How to fix Halfings and Gnomes?


Homebrew and House Rules

51 to 75 of 75 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Silver Crusade

Somewhat related to the topic at hand... I once had a DM tell me that my gnomes fireball was not as large as a regular fireball and did half damage. You know, becuase I was a gnome and small sized...

Yeah, after that conversation I exited that particular game.

Assistant Software Developer

I removed a post. Let's act like grown-ups.


Gnoll Bard wrote:
I like halflings just the size they are; the name wouldn't make any sense if they weren't around half the height of a typical human of the same gender. Come to think of it, they may be a little tall, as written... :P

Just use the original definition of halfling: half the height of a tall subrace of man. Only elves and dunedain use the term halfing in Tolkien's works and his elves were usually taller than humans. Everyone else uses a corruption of a word meaning "hole builder." The original halflings also did not vary in stature by gender. They were approximately half the height of a male Numenorean. Substitute Azlanti for the Numenoreans as the originators of the term and give them a height adjustment and halfings can be taller than half an average modern human.

The Exchange

Mad Gene Vane wrote:

They're broken.

No one stops to think about it, but they are ludicrously broken.

Per the rules a typical male adult Halfling is between 2'10" tall and 3'4" tall and between 32-38 lbs.

That's the size of a typical pre-schooler. Most preschoolers have trouble carrying a gallon of milk, because it's too heavy for them.

You can have a Halfling with a starting strength of 16, which means a light load is up to 76 lbs or less and they can carry a heavy load of up to 230 lbs.

Even a lower starting strength of 8 allows a light load to be 26 lbs and a heavy load to be 80 lbs on a 35 lb. frame.

A gnome's a bit bigger, about the size of a first grader, with a male gnome's starting height being between 3'2" to 3'8" and weights between 37-43 lbs.

You basically have two races, which are supposed to have the same body mass density as humans of their size - unlike Dwarves - yet can have a body weight-to-load ratio rivaling ants or spiders.

Whatever reality D&D/Pathfinder game creators try to put into character creations/rules - like daytime/night time, gravity being the same as on Earth, water being H2O and in liquid form at typical atmospheric temperatures, etc. - so we can wrap our heads around the other fantastic stuff just has never translated to the strength-to-size proportion of Halflings and Gnomes.

I don't know why, but this just irks me.

Playing a character the size of a 4 year old, that could lift me off the ground like Bam-Bam and toss me around is just a bit off. They basically have superhuman strength for their size, like Bam-Bam.

Lets face facts...the problem isn't halflings and gnomes - its the rules. Humans - real humans range between 1' 10" and 8' 11" in height. You have the remains of medieval bigotry and superstition propping up a game where people who were unacceptably short or tall were ostracized by civilization as NOT HUMAN. Hence fairy tales about Dwarves and Ogres.

This bigotry was carried into the game and was never dealt with in terms of rules for really big and really small people. You could get rid of halflings and gnomes tomorrow and still have a problem of inadequate rules to cope with people who cant possibly lift a sack of potatoes on the grounds it is twice their own weight.

Roll 17d6 +5 inches for human height generation.


yellowdingo wrote:

Lets face facts...the problem isn't halflings and gnomes - its the rules. Humans - real humans range between 1' 10" and 8' 11" in height. You have the remains of medieval bigotry and superstition propping up a game where people who were unacceptably short or tall were ostracized by civilization as NOT HUMAN. Hence fairy tales about Dwarves and Ogres.

This bigotry was carried into the game and was never dealt...

Really? You mean there weren't beliefs of faerie folk and giants in ages past where some were very small and some gigantic, that these beliefs are based on examples of varying humans only? I beg to differ, folklore beliefs include big and little people, that weren't necessarily reflecting actual human beings.

There certainly existed bigotry of those people that fell outside the norm - that's certainly true. But to suggest all legendary beliefs derive from examples of humans only, is certainly wrong, IMO.


this thread reeked of troll from the very start, did anyone else smell it too?


+5 Toaster wrote:
this thread reeked of troll from the very start, did anyone else smell it too?

Absolutely. The discussion, however, is interesting.

