Legion: Siberian Storydeals with the topic of civil war and the meaning of words such as heroism, home, and humanity in a time of turmoil. A volunteer army of an emerging democratic state is trying to get home from Siberia in the time of the Russian Civil War and must face many struggles and difficult choices in the process.
The game is set around Christmas 1918, at a time when the war in Europe has already ended.
The characters in the game do not portray any real historical figures.
Legion: Siberian Story is a Czech content larp, which ties it to a specific design tradition. We are aware that there can be many differences between larp cultures and traditions in Europe. In the following tabs we will try to describe the playing style of our game to bring everyone on the same page; however, we cannot possibly cover all the potential misunderstandings. Please, if you have any questions or objections, don’t hesitate to ask us either on our email: firstname.lastname@example.org or our FB page.
About the game
Legion: Siberian Story is a game which combines role-playing as characters in a time of crisis and a long nature hike in winter, together with inevitable military action. We want to tell a story of ordinary people in a critical situation. We want you to have the feeling that you were there. We want strong emotions, big conflicts, and intense relationships. We do not aim for a perfect military or historical simulation: both are merely props for telling your story.
The march itself is mostly an atmospheric tool, but it means that the game requires the players to be physically fit to a basic level and willing to endure discomfort. During the game (Friday half-day and Saturday the whole day) the players will march around 25 kilometres through woods and hills, with regular stops. Different characters come with different demands on physical activity; the registration form will allow you to choose how physically demanding you want your game to be. While soldiers will be fighting and shooting and Red Cross nurses will be running to save the wounded under fire, civilians can expect fewer physically demanding activities - but they will have more relationship play and often also more connection to the location to compensate for that.
When creating the game we adapted the historical reality to allow for a stronger and more inclusive story: the game is not a faithful reconstruction of what happened, but rather a collage of stories, fates, and situations, which can be found in this period.
It is also not at all necessary to study complex historical facts in order to be able to play the game - you will be provided with all the necessary information before the larp.
The First World War upended the old order of the world and replaced it with a new one. The idea of an independent Czechoslovak state found its supporters amongst the Allies and tens of thousands of volunteers fought for an independent Czechoslovakia, free of the Austro-Hungarian rule. A significant part of these volunteers fought on the Eastern Front as part of the Russian Imperial Army.
But the Tsarist Russia collapsed and sank into a civil war which lasted long after the war in Europe ended. Suddenly, the Czechoslovak volunteers had to stand against the Reds, the Communists, and forge a utilitarian alliance with the Whites, a rag-tag force made up of monarchists, autocrats, dictators, and democrats.
Our game starts when one of the Czechoslovak Legion's military trains is setting off for another part of its journey. But something goes awry, there is an unexpected ambush, and the train leaves - but not everyone is on board. A few minutes after that a group of survivors forms up, consisting of the remnants of several units, including civilians, the Red Cross and prisoners of war.
And that is where our heroes’ story begins - hopefully it will end by a reunion with the rest of the Czechoslovak army. They will have to make their way through a lawless land; a land in the midst of civil war, where yesterday's alliances mean nothing. Where will this journey lead them? How will their story end? You will decide that!
We believe that although the game is focused on the stories of Czechoslovaks and the civil war, it can also convey strong messages about much more general and universal topics of its time. About ideology, war, and humanity.
What we want from the game is to create strong stories together and for each other in a setting simulating Siberia and the civil war. We want to give the players interesting and powerful experiences and a feeling of “having really been there”, as well as some food for thought. The game cannot be won, but it is also not the goal to just create as many cool and dramatic scenes as possible regardless of character integrity. The game does not support a gamist playstyle; we try to encourage each player to create a coherent and powerful story throughout the game for themselves and other players.
The players will be given pre-written characters with backgrounds, relationships, and goals. Every player will have a number of key choices and how they interpret their character will be up to them - but they will not be able to change or add major content. We believe this design allows us to convey powerful stories in a historically conscious manner.
The game is a “come and play” sort and only light preparation is expected of the players. You will get a full character sheet and you will not be asked to participate in writing it; however, we will ask you to read it thoroughly, think about your interpretation, and consult any issues that might arise with the organisers.
We will also not expect you to study detailed historical information on your own; we know this historical setting is not well known and we will supply you with our own comprehensive materials, summarizing what you need to know. There will also be a workshop before the game to sum up the main historical facts in a participatory manner, together with contemporary social norms and typical behaviours.
We will provide costumes, food for the whole game, all props and guns and equipment (including food equipment). You will only be asked to bring good walking shoes, a lot of warm undergarments, and sleeping equipment.
