A week ago I went to Czech for Legion, a larp about soldiers and hangers-on on the Czech legions marching across Siberia at the end of the first world war, being hounded by Trotsky’s red Russians who had turned on them. The pretty amazing photo are going round facebook at the moment.
Legion was one of the best larps I’ve played. Some comments:
- The larp was almost ‘pay and play’ with made-to-fit costume and blank firing guns provided. That part really worked, in a way it hasn’t with larps that advertised themselves as such.
- This was an ‘endurance larp;’ we walked 28km over two days in snow. Normally I think it better for players to be physically comfortable to give more energy to the play, but this worked really well. General fatigue eroding the will the go on was a part of the experience, and marching on through the snow with enough content to keep internal thought bubbing over was really strong. It did bring home to me my own health issues, since there is no way they can not bleed into play in a game like this.
- Some players felt the background/brieing was too long, but there was nothing in there I would have liked to cut. Knowing about the bias view of history and having a vague knowledge of old folk heroes helped locate the characters firmly as Czechs. Personally I struggled with too many contacts there was no way I was going to mentally hold 17 character relations in my head. A smaller number of strong relations would have worked better.
- There was enough interpersonal plot to play on, and a good casting process to fit people to characters.
- The plot writing style was the ‘train’ approach. Characters are on a fixed track and have to stop at each station on the line. However, they have a great deal of freedom what they do while at each station, so player agency is high.
- Players were issued their character’s ‘diary’ which included suggestions for what to do at each station. In my case, these were very open suggestions, such as a topic to discuss. This seemed to work well, and did push plots to move rather than being stagnant. (admittedly, this removes agency if a character is deliberately trying to stagnate a plotline. e.g. to bury a past scandal). Some players left it was too railroaded, so possibly their diaries were more directive than mine.
- One big player difference that arises in larps like this is between players that have done national (military) service (which some Nordic countries have for men, and optional for women) and those like me which haven’t.
The organisers are doing more runs and have asked us to avoid spoilers, so I’m avoiding saying too much about the actual plot.
I could write a lot more, and I hope others do more formal articles about this larp. There are 5 czech language reruns planned this year (and 6 already last year), and not confirmed plans of another international run in the future.