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  • D&D 5e: Let’s Build A Halfling!

    August 04, 2021 9 min read

    Author: Rhenn Anthony Taguiam


    Meta Description: Halflings tend to be the stereotypical D&D 5e character with itchy fingers. However, in this Dungeons & Dragons 5e guide, we'll expand your idea of Halflings.


    Halfling adventurers are rare stock in a lot of parties, especially since Halflings appreciate the quiet, comfortable, lives of home. Unfortunately, in Dungeons & Dragons, Halflings always find themselves dragged into adventures and quests they end up making songs and wonderful stories about. And while Gnomes tend to be jolly and adventurers, Halflings tend to be very protective of their homes, family, and friends. If you’re interested in a character that has a strong sense of adventure - or maybe a strong sense of wanting to go home - perhaps a Halfling might be up your alley.


    In this quick guide, we’ll explore the many things that make Halflings great. Moreover, we’ll see just how creative characters can get as Halflings: they can be the stereotypical bards with a twist or perhaps your Halfling can be entirely away from how usual stories depict them.

    Basics: The Traits

    Halflings often get type casted into roles requiring mobility and dexterity - such as a quick-footed Rogue thief or a mobile Ranger. However, these stereotypes are more or less due to the dexterous nature of the Halfling which, coupled with their small stature, make room for a lot of acrobatic displays. Their other characteristics make them some of the jolliest and bravest adventurers around. Here are some of their traits:


    • Ability Score Increase: DEX + 2
    • Age: Halflings are treated as adults by 20 and can live up to 250 years.
    • Size and Speed: Small (3ft, average of 40 pounds), 25ft walking speed.
    • Alignment: Halflings lean towards being Lawful Good, as they tend to be kind-hearted and jolly folk. They hate oppression and tend to be very traditional.
    • Racial Features: Halflings gain these benefits:
      • Lucky, which gives Halflings the ability to roll 1d20 on any Saving Throw, Attack Roll, or Ability Check that results to 1. Halflings can choose to reroll the dice, but they must use the new result.
      • Brave, which makes Halflings an Advantage to Saving Throws to effects that frighten them.
      • Halfling Nimbleness, which lets Halflings move through spaces of creatures that’s one size larger.
      • Languages, of which Halflings read, write, and speak Halfling and Common. While Halfling isn’t a secret language, Halflings don’t like sharing it with others. Moreover, Halflings love telling stories instead of writing them.

    Halfling Subraces

    Players can also choose to be Lightfoot Halfling, which makes them more agile and flexible compared to others of their kind. They tend to travel more, and as such receive these benefits:

    • Ability Score Increase: CHA + 1
    • Naturally Stealthy, which lets Halflings attempt to Hide if they’re obscured by creatures at least a size larger than them.

    Halfling: The Best Classes To Build

    Halflings, despite their homely nature, have a knack for moving around. Thanks to their dexterous nature, Halflings make great rogues and rangers that scout their villages and protect their clan from various threats. However, the jolly Halfling may rely on their Dexterity as a secondary trait, having trained in other arts by virtue of their innate curiosity.


    Players interested in making a Halfling can stick to their Dexterity bonus or perhaps rely on the adventure setting to establish a backstory for their chosen class. Here are some of the best classes for Halfling characters:


    • Bard: Bards often get associated with Halflings thanks to their charismatic and jolly nature. After all, who better to endow the party with much-needed enthusiasm and will for battle than the Bard? However, Halfling Bards don't always have to be so stereotypically all ballads and drinking sessions. Some Bards can transform their art into products that inspire or fear foes - such as dance, oration, texts, or swordplays that can strike fear into the hearts of enemies and inspire allies. Thanks to the flexible nature of Bards and the brave nature of Halflings, they become very helpful assets to any battle.
      • Others might not like the idea of a Halfling Bard, but their jolly nature and their dexterous nature does fit the Bard perfectly. Thanks to the Halfling’s innate DEX bonus, they can take full advantage of the Proficiencies offered by the Bard. Aside from simple weapons, Bards specialize in swords (longsword, short sword, and rapier) as well as hand crossbows. As such, Bards with Finesse can easily become a DEX-reliant melee character, or go for a full-ranged build.
      • Moreover, the nimble nature of a Halfling might go well with the arsenal of spells Bards offer. Early on in the game, Halflings immediately get cantrips and spells, all of which they may be able to use to deal extra damage to foes or annoy them to death. Thanks to Vicious Mockery, they can do both.
    • Fighter: A Halfling often gets type casted into the sidelines, as the "stronger" Medium-sized humanoids often take the lead in adventures. However, this isn't necessarily the case. A Halfling Fighter might lead a gang of mercenaries, or even become the captain of the City Guards. Thanks to the Dexterity bonus of Halflings, their Fighter build can expand to accommodate more flexible setups, enabling them to be more nimble combatants or be perfectly capable of handling themselves from a distance.
      • The nimble nature of the Halfling can make them great Fighters. If they choose to make a DEX-focused Fighter, they can rely on Finesse Weapons to make their attacks DEX-reliant. Thanks to this nature, they can opt for ranged fighting styles such as Archery or be a very dexterous physical fighter.
      • DEX is always a great Ability Score to have, especially for Fighters who want to get tanking. Thanks to the Fighter’s Ability Score Improvement (ASI), Halfling Fighters can rely on an ASI every other level to increase their CON and STR in order to become defensive behemoths despite their size.
      • In speaking of size, the Halfling’s Small stature will allow Halfling Fighters to gain the upper hand against bigger foes. Not only can they roam around the battlefield much faster, their diverse choice of Martial Archetype may be built to make them exactly deadly against bigger opponents.
    • Monk: After refining their bodies thanks to years of training, Monks not only become durable in body, but strong in mind as well. Their sheer discipline transforms their perspective in life, which is why it'd be such a surprise to see a Halfling Monk - after all, would they be able to keep mum throughout a single meditation session? Regardless of the stereotype, a Halfling Monk, noisy as any Halfling could be, could make for an entertaining Player Character. Moreover, a Halfling Monk turned calm by their Monk brethren might be in for a weird homecoming.
      • The dexterous nature of the Halfling can fit the Monk quite well, considering Monks rely a lot on DEX-based skills and Class Traits. Moreover, the Unarmored Defense of Monks grant them AC based on their DEX, which can benefit greatly from the Halfling’s racial trait.
      • A DEX-WIS build becomes ideal for Halfling Monks, as much of special Ki moves rely greatly on WIS. These traits, added with Halfling Nimbleness and Lucky, can make a Halfling Monk easily capable of bypassing enemy lines to land precision strikes.
      • Given how Monks gain access to quick strikes and attacks, they rely a lot on mobility and ensuring their strikes hit. As such, one missed attack can be fatal to the Monk, especially when their enemies get the chance to strike back. The Halfling’s Lucky trait can circumvent this by giving the Halfling Monk a chance to ensure their strikes hit when they need to.
    • Ranger: Rangers strive to protect their homes from intruders, which fits the personality of the Halfling very well. Thanks to their homely nature, Halflings can make great Rangers, ready to defend their clan and their families at all costs. After all, Rangers don't always have to stay in forests or desolate terrain. Halfling Rangers forced on an adventure might be searching for a cure for an illness that plagues their village or perhaps they've been called to protect their home from a threat.
      • The Ranger fits the flavor of the Halfling well, considering they both have strong connections to their home. The Halfling’s experience with their home country or region might explain their environmental preference in Natural Explorer. Moreover, their expertise hunting their Favored Enemy might be explained by their continuous encounters with them before the adventure.
      • Thanks to the Fighting Style trait, Halfling Rangers can easily build a melee-oriented (Two-Weapon Fighting, Dueling), range-oriented (Archery), or defensive (Defense) Fighter. For Halflings, perhaps Archery or Dueling is best to build an all-around Ranger.
      • Aside from the combat components of Rangers, they also get a wide range of spells that add both flavor and utility to the Halfling Ranger’s arsenal. Moreover, depending on the specialization, Rangers can become spell-oriented or weapon-oriented combatants. For the former, Fey Wanderer, Gloom Stalker, and Horizon Walker add a great set of spells to the Ranger’s arsenal. Meanwhile, for the latter, Beast Master, Hunter, and Monster Slayer adds a lot of combat options to the Ranger.
    • Rogue: A Halfling makes a great Rogue, thanks to their dexterous nature. However, it's the nature of the Rogue that might make a Halfling's tale more compelling. After all, for a class usually type casted as innocent, jolly, or happy-go-lucky, it's not exactly "on brand" for a Halfling Rogue to be an assassin. Even a Halfling Rogue who steals simply for the thrill holds a lot of potential for an interesting Player Character. And for a Halfling to resort to being very good in killing.
      • Thanks to the Rogue’s proficiency in various weapons (hand crossbow, simple weapons, swords - rapiers, short swords, longswords), a Halfling Rogue can easily get themselves a Finesse melee weapon or a ranged firearm and take full advantage of their DEX bonus. Moreover, much of the Rogue’s Skill Proficiencies dabble in DEX (Stealth, Sleight of Hand, Acrobatics), which can easily make a Halfling Rogue a master of espionage.
      • Moreover, the Rogue’s Expertise trait adds a ton of additional Skill Proficiencies to the Halfling, potentially making them a jack-of-all-trades. With their innate Lucky feature, a Halfling Rogue can easily redo attacks and Skill Checks - all of which are relevant to any situation.
      • A lot of Rogue Traits are tied to DEX, which makes the Halfling’s DEX bonus and their small stature very handy. Uncanny Dodge, Evasion, Blind Sense, and even Slippery Mind will make the Halfling Rogues extremely hard to hit.

