Small, stout, and often sneaky, Halflings are a race of small humanoids derived from Tolkien’s hobbits. Like Tolkien’s version, they’re a people who favor the hearth and home over grand adventure or warfare, dexterous and witty by nature, and overlooked so often by larger species that they are often forgotten as any kind of threat. Unlike hobbits, however, the halflings of the Forgotten Realms (and many other DnD settings) are largely nomadic, and have interacted enough with other species to have earned themselves a reputation for both their lighthearted demeanor and extreme stealth.
Also unlike hobbits, halflings have gods.
Halfling Spirituality in the Forgotten Realms
Hobbits might have sometimes worshiped the gods of Middle Earth, of course, but being a subrace of humans they had no particular deities of their own. Halflings, on the other hand, are fully their own species, and as such have a patron pantheon to keep their dominion all on their own.
That said, halfling religion and spirituality looks a great deal different than most other species. The lofty veneration and distant worship that most cultures use for their gods is foreign to them. They have few sermons, fewer churches, and a relationship with them that one would almost call familiar.
In fact, the halfling species as a whole, the hin, shares a name with the majority of their pantheon: Yondalla’s Children. In a way, the hin view their gods as their mother, Yondalla, and their (extremely powerful) older siblings. This is reinforced by their gods’ tendency to manifest and appear directly in times of trouble, even to those who are merely passing worshipers.
Yondalla, Greater Goddess of Halflings
The head of the pantheon, Yondalla is the mother goddess to the hin, with whom she shares her loyalty, mischief, and general love of life. She is also the head of the rest of the halfling pantheon, collaborating with them to ensure the happiness and prosperity of the species.
There are a few different beliefs held about how she came to be the patron of halflings. In some, she created and birthed the first halflings, making her their literal mother, rather than a metaphorical matriarch. In others, she was walking the Material Plane when she came across a halfling being threatened by a couple of big folk. The halfling used their wit to turn the big folk against each other and their stealth to slip away while they fought, and Yondalla was so charmed that she claimed the species for her own.
Cyrrollalee, Goddess of Friendship, Hospitality, and Trust
Very much a household goddess, Cyrrollalee, the Hearthkeeper, protects the homemakers of the hin, as well as the diplomats and administers where they are necessary. She ensures that the average halfling is a friendly and generous host, and that such generosity is not taken advantage of by their guests. Later on in the Forgotten Realms, she also becomes the patron of those halflings who seek to find a homeland for the hin.
Arvoreen, God of Guardians, Defense, and Watchfulness
Arvoreen, the Wary Sword, is a god frequently misunderstood by other species as the halfling war god. In actuality, he is the god of guardians and watchers, and only holds domain over defense of the hin, not of offense and war. He oversees the training of outriders and guards for communities, including the building of defensive traps and strategy that might usually be considered underhanded.
While he's a great deal more serious than most of his siblings, Arvoreen takes his job seriously and is appreciated for it. He does have a strong sense of honor, but allows theft and less honorable tactics when they are employed in defense of the hin against larger and stronger enemies (as many are, since halflings are so small).
Sheela Peryroyl, Goddess of Weather, Love, and Nature
A somewhat ambiguous goddess, Sheela Peryroyl, the Green Sister, is worshiped as a goddess of both agriculture and wild nature. In truth, she is largely concerned with maintaining the delicate balance between the two. In that position, she also has domain over love (in the balance between wild lust and gentle affection) and weather (in the balance between heavy storm and deadly drought). She might be best determined, then, as a goddess of balances. Outside of her role in the halfling pantheon, she is often called in as a mediator for other gods.
If there is any structure of authority within the Pantheon (and it isn't often enforced), Sheela is Yondalla's second, perhaps because of their close association as nature goddesses. During the Time of Troubles, when many deities including Yondalla disappeared, Sheela took over the role as head of the pantheon.
Brandobaris, God of Trickery, Mischief, and Thieves
Brandobaris, Misadventure, is all the worst big folk stereotypes about halflings made manifest – and also made good. He may be a god of thieves, but Brandobaris serves primarily as inspiration for the good that young halflings can make with their mischief. He and his followers seek out adventure and fun with their antics, instead of wealth and gold. Any story told about Brandobaris’ adventures is a sermon to him, and his own protect each other.
There are dozens of stories about Brandobaris using his trickery to protect the hin. His extreme luck is often attributed to his friends-with-benefits relationship with Tymora, the goddess of luck. While she isn’t a member of the halfling pantheon, she is frequently worshiped by them, and is sometimes considered to be a halfling god who tricked the big folk into worshiping her too.
Urdogalan, God of Death, the Earth, and Halfling Souls
While most big folk know little about the halfling pantheon as a whole, perhaps the least is known to them about Urdogalan, He Who Must Be, the halfling god of the dead. He isn’t as fun-loving and carefree as his family, but he isn’t cruel either. Instead, he is a quiet, introspective character whose voice is always tinged with loss. He also holds domain over the earth, which gives life and to which the dead are returned. While he only appears infrequently to his followers, he spends a decent amount of time in his avatar form on the Material Plane, protecting halfling communities from threats from the Underdark.
Have you ever played a halfling in Dungeons and Dragons? Did you include their religion in the character? Do you have a favorite halfling god? Let us know in the comments below!