Swamplands, plains, hills, and forests; The Birelands have them all. The landscape is as diverse as there are lords to rule it.
Lore of The Birelands
The Birelands were settled by Corellon’s followers a thousand years ago. It is the furthest west one can go on the continent and therefore was as far from Celestia as the elves could go. Problems started almost immediately for the elves, once their leader Corellon died. He left no natural successor, feeling that his people could best decide who should rule. Unfortunately Corellon’s followers were almost exclusively the nobility of Celestia, so each elf styled themselves as a lord, and felt that they deserved to rule. Many strategies were tried in an attempt to solve this dilemma. Elections were held, but there were too many candidates and too few voters. Wars broke out, but there were too many generals and not enough soldiers. A lottery was held, but no one was satisfied with the method of random choosing. Finally, it was decided that the elves would rule themselves. The Birelands were broken up into 500 separate kingdoms, ranging in size from ten miles square to two acres square. With death and marriage, the boundaries of the kingdoms slowly shifted, and no map could ever keep up with the boundaries set forth by the sovereign elf lords.
The landscape of the Birelands consists of many different ecosystems. One can find swamps, hills, forests, jungles, plains, riverlands, and anything else one would want. Every bit of land is owned, however, and travel across the Birelands becomes problematic when one elf lord refuses travelers access, but others do. It can take weeks longer than should be necessary to travel across country, as it is impolite to cross a elf lord’s territory without first supping with him or her. Those who step on this honored custom find themselves on the wrong side of elf hospitality, for as kind as the elves can be, they can be equally vicious. Many have hired hobgoblins for security and the building of armies, humans for farmhands, and halflings for personal servants. Because of this, one can find a very diverse crowd inside the Birelands.
Settlements and Features
Due to the unique composition of the Birelands, there are very few large cities. The largest city that one could find is Aranarost, which was where Corellon stopped to build his country after journeying west. Translated, it means the City of Kings. It is relatively empty most of the time, and is only occupied when the Assembly of 500 Lords meets once every five years.
Plots and Adventure Sites
Before Corellon settled his people in the Birelands, the lands were owned by the Dwarven Kingdom. The dwarves called it Gors-Gwlad, and set up many mines to strip the plentiful bronze ore that was in the hills. The mines were all abandoned when the dwarves left, and some of the mines are unknown even to the elves that now own them. There are also many dwarven fortresses that are hidden in the dense forests that might still contain dwarven treasure, if they have not already been delved by the elves that live there now.
The Elves are peaceful to one another, but there are deep feuds between some of the elven families. An example is the Greenleaf – Brownleaf rivalry. They are two families that were once one, and now they dispute amongst themselves about who is the rightful owner of a former dwarven mine that was on their forefather’s territory. The Greenleafs insist that it is their mine, while the Brownleafs have gone so far as to camp a number of hobgoblins outside the mine, with orders to kill any Greenleaf they see approach. This has angered the Greenleafs, and some have heard rumors that they would pay any price for the heads of the Brownleaf family delivered to their door…
The Assembly of 500 Lords
There is no central government to speak of. The closest thing that occurs is the Assembly of 500 Lords, which meets every 5 years. The 500 Lords are the descendants of the original 500 wealthiest families that came from Celestia. When the time comes, they all descend upon Aranarost with a small contingent of household guards and servants. During this time Aranarost becomes a bustling metropolis with easily 6,000 people crammed into quarters meant for half as many.
Each day, a different lord takes the floor of the Assembly Court and airs any greivences, problems, or suggestions they may have. These range from the petty border disputes to marriage proposals to complaints about roaming bands of masterless hobgoblins. Little is ever truly accomplished at these assemblies as they view their sovereign rights to be more important than national unity, and the Assembly is more of an exercise of their feelings of superiority than anything truly meaningful.