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"To this day I do not know why my request to visit Avareen and write about my experiences was granted, though I suspect that the main reason was that it amused the noble granting me hospitality to do so. And despite the many wondrous sights and beings I have seen, I felt a profound sense of relief when I left the forest behind me again, for at numerous times I felt like I was not only close to losing my life, but also my soul.

Yet in some way, deep in my heart I still yearn to return to this enchanted forest realm…"

- Geoffrey Malacay: My Time Among The Elves, Avane Street Publishing (1913)

Capital: Lorendur
Population: 3,210,640 (32% elves, 30% sidhe, 20% fey, 5% centaurs, 2% half-elves, 2% humans, 1% dragonkin)
Government: Monarchy
Imports: "Souvenirs" (all sorts of consumer goods)
Exports: Art objects, luxury foods

This forest kingdom is probably the biggest authentic feudal society remaining in the world, though it is far from a typical one. The elven nobility - the sidhe - has grown over the course of centuries until they are nearly the equal of the commoner elves, and this is putting strains on the kingdom which even elven magic cannot alleviate. Everyone who is anyone - that is, an sidhe- is a Lord, a Lady, a Dame, or a Knight, or so it seems at times. And woe to the outsider who confuses any of these titles, for this is taken as a great insult and few will hesitate to challenge the offender to a duel. The whole society functions through an elaborate set of etiquette rules which are hard for others to understand. Nevertheless, individuality and eccentricity are highly priced here, and being called “boring” is often considered the ultimate insult.

The elves, sidhe and the fey and other sylvan races are mostly content to stay in their forest home and watch as the world outside is changing rapidly. No matter what happens elsewhere, they figure they can still celebrate as the seasons go by. Outsiders, such as humans, have no rights save what an elf noble is willing to grant them - and they are often fickle enough to remove that protection in the blink of an eye. Some sidhe even take up hunting "lesser mortals" for sport, especially hobgoblins.



Avareen produces little when compared to the human realms, but then again it never needed to. Elven and fey craftsmen and artisans usually produce items of such high quality that they will last for very long times without needing replacement - and when they do break down, they are usually repaired by magic rather than replaced. Nevertheless, the growth of the sidhe has caused a shortage of many goods among the luxury-hungry nobles, and they are increasingly relying on items of human manufacture to make up for it. Of course, no sidhe would be willing to admit that he depends on such imports. Instead, a custom has developed that elves and sidhe go forth into the wider world and bring back "souvenirs" from the "primitive humans" and other natives of other lands. In recent decades, the amount of "souvenirs" has reached staggering proportions.

In contrast, Avareen is fully self-supporting when it comes to food. The population density of the realm is still fairly low in comparison with human lands, and the skill of elven and fey farmers have made even forests as fertile as fields maintained by humans might be. Many of the "forest gardens" are actually tended to by magically-controlled insect swarms which eliminate weeds and vermin. Trees and other plants have been altered to provide an abundance of fruits, vegetables, and grains of incomparable taste, and human gourmets from distant regions pay high prices for even small amounts of these delicacies (especially the famed Avareen Truffles, which are worth far more than their weight in gold in foreign markets). Avareen could probably benefit enormously by exporting more food than the tiny amounts that some elves unofficially use for barter with the outside world - if the sidhe wouldn't see trade with human lands as below the dignity of their nation.

Life and Society

In theory, the sidhe nobles live lives of leisure free of worry when not attending to ruling the realm. However, the reality is different - the sidhe class has grown large and bloated thanks to the common practice of adopting the newborn children of commoner elves into their houses, whether because they are the bastard offspring of a noble house or whether to repay a favor to certain commoners. While there are plenty of nobles with true power and wealth left, there is a vast number of sidhe with little more than a title to their name. They often cannot even gain an entourage as it would be appropriate for their station, and if they wish to avoid the mockery of their peers, they usually need to bribe prospective members of their entourage with large gifts - and for elves, this might mean adopting their future children into a noble house and turning them into sidhe, thus further bloating the number of sidhe. Often they will take minor fey as members of their entourage, and some daring souls even recruit humans and other members of outsider races for this purpose. While this technically fulfills the requirements for an entourage, this is terribly risky for these beings, as unlike others they have few rights within Avareen.

