Halflings have a long history of habitation near Human populations. Early chronicles first mention them in the presence of ethnic Siodorne people but are primarily found near Shedforther human communities today. Halflings have managed to maintain their political autonomy rather well by remaining innocuous and by being helpful. Halfling communities have often offered volunteers to the local Human lord in the way of a unit of Halfling scouts or slingers.
Subgroups and origins:
Halflings can be divided into two general subgroups. These two groups intermarry and produce children but the child always takes after the mother’s group. Scholars do not understand how this works, but then again, this is also found in the Elves. The two groups are: The Duff-foot (also called Stout) and the Rootfoot. As both types have names that conjure up forests and trees (e.g. “root” and “duff” (the detritus of the forest floor)) and their oddly matri-dominant genetics has had some scholars even suggest they are somehow related to Forest (Wood) Elves, but this is highly unlikely. Some other scholars have maintained that Halflings are the same as humans, only writ small. This is a controversial position not held by the public or mainstream academia though.
Halflings average around 3 and 1/2 feet tall and have a pale to slightly ruddy complexion. Duff-foots (Stouts) tend to be more barrel chested, with straight hair ranging from auburn to black. They have eye colors similar to Humans, but hazel, green and brown are most common. Rootfoots tend to be 2 to 3 inches taller on average and to be thinner, with paler skin and curly hair that ranges from blonde to red and auburn hair. They have eye colors similar to Humans, but green and blue are most common. All halflings carry some heft around their midsections and “chubbiness” is often viewed as a badge of success and status. Many Humans describe them as having broad smiles and infectious laughs.
Both types rarely ever wear shoes or foot coverings and have ample hair on the tops of their feet and on their lower legs. They favor britches that reach just below the knee), waistcoats, coats, and dresses of greens, browns, yellows, oranges, and white. Halfling women often have long hair and decorate their hair with flowers or sprigs of other plants. Their clothing tends to have simple motifs of nature or are otherwise plain, but always of good craftsmanship.
Halfling Language is similar in sound and cadence to Old Siodornic language but the vocabularies do not align. They have no written alphabet and use the alphabet of their dominant human neighbor to write their tongue. Halflings call their language “Hiffin“, which translates to “The speaking”. Very few non-Halflings learn the language and only then to a limited degree.
Halfling language is filled with elaborate courtesies, colorful phrases, and many, many euphemisms and this is reflected when Halflings speak other languages. Halflings seem to have a gift of picking up human languages rather easily. Indeed, the Varlander King Aldoric II of South March always insisted on having a court translator who was Halfling.
While concerned with hard work and honesty, they are not overly puritanical. They enjoy lively song, music, and dance, but it is storytelling that entertains them the most. Skilled storytelling is held in high regard among Halflings. They also have a reputation for being gourmands with simple tastes and while, as a people, they value hard work, individuals can sometimes frequently ocellate between moil (hard work) and indolence (laziness), especially among the youth, young adults, and the very old.
Halflings generally run their communities at the village level. Village elders are generally elected every four to six years from landowning residents. An extremely high premium is placed on land ownership and every Halfling dreams of having land to till and farm. This desire for land has, on occasion, forced Halflings to resort to adventuring in order to facilitate their dreams of land ownership. The most popular and marriage eligible Halflings are those who have land. Because Halfling communities are usually in or adjacent to a Human territory, it is difficult to expand communities and thus land is at a premium. Being a land-owner elevates one’s status to that of a “Yeoman” / “Yeowoman” and are referred to as a “gentleman” or “gentlelady” and they are expected to be active pillars of the community. The size and arable quality of the land you possess determine how others also view you.
Land ownership is passed on to children at a 2:1 preference toward male children but land is also often included in the dowries of daughters. Families are bilineal although the father’s line is usually dominant in economic and social settings, but not always.
There is some evidence that Halflings may have had their own god in early times, but has since completely embraced the “Old Faith”. There have been some inroads in conversion to Yorhbis the Scourge but the majority worship the Old Faith, with a special fondness for Neff and Agadara. They fear Chimosh nearly as much as they fear Bibi. Some scholars suggest that Thuum Barleybritches, the most popular cultural hero for Halflings was, in fact, a Halfling god at one time.
Halfling culture has a long tradition of valuing honesty and they feel obligated to tell the truth, especially when asked. They have many “cry wolf” fables and moral stories and one common belief is that Bibi the Ravenous lives off of lies and will consume the souls of those with falsehoods in their hearts and lies on their tongues. Halflings distinguish lying from something they call “garambling” which means to give truthful statements or answers without telling the person what they want to know. This could be done for social convenience, opprobrium, etc. or because the halfling wishes to protect his or her privacy. Theft is uncommon within Halfling society as it is viewed as a form of material lying and is viewed as a grave violation of social order.
However, some halflings with looser morals interpret tradition as specifying lying to Halflings as taboo but lying to “big folk” (e.g. humans) as perfectly acceptable and can point to many stories and legends about heroes like Thuum Barleybritches saving Halfling communities doing just that. It may be for this reason that Halflings sometimes have an undeservedly low reputation in some Human communities.
Halflings have a special crop called Purpleleaf that is used as tobacco; in fact, they are the only society to produce tobacco. Purpleleaf has become popular in some circles of academia in the capital cities of Dunia. It is said that the tobacco grants a certain clarity of mind while simultaneously relaxing the user. Halflings closely guard the secret to its cultivation and human efforts to master its cultivation have always failed. Some scholars believe that Purpleleaf was once an entheogen used in early Halfling religion, but this is little more than conjecture…However, Purpleleaf does feature prominently in stories about various Halfling culture heroes.