron).

Gnomes on the other hand I have always used as scholars and astronomers. (actually, a player of mine who is playing a gnome, has helped me develop a more unique gnomish culture, so in the end i think I have deeper gnomish culture than a halfling one)

Now that I think both roles can be easily filled by humans.

RedWarlock
2018-10-30, 04:34 AM
Yeah, that's the thing, too. Both concepts are very malleable, as writers over the decades have tried new things, which then became old hat and folded into canon. (Kender are more halflings, just with a different name and slightly different goals and ideology.) Elves, dwarves, gnomes, they all get reinvented for new settings, but then the new and the old wind up side-by-side in some respect. (Look at WarCraft: for WarCraft 3, they created the Night Elves as an entirely new version of a 'dark elf' with a heavy emphasis on barbarism and nature magic, which in turn got pulled back towards the classic arcane-concept D&D-style elf over time.)

My own conceptual reinvention for the Gnomes actually folds the elemental concept back into them, from the Paracelsan origin. My gnomes are the elemental-kin of my setting (like small genasi), with earth as the most commonly-known variety, but fire, water, and air gnomes also existing, albeit much more rarely.

My setting also lacks halflings, but that's because ALL of my races are much more inhuman than the common interpretation (usually by blending two animal totem gods together). Halflings just wouldn't make sense in a world of heavily animal-themed races.

My elves are 7 feet tall beanpoles, with small antlers and venomous fangs (their two patron gods are a deer-totem and a spider-totem). My dwarves have tentacles growing in their beards and thick claws on their fingers (badger and a fictional underground burrowing cephalopod similar to an overgrown, tentacled snail). My goblins are 5ft tall and lanky (wolf and crow), with a 'favored' sub-culture that is chosen by the bird god and are straight up osprey-like birdfolk. Then there are 'hoblings', small monkey-goblin-like types whop get all the mad-science/alchemist stuff of PF and WoW goblins, who have the high-throaty voice of Stitch/film-Gollum (opossum and monkey), with opposable thumbs on their feet and dextrous tails.

Lorencio
2018-10-30, 05:29 AM
I've never been particularly fond of the Tolkienesque hobbit lites that tend to fill most veteran players' games. I have, however, always adored the idea of another diminutive race, that is neither 'grumpy smith McBeardface' or the gnome, that I've always found to be stuck between the kenderesque cheery and joyseeking trickster and the forest-dwelling PhD in engineering. Now, that is not to say, that I dislike either of those two races: I think they contribute to a more magical and diverse campaign - their social traits being great leads in many social encounters, etc.

But I want something more, and always have. I grew up with the original AD&D halfling essentially being a hobbit. I was never too happy about that. In my mind, halflings were never stocky or particularly stay-at-homey. They were always inclined towards peace, but not necessarily stability. I think what is the most distinct trait of halflings - and what have seemed to be reiterated throughout all editions of D&D - is their ties to strength of community, close-knit families, and strong sense of solidarity.

My halflings, as they're portrayed in my campaign, have no countries or forts, not even villages (not truly). They're a people in decline, as they were never as populous as the men and elves, nor as crafty as the dwarves or gnomes. The majority of them are in fact slaves of the nations of men and elves. A historical pendant would be the pre-Exodus jews of Egypt. To the humans and elves (the strongest and most numerous forces in my campaign setting) they're resources. Nothing more, nothing less.

Some free halfling communities do exist. Some roam the lands in caravans, others live a nomad-existance in montane regions. The most distinct community have taken up residence in an abandoned, lawless district of one of the Northern nations capital, where one of the great outer walls had fallen - fighting for residential territory against other 'lesser' races (goblins, hobgoblins and orcs) of whom there seem to be no end. But all in all, they're few and far between. The majority of the race is enslaved, and their own personal or communal 'exodus' (or lack thereof) defines them as a species. Their role in the world is that of either the hunted, the enslaved, or the (self-)liberated.

That's one way of going about it. With the elves, the humans, and the dwarves, we're past the initial 'oh, they're forest-dwellers/city-builders/mountain-carvers'. Races need unique identities that don't echo any of the other races' identities - and that's where halflings (and gnomes) have been struggling. We easily lump them in with humans or elves and dwarves, respectively. And whenever we do try and give them unique identities, we can easily feel alienated - as happened when the old TSR hobbit got replaced by the 3.5 (kenderesque) halfling or the 4e river-folk. 5e toned back the uniqueness - and it might've been for the best. Halflings and gnomes seem to be very different, depending on the individual you ask - If every table needs having a new iteration of them, so be it. I've kinda gotten used to it :smallsmile:

Kaptin Keen
2018-10-30, 06:34 AM
Flavor wise, the two are wildly different. Of course, the books tend to get it wrong, but that's because the books are universally penned by amateurs.

Gnomes are conniving little bastards, clever, industrious, with a bent towards magic, technology and espionage. Gnomes, generally speaking, are neutral, but closer to lawful and evil than to good and chaotic. For the best take on gnomes, look to Eberron.

Halflings are much closer to nature. They entirely lack the trait of scheeming, being basically honest and very slightly naive - their bent towards thievery nonewithstanding. Halflings are overall good-ish, leaning towards neutral more than the alternatives.

The only common ground between the two is their size. It's way more reasonable to do away with elves, saying they're just forest-y humans with pointy ears. Or dwarves (underground-y humans with beards). Or orcs (strong, stupid humans). Or ... no, I can't find an argument for minotaurs. Never mind.

stack
2018-10-30, 06:47 AM
I recall a Nodwick comic where the main character discovered that halflings, gnomes, and dwarves were one race that was running a scam to get more money out of the authors going around and cataloging races. Halflings were clean shaven, gnomes went to college, and dwarves took steroids if I recall.

Eldan
2018-10-30, 07:40 AM
Flavor wise, the two are wildly different. Of course, the books tend to get it wrong, but that's because the books are universally penned by amateurs.

Gnomes are conniving little bastards, clever, industrious, with a bent towards magic, technology and espionage. Gnomes, generally speaking, are neutral, but closer to lawful and evil than to good and chaotic. For the best take on gnomes, look to Eberron.

Halflings are much closer to nature. They entirely lack the trait of scheeming, being basically honest and very slightly naive - their bent towards thievery nonewithstanding. Halflings are overall good-ish, leaning towards neutral more than the alternatives.

The only common ground between the two is their size. It's way more reasonable to do away with elves, saying they're just forest-y humans with pointy ears. Or dwarves (underground-y humans with beards). Or orcs (strong, stupid humans). Or ... no, I can't find an argument for minotaurs. Never mind.

Yeah, from the 3E core races, I'd do away with half-orcs first, then halflings, then dwarves. Elves and gnomes I probably couldn't be convinced to toss out.

Max_Killjoy
2018-10-30, 08:19 AM
Aren't they both superfluous?

PhoenixPhyre
2018-10-30, 08:35 AM
I've included all of them (because I'm intentionally going for kitchen sink) but I've changed the lore and origins of all the races.

Gnomes are what happens when a tribe of goblins (who have effectively a shared memory/scratch-space or clustered intelligence) are strongly affected by fey/spirits/elemental energy. Basically a spontaneous mutation at a tribal level. True-breeding.
Forest gnomes are affected by natural spirits of animals and plants, while rock gnomes are influenced by elementals or by fey associated with creativity/curiosity. There are other types, just not known right now.

Gnomes are rare in the main play area due to a lack of critical mass of goblins. This will probably change soon, however, as goblin numbers are rebounding after a catastrophe.

Halflings are a stable mutation of goblins from about 800 years ago. In the aftermath of a massive "magical nuclear" war that involved wholesale manipulation/destruction of souls, some of the displaced souls ended up distorting a goblin tribe. They lost the shared memory but gained more individual sentience.

As part of this they ended up with significant dimorphism. A plurality of halflings are sterile females (called kliba). These are the "worker bees" of an extended family group. Bigger and stronger than most, they do the grunt work and serve as the pointy end of the halfling militia with less concern for personal safety. Fertile females are fewer in number than kliba, but more common than males. Males are smaller and more nimble than females (speaking in averages) and are generally treated as something like pets. Halflings live in large extended families presided over by a matriarch. They also practice the "we have reserves" style--breeding very fast and expanding wherever there's open land, often with horrific losses.