I don't look for much verisimilitude in a game like this, but it helps to at least try to give it just a little, dragons and such notwithstanding.

Child-sized characters do beg certain questions. We can consider them.


Animation wrote:
Also, Halflings and Gnomes are a different race. In the real world, chimpanze muscles have a different fiber/strand layout, have some genetic differences, and are closer to the bone, resulting in great strength for their size. Maybe not the exaggerated 5x strength you hear thrown about, but still enough that even smaller chimps are as strong or stronger than humans.

The chimpanzee thing is useful to an extent, but only an extent. Chimpanzees have good burst strength compared to humans because chimp muscles are better adapted for burst strength, while human muscles are adapted for endurance. You make a human out of chimpanzee muscles, he'll be able to totally whip Usain Bolt in a sprint and outpunch either Klitschko, but he would be horrible at a marathon or triathlon.


I don't think the real problem with the small races is unrealism. It's that they all have a strength penalty and races with strength penalties are lousy for everything but casters and, purely by virtue of riding medium creatures, lancers. Well, and dervish dancing magi for ratfolk.

Liberty's Edge

Atarlost wrote:
I don't think the real problem with the small races is unrealism. It's that they all have a strength penalty and races with strength penalties are lousy for everything but casters and, purely by virtue of riding medium creatures, lancers. Well, and dervish dancing magi for ratfolk.

With the +1 to hit for being Small, the -2 strength that small races get basically amounts to a -1 to weapon damage. Using Small weapons gives another -1, for a total of -2 damage per weapon attack. Obviously that's far from optimal for a martial damage dealer, but when compared with all the damage bonuses the character will pick up as he advances, I don't really think it's a significant enough disadvantage for him to be dismissed as "lousy" out of hand. In fact, I doubt you would notice it much at all if you play a Paladin, Rogue, or any other class whose main source of damage isn't raw strength.


Gnoll Bard wrote:


With the +1 to hit for being Small, the -2 strength that small races get basically amounts to a -1 to weapon damage. Using Small weapons gives another -1, for a total of -2 damage per weapon attack.

A bit worse than that, since a human could take +2 strength; if they're both using Greatswords, it comes out as something like -1 to hit, -5 to damage.


Everyone knows that in the long run, it matters not what your damage dice deal, but what your static bonuses are. There are very few exceptions where more dice = good, and every one of them involve size shenanigans mixed with Vital Strike.

If a Halfling is dealing 1d4 + 15 points of damage and a Human is dealing 1d6 + 16 points of damage, they're practically equal in damage output.

Consider this, a Halfling with the Risky Striker and Lunge feat, who uses Potions of Reduce Person to get that bonus damage on Medium sized creatures. If he has a finesse/agile weapon or Dervish Dance and a Scimitar, mores the better. Such a character can afford to not boost strength, and focus on Dexterity, which would allow him to dish out some decent damage while ramaining hard to hit.

A Halfling Fighter 6 with Risky Striker, Lunge and Dervish Dance with a Dex of 20 (22 from the potion) would have an attack bonus of 16 (BAB 6, Dex 6, Training 1, Size 2, Focus 1) while dealing 1d2 + 11 and that's not even all that optimized. It's just a potion, 3 feats, and some Dexterity. Granted, it's nothing on a greatsword power attacker, but it's not too shabby either considering he's the size of a cat.

We shall call him: Ankle Biter.


I didn't see this mentioned, but on the topic of Carrying Capacity, I'd like to point out that Small characters can actually carry more than Medium characters of the same Strength score. Their Carrying Capacity may only be three-fourths that of a human, but all their gear weights half as much.


Matthew Downie wrote:
Gnoll Bard wrote:


With the +1 to hit for being Small, the -2 strength that small races get basically amounts to a -1 to weapon damage. Using Small weapons gives another -1, for a total of -2 damage per weapon attack.
A bit worse than that, since a human could take +2 strength; if they're both using Greatswords, it comes out as something like -1 to hit, -5 to damage.

Even comparing to a dwarf it's -2.5 damage for a greatsword or falchion Of course the dwarf can hit 18 so that's another -1 from not being able to hit the even strength mod threshold. -3.5 damage. That's like the dwarf gets a free elemental damage enhancement.

