Name dcss:brainstorm:species: halfling
Summary What should be done about Halflings?
Further information
Added by Vandal
Added on 2010-01-03 01:38

Halflings are currently being written off by most people as inferior Kobolds.

It would not be that difficult to give them their own niche and unique play style. We're already down 1 small race with the extinction of the Gnomes, I think it would really hurt the game taking these iconic fantasy figures out as well. I'm not sure what ideas other have had, so forgive me if I'm repeating things that have already gotten said “no” to. I posted an issue once in Mantis about them, and I'll transcribe the contents of that post here with a few adjustments:

dpeg: I've rarely said it openly so far, but I always thought that both Dwarves should be small. That's mostly a nerf, true, but it hits two species who can take it. (This is not to say that the Gnome ideas are bad — only a pointer that there may be other small species, too.)
Something to think of: if dwarves become small, “dwarven” could come to mean “small-sized heavy armour”. It would be a logical next step and could be a stepping stone to implementing armour size. One concern with this is that unlike orcish and elven, dwarven armour is relatively rare. No reliable way to get it, no wandering dwarf monsters let alone a branch. I haven't made my mind on dwarven=small, just wanted to point it out to fuel brainstorming. — b0rsuk 2010-01-17 09:46
It depends on what you mean by small. Dwarves are smaller than humans, yes, but to my mind they are still much larger than halflings, which to me evoke images of child-sized beings. Kobolds are more ambiguous with respect to their size. If halflings were removed, I could probably accept that dwarves were small: but instead of mentally scaling dwarves down to halfling size, I'd mentally scale kobolds up to dwarf size. In any case, dwarves shouldn't lose any ability to wield normal weapons if they were scaled down: dwarves are hardy and strong, they can handle an executioner's axe despite their stature. — Wensleydale 2010-10-27 18:31

A) +5 magic res per level (+3 currently).

B) 90 shield skill (130 currently). Make Halflings the Buckler experts of the small races by learning them twice as fast as a Spriggan and 40% more easily than a Kobold. They already have below average spell apts, so it isn't like they'd be giving up much by using Bucklers more. Bucklers were recently changed to no longer penalize Sling users, so having the best Shields skill of the small races would also make Halflings the sturdiest of the 2 Sling Hunters by default thanks to the new synergy. Keep in mind that Shields' value as a skill has been buffed pretty heavily for 0.6 on CDO, so this apt adjustment would be a bigger deal in 0.6 onward.

C) 100 Fighting apt (120 currently).

D) Give them Sludge Elf hp math, instead of Spriggan / Kobold. I've heard Human hp gain was being discussed, but it would be more interesting if they were given something unique to their race like the magic damage resistance mentioned below if making them the toughest small race was the goal in mind.

E) Last resort: Nerf Kobolds. Specifically, make Kobolds noticeably worse than Halflings at Traps & Doors, and Evocations. These are both skills that Halflings are not bad at, and could easily be bumped a bit to make them more ideal Artificers. There are a lot of new ideas floating around for Traps and Doors, and some of them involve the Evocations skill. Sprigs are great at both of these already. Playing a Halfling is different enough from a Spriggan already that it won't really hurt things for them to share talent at these skills.

I disagree with nerfing a viable species that's already on the weak side just because of halfling brokenness. If halflings can't be fixed then well, let's delete them, rather than damaging other parts of the game. — KiloByte 2010-01-03 19:21
Yeah, I am not especially in favor of nerfing Kobolds, but that is why I suggested 2 of the less important skills to do it in, if there weren't enough other ways to separate them. — Vandal 2010-01-06 03:41

The choice to play a Halfling with the above set of changes instead of a Kobold would mean greater survivability at the expense of more difficult spell options.

