Halfling Pantheon

Halfling Pantheon

Name Portfolio Rank Alignment Favoured Weapon Domains
  • Yondalla, greater goddess of all halflings, as well as family, law and protection.
  • Arvoreen, intermediate god of protection, vigilance and war.
  • Brandobaris, lesser god of stealth, thieves and adventuring.
  • Charmalaine, a hero-goddess of Greyhawk, sponsored by Brandobaris. (Living Greyhawk Journal, issue 3)
  • Cyrrollalee, intermediate goddess of friendship, trust and home.
  • Dallah Thaun, intermediate goddess of secrets, guile, thieves and rogues, acquisition of wealth and death. She is the darker aspect of Yondalla.
  • Sheela Peryroyl, intermediate goddess of nature, agriculture and weather.
  • Urogalan, demigod of earth, death and protection of the dead.

Yondalla's Children

The Small Folk of the Realms worship a pantheon of deities known collectively as Yondalla's Children. This group includes Yondalla herself, according to the tangled reasoning of halfling theologians, and the term is sometimes used to apply collectively to all halflings. The names by which the gods and goddesses of the halfling pantheon are known vary widely from community to community and have little correlation with subrace distinctions. The myths associated with the various halfling powers are often intermingled with tales of local halfling heroes and heroines of earlier generations who embodied the teachings and approach to life of one or more powers. For example, halfling villages scarcely two dozen miles apart might each have a different name for Yondalla. The citizens of each community might believe the Protector and Provider is a local deity concerned far more with their village than with the race of halflings as a whole. Finally, the name Yondalla is known by and the tales associated with her would most likely be derived independently from two widely respected halfling matriarchs, each of whom was a leader of her respective village early in its history. (To suggest the countless local names associated with each halfling power, each of the deity entries that follow have the notation "none widespread" in their list of aliases.) The names of the halfling powers of the Realms listed hereafter - Arvoreen, Brandobaris, Cyrrollalee, Sheela Peryroyl, Tymora, Urogalan, and Yondalla - are simply the names by which the individual halfling powers are most commonly known across the planes and the names by which religious scholars of other races refer to them.

Yondalla is the universally acknowledged leader of the halfling pantheon and the other powers defer to her authority without dissension, but in practice the entire pantheon works together in a collective fashion for the good of the whole race, even dispatching avatars to work together as needed. The closest the Small Folk have to an evil power among the gods that they acknowledge is the gnome god Urdlen, the Crawler Below, who is held in a few tales to tunnel up into halfling burrows as well as gnome dens. While the primary deities of the halflings are female and the male gods are seen as presiding over somewhat peripheral (if necessary) aspects of life, all are equally respected. The roles of the various halfling gods are closely related and sometimes overlap, at least from a mortal perspective. As a result, in some communities two or three powers - usually Yondalla, Cyrrollalee, and/or Sheela Peryroyl - are viewed as aspects of a single power. Divine coordination of portfolios is tightest among Yondalla, Arvoreen, Cyrrollalee, Sheela Peryroyl, and Urogalan, with Brandobaris and Tymora cooperating for the most part with each other.

Although Lady Luck is in some sense an interloper goddess in the halfling pantheon, the fragmented mythology of the Small Folk has allowed Tymora to be included as a local goddess under a wide variety of guises in halfling communities across Faerun. Tales of adventurous, lucky, tricky halfling damsels have long been part of halfling folklore, and Tymora is commonly seen by the Small Folk as a long-standing local halfling deity who has simply conned the Big Folk into worshiping her as well.

As suggested by the conflicting representations of the halfling gods in various communities across Faerun, the mentality of a typical halfling holds that the only really important things are those that happen close to home. The Small Folk are far more interested in worshiping an immediate and beneficent deity - one whose responsibilities are to them, and no one else - rather than an abstract power who is presumed to oversee the entire race. The remoteness of most human deities, for example, bewilders many halflings, as does the deference human worshipers show to their deities. Halflings are not irreligious; while they treat Yondalla and her brood with respect, they are far less in awe of their pantheon than is the norm between deity and follower for other races. As halflings see it, they have a simple bargain with their gods. In return for their veneration by the Small Folk, the powers promise to take care of all halflings. Halfling priests exist to see that both sides of the bargain are kept - to remind halflings to give the powers their due and to remind the halfling powers that they are responsible for the safety and comfort of their loyal followers. Many stories from halfling folklore remind the Small Folk that before they began to worship Yondalla and her Children, halflings were a shy and fugitive people who lived as hunter-gatherers on the edges of civilization and who hid in isolated burrows from the humanoids and monsters that preyed upon them. As a result, most halflings feel both gratitude for the gifts of Yondalla's Children and affection toward their deities.

