The Karmic Halfling Capers, An RPG in a blog post.

“Every Halfling needs a job, and every job needs a Halfling”

– Old Guild proverb.

Intro

Whatever you are trying to find, wherever you need to explore, whichever dungeon you are clearing out, put a Halfling on the team. Jacks of all trades, Halflings are talented but undisciplined, small but enduring, hasty but not lacking in finesse. Halflings were not, as many people believe, named for their height; they chose their name to proclaim that they are the children of the balance. Halfway from Good to Evil and at the tipping point between Order and Chaos.

This is a roleplaying game in which the players take on the roles of Halflings brought together by the three Fates (Fun, Drama and Cliche) to complete a task. It could be a quest to save the world, or a polite request to find a lost dog, oh, and the child who was walking it. Maybe they have been brought together to negotiate a trade deal between ancient enemies, or perhaps they just need to figure out where all these ghost dinosaurs keep coming from… Whatever the task, you know that the Halflings are good for it, because they can do anything. Well, half the time anyway.

Character Generation

Take a piece of paper, a pencil and a d6. Choose a name for your Halfling and write it at the top of the page.

You’re done! Start playing.

Playing

If you want your Halfling to do something which the GM considers to be risky, you need to do three things,

  • First, write down the skill or ability which your Halfling will be using. This could be a broad ability like “Fighting” or a very specific skill like “Has learned to cook The Midwinter Festival Curry”.
  • Second, write “4+” next to the ability. This is the number you need to roll on your dice to pass the test.
  • Third, roll your dice. If you roll high enough, you pass!

There is one thing you need to do after your roll though. If you pass a test the Fates will seek to balance the universe by increasing the number on that ability by 1, making it harder for your character to pass next time. Alternatively, if you fail your roll you must lower the number by 1 as Fun and Drama and Cliche try to offset the bad luck of your past with some good luck in your future.

There are two other things to remember,

  • No ability can be better than 2+ or worse than 6+. If you fail with an ability at 2+ or pass with an ability at 6+, just fail or pass and leave the number as is.
  • If you have an ability which could be used for a task then you can’t create a new overlapping one. Neither hoarding of good abilities nor ignoring bad ones is allowed.

“If one Halfling can do anything, imagine what a whole team could do!”

– Final words of Queen Elinnint the Optimistic.

Running

Just put the Halflings together and give them a job, they have a great sense of narrative velocity and will understand that Fate has just wiped their slate back to clean equilibrium for a new start. They may or may not know their colleagues but they will know that for a few hours they mostly have to work together.

Some example jobs,

  • The Halflings must deliver an infamous magic sword to the Queen of Humanlandia before the month is out. Unfortunately it is already the 26th. Oh, and the sword is currently in the possession of a megalomaniac Elven sorcerer king.
  • An enormous flying magic school which no one recognises keeps appearing and disappearing. The Halflings have to catch it, get into it, find out what’s gone wrong and why half of it is on fire.
  • The Halflings are brought together by an agent of the Fates who is currently undercover in the Thieves’ Guild. He is unhappy that the true and natural harmonies of existence are being held out of balance by the banks having all of the money. The Halflings have to acquire the money from the bank’s vault and redistribute it to the Thieves’ Guild.

And a couple of rules bits,

  • When the Halflings come into conflict with one of your characters, either give your NPC an ability of about 4+ or 5+ and roll against that, or just have your player create and roll on defensive abilities like “Dodge”, “Trained to Negotiate” or “Too Dumb To Notice”.
  • If you want to keep track of damage and hardship then give all Halflings “Resilience 2+” which increases by 1 every time the character is harmed. If this should increase beyond 6+ the Halfling is out of action until it recovers. Medical treatment, general help and reassurance and/or a good meal can all lower the Resilience number. Resilience can be rolled on to see if the Halfling has the energy to attempt a task but unlike standard ability roll this might not alter the number.

“There is no such thing as too many cooks.”

– Old Halfling proverb

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