Friday, October 8, 2010

Hemianthropoi, or Halflings

Like dwarves, these people resemble a much shorter version of humans. However they are curly-haired, and the men grow no beards. Both genders have hairy feet, and usually go barefoot. They also tend towards fat where dwarves tend towards muscle.

Halfling language is reminiscent of archaic Greek. Perhaps that fleet of colonists which disappeared on their way to Samaria some 2500 years BC found their way here.

Both 'hemianthropoi' and 'halflings' are names they use to outsiders. Their own name for themselves is a secret. So sacred is it that they will sue any who write it down.

They excel in agriculture, cooking, and mathematics. Hemianthropoi were the first to compute the value of pie, and it was a hemianthropos who wrote A Brief History of Thyme.

They are home-loving and amiable. However many of them suffer from Took's Syndrome, a condition marked by symptoms including spare-hankerchief deficiency, getting into trouble in foreign parts, and damn-fool behaviour. Sufferers from this syndrome have ranged far and wide, and it was a group of such sufferers who first met the roving Sun Heroes.

These wandering hemianthropoi are aided by the crown of halfling science, pipe-weed. This herb is smoked in place of tobacco, or drunk as we would drink tea. Its many varities have effects useful to the traveller. Thus the adventuring halfling is seldom seen without at least one pipe and flask. The most common types of pipe-weed are as follows:

Wicked Sorrel, or Wicked SorrowWicked Sorrel improves vision, so that one is less likely to wander into ambush, be taken unawares by pick-pockets, and so on. It even helps one see through magical illusions.
Tisane, or What-Ails-YerThis variety of pipe-weed improves the body's natural defences, so that sickness will be thrown off, and wounds close, more quickly. It is also said to help wounds resist infection.
Burley, or Oh-Be-JoyfulThis plant helps refresh the body and mind so that one may, for a time, avoid the effects of lack of sleep.
High John, or High John the ConquererThere is said to have been a foreign prince or wizard who was taken into slavery. Unable to escape or to incite his fellow captives to revolt, he turned himself into a plant. His indomitable will gave the plant its power to fortify the heart, so that fear is lessened. Those who take this herb are also armoured against those who would control their mind through sorcery.
Black CaptainBlack Captain slows the flow of blood. This lowers the need for food and water, and lessens the effect of poison. However this comes at the cost of making one sluggish and lethargic. It is thus recommended only for those who are resting.

Pipe-weed is not considered one of the Noble Spices, since it must be treated before it has any virtue.

The most distinctive clan of hemianthropoi are the Chumpforts. Generations ago, so family legend says, the founders of the line escaped from a cannibalistic sorcerer. As revenge he cursed them to turn their skin bright blue. A similar legend holds that an ancient snake-like race enslaved halflings, to sacrifice in their occult rituals. They bred the halflings in different colours, to indicate their suitability for different rituals. Both versions of the legend hint that the enslaved halflings, and their captors, may still live in some unknown location.

All males in the Chumpfort family have the condition. It effects females very rarely.

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