2012-08-12

Halflings of Jorth

Continuing our series of racial vignettes, today we will be taking a look at Halflings (by special request of my 12yo daughter Shannan).

The Halflings of Jorth are an introverted people, for the most part keeping to their farming villages and small market towns.  The great majority of Halflings lead quiet, unassuming lives, growing fruits, vegetables, grains, and the most popular product of their culture, Pipeweed.  Halflings live throughout the eastern part of Jorth, from the western banks of the Great River all the way to the coast of the Ocean of Storms, from the deepest south to as far north as they can have a good growing season for their crops.  The highest density of Halfling population is in the County of the Halflings, part of the Cotton Lands.  Drained by the Halflingwash, the County is a bountiful land of fields, farms, and orchards.  The best (and most valuable and highly priced) Pipeweed comes from the County. 

The Halflings of the County are governed by a council of elders, as the line of Counts has long since ended.  The elders of each village and town send one of their number to Excellence, the County seat, to take up the business of the people.  The actual day-to-day administration of the County is handled by a Governor (often, but not always, a non-Halfling) hired by the Elders.  The Governor is the face of the County, handling all external relations, keeping the peace, and generally allowing the Halflings to get on with their work without having to worry overmuch about government.

While the Elves appreciate most the arts of painting, and the Dwarves find the utmost artistic expression to be sculptures in stone, and all people enjoy their own poetry and songs, Halflings have developed an unique form of expression (and favored pass-time) all their own:  The Entertainment.  An Entertainment is half feast, half performance, and all fun.  There are features common to all Entertainments:  dancing, music, tale telling, and LOTS of food.  The central, and most engaging feature of the Entertainment, and what makes it unique to Halfling culture, is The Roast.  The Guest of Honor of the Entertainment is the subject of The Roast.  The finest, funniest, and most cunning humorists and raconteurs subject the Guest of Honor to jokes, jibes, and jests that poke fun at them, their position, their family, and anything else that can be used to get a laugh.  It is considered a great honor to be Roasted, and the most excellent Roasters are hailed as heroes in the Halfling community.  Each year, the Governor of the County is the Guest of Honor at the Autumnfeast Entertainment.  The best Roasters from around the County and beyond are invited.  The Roaster who outdoes the others in wit, humor, and slyness is named the Champion Roaster for the year.  There is a tradition that Rollo Buttertub, the most famous Roaster in history, once made King Edfast the Grim laugh so hard at an Entertainment that he pissed the royal trousers.  The king gave Rollo thrice his weight in coins, once in silver, once in gold, and once in platinum.  In honor of Rollo, the Champion Roaster is given the value of his weight in pounds in copper, silver, and gold coins.

While most Halflings are homebodies, never going further from their farm or town than they absolutely have to, there is a group of Halflings who wander the world, tying together the far flung Halfling communities, and bringing news and tales back home:  The Pipeweed Wagoneers.  While most of the stolid Halfling citizen farmers look down on Wagoneers as wandering low-life rabble, most villagers will find some reason to pop into the local pup when a group of Wagoneers is in town, to hear tales of the road, trade local gossip, and arrange contracts for sale of Pipeweed in far-off markets. 

The Halflings have no true gods of their own, and tend to worship the gods venerated by the Humans of the east.  They venerate and make offerings to the spirit of Rollo Buttertub, especially on the eve of the Autumnfeast Entertainment, and there is some speculation among the learned of Jorth that Rollo may, one day, achieve a godly status.  Halfling clerics are not rare, but aren't quiet common, either.  They exist to provide pastoral care to their home area, and are not usually found spreading the cause of their god through adventuring.  Halfling druids are found in smaller frontier communities, but are uncommon in the larger towns.

Halfling arcanists are rare enough to be almost unheard of.  No great archmage of Halfling extraction has ever been seen, and none of the powerful political rulers of Jorth has a Halfling for his court wizard.

Fighters, rangers, and rogues are common among The Pipeweed Wagoneers.  They use their martial skills to protect the Pipeweed caravans, and to engage in a bit of thievery along the roads, if rumor is to be believed.  Halflings are almost never found among the ranks of barbarians, paladins, or monks.