They are localized, however. The conditions that brought them into existence only happened in one area of one continent.

lucky9
2018-10-30, 09:32 AM
In my setting gnomes are in decline because they spread out and expanded along with the ‘big people’ but were too preoccupied with their tinkering and personal projects to remember to keep their numbers up. They essentially can’t be bothered to propagate. However, they have very slightly larger demographic among primarily dwarf or elf populations than humans.

Halflings are a significant minority that serve the role of ‘Roma’ people. They exist mostly on the fringes of human societies. They want to be left alone in their caravans and are usually looked down upon as thieves.

I think they are both useful to my setting but I did have more difficulty rationalizing independent gnome communities, hence the declining state.

Morty
2018-10-30, 09:33 AM
This thread feels like preaching to the choir, considering that in my experience gnomes are dismissed as superfluous far more often than halflings.

kivzirrum
2018-10-30, 09:38 AM
I like gnomes, though I don't like the "pseudo-steampunk inventors/tinkerers" fluff they're often saddles with. Just a personal taste thing. Generally I think they're cool though, and I like that they have ties back to folklore and mythology.

In the campaign I'm running now, I actually made them one of the most prominent and common races, and gave them more of a scholarly hat that I think works well. If nothing else, I have two players who are playing gnomes, and they're both enjoying it.

Segev
2018-10-30, 10:12 AM
In my Darkling setting, gnomes and trolls are a closely-related, but not interchangeable, pair of species. Their gods had a schism sometime around or before the time when the races were developed, so the gods of the gnomes are the hated, antagonistic gods of the trolls, and the trolls' gods are the hated, malicious gods of the gnomes. Both are mystical masters, with gnomes actually running their whole civilization in a government that looks like highly stylized University politics, with academia being the governing trait and scholarship being the key to advancement. Trolls are craftsmen, making magical weapons and tools that out-strip even the dwarves' arts, though they rely on magic to make it happen whereas dwarves can take or leave magic.

Dwarves in that setting fill more of a merchant niche, owning and maintaining vast underground highway systems that only they may travel (or, in some cases, which others may travel only for enormous escort fees). This makes dwarves highly profitable merchants because they travel in significantly more safety than most other merchants.

Jophiel
2018-10-30, 10:18 AM
Way back in my 1st edition AD&D days, I felt like I had a pretty solid grasp on what halflings were all about -- rustic generally good-natured little people whose natural talents (and lack of fortitude) inclined them towards stealthy careers as adventurers. If they weren't off killing owlbears then they were largely honest and competent farmers, craftsmen, etc. The hobbit thing didn't bother me much, possibly because I was never much of a Tolkien reader so it wasn't beaten into the ground for me.

Gnomes, in contrast, I never felt like I could really explain. Sort of dwarfish but thinner and they like jokes? Something something small animals? And I guess they like magic but just illusion magic. I could sort of grasp them as individuals but I never felt like I could picture what a gnome settlement or society looked like. This is just based off the PHB; I didn't really have the primary campaign world supplements.

Krynn sort of changed that but it did so by wiping out most of the PHB info: No jokes, no magic illusions, no something something small animals. Just obnoxious steampunk dwarfs. No thanks. Then you have your fae-style gnomes or rock spirit gnomes, etc.

My favorite depiction of gnomes came form the Paksenarrion novels where they were a hyper-lawful austere people whose plain, perfectly engineered tunnels contrasted with the gem-encrusted and decorative stoneworks of the dwarfs. Measure for measure, anything done for you was assumed to have a price and almost nothing was done for others freely. But expert fighters and tacticians, keepers of law and knowledge. Again, this is little like the 1st edition PHB but at least it was a society concept I could work with.

Anyway, out of the two I'd easily keep halflings. With halflings, I know where I'm at mentally. Gnomes fluctuate so much that I have to consider them as disposable because they've never found a concrete role.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-10-30, 10:18 AM
with gnomes actually running their whole civilization in a government that looks like highly stylized University politics, with academia being the governing trait and scholarship being the key to advancement.

Ugh. If I know anything about university politics, that sounds like hell. Not even blue :smallyuk:

Lord Torath
2018-10-30, 10:32 AM
Of course, there was the time he sold him a halfling, but delivered a gnome! But that's all settled now. Now we live in simple peace, and harmony!

("Halfling!" "Gnome!" "Halfling!" "Gnome!" "Halfling!" "Gnome!"....)

-with apologies to Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiddler_on_the_Roof)

Not every campaign world has room for every race1, but I think every race has a campaign it can fit in. This goes for monsters as well.

1 Unless you're running Spelljammer. Then there's room in that campaign world for everything!

PhoenixPhyre
2018-10-30, 10:37 AM
Not every campaign world has room for every race

One goal of my setting was to find a place for, if not everything, at least as much as possible. Doesn't mean there are very many of each thing (many creatures are limited-production runs or essentially one-off creatures) or that each thing is everywhere (dragonborn and halflings are each only found in one small area and number ~20k each total).

But in general, I agree. Most worlds would do better by limiting the options to a subset of all the published ones and doing so by referencing the world itself.

Segev
2018-10-30, 10:39 AM
Ugh. If I know anything about university politics, that sounds like hell. Not even blue :smallyuk:

Oh, absolutely. But that doesn't stop it from being interesting. In the Chinese sense of the word.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-10-30, 10:42 AM
Oh, absolutely. But that doesn't stop it from being interesting. In the Chinese sense of the word.

That I can agree with wholeheartedly.

Nifft
2018-10-30, 11:16 AM
Dwarves and Elves are superfluous.

Halflings are drunk.

Gnomes are weird.

Consensus
2018-10-30, 11:18 AM
I'm not really inspired by any D&D interpretation of either race, save for halflings in athas and eberron. I think it would be much more elegant to get rid of them both and just give more diversity to dwarves.

Nifft
2018-10-30, 12:35 PM
I'm not really inspired by any D&D interpretation of either race, save for halflings in athas and eberron. I think it would be much more elegant to get rid of them both and just give more diversity to dwarves.

Eberron Gnomes are also fairly interesting as information brokers and scribes.

-- -- --

In one setting, I had Gnome be nuclear-family-centric researchers. They'd stay in one place as long as one (magical) research project took to finish, then pack up their family and move on. They'd collaborate with other families when convenient, and they'd try to do so when their children reached physical maturity, because marriages were often the result of a collaborative doctoral thesis -- simultaneously proving maturity (by publishing a thesis) and proving maturity (by starting a family of their own).

Humans treated them as visiting scholars when they set up in a human-controlled area: worthy of intellectual deference, but be on guard against owlbears if they're doing that kind of magical research. (For this reason, it's not uncommon to find a family of Gnomes out in the wilderness, where an escaped owlbear or two won't attract unkind attention.)

From a game standpoint, Gnomes could act as an oddly convenient magic store near a remote adventure site. This emerged naturally from their research focus.

Consensus
2018-10-30, 12:45 PM
-- -- --
In one setting, I had Gnome be nuclear-family-centric researchers. They'd stay in one place as long as one (magical) research project took to finish, then pack up their family and move on. They'd collaborate with other families when convenient, and they'd try to do so when their children reached physical maturity, because marriages were often the result of a collaborative doctoral thesis -- simultaneously proving maturity (by publishing a thesis) and proving maturity (by starting a family of their own).

Humans treated them as visiting scholars when they set up in a human-controlled area: worthy of intellectual deference, but be on guard against owlbears if they're doing that kind of magical research. (For this reason, it's not uncommon to find a family of Gnomes out in the wilderness, where an escaped owlbear or two won't attract unkind attention.)

From a game standpoint, Gnomes could act as an oddly convenient magic store near a remote adventure site. This emerged naturally from their research focus.
Huh.. I really like that take, I might steal it some time

Nifft
2018-10-30, 01:11 PM
Huh.. I really like that take, I might steal it some time

If you do, you may be interested in my own behind-the-scenes justification:

Gnomes live for a long time. They like humans & halflings & such, so they want to visit with them and share their lives. But they live 2-3 times longer.

So the happiest gnomes were the ones who had a reason to stay in an area for a while, then leave when the people they had become friendly with either changed significantly or died. Other gnomes emulated these happiest gnomes, and they found a healthy lifestyle pattern which enabled them to both enrich the world (through research), enjoy themselves (by temporarily integrating with other races), and pass on their traditions to the next generation.

It also gave them a good excuse for harboring orphans and the odd widow -- they are perpetual outsiders themselves, so they have sympathy for misfits. The fact that a human orphan's lifespan relative to a gnome is comparable to a dog's lifespan relative to a human is pure coincidence.

