The Land of Lugate is strange mage craft is very rare amongst them, any mage that is born there is treated as a rare resource and left much to themselves to do as they will. However the talent of alchemy rare in the other Kingdoms is much more frequently practised by the Lugates. A country with a strong tradition of poetry and storytelling they seem naturally attuned to the vagaries of Alchemy and all its random benefits and downsides. Ruled by a King and Queen, Lugate is a rowdy nation of more merry go lucky Alchemists bards, drunken warriors, grim questing knights who seek favour from the royal family and perhaps even a grant of land. Its Mages tend to be hermits seeking to be left alone to learn or mad adventurers toying with the darkest powers to see what happens.
Much of Lugate’s reputation in the other kingdoms comes from her alchemists. No one is quite certain why they flourish here and are rarely seen in Brazene or Hutar but flourish they do. Their philosophy is simple, everything contains a secret, that mysterious something that fuels and shapes their magic. Certain things contain more than others and, to an outsider, there is not necessarily much rhyme or reason to the kind of secret in any particular item. One rock looks much like another, even to a witch or a sorcerer, but where one will contribute to a potion, another is virtually inert. Thus much time is given to the study of what works and what doesn’t, with some alchemists priding themselves on their experimental boldness in search of new reagents. Some of these are successful, others are memorialised in cautionary tales of their messy demise.
Of course, it is not simply the physical ingredients that are important, as any alchemist will be quick to point out. The words are as essential as anything else, get the rhyme wrong and the best that will happen is a bowl of inert mush. There are almost as many theories as to exactly why this should be the case as there are alchemists. Conventional wisdom says that the words are some kind of key to unlock the story of the ingredients, the rhyme having some kind of resonance. Quite how the mechanics of the thing work however, is open to wild speculation.
Lugate settlements tend to be built on the rare islands of stable ground, they are usually built around a central well going deep below the surface marshes to pure water beneath. Society is built around a very laissez-faire concept of the family group where family is considered to be the people you are happy with, rather than those you share blood with. On these grounds, surnames tend to relate either to occupations or locations, they are more nicknames to differentiate two people sharing a first name. Of course, most people claim to be able to trace their ancestry back to one or another of Lugate’s heroes and so their names frequently crop up as either first or second.
As well as the family groups, there are chapters of knights who make it their duty both to protect Lugate’s borders and citizens, and to seek out their own stories. The concept of the Story in Lugate is a central one to the lives of the people. It is believed that each individual has their own Story, some outsiders think of these as the same as destiny but those born in Lugate are well aware that a Story can be changed, for better or for worse. Whereas Hutari adventurers go out questing for ancient knowledge and artefacts, a knight of Lugate searches for new knowledge and a way to ensure that their story is strengthened. Although they take the central role in their own drama, sometimes that role is that of a villain. A knight who has razed villages to the ground in the process of ferreting out a single Changeling is just as likely to be recalled in tales as one who faced down a troop of Sidhe thralls in single combat. The way someone confronts their Story varies widely, while some consider a glorious death against overwhelming odds a fitting crescendo, others would prefer to be known as a survivor, retreating to find victory another day. Naturally, with the emphasis on a personal Story, some Lugate knights choose a more solitary path but these are fewer than might be expected. The chapters frequently take names representing their goals, the direction its members wish to guide their Stories in.
Alchemists are a breed apart, although they are well respected in Lugate, their ability makes them stand out, as does the fact that some of them become so used to thinking in rhyme that it slips over into their everyday speech. Legend tells that, by the end of his life, Peter spoke almost entirely in rhyming couplets. However irritating this trait may be, it is considered bad luck to cross an alchemist, partly because you can never be sure what they might bring down on you with a creatively mixed brew and partly because they are paramount to the rite which keeps the Sidhe at bay each year. With the Lugate focus on Stories, it is perhaps unsurprising that story tellers and poets are also held in esteem. However, woe betide the poet who tries to sell his rhymes to an alchemist. The force residing within the reagents (or the one that awakens them, depending on who you ask) does not like alchemists who do not do their own work and the potion is likely to fail at best. At worst, the results can be quite spectacular. It is common to find people crowded together in taverns or village halls after nightfall, listening to a local teller of tales. Some nights they are fortunate enough to be graced by a wandering bard who may have new stories to offer. This gives Lugate a rich oral history, although they do not have the associated mistrust of written material in the way that the Brazene do.
Religion does not revolve around deities in Lugate, so much as it takes the form of hero worship of an aspirational kind. Those with particularly vivid and captivating stories are held up as examples (or occasionally warnings) to be kept in mind as an individual seeks to walk the path of their own tale. It is not uncommon for someone to wear a small medallion or trinket representing their favoured hero, a method of reminding themselves what they wish to be (and perhaps attracting a little of the glory of these legendary figures). Rada, or Racine, is an honorific which loosely translates to ‘root’, signifying their These are some of the most well known of those heroes.
Michel – Michel’s Story centres around his on going battles with the Sidhe. It is said that he drove off the first major incursion into Lugate territory and thus established the borders of the kingdom. He was the master at arms of the royal family at that time. He is celebrated by warriors and invoked by those who need protection.
Ulrich – As a kingdom in which fish forms a large part of the diet, it is perhaps unsurprising that Ulrich rose to the position of Rada. Much as Michel did for the land borders, Ulrich battled the sea creature that laired just off the coast of Lugate and made the shallow waters safe for fishing. He is favoured by those who make their living from the sea and anyone setting foot on a boat.
Annette – In most tales, Annette and Ulrich were husband and wife, or at least lovers. She created a potion that calmed the seas during his battle with the monster. There is some discussion however, others claim that she was a witch who successfully called down a storm to destroy a Sidhe hunting party. Either way, she is considered a patron of those dealing with storms of both physical and metaphorical nature.
Claire – Claire was one of the first alchemists in Lugate, it is said that she first discovered the mystical artefact known as the grail and created the ritual potion brewed each year to strengthen the kingdom’s protection against the Sidhe.
Anthony – A master healer, it is said that Anthony could bring a person back from the very brink of death. He once saved the heir to the throne but refused the rewards that the king and queen wished to press upon him, returning to his work as a grave digger. However, it is said that if Rada Anthony digs your grave, nothing can save you. His name is invoked as often when cursing an enemy as when attempting a miraculous feat of healing.
Barbara – Racine Barbara joined an order of knights at a young age, although the name of the order is lost to memory, that now named after her claims to descend from it. During a training battle, she fell from her mount and broke both legs, unable to ride or walk long distances even after they had healed, she despaired for her ambition. In a dream, the sound of a smith’s hammer beating on the anvil came to her, and the next day she took herself to the forge and demanded to be taught. Although her legs remained weak, her arms were whole and she learned quickly. It is said that armour forged by Barbara could not be pierced by Sidhe weapons.
Marianne – Marianne lived several hundred years ago, while there were more than only three kingdoms, in her time the monarchs were King Jourdain and Queen Amelie. Marianne was a scribe at the castle and thus saw much more of the royal couple than most. Thus she saw their excesses and petty cruelties as well as the face they chose to present to their people on the rare times they appeared in public. She used her position to spread word of the truth and, eventually, sparked a revolution which she led. Although most bards cannot agree on whether or not Marianne actually held the knife which killed either royal, they all agree that she was responsible for their deaths and the installment of a new regime.
Pierre – Pierre is something of a mythical figure, certainly no one can point to historical records of his life. He is credited as a master bard who discovered the importance of rhyme in creating effective potions, this would suggest to most that he lived around the same time as Clare as they both have ties to the origins of Alchemy as it is practised now. Other legends state that Pierre knew all languages, human, Sidhe, even those of the animals and the dead. Although Pierre was an alchemist, he is also favoured by those needing to engage in tricky negotiations or seeking to communicate over any distance.
Damian – Damian was a healer, although he did not possess the talent for Alchemy, his knowledge of herbs and plants was second to none. He turned this knowledge to healing, brewing cures even for the venoms used by the Sidhe. Unlike Rada Anthony, Damian cannot save someone from the brink of death, nor does he deal with curses, anything which can be resolved by mundane and mortal means is his purview. It is also said that there was no plant he could not cultivate, even those that usually grow only on the high peaks of Hutar or in Brazene’s most humid valleys flourished in Damian’s garden.
Lucien – Less benign than most of the other Radas, Lucien was once a king of Lugate who treated with the Sidhe. Although he had every intention of twisting the bargain to his own advantage in the end, he still sacrificed nearly a thousand of those under his protection to their enemies. He sent conflicting orders to various generals and had messengers waylaid. While the Sidhe ran rampant over the battle site, slaughtering Lugate’s best and brightest, Lucien sent a cadre of mages to bring down a rain of fire on the field. He killed many Sidhe but also slew the remainder of his own soldiers. On a smaller scale, he delighted in sewing discord between his advisors, setting them against each other in order to make them work harder. When he died (ostensibly of natural causes), the heads of the largest Knightly orders bonded together and sought the aid of Brazene’s ruling council, rumour had it that part of his bargain with the Sidhe would grant him the ability to return from death. The witches buried him at a crossroads in the heart of Lugate, binding any remaining magic in him to the land and preventing him rising. Some, whether brave, desperate, or foolish, believe that calling out an impossible wish while standing at a crossroads will summon the spirit of Lucien to grant it – for a price.
The Current King and Queen are His Majesty Heinrich Karrion and Her Majesty Elspeth Draco.
The rulership of Lugate is hereditary, passing down to a child in the family with no magical or alchemical talent. This practice predates all but the earliest of Sidhe incursions and is intended to ensure that ruling family, alchemists and mages must all work together for the good of the kingdom. In the instances when one particular member of this triumvirate has proven unstable or more concerned with personal power, something has always happened to remove them. These incidents reinforce the idea of the power of stories in Lugate – the hero rising up to save the land from a tyrant is a well worn path when there are tyrants to be found. The throne passes to the eldest qualifying child, regardless of gender and they and their spouse rule as equals. It is required that the monarch take a spouse to maintain balance, while these may well be love matches, it is equally possible for the bonding to be a mere political formality between two people who feel they each have a valuable talent required by the kingdom. In the event of the reigning monarchs not having children, an heir is sought from their wider family.
The current monarchs have three children, two boys and a girl, none of them have displayed magical skill but neither has an heir been announced. Since Queen Elspeth came to the throne, there have been no major political incidents between the triumvirate of forces in the kingdom. Her match with King Heinrich appears to be one founded on love, or at least lust, if their increasing family is anything to go by. They are frequently seen together at Court and are generally considered benign rulers if somewhat lacking in the fabric of heroic Stories.
Unlike Hutar and Brazene, Lugate does not have a mountainous profile to protect it from the invasion of the Sidhe, rather it is a mostly flat land of fens and many rivers. Where the earth will bear the weight of a man on horse back is something that Lugate natives learn as they learn to walk and something that is not shared lightly with outsiders. Over time, the rivers have shifted, leading to changes in the water table, and so it is not uncommon to find abandoned settlements half sunk into the mire. At what passes for higher elevations in Lugate, the land is turned over to meadows and livestock with tightly controlled areas of woodland. Even here, the ground is mostly unsuitable for farming much aside from rice and mushrooms. During what would be the growing season in other kingdoms, Lugate is prone to battering by high winds carrying humid air from warmer areas. The mostly flat countryside does not provide much protection from these forces of nature.
With its long coast line, many Lugate citizens brave the sea to provide fish, a staple of the kingdom’s diet. Ulrich is credited with creating the spell which keeps the shallower waters safe for the harvest of shell fish, at the cost of his own life. Fishermen who brave the deeper seas are seen as being warriors, every bit as brave in their own right as the knights who defend Lugate’s borders.
Mix it up real good, I know I’ve stuck in what I should , Twisted root and Flaxen strong, blood of a child who’s done no wrong, herbs and such a pretty flower, All to give my potion power, drink it down good and fast, Your face will be what the Sidhe sees last.
Look and Feel
Unlike the other human kingdoms, which tend to have a fairly standard look to their populations, Lugate has several distinct styles of dress. There are those who claim that you can tell everything you need about a citizen of Lugate just by examining their clothing. Alchemists lean towards the practical, robes in colours dark enough that they are unlikely to show up the stains from failed potions, or in harlequin patterns so that any stain might be a deliberate part of the garment. Their more distinctive feature is the bags and pouches they tend to be festooned with. There is an Alchemist saying in Lugate that you can never have too many pockets, and some seem determined to push this idea to the limit. From a simple bag and a few pockets in the robe, to belts with pouches hanging off them and bandoliers of tiny containers. Even so, there will almost always be a few secret stashes in an alchemist’s clothing that only he or she knows about. For all their eccentric appearances, an alchemist prizes the tailor skilled enough to turn even their clothing into a receptacle for the ingredients they might find. Lugate’s knightly orders consider armour to be as much a form of clothing as that which stands between the armour and their skin. Steel is preferred, be it plate or chain, but even the leather armour worn by their swift moving scouts and archers is likely to have steel studs in it. The metal is considered to be proof against the Sidhe and their powers although it certainly has not stopped Sidhe blades cutting down great knights in the past. Beneath the armour, clothing is simple and designed more as padding than anything else. With the somewhat feudal nature of Lugate, the quality of this padding, as well as that of a surcoat is generally a good indication of the standing of the individual. Those who do not aspire to Knighthood but still find themselves skilled in combat, tend towards leather and fur in their armour and are considered somewhat barbaric by their counterparts. Barbaric or not, it is these men and women who are more likely to brave the forests at the edge of Lugate and battle the fae in small skirmishes rather than pitched battle.
Among those of the kingdom not minded to either potion crafting or war, the fashion is for layers of garments that can be adjusted to accommodate the temperature of whichever part of the land they find themselves. Perhaps in a protest against the often dull colours of the land, Lugate clothing is brightly coloured. The fabric is imported from kingdoms with better ground for farming cotton or silk worms, or creatures that give fleece, however, Lugate’s forests are full of sources of all manner of dyes. At its most simple, a lugate costume is a shirt and skirt or trousers tucked into high boots. Atop this are layered scarves and waistcoats or over garments. Hats, head dresses and hair ornamentation are currently in vogue, sometimes used to convey messages to observers about the wearer’s mood or intentions. Courtly dress requires fine materials and jewel toned dyes with pale base layers and bright over dresses, sleeves, long coats, and robes in velvet, silk and other sumptuous fabrics. A civilised function, to the higher echelons of Lugate society, should push back the darkness surrounding them with light, music and colour. In less structured affairs, the colour and music are no less dazzling but the tone is more raucous and the light is generally provided by large camp fires which provide a focal point for the gathering.
When it comes to weaponry, the variety is almost as great as with fashion. Knights take up the symbolic armoury of their calling, the long, double edged blade and shield wielded by Michael and, later on, Barbara. Shield shape varies from order to order and they are often decorated with a crest denoting both family affiliation and order. The few mages born in Lugate tend to carry staves similar to those of their kind in other lands. The gnarled trees of the swamps in Lugate provide staves with unusual twists and burls, mages cut their own staves and rarely do more than strip the bark and polish the inner wood.
Alchemists, in general, prefer to let their potions take centre stage in a battle. It is a common thought that, if an Alchemist needs to draw a blade for battle, the fight is already lost. However, this does not stop most of them carrying small daggers. In a pinch, they can be used for defence or a sneak attack but they are more often used for harvesting ingredients for potions. Bows and shorter, single edged blades are more common amongst the general populous of Lugate, although almost anything that can be turned to lethal use is pressed into service when word spreads of a Sidhe attack.