We're all aware that Tolkien races and ideas were a big inspiration for early DnD, no one is denying that, and the lingering influences of that can be found even today when you look at something like the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, which still talks about Elves' ancestral home being "in the West" and how "going into the West" is an Elf euphemism for dying.
But I'm strongly of the opinion that DnD should have shed all those lingering effects by now. If the lawsuit from the Tolkien estate weren't enough to shake people off that path, then consider the amount of changes that the various Tolkien-inspired races have gone through, and the fact that they now barely resemble their inspirational ancestors. Given how much it has changed, it seems silly to keep such a tight grip on those ties back, which now don't make a lot of sense. To me, it doesn't matter how Hobbits are "supposed" to look, because DnD Halflings aren't Tolkien Hobbits.
In fact, it's in WoTC best interest to distance themselves from Tolkien, because I'm sure they don't want another lawsuit over Hobbits.
EDIT Forgot to mention. I don't like the exaggerated features on Halflings. I think it should be a Gnome thing, but not as much as it's been done here, it's too exaggerated, almost bobble-head. That is supposed to be a living creature, not a funko-pop.
Yeah exactly! That's pretty much my thinking there too. Well put.
Also another quick read, just showing what Halfling scale might look like if it keyed off the Human and Half-Elf proportions. Again with the figures on the left showing Dwarf/Gnome and the right Human/Halflings. All on the same imagined rock using the snaps Niara took. But like rescaling. I think they should all have access to the same faces. Right now they are gatekeeping heads for many of the races, which is unfortunate cause it limits the variety on offer. But anyhow, I think something more like this would carry a bit better at a glance, for me at least...
Now imagine if the in-game Halflings and Gnomes where "well proportioned" (child-like) and how media (narrow-minded reviewers and players) would react with that in combination with the "explicit romances".
I'm not sure where people are getting this idea that tiny adults would even remotely resemble children. Just take an adult body, with very clear adult features and proportions, and scale it down like it stepped into a shrink ray. If you think that's what children look like, you've never seen a child before.
Personally, I am not a fan of the 3e halflings since it looks sooo weird when they are alongside any medium-sized creature. But that is my opinion, and it is not like I believe my preference is any more "correct" than those who do like 3e.
Anyways - as a huge LotR fan, I very much enjoy the design of hobbits in general (I find them cozy and amazing <3 ), but I like the artwork that Niara showed us in the beginning of the conversation even more for playable characters! They looked like they belong in an adventure group without necessarily being as "goofy" as a hobbit character would be (by design). I mean, I could easily imagine a very cool halfling rogue, wizard or ranger by the standards that Niara provided!
In any case, I'll definitely agree on that the models of both male and female halflings should be slimmed down a notch or two. If I wanted to play a more curvy/sturdy short character, I'd pick a dwarf. I agree regarding the headsize too.
Thanks for yet another amazing post, Niara <3 Sorry I was late in finding it, but I am here to help you guys bump it up now. :]
Hoot hoot, stranger! Fairly new to CRPGs, but I tried my best to provide some feedback regardless! <3 Read it here: My Open Letter to Larian
Thanks for continuing the discussion, folks ^.^ Much appreciated.
So, this is just as an illustration of some of the things I've discussed but, because it's relevant now, I did also want to show folks something else.
I'm planning (hoping) in the near-ish future, to engage in some more in depth discussions and commentaries on composition, cinematography and choreography of small characters in game cut-scenes and sequences (Not unlike the break down for a certain Minthara scene that I conducted a while back), and the perils, pitfalls and considerations that need to be accounted for when designing such interpersonal scenes involving small characters. For the sake of those exercises, I'm going to be working with some models to give visual illustration to the points. I've been vaguely intending to wait until the related intimate scenes in the game returned, and could be worked through alongside the discussion, but I'd also rather not leave it too late, either... I'm sure you understand the dilemma.
However... relevant to this topic, here are the models I'm working with for now (I work in just the wire-frame, which I feel is clearer, but the other image uses a filled texture to give the models more body and presence, just for display). Now, I'm no artist, and my graphic design skills are limited, so please forgive the less than clean model builds here:
The important thing to note, that I wanted to draw attention to, was that these are not 'simply' scaled down humans; there are some subtle but important differences.
The human models in these images have proportions that are just about at human averages and norms: The male is 185cm tall (~6'1”), and has a head-to-body ratio of 7.5. The female is 178cm (~5'10”), and also has a head-to-body ratio of 7.5.
(For some quick background info: human head-to-body ratios range from ~7 to ~8, with 7.5 considered to be the golden standard/average.)
