In some ways, halflings in my world are meant as counterpoint to the gnomes, which are equally weird and a similar disruption of the natural order of human reproduction in the world.
Believed to be the result of a powerful goblin’s dying curse, halflings are human children cursed with eternal youth. Born to human parents, a halfling’s nature does not become apparent until they reach 7 or 8 years of age, at which point they cease growing. These halflings will never reach physical, emotional, or sexual maturity, forever retaining the exhuberance and inquisitiveness of youth long after their parents and pears have passed. Unless slain by violence, halflings never die.
Typically optimistic and cheerful by nature, halflings are blessed with uncanny luck and driven by a child’s curiosity. Older halflings, long outliving their family and peers, have few ties to their communities and often take up the adventuring life. They make up for their child-like forms and lack of strength with a great capacity for learning and years (often centuries) of experience, and make excellent, if easily distracted, scholars.
While once very rare, halflings have become increasingly more common, with perhaps one in every five hundred human children being born as a halfling. This increased birth-rate, combined with their immortality has resulted in halflings forming a significant portion of the population of most human societies. No-one has yet determined the cause of this increase in the halfling population.
Physical Description: Halflings are indistinguishable from normal human children, appearing in both stature and temperament as a human child of 6-8 years old. Even the tallest halfling barely reaches 5 feet in stature, and the majority are between three-and-a-half and four feet in height. They have the full range of coloration found among humans.
Halflings are naturally immortal. Once they reach “maturity” (between 7 and 8 years old), they cease all physical development. They have no concept of a “middle age” and no maximum lifespan. Like the human children that they resemble, halflings have a greater capacity for learning than any other race, their brains continuing to grow new cells and renew themselves throughout the halfling’s supernatually long lifespan.
Society & Relations: Halflings are, by nature of their birth, fully integrated into human society. Halflings may be born as peasants, nobles, or anything in between, though their supernaturally long lifespans means that they often have much greater social mobility than their normal counterparts. Even with the experience and knowledge that comes with great age, halflings must always work to avoid being treated like children.
Unlike their human parents, Dwarves and Elves tend to accept halflings for the immortal sages that they are, since all humans are “children” to these old races. Gnomes especially despise halflings, seeing the birth of halflings as reproductive competition.
Alignment and Religion: Halflings are loyal to their friends and families, but since they quickly outlive such connections they have come to grips with the fact that sometimes they’ll need to scrap and scrounge for survival. Most halflings are neutral as a result.
While halflings most commonly adopt the religion of their human parents, the Jahans have started actively recruiting halflings, believing that the halflings immortality and growing numbers are a result of the growing influence of Raz-Jah and his efforts to make Tel-Avi into his eternal kingdom.
Adventurers: Their inherent luck and curiosity coupled with lack of familial ties makes halflings ideal for lives of adventure. Other such vagabonds tend to put up with the curious race in hopes that some of their mystical luck will rub off.