Welcome to Luiren Lacuna! This is where the halflings relax until wanderlust takes hold.
THE LEGEND OF LUIREN’S FOUNDING: Before the fall of Myth Drannor, when the Lluirwood covered the whole of the land that is now Luiren and Estagund, the Small Folk came to Faerûn. At first, they lived on the coast of the Luirenstrand, while the ogres ruled the woods. These cruel, terrible creatures tormented the Small Folk constantly, and they prayed for deliverance. One day, a halfling named Kaldair Swiftfoot came upon the avatar of the ogre deity, Vaprak the Destroyer. The halfling began to tease Vaprak and finally challenged the avatar to catch him if he could. In a rage, Vaprak chased the halfling for ten days and nights, but he could never succeed in grabbing the irksome creature.
Finally, Vaprak collapsed in exhaustion, and Kaldair approached him. “You cannot defeat me in a battle of agility, and I do not think you can beat me in a test of strength,” he said. Vaprak growled at the insult and quickly agreed to the test. “Let’s see which of us can pull a tree out of the ground without ripping its roots apart,” Kaldair suggested. “If you win, the hin will retreat to the mountains north of the forest, and the ogres may have the woodlands all to themselves. But if I win, all the ogres must live in the mountains, leaving the forest to the Small Folk.”
Vaprak agreed and immediately grasped the nearest tree. He yanked it easily from the ground, but many of its roots tore. The ogre deity’s avatar tried again, but again, he succeeded only in damaging the tree.
Finally, after Vaprak had tried and failed with many great trees, Kaldair took his turn. He walked up to the tiniest sapling and very carefully removed it, pulling its lone taproot from the ground with harming it in the least.
Vaprak trembled and roared with rage, but he knew that he had been beaten. At that moment, Kaldair revealed his true identity—Brandobaris the Trickster.
“You cannot best me in a test of agility, nor can you win in a contest of wits, it would seem,” the hin deity taunted. “Now you and your kind must leave the woods for the mountains and never bother the Small Folk again.”
Vaprak raged and stomped and tore up more trees, but he had been beaten fair and square. So he gathered his ogre people and took them into the Toadsquat Mountains, where they live to this day.
And that is how Brandobaris won the kingdom of Luiren for the halflings.
Lurien Luiren, the land of the halflings, is both peaceful and bustling. Though halflings can be found in almost every country in Faerûn, all their ancestors originally migrated from Luiren. Sometimes known as Small Folk, halflings actually prefer the term hin, the name they call themselves. But they don’t hold the use of other names against visitors who don’t know any better. They’re happy enough to welcome newcomers with a smile and a place to stay—though that lodging might be a half-sized stable or barn.
Geographic Overview The hin nation of Luiren sits on the southern coast of Faerûn, nestled between Dambrath to the west and Estagund to the east. The settled portions of the kingdom wrap around a small bay known as the Luirenstrand, on a strip of ground between the bay and the Lluirwood that measures no more than 30 to 50 miles wide in most places. This populated region stretches generally southwest to northeast, covering approximately 275 miles from the edge of the Southern Lluirwood to the point where the Lluirwood meets the ocean, just east of Fasruil. The Lluirwood lies north of the open coastland where the major settlements are. Though ostensibly part of the kingdom, the forest is mostly untamed wilderness, and few halflingsdare venture into it. The north side of the Lluirwood is bounded by the Toadsquat Mountains, and beyond those, the vast plains of the Eastern Shaar stretch away for hundreds of miles. Most of Luiren’s countryside is filled with gentle, rolling hills blanketed with rich soil that supports a wide range of crops. Small copses of very large, very old trees dot this pastoral landscape. The only portion of the nonforested land that is not arable is the Mortik Swamp, which butts up against the southern coast of the Luirenstrand and divides the southern peninsula of Luiren in half.
Like the rest of southern Faerûn’s coastal region, Luiren is warm and humid through most of the year. Because of the Toadsquat Mountains, which catch the updrafts of humid air offtheoceanandchurnthemintocooler,rain-filledcloudsover the woodlands, Luiren gets more rain than either Dambrath to the west or Estagund to the east. The season of heaviest rain, during the winter months, slows trade and travel but is good for the growing season during the rest of the year.
Major Geographic Features The green, rolling farmland that makes up most of Luiren is bounded on three sides by forest or mountains, and on the fourth by the ocean. Though the halflings enjoy the forests, they do not stray far into the woods for fear of the monsters that live there. Most of the region is rural, and the halflings grow grains, vegetables, and citrus fruits for eating or sale to merchants from other lands. In the quaint communities of hillside tunnel-homes that dot the open country, the hin often gather together to share produce, stories, and news from other lands.
