Nevermoor

Nevermoor is a strange land, and its people are known for treachery - with nominal loyalties to many, but true fidelity to few. It is the home of the halflings of Leng, and while many have an idyllic, almost patronising view view of their pastoral lifestyle, there is no denying that there is another side to the people of Nevermoor. Indeed, the reputation for halflings throughout Leng as being flighty and prone to a life outside of the law comes in no small part from the nature of Nevermoor's populace. In Nevermoor, these two tendencies of the halfling personality are reflected in equal measure: affable, but proud; meek, but crafty; smaller and weaker than humans or elves, but twice as deadly with a dagger in the dark.

Outside of Arelon and Astinus in the west, Nevermoor is one of the most beautiful lands in all of Leng. Like Kharolis to the south, it is warm and pleasant for most of the year, and the summers come with scorching ferocity. Where Kharolis is vast and wild, however, Nevermoor is a calm, tame land. There are great forests and deep caves, of course, just like anywhere on Leng. Nonetheless, Nevermoor is for the most part an arable, pastoral land that is threaded with rivers and prone to booming thunderstorms that roll across the hills and plains and provide life-giving water to those who live there. Sun-drenched groves yield up grapes, oranges, lemons and olives, and the free farmers of Nevermoor pass the time drinking wine from bottles with coverings woven from bamboo reeds to shield them from the sun. The halflings live in burrows and warrnes dug beneath hills and fields, or in natural mountain caves so immaculately tended that one can easily forget they are in a hole in the ground.

Government & Relationships

In old times, before the formation of the Kingdom of Vingaard, the Kingdom of Nevermoor was a human empire, the halflings their unruly subjects. The crumbling towers and ancient roads of this fallen kingdom cann still be found, jutting from the countryside like the bones of a long-dead giant. Humans no longer dominate in Nevermoor, however. The halflings nominally are part of a feudal society, and swear allegiance to the Kingdom of Nevermoor, which lives on in the human city of Andor in the coutnry's center and few other large towns besides. All their human king requires of them, however, is that they speed his messengers on their way and maintain the bridges and roads. In practice, the halflings of Nevermoor are a free people, and - unlike most of Leng's feudal societies - there is no serfdom amongst the halflings. Every halfling farmer is a freeholder who owns his land fair and square.

Despite their nominal allegiance to the king of Andor, the halflings of Nevermoor cheerfully ignore pretty much everything he does and says. Indeed, far more influential are the elves of Lurkmoor - who have come to their aid against foreign invaders in the past - and the Knights of Vingaard. Nevermoor has in the past been plagued by viking raids, and they allow Vingaard almost complete control over Nevermoor's coast in exchange for their protection.

With its natural beauty, valuable crops and its position along the main trade route between Vingaard and Kharolis, Nevermoor is a highly desirable land. Even so, no human lord has successfully claimed it for themselves since the fall of the Old Kingdom; there is a good reason for this. The wily nature of the halflings is said to be behind the fall of Nevermoor in the first place, and any who tried to bring them under their thumb would find himself master of a populace in rebellion. The people of Nevermoor are renowned for being fiercly independent and chaotic, quite willing to bend, break or outright ignore the rule of law when it displeases them. Though small in stature, they are in their own way more formidable than any army.

Though they are suspicious of humans and liable to scatter into their hidey-holes as soon as greet them, halflings have always shared kinship with elves, who treat them with paternal. It is said that the elven fondness for halfling arises from the love they share of whimsy. Where humans desire the magic and legendary weapons of war that the elves have been known to make, halflings are delighted with the sublime taste of feywine and the marvellous crafts that elves often make merely to amuse themselves. A halfling is more likely to put an elven gift to good use than try to sell it for a profit, and this makes the elves fond of them.

Halflings have something of a love-hate relationship with gnomes - whose mischievious nature both appeals to and irritates the halfling personality. With dwarves, they share much more, and it's not uncommon to find hill dwarves (who also live in fair numbers in Nevermoor) visiting with halfling friends. They appreciate the simple, unpretentious ways of their dwarven neighbours, though they tend to find themselves somewhat bewildered by the dwarves' insistence that this or that ideal or principle is of vital importance and must be pursued to the ends of the earth. The only matter of principle that can get a halfling's blood pumping this way is the vendetta.

Subraces

There are three distinct subraces of halflings on Leng: Hairfeet, Stouts and Tallfellows.

Hairfeet

These are the halflings that are most comfortable around humans, and most of the Hairfeet of Nevermoor live in the towns and cities that are the remnants of the once-proud human empire that ruled the land. Although they stand only about 3 feet tall, Hairfeet tend to be the most human-like of all halflings, and in most ways they are fully integrated into human society. Even so, though, a little of the halfling fieriness and hatred of tyranny lives on in them, and this mixes with the ambition natural to humans in a most peculiar way; of all halflings, hairfeet are the most likely to live outside the law. Those who make an honest living have a reputation for being talented, and they tend to aspire to merchantry, gambling, and any other lifestyle that accomodates a love of risk and a disorganised outlook on life.

Hairfeet receive a -1 penalty to Strength, but a +1 bonus to Dexterity. They're good at getting along with and even manipulating humans, who tend to underestimate them, and such receive a +2 bonus to reaction rolls from humans.

Stouts

Stouts are a little less common than hairfeet, and even shorter - averaging a little less than 3 feet tall. They tend to be much stockier than hairfeet, however, making up for their lack of height in girth. Of all halflings, they love the company of dwarves the most, and most stouts have a dour, stern approach to life compared to other halflings. They tend to live in hilly or rocky areas near fishing waters and well-watered fields, although a number of them try their hands at mining as well.

Stouts are the common Nevermoor halflings of the farms and pastures, living an idyllic life as freeholders in the countryside. The rebellious streak exists in them, but is rarely awakened unless a personal insult is delivered to them, or unless their land is threatened. When this happens, the passion with which the otherwise stoic stoutish halflings defend their homeland can be surprising to those who underestimated the halfling mind.

Souts receive a -1 penalty to Strength, but a +1 bonus to either Dexterity or Constitution. They can see 60' feet with infravision, and have a 75% chance to detect sloping passageways and a 50% chance of determining direction when underground.

Tallfellows

As their name implies, tallfellows are the tallest of the halfling subraces, averaging slightly over 4 feet in height. They are the friendliest with elves, and the most likely to be found outside of the land of Nevermoor, for the tallfellows are renowned for suffering wanderlust. Although in most ways they share more with their stoutish cousins than with hairfeet, the tallfellow desire to see the world, have an adventure, and drink in the sounds and sights of Morus is more than any other. Perhaps this is a gift from their elven friends, who are known for being prone to such flights of fancy themselves.

Those tallfellows who are too old to ramble tend to favour rolling plains, gentle hills or serene forests. Unlike most halflings, they don't like to live underground - their height makes it somewhat less comfortable for them - and tend to live in tall, spacious wooden houses with high ceilings and many windows to let in as much sunlight and fresh air as possible. Tallfellows are much better farmers than stouts, and are many of the most beautiful groves of orange and lemon trees or the most sumptuous vineyards are tended to be tallfellow farmers.

While any halfling can be unexpectedly deadly in the right circumstances, tallfellows are the only halflings that have much of a martial inclination. They tend to form militias to protect their homes and have a great affinity for short riding ponies and light spears and lances to wield from the back of these mounts.

Tallfellows receive a -1 penalty to Strength, but a +1 bonus to either Dexterity or Wisdom. Like elves, they have a 1 in 6 chance of spotting secret doors, and they receive a +2 to surprise rolls when in forest or wooded terrain.