In Third Edition Dungeons and Dragons Wizards of the Coast made numerous changes
and improvements to many things. Among them was the changes made in the Third
Edition Halfling. Anyone that’s ever played a halfling in Advanced Dungeons
and Dragons understands the contrast between the old and new halfling. Some
people have stated that the new halfling is finally a “real halfling” or a “gamer’s”
halfling”, or that the new halfling is finally worth playing after the “ridiculous,
weak and puny” halflings of old. What they fail to realize however is that the
New Halfling is essentially a kender in halfling clothing. Most of what the
new halfling is based on is actually information on the kender race from the
DragonLance Saga. This article will describe the new third edition halfling
and their relation to kender.
The Old Halfling
Before we can understand the significant difference between the old halfling
and the new halfling we must first have a description of the old halfling to
compare them to. The previous version of the Dungeons and Dragons halfling was
based heavily off of the Hobbit race from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. They
were short plump people, with round bodies, round ears, curly hair, and hairy
feet. They also preferred to go shoeless most of the time.
They had a very cheery disposition, were dependable and industrious. They
were known for being a quiet and peaceful race that usually kept to themselves,
living happily in their burrows and keeping to the comforts of their homes.
Even though they were reserved halflings could be very conversational and friendly,
getting along with many of the races. They also had a great love of material
comforts, riddles, and homespun stories. They were not overly brave or ambitious.
Halfling were highly resistance to all sorts of magic and poisons. They were
skilled with thrown weapons and slings, and were highly dexterous. So the thief
was the preferred class because of their natural dexterity and love of material
The 3E halfling now has the physical description of the kender race. They are
still short, standing no more than three and a half feet tall, but halflings
now have thin lean bodies, weigh around 40 pounds and have pointed ears. The
hair is gone from their feet and they usually wear shoes. Unlike kender that
have a wide variety of hair and eye colors, halflings have brown eyes and straight
black hair. Halflings wear comfortable clothing, where kender tend toward brighter
even garish colors.
The most noticeable change in the 3E halfling comes in the personality. Here
is where you will find the true kender within the Third Edition halfling.
Halflings are now intensely curious. This trait comes directly from the kender
race. Previously halflings were content with their lot in life and were creatures
of comfort and habit. They did not go out of their way to pry into other peoples
business or belongings unless there was something to gain for themselves in
it. Now they are interested in everything around them. Kender take this curiosity
to an extreme and halflings seem to have a milder case of it.
They previously enjoyed a bonus for all saves against magic and poisons. This
is now gone and in it’s place is a +1 bonus against all saving throws in general.
On top of that they receive an additional +2 morale bonus that stacks with their
+1 against fear. This added protection against fear is a nod towards the near
immunity kender enjoy against fear. It’s not as powerful as the kender’s resistance,
but it’s enough to get them in trouble.
Halflings have a particular love for collecting things that is slightly different
from kender. They collect groups of things. Button collections, mug collections,
pressed flowers, animal claws and other various odds and ends. Where halflings
concentrate on one type of object, kender usually collect whatever they can
get their hands on.
Evidently, the new halfling loves to trade insults now. This concept comes directly
from the kender races ability throw taunts at enemies. Once again, kender take
the art to an extreme and get special reactions when taunting, but halflings
only love to trade insults as a hobby, much like they like to trade riddles.
Yes, believe it or not. The third edition halfling subscribes to the concept
of handling. If there was anything that set kender apart from the other races
it was the idea that they had a failing to understand the true value of property.
And this is the biggest change in the 3E halfling from it’s predecessor. Halflings
have community treasuries that a halfling will receive funds from when traveling
out beyond their commonwealth and into the lands of other races. While living
within the halfling society halflings do not carry money because they don’t
need it. They trade in services and non-monetary objects (such as rare finds
for their collections). They even freely borrow items from their friends and
neighbors as long as it is not being used. Among halfling you’ll find that it’s
even typical to discover them taking an object of value and then swearing that
they just didn’t think anyone was using it at the moment, and actually meaning
it! I suppose if there is a difference in this concept from halflings to kender
it’s that over time halflings can learn to curb this impulse when they have
been arrested enough times for taking things.
The halfling society is no longer the “lets sit in our comfy borrows and relax”
type of society. In many ways it mirrors the kender concept of society. One
change, mentioned above in handling, is that property is more community based.
Borrowing without asking for a shovel or tea set is commonplace and expected.
The halfling society is a happening place, just like kender communities. Halflings
love parties. Among them they have 3 different types of birthday parties, (including
one after you’ve died). The festivals (or as kender call them “moots”) are almost
always community based, involving the extended families and close friends. They
are held very often, so any visitor into a commonwealth is bound to find that
they are invited to one when they visit and get the impression that halflings
are always holding them (which they are).
This is the halfling concept of Wanderlust. There comes a time around their
20th birthday when a halfling must make a choice to pursue a profession within
their commonwealth or to choose the Worldwalk. On Worldwalk a halfling travels
the world for roughly a decade learning new skills, finding new treasures and
experiencing the world first hand. When they return from Worldwalk they are
expected to teach the halflings of their commonwealth the skills they have learned
and relay the experiences they encountered.
Differences between Halfling and Kender
With so many similarities you might wonder if there are any differences between
the two races. The differences between them are much fewer than used to exist
between the races. To begin with an evil kender has never been known to exist,
and while halfling are usually a good race they do have the option to be evil.
In fact halfling gangs are definite problem in many large cities. You would
be hard pressed to find a group of true kender that would form a gang intent
on theft and extortion. The gang mentality is prevalent in halfling society.
The Commonwealth communities of halflings are the first unique idea on halflings
that I have seen. They have communities that are nomadic. These halfling communities
follow established travel routes and migrate over months and years. This change
coincides well with the idea of the Worldwalk, but is a complete opposite of
the previous version of the halfling. Strangely enough kender actually settle
down and have stationary communities.
Worldwalk is a choice for halfling, but not for kender. Kender have a physical
and emotional need to travel the world. They have a forced Worldwalk. Giving
halflings a choice for their Worldwalk allows users to select from the type
of halfling that is closer to the hobbit. It gives them a choice to play the
reluctant hero role.
Riddles are another difference. Halflings have retained their love of Riddles
and have festivals dedicated to Riddle challenges. Some differences are even
resolved with Riddle challenges. The contestant that stumps the other proves
themselves correct in the dispute and is declared the winner.
Mentoring is a tradition that is tied to a Festival known as the Master’s
Fair. Where halfling craftsmen and women set up booths and inquiring young halflings
visit each booth to find a profession they would like to take part in. The kender
race is much less organized in their approach to mentoring, where young kender
are introduced through friends and family or simply are allowed to wander the
streets of the city or village looking for something interesting to take part
I think getting an “infusion of kender blood” is probably the best thing for
halflings since their creation. It truly makes the new halfling race multi-faceted
and much more interesting to role-play. The creators have taken the best of
both the kender and hobbits and have designed a race that is broad enough yet
defined enough to get a wide range of player characters from. The kender found
in halflings clothing has spiced up a once “weak and puny” player character