New player with perhaps unusual questions


I’m Joe, and I’ve been thinking of trying out LRP for a few years. Only just managed to get a foot in the door so to speak as a few of my newer friends attend Empire events!

Anyway, I’m thinking of being a Varushkan, and I’d quite like to do some IC music. However, I don’t own any “period” instruments - would it be frowned upon for me to use a Balalaika? I may be able to get my hands on a Gusli, but that’s a lot less likely before next event :frowning:

Also, what is your average expenditure starting out with IC outfits? (especially Varushka stuff). I’d honestly like to limit it to less that £100, or less than £200 with weapons.

Finally, I’ve read through the wiki and I’m unfortunately unclear on combat outside of the field - Am I safe in the camp? Is there a chance someone can come up and knife me while I’m unarmoured (so long as they have informed a ref and have that ref present)? This seems really scary.

Also, if anyone can tell me stuff about groups I’d be greatly appreciative. I honestly don’t know how groups are supposed to function here, and what level of involvement I have as a newbie.


Truly authentic instruments are not the norm. Because instruments are such an expense it is acceptable to bring what you have, as long as it roughly fits in the setting (so acoustic guitar yes, electric no!). A balalaika would be fab, and if you have a chance to read up on Varushkan music that would be ace. I’m an OC musician who plays in Varushka, so do feel free to ask me any questions! If you need help finding the music section on the wiki shout and I will dig it up for you.

Kit is definitely possible in that price range if you are able to make the kit yourself. If you are buying it you might struggle. The good news is that Varushkan kit can be made from simple patterns in cheaper fabrics (if you have an Ikea near you I highly recommend their Bomul fabric for most things). If you need help finding the costume section on the wiki let me know.

Your coat or cloak will likely be your biggest spend, and it is a good investment as it can get very cold at the winter events. Ebay can be your friend if coats are beyond your skill level. With a bit of nice fur trim or some embroidery you can turn something plain into something Varushkan.

Shoes are something most role players will forgive you for. As long as they aren’t obvious (so avoid trainers our anything neon!) you can probably wear them. I use brown walking boots. You are going to spend three days in them so make sure you will be comfortable in them, and that they are waterproof.

Top tip: layers are good. Thermals, hidden underneath your kit, can save you. I also wear waterproof trousers under my kit at wet events (thermal layer, waterproof layer, first kit layer, second kit layer, coat). Layers also mean that you don’t necessarily need a summer kit, you just drop a layer or two. :slight_smile:

Hi Joe,

Laura’s provided some great advice on costume above, and I second the fact that broadly speaking, modern-ish instruments would be fine. The setting is historically inspired, not historically accurate.

In relation to your question about combat in the field, yes, in theory, a person could get a ref, walk up to you at your music gig, and stab you in the gizzards. But there are so many reasons why they wouldn’t. Firstly, it’s difficult to kill someone; you bleed for a whole 3 mins, in a field with 1500 other players, several hundred of whom can heal you at no cost to themselves, whilst you cry out for help. Indeed, many come to the game for the sole purpose of playing medic. There’s also the fact that there is no way they’d get away with it, again, in a field with 1500 people, if someone attacks you, you cry out, people are going to step in, and witness and defend. Even if by some miracle they did kill you, there are ways characters can speak to your dead spirit and find out who it was that way. Then the assassin gets brought before a magistrate, tried, and probably killed themselves.

With it being so difficult, both to perform and to get away with, assassinations in Anvil are a last resort, directed at major political players by their rivals, generally. Few players are ever going to annoy someone sufficiently to send a death squad after them (indeed, most players wouldn’t know where to recruit such assassins), and certainly not a new player making a living as a musician. Generally speaking, there’s at most one assassination attempt per event, and it’s always high-profile, and usually fails.

I hope this helps with some of your concerns. Anvil is a safe, metropolitan, largely murder-free environment.


For kit, you can get a long way by just rummaging through charity shops, then maybe for Varushka glueing or sewing a bit of ribbon trim on. I got all my kit for my first event from charity shops for under £30. Tunic, trousers, belt, and a cloak for cold events - if you aren’t so hot at sewing and don’t want to buy a cloak, blanket over your head Scout style also works.

