World of Farland

A world conquered by evil and ruled by the Lords of Sin; A unique campaign setting designed to be used with all editions of D&D.


Halflings of Farland

   
Halflings of Farland

PART ONE OF AN IN-PROGRESS SERIES
PART TWO HERE ///// PART THREE HERE ///// PART FOUR HERE ///// PART FIVE HERE ///// PART SIX HERE /////
PART SEVEN HERE

Characteristics

Halflings, or hositan in their own speech, were a dying race, almost rendered extinct when the Lords of Sin conquered their shires and hames, expunging centuries of culture and tradition in days. It is generally accepted that the survivors are a greatly diminished people, their natural inclinations towards reticence and passivity, among the larger races at least, becoming more exaggerated with each passing year. In the occupied kingdoms, halflings are even beginning to shrink in size, with fewer each generation reaching four feet tall.

Humans and dwarves are prone to saying that all hositan look the same, which can almost be considered true of the elder population - swaddled in shapeless and drab clothing, worry tinging each syllable, unadorned by necklace or ring or smile - desperate habits instilled in them from birth by parents haunted by memories of the occupation. In the liberated kingdoms, hositan are beginning to reclaim their ancestral virtues, albeit slowly and falteringly, for few still live that have any personal experience of those happier days.

A halfling typically has the warm skin tone of the southern Orlanders, or the deeper flush of their northern cousins. Most in the liberated kingdoms will never cut their hair, binding the curls into a dastar or dulband-cloth, but only those who live in perpetual hiding from the dark folk in the occupied realms maintain this custom, since it immediately identifies them as hositan and not human child. Indeed, shaving the head is commonplace in those lands, among men and women both, as it also serves to protect against lice and other such vermin.

Halflings are perhaps as close to a pacifist people as can exist, doing their utmost to avoid armed conflict and even settling the fiercest of disputes with words and sanctions. Even hositan find their courts to be nightmarish, their procedures of such convolution and intricacy that coming to an agreement outside of them is a priority regardless of personal hostility. As such, the offices of sheriff and marshal in halfling communities are very nearly honorary, often stereotyped as the go-to profession for the lazy or indolent hositan.

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Varieties

Proudfellow
-- Life is truly very simple. Look over there, the ground by that tree. That, my friend, is spoor. It reeks, stains and it is out in the open. Now, this about my waist is called a sporran. It is scented, clean and keeps things hidden. As long as you can tell the difference between spoor and sporran, you will do just fine in life. ~ Hositan 'advice' often given to youngsters

The rarest of the hositan, Proudfellows are widely thought to be descended from ancient trysts with fey or elves, their pale skin and fair hair setting them apart from the rest of their kind, who tend towards darker features. Long ago they began to train the emishika, better known as Kebito's elk, using the immense creatures first in place of oxen, then in place of horses, riding two abreast and four deep when they lost interest in farming and returned to hunting. Regaining mastery of emishika is a secret hope of many a Proudfellow.

Proudfellows are extremely conservative at heart and resistant to change, which has led to them suffering the greatest losses of all halflings. They reacted badly when the armies of the dark folk poured into their lands, refusing to surrender or flee like the majority of their people, instead taking up arms against the invaders. For all their skill in the hunt, the sad truth remains that no hositan was meant to see a battlefield and the Proudfellows were nearly wiped out entirely in the first few engagements.

***

Stalwart -- #A mermaid I did see one day, a-swimming in the stream. When down upon the bank she lay, my eyes-oh they did gleam. Her pearls she shone in noontime sun, I gripped my oaken rod. So near I crept then cast my line, as though it were a wish. Her treasures hauled up from the brine, I had my fill of fish.# ~ First verse of the traditional folksong "Truth be told"

Stalwarts are builders, innovators, gnome-friends and viewed by other halflings as quite bizarre for precisely those reasons. Much like the gnomes with whom they've associated for centuries, the Stalwarts tend to cultivate patterned whiskers and hairstyles, experiment freely with accessories and dyes, even wear actual shoes! Swift to adapt to other cultures, these halflings frequently work tirelessly to integrate into and modify whatever community they inhabit. They are often dismissed as busybodies and dreamers by the other races of said community.

