Alewelian Gnomes

Gnomes are a little like humans – but they draw their magical strengths from the great tides of the elements, seasons, and planes rather than from anything so simple as local magical nexi. While they are far less variegated than humans, they are still more flexible – if perhaps a bit less powerful – than the other major races. Driven by their endless wanderlust, the Gnomes are the great travelers of the Empire, the traders and merchants who carry materials, new ideas, and resources between communities and even between discs, as well as being engineers and skilled craftsmen. Unlike most of the other races, however, they lack any great narrative of how they – and they alone – preserved civilization. The gnomes of Alewelia simply attribute their survival and prosperity to fast vehicles and knowing when to run. Even the most deadly army is of little import if they cannot catch you.

Most major settlements have a gnomish caravansary attached – but unlike most settlements the gnomes come and go as their small caravans, trading fleets, or flights of airships, arrive, linger for a time, and then depart. Each such group tends to be centered on an Orrery Engine, which empowers and defines their clans, drives their vessels, and links their far-flung communities together. The gnomes are not the fastest of traders, have an tendency to stop along the way for opportunistic trading or resource harvesting, and their routes tend to meander – but they almost always get there eventually.

The most common elemental affinities for the Gnomes include:

● Gnomes of the Wastes – Sand, Dust, Mud, Earth, Stone, Bone, Chitin, Insects, Reptiles, and Metal
● Gnomes of the Seas – Ice, Water, Mud, Seaweed. Shell, Wood, Monsters, Animals, and Astrology.
● Gnomes Of The Sky – Wind, Dust, Clouds, Stars, Sonics, Clockwork, Birds, Engines, and Gravity.

Racial Template: Gnome (31 CP / +0 ECL)

● Innate Enchantment: Elemental Affinity (Up to 11500 GP, 12 CP)

● Elemental Endurance: Resist Energy (10 Points): SL1 x CL1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.5, only versus a single energy type set by elemental affinity x.7 Personal Only x.8 Abundant Magic = 560 GP.
● Elemental Vigor: +2 Con (Enhance Attribute, SL1 x CL1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.7 personal-only x.8 Abundant Magic = 1120 GP.
● Elemental Shield (as appropriate to their elemental affinity); Force Shield I, SL1 x CL1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.7 personal-only x.8 Abundant Magic = 1120 GP.
● Elemental Armor (as appropriate to their elemental affinity); Mage Armor, SL1 x CL1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.7 personal-only x.8 Abundant Magic = 1120 GP.
● Forge of Will (Creates a piece of standard equipment weighing up to 10 lb made of the appropriate elemental material, such items last up to 10 minutes/level, but fall apart in anyone else’s hands, SL1 x CL1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.8 Abundant Magic = 1600 GP.
● Gaze Invictus: User does not suffer any penalties for elementally appropriate environmental conditions. Thus Wasteland Gnomes are unaffected by bright light, heat haze, and dry eyes. Sea Gnomes are unaffected by rain, fog, or being underwater. Sky Gnomes are unaffected by wind, dust, and mirages. SL 1/2 x CL1 x2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.7 Personal Only x.8 Abundant Magic = 560 GP.
● Gnome: Reduce Person; Size Small. +2 size bonus to Dex, a -2 size penalty to Str, +4 to Hide, +1 to attack and AC. SL1 x CL1 x2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.8 Abundant Magic x.7 Personal Only = 1120 GP. Well, they’re small. What else is there to say?
● Hardened Traveler: Resistance (+1to Saves, SL 1/2 x CL1 x2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.7 Personal Only x.8 Abundant Magic = 560 GP.
● Locate Elemental Resources (L0, Can detect nearby sources of drinkable water, or stone and ores, or pure air, etc. SL1/2 x CL1 x2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.8 Abundant Magic = 800 GP.
● Occult Knacks: Gnomes gain their choice of seven innate Charms and three innate Talismans (145 GP x.8 Abundant Magic = 116 GP) plus Empowerment (Take 1 Con Damage to power one of them up for 1d4 hours/the usual number of uses) 1/Day (Empowerment, SL1 x CL1 x2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.7 Personal Only x.8 Abundant Magic x.2 Once Per Day = 224 GP). Most gnomes will eventually take Shaping (the Empowering Charms and Talismans form) or some similar force to empower their knacks permanently.
● Of Ancient Lands: Embrace The Wild (Low-Light Vision, Scent, +2 to Spot and Listen. SL1 x CL1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use Activated x.8 Abundant Magic x.8 no Blindsense Option x.8 = 1280 GP)
● Orrery Engine Contribution; Every gnome can contribute just a bit towards the cost of an Orrery Engine (250 GP x.8 Abundant Magic = 200 GP)
● The Traveling Arts: Enhance Skill Group +3 (Craft (Varies with Elemental Affinity), Negotiation, Speak Language, and Survival), SL 1 x CL1 x2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.7 Personal Only x.8 Abundant Magic = 1120 GP.

