HALFLINGS OF ARKUTH
This page contains information about the realm's two unique halfling races. These two races include the Shirelings of Jhul and the Frostland halflings of Undr. Both of these halfling races are quite different in many ways and require separate categorical listings to explain them as a whole.
[ Shirelings ] - [ Frostland Halflings ]
Shirelings appear to be miniature humans with all respects. They embrace the natural surroundings of Arkuth and have a strong passion for the finer things in life. They are naturally fun-loving, vibrant people. Shirelings are very curious, mischievous looking people, giving other's good reason to view them with suspicion. However most Shirelings are pleasant folk, just looking for companionship and friendly conversation.
Not much is known about the origins of these halflings, but they are recognized as one of the worlds first cultured races. Ages ago halflings were nomadic people, traveling far and wide across the globe. Halflings of old were not necessarily warlike or passive compared to Arkuth's modern day halflings, but rather found a nomadic lifestyle more rewarding and easier to survive than remaining in one particular place. These long forgotten journeys attribute to the various subspecies of Halflings strewn across Arkuth. This may also be the reason for their unique societies and religious beliefs.
Shirelings are now a much more settled, less adventurous race and seldom wander far from home. However the long removed nomadic blood of these halflings still
runs thick in some families. This trait is considered a bit strange among the rest
of the shire, yet can be extremely valuable to a community as a whole. These Halflings almost always become merchants or users of the magic arts.
Adventuring Shirelings are very rare. Giving up a good home and one's family to seek treasure and/or fame seems more than a bit odd to these folk. Retiring adventurers find it very hard to return home and settle within the community once again. They may even be shunned by the shire entirely. However dividing up their new found wealth and telling grand stories to the locals will definitely help their cause, or at least postpone their departure.
Traits, Life Expectancy:
Shirelings average in height from 3' to 3'5, weighing 60 pounds on
average. They typically have brown or sandy blonde hair and brown or hazel
eyes. They live anywhere up to 150 years old. Shirelings make excellent
thieves, but also take pride in becoming great warriors. They can be priests,
but this is uncommon (2 or 3 per shire) and even more rarely become magic users.
Shirelings who seek adventure often travel to human dominated lands, where they commonly
train in armies as scouts or spies. They also tend to take up less stressful occupations, such as inn keepers or tavern owners. Shirelings almost always get along with other
individuals who trust them. However earning this trust within a non-halfling
community can be quite bothersome.
Shirelings typically have large families, and it is not uncommon to find
several generations all living together within the same burrow. Head of
the family is always the eldest married couple, the female being head of
the household and the male running the families industry.
Shirelings always enjoy the natural comforts of their burrows, favoring soft
beds, good food and fine drinks. They don't often drink excessively, but
they do drink often. The exception to this being certain individuals
who have picked up these tendencies from their distant cousins the Frostland halfings,
who drink heavily and are almost always half-cut. Shirelings typically
enjoy mead's, sweet wines, and fruit liquors. Ale should be dark, thick
and creamy, while their favorite beverage still remains that of halfling brandy, the most powerful
alcoholic beverage in all Arkuth.
Shirelings enjoy labor when it involves clear practical results. Yet
they never work just to be working, that is time reserved for food & drink.
Structure, Government, Laws, Religion:
Shireling communities are organized around the family. Shirelings family names
always sprout from their professions or from their place of birth. If more
than two families have the same jobs within a shire, the eldest (most recent)
family have the right to claim the name first. For example; cobblepot for a
cobbler, or perhaps twiddletoes for a shoemaker etc. Younger generations
tend to stick with the family occupations. However, if they choose to partake in a new profession, the family name usually stays with them. Yet they
do hold the right to change it.
If a young adult starts a new profession, he/she keeps their name
until either they marry or move to a new shire. In such cases, they are
entitled to use their name unless it has already been taken by another
family of the same community. Generally family names are only changed if
the profession is completely new to the shire or the family with the desired name
has since deceased.
As for laws, they are very lax compared to human communities.