Given that most halflings never learn how to swim, the Stalwarts separate themselves still further by actually enjoying the activity and seeking out coastal areas or those with lots of waterways to explore. The 'village' of Merrowsfloe is famous (infamous among hositan) for being entirely boats and rafts that drifts the Lonely Sea, coming to shore only when major repairs are needed. An increasing number of these vessels are being fashioned from corals, whale bones and similar materials, further reducing the frequency of visits to the land.

***

Hairfoot -- No rational hositan would be caught dead in something quite so ridiculous. Even an elf would hesitate to invite mockery by wearing that travesty. I cannot begin to understand the lunacy involved in, firstly making such a monstrosity, then actually putting it on display in a window. ~ Hositan criticism of a traditional harvest festival gown design salvaged from Rowanspeak Hillock

Ask someone to describe a halfling and you will invariably learn of the Hairfoots (or is it Hairfeet?), for they are by far the most common and widespread of hositan. Naturally inclined to cheerfulness and camaraderie, a Hairfoot is constantly reminded of how much their people has lost, for even in their own villages there is little that is truly hositan and not merely adopted or adapted from another race. As they are not fond of anything remotely resembling an adventure, they often hire people to explore the ruined shires of their ancestors in search of their past.

A Hairfoot is brought up to be polite, respectful and hard-working, honest to a fault, generous to the less fortunate and stern with the unjust. Naturally, these traits rarely survive childhood intact, ground to powder by the realities of life outside a shire. Their reconstitution leaves something to be desired, but in general, a halfling is a fine fellow all round and welcome in any community, albeit with a few sniggers and condescending comments from the existing inhabitants, who seem to find them inexplicably amusing.

I'm loving this so far. Great addition of small details! I especially like the idea of a floating stalwart city. And the poem is very cool. Great work so far! Keep it coming.

So we know about Westdelving, but do we know where any of the old destroyed shires are located? Just curious, for it might be interesting to explore one, or stumble upon an old shire home and hide in it (maybe even have a haunted shire).

I've name-dropped a couple of places so far, so I think what I'll do is take a close look at the maps in the next few weeks and try to pin down some decent locations for the old shires. An interesting geographical challenge, certainly.

PART TWO OF AN IN-PROGRESS SERIES
PART ONE HERE ///// PART THREE HERE ///// PART FOUR HERE ///// PART FIVE HERE ///// PART SIX HERE ///// PART SEVEN HERE

Cultural Quirks

Hositan are highly conservative, rural folk with a dislike for the hectic and rowdy bustling of urban environments - which in no way prevents them from being equally hectic, rowdy and bustly (bustley? I dunno, YOU try to conjugate that!) amongst themselves. A hositan always wants to be doing something that can be shown off to their peers, provided said activity is in no way strenuous or dangerous. Growing oversized vegetables, hononbon pruning, riddling and whittling are especially popular hobbies, with long and convoluted histories of excellence and rivalry that the Stalwarts and Hairfoots delight in rehashing.

Proudfellows, lacking much in the way of agricultural disposition, instead chose to become masters of animal husbandry. Their nomadism and semi-domestication of the emishika gave them unparalleled mobility right up until the coming of the Seven, spreading their numbers further and into more hostile environments than their less venturesome kin. Clad in hides and decorated with bone piercings and scar-tattoos unique to each individual clan, Proudfellow hositan stood as stark contrast to their more sedate kin.

Today, of course, there is significantly less variety between the halflings. What few Proudfellows remain have forgotten the meaning behind their rituals and are abandoning more of them with each new generation. The Stalwarts dress in drab and shapeless cloths that are a far cry from the elaborately dyed brilliances of their past, as well as often shaving their heads - once one of the greatest taboos of their people - or no longer wearing the dastar to keep their hair in place. The unfortunate Hairfoots, whilst still the most populous of hositan, are effectively no more than reflections of whatever racial settlement they inhabit, even the simplest parts of their former culture withering rapidly.

