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On the Halfings of the Flaness: History, Culture and Nation
Posted on Thu, May 22, 2003 by Trickster
CruelSummerLord writes "In the final dispatch upon the demihumans of the Flanaess, the Brother of the Cruel Summer discourses upon the small folk known as the hobniz.

On the Halfings of the Flaness: History, Culture and Nation
By Cruel Summer Lord Jared
Used with permission, do not repost or redistribute without the express consent of the author.

Respected Iquander and Respected Sir Pluffet:

I am deeply flattered at the good reception my previous articles have received, and thank all those who have taken the time to read them. I am thinking of continuing with articles upon the giants or the humanoids of the Flanaess, but of course we must do one thing at a time.

The halflings of the Flanaess, also known by the Flan as the hobniz, are an often forgotten people among the tumultuous politics of the Flaness. As is commonly known, no halfling-ruled states exist in the Flanaess, at least none that have appeared in contemporary historical accounts. Thus, their culture is to a certain extent overlooked...

Social Mores and Practices

The halflings of the Flanaess, almost unique among all the other peoples except for certain Flan peoples, are matrilineal. Men are responsible for ensuring the harvest is gathered on time, for coordinating defense with other peoples, and taking the goods to market. Halfling women deal with finances, most dealings with other races and halfling tribes, festivals and religious observances, and the general social life of the tribe.

Halflings live in small linked cabins and warrens built for their size, often joined into a vast network, with many murder holes and arrow slits for defense. Halflings reinforce this with stone walls and rigged booby-traps in more dangerous settings, when they do not live with humans and other races for mutual protection. Halflings are both master cooks and master farmers, and so, in return for protection from bandits and raiders, they will often provide excess goods and water to other peoples.

The halflings are a very festive people, not concerned with grand military traditions in the style of the Oeridians or the dwarves, for instance. Their natural lack of agressiveness leads many people to view them as simple burrow-dwellers who enjoy nothing more than a simple pipe-smoke while sitting in an old oak armchair on the porch, watching the creek as it flows by.

Many halflings are indeed like this, and they are naturally charitable towards each other and those of other races who have proven themselves to be friendly neighbors, continually getting together for festivals and parties. People of any of the major Flanaess races can get on well with halflings, and the hair-footed folk are not inclined to be judgmental in any way regarding them. Stout halflings obviously tend to live more with dwarves and gnomes in hills and mountains, hairfoots live with humans, and tallfellows are most often among the company of elves.

The other side of the halfling character, however, is one of cunning savagery when their homes are threatened. Although most halflings are not inclined to be raiders themselves, they will often have well-rehearsed defensive plans to deal with bandits or goblin incursions, and can fight fiercely in the defense of their own homes. The natural stealth of halflings means they have also served as scouts for their allies against common enemies, such as against the orcs of Iuz in the Vesve region, or in the Hestmark Highlands and the Grandwood against Aerdi incursions.

Some halflings, albeit a minority, have a streak either of mischief or simple nastiness running through them-they can be sadistic little brutes, enjoying the chaos they can cause. Other halflings enjoy running off on wild adventures, and it is these who tend to enter the adventuring life, as natural rogues and thieves.

One final note must be made-recent canon has classified halflings as being of neutral disposition. In the Flanaess, this is not correct-most are inclined towards lawful and good or neutral and good behavior.

History

The peaceful history of the halfling people has been mostly characterized by their relations to humans. When the archmage Tzunk came from the Isles of Woe in the Nyr Dyv to threaten the surrounding states, the halflings of what is now Urnst were determined opponents. Most of the time, the halflings of modern Urnst fought bravely, but a line of baronesses were inclined to take the fight to Tzunk himself, rather than to just defend themselves.

These halflings "encouraged" all others to aid them, even to the extent of sending press-gangs to recruit other hobniz into their forces. Other halflings fled into the region of Furyondy and Veluna, where goodly Flan men and halflings who already dwelt there kindly took them in. Others spread to the south and east, getting caught up in the battles between the Flan nation of Ahlissa against the draconic Ur-Flan of what is now North Province.

These halflings withdrew to the hills, not wishing to die in human conflicts. Others moved to join the Flan men of Geoff, into the regions of Ulek, and some even went as far as the old Flan gathering place of Tenh, forming alliances with the people there.

In every case, the halfling people preferred to get along with the inhabitants of the territories they entered, rather than enter into war. The precepts of unity practiced even in modern times by the people of Geoff appealed to the halflings who entered therein, while the wild warriors of modern Perrenland took the halflings in as a protected underclass. Those few who went to Tenh were given positions outside the lines of tribal politics, being allowed to keep to their own counsel. The outgoing halflings of Urnst formed alliance with the Suel that settled there, and those who moved into the Pawluck river valley and the surrounding regions also formed loose, but separate, alliances with the humans, gnomes and dwarves coming there.

