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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Denizens of Finiens: Halflings

Halflings, like Humans and Dwarves, originated in the heart of Paziou, deep within the savannahs and jungles of that ancient, prehistoric continent. Whatever culture they had prior to their departure is a mystery lost to time, much like the details of the Age of Ancient Magic; oral history merely regards them as citizens of lost, legendary kingdoms, with little to no detail of what those cultures were like nor what brought them to an end, leaving only myths and archeology to puzzle out the secrets of those forgotten eons.

Like Humans, Halflings are vast, varied, and seemingly capable of surviving anywhere and everywhere. The limitations of Human settlement extend to their smaller kin as well; Halflings are utterly unrepresented in distant Teremvor, The Northlands, or the wilderness of Seredína, but can be found - in slightly lesser volumes than Humans and Kobolds - in nearly all other lands. In some, such as the Senkaku Isles, they are among the rarest of present races, existing on the fringes of civilization, while in others such as Olympia and Galadae they are near omnipresent, a constant reminder of the existence of their culture underneath the dominant face of the region's people.

In fact, it is quite notable that save for their size, Halflings resemble Humans in almost every other way. They live to approximately the same ages; they mature, reproduce, and develop at the same rates; and magic affects them similarly, even when specified to function only toward a highly-specific racial bracket. The two races are close enough in almost every way as to be considered cousins; the only remaining barrier to their classification as two branches of the same species is their inability to reproduce together, which may be more due to the size disparity and lack of opportunity (that we know of) than racial incompatibility.

The inquisitive, energetic Halflings followed their larger brethren out of the heart of Paziou at the time of the Scattering, and thus began a tradition of moving constantly in the wake of other species. Whereas the Dwarves claimed the sea and Humans quickly began to spread over the land conquering and settling where they went, the Halflings became a nomadic people, forever wandering without a single unified settlement. Though they would establish a few minor villages in their wake, most Halflings would be ill-content to stay where they were born, eventually giving into a natural wanderlust and setting off for parts unknown. Those that did settle were more likely to claim a place in an existing settlement, most often the cities of Humans, than to attempt striking out to claim a place of their own.

As scattered as the Halflings became, their wanderings became a sort of natural tradition for them. Halflings became the foremost bearers of tales, carrying news, stories, and legends far and wide in their meandering journeys. Few bards could spin a tale or stir the heart as a Halfling could, for few had seen so much in so little time. Relentless lovers of new tales and new information, their quests for knowledge often spurred them to join in dangerous excursions, fearsome quests, or journeys to frontier realms where other races may not have dared tread without great skill, magic, or warriors.

Halflings are somewhat of a contradiction in many ways. When gathered in large numbers, there is a strong inclusion of togetherness, a sort of sense that the entire race is a single extended family and that all halflings, at least on some level, know each other almost on sight, if not by name. However, almost as soon as these gatherings disperse, each halfling is just as quickly alone, rarely spending much time in the company of others of their own kind save for spouses and children. The reason behind this is unknown, but it may have something to do with the race’s collective history, and a portion of their lore referred to as “The Story of Everything”.

From what little has been shared with outsiders, The Story is a collective record of experiences by all Halflings, spanning all history and as much of the world as they, as a whole, can traverse. Almost every Halfling is a participant, once they reach a certain age, and records of travels, journeys, events, and other notable happenings are often sent to families and distant contacts in the form of letters, journals, or ledgers providing detailed information. Where these records go next is unknown, but it’s presumed that somewhere there is a collective of Halflings that receive these documents, check their accuracy, and compile them into whatever form The Story takes. As a result of all this collecting and observing and sharing, Halflings by nature make excellent storytellers and bards, and almost all have a deep repertoire of lore and stories they can call upon, collected by themselves and their predecessors. They also serve as reliable and easily-accessible records-keepers and loremasters, who can be called upon in nearly any situation to research and recover desired information from historical fact with near-perfect accuracy.

Whatever its purpose, the Story is incomplete, and the Halflings continue their research, traveling, experiencing, recording, and sharing the knowledge they have gathered since time immemorial. Somewhere, hidden away, tiny scribes work relentlessly on a project that may never be completed until it, at last, perishes in whatever apocalypse claims the world upon which it is written.


Notable Edits: Mechanics
Halflings in Finiens have their racial type changed to Humanoid (Human). Otherwise their statistics are unchanged. 

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