Outside of Westdelving, that last bastion of the ancient halflings, only the art of riddling remains alive. It has been noted by scholars of other races that the halflings seem to have replaced wars of weapons with wars of words. Champions of wit clash over a tabletop, duels between entire families resolved by the keenness of intellect and not blade. Disgraceful conduct in a challenge of riddles has been compared to cowardice on the battlefield, with the dishonorable cur publicly shunned and condemned.

To those who remember the old ways, there is often a chilling sight in the innocent games and rhymes of children. What to a child is nothing more than a quick game of hollyhockers is the memory of a wizened haruspex hunched over entrails and casting the bone rods. What to a child is nothing more than a fun singsong is the memory of maneivocans and vespernuntis keeping the flow of time unhindered. Among the Hairfoot halflings in particular, it is these elders who are most keen to unearth their past, many hoping that doing so will help to avert further disaster.

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Religion

And thus were the first Rites of Endsweek enacted, and Bunga did smile upon his faithful children. And these most blessed of the hositan did feast, upon the lambs, and the calves, and the fatted swine, and the carp, and the salmon, and the fruits of the gardens of the king, and the marrows that grew also therein, and the eggs of lark, and of hen, and of duck, and of goose // So thence did Bunga, most merciful, grant relief from indigestion to the faithful. ~~ Hymns to Bunga, 2:15-18 / 3:28 (intervening verses redacted)

Halflings revere the deity Bunga Proudfoot, one of the most active of the greater gods despite being no less bound than his fellows by the Pact Primordial, limiting his direct involvement on the Material Plane. Instead of entering the world fully, Bunga chooses to send only the least reflection of his whole being - not even so much as an aspect, much less an avatar of himself - that attaches to a hositan soul and provides inspiration, sometimes esoterically referred to as preranya. It is widely believed that Carl Paladin Merribuck was one such recipient, either directly or through the advice and support of his beloved.

Halflings venerate Bunga Proudfoot mainly through personal prayers, church services twice a week and lavish pastoral festivals that could probably feed most of Eruna. Their priests are highly respected for their wisdom and compassion, both key features that are required to advance through the diocesan hierarchy. In the absence of secular sheriffs, it is a priest of Bunga who is charged with confronting a lawbreaker, to remind them what they stand to lose if they continue down that path and to offer redemption.

Bunga Proudfoot teaches that humility for its own sake is as dishonest as unwarranted pride, advising that a true hositan should acknowledge their actions for what they are and not dismiss the praise of others - or, as being mortal is to be prone to error, to take both responsibility for their mistakes and the criticism of those who censure them. Above all, hositan should aim to make life pleasant for themselves and for others, to find that which is most enjoyable to them and learn to excel at it.

For all these apparent idyllic qualities, hositan religion hides a disturbingly dark heart. For many centuries, the Hairfoots ostracized their cousins as heretics and blasphemers, condemning the Stalwarts for their long association with gnomes and the Proudfellows as animalistic brutes no better than the dark folk. For their part, the Stalwarts began to see their kin, especially the ultra-conservative Proudfellows, as too narrow-minded to advance with the rest of the world. It is thought that the gradual abandoning of the land by the Merrowsfloe Stalwarts began at this time.

The schisms led first to excommunications, then mass purges as each halfling settlement strove to drive out those who disagreed with the majority interpretation of the faith. The full shameful extent of the atrocities visited upon themselves are a closely guarded secret by the priesthood, who only reveal the truth to the most promising acolytes and then only when they are about to take the most sacred of oaths, swearing to give up their lives if need be to safeguard the peace and well-being of all halflings.

There are a number of words scattered throughout these parts that are semi-fictional, usually being butchered reworks of words from real languages. I will be providing a supporting glossary of all these towards the end of the process, since they are all subject to change in the meantime.

Just thought I should say that now.