To add insult to injury the +2 charisma both CRB small races get is useless for fighters, barbarians, rangers, most cavalier orders, magi, alchemists, monks, inquisitors, druids, and clerics that deemphasize channeling. A dwarf could be sitting happy at 12 wisdom with no buying or 14 for 2 points. A halfling or gnome would have to spend 2-3 point buy to match will saves. An elf essentially gets an extra skill point per level and can qualify for combat expertise easily. If you were planning to dump int you were probably planning to dump charisma as well.

It also makes it harder for a MAD character to qualify for Power Attack at low point buy. This particularly hurts gnomes whose racial weapon is double ended and who don't have a dex bonus to compensate.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Azten wrote:
I didn't see this mentioned, but on the topic of Carrying Capacity, I'd like to point out that Small characters can actually carry more than Medium characters of the same Strength score. Their Carrying Capacity may only be three-fourths that of a human, but all their gear weights half as much.

With the exception of magic items other than weapons and armor. That bag of holding, type I still weighs 15 pounds when a gnome or halfling is carrying it. :P

Actually, even a lot of useful mundane items don't have a lesser weight for Small characters. 10 feet of rope still weighs the same, as do caltrops, thieves' tools, lanterns, grappling hooks, flasks of oil, spellbooks, torches, and a lot of other standard adventuring gear.


You're forgetting about the slightly larger human fighters who can lift and throw trucks at 22 strength.

Super Powerful Halflings and especially Gnomes are NOT human children, and even if they were, they're d&d human children with a strength of 16.


anyone give any thought to the "fact" that as far as i can tell 2 foot tall humans(allowable in rules) would still be considered medium creatures. add that one to the list of ways pathfinder isn't scientific.

The Exchange

gamer-printer wrote:
yellowdingo wrote:

Lets face facts...the problem isn't halflings and gnomes - its the rules. Humans - real humans range between 1' 10" and 8' 11" in height. You have the remains of medieval bigotry and superstition propping up a game where people who were unacceptably short or tall were ostracized by civilization as NOT HUMAN. Hence fairy tales about Dwarves and Ogres.

This bigotry was carried into the game and was never dealt...

Really? You mean there weren't beliefs of faerie folk and giants in ages past where some were very small and some gigantic, that these beliefs are based on examples of varying humans only? I beg to differ, folklore beliefs include big and little people, that weren't necessarily reflecting actual human beings.

There certainly existed bigotry of those people that fell outside the norm - that's certainly true. But to suggest all legendary beliefs derive from examples of humans only, is certainly wrong, IMO.

How far back would you care to go? Greek Titans? Everything too big or too small to be 'human' was just an exaggeration of humans we found unacceptable.

Liberty's Edge

Atarlost wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
Gnoll Bard wrote:


With the +1 to hit for being Small, the -2 strength that small races get basically amounts to a -1 to weapon damage. Using Small weapons gives another -1, for a total of -2 damage per weapon attack.
A bit worse than that, since a human could take +2 strength; if they're both using Greatswords, it comes out as something like -1 to hit, -5 to damage.

Even comparing to a dwarf it's -2.5 damage for a greatsword or falchion Of course the dwarf can hit 18 so that's another -1 from not being able to hit the even strength mod threshold. -3.5 damage. That's like the dwarf gets a free elemental damage enhancement.

To add insult to injury the +2 charisma both CRB small races get is useless for fighters, barbarians, rangers, most cavalier orders, magi, alchemists, monks, inquisitors, druids, and clerics that deemphasize channeling. A dwarf could be sitting happy at 12 wisdom with no buying or 14 for 2 points. A halfling or gnome would have to spend 2-3 point buy to match will saves. An elf essentially gets an extra skill point per level and can qualify for combat expertise easily. If you were planning to dump int you were probably planning to dump charisma as well.

It also makes it harder for a MAD character to qualify for Power Attack at low point buy. This particularly hurts gnomes whose racial weapon is double ended and who don't have a dex bonus to compensate.

