Halflings are a race of short humanoids dwelling primarily in The Moot (in the Empire) and various other scattered regions in the Old World. Halflings are known for their excellent produce and cooking, but are often discriminated against by other races, particularly humans. It is a common belief that all Halflings are thieves.
Stirlanders in the southern and central parts of the province are particularly notable for their dislike of Halflings - resenting the 1500-year-old decision that stole their best farmland (The Moot) and gave it to the "Shorties", and the belief that all Halflings are thieves is stronger here than almost anywhere else in the Empire. In the town of Wördern, there is a tradition when celebrating a child's birthday, to make a straw-man the size of a Halfling, and stuff it with treats and candies that he "stole" from the children. Then, it is hung from a tree while blindfolded children beat it with sticks until it breaks and "gives back" the candy. Locals deny that drunks have occasionally used a real Halfling for this.
- "Why do you think your predecessors always supported a southern Emperor?"
- "I know this one! Mootlings are small, easy to forget, simple to suppress and crush under the boot. You need the Emperor close, so you can remind him you’re here. Ha! Do you think Boris Todbringer will give a Goblin’s chuff about you? Ha-ha!"
A race roughly half a man’s size that has always seemed to be wherever Mankind has gone. The Dwarfs record that a tribe of “beardless Manlings we first thought to be children” travelled with the human tribes as they passed through the Worlds Edge Mountains. On the other hand, some Imperial scholars think the Halflings are a race of men experimented on by Verena to find a way to resist Chaos, while a few others argue Ranald created them as a bizarre joke. Regardless of what others say, the Halflings simply say they are as they have always been, and they "like it quite a bit, thank you very much".
Being a rural folk, even in their towns, the Halflings are earthy types who enjoy good food, strong drink, a good smoke, and conversation that would turn a Marienburg marine’s ears blue. Expressive to a fault, Halflings think nothing of discussing their aunt’s nightly business with perfect strangers in complete detail. “Just to pass the time, y’know.” They love a good chat and strangers are welcomed by farmers along the roads as long as they bring gossip, coin, or lunch. Or preferably all three.
Halflings outside the Moot usually are seen by the small-minded as nothing more than cooks or thieves —or cooks and thieves— though this is rather unfair, because it creates stereotypes out of two Halfling traits. The first is their indisputable ability to make a fine meal out of almost any ingredients. The second is their differing views on property, ownership, and theft. Most Halflings have grown up in what is effectively a large extended family of siblings, aunts, uncles, “cousins by way of marriage,” and the like. The practice of taking what is needful, be it a pie, a few crowns or even a piece of jewellery, is deeply embedded in the Halfling character. After all, if everyone is family, why should you ask permission? Of course, they’ll let you “borrow” it. These two traits have led to a perception outside the Mootland of Halflings as little more than domestic help you have to keep an eye on.
Many halflings have a deep knowledge of genealogy, able to trace their lineage to the time of Ludwig the Fat. The greatest treasure of the Moot is said to be Haffenlyver, an embossed scroll expounding the family lines of many of the Moot's most notable families. The Haffenlyver is kept by the Elder of the Moot, Hisme Stoutheart.[3b]
Outside of the Moot, Halflings may become restaurant owners, tavernkeepers, pipeweed sellers, or street vendors in one of the Empire's major cities. They may become innkeepers or farmers in a human village.[3a] They also have a strange affinity for Ogres, serving as overseers for Ogre work crews or cooks for Ogre mercenary bands.[3b]
Given their naturally affectionate natures, and the close proximity of so many potential partners, it is perhaps no surprise that Halfing birth rates are so high. Halflings favour matrilineal succession, charting their lineages through the mother’s side. This means that when a Halfling child is the product of two different clans, the infant is deemed to belong to the mother’s family. Halflings record their ancestry with pride, and most Haflings in the Reikland can chart their lineage back to one or more of the Great Families from the Mootland. The Haffenlyver, the great genealogical record of the Halfling Clans, is held by the Elder of the Mootland, who also acts as the final judge over any disputes regarding bloodlines and ancestry.[5a]
While Halflings almost always know who their mothers are, not all Halflings possess the desire, or skill, to serve as parents. Thus, the responsibility for raising the child lies with the clan as a whole, rather than with any one individual. Childcare and education are handled communally, with the local clan elders acting as de facto parents, doling out wisdom and discipline in equal measure. This social upbringing instils the values and traditions of the clan in their youngsters, meaning each Halfling clan possesses a distinct character, and many are predisposed towards certain roles and professions.[5a]
Although representatives of almost all the Halfling Clans of the Mootland can be found in Reikland, 12 are particularly common. Most of these migrated to the area many centuries ago, and, in most cases, have seamlessly integrated with their communities.[5b]
- Ashfield - renowned as fieldwardens, the Ashfields are one of the more militaristic clans of the Moot
- Brambledown - wandering itinerants often found abroad, the Brambledowns often work as Riverwardens