The Lluirwood Sometimes referred to as the Long Forest by the halflings to the south, the Lluirwood stretches more than 400 miles along the north side of Luiren, covering nearly half the country. Along its whole length, citrus trees and many warm-weather evergreens form a deep, dark canopy that shelters trailing vines and a profusion of undergrowth. Where the northern side of the forest climbs up the slopes of the Toadsquats, numerous hardwood trees, especially oaks, which thrive in the cooler temperatures, replace the less hardy varieties.
People of Luiren Most folk who visit Luiren come away with a mixed sense of warmth and confusion. The halflingsofthislandarehappyand gregarious, but their customs and traditions seem more than a little strange to anyone from another land. On the coast, where the majority of their trade occurs, the halflings go out of their way to accommodate the Big Folk, building larger places for them to sit, eat, and sleep. Those living inland are just as happy to see humans, elves, half-elves, and dwarves as their kin on the coast, but about the best they can offer in the way of hospitality is a dry barn and a hot meal or two.
Races & Cultures Though the hin can be found in almost every corner of Faerûn, they are considered visitors everywhere in the world except here. In the cities of the humans, halflings are often relegated to ethnic neighborhoods. In Luiren, however, the hin rule, and their culture reflectsthatfact.FewmembersoftheotherracesstayinLuiren long—not because they are inherently unwelcome, but simply because they don’t fit in—both literally and figuratively. The three halflings subraces all look the same, though their manner of dress tends to differentiate themfromone another. The typical hin stands about 3 feet tall and weighs between 30 and 40 pounds. She has dark brown or black eyes, ruddy skin, and straight, black hair. Once in a while, however, a child is born with fairer skin and curly brown or red-brown hair. Such a feature is always considered a good portent, and the hin say that such a child is “blessed by Brandobaris.”
Life and Society The halflings of Luiren live a happy-go-lucky lifestyle that suits them well but causes some misunderstandings with other races. Teamwork is a major component of hin society, and just about every halfling worth his salt pitches in to help with whatever community project is at hand. The Small Folk have an innate understanding of the fact that no individual can get much done without cooperation from his fellows.
One unique aspect of Luiren’s culture is the halflings’ occasional desire to uproot themselves and relocate. A family might suddenly decide to move to another part of the same town, or even to a different city. Families often exchange the intensity of life in an urban center for the rural quiet of farm life, or vice versa. Such a relocation can occur several times in a halfling’s life, and someone moves at least once per ten day in any sizable community. When a halfling moves, all his possessions are left behind—furniture, food, clothing, and even his job. All the neighbors pitch in to throw a special kind of going-away party, wherein everyone helps clean up the property to get it ready for the next tenants. The house does not stay empty for long, because whenever a hin family moves away, another soon arrives. At any given time, a certain percentage of the abodes in any locale are vacant and waiting for new occupants. Families visiting a town for the first time might spend a day or two checking out the vacancies before deciding which place (and furniture, and clothing, and job) are right for them. Outsiders find this behavior more than a little odd, but to the hin, it’s as natural as a rainbow after rain.
Economy Most of Luiren’s economy is based on agriculture. The hin export raw foodstuffs such as grains, vegetables, and citrus fruits, plus prepared foods such as cheese, brewed beverages, and baked goods (particularly pastries). They also offer a few handcrafted items,such as carved wood and fired pottery goods. A few farms also specialize in livestock, so wool and hides are exported in small quantities. The halflings do a substantial amount of trade with the gold dwarves of the Great Rift, exchanging their surplus foodstuffs for precious metals. Most of their remaining trade goods travel to market by ship, but few halflings have the temperament for sea travel, so they rely on merchants from other lands (primarily Durpar) to handle such trade for them. Because of this frequent business contact, certain inns and taverns in the coastal cities of Luiren, where the human merchant ships dock, offerhuman-size accommodations.
The remaining goods are taken overland by caravan to Dambrath. Great care is used on such trips because the halflings know their Crinti neighbors (and their long history of aggressive invasion) quite well. For that reason alone, the halflingschooseto conduct their negotiations with merchants in Dunfeld traveling deeper into Dambrathan territory. Other caravans travel the road between Luiren and Estagund, though this route isn’t a main trading path, since moving the goods by ship is usually easier, faster, and less dangerous.
The hin do not mint their own coins, since they have no need for them except to trade with outsiders. Inland, most hin feel no need for money, instead using a barter system to trade with one another when the need arises. Halflingswhodonothavecause to visit the coast or the border regions of Luiren can go months or years without seeing a minted coin. What little coinage does move through the coastal trading cities comes from other nations, primarily Dambrath and Durpar.
