The Halfling Race in 5th Edition D&D | Halfling 5E Guide

halfling 5e

Halflings are perhaps one of the most well-known fantasy races in Dungeons & Dragons 5E. If you’ve ever experienced Lord of the Rings or anything like that, you’ve got a good idea about what a Halfling might be. These little titans are not only dedicated and dexterous, but one of the most lucky creatures to walk whatever world they live on. So, whether this is your first Halfling or you’re looking for a quick reminder, our Halfling 5E guide will help you make the perfect little warrior.

Halfling Lore

Halflings are peculiar creatures, especially in adventuring parties, that come from the original Player’s Handbook. They tend to be community-driven and politically neutral, comfortable in their barrows or their nomadic bands. They love good food, happy people, and fun conversations… But that doesn’t mean that, occasionally, a few halflings might have wanderlust, or meet someone very kind or motivating. Their life then changes forever.

Halflings are small creatures, usually only 3 feet tall and around 45 pounds. They are near legendary for their size, and this smallness has kept them from being seen as threats by any evil forces or imperialist armies. They tend to be quite practical, wearing clothes that maximize their comfort and survivability. Even the bears on Halfling men are short but handsome, increasing their chance to be seen as non-threatening.

Halflings are known for three things; their incredibly nice personality, their curious nature, and their undying loyalty.

Almost all halflings grow up in comfortable communities with kind people all around them, and thus learn to mimic that kindness. Of course, Halflings can be selfish or evil, but they usually come from communities that are hugely supportive and bright. It would be a hell of a trauma or life experience to turn a Halfling cruel!

Halfling curiosity is fairly well-known, and the primary reason for them to start exploring. They simply love to look at the world and find new events to experience. They’re also welcome in almost every community they wander to, either being easily unnoticeable or valuable workers. They avoid unwelcome attention either through their natural size, their happy demeanor, or their street smarts.

Halfling names are somewhat basic, almost like human names. By far the most important name is their family name, which is an almost universally accepted nickname for an entire group of Halflings. Check out our naming guide for more.

Halfling Attributes

Now, for the meat and gristle! Halflings have a ton of subclasses to explore, but all halflings have this baseline;

  • +2 Dexterity. A great stat to have! +2 Dex means you have better AC, you can avoid explosions or other area-of-effect spells and traps, and you can do some pretty generally good skills. In the case that you use weapons, you can use ranged or melee weapons using Dexterity. This is a really versatile, strong stat to get a +2 to.
  • Small Size. You’re about half of a square in size. This can be good for cover, but bad for visibility. Good for sneaking, bad for getting in people’s way. Usually, this will end up being an RP quality.
  • 25 ft Speed. You’re a bit slower than average, which isn’t necessarily too bad. This can be bad for melee builds, or situations where you must run away from your opponents. It’s only one square difference, but that can become problematic at times.
  • Lucky. Negating 1s is an insane mechanic. Like… Crazy good. A halfling that uses this ability a lot (which is entirely random) will see their success rate skyrocket. Critical 1s mean you auto-fail whatever you were trying to do (most of the time). Rerolling them means you have at least some chance to succeed at things. There’s only a 5% chance for this to work, though, so… You might not feel it’s influence too often.
  • Brave. Frightened is a terrifying status, especially against a boss that you need to take out. Now you have a higher chance to ignore it. And considering there are Wisdom and Charisma-based effects that can possibly cause Frightened, you’ll rarely have both saves as good ones. So, this is optimal!
  • Halfling Nimbleness. Rarely matters much, but can be nice if you desperately need to reposition, want to chase down an enemy in the backlines, or just want to be funny. Just zip right through all those tall guys!
  • Languages. Common and Halfling. Not great, but who really cares that much about languages? Halfling is a bit too specific to be widely used, unfortunately.

Halfling Subraces in 5E

Below, we break down each of the subraces for the halfling.

Ghostwise Halfling

These spooky halflings are connected to others through a link in the afterlife… So, they might be a bit quieter than most Halflings. Just a touch.

  • +1 Wisdom. Arguably the best mental statistic in the game. Wisdom is great for Perception checks and defending yourself against mind-focused magic.
  • Silent Speech. This is somewhat limited telepathy, but still allows you to make plans while in the same room as your target or talk to someone secretly. It can’t bypass language barriers, but it’s still a great way to pass information.

Lightfoot Halfling

These are your standard halflings, typically a bit nomadic but always have a smile on their face.

  • +1 Charisma. A niche stat. Not many classes need Charisma, but it’s nice to have if you need to talk to others. Charisma saves are also not… Horrible. A bit rare, but the spells that it’s useful against are great.
  • Naturally Stealthy. Really fun, but not great. Not many classes get Stealth easily. So this points the Lightfoot halfling in an extremely specific direction.

Lotusden Halfling 

Normally native to Wildemount, these guys are naturally-influenced Halflings. They live in forests, in harmony with the wild.

  • +1 Wisdom. Wisdom is the best mental stat, and makes a lot of sense for natural creatures. You’ll be very happy with Wisdom, even if you don’t use it to cast magic.
  • Child of the Wood. You get a cantrip, then a level 1 spell, then a level 2 spell. Druidcraft isn’t great, but entangle and spike growth force a fight to go exactly as you want it. This is an insanely powerful spell-based racial trait! Lotusden is worth considering for this alone.
  • Timberwalk. Nonmagical plants and undergrowth is a fairly natural difficult terrain generator… But if this is useful more than once a campaign, I’d be surprised. Remember you have it though!

