Why Are Hobbits Called Halflings In Dungeons & Dragons?

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Tolkien’s Hobbit inspiration on Tolkien gateway: http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Hobbits#Inspiration
Hauflin: http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/halflin
Tolkien In D&D: https://annarchive.com/files/Drmg013.pdf
The Influences of J.R.R. Tolkien on the D&D Games: https://annarchive.com/files/Drmg095.pdf
Hobbit Pub Threatened With Legal Action: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-17350103
Why halflings Aren’t Hobbits: http://www.monkeyinthecage.com/2013/02/28/why-halflings-arent-hobbit/

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Comment (363)

  1. This is all wrong. A very short Chinese girl named Ling married a very short dwarf whose name has been forgotten by history. The other dwarfs held the descendants of the mixed race couple in contempt and instead of thinking of them as half dwarves, called them "Half Lings".

    And now you know.

    And knowing is half the battle! (The other half is straight up murdering your opponent.)

  2. its not tolkins fault You have to defend the trademark or You may lose it. so if I made a drink and called it Coke. and Coca Cola said it was ok or did nothing about it then I could make a drink and call it coca cola and t would be legal. this is a very simple explanation its a bit more complicated but its the easiest way to put it. Tolkien was not being a jerk they were just protacting a copy right

  3. actually a normal hobbit hates adventure. That's why Bilbo, Frodo and Frodos companions were considered weirdos by the other Hobbits and would've been completely cut off from their families if they weren't so rich.

  4. My hypothesis is that "hobbit" was subconsciously influenced by the words "hobble" or "hobbled," which were likely once common descriptors for how little persons walk. It certainly doesn't sound like a compliment, but it does seem a lot more likely than some of the other theories.

  5. I've always been a huge fan of fantasy and loved D&D as a kid. Started in 2nd edition myself. Still, I've never liked Tolkiens books. Never liked LoTR and especially hated all the movies. On the flip side I far prefer his style of hobbit over todays D&D Halflings. The Hobbits make sense to me, while the D&D halflings always just feel way to far fetched being so teeny-tiny. Gnomes, and dwarves have unique things about them that make them special while I feel like D&D half-assed it with the halflings and only kept them in because they were supposed to be the hobbits. Taking away the hobbit culture from the halflings just killed it for me. They just seem uninteresting and so I always played without them existing.

  6. I thought the race was Halfling, and the nationality was Hobbit, because they were from Hobbiton. I thought that Halflings from other places were not Hobbits, but all Hobbits were Halflings. Like, I am White (race), but I am American (Nationality).

  7. I remember when reading the Lord of the Rings how one of the main four Hobbits, Pippin I think it was, told someone that halfling is what other races call them and hobbits are what they call themselves. Could be no one cares when the word halfling is used. Though I doubt a hobbit would mind if a non-halfling called them a hobbit.

  8. actually in the old monster manual, a balor was called a "type VI demon" and then in parentheses, it listed possible suggested names for the type VI demon, one of which was Balor.

    later editions just changed it so that all type 6 demons were called Balors.

    same thing with type V demons, Marilith was one suggested name, but later, all thpe 5 demons became known as mariliths

    interesting to note that final fantasy 1 took a lot of stuff from first edition d&d. The lich, Bahamut and Tiamat, Kary at the end of gurgu volcano(now known as Mt Gulg in the remastered remade versions) was a type V demon and in the remastered versions of final fantasy 1 for ios and ds, they changed Kary's name to Marilith.

  9. And here's a really interesting tidbit: the word "hobbit" as a name for a supernatural creature actually predates Tolkien's writing. The earliest recorded instance of the word is actually from the writing of folklorist Michael Aislabie Denham, specifically as part of a long list of supernatural creatures in the piece, "Things That Go Bump In the Night," (found here:http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/bump.html), albeit with no elaboration on what exactly a hobbit is.

    But, as you mentioned, Tolkien did admit himself that he may have gotten the word from somewhere and forgotten where that was, and given how the Denham Tract in question only contains the word itself, Tolkien'ss ideas of what a hobbit specifically is probably still came from the sources he later mentioned.

  10. "Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time. The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away. They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25. "

    – Christopher Tolkien

  11. The reason why companies are so damn protective of their copyright is because there is no government agency that enforces copyright laws, I and I am NOT saying there should be, but because it falls on the company to defend their own copyright, they are in a "defend it, or lose it" situation.

    So if they don't defend their copyright, and then they run into someone who is straight up, ripping their ideas off, if they try to take legal actions against them, the copycats can point to all the other times that the copyright holder, DIDN'T defend their copyright, and therefor, that property no longer belongs to them, and anyone can use it.