The Small Folk are inclined to see evidence of small local deities - the Small Gods or the Thousand Home Gods of halfling folklore - in many aspects of their surroundings and daily lives. Each house commonly has a protector of its own hearth, often inspired by some matriarch or patriarch in the clan's history. The homesteader who starts a small community might well be accorded a similar status in later years - that is, his or her spirit might be invoked on matters relating to the health and prosperity of the village. Local myths may name a goddess of breadmaking and credit her if a particularly good batch of bread comes out or celebrate a local god of winemaking and demand a toast to him after the first drink of any exquisite vintage. If game is plentiful, the power of the neighboring woods, often pictured as a hare or a fox, is thanked and token morsels of food are left to him or her as offerings. Halflings who fish commonly revere venerable river denizens, such as an ancient or battlescarred trout, and fisherfolk always throw back the river deity if she or he allows himself or herself to be caught. Some theologians of other races speculate that the Thousand Home Gods of the Small Folk are simply aspects of the established halfling powers, while others say that at most they are nature spirits. Halflings see little need to differentiate between Yondalla's Children and the Small Gods and rarely bother to do so.

In a variety of mythic forms, Yondalla is seen as the mother or adopted mother of the halfling people. In one tradition, sometimes Yondalla gives birth to the halfling race, sometimes she creates them from disparate elements of nature, and sometimes (rarely) she transforms some saddened solitary sylvan creature (usually a brownie) into a halfling, making the race her creation alone. Other more common mythic traditions hold that Yondalla adopted the halflings after finding one of them hiding in a thicket, walking along a riverbank, or tricking one of the Big Folk into doing something foolish to the advantage of the Small Folk. Whatever myth is told, halflings have a deep identification with Yondalla at a physically rooted level. In many versions of their founding myths, Yondalla uses her powers of persuasion with the powers of the other human and demihuman races to gain the fertile fields and meadows of the lands usually settled by halflings.

Halfling history is maintained by an oral tradition, and thus the origins of the Small Folk have long been lost to time. While most halflings today claim that Luiren is their ancestral homeland, there is little in that southern nation's archeological record or in the history of other lands with sizable halfling populations to suggest more than 12 centuries of residence by the Small Folk south of the Toadsquat Mountains. Dwarven and elven records suggest that the genies who founded the Calim Empires brought with them both human and halfling slaves approximately 7,800 years before the Standing Stone rose in Cormanthor. While many of the descendants of those early halflings still live (and are still enslaved) in Calimshan today, fragmentary historical records from the countless realms that have risen and fallen along the Sword Coast since the arrival of the Djen chart the steady northward migration of Small Folk since their arrival in the lands of what is now Calimshan. Today, sizable halfling population clusters are found in the Purple Hills of Tethyr, amidst the ruins of long-fallen Meiritin in eastern Amn, in the Sunset Vale west of Darkhold, and along the lower reaches of the River Delimbiyr. However, even the great Calishite diaspora cannot account for the widespread distribution of halflings throughout Faerun, leaving the ancient history of the Small Folk to the realm of legend and myth.

All native Faerunian halflings are divided into three distinct subraces: hairfeet, stouts, and tallfellows. There is some circumstantial evidence that hairfeet comprise the original racial stock of the Small Folk, but halflings generally find scholarly questions on such matters ridiculous as they themselves pay little attention to the differences between the halfling subraces. Sages of other races who have studied the Calishite halfling diaspora have suggested that stouts have a trace of dwarven ancestry and that tallfellows have a trace of elven ancestry, accounting for their distinctive appearances and close relations with the Stout Folk and Fair Folk, respectively. As evidence in support of their theories, scholars cite dwarven and elven records of Shanatar and Wealdath which indicate that escaped halfling slaves took refuge beneath the peaks of the Marching Mountains and the boughs of the Darthiir Wood, joining the dwarven and elven societies found therein for several generations before moving on to found their own communities. Complicating matters is the fact that halfling natives of Luiren have pointed ears, unlike their kin elsewhere in the Realms; however, they too are divided into the same three subraces. The decidedly recessive pointed-ear trait vanishes permanently in the first generation of descendants of any Luiren halfling who takes a mate from the ranks of the halflings of the rest of the Realms.

Finally, it should be noted that Anadian halflings, residents of the polar regions of Anadia, an inner planet of the Realmspace system, are almost unknown in Faerun (and are not discussed in the deity descriptions that follow). According to Elminster, the total population of Anadian halflings resident in the Realms is countable on a single halfling's fingers and toes.

Despite the divisions in the halfling race across Faerun, halflings of all subraces continue to venerate the same core pantheon, albeit under a variety of names. While some halfling powers draw a greater fraction of one subrace or another to their faith than the overall population balance found in the Realms (55% hairfoot, 30% stout, 15% tallfellow), such variances are slight. The only real difference in the way the various subraces worship the halfling pantheon is that hairfeet tend to adopt the occasional human power (such as Tymora), whereas stouts sometimes give homage to individual members of the Momdinsamman (the dwarven pantheon) and tallfellows sometimes give homage to individual members of the Seldarine (the elven pantheon).

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