Linneris
2018-10-30, 01:29 PM
A friend of mine suggested making dwarves, gnomes and halflings basically different ethnicities, or races in the real-world sense, within the same species. This avoids the problem of a race being pigeonholed into stereotypes, while also aerting the common fantasy pattern that only humans are ethnically and culturally diverse.

Jay R
2018-10-30, 02:24 PM
A race is not superfluous if the GM has a purpose for it, or a player wants it for a PC. What other purpose could there be?

I have never had "halflings" in my games; they have always been hobbits. Back in the 1970s, the Tolkien estate made TSR file the serial numbers off, but as long as I'm not making money with it, they can't affect me.

NPC hobbits are usually a bucolic race, mostly unknown, living it a quiet out-of-the-way place. PC hobbits are as much exceptions to the rule as all PCs are.

My most recent game (which I hope to get back to eventually), had no hobbbits, gnomes, dwarves, or elves.

Gnomes and hobbits didn't exist, because I was using Lloyd Alexander's Fair Folk as the Little People. Dwarves didn't exist, because everybody knew that they were wiped out in the dwarf-giant wars a couple of centuries ago.

And elves exist, but like most truly magical races, have been off the prime plane for decades. When they return (soon), I intend for them to be Terry Pratchett's elves from [I]Lords and Ladies.

Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
Elves are marvellous. They cause marvels.
Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.
Nobody said elves were nice.
Elves are bad.

MoiMagnus
2018-10-30, 02:47 PM
The material plane is overcrowned of races.
As a consequence, unless a PC is a halfling, they don't appear in the narrative (so it's as if they didn't exist) in the campaigns I've played.
However, the Feywild is less overcrowded, so Gnomes can find a place there when the PCs visit it (though still rare if no PC is a Gnome).

RazorChain
2018-10-30, 03:19 PM
I like Halflings from Warhammer Fantasy, where they are seen as an excellent domestic help you have to keep an eye on. I usually dislike halflings, consider them kind of useless burden that eats up all your supplies.

You can use them as a catapult shots for biological warfare during siege as their fat pudgy bodies explode easily on impact.

Or you can use them to poison the dragon as halflings are/were resistant to poisons (comes from eating EVERYTHING). You poison the halfings food and when he has eaten (which he will do because halflings can't resist a meal) you send him to scout the dragons cave and hope that the halfling gets eaten by the dragon.

Another use is that you don't have to outrun the monster, only the halfling.

Last but not least, when the halfling has eaten all your supplies then you eat the halfling.

Lord Raziere
2018-10-30, 04:14 PM
Aren't they both superfluous?

Yeah, you only need goblins, which are better than both and can fulfill both roles and their antagonistic role without any inconsistency and would in fact gasp make them complex and interesting to play with.

Belac93
2018-10-30, 04:49 PM
In my world, gnomes and goblins are the same species. They're always born in litters of 4, three servile goblins (either are warriors, bodyguards, slaves, companions, or assistants) and one leader gnome.

Halflings, however, are seagoing merchants that enslave sea elves and tritons to tow their boats.

Anonymouswizard
2018-10-30, 06:49 PM
The current setting I'm designing has no dwarves this is explicitly to allow gnomes to be the dwarves of the setting, the crafters of legendary items, while still allowing the setting's 'dwarves' to be magical without anybody raising an eyebrow. Of course that sword is magical, it was made by a Gnome.

It also has halflings, who have taken over the nature elements of the small folk. Although they tend towards agriculture compared to the wilds of the elves the halflings are able to rear healthier and more productive plants than almost anybody else in the setting.

Although I'm having a lot of trouble justifying having any of then when I could just have everybody be human. I wouldn't be missing much, in practice all that would disappear is some pointed ears and some height variation. The older I get the more I question the point of having nonhuman species when they inevitably end up as humans with silly ears. It also seems to reflect the fantasy I read these days, where nonhuman species are rare and not something you'd interact with a lot (and are likely either alien or artificial).

Psikerlord
2018-10-30, 08:40 PM
I don't always halfling, but when I do, I kender.

I never gnome. Well I did once, but that was spelljammer. And what happens in spelljammer, stays in spelljammer.

Luccan
2018-10-30, 10:05 PM
Gnomes are more interesting to me, which funnily enough initiated because my first character when I was very young was supposed to be Bilbo Baggins but I didn't understand the difference at the time, but I wouldn't ask for either to be removed from D&D. Both have elements I like: I like that gnomes balance out the dwarves love of mining and sometimes genius in engineering with an appreciation for nature and some level of sneakiness. At the same time, they aren't like elves who often come across as snotty or boring or both. What I like about D&D halflings has mostly to do with their status as nomads in most D&D settings.

If I have a desire to introduce short, quiet homebodies, I actually prefer gnomes because their homes are more interesting for a party to explore than me just recreating Hobbiton*. They might prefer to stay in their small communities, but those communities are still inventive or magical. Races of Stone from 3.5 gave a really great write up of gnome communities having a great deal of art and culture even in small villages.

*I like Hobbits, but some guy named Tolkien already did a lot with them and they're so iconic to LotR it would feel weird truly using them even under another name outside of a LotR setting.

Mr Beer
2018-10-31, 12:10 AM
D&D gnomes always seem to me to be 'dwarf-lite' so yeah I feel the same way OP. Halflings all the way.

Yora
2018-10-31, 02:09 AM
Gomes are like hobbits. Halflings are small humans.

Saintheart
2018-10-31, 03:01 AM
I admit I haven't run a gnome, but while putting together some homebrew it forced me to go back and have a read of Races of Stone to see where 3.5 was coming from in the portrayal of gnomes, and then on to halflings.

Following that, I think there is an interesting distinction between the two, but D&D probably isn't very well equipped to explore the difference.

Gnome psychology, as RoS would have it, is essentially all about duality. They take the idea of the Gnome Illusionist and amp up the idea: a gnome illusionist, being proficient at generating stuff that looks just like reality, they are bound to muse if not really think carefully about the nature of reality itself: if the illusion looks real, seems real, is real - then who is to say it actually isn't real? A gnome being asked to contemplate Plato's Cave Allegory would likely stop around the point where the teller says that the shadows on the wall are just illusions, he might well challenge that very proposition from the beginning. That's why gnomes are so interested in illusions, magic, prestidigitation - because magic tricks dance around that fine line between what's real and what isn't. Try reading a book like The Prestige and I think you'll get into the mindset of what a gnome is thinking about most of the time. Gnomes are just as likely to contemplate whether a hammer actually exists as bang in a nail with it. Play them as having two distinct personalities - one academic, one practical, or one Apollonian, one Dionysian - and they become easier to tell apart from halflings. RoS suggests that a lot of gnomes are artisan-philosophers, which is actually not a bad way of portraying it: someone whose whole philosophy on life dances around the subject of whether what he does has intrinsic worth or not. The more stereotypical gnome - annoying little buggers, mostly just cheap merchants - is only one side of the gnome's personality. The problem with them is that typically it ain't interesting to have philosophical debates in a game where gods are literally real and Divination spells provide objective data. But I think if more DMs played up to this idea - having gnome NPCs who slavishly are patrons of artists while running the Magic Mart - they'd be more compelling.

Halflings are different again. They are first and foremost about family and community in tension with a need for new experiences. A halfling who's torn between going back to his family and looking for the dragon over the next hill is much more interesting than the standard annoying kender as they tend to get played. This was the centre of the conflict driving Bilbo and Frodo, at least to begin with: the call of the road straining against the desire for a simple, warm life in the company of one's own kind.

Yora
2018-10-31, 03:28 AM
The truly superflous creatures are hobgoblins. Large goblins are orcs.

Eldan
2018-10-31, 03:33 AM
Quite. Even considering that the "Hob" in "Hobgoblin" is a nickname for Robert, or Robin Goodfellow and means one specific fairy. It just annoys me they have nothing in common with Robin Goodfellow.

That said, a lot of monsters are originally single creatures, so who cares.

MoiMagnus
2018-10-31, 04:07 AM
The truly superflous creatures are hobgoblins. Large goblins are orcs.

Our DM made a clear difference between the two: hobgoblin are Loyal, organized in a miltiaristic dictature, and orcs are Chaotic, more barbarians-like.

Mark Hall
2018-10-31, 02:36 PM
I never gnome. Well I did once, but that was spelljammer. And what happens in spelljammer, stays in spelljammer.

