Halfling (Dungeons & Dragons)

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First appearancethe original 1974 edition of Dungeons & Dragons
Based onHobbit
AlignmentUsually Neutral

The halfling is a fictional race (with many subraces) found in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. Halflings are similar to humans, but about half their size. The original Dungeons & Dragons included hobbits,[1][2] but later the game began using the name "halfling" as an alternative to "hobbit" for legal reasons.[3]

Publication history[edit]

Original Dungeons & Dragons[edit]

The hobbit first appeared as a player character class in the original 1974 edition of Dungeons & Dragons.[4][5]

In earlier editions of D&D, halflings are strongly inspired by Tolkien's hobbits (even referred to by that word frequently), being diminutive, chubby, furry-footed home-bodies with a penchant for dwelling in hollowed out hillsides and a racial talent for burglary.[6]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons[edit]

The "halfling" appeared as a player character race in the original Player's Handbook (1978).[7][8] The halfling also appeared in the original Monster Manual (1977), which described the halfling subraces of hairfoot, stout, and tallfellow.[9] A number of halfling subraces were presented as character races in the original Unearthed Arcana (1985).[10]

Basic Dungeons & Dragons[edit]

The halfling appeared as a character class in the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (1977, 1981, 1983), Companion Rules (1984), and Master Rules (1985).

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition[edit]

The halfling appeared as a character race in the second edition Player's Handbook (1989).[11] The hairfoot halfling, the stout halfling, and the tallfellow halfling also appeared in the Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989),[12] and Monstrous Manual (1993). The Athasian halfling for the Dark Sun setting first appeared in Dragon #173 (September 1991), and later appeared in the Dark Sun Monstrous Compendium Appendix II: Terrors Beyond Tyr (1995) and Dark Sun Campaign Setting, Expanded and Revised (1995). Several halfling sub-races were detailed as player character races in The Complete Book of Gnomes and Halflings (1993), including the Athasian halfling, the furchin (polar halfling).[13]

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition[edit]

The halfling appeared as a character race in the third edition Player's Handbook (2000),[14] and in the 3.5 revised Player's Handbook[15] The lightfoot halfling, the deep halfling, and the tallfellow halfling appeared in the third edition Monster Manual (2000), and the 3.5 revised Monster Manual (2003). The jerren, a race related to halflings, appeared in the Book of Vile Darkness (2002). The lightfoot halfling, ghostwise halfling, and the strongheart halfling for the Forgotten Realms setting were detailed in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (2001), and in Races of Faerûn (2003).[16] The aquatic halfling, the arctic halfling, the desert halfling, the jungle halfling, the halfling paragon, and the water halfling were detailed in Unearthed Arcana (2004).

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition[edit]

The halfling appeared as a character race in the fourth edition Player's Handbook (2008) and the Essentials rulebook Heroes of the Fallen Lands. The halfling also appears in the fourth edition Monster Manual (2008).[17]

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition[edit]

The halfling was included as a player race in the 5th edition Player's Handbook (2014).[18] Two subraces were introduced with it: the lightfoot halfling and the stout halfling. The Player's Handbook also suggests using the statistics of the lightfoot halflings to stand in for the hairfeet halflings and tallfellow halflings of the Greyhawk campaign setting, as well as using the stout halflings to represent the strongheart halflings of the Forgotten Realms.

Campaign settings[edit]

  • The Dragonlance campaign set has a completely different race that fills the niche usually held by halflings, known as kender. They are completely immune to fear, even if magically generated. Described as having a "communal" outlook on property ownership, they are known to wander off while still holding, looking at, or even after pocketing an item that catches their fancy. They do not consider this stealing, but rather only think of it as borrowing the item. Kender have a tendency to discard items for what they deem more valuable (what catches their eye more), at the time of acquiring a new item if they need more space in their pouches.
  • In Eberron, introduced in 2004, halflings are even more removed from the Tolkien versions. In this world, halflings are a wilderness-loving barbarian race that uses domesticated dinosaurs as mounts. Although they are nomadic and clannish and thus viewed as barbarians by other races, these halflings are still adept at fitting in with civilized peoples when they leave their prairie homes. Some halflings give up their nomadic lifestyle to settle in human cities, but retain strong ties to their heritage.
  • In the Dark Sun setting, the wiry halflings seldom exceed 3½' in height and live in shaman-ruled settlements in the jungles beyond the mysterious Ringing Mountains.[19] Halflings are the oldest race on Athas. Most of them became barbaric cannibals, while a handful of them inhabited the Pristine Tower.


  1. ^ Gygax, Gary. "Gary Gygax (Interview)". TheOneRing.net. Retrieved 2008-10-07.
  2. ^ Weinstock, Jeffrey, ed. (2014), The Ashgate Encyclopedia of Literary and Cinematic Monsters, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., p. 193, ISBN 1409425622.
  3. ^ Langford, David (2005), The Sex Column and Other Misprints, Wildside Press LLC, p. 188, ISBN 1930997787.
  4. ^ Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson. Dungeons & Dragons (3-Volume Set) (TSR, 1974)
  5. ^ Tresca, Michael J. (2010), The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, McFarland, p. 62, ISBN 078645895X
  6. ^ Though some sources claim that "'Hobbit' had some precendent as a folkword borrowed from legends, Tolkien personified and developed these diminutive stalwarts extensively. They, and the name, are virtually unique to his works, and the halflings of both game systems draw substantial inspiration from them."Gygax, Gary (March 1985). "On the influence of J.R.R. Tolkien on the D&D and AD&D games". The Dragon (95). pp. 12–13.
  7. ^ Schick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Prometheus Books. pp. 84–85. ISBN 0-87975-653-5.
  8. ^ Gygax, Gary (1978). Players Handbook. TSR. ISBN 0-935696-01-6.
  9. ^ Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual (TSR, 1977)
  10. ^ Unearthed Arcana, by Gary Gygax, published 1985, ISBN 978-0-88038-084-3
  11. ^ Cook, David (1989). Player's Handbook. TSR. ISBN 0-88038-716-5.
  12. ^ Cook, David, et al. Monstrous Compendium Volume One (TSR, 1989)
  13. ^ Niles, Douglas. The Complete Book of Gnomes & Halflings (TSR, 1993)
  14. ^ Tweet, Jonathan; Cook, Monte; Williams, Skip (2000). Player's Handbook. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-1550-1.
  15. ^ Tweet, Jonathan; Cook, Monte; Williams, Skip (2003) [2000]. Player's Handbook v.3.5. revised by Andy Collins. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 0-7869-2886-7.
  16. ^ Boyd, Eric L.; Matt Forbeck; and James Jacobs. Races of Faerûn. Wizards of the Coast, 2003
  17. ^ Mearls, Mike, Stephen Schubert, and James Wyatt. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2008)
  18. ^ Player's Handbook. Wizards of the Coast. 2014.
  19. ^ Swan, Rick (September 1992). "Role-playing Reviews". Dragon. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: TSR (#185): 65–66.