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In Third Edition Dungeons and Dragons, Wizards of the Coast made numerous changes and improvements to many things. Among them were the changes made in the Third Edition Halfling. Anyone that has ever played a halfling in Advanced Dungeons and Dragons understands the contrast between the old and new halfling. Some people have stated that the new halfling is finally a "real halfling" or a "gamer's" halfling"; or that the new halfling is finally worth playing after the "ridiculous, weak, and puny" halflings of old. What they fail to realize however is that the New Halfling is essentially a kender in halfling clothing. Most of what the new halfling is based on is actually information on the kender race from the DragonLance Saga. This article will describe the new third edition halfling and their relation to kender.
The Old Halfling
Before we can understand the significant difference between the old halfling and the new halfling, we must first have a description of the old halfling to compare it to. The previous version of the Dungeons and Dragons halfling was based heavily from the Hobbit race of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. They were short plump people, with round bodies, round ears, curly hair, and hairy feet. They also preferred to go shoeless most of the time.
They had an extremely cheery disposition, and were dependable, as well as industrious. They were known for being a quiet and peaceful race that usually kept to themselves, living happily in their burrows and keeping to the comforts of their homes. Even though they were reserved, halflings could be very conversational and friendly, getting along with many of the races. They also had a great love for material comforts, riddles, and homespun stories. They were not overly brave or ambitious.
Halflings were highly resistant to all sorts of magic and poisons. They were skilled with thrown weapons and slings, and were highly dextrous. So the thief was their preferred class because of their natural dexterity and love of material objects.
The 3E halfling now has the physical description of the kender race. They are still short, standing no more than three and a half feet tall, but halflings now have thin lean bodies, weigh around 40 pounds, and have pointed ears. The hair is gone from their feet and they usually wear shoes. Unlike kender that have a wide variety of hair and eye colors, halflings have brown eyes and straight black hair. Halflings wear comfortable clothing, where kender tend toward brighter, even garish colors.
The most noticeable change in the 3E halfling occurs in the personality. Here is where you will find the true kender within the Third Edition halfling.
Halflings are now intensely curious. This trait comes directly from the kender race. Previously, halflings were content with their lot in life and were creatures of comfort and habit. They did not go out of their way to pry into other peoples business or belongings unless there was something to gain for themselves in it. Now they are interested in everything around them. Kender take this curiosity to an extreme, and halflings now seem to have a milder case of it.