Hearthguards are weird, you know? It takes a special person to actually want to fight, let alone stay posted in the towers indefinitely. Who does that sort of thing willingly? Okay, not talking about humans here...Halfling culture holds a few distinct differences from others in Erisdaire, being mostly pastoral in nature. They enjoy being left alone, supporting themselves through farming and trade. For a halfling, life is best lived when a person doesn't have to worry about where the next meals are coming from or whether there's anyone out there who seeks destruction. There are a few renegades, of course, who have morals and goals more in line with what an Imperial citizen might have. Even so, they're still welcome 'home' for a good meal and a night of pleasant rest.
But then there's the Hearthguard.
The Hearthguard are community members who are more interested in keeping their people safe than enjoying life. They are few in number, but determined in spirit. Legend says the first of the Hearthguard learned how to fight by driving off a dragon with the same tools one would use to farm with, and ever since there have been those "cursed" with fire for blood and a passion for combat. Those in the Hearthguard are less dramatic with their views, simply believing "someone has to do it, and better me than anyone else" They keep themselves apart from the communities they protect, and spend the most of their spare time practicing just in case they have to fight.
You don't choose to be a Hearthguard, it's something in your blood. That's why our people don't understand us, and why even outsiders find themselves wondering. But all of them don't need to know, or understand, why we do this. We do it because it's needed.The Hearthguard are a valuable asset to most halfling communities, but they are always treated as a separated part of the whole. They're not given much more than the supplies they ask for, not even begrudging respect from those they protect. They exist as a separate entity, one which is often seen as unsettling or fearful. By volunteering to join, a member severs all ties to the community or families they are from. There are no special oaths, no ceremonial process, only acceptance into their fold and training in how to fight. They live in houses near their watchtowers, should the tower not have sufficient space, and sometimes keep animals for things such as eggs and milk so they don't rely on others to help keep them supplied. To those outside the community, the Hearthguard are only the first point of contact if they feel the outsiders might be a threat. Other than this, these community protectors are very likely to not do more than watch. They remain solemn and withdrawn, offering little in the way of conversation, such that there was an old treatise on whether they were a separate culture from the halfling communities they served.