    Nothing Beats Home: Interesting Character Backgrounds

    Who says the jolly Halfling always has to be a Bard adventurer? The homely nature of the Halfling might be a perfect jumping-off point for interesting Player Characters. What might force the Halfling to leave their home and have a life of adventure? Or rather, what would motivate an adventuring Halfling to start heading home?


    With these backgrounds below, we’ll explore some great options for players who want to roll an interesting Halfling with potentially compelling life stories:


    • Athlete (Mythic Odysseys of Theros): Staying true to the Halfling’s rather jolly nature, a Halfling Athlete can definitely add some spice to the party. How they ended up adventuring might be a mystery, and why they left the athletics scene might be another story to tell. Moreover, their telling of the intrigue and politics in tournaments and competitions may be a first in many adventures.
      • Tools: Vehicles (Land)
      • Languages: Any one of their choice.
      • Proficiencies: STR (Athletics), DEX (Acrobatics)
    • Sailor (Player’s Handbook): Halflings don’t always want to be adventurers, especially if life at home is already comfortable enough. However, Halflings born and raised in the sea might make their entire life an adventure. And while the rest of the crew might have grievances with an overly jolly sailor, a Halfling Sailor may see their voyage as the best in their life.
      • Tools: Vehicles (Water), Navigator’s Tools
      • Languages: None
      • Proficiencies: WIS (Perception), STR (Athletics)
    • Urban Bounty Hunter (Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide): Halflings with a knack for adventure may find themselves knowing a thing or two about finding out who’s who in any city. As such, they might find themselves as Urban Bounty Hunters - or as they might describe it, “people invested in finding other people.” The jolly nature of the Halfling combined with the rather grim nature of an Urban Bounty Hunter might make for an interesting character arc.
      • Tools: Choose any two from Thieves’ Tools, one Musical Instrument, or one Gaming Set.
      • Languages: None
      • Proficiencies: Choose any two from DEX (Stealth), CHA (Persuasion), WIS (Insight), CHA (Deception).
    • Urchin (Player’s Handbook): A Halfling longing for adventure may have been alone and bored in the streets. They may have been abandoned as a child or maybe got lost from the rest of their family and found themselves in the city. A Halfling’s jolly nature may conflict with the harshness of city life, which in itself might make for a compelling story.
      • Tools: Thieves’ Tools, Disguise Kit
      • Languages: None
      • Proficiencies: DEX (Stealth), DEX (Sleight of Hand)