Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Halflings and Goblins

Halflings are all vegetarians.  If a halfling eats meat, their mental facilities decline.  They begin to behave chaotically, even insane.  They become extremely willing to sacrifice themselves for their peers.  They begin to see in the dark.  They become ravenous and obsessed with food, especially meat.   Their teeth grow sharp.  In short, they become goblins.

The baldness and green skin of a goblin isn't due to the carnivory transformation--that's just what happens when a halfling (or goblin) suffers malnutrition.

In their separate ways, goblins and halflings are both obsessed with food and predisposed to gluttony.

Explanation: Back when halflings were spacers, this was a biologically programmed stress response.  There's no occasion to eat meat in space, so meat consumption usually signified cannibalism--the direst of emergencies.  In dire times, conservative approaches are less likely to yield success than risky, innovative ones--hence the mad ingenuity of goblins.  Likewise, self-preservation must be dampened, so that a few can survive after the rest have sacrificed themselves.  And after the ship has lost power and shielding, darkvision and radiation resistance are a necessity.

Halflings give birth to single babies, which are nearly the size of human babies.  Due to their small size, this is sometimes fatal to the mother.  (Halfling pregnancies are times for both joy and worry.  It's also time to find a really good midwife.)

Goblins give birth to litters of up to twenty runty goblinspawn, and the mother always dies, and usually provides her pups with their first meal (and contributing to the perception that all goblins are male).

Explanation: This is another engineered adaption.  Normally, it was modulated with fertility drugs--but without them, the cruelest-but-perhaps-necessary adaptation was implemented.

In space, the goblinoid transformation was usually recoverable.  Crews might undergo the transformation and still retain discipline and (relative) rationality, and then be picked up years or generations later before reverting and recovering back into society.

Goblins who were once halflings remember the old days quite well, but for most goblins it is something to mock and laugh at.  "Remember back when I wore pants! *cackles, wipes a tear from corner of eye* A lark, a laugh, a dig!  Now give us the blood pudding, would you, you wretch?"

In Centerra, this is not the case, and there is a typical pattern of degeneration for halflings that grow fond of meat:

halfling --> cannibal halfling --> goblin

And while many halfling families have a cannibal uncle locked away in the attic, it's very rare (but not unknown) for an entire community to succumb to carnivory/depravity before being driven away, usually to take up residence somewhere their darkvision gives them an advantage over their pursuers (usually more halfling clans).

Perhaps as a reaction to those who would rob, rape, or otherwise take advantage of their small size, most halflings follow a brand of machismo called rontay. This attitude is most visible when they interact with people larger than them. At its best, rontay means accepting responsibility for your actions, taking care of your family, and a willingness to sacrifice. At its worst, rontay means being dismissive of women, quick to violence, and a penchant for revenge.

Don’t fuck with Halflings. Nine of them will come to your house and murder you in your sleep.

Halfings usually become adventurers to find a spouse.

Halflings are extraordinarily brave.

Halflings usually travel with a pet or animal, and bond deeply with it.  They especially like dogs, giant chickens, and bees.

Halflings are sometimes excellent cooks.

Halflings hate slavery (having been enslaved so often themselves) and many a slaver has woken up dead with a tiny dagger in his black heart.

Most people don't know that halflings and goblins are the same race.  (And in fact, many halflings have relatives in nearby goblin clans.  Yeah, it gets complicated.)  People who mention this to halflings usually get stabbed in the dick.

  • Str -, Dex +
  • Small Size
  • +1 to reaction checks with animals (and begin play with a loyal pet).
  • +4 vs fear
  • A halfling who eats a significant amount of meat must make a Con check.  Failure means that they start turning into a cannibal halfling.
Goblin or Cannibal Halfling
  • Str -, Dex +
  • Small Size
  • +1 to reaction checks with animals
  • -4 vs confusion or insanity
  • Darkvision
this is what happens when they eat bacon instead of scones
*Halflings were engineered to be spacers, and consume as few resources as possible aboard a ship. Dwarves were designed to mine asteroids and certain high-G planets.  Elves are what happens when the rich bourgeoisie start enhancing their babies to be smarter, taller, and more beautiful and never really stop. And orcs are supersoldiers, of course.

  • love machinations and traps
  • don't mind dying
  • sort of crazy
  • love warfare, depending on their leader they can form:
    • barbarian hordes (WAAAGH)
    • tightly disciplined legions
  • prefer not to die
  • are hated by the gods


  1. So that's what happened to Sméagol. Very cool this new approach on these two races . Please write more about Centerra .

  2. Some aphid species have both sexual and asexual reproduction: it seems likely that the Goblin-stage reproduction is also likely to be asexual, and the Goblin-spawn would thus be clones of the mother.

    Do male Goblins turn into female goblins over time? (Male Halfling - Male Cannibal Halfling - Male Goblin - Female Goblin - death during spawning?)

  3. I love this. I've been working on a world background for my players, and your spacefaring stuff has been flatteringly emulated.