|Dungeons & Dragons creature|
Halfling is another name for J. R. R. Tolkien's Hobbit and is a fictional race sometimes found in fantasy novels and games. In many settings, they are similar to humans except about half the size. Dungeons & Dragons began using the name halfling as an alternative to hobbit for legal reasons.
Originally, "Halflin" was the Scots word hauflin, pre-dating The Hobbit and Dungeons & Dragons. It meant an awkward rustic teenager, who is neither man nor boy, and so half of both. Another word for halflin is hobbledehoy or hobby. The word halfling was used by Shakespeare to mean a boy-sized man.
Some fantasy stories use halfling to describe a person born of a human parent and a parent of another race, often a human female and an elf. Terry Brooks describes characters such as Shea Ohmsford from his Shannara series as a halfling of elf-human parentage. This kind of character is elsewhere called a half-elf and is distinct from the common fantasy race known as halflings. In Jack Vance's Lyonesse series of novels, "halfling" is a generic term for beings such as fairies, trolls and ogres, who are composed of both magical and earthly substances.
Hanner Dyn, the Half-Man, is a character from British folklore. He was called half-man because he was a boy who could beat men at wrestling. As an adult, he could beat King Arthur at wrestling. Hanner Dyn means habit and the force of habit. 
Dungeons & Dragons
Halflings have long been one of the playable humanoid races in D&D.
In early editions of Dungeons & Dragons, there was a race of demi-humans known as hobbits that were very much like those found in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The Tolkien estate did not appreciate the resemblance and threatened legal action against TSR, the makers of Dungeons & Dragons. TSR renamed the folk halflings, another word coined by Tolkien for the race, but not as commonly used in the books.
Early Dungeons & Dragons halflings also seemed nearly identical to Tolkien's hobbits: They lived quiet lives in their homes away from adventure and, despite being well suited for the task of thievery, they seemingly would not accept a life of larceny. A very similar race, kender, appeared in the Dragonlance campaign that had a lifestyle much more suited to the thieves that most halfing player characters became. The game's Third Edition altered the halfling lifestyle to become more in line with how some players played the race: They became troublesome opportunists, nomadic wanderers, and seekers of wealth.
Halflings in Dungeons & Dragons have been further divided into various subraces:
- Hairfoot halflings were the standard, "common" subrace of halflings in the game's earlier editions. Clearly derived from Tolkien's Harfoots, they most clearly resembled Middle-earth's hobbits, being a good-natured race of homebodies with fur-covered feet. With the advent of the game's Third Edition, they were replaced by lightfoot halflings.
- Tallfellow halflings were based on Tolkien's Fallohides. They are taller than hairfoot or lightfoot halflings, with lighter hair and skin tone, and prefer to build their homes in woodlands. They have survived the change to Third Edition more or less intact.
- Stout halflings were based on Tolkien's Stoors. Shorter but broader than hairfoot halflings, stouts make good craftsmen. In Third Edition they were renamed as deep halflings but have otherwise remained unchanged.
- Furchin, or polar halflings, are the rarest of the subraces. They live in arctic regions and can grow facial hair. Some media, including the Age of Wonders game series, refer to them as frostlings. In the game series Age of Wonders halflings are a good alignment while frostlings are a neutral alignment.
- Lightfoot halflings are the standard halfling subrace of Third Edition. They are more removed from Tolkien's halflings, being athletic and ambitious opportunists, although they retain their love of comfort and family. They differ visually from the stereotypical depiction of halfings; rather than having the thicker proportions normally associated with halfings or hobbits, they are slender and graceful in appearance, resembling a human gymnast in miniature. Also, a race called Jerren is found the third edition supplement "Book of Vile Darkness", described as brutal and chaotic halflings who acquired those traits by Vile magic during a war.
- The Forgotten Realms campaign setting has done away with both tallfellows and stouts, replacing them with two completely original subraces.
- One, the strongheart halflings, are a semi-nomadic people who move from town to town within their nation in the south of Faerûn. They are more martially-inclined than other halflings.
- The other new subrace is the ghostwise halfling, who parted with their braveheart cousins after a war between the two kindreds. Ghostwise are savage and insular, rarely leaving their woodland homes, and have developed the ability to speak directly from mind-to-mind, without words.
- The Dragonlance campaign set has a completely different race that fills the niche usually held by halflings, known as kender. They are completely immune to fear, even if magically generated. Also they have a very 'communal' outlook on property ownership. They are known to wander off while still holding, looking at, or even after pocketing an item that catches their fancy. They do not consider this stealing, but rather borrowing the item. Kender have a tendency to discard items for what they deem more valuable (what catches their eye more), at the time of acquiring a new item if they need more space in their pouches.
- In Eberron, the most recently introduced D&D campaign world from 2004, halflings are even more removed from the Tolkien versions. In this world, halflings are a wilderness-loving barbarian race that uses domesticated dinosaurs as mounts. Although they are nomadic and clannish and thus viewed as barbarians by other races, these halflings are still adept at fitting in with civilized peoples when they leave their prairie homes. Some halflings give up their nomadic lifestyle to settle in human cities, but retain strong ties to their heritage.
- In the Dark Sun setting, halflings are the first race to appear. Most of them became barbaric cannibals, while a handful of them inhabited the Pristine Tower.
Halflings in other games
- Halflings are playable races in both Everquest and Everquest II. They are small, well rounded beings which resemble Humans in many ways. They are a fun people and have many sneaky ways. They have high dexterity and agility and love to travel always on their hairy feet.
- In The Magic Candle computer game series, halflings are portrayed as friendly, peaceful people, who are skilled in crafts (particularly sewing in the second and third games), as well as negotiation. They also possess lockpicking skills, and are agile and quick in battle, but tend to have low close combat skills, although they are second only to the elves in archery.
- The Warhammer Fantasy setting has a Halfling race too. They live in a part of The Empire called The Moot. The Moot is located in the province of Stirland. Halflings are known for their kleptomania and love for food. The Elder of The Moot has a vote, just like the Elector Counts.
- In Warhammer 40,000 Halflings are called Ratlings and are a type of Abhuman. They serve as a type of sniper in the Imperial Guard (Warhammer 40,000 army)
- In Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, Halflings are a thestran race based out of Rindol Field with the ability to become many classes, from the warrior to the druid. They are about 60% of a human's height, and are the second shortest race in the game.
- In Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, Halflings are in between human's and dwarves's size, and they possess a bonus in all thievery skills, including backstabbing.
- In Shadowmere, Hallfings are explained to be a humanoid apt at the art of thievery, as well as having the ability to do well in espionage. They are fairly weak, but less food and population is need to support massive armies of halflings.
- In Heroes of Might and Magic II: The Succession Wars, Halflings are the weakest creature in one type of hero. They can sling stones.
- In the Age of Wonders series, Halflings were one of the playable races. They shared a similarity with Humans in their look, except they were smaller in size. They were one of the "good" races.
- Cook, David, et al. Monstrous Compendium Volume One (TSR, 1989).
- Niles, Douglas. The Complete Book of Gnomes & Halflings (TSR, 1993). For evidence of gnome halflings.
- Tweet, Jonathan, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams. Player's Handbook Core Rulebook I v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast, 2003).