During the time of great Aerdy might and Keoland's imperial phase, halflings were either treated well (Geoff, some parts of Sterich and Keoland proper, Viceroyalty of Ferrond, Duchy of Tenh, the Ulek states) or suffered under bigoted humans and dwarves (other parts of Sterich and Keoland, the Northern Reaches, Gran March, the provinces of Idee and Sunndi, among certain dwarves of the Lortmils). And so, the halflings, usually having no grand political ambitions of their own, usually were happy to work with their human allies in ousting Aerdy oppression.

Halfling politics are usually centered among local tribes and deal with local matters-only in Urnst and Geoff have they ever had any major influence on national policy. In this respect, with no grand political ambitions such as those exhibited by the dwarves and elves, halflings have not been inclined to pursue statehood in any real form. In this manner, their politics since the Age of Great Sorrow and the Turmoil Between Crowns has been in reaction to or part of human politics.

Individual Populations and Kingdoms

Ahlissa: Most halflings, after the breakup of the Great Kingdom, moved from North Province to Ahlissa. Most of them toil as serfs on farms, with conditions little better than that of most of the humans. Overking Xavener is not inclined to repeal most of the old bigoted Aerdy laws towards nonhumans, although he has taken steps to make sure abuses against commoners are more directed against other races than the halfling population.

Geoff: The halflings here are or were good, generous and friendly, living in harmony with the wilderness and all their fellow Geoffites, regardless of race. The halflings here are friendly, honest and good, and bear little difference from what I have described above.

Furyondy/Veluna/Highfolk: As you might expect, the halflings here are friendly, open, honest and good. Welcoming of strangers as if they were old friends, the hospitality of the Highfolk halflings, extending into western Furyondy and northern Veluna, is spoken of across the Flanaess.

Gran March: The history of subtle discrmination in this nation has affected its halfling population, to the point where most of them left long ago for Veluna, Ulek or Keoland. The halflings who remain are even more likely to suffer from the Knights of the Watch than even the common folk, and the martial influence of the country does not bode well for them.

Keoland: Halflings are a respected and viable part of the economy, and as such have benefitted from the new social reforms passed since King Kimbertos took the throne. Not inclined to get involved in messy politics, the halflings prefer to keep to themslves and only get involved in local matters.

Lordship of the Isles: The halfings dwelling in this idyllic realm have little reason to get involved in the Duxchan-Sea Baron feuds, preferring to work in the plantations alongside the Olman and Suel savages brought from Hepmonaland. Another class of serfs, the halfligns here are surprisingly content with their lot, some even profitting by engaging in the slave trade that has become prevalent in the Seven Isles since its alliance with the Scarlet Brotherhood.

Nyrond: The halflings of Nyrond have always, on one level, been serfs. They have had little chance to enter into politics, and they are not inclined to be anything but quiet and reserved, tending their farms and caring little for outside visitors. The only main contact they have with their sovereign is in the form of patrols to defend them when bandits, especially since the Wars, come calling.

Perrenland: As only male men, dwarves and gnomes are allowed to vote in Perrender elections, the halflings of this nation are a protected underclass. Centuries of a protective parent to helpful child relationship from human to halfling has benefitted both sides, and the halflings are content to live their lives in relative peace while the various clans bicker and feud. Perrenland's stance towards the evil in the north does not really concern them-the halflings of this region are introspective and inward-looking; the name of Iuz does not get much of a reaction, although the name Iggwilv will, of course.

Sterich: Sterich's grim character, as well as the fact that a good deal of the old nobility of Keoland emigrated here over the centuries, means that its halflings are harder-edged and grimmer than most. As such, they are more martial than they might be otherwise. They are not, however, let into politics, for the most part.

Sunndi/The Hestmark Highlands/the Hollow Highlands/Idee: Before Idee fell, it had a population of decent, honest, hard-working halflings. This tradition would continue except for the discriminatory laws adopted in Idee since its seizure by Ahlissa. Now, the halflings in the region in and around Sunndi are fiercely independent, trusting only those Sunnd, dwarves, elves, and gnomes that have proven themselves. All others must overcome a great deal of suspicion and skepticism before they could gain the trust of these folk.

Tenh: In Tenh, halflings are or were tregarded as protected citizens. They were not required to serve in the military, had separate towns, and had a fair amount of autonomy for themselves, the Tenha only intervening when matters dictated they come together against outside enemies.

Urnst: The halflings of the County of Urnst as opposed to the Duchy of Urnst reflect the human attitudes-those of the Country, just like the humans, are friendlier and more outgoing than those of the duchy. They are less closed, less unlilateral, and more trusting. They have direct links to Belissica's government, though the humans and halflings are inclined to work separately.
In the duchy, the halflings are among the most pro-active, bold, outspoken, and decisive of any of their kind in the Flanaess. They take an active role in politics, have considerable influence on national policy, and so forth. Many halflings even gained notoriety for enjoying patronage and kickbacks from Mayor Hadric in the 570s, before Duke Karll exiled the man. In this way, some of the halflings of the duchy have acted in an almost racist fashion against other races...
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