I was surprised to meet Illis Stoutholm on my way back from Highhelm, where my own entry had been denied. With a smirk on her face, she told me that she had been living with the dwarves for nearly a decade. After asking me to call her Illis, she added that she was looking forward to returning to her people back home in Vellumis. That was nearly a year ago, and it might be a coincidence, but aren’t the soldiers of Lastwall resorting to dwarven rank-and-file tactics nowadays? – Findell Hearthstone, Highhelm merchant
Physical Description and Psychological Outlook
Halflings rise to a humble height of 3 feet. They prefer to walk barefoot, leading to the bottoms of their feet being roughly calloused. Tufts of thick curly hair warm the tops of their broad, tanned feet. Their skin tends toward a rich almond color, darkening near the Inner Sea, and their hair toward light shades of brown. A halfling’s ears are pointed, but proportionally not larger than those of a human.
Forever living in the shadows of their taller kith and kin, halflings dress in whatever styles suit the human culture in which they dwell. Halfling slaves tend to dress slightly better than their free cousins, as their owners tend to use them as status symbols.
Although they stand just shorter than gnomes they make up for what they lack in stature and strength with bravery, optimism, and skill. Halflings are inveterate opportunists. Unable to physically defend themselves from the rigors of the world, they know when to bend with the wind and when to hide away. Yet a halfling’s curiosity often overwhelms his good sense, leading to poor decisions and narrow escapes.
Emotionally, halflings embrace nonexclusive extremes, being easygoing but excitable, prone to laziness but frenetic when roused. ironically, their greatest strength is their perceived weakness – halflings can count on the advantage that they are continually underestimated, an edge they exploit mercilessly.
Halfling’s history dates back to the beginning of humanity. From the very start, they seem to have always walked alongside mankind, living in human cities, adopting human customs, seeing to the common needs of humans as cooks, entertainers, and menials. It’s easy to take them for granted.
Halflings claim no cultural homeland and control no settlements larger than rural assemblies of free towns. Far more often, thy dwell at the knees of their human cousins in human cities, eking out livings as they can from the scraps of larger societies. Many halflings lead perfectly fulfilling lives in the shadow of their larger neighbors, while some prefer more nomadic lives on the road, traveling the world and experiencing all it has to offer.
While humans are the building blocks of Golarion’s society, halflings often are the mortar that reinforces these communities by sustaining a common sense of purpose that supersedes the individual’s need. In most human communities, a small percentage of halflings forms a sub-population with various interests that seems to be immersed and absorbed, merely dabbling in the community’s affairs. In truth, the halflings benefit from the techniques, approaches, and protection their symbiotic society offers them. in return, they use their positions, inter-species knowledge, and constantly growing influence to stabilize society, avert conflict, and maintain a prosperous balance of power.
Due to their homogeneous communities, many halflings refine and differentiate their social lives by joining groups and societies of interest that often serve as open and legal fronts to the infamous shadowguilds. Most of these organizations are intercultural and geared toward older participants, revolving around trade, art, or diplomacy. Despite these economic and peaceful trades, however, a newly founded elitist duelist league continues to quickly expand. The league teaches fast, dexterous fighting styles with undeniable roots in the dark alleys. Its techniques possess a certain panache tat turns even the most unassuming halfling into a blade-whirling dervish. This approach appeals to the younger generations, who desperately long for a flirt with danger.
Though curiosity drives the race to travel and seek new experiences, they also possess a strong sense of house and home, often spending above their means to enhance the comforts of home living. Fortunately, their superior sense for danger allows them to survive these hazards and has granted them the reputation of being exceptionally lucky. It is no surprise that superstitions revolving around luck and fate have become common among halfling-harboring lands, and some cultures even assign mystical value to the small folk. Rich Katapeshi traders hire halfling servants almost exclusively in an attempt to benefit from their luck (and their aptness at illicit trade), and many children’s tales features exceptionally lucky halfling heroes.
Despite their close involvement in many facets of human society, halflings have a tendency to be ignored and underestimated. Their ability to blend into the background, be it at a social gathering or into the comforting shadows of a dark alley, is unparalleled. They know when to remain in the background, but when they have the chance to seize a grand pile of gold or fame they never let the opportunity pass by. Often blamed for putting themselves into danger, the small folk simply cannot resist the temptation of a new adventure, a daring heist, or the lure of the unknown.