The halflings here are 91cm (f) and 92cm (m) respectively, which is just a hair under and just a hair over 3 feet exactly. Their head-to-body ratios are 6.5. This means that they have heads that are, comparative to their human counterparts, notably larger in relation to their bodies; they are large enough that they don't end up triggering any kind of 'tiny head' response visually when we look at them (which can be a problem with directly scaled down human models), but also not so large that they end up looking ungainly or bobble-headed either.
They also have subtle differences across the rest of the models: their torso and trunk region is just a little bit stockier than the human models, and their arms are thicker (1.15 ratio comparatively to the body), and also slightly shorter. This helps prevent their limbs seeming too impossibly scrawny to our eyes at the reduced scale (Another common problem with direct scaled models is limbs feeling too 'stick-like'), without overdoing it. Similarly, their legs have a subtle 1.10 ratio, up to 1.15 towards the ankles, giving them a more solid leg overall than the human counterparts. Their feet are slightly larger by ratio as well, to match this.
The end result is subtle unless you're looking for it, because they are the anatomical changes that would naturally exist in a creature of that size, compared to us humans – so you don't notice it too much, because the creatures simply look more 'normal' and 'realistic' with those tweaks.
Again, my model work is not the most skilful – it's rough and just meant to serve as an illustration of what I feel a natural, good-looking proportion should be (It works best if you let your eye brush over them and get an impression, rather than focusing too much on the poorly blended details <.< >.>). Future threads about choreography will likely have me using these models, or tweaked versions of them, to illustrate and accompany my discussion ^.^
I mostly focused on getting the head-to-body ratio correct, but you may have a point in that they seem a bit too wide at the moment... Let me see...
Taking a close look at the proportions, what you're actually seeing is that the human female model I'm using has far narrower shoulders that one would expect by averages. The head could probably afford to be a little narrower, sure, but that that oughtn't be a deal-breaker and wouldn't actually fix the shoulder ratio difference (an idealised proportion says that the total shoulder width should be approximately 2 heads(horizontal, at the collar bones), and on the human female model right now, it's only about 1.4. Narrowing the head won't change that (but it would make the visual affect seem closer to correct even though it doesn't).
The male human actually doesn't have this problem - all his ratios are within good averages. I just seem to have lapsed with the female and given her disproportionately narrow shoulders. (Though I do want to add as a side note that humans, and females in particular, often don't display this golden ratio anyway.... but for this case, I should be aiming for the standard, yes)
A slight narrowing of the head and a slightly broadening of the shoulders (and hips, by extension) ought to fix what your eye is seeing there, but again, these were just something I thought I'd toss up for a glance at the what I'm working with for later threads about posing and choreography - which only need a relativistic comparison. (Also, the tool I'm using is a bit finicky when it comes to making alterations in some specific areas of the model, and I sort of worked around that, becaue my skill level with this is minimal...)
Those wireframes look pretty good to me. Unfortunately, when it comes to cinematics or even just the standard party view with the eye in the sky, I think Larian's default camera (in Iso, or else pseudo-driving cam, but with a locked line of sight) means that they won't be able to do anything cool with depth of field or perspective distortion like they might if the game was more POV oriented.
You know, like trying to capture the feel of being extra tiny in an outsized world, where the chairs are all towering and the character has to actually look up sometimes lol.
I'm not a huge fan of exaggerated features or enlarged skulls, since I think it works against the whole 3e vibe at 1:2 scale, but I think it's also being done mainly as expedient here, because of the way they've designed their camera. The amount of detail in the faces/facial expressions that they're trying to convey is already keying off Human scale models for the default, where the human heads are about as small as one can make them before losing a lot of visual information in the process. Without changing the camera location or the camera lenses or the blocking or anything else really, then there is probably a downward limit on how small the skulls can be made, before we just start losing so much detail that the faces become generalized abstractions. Like I think that's why their heads are so ridiculously gigantic right now, so we can still register when they're smiling or smirking or whatever, but to me its not worth it. I'd take less detail on the faces, for a more interesting and tiny sense of scale, any day of the week.
