Building a World: Selethor, the Impenetrable Nation

It’s time for more talk about Seliit! Today, I’d like to highlight another nation in the setting: Selethor, the halfling homeland.

As with orcs, I knew I wanted to do something a bit different with halflings when I set out to make Seliit. They’re traditionally seen as a friendly, perhaps even somewhat goofy people; it’s inevitable that the term ‘halfling’ conjures images of Tolkien’s jolly folk for most tabletop gamers. While those characters are undeniably brave and noble, they are also simple, affable fellows who mostly just want to finish their quest and return to a quiet life in the Shire. I wanted to move away from that image with my halflings.

On the other hand, I didn’t want to just make anti-halflings to point to and say, “See? See? It’s different!” I wasn’t about to go full Dark Sun and make them all terrifying cannibals, for instance. I wanted something in between.

What I eventually did was look at my broader world and try to figure out how a society like the one traditionally ascribed to halflings might fare. On the ‘main’ continent, the answer was “probably not great.” It’s a place that has been marred by constant war: first the conflict between the orcs and elves, and later the territorial conflicts that led to the eventual establishment of the Free Wilds and Astvolk (more on those some other time), and of course constant threat from the ever-expanding Rehledar Empire. It felt to me like a relatively peaceful society that ultimately wants to be left to its own devices would probably have to deal with a lot of attempts at conquest.

Then, I thought that maybe they’d do something about that.

That’s the core of the idea for Selethor: it used to be a fairly stereotypical Shire-esque realm, but it was constantly being invaded by the different forces vying for control of the continent. At some point in the past, a halfling hero had enough of this, and they sought out allies to defend their realm. Making a perilous journey into the elemental planes, this hero struck a deal with powerful djinn, binding the fate of the halfling people with genie-folk for all time.

Selethor is one of the few places on Seliit where djinn can be found in abundance, living alongside the native halflings as equals. The nation is surrounded on all sides by massive steel walls of efreeti make, which have never been breached by any foe. It’s also said that the army of Selethor is one of the deadliest on the planet, its troops expertly trained and wielding weapons and armor of impeccable craftsmanship. The halflings there are a people determined to never again suffer under the boot of an oppressor.

Of course, this isn’t the only halfling nation in the setting–there are others on other continents, and the Free Wilds (a conglomeration of various small kingdoms) more than likely has a few halfling-centric countries as well. However, the skilled warriors of Selethor are the first thing to come to mind for most people when discussion of halflings crops up. Additionally, the bond between djinn and halflings, though originating in Selethor, extends to the entire race; any community with a large halfling population is likely to have at least one djinn in residence as well.

I really like the way Selethor has shaken out so far. I think I struck the right balance with these halflings–they aren’t quite the same friendly, second-breakfast-loving folk featured in The Lord of the Rings, but there’s still room for the steadfastness and loyalty traditionally associated with them. I’m excited to get a group in Selethor at some point so I can really drill down on what it looks like to have elemental creatures like djinn living and working alongside regular mortals!

What are your thoughts on halflings? What would you want see in a game that explored Selethor and its society? Let me know in the comments!

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