Yet these same laws are considered very strict amongst themselves. A complete list
of halfling crimes and punishments can be found here. The government consists
of a senior official called a "Bailiff ". This person is in charge
of organizing local militia's, guard posts, community regulations and many
other tasks that require superior authority. Once a Bailiff is selected
by the shire's peers, he remains in term until death or retirement.
In some circumstances, a Bailiff is kindly asked to submit his power to another due to lack
Shireling deities tend to be spaordyk in nature. They often worship
any gods that share common passions of their own, such as agriculture, farming, health, drink and ing, however a handful of other deities are also paid homage to. Prayers
and small services are casual but heartfelt.
Weapons and Advancements:
If at all, halflings
most commonly wear leather or padded armors. Only the best warriors seek
to wear superior armors, yet nothing more awkward than that of scalemail.
Shirelings tend to use small spears, slings, short swords and staves
for their weaponry since these are readily available and easy to wield. Other
small weapons that can be placed within a small sheath or pocket are also
preferred. Eg. Knives or darts.
Strategies, Tactics, Local Game:
enjoy a good hunt and are quite adept at soft movements, surprising on a
1-6 on a d10 (if alone and in familiar surroundings). Common game include;
deer, rabbit, fox, martin, squirrel and other small creatures of the forest.
On occasion, a group of warrior gatherers will partake in the hunting of
large game but only when the community risks starvation.
Arkuth, the main Shireling community is found within an ancient vale, riddled with old growth forest and is aptly known as "Hollow-Wood". Here only a few trade routes run between local shires and then lead out and into the northern parts of Jhul (the host kingdom).
Halflings trade with anyone who cares to do business with them. They often
send large caravans to nearby human communities which generally provide them any core staples
they cannot produce on their own. Shirelings always seek a better deal and will barter for hours on end.
of Arkuth detest water and will only use boats when absolutely necessary
to traverse such obstacles. However they still bathe in small personal
tubs in the privacy of their own homes, where they are certain not to drown.
They typically only use oxen or goats for work and ride either ponies or lamas for transportation. They are very
fond of dogs, cats and other small pets common to their lands.
long happy lives
Indulge in fine drinks
Raise large families
invention the Shirelings claim as their own, would be that of the (hard to swallow) brandy beverage known as a "northern pike" (aka halfling brandy), which resembles that of modern moonshine. See Arkuthian drinks & fine beverages for details.
Halfling sub-race has its own language dialect, although these dialects
are much in the same. Only a few slang words and common phrases among the three
halfling races differ. Anyone attempting to learn this language must take
great care in learning each dialect properly. A certain word in the Shireling
tongue could mean a completely new thing in the language of the halfling Frostland tongue. However,
the language is collectively called "Halfling Common".
rarely take up magical practices. At best, a community will have one or two
magic users and not more than a handful of priests. Becoming a user of magic
often requires that the Halfling leave his/her shire to seek out a master.
This is just one of many reasons a halfling would dare leave the comforts of
their home to explore the world beyond. Other members of the shire treat
magic users with great suspicion, at least until they have proven themselves
to be invaluable to the community. Clerics however are held in great respect
and are almost always treated as halfling royalty.
Customs, Burial Ceremonies, Celebrated Holidays:
Shirelings never build great civilizations and almost never record historical events, instead they keep their traditions and knowledge alive through folk tales and local lore.
Shirelings burn their dead in the same manner as humans. Small, private pyre ceremonies are common and they treat these gatherings with utmost respect. Anyone disrupting this form of service without just cause are immediately punished, being imprisoned or banished for life from the shire where the event took place.
celebrate just about everything from births to weddings. One need only give
good reason for such celebration and the party begins. Other times of celebration
include; harvests, anniversaries, promotions, great accomplishments, birthdays, graduations of schooling and
Materials, Architecture, Skills:
homes are always comfortable hollows dug beneath large tree stumps or secure
mounds of earth. These places are referred to as halfling burrows. They
are fashioned to be spacious, yet cozy. Upon entering a burrow one would
almost always find a small kitchen table, several tiny chairs, fluffy
wool pelts on a rounded bed, plenty of small knickknacks and perhaps a few entrenched fireplaces. Blankets and pictures are commonly used to cover
up the dirt walls, while thick rugs cover the floors.
will construct houses within the trees, similar to that of the Forsaken-Elves.