Your math is correct, of course, and I'm not trying to argue that playing a small character in any of those classes is anywhere near optimal. Saying that Charisma is useless to most classes is overstating the point a bit, since the social skills often prove very useful to have and almost any class could benefit from a boost to Use Magic Device, but it is a pretty safe dump stat for many classes.

That said, small characters can make excellent Gunslingers, Oracles, Sorcerers, Summoners, and (depending on how you want to build them) Bards, Paladins, and Rogues, which gives them a pretty decent selection of classes. I, for one, usually start with a character concept before I figure out how to make it work in the rules, so I'd be more than happy to make a small member of any other class as well, if I liked the idea of it, and my race selection would be far from crippling.


I am playing an Urban Ranger right now and I am really missing CHA.

The Exchange

Gnomezrule wrote:
I am playing an Urban Ranger right now and I am really missing CHA.

Shouldn't your Charisma factor in to whether the Populace consider you a bad guy or a good guy. The further your charisma is below 9-12 charisma the worse people treat you.

Dark Archive

see wrote:
You make a human out of chimpanzee muscles,

I think I found my new mad science fair project...


KHShadowrunner wrote:

Personally, and I could be (and hope to be) very wrong, but I feel it's the opposite. From what I've heard, everything post level 10 is pretty much large+, which means you're not only not able to trip/grapple/sunder/anything related to CMB, but you run the risk of being picked up by your head and tossed like a cabbage (Which almost happened on my very first combat round, but I dodged a bullet)

Sure, you can enlarge person or find some other means to be counted as a medium character, but those same means can usually be applied to the NPC which means that the issue is all the same.

There are strong halflings just like there are nimble paladins with the right feats

Not to mention everything is pretty much human sized. Walking into a tavern to play my flute is not only a difficulty, but a chore. I'm surprised climb checks aren't involved, and I tip my hat and coin to the man who created the halfling stairs.

And that's just to see what's on top of the table I try to play on.

Life in the short lane is rough. Sure, I can try to crawl into smaller holes to avoid potential death. But there's no benefit to it. I can (well my character can't but some can) haul 3x my own body weight, but I'm still light enough to be used in a cannon (if so enforced).

Life is rough, bein big pimpinnnnn

I know this topic died, but just wanted to say that on my second encounter, I almost got picked up and tossed out a window like a cabbage. My lucky pick on the dice roll made the the enemy grapple the other person.

But we sure are flingable.


Dang, my man got chopped for this post. LOL.

I never play small characters, and I'd rather my companions not play them either (although if they do, I don't make any type of fuss). Call it "in-game prejudice" but for whatever reason the idea of rolling around with Hobbits doesn't sit well with me.

It's hard for me to picture a bad ass child sized figure, but to each his own.


yellowdingo wrote:
gamer-printer wrote:
yellowdingo wrote:

Lets face facts...the problem isn't halflings and gnomes - its the rules. Humans - real humans range between 1' 10" and 8' 11" in height. You have the remains of medieval bigotry and superstition propping up a game where people who were unacceptably short or tall were ostracized by civilization as NOT HUMAN. Hence fairy tales about Dwarves and Ogres.

This bigotry was carried into the game and was never dealt...

Really? You mean there weren't beliefs of faerie folk and giants in ages past where some were very small and some gigantic, that these beliefs are based on examples of varying humans only? I beg to differ, folklore beliefs include big and little people, that weren't necessarily reflecting actual human beings.

There certainly existed bigotry of those people that fell outside the norm - that's certainly true. But to suggest all legendary beliefs derive from examples of humans only, is certainly wrong, IMO.

How far back would you care to go? Greek Titans? Everything too big or too small to be 'human' was just an exaggeration of humans we found unacceptable.

Many Japanese and Celtic small folk were spirits that were anthropomorphized into humanoids in folklore beliefs, and not reflections of small humans made into monsters.

Also most fey beings started out as normal human size (or larger) and over time they got smaller and smaller (beliefs changed) until you finally get the Tinkerbell sized faeries from Victorian times. Fey in the old days were never that small.

51 to 75 of 75 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Homebrew and House Rules / How to fix Halfings and Gnomes? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in Homebrew and House Rules