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A Gnome-kin Halfling Woman of the Ultimate West.

About the Halflings (or “Humblekin”) of Panzoasia

Halflings (or “Humblekin”, as they call themselves) tend to have the same skin, eye, and hair colors as the majority of the local Human population. Whether they have dark or light skin, however, their complexions tend to be ruddy. A Halfling’s facial features are generally  proportioned very much like those of a young Human – with large eyes, a short face, and a high forehead. They tend to have dimples, and short, “button” noses. Most male Halflings can grow long sideburns, but no other facial hair. The noses of older males with pale complexions also tend to be distinctly reddish.

Halflings often dress in patchwork versions of the local costume – and may take pride in remembering how they obtained each individual scrap of their outfit. Once, Halflings made patchwork because of their poverty, but nowadays they wear their patches as a symbol of their People’s resourcefulness. Halflings of the Ultimate West are particularly fond of tartan and cheque patterns, and keep their pants and skirts up with suspenders, not belts. Halflings are also known for their distinctive hairstyles, with exaggeratedly large curls held in place with pomade. Some dye their hair pure hues of yellow, red, green, or blue. They often make jewelry out of old coins, or small objects discarded by Humans, Dwarves, Elves or Gnomes.

There are four Halflings “Kins”, each of which had associated with a different People before the Invasions. The Man-kins (or “Robins”) have a noted preference for patches (or patterns) in various shades of a single color, and always live in above-ground houses. The slender Elf-kins (or “Huldurfolk”) have pointed ears, prefer clothing of many colors, and traditionally live in the same manner as Elves. The dexterous Gnome-kins (or “Dobs”) have hairy feet, and traditionally live inside artificial earthen mounds. The stout Dwarf-kins (or “Knockers”) have attached earlobes, traditionally live in mines underground, and are the only Halfling Kin whose men can grow mustaches. Gnome-kins and Dwarf-kins do not commonly wear shoes, but Man-kins and Elf-kins do.

Halflings do not have their own languages, but speak the tongues of the other People associated with their Kin. Halfling dialects are full of unique slang, however, and may be nearly incomprehensible to the speakers of the regular language.

Halflings love to sing, often mocking the pretensions and failures of their enemies (and even friends) through improvised lyrics. These songs frequently include strings of nonsense words. Other songs are often sad laments for the oppression, disrespect, and tragedy that Halflings have historically suffered – covering such topics as being abducted and forced to work in a Orcish factory, having your husband-to-be run off with a Elf woman who will grow tired of him in just a week, or being stuck in a collapsed coal mine and realizing that your Dwarven employers only care about saving their own kind.

Halflings of every type traditionally use cairns as markers and memorials, but most of the ancient cairns were vandalized and destroyed during the Reign of the Monsters. Halflings prefer to bury their dead directly in the ground, with the grave marked only by a cairn. It is still traditional for newly married couples to build a cairn together on the day after their wedding. While ancient ones were made exclusively of stones, modern cairns can incorporate any items that are important the Halflings the build them (or the people they memorialize).

During the Reign of the Monsters, those Halflings who were separated from the Human, Elven, Gnomish, or Dwarven communities they once served survived by hiding in underbrush, lurking in ruins, and otherwise living at the margins. There the Halflings became adept at scavenging, and re-purposing objects discarded by others. Other Peoples notice that their Halfling friends never throw anything away. They will even incorporate found objects into the construction of their homes.

A male Man-kin Halfling of the Ultimate West.

Humans and Elves have a tendency to call all Halfling men “Bill”, and all Halfling women “Cutie” – regardless of their actual names. While these Humans and Elves may think they are being affectionate and endearing, most Halflings actually regard the practice as patronizing and insulting. Increasing, younger Halflings are standing and up and demanding that the “Bigs” refer to them by their real names.

Halfings ride ponies, and keep small cattle, sheep, and goats half the size of those raised by humans. Halflings love milk, cheese, and butter, and their dairy livestock are extremely important to them. Very small dogs are most popular pets among the Humblekin.

About half of the Humblekin are Good in Alignment, and they are among the most fervent devotees of the Lord and Lady of Light. Their worship is notable for its many choral hymns of praise. Many older Halflings are Lawful, but younger Halflings are increasingly embracing Chaos to rebel against their history of subservience to the other four Peoples. Chaotic Halflings often sport spiky hairstyles, or shave the sides of their head and stiffen the remaining strip of hair to stand on end. Less than 1% of Halflings are actually Evil; they often lurk near burial grounds, robbing graves and waylaying visitors.

Halfling communities of the Ultimate West are traditionally governed by a Sheriff or Headman, who is nowadays elected, but historically had been appointed by the leader of other People with whom the Halflings live. Despite being otherwise generally Good in nature, Halflings seem to express their resentment for their historical exploitation by electing Sheriffs and Headmen who make a point of being aggressively obnoxious towards non-Halflings.

In mixed communities, the predominant trades of Halflings will be weaving, herbalism, the growing of high-quality produce, distilling, beekeeping, and the making of candy. They take also pride in succeeding at hard and dirty jobs nobody else wants, such as cloth dying, cleaning, charcoal burning, and trash reclamation.