If you're looking for an “extreme makeover” like Gnomes into Deep Dwarves, consider the following:

A) A unique Stealth buff to Halflings, when not wearing boots they gain 35 stealth points (half way between Elf Boots, 20, and actual Stealth Boots, 50)

This might work. But it stinks of LotR. Which some (most?) will love, but I don't :) — dpeg 2010-01-07 15:56
I don't like halfling to be 'frodo' either, but there are pretty much 3 places we get the halfling archetype from. 1)Lotr 2)D&D 3)The Kender race from Dragonlance from..D&D It is going to be hard to reinvent halfling without thinking about the examples set in those three things. Its going to be a very hard fantasy trope to break, like dwarves and their beards. — Porkchop 2010-01-07 17:18

B) A flat 25% reduction in all incoming spell damage (in addition to the 5 resist / level above). This is assuming you don't increase their hp pool to match Humans. It would be a unique property to them as a race and fit a “tankier” changes theme.

I am not fond of this. It's a technical, invisible boost. — dpeg 2010-01-07 15:56

C) Unique bonuses to wearing rings, such as: reduced hunger from Regeneration, reduced Glow from Invis, no -rCold / -rFire from Rings of Fire or Ice (the enhancer rings), an additional +res from Protection from Fire / Cold rings, 50% greater effect from Wizardry / Power rings, and resist sickness in addition to rPois. No bonuses to artifacts. Since most characters are looking for artifact jewelry this would present more item choices for Halflings without really being overpowered compared to the variety of effects given by a single good artifact.

Again technical, plus we have to explain all of this to (old and new) Gnome players. The better ideas are in the next secion, in my opinion. — dpeg 2010-01-07 15:56


Lets say Halflings become quite different than they are now. Let us also pretend some future things like the Thief god, player-made Traps, a single Blade skill, and my own proposal to make Staves into a real weapon class become reality.

  • Theme is being the ideal Thief / Assassin / Hunter non-magic user
  • Not a “small Troll”, Trolls are not sneaky, stabby, particularly skilled at ranged combat, or good with traps
  • New racial inherent traits that mesh well with non-magical play styles

Since Apts inevitably have to be addressed at some point I will get them out of the way now:


Sling / Stealth / Stabbing / Invocation - 60 Primary skill set for Hunters / Assassins / Thieves (assuming Thieves start with Thief god, Halflings would have the closest relationship to it out of all the appropriate Thief races).

Throwing / Dodging / Traps & Doors - 70 Important secondary skills to all 3 archtypes, assuming T&D is eventually used to create player traps.

Bows / Staves / Blades - 80 2H vs. 1H melee weapon selection tier (Bows, Staves vs. Blades / Sling Shield user), Staves has room to grow as a weapon type, but would be the main “2 handed” melee weapon choice for Halflings foregoing shields.

Shields / Evocations / Fighting - 90 Shields remain a very viable option, without being low enough to make anyone feel forced into using them over Staff + Bow. Fighting is low enough to make a melee focused Halfling remain appealing despite good ranged aptitudes. Evocations is harder for Halflings than other races because it involves manipulating magical objects.

Armor / Spellcasting schools - 140-150 High apts across the board, reflecting their inherent lack of magical compatibility, and justifying some cool new inherent traits. They don't need to be Troll-bad at magic, but the idea is to make them bad enough at it to justify some new unique racial features that enhance non-magical Ranged and Stealth-based play styles.

Interesting aptitudes niche. Not sure about Inv 60. — dpeg 2010-01-07 15:56
I like it. — noxn 2010-02-24 12:25
Current fighting apt change is not needed, sludge elf hp gains are in. Dont see any reason to make inv 60. Staves 80 seems odd, other small races have horrible staff apts, is this for flavor? Long Blades 80 would really turn them into a powerhouse, donno about this one. — Porkchop 2010-02-24 14:04


