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As far as I can remember, and have been able to research, no Shadowrun setting has a halfling equivalent.

The pseudo-prequel setting earthdawn is also missing this equivalent.

Has this always been the case? If there's no reference in a rules or lorebook/novel, did shadowrun game developer ever state why? I don't think their blog goes back far enough.

There is what seems to be an unofficial halfling on the fandom page, but it explicitly doesn't have a canon source.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't have the book handy for a full answer, but I believe gnomes appear as a dwarf subtype in the Companion. Would you consider that a rough halfling equivalent? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 27, 2022 at 22:35

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As per James Risner's answer, there are no halflings in Shadowrun.

However...

The Gnome metavariant comes pretty close:

Gnomes are distinguished from other dwarfs by little body hair (no beards and pubic hair) and small, childlike physiques (heights range from 70 cm to 100 cm, with body mass typically two thirds of a common dwarf ’s).

[...]

[G]nomes are highly sociable[.]

[...]

Their resistance to magic and their inconspicuous stature (often mistaken as children)[.]

A positive outlook, shorter and slimmer than "regular" dwarves, no beards and commonly mistaken as children, along with a highly social nature and resistance to magic (for instance, magical rings...) kind of spell out "hobbit" "halfling" to me.

There is some more traditionally gnome-ish technological affinity thrown in, but they are rather stouter than the typically quite wispy fantasy gnome. I'd say they fit the concept of halfling quite well, to the point that in my Shadowrun campaigns, some gnomes call themselves "hobbits".

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    \$\begingroup\$ This doesn't really answer the question per se... \$\endgroup\$ Dec 28, 2022 at 16:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AncientSwordRage It answers whether ShadowRun had a halfling equivalent (yes, it did) \$\endgroup\$ Dec 29, 2022 at 8:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's not true as it relies on another answer. The Gnome tangent isn't really needed though, and without it there's not much here \$\endgroup\$ Dec 29, 2022 at 8:28
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Has this always been the case?

Yes, see my research below.

Did shadowrun game developer ever state why?

This one is far more difficult to prove. Play groups, at least my groups, were more willing to play different games. So I played D&D, Shadowrun and others I can't remember in the late 80's and early 90's. Short of me writing letters to FASA asking for a halfling or other changes to their books, there wouldn't be much pressure to introduce one. I think they also may have had the desire to keep the count small or differentiate themselves from D&D more.

I played the 1st edition heavily, and I've played off and on over the years. I own the 1st thru 4th edition and the 6th edition as listed on Wikipedia. In scanning all the books I own and downloading the quick-start guide for 5th edition I have produced a table of the meta types available for each edition:

Book Page number
1st edition Metahumanity starts on page 24
2nd edition Metahumanity starts on page 34
3rd edition Metahumanity starts on page 46
4th edition Metahumanity starts on page 71
4th - 20th anniversary edition Metahumanity starts on page 71
5th Edition Quick Start Rules Metatype starts on page 3
6th Edition Metatype starts on page 53

Most have also have a reference to dwarves that include "half":

halfer (also stuntie, squat)—n. vulg. derogatory term for dwarf

I don't own and thus couldn't check all the books listed here.

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#HalflingsArentReal

You might or might not know that back in the day D&D had just straight up hobbits, in addition to ents and balrogs. The actual copyright and legal ownership of the whole Lord of the Rings body of work was kind of in flux back in 1960s-70s America, but that would change:

The problems probably started with those three Middle-earth wargames that TSR began selling in 1975. By the next year they'd acquired rights to at least Battle of the Five Armies. As a result, they reprinted it themselves, first in a bagged edition (1976) then in a box (1977).

Meanwhile, Saul Zaentz had purchased the non-literary rights to J.R.R. Tolkien's works, which he would use to produce Ralph Bakshi's animated Lord of the Rings (1978). It was Zaentz - through his Elan Merchandising division - that delivered a cease & desist letter to TSR late in 1977 for their use of material copyrighted by Tolkien.

-- "The Tolkien Connection", Designers & Dragons Vol 1, S.A. Appelcline

Those rights would corporately migrate to another Zaentz-owned entity named Tolkien Enterprises in the 1980s, which gives rise to the common misconception that "the Tolkien estate" was the legal entity that sued TSR over this. Among the demands in that letter was that a whole raft of LOTR-related words get peeled out of D&D. You know, like "elf", and "dwarf", and "dragon".

Well, if you're even remotely familiar with European mythology and folklore, there was prior art for quite a few of those things, and only a few of them actually stuck. Ents became treants, balrogs became balors, and hobbits became halflings.

For our purposes, the relevant part of this history lesson is that Tolkien made hobbits up. The actual word maybe not so much -- there's some evidence of it as a folk name for hole-dwelling spirits in some ethnographer's folkloric miscellany, but no surviving stories -- but the entire concept as they existed in the Lord of the Rings were his invention. You can see some of their ideas in folktales of gnomes and other folk spirits of hearths and burrows, but the synthesis was Tolkien's own, and credit to the man for making it seem as though they belonged in a mythological world right beside elves and dwarves and dragons. This is important to their non-existence in Shadowrun in a couple of ways.

The first completely real-world way is that nobody wants to throw hands with well-paid lawyers. I don't have a statement from the original devs that they didn't want to get sued by what would have been Tolkien Enterprises at time of development, but their presence and legal history with the hobby was absolutely a known factor.

The second in-fiction way is that, well, halflings aren't "real", in the sense of being creatures of folklore and mythology the way elfs and dwarfs and dragons are, and the entire premise of Shadowrun and Earthdawn is that both of those games bracket the Fifth World, the modern world as we know it. The world goes through cycles of magic, waxing and waning, and when its magic was strong elfs and dwarfs and dragons were real, and far more terrible things than them were real too, but when its magic waned their children (elf and dwarf children at least) were born as normal humans, with the actual magical history of the world completely lost and only surviving as folklore and mythology.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I about edited that title until I realised I should have read the # as hashtag.... \$\endgroup\$ Dec 28, 2022 at 16:44

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