Isn't the POINT of Spelljammer that what happens in Spelljammer DOESN'T stay in Spelljammer? :smallbiggrin:

Seriously, though, I think the two tend to be insufficiently differentiated in a lot of cases, to the point where you could easily cast them as different ethnicities of the same species (along with dwarves). Consider, for example, in 2e (and I think 1e), gnomes were called out as being cousins of the dwarves, while stoutish halflings were given some infravision and mining detection abilities... if they had some dwarven blood.

The question always becomes "What are you DOING with them?" It's more than just "they are mechanically similar", though AD&D certainly had them as such... what differentiates them socially and culturally from each other?

Bohandas
2018-10-31, 04:46 PM
I'm not really inspired by any D&D interpretation of either race

I'm not sure I'd call D&D halflings an "interpretation". They started as a direct knockoff of a specific intellectual property, and then subsequently had all their distinctibe traits scrubned out to avoid a lawsuit, leaving behind a bland formless mass

Bohandas
2018-10-31, 04:48 PM
D&D gnomes always seem to me to be 'dwarf-lite' so yeah I feel the same way OP. Halflings all the way.

They're different aspects of an earth element affinity. Dwarves are about stone, gnomes are about soil.


Although I'm having a lot of trouble justifying having any of then when I could just have everybody be human.

I see it the other way aroind. If you had all the characters be human you would have to justify why you're playing D&D instead of just playing D20 modern

Anonymouswizard
2018-10-31, 05:09 PM
I see it the other way aroind. If you had all the characters be human you would have to justify why you're playing D&D instead of just playing D20 modern

Who says I'm playing either? I mean right now I'm running Unknown Armies, which is about as humanocentric as you can get/

But in all seriousness, there's a lot to be said for all-human fantasy worlds. They're not uncommon in fantasy, and ones with only a handful of other intelligent species are a tad more common, especially among modern novels (no I don't want to list them, but it seems to be caused at least partially by a backlash to every fantasy novel having elves and dwarves). Part of the problem with D&D is the huge number of intelligent species and the tendency for GMs to shove every player race into their setting no matter how little they add (as I used to do before I sat down and seriously started building settings).

Now sometimes the point is 'human with aspect taken to the extreme' (which I believe is half of Burning Wheel's take on nonhumans, along with 'game balance? We didn't even include it for the humans'), which can be interesting but it begins to become hard to find new bits to shove in. So dwarfs have greed, elves have pride or spirituality, Gnomes have inquisitiveness, Orcs have anger/violence, goblins have cunning, halflings have mundanity*, and now I'm starting to run out of ideas.

I'd much rather have a handful of well done near-human species or only humans. My setting is moving more and more towards being a three species affair, the Imperialistic humans, the Spiritual beastfolk, and the Crafty gnomes, with even goblins being axed as intelligent material beings (and I do like me some gobbos). Even then I'm trying to establish the difference between cultural and species differences, as some beastfolk are getting along fine without all that spirit-worshipping stuff but still have a tendency towards wandering and a lack of focus in their lives.

* This is the reason some people think halflings are superfluous, even in The Lord of the Rings part of the point of the hobbitses was that they were middle class Englishmen.

Mark Hall
2018-10-31, 05:56 PM
They're different aspects of an earth element affinity. Dwarves are about stone, gnomes are about soil.


Counterpoint: In 2e, at least, gnomes were about gems, while dwarves were about metal.

But, again, that goes back to "inconsistent characterization." In some ways, I think 3.x and later D&D making gnomes more fey, and halflings less hobbit, has been a boon to characterization. They're far more distinct; it's harder to write a character and say "Well, I'm not sure if he should be a gnome or a halfling", because making a gnome-like halfling or a halfling-like gnome is a decision to play against type, rather than a choice of where you want to fall on a spectrum. Some of the more memorable settings made it a point to emphasize that difference... though a lot of people hate Dragonlance gnomes and halflings, it's hard to argue that they aren't very distinct, and that a kender played like an Ansalonian gnome would be a deeply weird character in some ways (but entirely in character for kender to try). Dark Sun got rid of gnomes, but their halflings are cited as great examples of unique halflings. Birthright? Similar concept... halflings are more than just one end of a spectrum of "short and resists magic". Folks mention Eberron gnomes and halflings several times in this thread... because they've been given different cultural and social places in their games.

I think this is very doable with BTB AD&D gnomes and halflings... the kind you tend to see in Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms. But it requires a bit of conscious effort to go beyond the basics.

Bohandas
2018-10-31, 08:17 PM
In some ways, I think 3.x and later D&D making gnomes more fey, and halflings less hobbit, has been a boon to characterization.

I agree that it's better to not have a race that's just a blatant hobbit knockoff*, but it's hardly a boon to halfling characterization since their entire purpose in the game was to be a hobbit knockoff. Moving away from hobbit knockoffs causes the race-whose-entire-reason-for-being-in-the-game-is-to-be-a-hobbit-knockoff to become useless.


*especially since they don;t even fit into their original setting properly. They just kind of show up out nowhere at the end of the Silmarillion

Quertus
2018-10-31, 08:27 PM
Aren't they both superfluous?

Pretty much this.

Gnomes have a rich history in mythology, that is often ignored in any given setting.

Half-pints (and I'm not even going to correct that) are new kids on the block, desperately struggling for an identity.

And either is completely replaceable. Or completely essential - and essential that their culture be exactly what the player needs it to be - for a particular character concept. (Depending on how precise the concept is).

(Checks forum) Does a given system need either? Not innately, no. But, if they're carefully worked into the setting, then nomadic magma-eating winged storm gnomes and subterranean nudist baby-stealing half-pints may be completely indispensable.

Having never remembered a single one of either at any of my tables, I'm going for "superfluous".

EDIT:
Isn't the POINT of Spelljammer that what happens in Spelljammer DOESN'T stay in Spelljammer? :smallbiggrin:

Just wanted to agree with this sentiment.

137ben
2018-10-31, 10:49 PM
Quite. Even considering that the "Hob" in "Hobgoblin" is a nickname for Robert, or Robin Goodfellow and means one specific fairy. It just annoys me they have nothing in common with Robin Goodfellow.

That said, a lot of monsters are originally single creatures, so who cares.

There are also a lot of monsters who share a name with some older creature from mythology, but don't bare any resemblance to their namesakes. Drow, are a big one, as is the Tarrasque. As you said, it isn't a big deal.

Spore
2018-10-31, 11:45 PM
And either is completely replaceable. Or completely essential - and essential that their culture be exactly what the player needs it to be - for a particular character concept. (Depending on how precise the concept is).

I think this pretty much sums up this thread neatly. I was assuming a Tolkienesque setting as a main goal. But most - if any - settings don't even aim for that. So my initial point was moot to begin with but discussing it helped me - and I hope others as well - to understand the thinking behind it.

That being said I rather prefer a select few races to allow for really unique character options rather than 30 different races just for the sake of PC diversity that is not grounded in the setting's lore. Like allowing the player to play a minotaur just to have him be the only one in the entire campaign but he always hints at his race's affinity for seafaring.

But I realize the reverse is also true. A PC might just not be satisfied to play almost-a-halfling-but-not-quite if he has an awesome idea for a halfling.

Bohandas
2018-11-01, 02:39 AM
But in all seriousness, there's a lot to be said for all-human fantasy worlds.


Because in fantasy the mundane and the ordinary are a must

noob
2018-11-01, 06:34 AM
Because in fantasy the mundane and the ordinary are a must

Someone made a dnd setting with no humanoids.
It makes the decision of which humanoid is superfluous way simpler.

Quertus
2018-11-01, 10:40 AM
I suppose I have to amend a previous statement - there have been a number of Whisper Gnomes at my tables, which, I suppose, are technically gnomes.

But, if a Gnome is in the party, and no one can see it, does it really count?

bc56
2018-11-01, 10:47 AM
I actually cut gnomes
I just felt like the whimsical chaotic inventor didn't fit the serious tone of my games, whereas the halflings did, being representative of peace and familial bonds, something no other race really has.

Pelle
2018-11-01, 11:07 AM
I like gnomes if they are a little sinister, à la Rumpelstiltskin et al.

Bohandas
2018-11-01, 11:17 AM
I just felt like the whimsical chaotic inventor didn't fit the serious tone of my games, whereas the halflings did


Ah yes, I can see it, a serious adventuring party consisting of a halfling, a smurf, a fraggle, an alternian, and a saiyan

EDIT:
and maybe one of those guys from The Dark Crystal too. What were they called?\

EDIT:
Found it. "Gelflings"

Mark Hall
2018-11-01, 01:29 PM
I agree that it's better to not have a race that's just a blatant hobbit knockoff*, but it's hardly a boon to halfling characterization since their entire purpose in the game was to be a hobbit knockoff. Moving away from hobbit knockoffs causes the race-whose-entire-reason-for-being-in-the-game-is-to-be-a-hobbit-knockoff to become useless.


