Halfling Guide 5e

Published on November 30, 2020, Last modified on May 5th, 2022

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What is this guide?

This guide is meant to give you an idea of whether or not the halfling will be right for your 5e character build.

The color code below has been implemented to help you identify, at a glance, how good that option will be for your halfling. This color coding isn’t a hard and fast rule; there are plenty of sub-optimized options out there that will be viable to your party and will be fun to play.

  • Black is a trait shared by many races and or will not impact the effectiveness of your character build
  • Red isn’t going to contribute to the effectiveness of your character build at all
  • Orange is an OK option
  • Green is a good option
  • Blue is a great option, you should strongly consider this option for your character
  • Sky Blue is an amazing option. If you do not take this option your character would not be optimized

Tasha's Cauldron of Everything Update

Tasha's Cauldron of Everything has added the "Customizing Your Origin" option that may affect the ability score increases, languages, and proficiencies in this guide. To read more about this, visit our D&D Race Guide.

What are Halflings in 5e?

Source: Player's Handbook

Halflings are short, stout creatures that tend to find a balance in stature between the bulky dwarves and the thin, wiry gnomes.

Halflings are a well-natured bunch and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. They love to spend their time in the quiet land of their shires or the community among their band of adventurers. Most halflings strive for nothing more than a cozy fire and well-cooked meal shared with friends and family, then finishing off the night with a glass (or 6) of fine wine.

Because of their kind and cheerful nature, halflings take life as it is given to them and rarely strive for wealth or power. A halfling brought into the world of adventure usually does so to protect the ones they love or out of sheer curiosity.

Halfling 5e Traits

Ability Score Increase: +2 DEX is an extremely common ASI array but is also a great choice for Rogues, Monks, and other classes that rely on light armor or ranged attacks.

Age: Halflings mature by 20 and live to around 150

Alignment: The Halflings’ kind nature makes most of the race lean towards lawful good.

Size: Halflings are small creatures, averaging out at 3 feet tall. Being a small creature certainly has its ups and downs. Upside you get to use medium creatures as mounts and can move through the space of creatures that are Large size or bigger. The downside is you have disadvantage grappling/shoving and using heavy weapons. Small creatures also more often than not have a reduced speed.

Speed: 25ft walking is subpar when compared to most medium creatures. This may not cause a massive fuss in most situations, but when in chases or retreats the extra 10ft per dash is certainly missed.

Lucky: Rerolling 1’s on attack rolls, ability checks, or saving throws is amazing. Now there is only a 0.25% chance of crit failing (but you will still manage it somehow).

Brave: Advantage on saving throws against Frightened is another solid racial trait. Frightened conditions are fairly common, especially if your campaign is heavy on dragons.

Halfling Nimbleness: Hafling Nimbleness allows you to move through an enemy’s space, even if they’re only a size larger than you. Seeing as this equates to medium creatures and larger, it should apply to 80-90% of the creatures you face. This skill is particularly useful if you’re a Rogue, Monk, or other melee class.

Languages: Common and Halfling.

Halfling 5e Subraces

Ghostwise

Ability Score Increase: +1 WIS is a nice boost for Druids, Monks, Rangers, or light armor Clerics that are picking the class up for the +2 DEX and the racial traits.

Languages: Replacing your known languages for less useful languages won’t be much help.

Silent Speech: Being able to telepathically communicate with friends and foes is a solid ability and will help you get out of plenty of jams.

Lightfoot

Ability Score Increase: +1 CHA makes this a reasonable choice for CHA based casters, especially if they will be using the +2 DEX for more than light armor.

Naturally Stealthy: Using your party or other creatures for cover opens up amazing opportunities for bonus action hiders like Rogues.

Lotusden

Ability Score Increase: +1 WIS is a nice boost for Druids, Monks, Rangers, or light armor Clerics that are picking the class up for the +2 DEX and the racial traits.

