So you’ve taken a hard look at Dungeons and Dragons and decided that it’s time to make your first character for Dungeons & Dragons. First off, welcome to the family. You’ve taken your first steps into a world of shared storytelling and high adventure. We’re going to take a look at the process for building your character and go over the options you have available in the Player’s Handbook (we use the 5th edition, as it’s the most recent, and we think it’s one of the most accessible systems we’ve seen in a long time.). So grab your scratch paper, your pencil, and your character sheet as we explore the magical world of Dungeons and Dragons.
The first step you should really take when building a character is to think about what kind of a character you want to play. Before you make any decisions or write anything down, you need to stop and think what you’re going to enjoy playing. A secondary consideration would be what the party of adventurers you are going to be a member of needs. You may desperately want to break out a brand new half elf warlock, but your party desperately needs a tanky fighter or a healing cleric. You decide what you want to play, and what story you’re going to enjoy telling and playing. Whichever character you decide to make, you’re going to have to make a few decisions. Let’s take a look at the options for the first one of those decisions.
What Race is your character?
Your character’s race defines a lot of the basic physical and mental characteristics. It more than anything else will be the first thing an observer uses to define you. How many times have you read a passage that starts “And we saw the Dwarves standing there in their armor, beards immaculately groomed…” In a fantasy setting Race is a defining trait that gives other people a rough idea of what your character is, and how they can be expected to behave. In Dungeons and Dragons, Race has a couple of other features that we’ll discuss.
The Player’s Handbook offers nine racial choices for a new player to consider for their character. Each one is distinct, and has several subraces to choose from. When you select a Race, the offered selections of a subrace are offshoots of that main racial group. It may change baseline racial features, add new options, or give different physical and mental characteristics. The character creation process starts with choosing your race, so let’s go through the races and see what looks like fun to us.
The Halflings are a wonderful addition to the assembly of fantasy races. They are smaller than most other races, with their adults coming eye to eye with human children. They are a people who love comfort, peace and quiet. They are community driven, either in nomadic bands or in small villages. The Halfling people see the pleasure and joy in life, and are content with the simple pleasures to be taken by the comforts of home. However, they sometimes feel the call to explore the larger world around them. Halfling adventurers are extremely loyal to their friends, and will go to great lengths to help out the people they are close to.
Mechanically, in game, the halflings have the following benefits
Halflings are nimble. They gain a +2 bonus to their dexterity scores.
Halflings age like humans, with the typical adventuring age being twenty.
Halflings are an exemplary Lawful Good race. Their community focus makes them an orderly society that really doesn’t like disruptions to their status quo. As a group, they are kind hearted and accepting of others. Taken together these are iconic characteristics of a Lawful Good society.
Halflings are around three feet tall, and are in the small size category.
Halflings can move 25 feet per round unless otherwise stated.
Halflings are Lucky, which means they can re-roll a D20 result that shows a 1 on the die.
Halflings are Brave, and have advantage on Saving throws against being frightened (they roll 2D20 and take the higher result).
Halflings have the trait Halfling Nimbleness. This lets them move freely through spaces occupied by creatures of at least one size category larger than them.
Halflings can speak their language (Halfling) and common
These are base Halfling traits, and you’ve got a mandatory choice of either Lightfoot or Stout. Each one has options that add to (in some cases, replace) the Halfling racial traits, and each one can support a variety of traditional (and not so traditional) fantasy themes.
LIghtfoot Halflings are the mostly widely spread of the Halfling subraces. They are affable and easy to get along with. They are the most prone to experience the wanderlust that will lead them on a grand adventure.
Lightfoot Halflings are willful and nimble. They add +1 to their charisma scores.
Lightfoot Halflings are Naturally Stealthy. They can attempt to hide even when the only thing to hide behind is a creature one size larger than themselves (ordinally you can’t hide behind other people).
Stout Halflings are hardier than their Lightfoot cousins. Some claim Dwarven blood to explain their resilience and toughness, but the Stouts aren’t inclined to answer such questions.
Stout Halflings are hardier than Lightfoots. They add +1 to their Constitution score in addition to the Halfling bonus to dexterity.
Stout Halflings have Stout Resilience. This gives them Resistance to Poison damage and advantage on Saving Throws against Poison.
Let’s take a look at some of the interesting class combinations you can put together with the halfling subraces.
Lightfoot halflings combine charisma and dexterity with a sense of wanderlust. We think you can build the following interesting character concepts.
- Bard. If one character class exemplifies Wanderlust plus charismatic agility, It’s the Bard. Wandering storytellers are an excellent addition to any community of nomadic halflings, and with the rich storytelling tradition that .the halflings have, you can build a storyteller that any party of adventurers would be happy to have.
- Rogue. Burglar if you prefer, Halflings have a tendency to be ignored by taller races, which can be a great advantage to a character that wants to slip in and out of a place without being noticed. The Naturally Stealthy trait can be an advantage here. Personally we suggest picking up small expensive treasure like jewelry or gems because you aren’t going to want to lug around heavy treasure.
- Cleric. Clerics of Yondalla (The halfling mother god) are often the centers of their community, and Lightfoots fill this role admirably. WIth the right background to pick up extra social skills, A lightfoot cleric of Yondalla can be the face of a party.
Stout Halflings have a different sort of racial bonuses. Their Hardiness combined with their dexterity bonus leads us in these directions.
- Fighter: A nimble fighter option that uses ranged combat as a primary weapon is an excellent way to use the halfling racial bonuses in combat. Lighter armor coupled with a high dexterity creates a mobile platform for building a nimble, martial character.
- Barbarian. This one may not seem like a good match from the inside, but the Barbarian’s big hit die coupled with the constitution bonus means you’re going to have a lot of hit points. You’re also brimming with resistances while raging, and have the option to pick up some reasonable damage dealing capacity. We think the Bear Totem could be a neat fit, as you simply refuse to die.
- Druid. Again, not the first thought that comes to mind, but a Stout Halfling Druid is a major advantage to any settled community of halflings. Ensuring crop growth, making sure that animal populations are healthy, and making sure that their fellow halflings are making the least harmful impact to the natural world seem like goals for a nature loving halfling. Besides, when something starts disrespecting nature, you can call down lightning until it stops bothering nature.
So that’s where we’re going to break off for the day. That’s our look at the Halfling race for Dungeons and Dragons, 5th edition. Next week we’ll be back to review the Humans.