● The Inward Fire: Immunity / Stacking limits when combining racial innate enchantment effects with external effects (Common, Minor, Trivial (only covers L0 and L1 effects), Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Mage Armor/Force Shield effects are only worth +2 each when stacked with external armor/shields, 1 CP). (As with the other Alewelian races, this is a natural-law immunity – and, like most such, has an impact on the game far beyond it’s point cost. As usual, this should stay a “GM only” sort of thing, even if it is kind of required to make them competitive with those “build your own tailored race” humans.
● Immunity/Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Minor, Great, Specialized and Corrupted/only protects racial innate enchantments that provide personal augmentations, 4 CP).
● Immunity/the normal XP cost of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial [only covers first level effects at caster level one], Specialized/only to cover initial racial abilities, 1 CP).
● Adept (the Traveling Arts Skills) (6 CP). All gnomes may purchase Negotiation, Speak Language, Survival, and a Craft skill related to their elemental affinity, for half cost.
● Fast Learner, Specialized in Buying Larger Hit Dice (d6 Base, 6 CP).
● Orrery Link: Mystic Link with Power Link and Transferable, Specialized for Reduced Cost / Only to link to Orrery Engines, does not give any sense of where the target Orrery Engine currently is, Orrery Engine must accept the users desire to link to it, Link must be established through ritual and remaining near the Engine for at least a week, Link may be cut by the Engine if it is directed to do so (6 CP).
● It’s important to note that Gnomes do not AUTOMATICALLY start off with a high-powered Orrery Engine link. They need to be a member of a community to get one at all, and most of them are fairly minor and oriented more towards trade than towards adventuring.
● Blessing, Double Specialized: Only usable upon death, only to transfer a portion of their investment in an Orrery Engine to it permanently (1 CP). Every gnome who dies while attuned to an Orrery Engine passes on a bit of their power to it permanently. While this is not a tremendous boost, over the centuries an Orrery Engine will eventually gather awesome power.
● Privilege: Alone among the known races of Alewelia, Gnomes have access to the magic of Heartstones – locally known as Orrery Engines (3 CP). This could also be considered a highly specialized natural law immunity, although – since it is externally directed – writing it that way would require far too much complicated wording to bother with.
● -2 Str (-6 CP). Like it or not, gnomes are really pretty tiny.
● Racial Disadvantage: Gnomes are compulsive nomads, and find it impossible to settle down in one location (-3 CP).

The great Orrery Engines of the Gnomes, forged of alchemical metals bound to the forces of the seasons, the elemental tides, the wandering discs, the nearby planes, and the planets, do not merely display the movements and relationships of those things. Instead they are driven by their motions and act as channels for their might, tapping into a well of raw cosmic power beyond the dreams of non-gnomes – channeling that power to those linked to them and, as a minor aspect, driving mighty gears to produce power to drive lesser engines.