*especially since they don;t even fit into their original setting properly. They just kind of show up out nowhere at the end of the Silmarillion

I think it's especially bad for Halflings because they are, explicitly, a stand-in for certain kinds of humans. What are hobbits? They're supposed to be very normal, rural, people. You've got a few who are a bit more high and mighty, but, at the end of the day, Bilbo Baggins still washes his own dishes if there's no convenient party of dwarves. Hobbits were never really meant to be that different from humans, and Tolkien went on to make most of the human cultures you encountered a bit more exotic than he did the Hobbits.

Spore
2018-11-01, 01:36 PM
I think it's especially bad for Halflings because they are, explicitly, a stand-in for certain kinds of humans. What are hobbits? They're supposed to be very normal, rural, people. You've got a few who are a bit more high and mighty, but, at the end of the day, Bilbo Baggins still washes his own dishes if there's no convenient party of dwarves. Hobbits were never really meant to be that different from humans, and Tolkien went on to make most of the human cultures you encountered a bit more exotic than he did the Hobbits.

Still though, more differentiated and epic versions of halflings are pint sized defenders of justice and family, creatures that dwell in almost tribal societies or roaming opportunists that peruse the little space they need effectively.

Tvtyrant
2018-11-01, 02:02 PM
I say throw out all of the weird D&D races and make your own. Most of them are mundane versions of what are mythologically extra-dimensional beings, why have Gnomes and Kobolds when you could have crab-people (who incidentally taste delicious.)

The Jack
2018-11-01, 02:04 PM
I think the biggest thing that ticks me off about gnomes is that they're so typecast into being quirky geniuses the definitive nerds of the world, the nuclear technicians that can't work out how to use a stove. Writers go out of their way to make them captivating and quirky, and it comes across as an attack on attention span; they're like the Michel Bay of races where there's just so much stuff thrown at you that it feels hollow.

In such incarnations They don't strike me as a self sufficient race, and steampunk inventions in an otherwise much lower tech world makes for flawed worldbuilding.

Hobbits, I run them like pygmies; they're regular people that happen to be short .

Nifft
2018-11-01, 02:21 PM
I like gnomes if they are a little sinister, à la Rumpelstiltskin et al. IIRC the old-edition Illusionist Gnomes were somewhat sinister.


I think it's especially bad for Halflings because they are, explicitly, a stand-in for certain kinds of humans. What are hobbits? They're supposed to be very normal, rural, people. Is that true? I thought they were a stand-in and highlight for certain rural English virtues, but not that they were intended to represent a specific type of person.

They were the virtues of the common rural man in contrast to Aragorn and Boromir, who were the virtues (and vices) of the elite highborn noble.


You've got a few who are a bit more high and mighty, but, at the end of the day, Bilbo Baggins still washes his own dishes if there's no convenient party of dwarves. Hobbits were never really meant to be that different from humans, and Tolkien went on to make most of the human cultures you encountered a bit more exotic than he did the Hobbits. The hobbits were the inexperienced rural everymen; they were the audience stand-in who experience the wonder of travel to foreign lands and get all the wonder-faced reaction shots.

Hobbits are the racial ingenue, if you will -- and one of them even explicitly falls for an older authority figure, so it's kinda literally accurate too.


I say throw out all of the weird D&D races and make your own. Most of them are mundane versions of what are mythologically extra-dimensional beings, why have Gnomes and Kobolds when you could have crab-people (who incidentally taste delicious.) Yeah that's the best advice if you're rolling your own setting.

But it can be a lot of work to create and balance your own setting. Making your players do some of the creative effort (via collaborative worldbuilding) can help with both workload and engagement, but it's not easy to do if you're stuck with organized play or the like.


I think the biggest thing that ticks me off about gnomes is that they're so typecast into being quirky geniuses the definitive nerds of the world, the nuclear technicians that can't work out how to use a stove. Writers go out of their way to make them captivating and quirky, and it comes across as an attack on attention span; they're like the Michel Bay of races where there's just so much stuff thrown at you that it feels hollow. We must be reading different sources.

Which books made them out like that?

Quertus
2018-11-01, 03:36 PM
why have Gnomes and Kobolds when you could have crab-people (who incidentally taste delicious.)

Quietus will happily come to such a world, and adventure with the locals. Don't mind the Portable Hole filled with garlic butter...

Mark Hall
2018-11-01, 03:42 PM
.... why have Gnomes and Kobolds when you could have crab-people (who incidentally taste delicious.)

This is something I enjoyed about later editions of D&D... things like Dragonborn and Tieflings and such may seem weird and exotic, but they're mechanically more diverse than "short, has a bonus to some saves."

Anonymouswizard
2018-11-01, 05:28 PM
Because in fantasy the mundane and the ordinary are a must

I actually agree with your sarcastic statement. You can't have the extraordinary without the ordinary, otherwise the extraordinary has nothing to play off of. A mage might be able to launch fire from their fists, but the fact that it's learnt by studying books or practicing martial arts makes it appear that extra bit fantastical.

Let me put it this way, would Avatar have been a better show if one of the characters was an elf or dwarf? Would Khellus's inhumanity have been better shown by him being literally inhuman? Nonhuman intelligent species can enhance a series, but they aren't required.


I say throw out all of the weird D&D races and make your own. Most of them are mundane versions of what are mythologically extra-dimensional beings, why have Gnomes and Kobolds when you could have crab-people (who incidentally taste delicious.)

I'm down for this. I love Fifty Fathoms, which has a bunch of unstandard species, a species that is 'like humans but vary a lot more in looks', and humans.

My setting right now uses a lot of different types of Beastfolk. Sure there's always humans, just for simplicity, but there's cat people, deer people, pig people, lizard people, cow people, and a lot more (no crab people at the moment, but they probably exist somewhere on the planet). The beastfolk are all technically one 'species' in game terms (because that's how this system does beastfolk), but there's still enough options in that one race that I'm wary of including much more.

Bohandas
2018-11-02, 12:16 AM
Let me put it this way, would Avatar have been a better show if one of the characters was an elf or dwarf? Would Khellus's inhumanity have been better shown by him being literally inhuman? Nonhuman intelligent species can enhance a series, but they aren't required.

Allow me to answer that question with a few of my own. Would Labyrinth have been better with all human characters (though I admit the goblon kimg might as well have been human; I think they actually had Bowie in less makeup than normal)? What about The Dark Crystal? How about The Shadow Over Insmouth? The Outsider? The Creature From the Black Lagoon? Watership Down?

How about Alladin? I can imagine - he rubs the lamp or the ring (depending on the retelling) and just some normal guy shows up.

Or how about Star Wars? What if they went with the original idea for Jabba to just be some boring fat human mobster? What if they made Jar-Jar, Watto, and Nute Gunray human? That would change the entire tone of Episode 1, wouldn't it?

Anonymouswizard
2018-11-02, 06:52 AM
Allow me to answer that question with a few of my own. Would Labyrinth have been better with all human characters (though I admit the goblon kimg might as well have been human; I think they actually had Bowie in less makeup than normal)? What about The Dark Crystal? How about The Shadow Over Insmouth? The Outsider? The Creature From the Black Lagoon? Watership Down?

How about Alladin? I can imagine - he rubs the lamp or the ring (depending on the retelling) and just some normal guy shows up.

Or how about Star Wars? What if they went with the original idea for Jabba to just be some boring fat human mobster? What if they made Jar-Jar, Watto, and Nute Gunray human? That would change the entire tone of Episode 1, wouldn't it?

Let's go back to my original quote, mining a bit of the context.


But in all seriousness, there's a lot to be said for all-human fantasy worlds. They're not uncommon in fantasy, and ones with only a handful of other intelligent species are a tad more common, especially among modern novels (no I don't want to list them, but it seems to be caused at least partially by a backlash to every fantasy novel having elves and dwarves).

Okay, here is the immediate context. We can see that I supplied a bit of support to my statement, where I point out that all-human or human with a dash of other makes up a significant portion of the modern fantasy genre.

