Burning THAC0 Halflings (or Hobbits in a LotR campaign)?

I have seen the suggestion of tweaking [Field] Roden stock Traits, colour, and a few “tail” references in the LPs. Has anyone attempted this in play? How did it work out?

Anyone with experience burning a Hobbit character?

No actualy play experience, but wouldnt coming up with a few Hobbit common traits, then using human villager and peasant lifepaths be appropriate?

Edit, something like:

Small Stature (dt)
Power and Forte max is 6.
Power must be less than speed attribute.
+1ob when wielding Two-handed weapons

Quiet (C-O)
Call on for Stealthy

Healthy Appetite (dt)
+1 Health at character creation
+1D Advantage for tests involving food and drinks.

Furry Feet (character trait)

Born of Earth and Twig (dt)
Hobbits may not start the game with Faithful or Gifted trait.

For traditional Tolkin’esque settings: A free affiliation with all of hobbitkin, this, to represent their close knit families and communities, may be considered.


That misses some essence of what Hobbits were, though, I think. What made them Hobbits, what made Samwise so inherently suitable to bear the ring. How he and Bilbo were such oddities in Hobbit society, which by-in-large were home-bodies in very tightly knit villages, yet were manifestations of the countervailing Hobbit norms of insatiably curiosity, playfulness, and grim loyalty. They were not simply Men, but shorter. They were closer to being a society of Children, which implies a different arrangement.

P.S. The ban against Faith for Hobbits is redundant for the LotR setting. The ban against Faithful makes zero sense in the case of Halflings given their devotion to the patron god Yondanda (sp?) figuring heavily in the patches of what D&D has fleshed out of their society.

I was thinking of adapting Roden for Gnomes, what with the fields and below settings, it seemed appropriate. Still, below would be a good way to generate a nasty Gollum.

I agree, but as a quick fix to enable a player to jump into a game as a Hobbit, or Halfling for that matter, it seems sufficient; particularly if paired with some recoloration of lifepath wises and traits to suit the setting.

In some ways its a tough nut to crack, as the Halflings of the implied DnD setting, save for Dark Sun and Birthright, are not necessarily the embodiment of neither childlike curiosity nor ethical purity-- childlike, and untouched by the norms of the taller, grown up, races. In short, Hobbits are multifaceted, (A)DnD and traditional Tolkien are designed to appeal to very different customers, one a greasy adolescent, the other in a childrensbook.

With the upcoming film, a Burning Wheel implementation is decidedly an interesting topic to pursue. Dwight, you have already put some very interesting themes on the table, could you create a shopping list of themes you would wish your Hobbits/Halflings to explore? Brainstorming helps the creative process :slight_smile:


but as a quick fix to enable a player to jump into a game

Maybe. But, amazingly, I am in a situation where I am being proactive so have the time to move past quick fixes!

D&D halflings started out as hobbits without Gygax even bothering to file off the serial numbers, they even used the name ‘hobbits’. Then Tolkien’s estate threatened legal action so TSR renamed them to ‘halflings’, which is a word that Tolkien himself even occasionally used but it was enough to get the lawyers off TRS’s back. Then, as early as Deities & Demigods, TSR halflings started morphing into their own thing. The halflings got a specific section of the original material D&D pantheon (along with inherent society goals, and making them look a lot more like Roden are), then a bunch of different [environment specific] varieties were split off, even without counting setting specific races like Dark Sun. Kender were somewhat a throwback in some ways, but they were like a funhouse mirror version aimed more at the author’s morality dodge around theft. In 3e they were morphed again, and a different background given although at least the major patron god remained.

So much thin, varied, and muddled source within D&D makes for a tough, moving target.

With the upcoming film, a Burning Wheel implementation is decidedly an interesting topic to pursue. Dwight, you have already put some very interesting themes on the table, could you create a shopping list of themes you would wish your Hobbits/Halflings to explore? Brainstorming helps the creative process.

Besides the above? There is the growing and processing of pipe-weed, and obviously partaking of it although they aren’t alone in that. Not that that warrants labeling Tolkien as designed to appeal to ‘greasy adolescents’, IMO. :wink:

There is their resistance to corrupting magic.

I really do not understand the rationale for a lower Forte cap?

I think because they are small, but yes, they are supposed to tough. Power should probably be the only cap? I like keeping it below speed, myself.

Emotional attribute? Hope is taken by that other game. Maybe it IS a form of faith? Sorta.

I don’t reckon hobbits have an emotional attribute. They are just the “Little People”, metaphorically, they are the people who witness history but don’t take part in it. They are the nobodies who carry the water for the real heroes. They prefer the comforts of home to the tent of the campaign. They are the anti-Alexander the Great.

Agreed Justin, Emotional Attribute = arc. They don’t have that.

I’m going to have to respectfully disagree here, but seeing as I can’t figure what the emotional attribute would be, I don’t have much leg to stand on. :smiley:

On the other hand, are we talking hobbits or halflings. Hobbits carved up history like the TDay bird. Think of all the Tooks (Brandobaris) before, & of course Bilbo & Frodo. It was their strength of will that saved ME. Hard for me to think of then as “Anti Alexanders”.

