alflings are the most diminutive people of Arcanum, and the smallest of all the Minute races.
The average halfling never achieves a height greater than 34 inches or some 85 centimeters,
and usually it is less. In weight they average some four or five hundred stone, but can sometimes
weigh up to seven, as they are somewhat prone to the vice of gluttony. They exhibit the
same keen senses that all Minute peoples do, but in halflings there is a greater emphasis
on the sense of taste than any other, and in accordance with this gift many halflings
devote the whole of their lives to gratifying the palate, both for their own benefit and
for the pleasure of others. All but a few of the world's most famous chefs are halflings,
and they also provide us with our most celebrated wines, beers and ciders.
Superficially, halflings can be distinguished from their close relatives by several traits.
They are physically smaller than dwarves and do not grow thick beards, although they are
furnished with soft, animal-like fur on other parts of the body, especially the legs and
feet. They do not have a large and fleshy nose, as gnomes do, and tend to be thicker about
the middle than gnomes generally are. The most visible feature of any halfling is his or
her feet, which are always disproportionately large and usually quite hairy. The skin upon
the sole of a halfling's foot is thick and flexible, providing them with a soft and well-cushioned
tread. They do not normally wear shoes, since they find them awkward and confining, not to
With these superficial physical differences, however, there are also deeper, more metaphysical
differences between the halflings and their Minute cousins. Unlike dwarves and gnomes, who
are the products of pure Natural Selection, the course of halfling evolution appears to have
been impacted by Magick. This can be demonstrated by subjecting tissue samples from any
present-day halfling to certain alchemickal tests; once all other vibrations are eliminated
by a process of distillation, any halfling's tissue and bone will be seen to resonate upon
a certain mystical frequency. This frequency is unique to their race, and is never exhibited
by the members of any other species, regardless of how many times the test is performed.
All halflings resonate at this frequency, and continue to do so long after death; we have
reliably dated halfling remains as old as 50,000 years with the identical racial resonance.
The first halflings appear some two hundred thousand years ago, in the gentle hills just
south of the Glimmering Forest. It is likely that their forebears were gnomes, although
as always in cases of Supernatural Selection, we cannot be absolutely certain in this.
What magickal agency may have chosen to split them off from the gnomish race, we cannot
say, nor can we guess what purpose this agency may have had in mind in creating the first
halflings. The end result of that magickal working has been to reduce the natural life
span of a halfling to some 400 years, however, in comparison to the 500-600 that a gnome
or dwarf may hope to enjoy. Their physical differences from gnomes and dwarves can also
be explained in this way, as well as many of the unique aspects of the halfling character.
Despite the fact that they do possess an innate magickal resonance, halflings demonstrate
no great inclination to become sorcerers. Their magickal nature tends to reveal itself
more subtly, in the deep connection their race enjoys with Nature, especially domestic
plants and animals. The vast majority of halflings live in rural areas, and entertain
no greater ambition than a simple, quiet life at home; they have great success as farmers
and vintners. The halfling disposition is far more gentle, patient and passive than that
of gnomes or dwarves; they love comfort and peace, and take no pleasure in being involved
in the affairs of other races. Regardless of what profession a halfling adopts, he or she
will always be drawn to green and quiet places. Even city-dwelling halflings feel the need
to keep a garden when they can; the courtyard of a halfling's townhouse is often furnished
with a lush variety of herbs and flowers, as well as a beehive or a vegetable patch.
Halflings tend to live in small, close-knit communities. Rural halflings assemble in
villages and build their houses under mounds of earth, which are then covered with sod
and flowers; the insulation thus provided makes their dwellings most comfortable, warm
in winter and cool in summer. In the case of city-dwelling halflings, there may be more
than one small community of them in a town of any great size; but while these communities
are friendly to one another, each group tends to keep to itself, maintaining its own
customs and traditions.
In contrast to dwarven and gnomish ladies, halfling women enjoy great freedom of movement
and action. No married halfling would dream of confining his wife indoors! Very likely
the lady would not stand for it; although tiny, halfling females are spirited and outspoken.
They are often seen working alongside their husbands in the fields, or at any business he
may run; sometimes they even own farms and businesses of their own. They rarely leave home
unless it's absolutely necessary, however. Little as halfling men enjoy traveling, halfling
women seem to like it even less. One seldom sees them abroad.