We had travelled almost two hours by bus from Prague passing by bigger and smaller cities and towns. The smallest one's streets were so tight I was sure the bus will got stuck between the stone fences next to the road. Most places were eerily quiet and empty. Clock was only 19:00 and there were no one to be seen, not even inside buildings which were mostly without lights. We had woke up before 6:00 at morning with my two friends, had a flight from Helsinki to Prague and visited museums, bought some food etc. and we were so tired half the trip went trying to sleep a little. Because there were still workshopping ahead 'til midnight. Luckily I had some energy drinks...
Props & photos
We arrived to a little house of voluntary fire brigade at 20:00. There were people walking around with their props on and we were told to get our props too. Signing up and getting the clothes were greatly organized as well as making sure the clothes will fit. There were a woman next to the sewing machine always ready whenever someone came to say some part of clothing was too small or big. There were also lots of spare hats, belts and everything so everyone could have a perfect, fitting costume. It was extremely important because we would spend next +35 hours outside when the game begins.
My friends getting their costumes. And a rifle! :O
It was also fun that my own hair is blue and undershaved. That's why I decided to wear a wig. The moment I put that wig on people started smile to me. Without a wig they were like "yeah, a crazy Finnish larper" and after the wig with long braids they came to me saying I was cute and talked to me. I guess it's easier to approach normal looking people than crazy blue-haired girl. :D
|My pile of clothes|
After we get our clothes there was a photographer who took photos of us. During the night they printed and laminated them giving them to us.
|Pic by Ondra Penicka|
Everynight I'm workshoppin'
After all the huzzle we sat down learning some history and rules of the larp. We got all the history materials beforehand and I had read them through couple times. My character didn't really care about politics or anything but when I know something as a player it's easier to understand life back then and some of the happenings during the larp. It was good to hear all the most important parts again so we could maybe remember them the next day. :P
Also all that made me thought that if learning history would have been like that on school it would have been so much more interesting. So EduLarp ftw. I hadn't never been so crazy excited about history than I was when learning about Legions for the larp!
Hi cool people, I'm the one you hate!
Then we had some introductions on smaller groups. My group was the coolest unit of war heroes and I was there just because I was dating one of them and many of them didn't like that at all. :D I was a random girl who decided to leave with soldiers and I was disturbing their important mission. Well, I guess many of them were quite neutral towards me but some of them really disliked me. And it was fun to play! More about that later. :P Anyway, we introduced our characters to each others, we were told some more rules and so on.
|Props and people and chaos at our off-game house. :)|
More hate & some acting
At this point we were crazy tired because the organizers didn't quite thought about jet lag etc. This was their first international run, so it's agreeable and as a game master myself I understand that sometimes you just have to push players forward to get preparations done.
We had a practise about despising people. We were told that we hate certain people like POW's and it's a big part of the game. We should show it! We did some physical practises about abusing people for that. How you kick and throw people safely, how you can mock them with friends.
I have to say that I really couldn't do that. I was so tired I couldn't just throw myself to that and also I felt really uncomfortable abusing a man I didn't know. Even when it was okay to him and it was just acting. I'm too kind for that and that's one "skill" I want develop. But not in this larp, here I had different challenges which I'll tell later. But I'll tell you a secret. It was only a year ago when I practised how to swear and curse. That was for a larp too but before that I had sweared only once in my life. Then I was reeaally mad at my parents and I shout a bad word running to our attic and locking the door. I think I was 10 years old... :D So now I wasn't ready for beating up people. D: But it was a good practise I have to say!
Then we sang. The organizers gave us lyrics for Czech song Ach Synku Synku telling we had to learn it. We were like wtf unable to even read loud the crazy words but then we just sang it over and over again and learned it. The reason for the song was that it was the unofficial anthem of the Legions. In the lyrics there are a mother asking is her son home. The son is embarrassed about him breaking some tools while working but then the mother just says that plz son fix them, have a family and go to work. It was a powerful song for Legions travelling thousands of kilometres reaching for their home in Czechoslovakia. They also sang the song when someone died as a funeral song.