Would Labyrinth work without the nonhuman characters? A couple of them, but not all of them, because Labyrinth is a lot more folkloric and allegorical than, for example, Avatar, the nonhuman characters are more important to the tone (note that when Avatar goes mythic in Beginnings nonhuman characters become more important). There's also a difference between a mysterious monster and a human with pointy ears, in that the Deep Ones are significantly more inhuman than elves normally are. I'm going to leave Watership Down out of it, because the fact that the heroes are bunnies changes the book a lot more than many stories where the main characters are elves.

On the subject of Star Wars? The only real difference would be looks. I can't think of a single character in Star Wars where you'd have to change anything bar the makeup and maybe number of limbs to have them work as a human.

Now onto the second bit of context I want to bring up.


Part of the problem with D&D is the huge number of intelligent species and the tendency for GMs to shove every player race into their setting no matter how little they add (as I used to do before I sat down and seriously started building settings)....

I'd much rather have a handful of well done near-human species or only humans.

Here we see what I actually want, a focus on a smaller number of species. I don't mind Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Goblins, and Lizardfolk in The Dark Eye because they're not having to compete for space with Halflings, Gnomes, Tieflings, Hobgoblins, Bugbears, Firbolgs, Tibbits, Mongrelfolk, Dragonborn, Kobolds, Kenku, Tabaxi, Tritons, Golliaths, and Yuan-Ti Purebloods (and that's not getting into the good old 2e Complete Book of Humanoids, or even probably all the humanoid vague-PC appropriate creatures in the monster manual).

PhoenixPhyre
2018-11-02, 08:05 AM
I think one thing that people miss when the see the list of "here's all the races D&D supports" and think "oh wow, there's a lot. How can they be different?"

They're not supposed or intended to all live in the same setting. D&D, by it's nature, gives a huge list of options, from which world-builders or DMs can cherry pick and use a subset. Same with the original list of PrCs in 3e--they were examples, not "these must exist in your world."

On the other extreme, I've done my best to actually find places for all the printed playable races of 5e in my world. The big cost was that there aren't very many of most of them. When there are only a few hundred thousand (at most, including the "uncivilized" ones) halflings, when tortles are confined to a tiny area because there's only a minimal breeding population, etc, the dynamic is different. They may influence the story if you're in the right place, but you're not likely to see one elsewhere.

Halflings, for example, are only found in 1.5 regions (1 region as civilized folk, one region as wild cannibals pushing on the frontier of civilization).

Max_Killjoy
2018-11-02, 08:30 AM
I think one thing that people miss when the see the list of "here's all the races D&D supports" and think "oh wow, there's a lot. How can they be different?"

They're not supposed or intended to all live in the same setting. D&D, by it's nature, gives a huge list of options, from which world-builders or DMs can cherry pick and use a subset. Same with the original list of PrCs in 3e--they were examples, not "these must exist in your world."


I wish D&D had always been more explicit and decisive about whether it was a toolkit, or an implied setting.

A LOT of players I've encountered over the years have taken the attitude that it's an implied setting, and that the "burden of proof" is on the DM whenever deciding to not allow something into the game that's been printed in a book for the edition being used.

Quertus
2018-11-02, 08:36 AM
Between D&D and Star Wars, it's pretty easy to see races as allegorical for nationalities.

There's a lot of countries in this world. Sure, most individuals of French ancestry may be clustered in one of two countries, but it wouldn't feel odd to see them most anywhere. If I got into a random elevator, and found myself in the company of a Romanian, I wouldn't risk losing sanity points from the sheer mindblowing horror of that impossibility.

Claiming, then, that it stretches world-building credulity to have a Gungan or Half-pint or Gnome or Saurial in the world? It feels really weird, given the number of nationalities in this world, but makes more sense in a world where travel is harder, and they can't crossbreed as easily.

It's sad when allegory and internal consistency are at odds.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-11-02, 08:55 AM
I wish D&D had always been more explicit and decisive about whether it was a toolkit, or an implied setting.

A LOT of players I've encountered over the years have taken the attitude that it's an implied setting, and that the "burden of proof" is on the DM whenever deciding to not allow something into the game that's been printed in a book for the edition being used.

True enough. 5e's a bit better about noting that it's all opt-in by the DM, but it's far from perfect on that score.

Nifft
2018-11-02, 09:48 AM
I wish D&D had always been more explicit and decisive about whether it was a toolkit, or an implied setting.

A LOT of players I've encountered over the years have taken the attitude that it's an implied setting, and that the "burden of proof" is on the DM whenever deciding to not allow something into the game that's been printed in a book for the edition being used.

That's interesting, I've only seen that attitude in online and organized play.

Were these in-person players? Were they heavy forum-users?

Bohandas
2018-11-02, 09:51 AM
On the subject of Star Wars? The only real difference would be looks. I can't think of a single character in Star Wars where you'd have to change anything bar the makeup and maybe number of limbs to have them work as a human.

It would've made the movies less interesting for one thing. Also Chewbacca has picked up or otherwise manipulated several things that are way too heavy for a human Also Jabba probably would have been harder to strangle if his neck wasn't wider than his head. And and what about C-3P0 and R2-D2? "I want you to take them and have their memories erased. By hitting them in he head wih a hammer."

EDIT:
And a whole act of Episode 1 came down to Toydarians being immune to the jedi mind trick

Anonymouswizard
2018-11-02, 09:57 AM
I wish D&D had always been more explicit and decisive about whether it was a toolkit, or an implied setting.

A LOT of players I've encountered over the years have taken the attitude that it's an implied setting, and that the "burden of proof" is on the DM whenever deciding to not allow something into the game that's been printed in a book for the edition being used.

This. Even in 5e I still see the attitude that anything in the Player's Handbook must be available or the GM is being a big meanie. I practically never see this in other systems, if a Savage Worlds GM declares that they're running a fantasy setting with no elves or dwarves then people don't complain, because SW doesn't go out of it's way to have a standard setting running through it's books (which has been the case from 3e through 5e in D&D, was explicitly the case in BD&D*, and was there to a much lesser extent in 2e).

* a.k.a. the best edition of D&D.


Between D&D and Star Wars, it's pretty easy to see races as allegorical for nationalities...

While the rest of your post is good building from this as a starting point, in D&D it runs into a problem: nationalities also exist.

Oh boy, I'm going to have to pull out an example to have any hope of explaining this. Alright, Birthright. In Birthright you have four races, the Humans, the Elves, the Dwarves, and the Halflings, plus the half-elves. Humans (and thus to an extent half-elves) are subdivided into five nations, Anuire, Brechtur, Khinasi, Rjurik, and Vosguard, while each of the other races seem to roughly be a 'nation' unto themselves (which brings me to race bugbear #2: one culture per species). So here we have two things representing nationalities, your character's race and, if human, your character's nationality.

Interestingly Birthright's dwarves trim their beards, and they are noted to have dense bodies (which translates to 'don't club them, use a sword'). Back to my point.

If the races are allegorical for nationalities, why do we also need to have nationalities. Birthright is just a simple example with nine parts, in something like the Forgotten Realms we have different nationalities for every race (some of them leading to different racial traits, some not). In that case races aren't an allegory for different nationalities, because the nationalities behave more like nationalities like races do, and races become more akin to ethnicities (except in many cases those also exist in-setting, and races=ethnicities raises a whole lot of unfortunate implications).

Pelle
2018-11-02, 10:07 AM
Between D&D and Star Wars, it's pretty easy to see races as allegorical for nationalities.

There's a lot of countries in this world. Sure, most individuals of French ancestry may be clustered in one of two countries, but it wouldn't feel odd to see them most anywhere. If I got into a random elevator, and found myself in the company of a Romanian, I wouldn't risk losing sanity points from the sheer mindblowing horror of that impossibility.

Claiming, then, that it stretches world-building credulity to have a Gungan or Half-pint or Gnome or Saurial in the world? It feels really weird, given the number of nationalities in this world, but makes more sense in a world where travel is harder, and they can't crossbreed as easily.


Disagree with the premise, but does it mean that Romania must be a possible country in every fantasy world?

PhoenixPhyre
2018-11-02, 10:22 AM
This. Even in 5e I still see the attitude that anything in the Player's Handbook must be available or the GM is being a big meanie. I practically never see this in other systems, if a Savage Worlds GM declares that they're running a fantasy setting with no elves or dwarves then people don't complain, because SW doesn't go out of it's way to have a standard setting running through it's books (which has been the case from 3e through 5e in D&D, was explicitly the case in BD&D*, and was there to a much lesser extent in 2e).

* a.k.a. the best edition of D&D.


