At the risk of stating the obvious, the following are my thoughts, good, bad and indifferent, on the Halfling Racial Value document shared via Kickstarter. They are offered without intent to persuade, but simply to spark discussion.
Alex said on Kickstarter:
“To give you a sense of why I built the racial category this way, it will be helpful to keep a few design goals in mind:
•Halfling Bounders should have 1d6 hit points, fighter attack progressions, 8th level caps, and a bundle of powers similar to those found in the Halfling class in B/X.
•Halfling Burglars should have 1d4 hit points, thief attack progressions, 10th or 11th level caps, and a bundle of powers comparable to those of the Thief.
•Halfling classes should be incentivized to take several points in Halfling, but Halfling should not be overpowered.
•Halfling classes should not require more XP to advance than comparable human classes.
I think I've achieved those goals - but I look forward to hearing your comments. (Note that I've only included abbreviated notes on the class builds for Halfling Burglar and Halfling Bounder, but it should be sufficient to see how the math works.)”
I must first admit to missing the significance of these opening comments, despite their clarity. I believe Alex is saying the ACKS Halfling Bounder will be the ACKS version of the B/X Halfling, and the Halfling Racial Value is “reverse engineered” from this starting point. I missed this because, in my mind, I was thinking reverse engineer the B/X Halfling, then create the Halfling Bounder and Burglar as desired, i.e. the B/X Halfling would be like an NPC or “monster entry” halfling. This may or may not make a difference in the end result. But I tripped over my assumptions to some extent.
All halfling classes require a minimum Dexterity 9 or better.
This is fine. At the risk of an unnecessary tangent, I have long wondered how to manage “rare” classes. There are always classes that represent “the last of their kind” or “halflings don’t adventure”. I have ideas for this, but class requirements are an existing lever that somewhat enforces class rarity. We most clearly see this in ACKS with the Nobirans. So, maybe adventuring halflings have Dexterity 11 or better. But probably not.
CLASS CATEGORY VALUES
Fighting: Halflings with broad or narrow weapon selections are limited to choosing from the following weapons: bola, dagger, darts, hand axe, javelin, sling, short bow, short sword.
The wording here confuses me. Halflings with Unrestricted weapon selections have no prohibitions? Only eight weapons are listed, so a Broad weapon selection could be met only in very “un-Broad” fashion. Club, sap, and, perhaps, whip would seem to be appropriate additions to the allowed list. To avoid new rules, I won’t suggest “1 or 2” handed weapons that might be used by halflings only 2-handed, but I could see Judges doing so. Lastly, off the top of my head, I believe the halflings in the Scouring of the Shire were predominantly armed with (missile weapons and) farming implements refashioned into militia weapons. For human militia, this would usually equate to battle axe, flail, polearm or spear. Maybe it’s just club for halflings.
CDM Edit: The Fighting wording above is at odds with Short-Statured below; I would guess it’s the Fighting wording that is unintended.
Halflings cannot allocate more than 2 points to Fighting.
Arcane: Halflings may not allocate points to the Arcane value.
Eldritch: Halflings may not allocate points to the Eldritch value.
CDM: I like the limitation on Fighting. The Arcane/Eldritch limitation is good for default ACKS.
Halfling 0: At Halfling 0, all halflings gain the following halfling custom powers:
• Child-like: Any halfling character suffers -2 to loyalty and morale from any non-halfling henchman, but gains +2 to loyalty and morale from any halfling henchman. This does not affect their reaction rolls.
CDM: Excellent! [I value at 0 custom powers]
• Demi-human Ancestry: Due to their dwarven ancestry, halflings gain a +1 bonus on saving throws versus Petrification/Paralysis and Spells.
CDM: OK, if this is legacy B/X save values. Otherwise, it is less than one custom power for a race which cannot take Arcane/Eldritch, which seems off. [1/5 custom power]
• Difficult to Corrupt: Halfling crave comfort and security far to much to be able to descend into dastardly wickedness. They suffer only ½ the usual amount of Corruption from spending time in sinkholes of evil (p. XX), using evil magic items (p. XX), or suffering the effects of corrupting dreams (p. XX).
CDM: I like the idea! Two thoughts come to mind. Corruption “Damage Resistance n” might be better than ½. But specifying rounding down, such that 1 becomes 0 may be enough. Second thought, I am mixed on defining a new race with a power based outside of default ACKS rules, but I don’t have an alternative approach right now. [1? custom power]
• Easily Encumbered: Halflings have a base movement rate of 90’. Halflings can only carry 3 stone without becoming encumbered. When carrying 4 stone their encounter movement rate is reduced to 60’. When carrying 5-6 stone, their encounter movement rate is reduced to 45’. When carrying 7 stone or more, their encounter movement rate is reduced to 30’. A halfling can carry a maximum of 12 stone, modified by its Strength bonus or penalty.