● On a more-or-less mundane level access to an Orrery Engine provides a +4 Circumstance Bonus on relevant skill checks – most often Knowledge Geography, Knowledge The Planes, and Survival checks made for long range (or interstellar/planar) navigation (+3000 GP).
● More importantly, Orrery Engines function as Heartstones – the only known functional examples of that field of magic on the disc (See The Practical Enchanter).
● As an unusual Flourish (as per The Practical Enchanter) an Orrery Engine provides roughly (200 x Spirit Rank) horsepower to drive lesser machines with, transmitting that power to attuned alchemically-treated gears nearby.

Gnomish Terrain Magic Cultural Package Deal:

Whether a master of the desert sands, a binder of the forests, or a manipulator of the waters, Gnomes with this package have enhanced their natural affinity for some element of the world so as to allow them to manipulate that element – although their strength is limited.

● Shaping, Specialized in Terrain Related Magic, Corrupted / Requires pinches of alchemical catalysts (2 CP)
● 2d6 Mana with Spell Enhancement, Specialized and Corrupted / only for spell enhancement of shaping effects, only for Terrain Magic, does not naturally recharge, requires external focus of alchemical catalysts (4 CP)
● Rite of Chi with +2 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted ; only to recharge terrain magic pool above, requires spending one hour per die with an alchemical setup preparing the catalysts, (3 CP)
● Specific Knowledge / (Relevant) Terrain Magic (1 CP)
● Favors / (Terrain) Spirits (Specialized/only usable in that terrain 1 CP)
● Travel (Terrain), Specialized / requires 2 Terrain Magic Mana to activate for a day (1 CP). (Add Mount? +3 CP)

Gnomish Wanderer Cultural Package Deal:

Asking where gnomish groups get their vehicles is an exercise in frustration. Every gnomish group has at least a few people who can assemble and maintain a ship, zeppelin, or caravan.

● Gnomish Mobile Home: Companion with the Vehicle Template, Specialized for Half Cost / needs quite a lot of maintenance and time, needs supplemental power from an Orrery Engine to attain more than one-half speed, speed is halved again when multiple units are linked (6 CP).
● Skill Specialties: Craft Machines (Vehicles) +3, Use Device (Piloting) +3, and Survival (Navigation) +3 (3 CP).
● Touch of Repair: Repair Damage (As per CLW, but for items and constructs) 2/Day (Inherent Spell, Specialized for reduced cost (normally two L1 spells 2/Day each, 3 CP).

Gnomish Knack Expert Cultural Package Deal:

Gnomish Knacks don’t offer a lot of power, but they can be quite convenient – and quite a few gnomes believe that their knacks are true expressions of their selves, and that using them as a guide to what you are meant to be will lead to happiness. Oddly enough, a gnome who learns to fully use their knacks will very commonly learn to take various other forms as well. No one knows why.

● Shaping (Use of Charms and Talismans variant, 6 CP). While this only powers the users usual Knacks, it completely eliminates the problems normally associated with activating them.
● Shapeshift (6 CP).

Gnomish Astrologer Cultural Package Deal:

When your entire culture revolves around constant travel through a dangerous and ever-changing world the ability to find safe paths, get hints about the future, and analyze unknown items is always vital.

● Witchcraft II with Elfshot, Healing, and Witchfire, all Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect – equivalent to Bestow Curse, Triple Effect Healing, and allowing the manipulation of materials and the creation of Charms and Talismans by drawing astrological symbols on things. Unfortunately, this requires considerable time – at least half an hour – to get ready, although an astrologer can prepare up to three such effects in advance in the form of symbols drawn on some medium (most often paper).
● Duties Pact: Gnomish astrologers must provide warnings, speak of destiny, and otherwise pass on the messages they see in the stars, (-6 CP).
● The Sight and Divination, both Specialized for Reduced Cost / ritual only, involving creating horoscopes, peering at the stars, and interpreting various omens (6 CP).