I think it comes down to people not reading the "introductory" parts of the books. At least in 5e (can't talk about the others) they're pretty clear that everything beyond the basic skeleton of resolution mechanics exists only at DM's option and not to assume things exist. Reading is hard.



If the races are allegorical for nationalities, why do we also need to have nationalities. Birthright is just a simple example with nine parts, in something like the Forgotten Realms we have different nationalities for every race (some of them leading to different racial traits, some not). In that case races aren't an allegory for different nationalities, because the nationalities behave more like nationalities like races do, and races become more akin to ethnicities (except in many cases those also exist in-setting, and races=ethnicities raises a whole lot of unfortunate implications).

A pet peeve of mine is single-race cultures (and single-culture races). The Dwarven kingdom. The elven kingdom. All dwarves everywhere (of a sub-race, maybe) act the same and worship the same gods in the same ways. It's the Planet of Hats problem. I think the fewest races present in any of my nations is 3, and that's a small, homogenous nation. And each of those nations have several cultures within them as well.

I guess I'm really agreeing with you here. But just had to vent.

Max_Killjoy
2018-11-02, 11:11 AM
A pet peeve of mine is single-race cultures (and single-culture races). The Dwarven kingdom. The elven kingdom. All dwarves everywhere (of a sub-race, maybe) act the same and worship the same gods in the same ways. It's the Planet of Hats problem. I think the fewest races present in any of my nations is 3, and that's a small, homogenous nation. And each of those nations have several cultures within them as well.


One of my settings has fairly significant species/culture alignment, but there are clear reasons for why things are the way they are, and there are exceptions. There's also some crossover between cultures where those reasons don't apply.

The other setting has something more like you'd see with multiple cultures, multiples species, and significant crossover in the instances where they overlap geographically and/or economically.

Anonymouswizard
2018-11-02, 11:23 AM
I think it comes down to people not reading the "introductory" parts of the books. At least in 5e (can't talk about the others) they're pretty clear that everything beyond the basic skeleton of resolution mechanics exists only at DM's option and not to assume things exist. Reading is hard.

I think it's a bit of a holdover from the 3.X days, but the view I seem to see a lot, even in person, is that things in 5e are optional, but the stuff in the PhB is 'basic' and really should only be restricted if you're learning. You see it a lot on this forum with 'but what table doesn't use feats', but I see it even more the times I rarely play 5e in person. Plus Adventurers' League allowing everything (in a PhB+1 sense) means people used to it will tend to assume that it's the default.


A pet peeve of mine is single-race cultures (and single-culture races). The Dwarven kingdom. The elven kingdom. All dwarves everywhere (of a sub-race, maybe) act the same and worship the same gods in the same ways. It's the Planet of Hats problem. I think the fewest races present in any of my nations is 3, and that's a small, homogenous nation. And each of those nations have several cultures within them as well.

I guess I'm really agreeing with you here. But just had to vent.

I find it works in Birthright because the area is small. There's an implication that the relative size of the dwarven lands means they're equivalent to a human nation, and while I can't remember the map properly I remember the mountains being pretty concentrated. The elves are less unified, but they're also noted to have long enough generations that divergence is hard to notice. It still comes across as a bit weird, but the setting is explicit that we're only seeing one small corner of the world, there could be other elf or dwarf cultures elsewhere.

Then you do get something like The Dark Eye. The Elves have three rough cultures depending on their terrain, but the extent to which the definitions are elven or human is a bit debatable, while the Dwarves live in a relatively small area of the map but have developed four different cultures, including Hobbits Hill Dwarves. Cultures are noted to have changed, the Hill Dwarves being the clearest example (originally they were more like normal dwarves). Sure, there's about five times as many human cultures, but they cover about eight times the map area that elves and dwarves do. Interestingly the setting as designed implies a lot more dwarves with human cultures than any other culture/race cross mix.

Tvtyrant
2018-11-02, 11:53 AM
Quietus will happily come to such a world, and adventure with the locals. Don't mind the Portable Hole filled with garlic butter...

A setting I desperately want a group for is one where humans are almosy cthulu-esque monsters, while the other races are all small and tasty. The playable races are all between 1 and 2 ft. tall and live in the ruins of a human empire that collapsed itself, and the barbaric remnants raid it as a larder.

There is so much stuff you could do with it. The largest Demiling city is basically inside the ruins of the Mall of America, the Demiling version of the Dwarven Kingdom is the New York subway line equivalent, etc.

Bohandas
2018-11-02, 03:13 PM
A pet peeve of mine is single-race cultures (and single-culture races). The Dwarven kingdom. The elven kingdom. All dwarves everywhere (of a sub-race, maybe) act the same and worship the same gods in the same ways. It's the Planet of Hats problem. I think the fewest races present in any of my nations is 3, and that's a small, homogenous nation. And each of those nations have several cultures within them as well.

That bugs me too. The ideal would be a hybrid system where they have a lot of different cultures but to the untrained eye they look like they could be one culture because they're all skewed in a certain direction away from what's normal in humans (Like how all the elf groups in LotR are different from each other but they've got a certain ususual shared aesthetic)

Lord Torath
2018-11-02, 04:26 PM
That bugs me too. The ideal would be a hybrid system where they have a lot of different cultures but to the untrained eye they look like they could be one culture because they're all skewed in a certain direction away from what's normal in humans (Like how all the elf groups in LotR are different from each other but they've got a certain usual shared aesthetic)Sort of like Silvanesti vs Qualinesti vs Kagonesti or Mountain Dwarves vs Hill Dwarves on Krynn? There's no real racial difference between them, just "ancient" hatreds and misunderstandings.

Jay R
2018-11-02, 08:40 PM
A pet peeve of mine is single-race cultures (and single-culture races). The Dwarven kingdom. The elven kingdom. All dwarves everywhere (of a sub-race, maybe) act the same and worship the same gods in the same ways. It's the Planet of Hats problem.

The Planet of Hats problem is merely a problematic and unnecessary assumption about the millions of others on the planet that you will never meet.

I solve this the same way I solve the "evil race" problem. I don't assume that races have single cultures, because I don't assume that I've described all settlements of any given race.

Sure, the nearby dwarves have a Nordic culture. That doesn't mean that there aren't dwarves with Japanese, or Florentine, or Cheyenne cultures elsewhere.

Similarly, there could be whole villages of peaceful farming goblins on another continent. The fact that the goblins attacking your village are raiders doesn't mean anything about other goblins elsewhere.

Someday I want to have the PCs find themselves stuck on an unknown continent in the middle of a human/goblin war, with the humans talking about taking their lands back from the invading goblins. Over time, it would become clearer and clearer that these are goblin lands, and the humans are the invaders.

Bohandas
2018-11-05, 02:07 AM
common rural man

rural everymen

It was always my understandib that most people live in cities or suburbs

Blymurkla
2018-11-05, 02:58 AM
It was always my understandib that most people live in cities or suburbs What, today? Or in actual medieval times? Or in ye olde pseudo-medieval fantasy lands?

In the real world, on a global scale, urban population outnumbered rural for the first time quite recently. Like a couple of years ago. So it's pretty close to 50-50 (though such figures are either based on rather rough estimates or on available national data, which for example doesn't nesssecarily use the same definitions of urban vs. rural. So it's a though question to answer with accuracy).

Of course, in the Western world most people live in urban areas, but they haven't been doing that for long. Like, maybe a hundred years.

In ye olde fantasy, agriculture is often next to nonexistent and you find maps of huge cities with city walls, a thin strip of veggie patches just outside and then the deep, dark forest. Which is ridiculous, but hey, whatever feeds your boat.

Max_Killjoy
2018-11-05, 07:59 AM
It was always my understandib that most people live in cities or suburbs


What, today? Or in actual medieval times? Or in ye olde pseudo-medieval fantasy lands?

In the real world, on a global scale, urban population outnumbered rural for the first time quite recently. Like a couple of years ago. So it's pretty close to 50-50 (though such figures are either based on rather rough estimates or on available national data, which for example doesn't nesssecarily use the same definitions of urban vs. rural. So it's a though question to answer with accuracy).

Of course, in the Western world most people live in urban areas, but they haven't been doing that for long. Like, maybe a hundred years.

In ye olde fantasy, agriculture is often next to nonexistent and you find maps of huge cities with city walls, a thin strip of veggie patches just outside and then the deep, dark forest. Which is ridiculous, but hey, whatever feeds your boat.


