The lutin (LŪT-ən) is a hardy species of tribal humanoid native to the Giantdowns. Lutins are shorter on average than humans; adults range from 4' to 5 1/2' in height. Most are green in color, but brown and black coloration also occurs in some places.
Lutins are mammals, and they tend to reproduce quickly. They can interbreed with humans, but half-lutins are relatively uncommon. Such children are usually born as the result of rape … and contrary to popular belief, the woman being raped is not always the human. Loving relationships between humans and lutins have occurred, but they are extremely rare.
Lutins reach adulthood at age 5 and usually live to around age 20. Some individuals do live substantially longer than this, particularly the shamans and the female elders, but for the average male lutin it is almost unheard of to see one older than 30. Life for a lutin is short and violent, and the males rarely die of old age.
Tough as nails, lutins can survive and flourish in almost any environment. What they lack individually is more than made up for in sheer numbers; lutins never hunt or make war alone, and a lutin cut off from his tribe rarely survives for long.
Native lutin culture is tribal, with adult males forming wide-ranging hunting groups (called Ice tribes) and females and children forming larger, semi-nomadic communities (called Earth tribes). This structure provides an outlet for male aggression while keeping the lutins from risking their women and children by exposing them to danger. Lutins tend to keep their Earth tribes in secluded areas where they can be easily defended, so most of the lutins encountered by Keepers are Ice tribe males. An Earth tribe and its associated Ice tribes are together referred to as a clan.
An Ice tribe's responsibility is to hunt for food to sustain its Earth tribe and to make war on the tribe's enemies. The average Ice tribe consists of around 20 adult male warriors led by a chieftain, who is generally the fiercest and strongest member. A large Earth tribe may have four or five Ice tribes engaged in hunting and warfare on its behalf.
Life in an Ice tribe is brutal and defined by violence. The strongest bully and control the weak. Ice tribe names typically adopt names that mirror their combative nature — the Rippers, the Slashers, the Silent Knives, etc. Any females traveling with an Ice tribe are pleasure slaves, provided for the use of the tribe's chieftain and any favored underlings he chooses to give them to. These females are usually prisoners from a rival tribe and are expected to endure their treatment quietly.
The Earth tribe is the home of those the lutins consider non-expendable: mothers, children, and shamans. Earth tribes typically forage for herbs, roots and fruits; some may raise animals for food or do a little subsistence farming, if the soil in their territory is favorable for it and they have access to seeds. An Earth tribes is generally named after its totem animal, which is also the totem animal of its dependent Ice tribes; examples include the Moondogs, the Caribou, and the Dire Wolves. A typical Earth tribe may have a hundred or more inhabitants, more than half of them children; very successful ones can exceed four hundred.
Each Earth tribe is led by a wise woman, an older female who is revered for her knowledge of the tribe's history, traditions and survival skills. She is assisted and given counsel by the shaman, a male lutin trained in totemic magic. A shaman's magic is taught through oral tradition rather than spellbooks, so each Earth tribe has access to somewhat different spells and abilities.
Relations between tribes
Violence is a key part of lutin society, particularly among the Ice tribes, which constantly make war with the Ice tribes of neighboring clans. Earth tribes are often raided for food or females — one reason they work hard to avoid being found — but rarely are they killed outright by other lutins. An Earth tribe has more to fear from its human neighbors, who tend to see all lutins as monsters and have been known to slaughter entire Earth tribes in retaliation for Ice tribe raids on their territory. (This will usually earn immediate reprisals from any Ice tribes in the area, regardless of their clan affiliation. Fortunately, such escalating cycles of violence are rarer now than they have been in past centuries, since humans who have regular contact with lutins eventually learn about the Ice tribes' rules against killing Earth tribe members.)
It takes a very powerful leader to unite lutins from different clans into one army. Some past leaders include Grim Ironfist and Turack the Slaughterer. Nasoj united many of the clans for his three campaigns against Metamor,1, but his repeated failures have eroded their support. After the Winter Assault ended in disaster for the lutins who followed Nasoj, depriving dozens of Earth tribes of their Ice tribe protectors, the clans withdrew entirely from the wizard's service, leaving him vulnerable to Metamor's subsequent campaign against him in the summer and fall of 707 CR.
A small and incomplete list of tribes:
Death Walker - Earth tribe on the Southeast point of the Death Mountains.
Mountain Storms - They live in the high peaks of the Dragon Mountains above the snow line. Very tough people, even by Lutin standards.