Sometimes I think their modelling and animation designers are being way too deferential to the cinematography team and prioritizing the wrong things. Changing the shape of the model to suit the camera, when they should just be moving the camera, if that makes sense? I spend way more time looking at the back of my character's head than the front of it anyway. Clipping there is super annoying too. Not just on the Halflings but for all characters, that's where a lot of the clipping issues, distorted animations, haircut or equipment troubles seem to show up. I think the problems with their animations probably come from designing a wonky model with a wonky skeleton initially and then trying to animate it. Aiming to hit different animation marks like you showed in earlier pages, or how they are trying to make it so that the regular weapons models don't have to be rescaled by having huge hands or whatever. When what they should do is just 1:2 scale everything and go more from there. They could still do some mix and match reg equipment, or introduce a smaller scaled weapons type where appropriate among the bits and bobs. Especially with daggers and short swords and bows, include some that are scaled to look decent with Halflings or Gnomes. Seeing giant weapons clip through the body, or goofy cinematics in the opening where lines of sight don't match up, just contributes to me passing on the race for a PC. Especially if its already clipping in the Char creator, you just know its going to be worse in the actual game. I think its a confluence of many things contributing to make them not a top PC choice for me in BG3, but I think if they did it right Halflings would become at least as popular as Elves. Just need to make them feel more little-world, and then I think they'd see a lot more play.
Yeah i think altering the internal scale for characters in game is possible. Such an approach might be helpful as it uses preexisting assets instead of building new assets from scratch even the scale is not perfect here.
This is just a quick first attempt as I won't have access to my pc for the next few weeks after today.
Even that quick first attempt looks about a thousand times better to me than the current defaults in BG3! I hope they end up going for something more like that.
Oh also regarding skull sizes, another important thing to consider is that we are all pretty used to seeing conventional depictions where the "normal" head to body ratio is not the average but already an extreme.
In traditional art and illustration the ideal ratio is 1:8, in fashion its typically 1:9, so that may contribute to what seems off if going the other direction. 1:7 is more realistic, but we get mainly 1:8 from commercial illustration and advertising, and even in photography there is a tendency to choose models who get closer to the 1:8 ideal when casting.
Shadowheart, Gale and Astarion all appear to have the 1:8 head to body ratio in this game (they're actually pushing unreal, closer to 1:9) which is probably what makes them look like tall centerfold types by the standards of like magazines or movie posters hehe. We can blame the Vitruvian Man for popularizing these conventions in modern times, especially since it was widely reproduced during the 18th/19th century when traditional illustration was peaking, along with many of the other ballpark relative proportions that have since become ideals in artistic depiction. DaVinci favored composing from the square following the classical advice, and in that image he put the "head" of the Vitruvian Man (chin to crown) at 1:8, and the "face" (chin to hair) at 1:10, relative to the height of the whole figure. Doré, who was probably the greatest illustrator of all time, used the same basic proportions in his figures. So did Gibson for his Gibson Girl and Gibson Guy, which taken together give a snapshot of how the rule was put into practice in popular forms during the second half of the 19th century.
Basically in art we've seen 1:8 pretty consistently for a couple centuries now, and if it diverges from that it tends to go even taller into 1:9 territory with the body elongated and more stylized. That's just what we're used to seeing - smaller heads in general. After photography was invented, the use of those proportions didn't stop, mainly because they still work so well in drafting and because the visual norms were already well established by that point in print. We seem to find it's appeal enduring, even if it's not exactly accurate and sets unrealistic expectations of beauty.
Here are the idealized proportions as shown by Andrew Loomis...
Note especially the labelling in that last image. Gives a real sense of the conventions at play hehe
Those images were first published in "Figure Drawing for All It's Worth" 1943. The same idea is shown again in "Successful Drawing" 1952, where the 8-head-mannequin also appears on the cover.
These were standard instructional texts, along with Bridgman's, considered classics for American illustrators of the 20th century. Just about every D&D illustrator we associate with the high fantasy genre would have been familiar with them, or at least with the basic ideas there regarding proportions.
Vilppu still teaches the same method in animation. It also informs the standards established by Disney way back when, even when they were rotoscoping live actors, for how to distort those figures to further maximize aesthetic appeal. This is for figurative realism where the 'real' has already been idealized to a fair extent.
The reason the 1:8 thing is useful for drafting, is because it is very simple to divide a line of any length in half by eyeballing it. Then through halving, using relative lengths and splitting things in half, to arrive at the place where things need to go, a head for example. All pedantic to be sure, but that's why forums exist right? and this seemed as good an opportunity as any lol. Main point being that Shadowheart isn't really the average, she's definitely already the idealized version. 1:8-8.5 at least according to the Loomis scale.
We see the smaller heads and we think mimesis, gravitas, and like studied academic refinement following the classical forms hehe, whereas larger heads indicate more caricature and cartooning and like the bawdy sarcasm of satirical cartoons. Or in the old papers, it's the basic difference between the funny pages and the super hero pages. So that translates over, whether we want it to or not, I think. A bobblehead is just going to bring that baggage along for the ride, whereas if they give Halflings the same basic treatment as the Human models (e.g proportional skulls) they'd have something that can work a rather different appeal.