Transparency and fateplay
Our game is not transparent and it works with surprises and secrets. We are aware that this is unusual in many larping cultures, but we believe that the lack of transparency in our game has a purpose and that we have ways to make it work. We ask you to trust us in this.
The characters have their secrets. The secrets are to be revealed, but in time; and we believe that the game works well if the secrets are a surprise for both the characters and the players. Therefore, before the game you will be asked to talk about your gaming preferences and set intimacy levels and physical boundaries with your close in-game partners, but please do not include “spoilers”: do not send them your character sheets or tell them what your character thinks about theirs. There will be no option for pre-play.
If you are unhappy about something in the game, want to make a major decision, which might influence your co-players, or want to tweak something in your in-game relationships, you will be able to talk to the consulting organisers who are there to solve players’ issues. There is, however, no in-game negotiation with other players.
The game also includes fateplay to some extent. Each player will get a “diary” before the game – inspired by real diaries that the legionnaires used to keep. For each location that the march will stop at, the player will get a few lines of text. In many cases, they will just be suggestions, food for thought, and possible inspirations, which the player can decide to ignore. On the other hand there will be some (clearly marked) orders, which the player must obey and find a way to play them out. In this case we also do not work with full transparency and we ask the players not to read ahead. There are various surprise elements coming into the game at each location and we think it is good when the players do not expect them fully.
There will be 2-3 consulting organizers: NPC-like characters marching together with the players, who generally just play low-key characters with no major in-game role. Their main role for the players is that of a consultant: they will be there for you. They are there to check on the safety and practical comfort of the players (so you can approach them if you are hungry, sick, cold, too tired, your equipment has gone faulty etc.) and to help the players with their game.
The consulting organizers’ are the players’ first line of help. They will always be with the marching players to make sure nobody gets lost and everything stays on track - and players can approach them with any issues. They know the game, can listen, and can solve any practical or health problems.
Legion: Siberian Story strives for a fairly high level of visual immersion: we will ask you not to have any modern objects (mobile phones, plastic bottles) visible during the game etc. However, our goal is not full historical reenactment or military simulation: both history and the military feel are means to an end for us. Costumes and props will not be historically accurate to reenactment standards. Similarly, it is entirely all right for participants to have modern equipment (hygiene supplies, medicines, modern snacks) hidden in their packs, and while we somewhat prefer contact lenses to glasses, wearing glasses is also no problem.
There will always be some elements disturbing the visual illusion as well: the route goes through several short inhabited pieces of modern countryside, so it will be possible to see some modern houses, maybe we’ll march on roads with cars for a while, etc. We will also have one or two photographers with modern cameras going with the unit; please ignore them, they will not try to interact with you, but they will yield pretty pictures of you in cool uniforms later on. Players will be able to opt out from being photographed, but they will not be allowed to take their own pictures during the game and workshops.
The game does have some basic requirements for physical fitness (you have to be able to walk over 25 kilometres in winter in nature, though there will be regular stops). It also includes physical play of violence and some intimacy. Intimacy will go up to the level of a hug/light kiss on the lips, plus a mechanic to symbolize sex when necessary - but players will always be able to set stricter boundaries or opt out.
The game will include gun replicas (non-projectile guns, which make a bang) and some fighting with cold arms (not latex, but softened wooden weapons – safe and commonly used in the Czech Republic, but with wooden hilts). The workshops will include a general briefing on safety and gun handling.
There will also be mechanisms for physical brawling, wrestling, and bullying, which we will go through in the workshops. They work with a very low degree of physical force, but a fairly high degree of physical contact and we do ask all our participants to comply with the safety measures presented in the workshops.
The role division will not depend on your abilities or your off-game characteristics; only your content preferences, which you will state in the questionnaire. Please note we will not be able to ensure anybody plays a specific character and the roles are pre-written and will not be changed. We also cannot make sure you will be playing with your friends - though we can make sure you do NOT play with somebody you really don’t want to play with.
Once we get all your information through the forms we send you, we will send you a choice of three characters that we think would fit you, with detailed descriptions. You will then send in your order of preference for these characters with your comments. We will always make sure you do not have to play anything you really do not want to play, but we cannot ensure everybody will get the thing they want the most.
The game plays out some uncomfortable topics relevant to the historical period. Sexism is common in the game, as well as nationalism and xenophobia. There will be characters which are bullied and discriminated against and characters which bully and discriminate others. It will be possible to set your preferences regarding these topics in the signup questionnaire, but please be aware that you will meet with these topics in the game quite frequently and please be prepared to play on a set of period-appropriate prejudices and viewpoints that very often conflict with our present ones.