I absolutely love it so far. You've managed to keep it true to the spirit of be brief write up on the site while adding lots of originality and lots of details for PCs to mine during character creation. Excellent work so far!

PART THREE OF AN IN-PROGRESS SERIES
PART ONE HERE ///// PART TWO HERE ///// PART FOUR HERE ///// PART FIVE HERE ///// PART SIX HERE ///// PART SEVEN HERE

ARCHITECTURE

Shires


A shire is constructed mostly underground, individual homes burrowed into the sides of tors and hillocks, with little more than a well-tended flower garden and letterbox visible to the casual passerby. The overall motif is circular or oval chambers and doors, providing considerable buttressing against the weight of the soil above, with anywhere between seven and fifteen rooms each on up to four levels. This is a cultural holdover from the Five Clans Period, deemed useful enough to retain even when the halflings no longer needed to house their entire extended family in a single home.

A complex system of flues maintains fresh air and variable temperatures throughout, such that one could pass from a warm hallway into a chill pantry with but a single step. For any of the bedrooms to lack a fireplace, or for a kitchen to lack at least two ovens, was considered a sign of poverty or negligence for many years. The plumbing was of similar brilliance, allowing even the luxury of warmed water on command, even if a blizzard was raging outside.

It is worth noting that not even the most conservative of Stalwarts or Hairfoots would actually call their settlement a shire in these times, for that is a title now reserved solely for Westdelving. The design of a true shire remains common knowledge even among the new generations, but so much of it has been modified or outright replaced by the styles and techniques of other races, particularly the dwarves, that only a semblance of the original remains.

One of the few shire structures that is invariably located on the surface is the Marshalskeep, serving as both the local court of law and the offices of the sheriffs. The sheriffs report to the marshal, who is responsible for keeping in contact with other shires and with any nearby settlements of other races. In part due to the potential for having to entertain important guests of larger size than the average halfling, the Marshalskeep is traditionally built to human or elven proportions, which also ostensibly serves to remind its occupants that they are but a small part of a much greater world.

***

Hames

Hame were almost entirely above ground and could only barely be described as actual settlements, being fashioned from the ivies and roots of great trees using the fey art of rizaphxan. Each hame was shared between several Proudfellow tribes, though only rarely at the same time, with one group arriving scarcely a day after the previous had departed. Despite the relative lack of contact between tribes, word spread quickly if a hame was ill-treated or neglected by its occupants. As the punishment was being barred from any hame for a period of time, this was an incredibly rare problem.

As the years passed and the plants that formed the original aspects of a hame aged, replacements were cultivated with exquisite care by successive generations of halfling adepts. Unlike the relatively static shires, hames would flow with the passage of time, forever changing as one tree fell that another might sprout instead. The Proudfellows wove tapestries of the living canopy, tacitly acknowledging that their very impermanence made the hame all the more beautiful.

It was impossible to stumble across a hame by accident, for each was surrounded by great totems adorned with emishika antlers and engraved with warnings both ancient and new against trespass. In the absence of more usual facilities, it became common to add levels or trophies to these totems as a means of marking some great success, or even just as a tithe of sorts to Bunga, despite the best efforts of the priesthood to halt this troubling unorthodoxy and reclaim the focus of worship from the inanimate structures.

One of the most peculiar traditions that arose out of the erection of totems was the increasing veneration shown to them, especially before significant events such as marriage or birth, praying for the guidance of the ancestors who also lived and died in their shadow. It is whispered that the oldest of these yet stand, defying the raging of the dark folk, beacons from which spectral sentinels still watch over the lands and the wrathful baying of vengeful ghosts can be heard.

Very original! This is really great work. See you tried to say it wouldn't be. Haha

Eh...I see your point. But something's bugging me about this entry. I can't quite pin it down. One of those gut feelings that is going to drive me crazy until I work it out.

Might just be a mental misspelling of something that I didn't even put into the final piece. XD

EDIT: Found a grammatical error. Corrected it. Feel a bit better.
EDIT2: Found a second. Corrected that. Feel much better.




 

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