Hair is important for the overall visual read too. We're not super used to seeing heads sans hairlines the way a skull presents in maquette. A hairline compresses the sense of relative scale even further for a given head/face. So if you take any of the current models in the BG3 game and select the "no hair" option, the skulls will appear larger on that figure, even if they haven't actually changed in scale. You can make Shadowheart's head feel massive for example, just by removing her fringe/braid and opting for the Mr. Clean style waxy dome instead. That's why in the Halfling wireframes above even the normal Human models already sort of look like they have Gerber baby heads. Or why among the current Halflings, the dude on the far left of the rock seems to have an extra giant dome (the Halfling skull models are huge in BG3!) We are pretty conversant in these 1:8 ideals just from being bombarded by idealized images of humans constantly, and thus pick up on subtle scaling differences very quickly. Especially with skulls since its a big part of the visual language inheritance and we're trained to look for it as a hallmark of cartooning. Enlarged heads set a visual tone, and as noted many times, a little goes a long way hehe. I think their best bet is to go 1/2 scale off their idealized Human counterparts for the Halflings, so it carries through in the quick read. Pretty much exactly like the TestyMcTesterson image above. At least as a starting point. If they want to go 1:7 for the Halfling skulls from there, the difference won't seem as marked, and at least the body animations would look alright.
Just to reiterate, I think if they gave Halflings the proportionality and aesthetic appeal of the Human/Half-Elf models at 1:2, then Halflings would instantly rival Humans as a top choice for a PC with many players. Right now I suspect Halflings are coming in like dead last behind Dwarves and Githyanki. All the current Halflings models could just become Dwarf/Gnome models so the work isn't lost. Halflings at 1:2 would feel so novel, it'd seem like they actually added a new race. I totally think that's what they should do, and just scale down the weapons types to include small size-versions. I mean since they're a distinct culture and mini civilization, the idea of them having to use human sized daggers for swords just feels goofy. It works in the Hobbit as a one off, but in Faerun they should have access to weapons that fit their stature. For the modellers just hit scale, so it's not too much crazy work. Or I don't know, but hopefully they read some of this stuff, fingers crossed, cause this is still the best thread.
Thanks for the chat Black Elk ^.^ I feel as though it sounds like you've studied this area in more serious depth than I have - I've only studied it in passing, as an interest and never as a dedicated endeavour, so I welcome someone more knowledgeable ^.^
It was a toss up for me - art standards treat 1:8 as the golden ratio, but "real world humans" average from about 7-8 (with other extreme outliers as well), with ~7.5 being the more realistic average. So I was debating whether to match to "art standard" or "real world standard", since, well, this IS a work of art after all.
I went with 1:7.5 with my human models in the end, but the actual head *Shape* could probably use a lot of work. I'm not THAT good at this, despite my efforts <.< >.>
Direct scaling the halflings causes some visual ticks that people often complain about - overly scrawny limbs and tiny-seeming heads being the main ones. I felt they looked better with minor adjustments in that area - slight thickening of the limbs in relation to the trunk, slightly sturdier legs, a slightly stockier torso ratio, but only slightly, and then also setting their heads to a 1:6.5 ratio - larger in relation to their bodies, but only by enough to avoid the 'tiny head' impression of the smaller model, or at least that was the goal (The halflings that I posted a while back, in LotRO have substantially non-human proportions, and they actually look *Fantastic* - they look like normal, healthy, believable creatures, but also clearly not human creatures as well). The attempt I've made comes across fine to my eyes as a result of those tweaks (though I continue to tweak it), but my eyes are the only ones I can test on, and I can't say how effective it is for others.
I'd be pretty ecstatic if they would just follow your diagram to update their designs. I think it works perfectly well and captures the essence of the modern imagined Halfling way better than Larian's modelling. The post above was aimed more at fallenj's reaction to heads being too big, but then I launched a big old rambler's digression like I tend to do and didn't really clarify hehe. I'm just an enthusiast as well, with a passing interest in the art stuff, but still thought it important to note that the current Human/Half-Elf models in BG3 definitely seem to show idealized proportions. So even putting 1:8 Shadowheart with legs for miles, standing next to 1:7.5 Shadowheart, people would likely note the difference and react with the same biases outlined in the Loomis diagram. You know, where reality looks "Rather Dumpy" by comparison lol, and everyone expects these Idealized Fashion/Heroes who are all extra tall and extra beautiful, because that's just what we got dished up on the regular for so long.