Mark of Healing Halfling

One of the two Dragonmark options for Halfling, this is a pretty okay one. Dragonmarks are native to Eberron, so ask your DM before taking this.

  • +1 Wisdom. Nice, love bonus Wisdom!
  • Medical Intuition. Adding 1d4 to Medicine checks and your herbalism kit is fine. Might let you hit high DCs more often. Neither of these checks are exceptionally useful, though.
  • Healing Touch. Access to Cure Wounds and Lesser Restoration without spell slots is handy. Cure Wounds takes a while to cast, but it’s a free 1d8+(Wisdom), so I can’t complain. Lesser Restoration comes in handy much more often.
  • Spells of the Mark. A crazy list! This mark allows any class to become a fine healer. Give a Wizard Healing Word, or a Warlock Greater Restoration! This is a ton of fun to experiment with, no matter what spellcaster you put it on.

Mark of Hospitality Halfling

Another Dragonmark option. This one is more about social interactions and making people happy. A good Support mark.

  • +1 Charisma. Charisma’s not great unless you build for it, but you’re probably building for it.
  • Ever Hospitable. You get a d4 for Persuasion checks or to use utensils to make food. Awesome! This is one of the few ways for a Racial trait to buff your Persuasion skill.
  • Innkeeper’s Magic. Presti is a fun cantrip, and Purify Food and Drink can be life saving. Unseen Servant is fun, but not too useful outside of impressing people in social situations. Still, not awful, especially for a social campaign.
  • Spells of the Mark. Less powerful than the Mark of Healing’s selection, these are still all fine spells. You can throw Goodberry onto a Bard’s spell list, Calm Emotions onto a Sorcerer’s, or even Goodberry on a Warlocks (might be a weird choice). Fun options for Charisma casters.

Stout Halfling

Stout Halflings are sturdy and surprisingly powerful. They are larger than Lightfoots, and tend to stick around in barrows.

  • +1 Constitution. A great stat boost. Constitution keeps you alive, and is useful for every single class. As long as your Constitution is high, your survivability increases manifold.
  • Stout Resilience. Poison is relatively niche, but a lot of enemies use them on their weapons. The ability to shake off poison is going to be useful in a high amount of Undead combats.

Class Options

The Halfling race is pretty well-off in terms of power. +2 Dexterity is insane, and you get a wide array of stat boosts to throw onto any class of your choice.

Good Classes for Halfling

Halflings are natural Rogues. Their +2 Dexterity makes a Rogue’s attack roll, stealth roll, and acrobatics check very consistent. They have a ton of potential build paths; Lightfoots are great for stealth builds, Lotusden and Ghostwise are useful for planning and pinning down opponents… Heck, even Stout could be good for a poison build! Halflings have the distinct ability to avoid rolling 1s, which can be handy for life-or-death sneaking or talking your way out of a problem… Something Rogues can find themselves in often.

That’s not to say Halflings are only good for their Dexterity! A lot of them make for fantastic Charisma casters. Lightfoot and Mark of Hospitality are both great Bards, Warlocks, and Sorcerers; the Dexterity for their defence, Charisma for attack. Then, the Lightfoot’s ability to hide, and the Mark’s ability to talk, can shine in a role more suited for the face of the party… With the ability to negate the first 1 you roll per round. That’s useful as heck!

Halflings can make Cleric and Druid builds work as well. They’d obviously require slightly lighter armor (or might not need much investment in Dexterity to get to +2!). A Lotusden Cleric, for instance, gets access to Lucky and Brave, both good for avoiding bad situations where a Cleric might want to get in… and they can cast Entangle/Spike Growth. That’s huge! Alternatively, a Ghostwise Druid might be able to communicate with their allies while in animal form, allowing for a wild shape build to be more flexible. Alternatively, they could go Druid of the Spores and attempt a more melee-centric option.

Bad Classes for Halfling

Halflings can struggle in a few classes. Barbarian, for instance, is so strength-focused that the Halfling’s +2 Dexterity can feel like a massive hindrance. That’s not to say Dexterity Barbarian isn’t possible… Just not great for damage. 

Halflings also suffer from lacking the ability to use Heavy Weapons easily, another reason that Barbarian Halfling is hard to pull off. This also locks them out of using Longbows, the standard choice for a ranged Fighter or Ranger (and many two-handed builds). This means a ranged Halfling build will output less damage than the longbow variant, which can be frustrating. The Halfling can make it work with dual wielding (perhaps with the Crossbow Mastery feat), but that takes time to take off. They work a little better as Dextrous melee adversaries, usually with Rapiers and whatnot.

We’d also suggest only being an Artificer or Wizard if you’re allowed to be a Dragonmark halfling. Halflings never get a +1 to Intelligence, making these casters start off weaker than they would for other races. One could argue that the variant spell lists of the Dragonmark make up for this slow start and, frankly… I agree. It’s at least fun, even if not optimal.

Paladin is also a little shaky. Paladins have access to Heavy Armor and big weapons, so you’re losing a tiny bit of power by going Dexterity Paladin. This is less of a bad choice and more of a non-optimal choice.

The +2 Dexterity and +1 to any other stat (besides Strength and Intelligence) allows the Halfling to be alright at most classes. Just be careful when approaching Heavy weapons, and remember that your Halfling Artificer or Wizard is going to be really weak until you get a few levels.

Conclusion – Halfling 5E Guide

Halflings are really strong. Lucky is great by itself, but the many options and racial traits you can gather make them versatile and interesting. If you haven’t tried a Halfling build yet, you should! This is a really cool player race, with a lot hidden under their rather basic exterior.

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