Many sidhe desire to rise in influence within their house and Avareen society as a whole by gaining higher titles. As this tends to require either extravagant bribes or spectacular deeds of daring to impress their superiors, many sidhe with nothing to loose go on adventures in foreign lands. In many human lands they are able to impress the natives with their fancy titles, since most humans have little knowledge of the actual social ranks they imply.

The positions of commoner elves varies. Some of them suffer under greedy nobles who demand huge tithes in order to further their own schemes. On the other hand, elves with specific skills which are in huge demand among the sidhe - often as artisans or other activities which would be"below the station" of the sidhe to engage in - can often name their prices, since the demand for their abilities is high. Often they can arrange for their own children to be adopted to a noble house in return for their continued services. Nevertheless, most feel a lot of pressure to provide the resources the local noble houses require.

Many minor fey and members of the sylvan races work for the sidhe, but many more try their best to live isolated from the main communities as they have always done. Nevertheless, many find it increasingly hard to stay away from the ever-increasing demands of the nobles.

The social hierarchy of the fey, which are tightly woven into the fabric of the land as the trods of Avareen are beyond counting, parallels those of the mortal races, with the Fair Folk nobles lording it over the lesser fey. The social rules for interactions between mortals and fey are complex, but as the Fair Folk are, if anything, even more capricious than the sidhe, most mortals avoid them as much as possible.

Government and Politics

On top of the feudal hierarchy of Avareen stands the monarch, who is always a Queen and the oldest living female descendant of the last Queen. Below her are the royal nobles, or Amril, who are blood relatives of the Queen and are always 49 in number. These rule over the towns and districts of Avareen at a fixed order of preference depending on how closely they are related to the Queen. Only sidhe who have reached their 121st birthday can hold the title of Amril, however. The orders of preference are:

  • The children of the Queen hold preference over the siblings of the queen, who hold preference over the children of the sisters of the queen, who hold preference over the children of the brothers of the queen, who hold preference over the siblings of her mother, who hold preference over the siblings of her father.
  • Among relatives who hold the same rank in the list above, women always hold preference over men.
  • If all other factors are being equal, seniority in age determines who outranks whom.

The sole exception to this system is the Amril of Enegorn, who is always the father of the Queen if he is still alive, or else her oldest male relative if he isn't. The Amril of Enegorn is supposed to stay out of politics, but this has not always been observed by the holder of that office

If a new close relative of the Queen reaches his 121st birthday or an existing Amril dies beyond hope of resurrection (either because of old age or terrible death magics - which are rare, but not unheard of in the intrigues of Avareen), the list of Amril and their order of preference changes - which means that those whose position has changed must move to a new town or district. This prevents the Amril from creating a large power base in any one place with which they might threaten the kingdom, though most have a staff of advisers and aides which they take with them whenever they move. Still, most are eager to leave some kind of mark on any city they have ruled - ideally, something that cannot be casually reversed by the next ruler.

Groups and Organizations


Most sidhe are not terribly religious, but they do have a few favorites. First among them is Arienach, a version of Argannon, who they believe grants supremacy to the most cunning and worthy of all - and since most sidhe believe somewhere in their hearts that they are the most worthy, they follow Arienach in order to grasp the power they see as their right through whatever underhanded means is necessary. Jorunnos is worshiped as Aranor by those sidhe who actually seek for meaning and new paths to tread in their lives. Both Mara and Norol find ready adherents among those sidhe who want to loose themselves in dreams and fantasies instead of dealing with reality.

Among the commoners and sylvan races, veneration of Handrel, an aspect of Hatramo, is popular, as he helps them to endure the whims of fate as well as their fickle rulers. Kortus finds many followers as Rollas, both for being a patron of farmers and as a reminder that everything comes in cycles and that everything must come as an end - including the excesses of their rulers.