I think there is probably a breakpoint where subtle preferences turn into much stronger aversions, and if they want to avoid the latter, to bear in mind that many players will prefer to play a more beautiful PC. Even if the starting point is like Githyanki levels of ugly, players will still find a way to be choosy about it hehe. I think the trend towards 1:2 Halflings in the post 3e depictions moves in the right direction, not just to distance D&D Halflings from the Hobbit phenotype but to make them more objectively appealing. To put it even more crassly, Hobbits aren't attractive, and Hobbits could never be hot. At least not in the way that Humans/Half-Elves typically are, but Halflings at 1:2 very well could be, and I think players would immediately respond to that by rolling them more frequently as PCs. It's a test case in the making. They just need to choose to make Halflings more beautiful according to the Standard standards (whatever they're using for their Humans) instead of gangly cartoon characters. Leave that stuff for the Gnomes. Half-measure compromises will probably only produce middling results, with the race remaining pretty niche. Whereas if they start from a scale that is more appealing and go from there, I think they'd see a much stronger positive reception.
Just for further clarity, your wireframe diagrams are already showing what I wish they'd do in BG3. Even if the base Human head to body ratio there is more realistic compared to Larian's idealized Humans, at least the Halflings still look roughly like Humans at 1:2 scale in your image.
Sure there's some compression in the limbs and some style choices, but they definitely don't look like Dwarves at 3:4 which is how Larian's Halflings appear to me.
You can see from the image at the top of this page, I reduced Larian's Halfling model to 70% in order to make a Gnome and yet her skull still appears as large as Shadowheart's standing next to her on the rock even at that reduced scale! That's beyond ridiculous.
It's not even just a 3e thing though, I mean look at the portraits of Alora from BG1 and Mazzy from BG2...
There's a reason why they close cropped the portrait, because the subtle shift away from Hobbits towards 1:2 has already occurred by that point. At least in the portrait and promotional art. They still had the big feet in avatar, but the portrait images show proportional skulls that suggest a more 1:2 figure. Then the LOTR films came out and pushed the popular transformation further. Compare Frodo from the Fellowship of the Ring 2001 to the animated Hobbit from 1977 or Frodo in Return of the King 1980. Those were the extremes of back then. I think D&D should go even further towards 1:2 with the Halflings now, because depictions of Gnomes and Dwarves already have the other visual vibe well covered. If they want Halflings to capture new interest then the 1:2 approach I think holds more promise, rather than a rehash of depictions from the 80s.
Larian's Halflings just look lame. They aren't Hobbit enough to make traditionalist happy, and they definitely aren't catering to the 1:2 modern Halfling aesthetic that's been around for like 20 years now. Instead Larian's Halflings are getting the worst of all worlds, with nobody happy, and the work feels wasted. They aren't doing anything to make me want to play as a Halfling PC with those models, and I suspect the metrics would show way fewer Halfling PCs in BG3 compared to Humans or Elves or even Dwarves. If they followed your diagram instead, I think Halflings would become a top choice practically overnight. I hope they revisit the issue and bring some stronger design chops to the table next time.
Random aside, but I had a thought on how they could do like a Halfling druid village Ewok style, like they live in giant conifers with platforms and such. Maybe since Halflings are lighter and more dextrous they can take the bold jumps, or fall from great heights but still land on their feet like cats, or use cloaks like squirrels to glide. Stuff like that, getting away from the mole hole take and doing something way different with them. More like the Brownies in Willow basically for that one. I think something like that would be a fun twist on the usual snug in the ground take. Or do the same thing but really set underground, go way next level with it, like tiny tunnel shortcuts and repelling in gigantic caverns where the whole Halfling city is built into the side of a cave wall say. Just something to give them a kind of proto-wilderness spot in Faerun that isn't the Riverlands but more the forests and caves next door. The Riverlands Shire thing is kinda done to death, I want to see them branch out and do something a little cooler with it that is Halfling focused, and where they aren't just tacked on to the normal Human civ. I think the crossover between Halfling and Gnome culture could be fun too, as like a meta rivalry thing hehe. Like having them occupy similar zones, places where the tiny tropes can have more outsized adventures and where the Halfling PC can go alt routes or showcase their unique tiny feats. Say the Halflings can climb to reach higher points and such, so they can do more exclusive maneuvering in crazy places where the big old Humans and Dwarves would have trouble managing. Or crossing hazardous terrain more easily or maybe access to places Humans couldn't reach at all. More side zones with the tiny perks and solutions. That was the best part of the Hobbit, and the thing that should be retained. But I think it starts by first capturing the super tiny feel at 1:2. They should totally do low angle stuff with the camera when the PC is zoomed into a drive view too, that would be cool to see. Just the change in perspective drop cam for a start. I'm thinking more about the roaming experience than the cut scenes, but doing it in both really so the idea carries through. Tiny weapons too, I mean it only makes sense. Even if they reserve it more as a big get, I'd like to see halfling swords and bows that are keyed off the 1:2 proportions as well. No reason they can't look dashing and poised with some cool equipment that suits their scale and has some Halfling flair to it.