CDM: Good. [-2 custom powers]
• Halfling Tongues: All halflings speak the common tongue, their native tongue, and three bonus languages, selected from the following list based on their shire’s proximity to other races and realms: Bugbear, Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Goblin, Human (various), Hobgoblin, Kobold, Orc.
CDM: Good. [1 custom power]
• Hard to Kill: Like cockroaches, halflings are surprisingly hard to kill. When halfling is required to consult the Mortal Wounds table, the player may roll twice and choose the preferred result to apply. Halflings also subtract their class level from the number of days of bed rest required to recover.
CDM: If this was a mitigating factor to a new “Small race” penalty to the Mortal Wounds table, it could be OK. Otherwise, it is not what I expect of halflings. I can think of no examples of Cimmerian toughness or cockroach survivability from halflings not wearing legendary chainmail. Also, current Auran Empire Campaign Setting lore has established that halflings are on the path to extinction. [1 custom power]
• Heroic Breakfast: Once per day a halfling can recover his base healing rate in hp by consuming a meal accompanied by alcohol, coffee, or tea. This recovery is in addition to any hit points gained from complete rest.
CDM: Excellent! As an aside, I think it would be good if “coffee, or tea” were added to the optional rule. [1 custom power]
CDM commented on Kickstarter: “… how about changing Heroic Breakfast to Second Breakfast for Halflings, and allowing this benefit more than once a day?”
And Alex replied on Kickstarter: “As far as Heroic Breakfast, there is an optional rule in the Hit Point section to allow for everyone to benefit from Heroic Breakfast once per day. If that optional rule is in play, then halflings get second breakfast. If it's not, they get just one. I.e. they get one more Heroic Breakfast than any other race, either 0:1 or 1:2. That's already in the rules, though perhaps I need to make it more explicit in the Halfling racial class value since the optional rule is explained in a different section.”
CDM: I think that would be an excellent clarification.
• Short-Statured: Due to their short stature, halflings may never wield large-sized weapons such as arbalests, great axes, morning stars, lances, longbows, polearms, staffs, or two-handed swords, and must use two hands when wielding medium-sized weapons such as battle axes, maces, and swords.
CDM: Good. [-1 custom power, except, may be less applicable due to other race limitations. So, -½ custom power, but could be 0 custom powers]
• Weak: Halflings have a -4 penalty to proficiency throws to open doors and other feats of strength […]
CDM: Good. [-1 custom power]
… and they roll one die size smaller than normal for their Hit Dice (d8 becomes d6; d6 becomes d4; d4 becomes d2).
CDM: On its face, I value this at -500 XP. But because it invalidates 1 of 4 precious build points, it is minus more XP than that. The value of the lost build point may be somewhat affected by the total build value … For playtesting, I would choose -625 XP. [-625 XP]
CDM: In summary, I value Halfling 0 at (0 + 1/5 + 1 - 2 + 1 + 1 + 1 - ½ - 1 = 0.7 custom powers) - 625 XP, or roughly -600 XP.
Additional points allocated to the Halfling Value represents the halfling’s expertise in certain specialized skills and abilities that are shared by word of mouth between halfling adventurers, free spirits, and travelers. Each point provides one halfling skill selected from the following: Find Traps, Hide in Shadows, Hear Noise, Move Silently, Open Locks, or Remove Traps (as thief); Accuracy, Difficult to Spot, or Evade Wilderness Encounters (as explorer); or Arcane Dabbling, Beast Friendship, Magical Music, Passing Without Trace, Precise Shooting, Running, Skirmishing, Swashbuckling (as class proficiency).
CDM: Excellent! Note the XP difference between Halfling 2 and Halfling 3 (25 XP) is not the same as the difference between other Halfling values (75 XP).
CDM: Finally, I note the Halfling Racial Value includes 4 significant penalties for being a small race, and perhaps one (0 custom power) bonus for being a small race. Not that any given size should be "balanced" to itself. It just sticks out when something is predominantly negative.
I have heard the average Earth creature is the size of a rabbit. Assuming evolution works, being small is not all negative. Ideas off the top of my head: harder to see, light step, nonthreatening, harder to hit, quick, eats less food (to survive; like humans, we can assume halflings overeat given the opportunity), less total calories to reproduce (i.e. more babies) …