Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The GURPS hobbit

I wonder if there are apple pies East of the Misty


The hobbit needs no introduction. It is a mysterious Middle-Earth creature, and an interesting kind of folk to roleplay. There used to be three kinds of hobbits: the stoors, the harfoot and the fallohide. Today, they are all known as Shire-folk or Bree-folk, although each hobbit has to select one of three sets of character traits which relates to these distant ancestries.

Hobbits are fond of food and drink [-1], they have an knack with anything that grows (Talent (green thumb) [5]). They are small, slightly over 1 yd in height (SM-1 [0]), but tend to be overweight [-1] and unfit [-5], although they are really encouraged to buy back unfit with the first few characters points gained in adventuring. They can move silently, and almost melt in the dark when still (Silence 4 [20]). Hobbits are very resilient to trauma (hard to kill 3 [6]). They are particularly resistant to magic (Magic resistance 4 [8]), and are in fact denying the existence of anything supernatural such as dragons, magic and mysticism (Mundane Background [-10]).  In the 4th age, all hobbits have are respected (Reputation 2 [2]) because of the work done by the four hobbits involved in defeating Sauron. Although hobbits revere elves (Like, elves [1]), they are otherwise somewhat suspicious of foreigner and outsiders (Dislike-level xenophobia [-1]).

All hobbits have the following attributes: ST-4 [-40], HT+1[10], HP+4 [8].  There are three archetype of hobbits, and each hobbit must belong to one of them:

  • The Fallohide descent [15] : IQ+1 [20], curious [-5]
  • The Stoor descent [4] : ST+1 [10], stubborn [-1], Pacifist (self-defense only) [-5]
  • The Harfoot descent [4]: HT+1 [10], chummy [-5], Shire-bound (Dislike traveling) [-1]

Skill Profiles

Here are some suggestion to help create a baseline hobbit at different stage of life. These are guidelines, not rules.
  • Early Childhood (0-12) : writing [1], History (Shire) [4], Area Knowledge (Shire) [2], Naturalist [1],  Hiking [1], 
  • Apprenticeship years (12-20) : Carousing [2], Singing [2], Area Knowledge (Shire) [4], History (Shire) [4], some level on a profession of some kind.
  • Professional progression (20-80) : Most hobbits reach the expert level 14-15 by the 30th year. 
    • Interesting professions
      • Bounder: Stealth, Hiking, Observation, Tracking, Survival (woodand), Area Knowledge (Shire), Area knowledge (Arnor), bow, staff.
      • Sheriff: Law, interrogation, adminstration
      • Craftman: Professional Skill, merchant, teamster, Animal handling
      • Farmer: Farming, Animal handling, naturalist, quaint trades
      • Apothecary: Hiking, Naturalist, Herb Lore, merchant

Why are they awesome

Hobbits have emerged from being unknown to the world to celebrities. When a hobbit is seen in the kingdoms of men, they are often well received.  The relation of each hobbit traveler to any of the the four great hobbits has to be established. They merely need to start signing and carousing, and they can get pretty much anywhere with it.

This version of the GURPS hobbit is particularly slippery. They are predisposed to be stealthy (Silence 4 means +4 to be silent while immobile, +2 while moving), they resist magic very strongly and will survive trauma that would otherwise leave other race characters for dead. Their ST is very low, and that makes them a marginal threat as melee fighters, or even as marksmen with muscle powered weapons. Many hobbits will avoid initiating combats. This mix gives a unique fantasy roleplay opportunity to be one of them small folk, and see how far that they can go... and far they can.

If a hobbit takes on the quaterstaff, decrease the reach to C,1 instead of 1,2, downgrade damage to SW+1 and ST to 6.


Thanks to +Jason Packer, +Jason Woollard  and jeffro for their input.


  1. This is very good. A very concise demonstration of the utility of the GURPS system, too.

    1. Thanks, I love modeling templates and monsters. I'll be revealing then as my players encounter them.

  2. I wonder if you'd intended to make them as fragile as you did. While they have a shot at higher ST or HT based on subtype, the core Hobbit has just four HP - somewhat at odds with their legendary resilience.

    1. You are completely right, thanks for pointing it out!

      I first assumed that a PC or worthy NPC would just buy the missing HP above and beyond the template. I changed it to make all hobbits a bit more resistant to wounds. My goal is to make them in the 14-15 range so that they match Irina and Finbert. As I wrote, I was thinking of size and assumed that the hard to kill would be good enough. This is a case where HP needs to be disconnected to "mass of flesh" to model properly. The only oddity with high HP is that if a hobbit slams into a less resilient, normal human, his HP will make him cause MORE damage since the damage for slams is based on HP*velocity/100. This, I find weird.

    2. I'd not properly considered the implications of slam attacks. I think that others have handled this situation by way of ablative DR to mimic hit points (they're points of damage that you take that "heal up" but without the implication of greater mass.

      They can skew things a bit more for a low HP, high ablative DR character, as you have to get them down to 1 HP (if they only have 4, for example) to be below HP/3 and start to see any impact to their ability to function, however.

    3. I considered the notional DR approach. I have a hard time with the concept of HP. The DR approach means that it takes heavier blows to actually hurt the hobbit, the higher HP implies that they can bruise more before it is a problem.

      With 5 HP, DR 3, the major wound threshold is 1HP+3DR= 4HP , with 15HP, DR0, the major wound is 5HP. Both options means that the hobbit can stand 3-4 wounds before he gets woozy. It is almost the same except that the DR option has HP levels more in line with the size of the critter.

      I based my resilience on, say, when Frodo was hit by the cave Troll in the Fellowship, and left for dead. This is the advantage "Hard to kill" exactly as written: Frodo was left for dead but he wasn't. It's not like we should expect him to brush such a blow and keep on going. Maybe, making the hobbit a bit more hardy (HT), and/or upgrading hard to kill to 3 or 4 could do.

    4. HT +2
      Hard To Kill +3
      Keep ST -4

      And... woah... HP +10? From +1 to +3 hit points would be fine for them.

      I think lower-than-average hit points combined with faster-than-average recovery times would be cool. Not sure the advantage for that.

      Another bit: many hobbits are unfit, but become fit after an adventure or two.

      Also... need a racial perk for ranged weapons... especially rocks.

      A halfling archer should be feared. Not a lot of damage, but they can call their shots...!

    5. I toned down to HP+4, which brings the core hobbit to 10, and cranked HT+1 for the core, brought to HT+2 for the Harfoot. To counter-balance this, I stole your unfit idea and slapped it as a new disadvantage: something to buy back ASAP.

      I think that I'm going to stay away from the race perk on ranged shooting. Core hobbits are gourmands and grower, not much of a hunting breed. However, this can be bought easily by PCs, and indeed is the most sound strategy as far as combat goes.

      The two hobbits in the campaign are shot callers. The vitals or nothing when you do 1-2 HP of damage. One of them uses a home-brewed poison that causes a pain affliction when it hits: another rather effective coping mechanism.

  3. what about the Hobbits natural stealth? Should they have a level or two of Silence?

    1. Ha! The biggest advantage for my players and I manage to forget to put it down. Just fixed this. Thanks!

      I set it to Silence 4, which was in the GCS halfling template. I thought that it was a lot, but it turns out that +2 while moving in the darks seems resonable in play.

    2. by the way, this is +Jason Woollard from G+

    3. I was not completely positive about that. Fixed!