Gnomish RuneFarmer Cultural Package Deal:

Alewelian “farming” (or “RuneFarming”) involves creating a “blank” item (preferably with as many appropriate affinities as possible), taking it to a place where the appropriate wyld energies are strong, surrounding it with the appropriate formula of focusing runes and diagrams for what you want to produce (most often engraving them on the outside of a box and burying it to keep them from being disturbed), and waiting. If you’ve done it right, and nothing goes wrong, in a few years you can come back and dig up a completed magical item. Of course, something very often goes wrong and the wyld is perilous (and gets more so as its energies get stronger – which is what you want for stronger items) so this can get pretty dangerous.

Gnomish RuneFarmers tend to simply pick out deep wyld areas along their regular routes, and bury the items there, intending to dig them up during a later pass. Simple enough, if even more dangerous than farming lesser items at the fringes of the Wyld.

● Occult Sense (Wyld Energies): Can pick up on wyld farms and items and shifts or potential shifts in the area. Provides a +3 Insight Bonus on related skill checks, including all those involved in Runefarming, Specialized/Requires deep meditation (3 CP).
● Skill Emphasis (Profession: Runefarming) (3 CP).
● Specific Knowledges: Magical Affinities and Correspondences (1 CP), Runic Formulas (A selection, 2 CP).
● Skill Emphasis (Whatever craft skill the user favors for making “blanks”) (3 CP).

Notes from the Imperial Academy Of Science And Magic

The scholars find the Gnomes a bit of a mystery. According to various sources there have been several times when they vanished from history entirely or have even been thought extinct, simply to re-appear later, as numerous as ever. While most historians assume that this indicates nothing more than their usual retreat-and-get-out-of-the-way strategy combined with a decent hiding place, some find that an unsatisfactory explanation for such a complete disappearance – preferring to believe that the Gnomes left the disc entirely, whether for other discs or other realms – and only returned when Alewelia was once more stable and prosperous enough to welcome merchants and support large-scale trade.

The rumor that gnomish vehicles are essentially arcane extensions of their masters, and that they and their crew and cargo can thus be simply carried along if their master teleports or plane shifts would tend to support such an idea (and is generally regarded as being less far-fetched then some of them being able to construct star-traveling ships), but scholarly inquires on the topic generally result in fanciful answers, a statement of not knowing, or changing the topic.

Alewelian Halflings:

In the hills and valleys about the great cities and their crowds lie the Hundred Shires, the many domains of the Halflings. Here bright wooden doors open into comfortable homes tunneled from the earth and stone of those hills, colorful, snug, and each a shelter fit to endure a cataclysm. War may sweep over the land, but the Shires hold.

The Halflings do feel that the elves do a pretty good job at maintaining the fancy parts of civilization, but are well aware that – in times of disrupted magic, wyld attacks, and disc-wide destruction – it is their tightly-knit and well-fortified communities that hold the land and allow civilization to survive. For what use is a soaring tower or a mystical library without a populace to use it? And when an elven city falls… it is overrun. When a Halfling outpost falls, every household beyond it is an armored bunker, well-armed, strongly held, with every door an adamantine barrier, supplied for years, and with endless options for retreat through the depths. A Halfling Shire endures.

In a lot of ways the Halflings are the “country gentry” of the disc; they don’t have to do all that much work to live very comfortably indeed. Their base abilities make them almost universally competent (even if it does tend to be more enthusiasm than practice). Their furniture is comfortable, their food excellent, their beds masterpieces of comfort, and their health good. It is often very hard for them to leave behind all the comforts of home when they do go adventuring- but even there, their enthusiasm allows them to perform much better than you might expect, even in a more experienced company.

