It turns out that halfling luck is a lot more cosmically powerful than most fantasy fans thought.
Halflings are one of the less developed races in fantasy games like Dungeons & Dragons. That's largely because J.R.R. Tolkien did such an amazing job crafting the diminutive and plucky humanoid race in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. When Dungeons & Dragons added halflings as a playable race, they largely stayed true to Tolkien's original depiction and didn't really make any big changes to halfling culture.
In Dungeons & Dragons and other fantasy games, halflings are known for their innate luck. In gameplay, this usually results in halfling players being able to re-roll bad dice rolls. However, the upcoming Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes supplement explains that halfling luck is actually one of the reasons why the race seems to avoid major conflicts and danger.
In a seven minute video posted by D&D Beyond, Mike Mearls, the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons' Fifth Edition and the franchise's creative director, explains how halflings are able to survive in a dangerous world despite being physically weak and not innately gifted at magic. "That luck seems to apply to [halfling] culture as a whole," Mearls notes.
In D&D lore, the goddess Yondalla granted the halfling race two abilities: the ability to hide and a sort of cosmic luck. Unconsciously, that luck seems to guide halfling culture by helping them to avoid or negate potential threats. In the video, Mearls notes that a rampaging orc horde might miss the paths leading to a halfling village, or that a human king might forget that halfling town exists when invading an area. While halfling luck isn't "bulletproof," Mearls notes that it does contribute to the peaceful life and the idyllic lifestyle most halflings seem to enjoy.
Halfling adventurers also seem to have a place in this endless cycle of halfling luck. Mearls notes that halflings often get the itch to travel as the result of the subtle machinations of their gods. When those halfling adventurers return home, they come back with stories, lessons, or even the occasional magic item that other halflings might use a generation or two later to protect their home from an unexpected threat.
As an example, Mearls mentions that a halfling might become a fighter and eventually return home with a Horn of Valhalla. "He might tell stories about his times fighting trolls and orcs, and these stories might be lighthearted and funny," Mearls says. "But they contain kernels of truth. So if a troll shows up on the halflings' doorstep, they'd remembered those stories."
For a bigger threat like a pack of goblin invaders, a halfling might blow on that Horn of Valhalla, which was left behind in a conspicuous public place like a tavern, to unleash a pack of berzerkers on the unexpecting goblins.
While the halflings might not know it at the time, their adventurers are just another way how halfling society seems to survive in a dangerous world. "When halfling luck fails them," Mearls says. "The legacy, the tales, the stories, the magical items gathered by the adventurers who go forth and come back, that helps them get through those times when they have to rely upon themselves."
More halfling lore will be revealed in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, which comes out on May 29th and will cost $49.99.