  • Sludge Elf hp formula - Slightly more hp than Deep Elf, still less than Human
  • 5 magic res per level - Between Kobold and Spriggan
  • Minotaur mp formula - Every other level +1
  • 1 new spell level on level up except every 3rd level (-9 spell levels by level 27 compared to every other race)
  • +1 Dex every 4 levels - Was every 5 levels
  • Retain Slow Metabolism 1 as is
Could be done. The only bit I feel uneasy about are the reduced spell levels. Much less magic prone species (Mi, Tr) are not crippled like this. — dpeg 2010-01-07 15:56

Now that the dry stuff is over with… Potential Candidates For New Defining Racial Traits

  • Hardy - Resistance to Sickness, Stat Loss, Mutations, and Glow fades 33% faster. The new Halfling is a very hardy creature, not easily diseased, or altered by magical or natural means.
  • Silent Hunter -
  • Giantslayer - When fighting larger enemies than yourself, gives a Slaying damage bonus that scales with the size of the enemy (+1 to +5)
Hardy is a very interesting intrinsic for Ha IMO, at first I thought, well dwarf are hardy are they not? but It fits well with the lotr themed hobbit if DCSS wants to go that route (lazy but tough, strong mental/physical ability to resist corruption) — Porkchop 2010-01-07 14:23
A LotR approach would be more like Spriggan-level Magic Resist imo. I wasn't really going with a LotR theme on any of these, rMut on a non-undead race, -glow duration, inherent protection from stat loss just hasn't been used yet and went along with the non-magical theme. I don't think there is any reference in LotR about hobbits being handicapped when it came to performing magic, just because none of them bothered to ;) — Vandal 2010-01-07 15:31
Interesting ideas. What I don't like about Ambusher and Giantslayer is that it uses special skills/weapons. This shoehorns the species into specific sets, and probably more than is necessary. About Giantslayer: would suffice to apply the bonus to ranged attacks against large humanoids, in my opinion. — dpeg 2010-01-07 15:56
Giant Slayer applying to ranged weapons in general could work, especially with Darts, I was just concerned because Crossbows and Long Bows have much higher base damage than Slings and it could potentially be too powerful for them. As far as being shoehorned, the race is already shoehorned into being ranged / sneaky by lack of magical and armor aptitudes. I worry that Sling + Shield + 1H Blades would be so much more attractive than Bows and a 2H weapon no one would bother with them. I gave Bow + Staves a unique bonus (that didn't work out after some discussion), and I had to give Slings + 1H something to remain competitive. It just ended up my idea for Slings + 1H was a bit better than what I've come up with for Bows + Staves.
All that aside, I think making Giantslayer a blanket effect (behaving like a ring of Slaying?) and tweaking it down to +1 to +3 or making the bonus bigger only against even bigger enemies (as in, +1 bonus vs. a small size difference, +5 vs. the largest possible size difference) may be the most viable implementation of all. As far as Ambusher goes, I see it working like an Elvish Boots / Cloak bonus in that a Halfling with these bonuses always notices it whether they are actively training Stealth or not. The only way a Halfling wouldn't be a little stealthier than other races by default is if they were trying to wear heavy armour. — Vandal 2010-01-07 19:44

Redid new racials based on suggestions, I'm tempted to just remove Ambusher entirely and let Hardy / Giantslayer be the defining racial features. They're both quite strong and unique. The Thief god can provide all the additional sneakiness anyone could want. — Vandal 2010-01-08 00:48

Why does it make sense that a small race would be universally good at killing larger creatures? A short guy with an axe isn't going to have an edge on a taller guy with an axe, and ranged weapons make even less sense. Going down this road, I think it'd work better to give the race an increasing EV bonus (and/or blocking? AC?) against larger creatures, for the whole spry/nimble/“clumsy giant” thing, which would also make the trait not useless for casters. — OG17 2010-02-15 09:16

Come on, let's not kid ourselves. Halflings *are* from lord of the rings and they need two definitive racial traits:

  • 1) The very best MR, better even than what'sit elves. Why? Because halflings can carry around the one ring and not be turned evil (as fast). Elves can't do that! Therefore, halflings have better MR than elves.
  • 2) They corrupt very slowly, so give them genetic stability: 2.
  • With those two advantages, they can be otherwise fairly inferior to Kobolds, but I'd give them some of the other buffs proposed above as well. — DrPraetor 2010-02-15 04:03