Halfling Racial Template (31 CP/+0 ECL):

● Longevity: Immunity to Aging (Uncommon, Major, Trivial, 1 CP). Halflings tend to live a bit longer than humans – but not excessively so. This effect is, however, greatly enhanced by their Natural Health power. Halflings – resistant to disease, and toxins, rapidly healing injuries, and with greatly reduced trouble with arthritis and the other minor disabilities of age – will usually remain spry well into their second century.
● Adept (6 CP). Each Halfling has four skills with which they have a natural affinity, being able to purchase them at half cost.
● Strength In Community: Sanctum, Specialized for Increased Effect / a Halflings sanctum is always their community, where their families and friends are. There they gain +48 CP worth of abilities, albeit always things that can be used for the defense or benefit of their community (6 CP). A Halfling Shire is populated by the kind of experts that it may take a decade or more of intensive dedicated training to produce in a human population – with most humans dropping out before getting that far. Halflings in their Shire are not quite at the level of the Empire’s Minor Nobility, but they are certainly at the level of military specialists, expert crafters, and competent basic spellcasters.

● Community Leaders either add a double set of Occult Wards or a set of Guardians to the Sanctum – but this is also Corrupted for Reduced Cost (2 CP) / it only comes into play at levels 6+.

● The Yeoman’s Blessing: Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Cantrip level instantaneous transmutation effects that automatically compliment each other) / only to upgrade their equipment and domiciles, no conscious control, only takes effect over time, effect gradually fades if the item or domicile is left to itself, everyone else knows this, so only immediate consumables can be sold for much of a profit (6 CP)

1. Food and Drink prepared by a Halfling is always perfectly prepared and really, REALLY, tasty. It even keeps well!
2. Their homes gradually gain the useful benefits of being adamantine and their walls, doors, and windows cast shadows into the astral and ethereal planes, thus blocking (or at least greatly hindering) non-corporeal creatures, teleportation, and summoning within them.
3. Their personal equipment gains the useful properties of adamantine, including being treated as masterwork where relevant (it helps with most gear, but not with things like books), being tougher, penetrating some types of DR, and granting a bit of physical DR.
4. A long-term Halfling community will become increasingly convenient and comfortable. Those resident there for at least a day / month / year / decade / century gain a +1 / +2 / +3 / +4 / +5 morale bonus to skill checks and will saves. Sadly, the benefits for non-halflings are reduced by one level and caravans (or other mobile homes) also reduce the benefit level by one.

While this ability is convenient for low-level adventurers, and if and when their homes come under attack, this is rarely a particularly vital benefit. For the inhabitants of a Shire, it makes every home a pillbox.

● Draught Of The Earthblood: Innate Enchantment: (Up to 8500 GP, 9 CP)

● Good Fortune: Resistance (+1 on each save, SL1/2 x CL1 x2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.8 Abundant Magic x.7 Personal Only = 560 GP. Halflings are surprisingly tough, enduring, and able to somehow get out of all kinds of trouble.
● Green Thumb: A Halfling can cause small patches of plants – including bonsai trees, potted plants, and hydroponic gardens – to grow, flower, and even bear, quickly and easily even in very poor conditions. Halflings never run short of tobacco, spices, strawberries, etcetera even if they must grow them in pots in the basement . SL1/2 (one but takes several minutes to use) x CL1 x2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.8 Abundant Magic = 800 GP.
● Halfling: Reduce Person (Size Small. +2 size bonus to Dex, a -2 size penalty to Str, +4 to Hide, +1 to attack and AC. SL1 x CL1 x2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.8 Abundant Magic x.7 Personal Only = 1120 GP. Well, they’re small. What else is there to say?
● Harvester: A Halfling can somehow harvest enough food for four people for a day from any small patch of suitable plants (Goodberry, SL1/2 (requires fifteen minutes) x CL1 x2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.8 Abundant Magic x.2 1/Day = 160 GP.
● Natural Health: Relieve Illness 1/Day, Relieve Poison 1/Day, Lesser Vigor 2/Day (Heals 9 Points), Relieve Infirmity 1/Day. SL1 x CL1 x2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.8 Abundant Magic x1 (five total uses of the various spells) x.7 Personal Only = 1120 GP.
● Personal Knacks: Every Halfling has some minor magical tricks that they can use occasionally – two first level spells and four cantrips, each usable once per day SL2 (x CL1 x2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.8 Abundant Magic x.2 Once per day = 1280 GP.
● Roots Of Oak: Immortal Vigor (+12 + 2 x Con Mod HP): SL1 x CL1 x2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.8 Abundant Magic x.7 Personal Only = 1120 GP.
● Touch Of The Fey: +2 Dex (Enhance Attribute (Dex) I, SL1 x CL1 x2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.8 Abundant Magic x.7 Personal Only = 1120 GP. Between small size, short nerve paths, and a genuine touch of fey blood, Halflings are remarkably fast.
● Unquenchable Spirit: Personal Heroism: +2 Morale Bonus on Attacks, Checks, Saves, and Skill Checks. SL1 x CL1 x2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.8 Abundant Magic x.7 User must remain upbeat, cheerful, and interested in personal comforts = 1120 GP. For a Halfling, life is pretty much always good – an effect that results in meeting the world with great enthusiasm.