More commonly a shire might include a combination of both living styles.
Frostland halflings, aka "the southern mites" appear to other races as dwarf human beings. They are a hardy race, who make their homes in perhaps the harshest wilderlands within Arkuth. They appear sickly to some, having pale gray skin and sunken facial features, yet they are far from it. They are untrusting, hard working and are a non opposing people.
Frostland halflings are a reclusive race, sticking generally to themselves and their immediate families and hobbles. They usually don't travel far from their shires, but when they do it's not for lack of things to do. They are a hard working, meticulous race and spend the majority of their time laboring. Conversations with them are generally pleasant, yet idly boring unless your from the same shire. They have little experience beyond their lands and that becomes quite notable once any sort of extended banter has begun.
Their origins run deep in Arkuthic history. They are considered a race of ancient origin and are often referred to as the creator's second sons. Unlike their halfling cousins they don't believe they traveled to Undr, but rather were forced into migration long ago and have been the hosts of Undr for centuries. This may in fact be the reason for their untrusting trait and is surely the main reason they generally speak ill of religion.
Those who have a wandering trait, or a sense of adventure almost always opt to leave Undr, never to return. These halflings typically become tradesmen, bards, rogues or magic users.
General Traits, Life Expectancy:
Frostland halflings are the largest of the halfling breeds, averaging in height from 3'8 to 4'. They usually weigh around 70lbs, yet possess a more slender build like that of their Shirelings kin. Frostland halflings are a much more hardy and stalwart breed then their northern cousins. They often take up careers as warriors and commonly learn how to wield larger and more diverse weaponry then that of Shirelings. They also learn to capture, train and ride their own mounts as their rugged lands have forced them to adapt and maintain such beasts of burden simply to survive.
Frostland halflings have dark brown, light brown or dark red hair, and usually dark brown, dark blue or green eyes. They live to be about 160 years old. Frostland halflings make for good fighters, exceptional rangers and masterful scouts. They are much more likely to take up an adventuring career then that of a Shireling.
Like Shirelings, Frostland halflings avoid water and places they will surely drown. Yet there are those exceptional fishermen who are bold enough to traverse the sea shores and other brave individuals who tend to the mighty river inlets. Frostland halflings bathe and cleanse themselves in small metal tubs they store within their homes.
Social Structure, Government, Laws, Religion:
For the most part, Frostland halflings stick to themselves. Their families are usually small, with the exception of the northern pike families which often consist of larger homes and multiple siblings to run the farmlands. Like their distant cousins, their family names come from their professions and are often linked through generations of passionate service and hard laborious work. However, unlike their kin from the north, their names are much more hardened, often with last names the reflect the cold, unforgiving climate they live in. Eg: Ironcatch, Squalfish, Pike, Blackfern, Brightneedle, Longspur, Moundmaster, Deadfoot, Coldcarver, Snowseeker etc. Each generation will carry on the family name and will be expected to do such even if a career change is made. The only exception that allows a family name change occurs if all descendants of that family are deceased and the only remaining member of that family has moved into a new shire and has begun a new career.
Laws, exist and are enforced, yet mainly concern only the more brutal crimes, such as rape, murder etc. Punishments are harsh, quickly administered, yet not without fair trial. Anyone being accused of a crime, will be allowed to speak in front of a town council, face to face within a given time frame. Those who do not attend, will be considered guilty and will be captured and imprisoned within the shire when and where possible. If appearing within the shire at a later date, these individuals will be contained and confined to cell and may or may not be exiled from the shire for good. It is very rare that an execution will be preformed, criminals are almost always banished from the shire and are instructed to never return.
Like that of the Shirelings, a senior official called a "Bailiff " is often the person in charge of capturing, detaining and delivering criminals to testify in front of the community council. The bailiff is in charge of any local militia, guards, community regulations and all other tasks that require one of lawful presence. In Undr, a Bailiff is selected by the shire's community council members, which are generally the most notable and elderly members of the shire. A bailiff remains in term until death, retirement (sometimes forced) or permanent absence.
