The Halfling Crusades & 5e Burrow Halfling Subrace
The Halfling Crusades
Halflings of Vathis are often considered wholesome and pleasant creatures. Their communities exist in the fringes of the larger cities of widely human nations in Vavaire and Aurezia. These ‘burrows’, as they’ve come to be called, echo the traditions and way of life the halfling people once enjoyed in their ancestral home. The small region of Taloch, which in older dialects of a since forgotten halfling tongue roughly translates to “Land of the Lake”, was home to the halflings for many generations. Resting in the northern region of the Borderlands around Rockskip Lake in what is now known as the Jing Chao Swamp, the ruins of Taloch and the basis of halfling culture still stand, waiting for its people to return home.
Hundreds of years ago, at the height of the Age of Legacy, Taloch was a region of independent halfling townships and city-states. Their strong cultural bonds and traditions dictated much of the day to day life of the halflings. The halflings kept out of the affairs of the larger folk, preferring their simple lives as farmers and fishermen. The small councils within the civilizations ruled over their immediate people and that was enough for the halflings at the time. Aurezia was the first nation of larger folk to reach out and establish connections with the halflings. In time, the councils all agreed that allowing their cities to be annexed under Aurezia with the stipulation that the councils remain in control would benefit their people greatly and thus the Taloch region fell under Aurezian control.
What the halflings failed to recognize is that by possessing decent-sized docks on Rockskip Lake, which was connected to the Solar Sea, Taloch was in a perfect position to supply any holdings Aurezia had in the Borderlands. This, in turn, would be the reason for Taloch’s downfall. At the outbreak of the First Borderland Wars, Aurezia and Vavaire clashed, with Taloch and the rest of the Borderlands being the battlefield. Littleship and Lakewood, once two quiet halfling cities on the lake, became important supply destinations for the Aurezian forces that were targeted by Vavaire. The fighting escalated and the halflings found themselves having to flee to either Vavaire or Aurezia to escape the destruction that ravaged their home. Taloch had fallen. Accepting their role in the displacement of the halflings, Vavaire and Aurezia both opened their cities to the refugees of Taloch and thus the halfling burrows were created and have stood ever since.
As time passed and the world found itself at peace again, the halflings began to organize attempts to reclaim their homeland. Groups of halfling crusaders set out from both Aurezia and Vavaire with the hopes of reclaiming Taloch and their home by the lake. Some of these expeditions even began to prove successful, with small settlements popping up on the lake’s shores. This all changed during the outbreak of the Darkest War. A mage from Washu by the name of Jing Chao had befriended the halfling crusaders and claimed that she would help them clean up the lake and surrounding areas that had been marred by war for so long. Eager and naïve, the halflings trusted her. Jing Chao’s true motive was far more sinister. Recognizing the benefit blocking off the nations from one another, the Shattered Hand sent Jing Chao to further taint Rock Skip Lake and the Taloch region. The resulting incident saw Jing Chao pervert the lake into a swampy breeding ground of foul monsters and dark magic, at the cost of the progress and all the lives of the crusading halflings. The Taloch region gained a new name, the Jing Chao Swamp, and the sorceress has not been seen since the incident took place.
Even though it is bleaker than ever for the Taloch region, Vathis still finds the halfling youths of today leaving home and gathering the courage to brave the Borderlands in an attempt to return the Jing Chao Swamp to the former glory the Land of the Lake once saw. Halfling crusaders are often seen leaving the burrows of Aurezian and Vavairen cities to gather allies and supplies to try and retake their home. With the return of Synethil and resurgence of magic in the world, this effort no longer seems impossible, and due to their enduring spirit, hope still exists for the halflings of Vathis.