● Mundane Equipment:(90 GP Total):

● Cold and Hot Weather Outfits with Poncho and Boots (17 GP). Halflings are very tolerant of bad weather and never need shoes.
● Cooking Kit (3 CP): Halflings can cook anywhere as if they had suitable masterwork tools.
● Cot and Nice Bedroll (2 GP): Halflings can sleep comfortably almost anywhere.
● Folding Chair and Table (5 CP): Halflings always seem to be able to find a comfortable place to sit and a good place to set a plate and glass.
● Gauntlets/Brass Knuckles/Light Maces (15 GP): Any pair of gloves a Halfling wears acts as if they were Adamantine and Masterwork weapons of any of the types listed. That still isn’t much in the way of a weapon, but a Halfling is never helpless.
● General Artisans Tools (15 GP). These – of course – count as Adamantine Masterwork Tools for all Craft Skills. Halflings can perform expert work with nothing but a handful of twigs and stones.
● Haramaki (Belly Padding, +1 Armor Bonus, DR 1/- since effectively adamantine, no armor penalties, 3 GP). A round belly isn’t worth much as armor, but it is better than nothing at all. .
● Sling (-). Halflings can throw rocks as if using a sling. Most will carry a handful of marbles which will work as adamantine bullets, granting a +1 masterwork bonus to hit.
● Thieves Tools (30 GP); Again, these count as Masterwork, even if a Halfling has nothing but a bent paperclip and a bit of dry straw.

● The Inward Fire: Immunity / Stacking limits when combining racial innate enchantment effects with external effects (Common, Minor, Trivial (only covers L0 and L1 effects), 2 CP). (As with the Elves, this is a natural-law immunity – and, like most such, has an impact on the game far beyond it’s point cost. As usual, this should stay a “GM only” sort of thing, even if it is kind of required to make them competitive with those “build your own tailored race” humans.
● Immunity/Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Minor, Great, Specialized and Corrupted/only protects innate enchantments that provide personal augmentations, only protects the basic racial abilities, 4 CP).
● Immunity/the normal XP cost of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial [only covers first level effects at caster level one], Specialized/only to cover initial racial abilities, 1 CP).

Racial Disadvantages:

● Compulsive: Halflings are extremely insular. They regard outsiders, and “big folk” with considerable suspicion, hold grudges for generations, and feud with other clans of halflings. They tend to be quite sure that only their tight-knit communities and superb fortifications have allowed civilization to survive a series of cataclysms (-3 CP).
● Obligations: Halflings are closely tied to their communities, and will always spend a great deal of time and effort defending and supporting them. No halfling child is ever without a home, no Shire is undefended, and no attack on a community member ever goes unanswered (-3 CP).