Ignoring everything else, these aren't even racial traits of LOTR halflings. — OG17 2010-02-15 09:16

Hell they aren't! Do I have to quote you page #s? Only question is whether they're born with rN+ or not. The wraith swords definitely *hurt* Frodo but he explicitly survived longer than he should've. Is that because Hobbits are more negative energy resistant than humans, or is it just that Frodo was personally wicked 'ard? — DrPraetor 2010-02-16 00:43

I agree on these 2 racial traits. Getting basics done is important before you start on fancier stuff. Halflings are just a way to not get sued for using the name “hobbit”. Now MR bonus alone is boring, because MR in Crawl is boring and that's another story, but genetic stability could really come in handy. — b0rsuk 2010-02-16 06:20

'cuz Gollum (a hobbit) proved to be so immutable and didn't change his form a bit… — KiloByte 2010-02-16 09:59
Well, he did, which is why Genetic Stability: 2 and not Genetic Stability: 3. Over the timeframe in which Smeagol lost his hair and turned green, human kings with less powerful rings turned into wraiths… — DrPraetor 2010-02-16 14:05
If the halfling is going to keep the route of non-magic proficient species, I really like the genetic stability 2 and could see a MR boost to naga levels (5 instead of current 3). - 'giant slayer' proposal, this is a relic from old school DnD, and imo would not really add to the appeal or flavor of playing halfling in crawl. — Porkchop 2010-02-16 14:45
I didn't read any LotR thing, so I'm not going to comment about that. While I don't think it's needed to make halfling precisely what hobbits are in LotR, it's nice to have inspiration from it. And I like the two racial traits. — ahyangyi 2010-02-23 16:15
Just to throw in my own 2 cents, even if buffed with “regular” types of buffs, the Halfling will still be looked at as more or less the same as Kobolds and Spriggans, just with varying aptitudes and such. Thus, I agree with giving Halflings Genetic Stability 2, a barefoot stealth boost (to keep them competitive with Spriggans and other such stealthy races), high MR, and possibly a very small giantslaying. Looking it over all at once, having all 4 of those might seem a little much, but the race as a whole seriously needs some changes to make it stand out as well as buff it at the same time. — Aepoch 2010-03-17 14:53

Current State

Halfling species has gone through changes, could we clean up the page a bit and get an entry here that lays out halfling similar to chaosforge wiki entry? Discussion is becoming hard to follow and “current state” can be updated as halfling progresses (delete this comment when done) — Porkchop 2010-02-26 14:05

I think this page should take a nap. Nobody is going to argue that Ha is bad anymore. — TGW 2010-07-22 04:49
No, but they're still kind of boring, which is something far worse. – angrykoopa

Two - No, THREE! - Haphazardly Added Further Ideas

This page is such a mess at present that I'm not even going to try to find a “clean” place to put these. :-)

Here are two somewhat radical ideas for differentiating Halflings, one more, one less. One kind of overlaps with a semi-rejected suggestion above, but hey, I share the sentiments of its author. :-)

1. Interesting things happen to Halflings. Halflings get an added or multiplied chance for vault, minivault, and unique generation during the level generation process.

I think luck has potential as a species theme applied across the board. It could affect loot. Maybe also tie into Nemelex Xobeh somehow? For combat, evasion and MR is part of that, but maybe come up with extra unique effects, like some sort of critical hit ability, and/or have some chance to miraculously avoid death. tigen 2010-10-07
I don't think so. The problem is that you don't see your luck in action. Just having slightly better rolls is too marginal to be liked (even if the effect is meaningful). — dpeg 2010-10-07 21:13
Well, I was thinking it would be something that would happen at critical moments with a noticeable effect. Just having slightly better rolls all the time is boring; it should be “lucky breaks”. Like a fighter who seems kind of bad but somehow lands the killing blow when really needed. Rationale: you've got hidden subconscious talents that only unlock in the right circumstance. Maybe stuff like:

a) Can sometimes land really powerful attacks in combat; the chance and power is higher depending on how much more powerful the monster is than yourself. But there's also a long “cooldown” timer so you can't do this repeatedly. Also applies to stabbing. A unique message is printed. Possibly also apply to situations where you are getting mobbed; like if you just took a lot of damage in a single turn which might have come from multiple lesser creatures.
b) When hit by something that would kill you, you get an extra roll to somehow end up alive with 1 hp. (msg printed, cooldown)
c) Extra chances to stumble upon a really great artifact item… I guess this could work sort of like a god gift. Probably not something that's going to happen very often. But you'll know it's because of halfling because you get a special description. In fact, perhaps it only happens after odd moments. It could be a double-edged sword, like you “stumble and fall… suddenly you notice” type of deal, where you get a great item but lose a turn. Maybe you need to be “in danger”.
d) Similarly to c) you could stumble into a vault that didn't apparently exist.
e) Could be better at T&D. Maybe special ability to avoid the effect of a trap, if it would have done something very damaging.

I don't know if this stuff adds up to something that is appealing but it seems like there is potential. It's not an obvious win. If it's not reliable you can't really base a strategy on it but it might be flavorful. Or a fun class for newbies, if it saves your ass sometimes. tigen 2010-10-08 10:01

2. Halflings are recklessly brave. Halflings get a flat to-hit bonus and evasion malus that both increase with clevel. — erisdiscordia 2010-03-11 10:19

The following could either go to Halflings or to High Elves, who could still use some differentiation from Deep Elves. The idea here is that Halflings have a highly developed society and aren't natural dungeon crawlers, and this is not without effect during their dive.

3. Attachment to the Surface World: Halflings are unusually influenced by their memories of the surface world, for better and for worse. This would come in the form of occasional statrot on the one hand (“You miss home and die a bit inside”) and occasional potion-of-stat on the other (“You remember your great-uncle twice removed and are filled with inner strength!”… errr, or something like that).

I imagine two different ways this could work, “constant” or “deteriorating.” The latter would mean the buffing effects being dominant in the early dungeon (1-9) and the nerfing effects being dominant in the late dungeon (19-27), obviously with more granularity than just 1-9 10-18 19-27 :-). Branches could be treated as the dlevel they branched from; the branches with entrances on multiple dlevels are all worthy of being treated as D27 anyway.

Ultimately the Deteriorating model may be a net buff, since it's ultimately Crawl's early game that's really deadly; a little statrot, or even a lot of it, in the endgame can be shrugged off. A bit anti-munchkiny, but 'sfine by me! — erisdiscordia 2010-03-31 23:55

The Deteriorating thing could work if you got more flavored stat buffs during the early game, especially during tension - seeing that D2 Ogre reminds you of the Ogre that killed your grandfather and you go berserk when it nears - but started getting those deteriorations the deeper you go into the dungeon, which should stop everytime you do something impressive. Like kill a tough out of depth monster or get a rune (this might interfere with new demigods though) - angrykoopa

The deteriorating thing should also be different in certain branches. Lair, being somewhat like the surface world, should be treated like it is a very shallow DL (like 5 or so–MUCH shallower than the dungeon by that point) and the Shoals should be treated like DL1. I'm unsure about the swamp. Meanwhile, orcish mines should have 6 levels (or more?) or so added onto their effective DL. I'd suggest making Labrynths act like DL27 but of course it's a moot point. Messages should reflect these differences–shoals should reference the fresh sea air and sunshine and such, while the mines reference feeling hemmed in by the oppressive rock walls. — Brickman 2010-10-27 06:42

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dcss/brainstorm/species/halfling.txt · Last modified: 2010-10-27 18:37 by Wensleydale
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