"Now we'll act some scenes!" FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-
Yeah, those were my feelings exactly. It was over midnight I guess and people were falling asleep but we had this one more workshop practise to do. But before I continue I have to say that these were super helpful about learning different characters' demeanor and such and I'm happy we did this. Especially because I had an exciting extra scene! :P
The short scenes were written ready and we had fifteen minutes learning them. Most of us had only one scene to be part of but some had two. They were mostly different groups hanging and talking about some issue or doing everyday things. they really helped memorizing who's with which group and doing what.
[MAJOR SPOILERS COMING] I was in a scene where some civilians were preparing food and talking about some lost supplies, also gossiping about my relationship drama. :D My other scene was a nice surprise! We thought we had a nice blooming relationship with my love of my life I had just met couple days ago but on that scene my mother came to my room at morning where we both were demanding us to get married because she knew I was leaving with that man. He was like WTF and I was like OMG YES. My mother had a priest ready behind her back for marrying us and so we married accidentally. :P
And then we went sleeping, whoa!
Nice morning exercises!
We started our morning by talking about women's status in 1918 Russia and our duties while traveling with the soldiers. In the meanwhile men were outside doing some physical exercises and practising some commands and army stuff. Our discussions were interesting though there were lots of practical information for Red Cross nurses which was quite useless for me. Other themes we talked were extremely helpful, like using manipulating for making men do what we want. Just cry a little and they'll do whatever you want. I was like yeeeeaaaah riiight when we talked about it but during the larp it actually worked and I was like ...what... just... happened. So thanks for tips! :D
|Extremely skilled Red Cross nurse, Russian civilian girl with her head in the clouds and a brave soldier!|
Just after that we put our clothes on to test them outside before leaving so we would knew if we need more clothes or something just doesn't work while walking and moving. We walked near a big field and get our breakfast which I really waited. I have some health issues which don't like if I do things before breakfast and I was a bit nervous earlier not having anything to eat in the first two hours. But I didn't die yay!
My clothes were also fine. People's toes were freezing at some point when we were standing still long times but we knew we won't do that during the larp. I think there were something like -10C.
Last we had basic training with guns and rifles. Everyone could try them and I tried too! We used start pistols which sounded and smoked like real guns. It was crazy when first ones shooted next to me and I couldn't hear anything for a while. I was really frightened because I didn't know the sound will be so loud. And then I realized we will have tens of those on the game and I thought that fuuuuuck that is going to be so awesome! :D
The guns also felt real because you loaded them with real looking bullets. Much more better than airsoft guns which are just "pow-pow-pow okay now I'm squeezing hundreds of these cute colorful balls here yayyyy pow-pow-pow". These were "OKAY I LOAD THIS FUCKING RIFLE BY FORCING THIS ONE BULLET HERE WITH MY FINGERS SIBERIA FREEZED YEAH THERE IT WENT NOW I HAVE TO AIM CAREFULLY BECAUSE JUST ONE BULLET, YEAAH GOT YOU BOOOOM HAHA HE'S DEAD NOW BROTHERS, WE CAN DO THIS, OKAAYYYY ANOTHER BULLET FROM HERE NEXT TO MY VODKA!"
Mhm. You get the point.
They actually shooted a video from our exercise battle, you can see it below, but first the finally preparations.
|The last energy drink in Siberia :||
We went back inside and we were told we have 40 minutes before we leave. I was soooo excited and also nervous. Would I have enough strenght walking tens of kilometres and sleeping in cold? Could I achieve my personal challenges? What super cool things we all will experience soon?
Before that we got our diaries. A little book with pages taped together. At every place we would stop we should read notes (containing tips, memories and also some commands what you have to do) made by our characters and there will be a number telling how much you will take damage if you end up in middle of a battle. One is nothing, two some light wounds, three serious injuries and four death. Woah.
Then we get our photos. We could keep them or give them to someone. And the last thing. We had to wrote our last letters. A letter many soldiers had on their pocket when being at war. A letter to someone important telling whatever you want him/her know if you die. It was really emotional situation. We had prepared for hours, we had had a battle with guns roaring. We were just leaving on our long way home but first a couple words for your family, friend or love in case they would never see you again.
After that everyone went to the stage one by one telling what they are fighting for in this war with couple words. At that point I was so touched by everything we had went through and everything I had learned about history that I really struggled so I wouldn't cry. And we hadn't even larped anything yet! :D
I'll publish my last letter later. We went to the bus and we sat something like an hour blindfolded in silence there before we were at the place where our journey started.
See the video from our mock-up battle below.