Halfling Cultural Package Deals: Select two from…

● Apprenticed: Two instances of Skill Emphasis (6 CP)
● Community Bonds: Contacts (3 CP worth, usually locals – but there are occasional exceptions) plus Favors from the Local Community (3 CP).
● Hedge Magic: 6 CP worth of magic from one of the Lesser Paths – https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/2019/02/12/eclipse-lesser-path-magics-part-i/
● Militia Training: Proficiency with Simple Weapons (3 CP) plus Legionary (Specialized / Only works with Other Halflings, 3 CP).
● Specialized Training: Professional (6 CP).
● Suspicious Nature: Awareness (6 CP). Halflings are hard to sneak up on.
● The Gossip Network: Halflings tend to be nosy, gossipy, and to have no sense of shame about other people’s business. As such, they tend to hear about all kinds of local details and tend to catch wind of major events even before they happen. Apparently gossip somehow spreads back in time. Deep Sleep, Specialized / only as a prerequisite (3 CP) and Cosmic Awareness, Specialized for reduced cost / cannot be voluntarily activated, only tracks local gossip and major events that will affect the local area (3 CP).

Alewelian Halflings pretty much take the prize as “generalist survivors”. They may not have the raw magical power of the Elves or the adaptability of humans, but they are almost impossible to extirpate from an area – rather resembling a bunch of humanoid badgers. For a people so reluctant to go adventuring, they are really pretty good at it.

Honey halfling don’t care.

And for some scholar’s opinions…

According to some historians “Halfling” is a bit more literal than a vaguely insulting way of saying “midgets”, with Halflings representing a stable cross between humans and “Lings”, an ancient (and apparently now-extinct) species of communally hive-minded humanoids with strong tribal tendencies. That heritage supposedly expresses itself subconsciously, providing basic skills in pretty much everything, passing information around through the more sensitive members of the community, creating a pool of psychic energy that enhances the entire community, and allowing the remnants of the Ling’s psionic abilities to express themselves in the ability to do without most tools and various minor knacks.

When it comes to their notions that it is only THEIR efforts that have held civilization together through the dark times… well, pretty much every species believes that. After all, each tends to spend a lot of effort holding on to the things they consider most important during a cataclysm – so it should be no surprise that halfling communities tend to dig in and endure. Holding on to a pocket of underground dwellings while monsters freely wander the surface may not be as great a contribution to the survival of civilization as they imagine though.

Halflings don’t adventure much – but they really are surprisingly good at it. They tend to be very skilled in their areas of interest, have numerous support abilities when working at home, their weapons are treated as adamantine, they don’t need most supplies or tools, and they have excellent racial bonuses (+4 Dex, +3 on Saves, +6 Hide, +4 to Crafts, Disable Device, and Open Locks, and +2 to all other skill and attribute checks, +3 to Attacks, +1 to AC, some resistance to poisons and disease, extra hit points, a bit of self-healing, a few minor spells, and DR 1 or more (depending on armor). Sure, they suffer a -2 penalty on their Strength – but that’s still an excellent base for a martial type, skill monkey, or skill-based caster.

Once again, there are hundreds or thousands of d20 races running about. Why yet another? Because the races of Alewelia nicely illustrate one of the core concepts of Eclipse: Setting Over Rules. The local races SHOULD be more powerful in the setting than generic races. That’s WHY they dominate the setting. They SHOULD be closely tied to it’s history and nature. And they should be attractive enough to make players want to try them out – hopefully as a bit more than a “human in a funny hat” or a playing piece.

The exact wording of the rules doesn’t matter; Eclipse expects (in fact it pretty much demands) that the GM make a lot of rulings about how various abilities work in his or her setting. It tells you right up front – on the bottom of page one – that the GM will be making a lot of rulings on how various abilities work in the setting.

And yes, as a happy side effect… this preemptively cuts off rules lawyers, the “rules as written!” crowd, and argumentative players since the ONLY valid argument with the decisions of the GM is “that does weird effects on the setting” followed up with some coherent reasoning as to why. It was something of a priority.

Even if the “I’m playing in character!” argument doesn’t get cut off until the tail end of page eight.