Review of Sources
Surprisingly, Gullykin only makes it into two official sources. I wish more had been written about this small little halfling village. So often on the Sword Coast we see human settlements (or at least settlements found by humans). It’s so rare and such a treat to see somewhere not founded by humans.
Of these, the only one that gets into any noteworthy details about the village is Volo’s Guide to the Sword Coast. Anyone who has played the Baldur’s Gate video game will see how they incorporated references from this material into the village.
Technically, the third edition campaign setting describes this as being a settlement of humans and gnomes. But I’m choosing to ignore this. Mostly because it only appears in a reference that discusses where information about Durlag’s Tower can be found. I’m assuming it was a typo from someone who just pulled up a nearby settlement and rolled with it.
There really isn’t much written about Gullykin and its background. In the 1100s apparently, there was a massive spell battle near what today is Firewine Bridge. This left a permanent wild magic zone throughout Gullykin.
With it being the closest nearby settlement, it seems as though it has become something of a go-to place for travellers seeking to enter Durlag’s Tower.
What Makes it Unique Compared to Other Settlements?
It’s a Halfling Settlement
This may seem obvious, but it’s rare that you find a settlement like this in the Forgotten Realms. Too often the realms focus on non-human settlements only when they can be found in some weird place, like underground or underwater. Rarely ever on the surface.
Wild Magic Zone
The battle that occurred left this wild magic zone in an area that includes the settlement. Any attempt at casting magic, particularly for arcane casters, will likely trigger it. You can use the wild surge table under the wild magic sorcerer in the player’s handbook for determining what that really means in practice.
Scattered Magic Items on the Ground Nearby
Magic items were said to be found scattered in the fields near the Firewine Bridge. Now obviously its been 124 years since Volo’s Guide to the Sword Coast was written, so much of these will have been cleared, but a party travelling in this area may still find these items in the hands of local monsters. Something passed down over the generations.
Gullykin is secretly connected to ruins of an old trading company. The connection is found within the basement of the local brewery. There may however be other buildings in the settlement that also are connected to it. The ruins are said to hold riches heavily guarded by golems and other magically animated creatures. You’ll need a ward token to pass these safely however, and the locals don’t have them. Such tokens often turn up however elsewhere in the region, for a hefty price of course.
What are the Village’s Issues?
Wild Magic Zone
Whether there is a wild magic zone would ultimately be up to how you wish to run the area, seeing how many years have passed. But the presence of a wild magic zone has likely made it difficult for any halfling here to learn any kind of non-divine magic. Not that halflings beforehand were known for it, but the risks here would be too great.
The village is not mentioned in later literature and even is confused as being a human and gnome settlement in the 3rd edition campaign setting. Perhaps so few visitors visit it and return, having perished in Durlag’s Tower, that very few outside of it know precisely who lives here. In any case, it likely has remained a very small village up into the current day. With the village being off of any major trading route there is very little reason to believe it would have enough reason to have significantly grown in this period.
The halflings of this village likely only see visitors for brief visits. Their lives therefore very much revolve around their community and the other halflings they know. While a few halflings each year here will get wanderlust and go about travelling on their own, most young halflings are content with remaining in the village and raising a family of their own. So the community is probably pretty insulated.
How Can I Use It in My Campaign?
Gullykin could be an interesting starting point for a low-level campaign. Perhaps you had heard tales of the ruins of the Firewine Bridge and wanted to check them out for yourself, or perhaps you simply had heard of this halfling village and decided to mount an expedition here to see what local treasures there were to be had. Perhaps they even heard of the wild magic zone in the area and came to investigate it for themselves.
A higher level campaign, of course, can use this as a pitstop before they enter Durlag’s Tower.
If you are looking to run Durlag’s Tower in 5E there are two Adventurers League modules that cover it – DDAL05-08: Durlag’s Tower and DDAL05-09: Durlag’s Tomb. These 5th edition adventures are for parties of level 11 to 16.