Man...I've got a bug in my brain that's really digging its pincers in my frontal lobe, and it's telling me I should nerf the B/X Halfling.
As in, take 'em down a peg. Kick the chair out from under them. Put 'em in their place.
I've been thinking this since a couple days ago when I put together the B/X Wood Elf...O So similar to the halfling in so many ways, and yet decidedly elfy.
[and just by the way...to the folks who thought the wood elf was a waste o blog-space, allow me to say that I liked it a lot, as is, and wouldn't mind playing one...even without the extra hit die and magical powers. I like my elves away from wizard tomes, thank you very much, and this one feels pretty good to me!]
See, I was thumbing through WFRP and my (completely dog-chewed) copy of The Hobbit when I thought, shit, I can make an elf with the same stats/profile as a halfling and just call him a wood elf. Then I tweaked it a bit too taste, and voila. Wood elf class up for grabs.
But as I compared the two, I could see how...well, how powerful the halfling class is. OVER-powered in fact. And it made me want to bear down hard.
Now don't get me wrong: I believe the halfling is perfectly powered and balanced as far as B/X goes (at least up until 14th level). In terms of "viable PC class," halflings up to level 8 are right in the mix with elves and dwarves and fighters, etc.
No, it's in relation to their literary basis...i.e. HOBBITS...where we find they are completely over-powered and out of balance.
As it stands right now, a B/X halfling will give a dwarf, fighter, or elf a run for their money in single combat...and because a halfling advances faster than a dwarf or an elf, a runty fellow of equal experience (XP) may be able to take down a similarly experienced demihuman.
That's crazy talk.
But it's true. A halfling and an elf walk into a dungeon and pick up 8000 XP (the halfling probably picks up more actually since the elf prime requisite requirements are tougher to meet). The two have a falling out and decide to fight. Assuming similar armor (plate and shield), the 4th level halfling should kick the 3rd level elf's ass. That ain't right!
[actually, it would depend on whether or not the elf can get his sleep spell off before the halfling's individual initiative bonus gives him the upper hand. But if the halfling brought along a few retainers to absorb said sleep spell, well...]
If halflings are just "adventurous little people" and not hobbits or brownies or whatever the dudes are called in the film Willow, then great...let them be the consummate combatants and giant-fighters they are (I'd have to run the math, but with their size bonus I could make a case for halflings being the deadliest race for the fighter class in D20/Pathfinder!). HOWEVER, if you want your elf lords to be lordly and your halflings to be "hobbits" (even adventuresome hobbits in the Took clan tradition), then you have to nerf the guys 'cause they are waaay too badass.
Actually, it isn't all that hard to do, and there's still room for taking them into the high level play arena (what? oh yeah!). Here's what you do:
- Cap their level maximum at 6th level
- Give 'em the same rate of advancement as Dwarves (or Magic-Users if you're feeling mean)
- A halfling that acquires 250,000 XP may use the same attack and saving throws as a 7th-8th level halfling. At 500,000 XP the halfling character is entitled to the usual abilities as detailed in the B/X Companion.
Finally, because it's me doing this, I'd change the level titles:
1.....Halfling Wanderer (like Bilbo or Frodo or...)
3.....Halfling Swashbuckler (hard to be a "swordmaster" when you can't use 'em)
All normal rules for building strongholds and establishing halfling communities still applies as given in the Expert rules and B/X Companion.
Man...I am seriously considering putting this into effect IMMEDIATELY. Only one of my players is currently using a hobbit...er, halfling anyway. And since it's Dave...well, he knows he owes me one anyway.
Screw it...I'm writing this one up officially!