Hobbits created golf, man!

Golf is not much chop compared to Alexander stripping down naked, oiling up, throwing javelins and no-holds barred wrestling called Pankration http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pankration There was a guy who won for a couple of Olympics running by locking up his opponents and breaking their knuckles one by one until they conceded. Not quite as hard core as golf but I reckon they would give the hobbits a run for their money.

In jest, maybe their emo attribute is “Getting-home-in-time-for-tea”? Less in jest, if they are going to have an emo attribute, I reckon that it would have to be one like the mice. One which has an out at both ends. One end is where all you do is stay in your hole and the other end where you go off just walking into Mordor and drop rings into active volcanoes when it would be much safer to leave in the claws of the carrier eagle to do the job. That way you can have your cake and eat it too. Also the lunatic fringe can work their way back to tea sipping normal given the right cicumstances (or not they can sail into the sunrise and the godly lands).

At least you see my point.

I think.


As someone pointed out up-thread, Tolkien Hobbits and the various skins that DnD Halflings have been given really are distinct things for our purposes.

There’s a lot of evidence, including stuff Tolkien wrote outside the books, that basically peg hobbits as a ‘flavor’ of Men, so using Men lifepaths makes a lot of sense to me, along with a few traits to nail down their distinctness.

If you want to go with an emotional trait, though, I think the best one would basically be ‘how weird are you?’ Bilbo’s attitudes at the beginning of The Hobbit, not to mention the attitudes of all ‘civilian’ hobbits prior to the scouring of the Shire, is basically one of ‘don’t be or do anything that hobbit society will look down on’.

If I had to pick, I’d use ‘Queerness’ – in the non-LGBT sense – for this. Anytime you do something socially unacceptable, you get a test. Anytime you toe the line for long enough or in the right ways, you might reduce it. You can spend Artha to test it whenever you are trying to do something unusual, or out of the ordinary, or just plain crazy. Also, like Greed, it can get you into trouble. The lure of the weird, bizarre, and out of the ordinary can cause you to do mad things…

If you want a word without the LGBT baggage, ‘Mad’ might work. As in ‘Mad Baggins’, who would disappear in a cloud of smoke and return with riches and tall tales of strange lands…

IMHO, anyways.

(I can see Hobbits just wanting to Settle Down and stop Mucking About in Caves - an emotional attribute of Homesickness. The opposite of wanderlust. They can tap it to give themselves a boost borne of sheer frustration that they don’t have a clean handkerchief or whatever else they’re desperately missing. They earn situational tests every time they’re inconvenienced by adventuring - bad weather, Going Without and so forth. When it hits exponent 10, they either leave to settle down, or they become despondent and comatose, with final words of, I’m Sorry Chaps but I’m Just Going to Have To Stop Here.)

I like that a lot. Couldn’t have said it any better.

I like both of those, Fuse & Anya. I’m glad I don’t intend to have hobbits yet, as it would be hard to choose!

I’ve used the following traits, in some combination, to throw hobbits and halflings into games:

Hairy Feet [Character Trait]
Halflings often go barefoot, and have distinctly hairy feet.

Larcenously Inclined [Call-On]
In spite of their stay-at-home natures, halflings make marvelous burglars and are surprisingly level-headed. They are blessed with steady hands, nimble fingers and a cool head. This acts as a Call-On for Climbing, Sleight of Hand, and Steel.

Six meals a day [Character Trait] (Unabashedly stolen from Decipher’s game)
Halflings are lovers are good food and drink. This often leads to weight problems if they live a sedentary life.

Small Folk [Die Trait]
Haflings are small, averaging about three feet in height and sixty pounds or so in weight with a slender, athletic frame. Though lithe and quick, a halfling’s slight frame precludes great strength. Power must always be lower than their Speed or Agility (whichever is lower), even if this limits advancement. They have
a stride of 6. Their nature gives them a maximum Speed of 9 rather than 8, and a maximum Power of 6 rather than 8.

Beyond the traits, I used the mannish lifepaths, leaning heavily toward village and peasant settings. I’ve experimented with giving them one fewer trait point per lifepath (to a minimum of one), but I haven’t noticed anything untoward if I forgot to do the math.

No way can you give them an all-purpose call-on for Steel. Limit it to a certain kind of situation.

Also, I think the main thing that makes them good burglars is their ability to move silently. It’s referred to constantly in Tolkien. I’d make it a call-on for Stealthy.

Stealthy and Sleight of Hand, if I recall The Hobbit and LotR correctly (it has been some years since I read The Hobbit, and I never could bring myself finish the Trilogy in Six Parts). That is just a standard 3 point C-O Trait.

Agreed on the Steel. That is MASSIVE game wise and not really in line with the fiction, either, IMO.

EDIT: On the other hand I do think it is missing a +1D (or +1Ob to caster targeting them) against coercing or corrupting magic of any sort. That would include versus Elven Songs and such, I believe.