Thursday, October 17, 2019

Hobbits Do Not Exist

Long ago, Arnold K at Goblin Punch wrote Centerra. Its approach to gonzo vanilla fantasy has been almost as influential on the GLOG community as the GLOG itself. Recently, however, Lexi and Gorinich have written new takes on Dwarves, Elves, and Goblins, new attempts to reconcile standard fantasy tropes with the gonzo systems we love so dearly. I like them a lot! And I decided to look back at the origins of Hobbits and spin something new for this New GLOG Canon of ours. I vote we call it Intermediate Soil.

I could (and probably will, at some point) write an entire post on how this cover is the single greatest influence on my RPG stuff (Source)

"What is a hobbit? I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays, since they have become rare and shy of the Big People, as they call us. They are (or were) a little people, about half our height, and smaller than the bearded Dwarves. Hobbits have no beards. There is little or no magic about them, except the ordinary everyday sort which helps them to disappear quietly and quickly when large stupid folk like you and me come blundering along, which they can hear a mile off."
— J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Hobbits do not exist. That’s what most people would have you believe, anyway, and the Hobbits are happy to keep it that way.

A Hobbit community is called a Suburb. They’re built mostly in human cities, in alleys and on rooftops hanging off the walls. Most people never see them, though, or more accurately, never notice them. Hobbits have a peculiar sort of magic: they can simply choose not to be perceived. This magic is built into their dwellings, which are likewise imperceptible, and surprisingly spacious, too, if you’re ever invited into one. They’ll say it’s just good use of space. Hobbit pockets are likewise deep, and children’s stories have long held that it was a Hobbit that made the first Seven League Boots. (Wizards hate such stories, and will insist that only pure arcane magic can facilitate quick travel and extradimensional pockets. The Hobbits will always agree with a smile, though the Wizards rarely notice their presence in the first place).

It's tough to find any buildings on top of other buildings, but this is a building with more stuff inside of it than it should have (Source)

Nobody knows what baby Hobbits look like, because they have yet to master their imperception. As they get older, they slowly reveal themselves to those they trust most, and then to Hobbit society at large. Teen Hobbits still lack full control over their ability and will often *pop!* out of existence in arguments, and even adults under extreme stress will sometimes disappear involuntarily. Elderly Hobbits spend less and less time visible, spending their last appearances saying goodbye to friends and family. Nobody has ever seen a Hobbit die. They know when their time has come, and prefer to preserve their grace. Hobbits record their genealogies with zeal, and give gifts to others on their own birthdays; there are no Hobbit graveyards, but they still wish to be remembered.

See Invisibility magic does nothing to reveal a Hobbit, and Sense-Heightening magic will grant you only glimpses. Charm magic is actually the best way to reveal a Hobbit against its will, but you must know roughly where it is first.

Hobbits make friends well with animals and children. A child may insist their parents serve lunch to their imaginary friend; the parents may tell you that it’s just a phase, that they’ll grow out of it. They will, eventually, and a Hobbit will shed a tear for a lost friend. Hobbits also make friends with stray dogs and stray cats and everything that lives and moves, but they especially favor crows and wasps. Crows love games, shinies, food, friends, and life at the edge of the city, as do Hobbits. Hobbits know not to disturb creatures merely living, so they make fast friends with the wasps as well. Displease a Hobbit and you’ll find your purse stolen by crows and your toilet infested with wasps.

Friends (Source)

When war comes, the Hobbits keep their place. Many unjust cities and armies have fallen to “infighting” or “plague” in the course of their hungry conquest. The lords of these armies would do well to learn whether a city has a Hobbit Suburb or not, but there’s no way to learn without trusting the word of the children and the animals. Few commanders will take the warning of a child; those who do are spoken of often in the stories and legends, which most commanders likewise ignore. Conquest is not a business for the wise.

Hobbit Adventurers are attention-seekers. It’s a phase. They like to sing songs of their great deeds and commit audacious thefts. Their imperception magic is warped when they go out adventuring, however: instead of avoiding notice, they avoid questions. You may ask their name, and they’ll embark on a wandering story, and by the end you’ll forget you had ever asked. They’re always the life of the party, but nobody will remember their name when the sun next rises. If you do remember the name of a Hobbit, or the name of a person you believe to be a Hobbit, take note, as they will not easily divulge that information. Your first meeting was likely your fourth or fifth, and they’ve judged that they gain more from your permanent friendship than they would from anonymity. You have been selected.

Hobbits sometimes live at the edge of Elf Utopias, where they carefully maintain the “lucky” escape routes elf rebels stumble on. They live at the entrance of Dwarven Fortress-Emperors and whisper kind advice into their titanic ears. Hobbits likely live in Goblin Cauldron-Grottos, but neither they nor their Goblin friends bother distinguishing themselves if they do, and outsiders certainly could not separate them.

Hobbit Adventurer GLOG Race: Reroll DEX. Imperceptible to anyone not looking for you. Consume 2x Rations.

I think I watched the 1977 Hobbit at one point. The art is certainly better than any adaptation of the Hobbit since. (Source)