    If this happens, that means said property is in what we call "public domain". Believe it or not, this actually happened to Superman once. When they tried to sue Captain Marvel (Now known as Shazam), they initially lost the case cause the Fawset Comic (Original publishers of Captain Marvel), pointed out that DC allowed Superman to appear in another work, and for a short while Superman fell into public Domain. DC of course later appealed this, and convinced the courts that there was no way they could have reasonably known every small artist that used Superman without their permission at the time, and eventually got their character out of public domain.

    Another interesting case was when Universal had to go to court, defending the idea of a giant ape was public domain, and they won, but then tried to sue Nintendo for Donkey Kong, saying it ripped of their King Kong, but Nintendo's Lawyer brought up the old court case where Universal proved that King Kong was public domain, and apparently, the judge ripped Universal appart.

    Anyway, just thought I'd share why companies are so uptight about their copyright.

  12. I disagree with the idea that the changes Halflings went through to differentiate themselves from Hobbits were done consciously by the DnD designers. I mean yes, a certain level of differentiation was needed for legal reasons, but I don't think they went out of their way to make Halflings what they are just to make them different.

    Rather, I see it as an example of Flanderization.

    Why are Halflings thieves by DnD 3e? Because Bilbo Baggins was a thief. Why does 5e describe Halflings as loving adventure? Because Tolkien's most important Hobbit characters went on some adventures. All the other Hobbits, however, abhorred adventure, and adventurers. Tolkien's Hobbits were a sedentary, unadventurous people, who preferred to attend to their local affairs and pursue base pleasures. In essence, the archetypical stand-in for the English middle class of Tolkien's day. Bilbo and Frodo et al were notable Hobbit characters because they broke that mold, and left their communities for adventure.

    The Halflings of DnD are described as being an adventurous people because they were modeled, not on the Hobbits in general, but upon their most notable outliers .

  13. So you're telling me that the Tolkien estate takes issue for a pub in the middle of nowhere that's called "the hobbit", but they're ok with a Norwegian murderer with white suprelicist ideoligy calling his band Burzum? Ok then.

  14. There is a restaurant called "Hobbit" in my town. Luckily we are so small and irrelevant (and outside of the Anglosphere) they don't have to worry about legal actions.

  15. strange copyright stuff…i wouldn't think Tolkien really "invented" the concept of a Hobbit…maybe in that specific form of a halfling…but it would be the same with his Elves…clearly inspired by northern mythology but still significantly different from Elfs…so he didn't really "invent" the concept of an Elv but took the Elf concept and fiddlet with that….so he took the concept of a halfling and fiddled it into becoming a Hobbit…

  16. hobbits are not known for going on adventures. In fact, the vast majority of hobbits (including Bilbo for a time) have a general disdain for adventures and most things foreign (think aggressive isolationism). While Bilbo and to a greater extent Frodo were known as adventurers and lovers of adventure, they were by far in the minority of their race. Otherwise, cheers!

  17. Well, yeah. The Hobbit Free House tavern wasn't only infringing on Tolkien's name, "Hobbit"; they even used the likenesses of Tolkien's Middle Earth characters for their corporate logo! So, yeah. I don't feel bad for them and the troubles they've had.

  18. OMG, Balors are supposed to be Balrogs? It would have been so much more fun fighting them in NWN if I'd known that. Dammit.

    Don't care so much about the halflings because it's fricking obvious what they are, and the name got used in LotR anyhow.
    But denying Balrogs to us?!
    Screw Tolkien's estate!!

  19. This may be a little personal quirk but I always thought that the word "halfling" (which is used throughout LOTR almost as much as "hobbit") should have the L pronounced, so the word sounds like hal-fling. It just sounds more authentically oldy-worldy to me that way!

    There are a few words in the book like that for me. For example, "Southfarthing", to be an authentically English sounding place name should be pronounced something like "suvvarthing".

    I don't know if Tolkien ever made official the pronunciations, but I know he was a bit anal about his IP so it wouldn't surprise me. These are just my thoughts about what feels right to me as an Englishman from an area where ancient dialects still hold sway.

  20. O the irony that TSR was infamous for its aggressive policing of its own intellectual property, including up to its final days (before being bought by WotC) in the midish-90s, issuing cease and desist letters to random fans publishing their own homebrew creations online in the early years of the interwebsnets.

  21. In Lord of the Rings, it's said that "hobbit" is an endonym that the hobbits of the Shire call themselves, while "halfling" is an exonym used by the men of Rohan and Gondor (among others)

  22. This race is such a pointless filler just for marketing purposes….We already have Gnomes(who are actually inspired by folktales) and Dwarves…why do we need ANOTHER small race the basically bring nothing new to the table?…and to top all that is one of the COMMON RACES…STILL…we are in 5e…..There are so many creative ideas since Tolkien wrote the Lord of the Rings…MOVE ON…


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