One typical halfling custom is when a halfling becomes an adult (two decades after birth). The whole halfling community comes together to celebrate the halfling’s coming of age ritualistically. The exact time of the festival is usually determined by a certain task the fledgling must perform. Its nature is generally specified years before the child has any hope of completing it, and might range from acquiring a certain amount of wealth to the preparation of a feast for the entire family. Many apprentices try repeatedly before they are able to match the challenge through skill or adept cheating.
After succeeding, the halfling is given a token as to remember the accomplishment. This item often carries the additional promise of freedom from the community but usually bears little actual value. An ancient gold coin to start a collection, an ornamental dagger to sever the chains of comfort, a pair of boots to travel the world, or a dubious treasure map help to toss the curious youngster out into the world.
A typical halfling prides himself on his ability to go unnoticed by other races – it is this trait that allows so many halflings to excel at thievery and trickery. Most halflings, knowing full well the stereotyped view other races take of them as a result, go out of their way to be forthcoming and friendly to the bigger races when they’re not trying to go unnoticed. they get along fairly well with gnomes, although most halflings regard these eccentric creatures with a hefty dose of caution. Halflings coexist well with humans as a general rule, but since some of the more aggressive human societies value halflings as slaves, halflings try no to grow too complacent when dealing with them. Halflings respect elves and dwarves,but these races generally live in remote regions far from the comforts of civilization that halflings enjoy. Only halforcs are shunned by halflings in general, for their great size and violent natures are a bit too intimidating for most halflings to cope with.
Halflings take nothing for granted, and always keep their eyes open for the next opportunity to survive and even thrive. This impulse often casts them as servants, with halflings attaching themselves to human families or institutions as a matter of symbiotic survival. In devil-tainted Cheliax, such servitude often comes in the form of slavery. Here, halflings are known as “slips,” and Chelaxians treat them with scorn and contempt. And although they are weaker than human slaves, their unparalleled optimism causes them to rarely revolt or struggle, and makes them get along with their master’s children. That’s why halflings are the top of the slave market.
Halflings usually adopt the religious beliefs of teh societies with which they merge. Unsurprisingly, many halflings worship the gods of humankind, such as Abadar, Iomedae, and Shelyn. Despite their practical commitment to faith, it is very rare for halflings to become clerics, paladins, or similar devout servants of these deities. More often, these rare, enlightend individuals come from Desna, Erastil, or Sarenrae as their patrons. Rumors also tell of a disturbingly large cult venerating the treacherous aspect of Norgorber. These apparitional preachers usually remain in the background and, being halflings, they have perfected the art of blending in and avoiding attention. nonetheless, the growing number of bloody deeds and assassinations that oddly benefit halfling communities make the cult’s emergence difficult to deny.
Being lucky is second nature to nearly all halflings, and while many demystify their successes with tales of superior reflexes, unmatched skill, or inscrutable cunning, a few halflings stand out by an unmistakable lack of luck. Instead, these individuals seem to bring mischief and bad luck to adversaries, and as a result they are avoided or even feared, especially among cultures heartily embracing superstitions. Halflings believe this occurrence to be a rare blessing of Desna, and children bearing this gift are often ushered into the study of magical arts.
Due to their attributes of positiveness and luck, and in contrast with their stable and altruistic communities, halfling society has a hidden, darker side as meaningful, developed, and important as the face maintained for the unassuming public. Almost all halflings possess a strong opportunistic streak that is most prominent during their younger years. During this time, many stray from the rules of the community and involve themselves in the disdained affairs of thievery, subterfuge, adventuring, and vagabond life. They often join guilds and try their hands at various professions or seek out other halfling settlements so as to mingle with different cultures.
Language and Naming
Halflings speak their own language, based on the Common alphabet, named Halfling. Most halflings have two names: one adhering to the naming conventions of the community they support and one of halfling origin.
Male: Antal, Boram, Chimon, Etun, Evan, Guile, Hakon, Jamir, Kaleb, Karum, Lem, liek, Miro, Neg, Rocur, Sumak
Female: Anafa, Bellis, Chandira, Eireen, Elune, Filiu, Giana, Lissa, Marra, Onaga, Piria, Rillka, Sistra, Sophone, Vaga, Yamyra
Sources: Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook, Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting