Costume by Anna Tait, Mathew Tait and Tansy Pye, Make-up by Tansy Pye
Varushkan families are large, and most contain at least a few people with lineage


Varushkans take a pragmatic approach to lineage – they know well the dangers of judging someone by their appearance. Varushkan families are large, and many people can tell a story of a relative who has lineage. As long as a person with lineage abides by the rules of Varushka, their fellows largely do not care about the touch of magic in their blood.

This touch of the other also draws the attention of the volhov. Many volhov are lineaged or were taught their magic by a lineaged master. When people are troubled by Eternals or their heralds, the volhov know that people with lineage will have an advantage dealing with creatures who share their supernatural roots. If a vale is having trouble with a Summer Eternal, many volhov would rather have the assistance of a naive changeling cook than a schlacta without lineage.

Specific Lineage

Stories claim that the draughir lineage began in Varushka in a valley beset by terrible famine. A boyar made a deal with a powerful Winter Eternal to save her people but in the process they were transformed into monsters who feasted on rotten meat and the flesh of the dead. Traditionally the Varushkans have a great deal of respect for the pragmatic instincts of the draughir and for their ability to survive, while simultaneously keeping a close eye on them in case their monstrous appetites overwhelm them.

The briar lineage is accepted in Varushka, but its members are not entirely trusted. There is a common prejudice that the willful nature of the briar lineage makes it difficult to follow the rules, and that a briar left to their own devices in a dangerous situation will simply end up harming themselves and others. They are treated as if they are a little slow - and few briars can tolerate this attitude for long.

The Company of the White Stag

The Company of the White Stag is an unpopular changeling fellowship of wardens who concentrate on fighting monsters. There are several chapters of this fellowship active in Varushka at any given time, and they tend to be short lived. Their confidence drives them to take their lives in their hands and risk trying to destroy these creatures wherever they can, taking risks far beyond what their peers consider good sense. Many Varushkans consider these changelings to be a liability – their recklessness and refusal to abide by the rules is a disaster waiting to happen and they are considered anathema and cast out by most other wardens.

The Vodyanoi

The rivers of Varushka are often used to transport raw materials for trade. Some vales along the banks of the most commonly travelled rivers are dominated by clannish merrow boyars who are known for charging hefty tolls for all boats that pass through their territories. Called vodyanoi, the people of these merrow-dominated settlements are seen as grasping and miserly. The common vodyanoi claim is that without the hard work of their schlacta, the rivers would quickly become impassable. They are also accused of various underhand economic practices such as dumping rubble into rivers to prevent trade bypassing them. Calling a merrow a vodyanoi is often an insult.


Of all the Imperial nations, Varushka is the one most associated in the popular consciousness with the enslavement of the orcs. The Orc Rebellion began in Varushka. The ringleader, Thrace, was a Varushkan slave. The Varushkans were the first people forced to confront the necessity of using their armies against the escaped orcs, and the last to accept the decision of Emperor Ahraz to recognise the orcs as people. Many Varushkans were ruined when the orcs were freed - barely two generations later the violence, and the sense of betrayal by their Imperial allies are still fresh in many minds.

Some Varushkans find the attitude of the other Imperial nations a little hard to swallow - they are quick to remind them that every nation other than the Freeborn kept orcs as slaves for centuries. The farms of the Marches, the fighting pits of the League, and the forests of Dawn were worked by orc slaves just as much as the Varushkan mines were. It is unjust, they argue, that Varushka is painted as the villain, the tyrant who oppressed the ancestors of the Imperial Orcs.

Others, of course, still regret that the orcs were ever freed. There is an undercurrent of bigotry against Imperial Orcs to this day in some corners of the nation - sometimes overt, more often bubbling away beneath the surface. There are people alive today who remember a time when an orc would not look a Varushkan in the eye for fear of a flogging - or worse. Much less talk back to them, or consider themselves the equal of a human.

For their part, the Imperial Orcs avoid Varushka, except to make pilgrimages to the places where certain key events of the rebellion took place.