Important NPCs

Major Geographical Features

Important Towns and Cities

Important Sites

Regional History

About four thousand years ago, small tribes of elves fleeing from southern lands scattered across the forested North. They frequently came into conflict with other tribes of orcs, humans, and hobgoblins living in the area, which gradually decimated their numbers. A thousand years later, two groups of elves made a Compact with the powers of Faerie, just like their cousins in Narevoreen had done earlier. These became the sidhe houses of Avareen and Tuvareen and set out to forge their own nations from the scattered tribes. Both nations prospered for a time, but both lines claimed supremacy over all elves in the North and waged a series of wars to decide the matter in one way or another. Ultimately, these wars resolved nothing and only resulted in mutual exhaustion. By the time the Atalan Empire expanded northwards, both were only able to claim a fraction of their former territory.

Avareen then turned inwards and built up its own defenses. Its sidhe researched the arcane arts until they had few equals in the world and used them to turn their home into a realm of plenty. Its enchanted forests provided both a bounty of food and deadly defenses for any unwise intruders. As a result, Avareen was able to throw back several invasions of hobgoblins from the East with relative ease, and the sidhe grew confident of their superiority over their neighbors and that there was nothing that could challenge their rule.

However, the gradual growth in numbers of the sidhe ruling class is causing increasing problems from within. As ever-higher numbers of sidhe emerge who have only a minor noble title and nothing else to look forward to in life, unrest grows among the population. Many compensate for their empty lives by seeking glory beyond the borders of Avareen, but this seems unlikely to be enough in the long run. It doesn't help that the current Queen is only preoccupied with her own vanity and glory instead of putting the affairs of state in order.

Adventure Ideas

It is important to remember that non-elf and non-sidhe characters in Avareen have no rights apart from those that individual sidhe deign to grant them. If they are lucky, a sidhe will accept them into their entourage, which will confer them some protection since harming these is a serious slight to their patron. A sidhe PC might fill that role, but since such a PC probably has been away from Avareen for long stretches of time, she might not have enough social standing to protect them effectively.

Even such protection is not foolproof, however, for their patron's rivals might try to harm them with underhanded means that leave no trace back to them, since the inability to protect her entourage will cost the patron serious loss of face. They might also trick them to unknowingly violate some taboos or customs, or otherwise offend another sidhe, in which case their patron has to either withdraw his protection or suffer serious consequences herself.

If they have no such protection, the best way to survive is to be entertaining, for the sidhe are much more willing to suffer a charming and witty bard, daring acrobat, or other entertainer in their middle than a surly soldier without any social graces - and indeed, they might handsomely reward such people for their performances. Being too entertaining has its own dangers, however, since then one of the sidhe might invite them to join his own entourage - and they rarely take "No" for an answer.

  • The Birthday Present: The birthday of the Queen is approaching, and it is traditional that the nobles of the realm present her with gifts. The more impressive the gift, the higher will the noble rise in the favor of the Royal Court. Thus, an sidhe known to the party asks them to retrieve an especially impressive magic item or piece of art in order to increase his status. However, other sidhe are after the same item… and even if the party successfully obtain it, what if the item was somehow trapped by their rivals and will cause a huge scene when it is presented to the courtiers?
  • To the Rescue: A young scion of a wealthy Flannish dynasty has decided to follow his former sidhe paramour into Avareen. His family hires the party to bring him back. The young man, who now has realized that his lover only saw him as an amusing toy, is all too willing to come back with them - but his lover and her entourage won't let him go until they have gotten enough entertainment out of him and his would-be rescuers. They will insist that the PCs stay as "guests" as well and play all sorts of tricks and mind games on them. The grand finale will be a manhunt all the way to the border - if the characters manage to escape in time, they will be allowed to go free, but if not they will be hunted down and slain like animals.

Designer's Notes & Resources

Avareen started out as an exploration of the nastier kind of fairy tale - where the Fair Folk would have their way with you until you cease to be amusing, leaving you old and spent and with pockets full of leaves which were gold coins last night. Still, I realized that there was something missing - something to make this realm truly unique and interesting.

The solution came with the introduction of the eladrin in D&D 4E, and my take on them (now renamed "sidhe"). Now I had "enchanted elves" lording it over everyone else, including common elves. This worked for quite some time, but eventually the realm ended up with more nobles than the commoners are able to support - and the situation is likely to get worse until it is resolved somehow.

And the irony of subjecting a "timeless elven realm" to changing socio-economic pressures was just too delicious to ignore.


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