Child of the Wood: 3 solid bonus spells that provide a nice utility boost to any class, even a Druid who will gain access to all of these spells but can use the extra prepared slots for more situational spells.

Timberwalk: Being harder to track and ignoring difficult terrain made of plants might be useful once or twice in an average campaign.

Mark of Healing

Ability Score Increase: +1 WIS is a nice boost for Druids, Monks, Rangers, or light armor Clerics that are picking the class up for the +2 DEX and the racial traits.

Medical Intuition: Due to the abundance of low-level healing magic and healing potions, medicine checks are very rare in D&D 5e.

Healing Touch: Cure Wound and Lesser Restoration are both spells that will reasonably cast every short rest. Clerics or healing based Druids may scoff at these paltry extra spell slots but classes with fewer spell slots or no access to healing magic may be interested.

Spells of the Mark: Most of the time, Spells of the Mark are great added utility and this case is no different. The list focuses mainly on healing spells, so this would be a solid pick for a non-healer Druid that wants to help support their party a bit more.

  • 1st level
    • Cure Wounds: Healing is important so pick it up if you think you’ll need it.
    • Healing Word: Great option even if you have a dedicated healer as it can be useful for resetting death saving throws from a distance and only requires a bonus action.
  • 2nd level
    • Lesser Restoration: Diseases and conditions do come up from time to time, so you’ll be happy to have this when they do.
    • Prayer of Healing: Up to 12d8 + (your spellcasting modifier * 6) is insanely good healing for a 2nd-level spell slot. Unfortunately, the 10 minute casting time makes it impossible to use in combat and each creature only gets 2d8 + spellcasting modifier. If your party needs a boost of healing and doesn’t have time for a short rest, this can be effective.
  • 3rd level
    • Aura of Vitality: The healing takes set up and isn’t that impressive considering this requires concentration.
    • Mass Healing Word: Like regular healing word this is used as a bonus action. This, combined with its low healing potential, means its primary use is also to revive downed teammates, but having multiple downed allies at once is quite rare.
  • 4th level
    • Aura of Vitality: The healing takes set up and isn’t that impressive considering this requires concentration.
    • Aura of Life: Protection from hit point maximum reduction is very situational, although resistance to necrotic damage is handy when facing the undead. Bringing up all downed allies within the radius at the start of their turn sounds useful, but you will need to maintain your concentration until then for this to have an effect.
  • 5th level
    • Greater Restoration: Great spell to have that can get you or party members out of very tricky situations.

Mark of Hospitality

Ability Score Increase: +1 CHA makes this a reasonable choice for CHA based casters, especially if they will be using the +2 DEX for more than light armor.

Ever Hospitable: I love the flavor of adding a d4 to Persuasion checks that involve brewing or cooking supplies. This could be a great foundational piece of RP for a character while remaining useful enough to use through most of the campaign.

Innkeeper’s Magic: Nice bit of extra flavor, but none of these spells will come up a whole lot (unless you actually intend to run an Inn).

Spells of the Mark: These spells, much like the Innkeeper’s Magic spells focus on flavor over substance. That said, 9 new spells added to your spell list isn’t anything to turn your nose up at. 