The Mist Lions
Lutins are native only to the Giantdowns of northern Galendor, but they are highly adaptable and can live almost anywhere. They can build in stone and are fairly good at it, but they rarely bother to build because staying in a fixed location leaves them vulnerable to attack. Rather than building a new structure, an Ice tribe will usually take over an existing building — killing its occupants if necessary — and use that structure as a base of operations while they are hunting or making war in that area. When the Ice tribe moves on, the building is abandoned.
When an Earth tribe is believed to be in danger of attack, its Ice tribes will often cobble together a tribal stronghold — sometimes out of wood, sometimes stone, sometimes dug underground, but most often a little of all three. Ramshackle in appearance but surprisingly strong, they are meant to shelter the whole clan (Ice tribes and Earth tribe) from attack. The stronghold is usually only used until the immediate danger has passed; when the Earth tribe is in need of new areas to forage, it moves on and abandons the stronghold, though it may return to the location should it face danger again.
Weapons and Warfare
Lutins will go into battle using whatever weapons are available. Some will have steel swords; others may have spears, bows, bronze knives, slings, clubs, or whatever they can steal, or make. They have also been known to use poison on their weapons.
Lutins know how to make steel and the larger Earth tribes do have forges and weapon smiths, but steel weapons remain in short supply. Misha Brightleaf owns a longsword that he took from a lutin chief he killed, and he speaks highly of its craftmanship:
"It's entirely lutin-made and is of high-quality steel. The sword's edge is sharp enough to cut paper without tearing. Thankfully such weapons are in short supply." —Misha Brightleaf
Lutins also make weapons out of sharpened stones, bronze, copper, wood, bone (human bone being favorite material), and iron.
"Basically, lutins will use anything they can beat or bribe into obeying them." —Misha Brightleaf
Lutins are known to have domesticated various animals for guards, pets and mounts for cavalry. Known creatures are: ponies, dogs, wolves, giant cats, moondogs, dire wolves, ferrets, and giant spiders.
Misha's attitude is typical of humans who face lutins regularly in battle, but in truth the average lutin is as kind to his animals as the average human. Furthermore, their totemic magic and the spiritual connection they have to the land often means that lutins understand their animals better than humans do, and can communicate with them more easily. A human village would have little chance of befriending a pack of dire wolves, but lutins are known to have done so on many occasions.
Lutins are as capable of using magic as humans, but they lack the rich scholarship of human wizardry. As stated above, most lutin magic is shamanistic and totemic in nature. Lutin shamans form bonds with animals and nature spirits, and can also use elemental earth and ice magic with relative ease. Other types of magic have appeared among lutins, but they are very rare and are usually closely-guarded secrets of their respective clans.
One noteworthy gap in the knowledge of most lutin shamans is the realm of fire magic. The secret of tapping into elemental fire has eluded the lutins for centuries2, though they are not incapable of learning it when taught the necessary spells in a form they can understand.3 The skill displayed by human mages in using fire magic has led the lutins to call them the "People of Fire" in their own language; they refer to themselves as the "People of Earth and Ice."
Lutin magic is somewhat forceful in its use of ambient mana; a lutin shaman powers his spells by grabbing the necessary mana from the network of life around him, rather than pulling it from the Aether directly.4 This means that a shaman is notably more powerful when he is near a strong mana node or a nexus than he is when he is in a region where ambient magic is sparser. Most shamans meditate to find the places where mana is being generated in excess, and draw their power from that excess; this prevents the shaman from sapping the life force of the creatures around him and possibly harming or killing them.
Lutins are immune to the Curse of Metamor Keep, but half-lutins aren't. At least two half-lutins are known to have been changed by the Keep's magic.
Legends and Myths
Few of the intelligent species have as rich or long lasting variety of myths and legends as the lutins. Most of the lutin history is oral - passed down by word of mouth. Most tribes have an official story teller whose job is to remember the past. In later, more peaceful times several groups will make an intense study of the lutin lore. At that time some surprising discoveries will be made.
Kontil Antuil: Roughly translates as the Great Warmth. This VERY old legends tells of a time when the whole world was frozen and never knew spring or summer until a great warrior defeated an ice spirit thus allowing spring to occur again. A very common legend. Some people think it tells of the end of the last ice age over 12,000 years ago!
Night Lady: A commonly used name for the moon.
The Day Traveler: A common name for the sun.
Destruction of the Suielman Empire: In 150 CR the mass of Lutins broke the defenses in Metamor Valley and overran all of the Midlands. Few records survive from the human side but the Lutins have an astounding number of stories and legends about it. Writing them down uncovers a vast amount of knowledge on a period little known among the humans. A Lutin scholar Deadril Blueheart of the LongBlade tribe will start to collect all the stories she can. Her work will be published under the title "Tales of the Fall," and fill 12 full volumes.