I think Niaras approach is very good. Halflings should not just be scales down humans or elves. Heads should look a tad bigger etc. Even if it's just a fantasy, Brains need space to work properly . Going at it from an evolutionary standpoint, you would need to think a bit about which parts of the body need to be strenghtened or weakened to make them a healthy Species.
Take the other direction: Giants. If you would just scale a human up to, lets say 10 meters, it would look like a human but could not stand, let alone move. Head would be too heavy etc.
Same goes for the small direction.
If i read my forgotten realms correctly, halflings are agile and dextrous. With the acutal ingame bodies, movement liek that would not really work out. Without wanting to discrimininate or belittle anyone, if you look at our real life small folk (forgot the english term) and how they move, it is different from the standard human.
Nature designs bodies of beings generally for their purpose. So i am all for changing halflings to a more "realistic" (nice term for a fictive race) bodyform.
I think the Kender race from the Dragonlance setting has that. I think they are the substitute for Halflings there. Cannot remember if they have those too.
Apart from all that: We need more bodyforms for all races :P
I think they should start from the human models as the basis at 1:2, not to trash morphological realism or buck any evolutionary rationale behind Halfling's needing larger brain cases or sturdier legs or whatever hehe... Instead I suggest Humans at 1:2 purely for practical workflow type reasons. I think the visuals are way more likely to get fucked up if they are inventing an entirely new skeleton on the fly for their maquette and then trying to fully animate it.
Reproportioning the figures in very nuanced ways might be ideal, but would also probably result in more potential goofs and oversights of the sort we've already seen. Whereas if they could just scale the existing work they've done for humans and create a similar overall effect at half size, I think that'd be passing fair and serviceable for a game like this. I mean clearly they have been having some issues properly animating and scaling the Dwarves and current Halfling models to look decent, doing all the things that the more standardly proportioned humanoids can do.
I'm guessing that whatever tools they are using to model and animate in BG3 have a built-in standard Human frame, but probably not a standard Dwarf frame, which is why the animations look all out of whack right now. They're having to push and pull or distort and invent stuff to close the emotive gaps, in an scheme designed principally for animating normally proportioned Human figures.
If they could just focus on getting an animated Human model to scale at 1:2 then I think they'd at least be halfway to a pretty damn good looking Halfling. Just enlarging the skulls from there to like 1:7 would be somewhat simpler than if they are changing the length of all the limbs and the proportions of the extremities. If they need to rekey all the animations for everything, they'll probably screw something up again, like swords clipping through the figure and spider fingers etc. What they're probably doing right now, if at all, is trying to fix the animations for all the current Halflings models we don't like lol. They should shift that work to the Dwarf model set I think, make sure they look good there, so they can do the same thing rescaling Dwarves to create the Gnomes. Just seems like it would be simpler that way, with fewer potential screw ups in the animation.
With a couple more general phenotypes added to make slim or broader boned and more full bodied figures across the board, then rolling with a more portly Halfling could be a choice rather than a requirement in Char creation. A choice to have a particularly large head or large gut or a hairy set of flapper feet would be a nice touch for the traditionalists, but it should be a different field. The way beards are handled say.
Again though I'd just caution against defaulting to skulls that are notably large relative to the rest of the figure. I think Niara's models look pretty great, but the bobble head effect can easily undermine the potential aesthetic appeal if it takes over. Larian has already demonstrated an aptitude for going way overboard in the wrong direction with it in the current models, so I'd ere on the side of restraint there. Testy's quick edit I think has a very clear read, and could easily be dressed up to my satisfaction.
I'm not at all convinced they'll do anything with this feedback, but I wish they'd revisit the Halfling models from the ground up. Let the Dwarves be dwarfs, but have the Halflings be something else. Right now the Halflings look way too much like Dwarves. Maybe because Divinity didn't have any Halflings? so that was just their go-to modelling as a stopgap? But it just looks off to me.
