Sunday, July 4, 2010

Halflings in Holmes

One of the (many) oddities in Holmes is that to create an elf character, there are no ability score requirements. To create a dwarf, you need a score of at least 9 in Constitution. To create a halfling, you need a score of at least 9 in Constitution and Dexterity. I have to wonder what led to this decision, since, unless I've missed something, it's not derived from the LBBs.

Any ideas?


  1. A desire to have halflings be rare?

  2. A house rule in his campaign reflecting his interpretation of Tolkien?

  3. Frodo-deterrent, perhaps?

    I'm not going to lie, I don't have that much experience with Holmes/Mentzer/BECMI or before, but the impression I always got is that playing a halfling wound up being inferior to a fighter - small, lower hit points, limited level advancement, etc.

    So even with Frodo-deterrent as an objective, I can't really figure out what's the point of having halflings presented as they are.

    (if this is incoherent, I apologize; I haven't had my morning coffee yet)

  4. I always felt that a Con requirement for Halflings came from Tolkien, whose Hobbits were presented as a "hearty" folk, if only because of Frodo's ability to withstand the evil of the Ring upon his soul (this requiring the interpretation of Con to mean having a "strong soul", which I feel is supported by other things in oD&D, such as System Shock).

  5. 9 Con presumably comes from hobbit toughness (as Nick said); Frodo resists the Ring, and more pertinently, the splinter of the Nazgul knife (which Gandalf says would swiftly have overcome many warriors of the Big Folk). 9 Dex presumably comes from Bilbo's skill at throwing stones.

  6. Allandaros:

    I've heard for years that the Halfling is a poor Fighter / Thief, but I disagree. Halflings are best played as scouts and rangers. They are perfectly equipped for the roll. In addition to superior initiative, and hiding Halfling's also benefit from the best THAC0 possible with ranged weapons (at low levels) for those moments when escaping isn't an option, not to mention amazing saves to survive any traps that they stumbled upon.

    Holme's additional requirements fit this model quite well. Not only making Halfling's hardy, but it even assures they are even more deadly in ranged combat.

    I've once said Oe Haflings take after Hobbits, AD&D Halflings take after Gollum, but Basic Halflings take after the shireling's mentor, Aragon.

  7. High requirements also ensure that races/classes with few special features are still viable matches to the rest of the party.

    In addition, by biasing halflings upward on DEX and CON while working with 3d6 roll in order chargen, you likely wind up with halflings that have lower than average in the remaining scores - weaker and perhaps a bit naïf.

  8. Yeah, I think it's part game balance and part Tolkien theme. There are no "great halfling warriors" in Tolkien, which is why all pre-20 editions of D&D stunt the halflings ability to advance (B/X stops 'em at level 8). To counter-balance this (i.e. make it a viable class compared to others) a number of suitable "special abilities" are provided to give them advantages that still echo the Tolkien books: they're small and quiet and concealable and hearty and good shots and don't need to buy boots, etc.

  9. "In addition, by biasing halflings upward on DEX and CON while working with 3d6 roll in order chargen, you likely wind up with halflings that have lower than average in the remaining scores"

    Gambler's fallacy? DICE DO NOT WORK THAT WAY.

  10. There are no "great halfling warriors<

    What about the great Shire hero "Bullroarer?" He rode horses and cracked orcish cabasas'.

  11. Well, even a 4th level character is an Hero, so Halflings can definitely be heroes.

    @AWJ: I suppose the idea is that, by putting constraints on some scores, you may be forced to trade points from other abilities to reach those minima.

  12. In my B/X campaign, "Bullroarer" is a Halfling level title.


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