Thus far, the hin have adamantly refused to allow the Red Wizards of Thay to proliferate in their homeland. To date, the Thayans have inquired several times about the possibility of establishing an enclave in Beluir, and each time, the mayor—with the solid backing of both the citizens and the leaders of the clergy—has steadfastly refused. The hin feel that no good can come from allowing the wretched Red Wizards to get a toehold in Luiren, and their attitudes aren’t likely to change anytime soon.
Law and Order The hin of Luiren have few laws and many customs. Strictly limiting the actions of a people who are whimsical and mischievous by nature—and who acknowledge an avowed rascal in their pantheon—would be a nigh-impossible task. Nonetheless, the halflingsmanagetoregulatethemselvesenoughtoprevent most serious offenses against society. When a native of Luiren commits a minor offense, themiscreant usually just receives “a good talking-to” and an admonition to straighten up and flyright from an older, wiser halfling.When an outsider stirs up trouble, the halflings often find creative ways to turn the crime back on the criminal. For example, a con artist might findhimselfduped into losing his own coin as well as what he gained through his cheating ways, or a thief might wake up to discover that he’s been moved in the middle of the night—minus his belongings—to the middle of nowhere.
The halflingsrecognizethatthereareafewtrulybadapplesin every barrel, and that if left unchecked, an exceptionally villainous individual can cause quite a mess. When such a situation occurs, the hin call on a local marchwarden (see Defense and Warcraft, below) to administer justice. Though halflings are generally jovial and prone to forgiving slights, they can deal with serious threats quite firmly, as evidenced by the Ghostwars. When hin law catches up to a murderer, he shouldn’t expect much more than a quick execution.
In any rural community in Luiren, two rather informal councils of village elders handle most of the governing. The menfolk assemble on the front stoop of the largest communal building (usually a taproom or general store), and the womenfolk gather around the baking table inside. These two groups discuss the situations facing the community and decide on the proper way to handle any problems. Usually, the most respected and/or prominent citizen in the community presides over the dual meeting as mayor or wise woman, though occasionally a marchwarden assumes the role of leader. This individual listens to all arguments and counterarguments and, if the gathering cannot come to a consensus, hands down a decision for dealing with the situation at hand. In Luiren’s urban centers, the governing body is more formal. During each of the five seasonal holidays, anyone who wishes a voice in the government comes to the central square (or the marketplace or the green in front of the mayor’s office) to participate in discussions on the issues that concern the community.
These debates address all pertinent topics, including whether or not the current mayor is handling the situation well enough to continue serving. More often than not, unless a real crisis occurs or the current mayor has decided to uproot and move to a new place for a while, that part of the discussion lasts only a few moments and consists of a few toasts, some good-natured jokes at the mayor’s expense, and a quick verbal vote before the real celebrations begin. Should a change of leadership be in order, the citizens might spend an hour or two hearing various prominent citizens speak before a vote is called. At that point, whichever hin is elected takes over management of the town or city. The mayor is responsible for the city’s day-to-day public operations, but he usually delegates such tasks to other halflings who he knows can get the job done. A halflingsettlementoften collects a minimal tax to help defray the costs of running the city, but the tax rates are usually very low. The marchwardens, with the aid of a few volunteer city guards, deal with any trouble that erupts, whether caused by halflingsoroutsiders.Fewhumans who have spent a night or two in a halfling-sized prison cell are eager to do so again.
Defense & Warcraft Along the boundaries of the nation- most specifically at the edges of the forests—a loosely organized group of halflingprotectors known as marchwardens is constantly on the lookout for threats. The marchwardens are volunteers who understand the need to be vigilant and have the necessary skills to handle trouble. The rest of the population genuinely appreciates the marchwardens, recognizing them as Luiren’s first line of defense against enemies. For such a small people, the hin are surprisingly ferocious when it comes to defending their homes and land. They do not make a habit of going to war, but they are perfectly capable of rising up and organizing a defense against other nations or monsters that arrive with conquest on their minds. Marchwardens are quite effectiveatmotivatingandguidingmilitiaforces of halflings against larger opponents, and many an invading army has discovered that such a force is good at guerrilla tactics, especially in regions heavy with wooded thickets. Since almost every side of Luiren is screened by forest, such tactics almost invariably work to the halflings’ advantage. Defense of the coast is a bit trickier for the halflingsofLuiren. Only a few of the Small Folk are truly comfortable on the ocean, so hin warships are few. Instead, the folk of Luiren find honest, trustworthy human corsairs and offer them a regular cut of trade profitsinexchangeforpatrollingthecoastline.Thosefew halflingswhodotaketotheseaoftensailwiththisindependent “navy.” Though halflingsmightseemsillyandflightytomembers of other races, they are good judges of character and have little trouble distinguishing trustworthy sea captains from those who would try to take advantage of them.