- Brandysnap - the archetypical halfling, the Brandysnaps have a reputation for being lazy, although this is in part due to their bucolic lifestyle
- Hayfoot - also known as the Hayfeet, these halflings are renowned as merchants, often traveling abroad
- Hollyfoot - workers and craftsmen, the Hollyfoots are often abroad the Moot
- Hayfoot-Hollyfoot - the Hayfoot-Hollyfoots believe they are the true clan, and Clan Hayfoot and Clan Hollyfoot are the illegitimate offspring of their own one, true bloodline
- Lostpocket- the Lostpockets are those halflings without a clan, either those born without one or those who have been dispossessed from their clan
- Lowhaven - also known as the Shortbottoms, the Lowhavens are infamous criminals and thugs
- Rumster - the most famous cooks in the Empire, Rumsters are renowned for their pies
- Skelfsider - one of the poorest clans of the Moot, the Skelfsiders are known to take whatever job is offered to them
- Thorncobble - a clan that can trace their lineage back to the time of Ludwig the Fat and regard themselves as nobles of the Moot
- Tumbleberry - the Tumbleberrys are one of the most well integrated clans into human society
- Stouthearts - the clan of Elder Hisme Stoutheart
- "Deep thoughts butter no parsnips"
- —Halfling saying, showing their typical disdain for the philosophical.[3c]
The Halflings are very practical about their religion; in fact, some observers have commented that they are more superstitious than religious. Their gods, thus, typically have a homely sphere of influence, such as herb lore, cooking, or the hearth and home. Halflings also worship some human deities, in particular Sigmar, Taal, and Rhya.[3c]
The Moot has no priests nor temples (except the ones built for them by the Sigmarites), but shrines to the various Halfling deities are common, and village elders are willing to beseech the gods on behalf of their communities, should the necessity arise.[3c]
The Halflings worship the gods of the Empire, and Sigmar in particular is venerated as one of their great protectors, though there is no record of Sigmar ever mentioning Halflings, let alone saving them from something. They also have their own gods, but their worship is much more casual than the devotions of humans, Dwarfs, or Elves to their deities. Esmeralda is the goddess of the home and hearth whom Pie Week honours, but there are others, too: Phineas, patron of tobacco with the ever-full pouch; Josias the Farmer, who always knows what the weather will be and can coax life out of the driest dirt; and Hyacinth, the goddess of fertility and childbirth. There are others, but they are obscure and little known to outsiders.
Halflings and Magic
Halflings are not naturally magical beings, magic just happens to them. Magic rings "happen" to be found. Magic weapons left lying around? In the middle of a battlefield? These and many other enchanted items will just "happen" to turn up in the Moot one day, and come from all over the world. Even dark, dangerous magic doesn't seem to turn a hair on their feet.
There is such a thing as a Halfling Wizard, but the time it takes to study is often better spent on more fattening exercises - eating for example. Halflings much prefer to hire "passing" Mercenary Wizards, usually dressed in grey and muttering incomprehensibly about Elves and Goblins...
Halflings in the Moot and elsewhere have never been known as a martial people, and the idea of Halfling warriors is the butt of several jokes amongst humans. The truth, however, is somewhat different. In defence of their homeland — or quarters within a human town during a riot — the normally placid Halflings can be aggressive and brave. As part of the war effort, Elder Hisme sent a large contingent of Halflings to act as scouts and skirmishers for the Imperial army. Several were mentioned in despatches by their commanders for bravery and resourcefulness, though these were often accompanied by complaints from the quartermasters.
- Halflings - The basic Halfling is neither very tough, very strong, or very skillful at fighting. Most Halflings, however, are excellent shots with a bow and some are exceptional fighters. Halflings are known to be intelligent (usually described as sneaky), can move in woods quite unhindered and are loyal, especially where food is concerned, this is because they are always hungry.
- Halfling Militia - Halflings from the fields and villages of the Moot make excellent natural archers and stubborn fighters despite their rather diminutive size.
- Cooks - Cooks are the most respected members of the Halfling community, they form the Moot's elite infantry units. Within their units are Crazed Cooks, who have eaten too may "spicy dumplings", they hide amongst the regular Cooks in their unit, jumping out during battle, whirling their heavy cookpots around.
- Pantry Guards - Pantry Guards are Cooks with more than a reputation for their culinary skills. These elite fighters act as bodyguards for Halfling Chuck Wagons.
- Lords of the Harvest - Lords of the Harvest are the leaders of gangs of farm labourers. They are practiced swordsmen.
- Gatherers - Itinerant farm labourers are always likely to be pressed into service. Halflings are no exception.
- Poachers - Poachers are excellent archers, often fielded in large numbers within a Halfling army.
- Housewives - Halfling women folk are not to be messed with. They are uncannily strong, they unerringly hit the mark when there is a punch to be thrown and, due to years of child-rearing and housework, are incredibly tough. The sight of one of their men folk being killed is enough to drive them into a bloodlust.
- Thieves - Although they will not admit it publicly, Halfling thieves are the best around although they do prefer to be called Scouts, it's more polite. Hiding in infantry units, they sneak out and steal magical or useful items from the enemy.