This thread bugged me. I'm disabled myself, and people getting written out of realitity bugs me. Forgotten Realms alone is ahuge concept, and everyone should find themselves in it. It does seem that in order to avoid offense ( and not ness by the folks concerned) too much is being deneid. I'd love to be able to take a crippling disabilty and turn it around in my fantasy game. An enchanted set of Knee Bracers that add +2 to Dex. Can't have in real life, but could have an adventure, and bring home to other folks the effect of a disabilty ( literally, - to a ability score, it's what got me using Drow in the first place, back when they had that level reduction).
Real humans (H.Sapiens that is) have large skulls for a reason; to hold our large brains. I looked up H. floresiensis and it's fucking fasinating, and how it's different to micrcephaly and pygmyism. I'd recommend reading up on that first. But, to not diverge too much, the models shown would need a lot more in the the forehead region to carry the sentient, sapient processing capacity of a person. Small seems less important, so long the right centres of the brain have the room they need.
To be blunt, the proposed model would be OK for faries or other races where the magical is more important than the physical reality. Sorry Testy, that would be fine for a magical race from another plane, but not a flesh-and-blood person from the Prime. A differnt skull shape is needed, more forehead.
Super-little people could be a lot oF fun, we've had Auntie Ethel, an encounter with the Seelie or Unseelie could be fun, any being looking to Godhood will affect the Realms around them, why not have the Fey courts take notice of the Absolutes actions? ( I personally love how the Fey can upset everything just by being themselves...) ( Yes, I know, I'm an unashamed Warlock and would love more Fey in the game. More of most stuff honestly. I'm not a tabletopper myself, but I'd look for someone who could ride the craxy if I was! Player agency should be whatever imagination can bring!).
But leave the hurtful prejudgices at the door, there's not enough representation as is. Taking out is not a positive step.
I'm also disabled, so don't wave that flag at me - let's just talk sensibly, and ideally in good spirits (If I come across as forceful with any of the following, I promise it's not my intent to be aggressive or to offend). No-one is getting 'written out' here. People with disabilities aren't represented in this game, I'll agree with that - but that issue is not in any way the purview of this thread, and has nothing to do with it.
What erasure are you perceiving is being asked for here? It sounds like you're asking for an entire race of creatures to be designed and depicted in a way that makes them appear to have a major disorder in order to 'represent' people with similar disabilities - No, that's not helpful. It's destructive and harmful, because it reinforces othering and segregation. I'm all for people being able to elect for various disabilities to exist for their characters, and if the game could handle character design to that level and do it effectively it would be great. It would also create angry waves of people who weren't satisfied that it was done well enough for their liking, or who found it offensive for different reasons, but that's a different problem. Making an entire character race present a clinical disorder for the sake of representation is never going to be an acceptable course of action - or how would you like to be treated as though you were a completely different species of creature, because of your disability? Do you not find the entire concept of picking "the disabled representing race" to be, itself, an incredibly gross concept? People suffer that exact experience every day, and it's not a good thing (It's horrible, in fact. There are plenty of humans out there who will treat you like you're both infantile levels of stupid, and also act like you can't hear them, just because, for example, you talk with your hands rather than your mouth, as I do) - there is zero reason to entrench that in a video game.
Originally Posted by Umbra
Real humans (H.Sapiens that is) have large skulls for a reason; to hold our large brains. I looked up H. floresiensis and it's fucking fasinating, and how it's different to micrcephaly and pygmyism. I'd recommend reading up on that first. But, to not diverge too much, the models shown would need a lot more in the the forehead region to carry the sentient, sapient processing capacity of a person.
This is not quite accurate. If they were simply smaller humans, as in, actual humans, with human physiology, but small, then yes, they would definitely struggle. The point is, however, that they are Not humans. They are a independent creature race - an entirely different species of being. They aren't going to have the same cranial physiology as humans, if you want to go into it that far, precisely because they are much smaller mammals that present human-level intelligence. If you looked at halfling brain, for example, you'd find that it was exponentially more crenulated than a human brain (that is, they'd have a far, far greater density of gyri and sulci). They don't need to have bulbous or deformed heads because they are not human, and they are able to have an independent neurobiology that suites the creatures they are designed to be, with healthy-looking proportion (and yes, I will continue to use that phrasing; no offence is intended, but a disability is a disability, and a disorder is a disorder, and they are not healthy, by their very definition. This isn't a judgement on anyone who lives with such things, it's just a factual statement). (If you'd like some more interesting reading, you could look into ravens - who possess human-level intelligence and a capacity for abstract thought, planing and reasoning, emotive attachment and grudge-holding that surpasses all other primate species and even pre-adolescent humans; they don't have large lobes anywhere, they just have independent and different neurobiology that suites their form, not ours)
Right now, the halfling models don't look like halflings. They look far more like humans with a particular form of dwarfism. They shouldn't. They're halflings, not humans with a particular form of dwarfism. I'll never stand in the way of more player freedom with character design and choice, nor of the ability to feel represented, seen and acknowledge, in video games or in anything else, but that is not in any way an issue relevant to this thread. Trying to say that the entire halfling race should be "Used" to serve as the representation point for certain groups of people with disorders or conditions is not progressive; it's hurtful, harmful, disrespectful and offensive - to halflings and to people who bear those disabilities or conditions.