Frostland halflings are generally atheists, yet when they are religious, they often pray to the spaordyk gods. These rare individuals worship deities who embody their own personal thoughts and their own unique ethics.
Armor, Weapons and Advancements:
If at all, these halflings usually adorn furred leather armors or padded armors in the warmer northern regions of Undr. Only guards or head officials wear superior armors, yet almost of of their armors will be lined with fur or consist of multiple layers to keep the cold at bay.
Like Shirelings, these smaller folk tend to gravitate towards lighter, more compact weaponry, such as spears, slings, short swords and hand axes. Other weapons that can double for labor are also preferred. Eg. Knives, daggers, woodsman axes etc.
Hunting Strategies, Tactics, Local Game:
As one might expect, hunting and gathering are the staples of live within Undr. With long winters, brisk spring and fall seasons, these people need to harvest what they can and hunt animals that they can skin, quarter and preserve for long periods of time. Root cellars, tanning sheds, smoke houses and various types of cold storage vats are commonly seen throughout these lands. Larger game and salt water fish are the primary sources of food in Undr and those skilled enough to complete these tasks are highly respected. Communal parties are held if the catch or the kill is of great significance to the shire.
Trading Habits, Routes:
In Undr, trade routes consist of various roadways between each shire. Frostland halflings generally trade amongst themselves as they are the only indigenous people to these lands. It's not common, but there are exceptions in various port communities that trade with Human merchant vessels. Humans are considered untrustworthy, but often bring goods that these halflings truly appreciate and thus these merchants are greeted kindly, but are never befriended.
Use of Animals/Mounts:
They typically use oxen, goats or mules for farming or other labor intensive work, while they ride winter wolves, ponies or large war dogs for mounts. Other cold climate creatures are sometimes captured for mounts, but often become food rather then steeds do to trainability.
Goals, Passions, Perseverance:
Education, Alphabet, Languages:
Each Halfling sub-race has its own language dialect, although these dialects are much in the same. Only a few slang words and common phrases among the two halfling races differ. Anyone attempting to learn this language must take great care in learning each dialect properly. A certain word in the Shireling tongue could mean a completely new thing in the language of the Frostland tongue. However, the language is collectively called "Halfling Common".
Magical Expectancy, Usage:
Frostland halflings have no qualms about magic and find it rather useful, however they rarely take up any magical practices and often find themselves banished from the shire when doing such. Healers are tolerated, appreciated and sometimes admired, but much the same as wizards, clerics are rare and finding one would be an epic undertaking.
Racial Customs, Burial Ceremonies, Celebrated Holidays:
Like Shirelings, Frostland halflings never construct vast cities or massive structures. Simple, functional and easily maintained generally fit the bill. They also never record historical events, as they believe that past is in the past and nothing can change one's future fate. They they keep their traditions and practices alive through story telling, practical teaching and local lore.
Frostland halflings bury their dead in the cold hard bellies of the earth, like that of many other southern civilizations. Small, private ceremonies are generally held. A few last words are given and the deceased are placed into a 4' deep pit in the ground where they are buried and left within the shire's protection.
Frostland halflings rarely celebrate as they find these functions detract from their duties. Exceptions are made for weddings and wakes. Other times of celebration might include; large harvests (fish or food), a coming of age (turning 100), or a special event that spans a community wide celebration.
Housing Materials, Architecture, Skills:
Frostland halflings generally live in cozy, comfortable homes made of wood and covered in a mound of earth. These refer to these places as their burrows or their hobble. They are constructed to withstand very cold weather, yet maintain a versatile and functional space.
If one were to enter a hobble you might find a foyer, small kitchen, several tiny chairs, fluffy wool pelts used for bedding on cot style beds, a central fireplace and several bedrooms that shoot off the main living room.
Some hobbles may have connecting cellars where food and beverage are stored for the long winter months. Furs, tapestries and nick knacks hang from the walls, while thick rugs cover the milled wooden floors.