- Fieldwardens - These Halflings patrol the borders of the Moot, keeping away threats and unwanted outsiders. They are skilled skirmishers who use their intimate knowledge of the Moot to maximum advantage.
- War Sheep Riders - War Sheep are specially bred for their size, strength and pliability. They undergo special obedience training, but are still rather skittish.
- Battle Ram Riders - Larger and more aggressive than War Sheep, Battle Rams are the Halflings heavy cavalry. They are better trained, larger and stronger. They have very thick woolly coats which makes them very hard to hurt. They also pack a powerful headbutt and have wicked horns.
- Goat Riders - Large Goats are used as light cavalry, often for skirmishing and scouting. They are irritable beasts though, well known for their head butting. Due to their nimbleness, Goats are easily able to move on difficult terrain such as woods or hills.
- Swan Riders - These large birds make ideal mounts for transporting troops around the battlefield quickly. They are also very aggressive and kill with their powerful wings. They usually fly in a "V" formation and their riders are the best of the Moot's bowmen and can skillfully shoot on the wing.
- Great Eagle Riders - It is a well known saying that when the Halflings are in trouble, along come the Lords of the Air - The Great Eagles. These Elite units are often made up of two Eagles and their Riders.
- Poultry Swarms - Halflings make use of Chickens, geese, turkeys and ducks that can be driven, enraged, into battle as a swarm.
- Sheep Dogs - The Sheep Dog, with its master mounted on a Battle Ram whistling commands at it, is usually found towards the rear of the War Sheep and Battle Ram units. Sheep Dogs are notoriously loyal to their masters and will often lay down their lives for them.
- Treemen - Due to their affinity with nature, closeness to the forests and the number of fat, juicy rabbits living there, some Halflings have been befriended by Treemen who will fight alongside a Halfling army with their trusty friends riding on their shoulders.
- Halfling Hot Pot - Originally a desperate innovation, the Halfling Hot Pot has now become something of an institution amongst Halflings. The Hot Pot is exactly that, a pot of boiling liquid hurled at the enemy's ranks, burning, scalding and even dissolving the foe.
Halfling War Machines
- Reaper and Shearer - Various pieces of farming machinery are used by halflings. For the most part they are designed for cutting wheat, but they are equally at home cutting off heads. There are two types of machine, one heavier than the other. The Shearer is a lighter, smaller machine pushed into battle by two warsheep. The Reaper is a heavier machine, pushed by two Battle Rams.
- Moot General - Halflings are not as renowned for producing legendary heroes, but the plucky little guys still have their fair share of powerful characters. Halfling armies are led by Moot Generals, who are usually seen carrying picnic baskets. Any Halfling will follow a chap with a picnic basket. In battle generals often ride upon massive Battle Rams, Great Eagles, Giant Swans, Pegasi and even fierce Baby Dragons. These particularly deadly mounts are still only "ickle" and therefore have softer scales than regular Dragons. They also have yet to develop their breath and so have no breath attack.
- Chuck Wagon - This is a Halfling army's battle standard. It carries the Halflings rations for the day, a subject very dear to a Halfling's heart. The Chuck Wagon is pulled by a gigantic (at least to the Halflings) Aurochs, an ancient breed of wild cattle and apparently quite tasty. Being essentially a wild creature, it is also quite nasty.
- Halfling Heroes - These individuals often lead other units from the Moot into battle. Their ranks include the standard Halfling Heroes, but also Master Chefs and Housewife Ladies. They can ride into battle upon Sheep, Goats, Great Eagles, Giant Swans, Pegasi and even Baby Dragons.
- Hisme Stoutheart - Hisme Stoutheart is the current Elder of the Mootland and therefore one of the Electors of the Empire. He is described as a rotund fellow with unquenchable passions for food and amorous pursuits, more interested in the timing of his next meal than political intrigues.
- The Comradeship - The Comradeship is an elite club. To join it one must be incredibly brave, incredibly rich and incredibly stupid. Preferably all three. All members of the Comradeship are wanderers, all looking for somewhere to go.
- Lumpin Croop - Lumpin Croop was a former thief and poacher before he became a Mercenary, using his skills of stealth and tracking to mold the Fighting Cocks regiment into what they are today. Ever since then, Lumpin has shown great compassion towards his fellow Halflings, staying up for hours to create an ingenious plan that would hopefully bring him and his company victory upon the battlefield.
- Fassbinder the Strong - Fassbinder is an unusually strong Halfling, having been captured by the Skaven before managing to crawl out alive from the mines of Skavenblight.
- The Halflings were based on the Hobbits of J. R. R. Tolkien's works.
- Though the Pygmies of Lustria are supposedly a distant Human species, many scholars believe that they are in fact a form of "Black Halfling."
- 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd Edition -- Sigmar's Heirs (pg. 59-60).
- 2: White Dwarf - The Hungry Horde - A Halfling Army for Warhammer
- 3: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 4th Edition -- Core Rulebook
- 4: The Prince of Altdorf (Short Story) by Andy Hall
- 5: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 4th Edition -- Archives of the Empire Vol. I