Keep in mind, also, that the definition of "urban" is so inclusive as to be almost meaningless. For example, a town in the middle of nowhere with 2500 people is considered "urban" by the US Census Bureau. So, a lot of people who are living in areas no way urbanized in any functional understanding of the term, are counted as "urban" instead of "rural".

Now, before the agricultural advances of the last ~century, there wasn't any way for even those sorts of definitions to warp the numbers. In the grand scheme of things, it was just a little while ago that about 90% of humans were involved in farming or ranching or herding or some other form of food-growing activity, and would count as "rural" mostly.

halfeye
2018-11-05, 10:32 AM
Keep in mind, also, that the definition of "urban" is so inclusive as to be almost meaningless. For example, a town in the middle of nowhere with 2500 people is considered "urban" by the US Census Bureau. So, a lot of people who are living in areas no way urbanized in any functional understanding of the term, are counted as "urban" instead of "rural".

Now, before the agricultural advances of the last ~century, there wasn't any way for even those sorts of definitions to warp the numbers. In the grand scheme of things, it was just a little while ago that about 90% of humans were involved in farming or ranching or herding or some other form of food-growing activity, and would count as "rural" mostly.

The people who now can't compete pricewise for the suburbs that their homelands have become.

ImNotTrevor
2018-11-05, 01:01 PM
Only on this forum can there be a thread where page 1 is about halfings vs gnomes in terms of superfluousness, and page 4 starts with Urban vs. Suburban vs. Rural classifications.

I love this forum.

Anonymouswizard
2018-11-05, 01:15 PM
Only on this forum can there be a thread where page 1 is about halfings vs gnomes in terms of superfluousness, and page 4 starts with Urban vs. Suburban vs. Rural classifications.

I love this forum.

To be fair it is somewhat related to the Halfling versus Gnome discussion. I can see how halflings are the rural small folk and gnomes are the urban small folk, just like elves are rural and dwarves are urban.


But the important question is, without gnomes who'd be guarding your garden? Only thing stopping the halfling from nicking all your lawn.

Luccan
2018-11-05, 02:41 PM
To be fair it is somewhat related to the Halfling versus Gnome discussion. I can see how halflings are the rural small folk and gnomes are the urban small folk, just like elves are rural and dwarves are urban.


But the important question is, without gnomes who'd be guarding your garden? Only thing stopping the halfling from nicking all your lawn.

A funny thing when you consider most descriptions (in D&D, at least from 3e onward) describe gnome communities as small and hidden in hilly areas, attempting to harmonious with nature (which gnomes are all reported to love). Forest gnomes are the "rural" variant because they don't like outsiders and are less mechanically inclined.

Consensus
2018-11-05, 03:45 PM
just like elves are rural and dwarves are urban.
I don't think I've ever seen this in fiction before, with those two races exclusively as rural and urban

Vknight
2018-11-06, 01:38 AM
In my Ringwaldt Setting

Halflings are directly connected to Humans
Gnomes are directly connected to Elves
Goblins are directly connected to Orcs

They are all half-man races that are smaller then there cousin race with some unique characteristics. Making them all odd eccentric and wild in there own fashion which also makes each unique.

Like goblins are basically asari in mine, they are all female adorable green race that can work it out with most anything. They also hate there orc brethren and have moved across the continent to avoid them
Gnomes develop certain traits based on the race they lived around when young, basically developing the stereotypical traits of that race. Meaning greedy around dwarves, hippy like when around elves(despite the fact the elves in ringwaldt have well guns) and other eccentric behaviors.

Meanwhile Halflings are eccentric travelers with a wanderlust because all roads will lead home. As such halfling towns are small migratory and man halfling clans build big caravans that travel between 2 to 4 cities part traders part nomads wandering freely.

The Jack
2018-11-06, 12:02 PM
Humans and dwarves are respectively dire halflings and gnomes.

Down with the big people!

Spore
2018-11-06, 01:48 PM
Humans and dwarves are respectively dire halflings and gnomes.

Down with the big people!

I LOVE the "humans are monsters and super humanoids" trope so much that I might one day make a (spoof) campaign about it. Only monstrous and non humanoid races are allowed. They all bask in fear of the humans.

:durkon: They build entire cities in under five years! How do they do that?
:vaarsuvius:They multiply by the decade!
:thog: They're not as strong or durable as we are. But they are so damn smart! I think they call that Tucker's humans.
:belkar: So tall and strong. And no matter how wounded they are, they somehow keep on coming?

Well, maybe Belkar is a BAD pick for the stereotypical halfling...

137ben
2018-11-07, 06:47 PM
Gnomes are superfluous. KDEs and Cinnamons are much better.

Tanarii
2018-11-08, 10:29 AM
Gnomes are magical dwarves, as opposed to purely non magical & magic-resistant dwarves.

Halflings are non-magical & magic-resistant small humans, magic resistant small elf-like humans, or magic resistant small dwarf-like humans.

The only superfluous ones are Stout Halflings. Because magic resistant small dwarf-like humans basically describes a dwarf already.

Grognard Grognard.

As a side note, D&D 3e made Halflings awesome again, both in stats and more important by revamping their image. It rescued them from both Hobbits and Kender.

5e has done the same for gnomes. They've mostly rescued them from tinker gnomes, but more importantly from the high-pitched voices & steam-punk mechanics of WoW gnomes.

Bohandas
2018-11-08, 11:50 AM
As a side note, D&D 3e made Halflings awesome again, both in stats and more important by revamping their image. It rescued them from both Hobbits and Kender.

Right, now they're an empty shell.

And why did they keep the name?

Mark Hall
2018-11-08, 02:52 PM
Right, now they're an empty shell.

And why did they keep the name?

Because D&D has halflings, no matter what the characteristics.

Honest Tiefling
2018-11-08, 03:45 PM
Probably for the same reason they kept the names 'tiefling' and 'aasimar' despite the first being bad german and the second reminding people of butts. It's what people think of, and a lot of fans react badly to change.

Personally, I find 4e to be better than 3e for the halflings. Riding around on a dog is cool and all, but I really feel like halflings belong on boats because of their small size. Getting a bunch of slingers/archers on the deck and the size difference probably wouldn't really factor in as much.

Anonymouswizard
2018-11-08, 05:16 PM
Why is there no core giant race? It seems like a bigger hole to fill then devil people and a common thing in the fantasy genre, so why do people have to buy a supplement to play giants?

I think my next D&D character will be a Goliath Fighter/Wizard, just to even this skewed average height I see in parties.

Segev
2018-11-08, 05:48 PM
Why is there no core giant race? It seems like a bigger hole to fill....

I see what you did there.


But more seriously, giants pose a problem for typical "dungeon delving" style play, in that they may not fit easily into the corridors designed for Medium-sized characters. Often, mounts are left out for exactly that reason (and is one of the subtler advantages of Small race builds that use mounts: the Medium dog your Gnome or Halfling rides around on can go anywhere the humans in your party can). Giants may wind up excluded or posing difficulties to simply playing the game.

Pauly
2018-11-08, 08:20 PM
Imagine if you were a halfling or a gnome.

The OP would be about why are their Humans and Elves, they’re both the same. Elves are just humans with pointy ears. They both live above ground so why differentiate them?

What I don’t get is why gnomes and halflings would adventure with humans and elves. From a practical point of view so many things are different - walking speed, space needed for shelter, very limited inter-operability of weapons and armors, ability to move in confined spaces, sitting at the same table, riding animals, ad infinitum.

It can be a lot of fun to do an all small party adventuring in a big world, then the differences between the different types of small become much more apparent.

Tanarii
2018-11-09, 01:17 AM
, but I really feel like halflings belong on boats because of their small size.
In the Known World (later Mystara) theyre famous as Pirates in a few places.

Ever since I read Dungeonomics, one of my two default ways of thinking is Halfling Vikings. The other, since 3e, is gypsies, including river barge gypsies.

Anonymouswizard
2018-11-09, 08:22 AM
I see what you did there.


But more seriously, giants pose a problem for typical "dungeon delving" style play, in that they may not fit easily into the corridors designed for Medium-sized characters. Often, mounts are left out for exactly that reason (and is one of the subtler advantages of Small race builds that use mounts: the Medium dog your Gnome or Halfling rides around on can go anywhere the humans in your party can). Giants may wind up excluded or posing difficulties to simply playing the game.

I assure you, the pun was unintentional.

But I get what you're saying. I think it's because I tend to play either urban or wilderness adventures, where the problem is somewhat mitigated (a Goliath in a city likely spends as much time as they can outdoors, which actually makes for an interesting complication instead of stopping it entirely).