Representation is good - the ability of everyone, no matter their status, to feel like they can find something or someone in the game to identify with or to feel seen and acknowledge by the presence of, is a good thing... But stepping on other beings and erasing their uniqueness in order to champion that idea is committing the very crime you're speaking out against. It's not a relevant part of this thread, but I'd definitely encourage you to make your own seeking more and better representation in the game in general and regardless of your race of choice, if you wish to. I'd even support it, most likely.
I think this is fair. Honestly the physiology I'd prefer for Halflings is more faerie-like and otherworldly magical, because I think it holds a different sort of appeal, and so we'd depart there a bit in our aims. In my view they are backtracking on Halfling appearance to something I recognize more from like 30 years ago, rather than what we've seen from the more recent materials.
I was trying to anticipate this representation critique on the previous page, but perhaps didn't do the greatest job expressing my views. I think if the goal is to represent actual short statured humans in D&D, then they should be Human and the human phenotype should expand beyond the highly idealized and stylized centerfolds we see now to include the broader variety there. In the same way they treat race now. I think that would be appropriate for the times, and would probably be lauded by everyone who wants a more inclusive game.
Where it becomes more problematic is the idea that historically this is how "the other" has been treated in fantasy. So a person with Achondroplasia might feel like "hey, don't take Halflings away from us! cause Halflings are how we identify here!" And then if there's no replacement, the feeling of having something taken away is probably pretty accurate, sure.
But again, the Halflings and Dwarves as depicted by Larian don't really appear to be badass achons like Willow and Meegosh and Vohnkar, or the Time Bandits, or Tyrion Lannister etc. If that's how Halflings were depicted in BG3 or by D&D in general then I'd probably back way off the topic, like 'well that's their's now, and they can own it how they like.' But that's not really how they look is it? I mean there is a vague suggestion in that direction, but the maquette they're using is pretty fantastical. It doesn't track with how short statured humans actually look in the real world. Instead it's like this in-between compromise to get a Nettie or an Aaron. Also if the D&D Lore supported it more, like with explanations about how Halflings or Dwarves are really just a type of Human in Faerun and exactly analogous to what we see in the real world here, that'd be rather different. But that's not where D&D went with it at all. Instead they ran in the complete opposite direction going on two decades now. So what Larian is doing here, is kind of like re-opening a door that the Wizards probably already hoped to close a while back, to avoid exactly this kind of fantasy stereotyping.
I'm all for including disabilities in the game with more representation, I just think othering them into a separate fantasy category (e.g not "Human") is the wrong way to approach it. They could easily include gigantism and dwarfism among the human phenotypes. They could also do a deaf option where the speaking animations are done in sign. I think they could also provide models that included fantasy themed prosthetics or gnomish devices or enchanted bracers like you mentioned, to capture more the spirit of inclusion. Since it's not reality but fantasy, in D&D we should be able provide options there with no gameplay consequence beyond aesthetics. Something beyond just roleplaying the able bodied. They could be doing professor X style stuff, or have arms or legs of living wood crafted by the Druids or something. I mean there are a lot of ways they could go with it, if they wanted people to see it and say "wow, that's cool they actually thought about people who look like me for a change!" Will they actually go there though? I think judging from what we've seen so far, it feels pretty unlikely. Right now every human, elf, tiefling and githyanki model uses the same chiseled human phenotype with only the heads and few cosmetic features like ears or horns or whatever to distinguish them. All the Halflings are portly. It's not like we can create a unique physical build right now. Let alone doing something more inventive like rolling a one armed PC, but where that doesn't have to impact the actual gameplay, just the looks on offer.
Absent some kind of directive from the Wizards, I don't know that Larian is really serious enough to tackle the broader issue solo. They've proven themselves pretty irreverent with everything they do, all their climbing cows and salamis and whatnot. I think it would be hard for them to escape criticism, or to treat the representation thing with enough gravity to get a pass under close scrutiny. I think it would be more likely to come off as a bad joke or disingenuous given their track record. But still, it would be cool to see a D&D game that approached this stuff in a more thoughtful way.