  • 1st level
    • Goodberry: Not particularly useful in combat but if you make goodberries at the end of each day you will have a solid pool of healing to pull from. This spell also have the con—or pro, depending on how you look at it—of completely trivializing the need to find food while navigating the wilderness as long as you an in an environment with berries, or remember to prepare ahead.
    • Sleep: Sleep is a very good 1st level spell slot. It can easily end encounters at lower levels. By the time you reach 5th-level  it will be pretty useless unless you want a semi-consistent way of none lethal damage.
  • 2nd level
    • Aid: Proactive healing rather than reactive healing and at a higher, guaranteed rate than Cure Wounds. 5 hit points can make a huge difference in keeping the party alive, and the spell doesn’t require concentration. Can be cast at higher levels.
    • Calm Emotions: The fact that this spell has two different use cases makes it decent, even if those events may not come up too often. Enemies often have effects that charm or frighten in an area of effect, so being able to suppress those effects also in an area of your choosing could save your whole party. When used on enemies, you can make them non-hostile for a whole minute, giving you enough time to escape. The main issue with this spell is the concentration and the relatively small radius.
  • 3rd level
    • Create Food and Water: Pretty much only useful for survival scenarios in which you aren’t able to cast goodberry for whatever reason.
    • Leomund ’s Tiny Hut: This spell is both better than it looks at first glance and worse than it looks on a second glance. Being able to long rest uninterrupted or use it as cover anywhere you want is really useful. However, if you abuse it your DM will make you pay, like setting up an ambush just outside the dome. Even still, this spell is a fan favorite
  • 4th level
    • Aura of Purity: You won’t use this all the time, but if you face a lot of enemies that can inflict negative status conditions this is great.
    • Mordenkainen’s Private Sanctum: If you’re resting in a hostile area or are being tracked by enemies capable of using divination magic to track you, this could be a worthwhile spell to cast. At 4th-level, it’s certainly resource-intensive but sometimes a peaceful night’s sleep is worth it.
  • 5th level
    • Hallow: More of a DM spell than a player spell. It has an extremely long casting time and no particularly potent effects.

Stout

Ability Score Increase: +1 CON is a decent bonus. Every class needs a bit of CON, so picking it up as part of your race will allow you to buff your core ability modifiers more when point buying.

Stout Resilience: Advantage on saving throws against poison and resistance to poison will certainly come up during a game a couple of times.

Which 5e Classes Work With Halflings?

Artificer: Nothing here for an Artificer.

Barbarian: The +2 to DEX and +1 to CON provided by the Stout Halfling may make enough of a case to use it for a Barbarian build. Lucky doesn't hurt either.

Bard: +1 to CHA and +2 to DEX is an attractive array for Bards. The rest of the racial abilities, whether you choose MoH or Lightfoot are icing on the cake.

Cleric: +2 DEX and +1 WIS is a solid start for light armor Clerics.

Druid: +2 DEX and +1 WIS is a solid start for Druids.

Fighter: +2 DEX and +1 CON, is a great start for a DEX based Fighter build. Lucky is particularly helpful because of all the attack rolls you will be making.

Monk: +2 DEX and +1 WIS is the ideal starting array for Monks. Lucky will help you as much as Fighters because of all the melee attacks you'll be making and Halfling Nimbless will allow you to move freely around the battlefield.

Paladin: Paladins really want to be focusing more on STR, CON, and CHA more than the Halflings ASIs provide.

Ranger: +2 DEX and +1 WIS is the ideal starting array for Rangers. Lucky will help you with your attacks and you can ride your beast master companion into battle as long as it's a medium creature or larger.

Rogue: +2 DEX is exactly what Rogues are looking for. Halfling nimbleness will help you move around the battlefield and Lucky will help make sure you don't crit fail on your Sneak Attacks. +2 DEX and +1 WIS is the ideal starting array for Monks. Lucky will help you as much as Fighters because of all the melee attacks you'll be making.

Sorcerer: Only a +1 to CHA will make Halflings a tough choice for Sorcerers.

Warlock: Only a +1 to CHA will make Halflings a tough choice for Warlocks.

Wizard: No INT for Wizards.

Sources Used in This Guide

Mike Bernier

Mike Bernier is the lead content writer and founder of Arcane Eye. Outside of writing for Arcane Eye, Mike spends most of his time playing games, hiking with his girlfriend, and tending the veritable jungle of houseplants that have invaded his house. He is the author of Escape from Mt. Balefor and The Heroes of Karatheon. Mike specializes in character creation guides for players, homebrewed mechanics and tips for DMs, and one-shots with unique settings and scenarios. Follow Mike on Twitter.

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