Religion As a rule, halflings prefer to venerate the entire hin pantheon, recognizing the value that each deity brings to the overall religious experience. The stronghearts and lightfoots of Luiren, however, often choose to favor some deities over others. Arvoreen has the most ardent following, since the natives of Luiren find the tenets of the Vigilant Guardian most in keeping with their line of thinking about how to protect their land. Many clerics of the Wary Sword serve in positions of political power, as mayors or even marchwardens. After Arvoreen, Yondalla is the most popular deity among Luiren folk. The halflings view her focus on home and security as wise and useful, and they welcome her notions of tradition. In addition, a sizable faction of hin—especially druids and rangers who live on the fringes of civilization—choose to venerate Sheela Peryroyl. Most of the settled halflings who have remained in Luiren are curious, if not troubled, by the teachings of Cyrollalee the Hearthkeeper, who urges her followers to earn the respect of other peoples by establishing a hin nation. After all, Luiren is already such a nation, and its citizens do not understand why the goddess would suggest otherwise. While few hin go out of their way to discredit such views, they believe that this concept bears careful watching. Although every halflingoffersupsomelightheartedrespectto Brandobaris, few who live in Luiren truly venerate the trickster deity. All hin understand that Brandobaris’s outlook and antics reflect a part of their nature, but the older and wiser individuals also understand the limitations of such behavior. Nonetheless, every halfling knows by heart the legend of how Brandobaris helped the halflingsfoundLuireninthedawningdaysofFaerûn, and almost every hin offers an occasional prayer of thanks to him for granting the race its clever and cunning nature.
Adventurers The hin certainly do not object to the presence of adventurers in their lands, and in fact, their tradition of hospitality demands that they welcome such visitors, as long as they don’t cause any trouble. The hin tend to be a little more cautious about wizards and sorcerers than they are about other adventurers, since proximity to Halruaa and Durpar has made the halflings wary of powerful arcane spellcasters who use magic excessively. Likewise, priests of dangerous or evil deities are unwelcome inside Luiren’s borders, but other clerics are permitted to visit, so long as they do not attempt to proselytize to the locals. The hin know that most out-of-towners come to Luiren not to see them, but to explore the dangerous places along the fringes of civilization. This suits the halflingsjustfine,sinceadventurers usually return from their quests with coin to spend on goods and services, and they might actually defeat a dangerous monster or two along the way. The halflingsgladlylettheadventurerskeep half of everything valuable that they bring back from the depths of the forests, swamps, and mountains.
Politics & Power In Luiren, the hin live in a sort of benevolent anarchy, since no actual law-establishing body other than the clergy exists. The eldest and wisest of the citizens in any given community enforce a level of control over the rest, but the hin accept this rulership more out of respect for the wisdom of their elders than through any real fear that disobedience could bring civil collapse. Beyond the local mayor and the village council, the hin informally recognize two other political powers within Luiren: the temple clergy and the marchwardens. Many priests of the various halfling deities find themselves functioning as the spiritual and secular leaders of communities. At the very least, other hin come to the clergy for advice, for aid in settling disagreements, and for divine healing in times of sickness or injury. Clerics of the faith not burdened with any sort of formal leadership roles usually travel the land to teach, protect their flocks,andredresswrongdoings.Thus,thoughthey are not formally recognized as a ruling body of Luiren, halfling clerics do hold appreciable influence in hin society. The marchwardens also wield considerable power, functioning as the protectors, defenders, and perhaps even the vigilantes of Luiren and its people. They generally operate outside of any other ruling structure but cooperate fully with mayors and village councils. The marchwardens meet from time to time—often by chance but occasionally intentionally—to discuss persistent problems, threats, and progress in dealing with such. They have no real hierarchy among themselves, but they generally acknowledge the more experienced of their number as leaders during gatherings. Though disputes between marchwardens are not unheard of, they are quite rare—there is no room for pride or disagreement when the well-being of the country is at stake.
Government Luiren has no central government, since the halflings prefer cooperative self-regulation. The only communal governments are the village and town councils in the rural regions, and mayors who serve more as organizers than as true rulers in the urban centers. The priests of the hin temples hold a great deal of influenceovermanyaspectsofsociety,andthemarchwardens identify and deal with threats against Luiren and its people. No government beyond those groups is recognized, and the halflings manage to remain happy and civilized without any additional oversight.