As others have said, don’t worry too much about what you wear on your feet. The only rule is no trainers, and for out of character comfort you probably want a good pair of boots. I used boots I brought before I started larp, and just used a black marker pen to scribble out their neon orange flashes - works fine until it’s so muddy that nobody can see your boots anyway.

Anvil is a very safe place. You are very, very, very, very unlikely to get assassinated as a new character. There are 1500-ish players, and maybe one or two assassination attempts per event, all of which seem to be on people with important political positions. Even if your character had a huge argument with another character, they would be much more likely to magically curse you, or shout at you, or badmouth your character to other characters, rather than kill you. Apart from anything else, killing your enemies is boring! If you out-of-character enjoy your character having enemies, then you want to keep them around so you can keep having rows and taking horrible revenge and so on, whereas if you kill them then both you and your ‘enemy’ stop having that fun. But if you aren’t someone who enjoys having in-character enemies, that is usually easy to avoid too.

It is unusual for a character to carry weapons and wear armour around Anvil, because it isn’t a place where fighting is expected. You only need weapons and/or armour if you plan to get involved in the battles. It is fine not to do battles if you don’t want to. If you are going with a group, ask if anyone can lend you weapons or armour for your first event, many people have spare, and it’s a good chance to try out larp without committing lots of money up front.

For groups, you don’t have to be in one, but as a new player it might make it easier to get involved in things. Do you have an idea about what your character would like to do? Priest, magic, anything like that? You can just turn up on the field and ask around to join a group, or you could try asking on the Varushka facebook group if you’d rather join a group beforehand.

If you see people doing something interesting, always go over and ask ‘What is going on’ and ‘Can I help?’. As a musician, you will probably find you are very much in demand :slight_smile:

Thanks for all the advice! This sounds really good. I’ll pore over the wiki again, but I’m awful at sewing so I’m afraid I’ll need to try and jury-rig/buy something.

At least I do have relatively plain laced walking boots.

Regarding your weapon spend - many of the larger groups (and likely the smaller ones as well) have a large amount of “spare” weapons and you may be able to borrow something…

Are you thinking of attaching to a group IC or before hand. As I recall there is a fairly uptodate(ish) file on the Varushka page with group details and we are all quite chatty on the Varushka facebook group. There is also a New Player thing each event run by the Civil Service to help acclimatise new people which I heartily recommend.

[quote=“Father Drakov”]Regarding your weapon spend - many of the larger groups (and likely the smaller ones as well) have a large amount of “spare” weapons and you may be able to borrow something…

Are you thinking of attaching to a group IC or before hand. As I recall there is a fairly uptodate(ish) file on the Varushka page with group details and we are all quite chatty on the Varushka facebook group. There is also a New Player thing each event run by the Civil Service to help acclimatise new people which I heartily recommend.[/quote]

I was planning on joining a group prior to an event - a GOD person on reddit told me that it’s a good way to have a bad time if you’re not in a group. So, hopefully I can find a group that will tolerate my strumming away on my balalaika and my perhaps-not-very-good Rus/Slavic accent. I’ll have a look for the Varushka FB group. Is that new player event something I need to sign up for, or is it a “turn up and learn the ropes” kind of thing?

Also, I’ll most likely at least be arming myself a little prior to the event - I think I’d like to play a religious character more so than a front liner, as long as I can work out how all the “divine”(?) magic works. Probably just going to go for an ax/shield combo, or perhaps a spear, with a backup dagger (although I’ve heard this can be a little more expensive/difficult because of thrust weapon safety)

EDIT: Having re-read the wiki, I’m reconsidering taking any priestly stuff and probably looking at just being a musician (with some warrior stuff of course!) :slight_smile:

Yes yes! Come play priest! Father Drakov and I are both priests in Varushka. It’s great because the way the Synod game works means that there is a board in the Hub with lots of motions, which means you can make a full time character who just wants to take each decision seriously. Look up person making the statement, talk to them about it, find out who their opponents might be, discover full story. Repeat. Before you know it you know loads of people on the field, you are embroiled in a variety of politics and life is good. At least, that’s how I like to view the priest game.

Oops, just read your edit.

Something to bear in mind is that you don’t have to spend any skill points until you want to. You can buy them in-game by going to GOD (although there will be a bit of a wait) so you can play a game or two before deciding what you want to concentrate on.

I’m just worried I won’t be able to convincingly come across as in any way “wise”! And I’m having trouble remembering the most basic stuff, let alone a whole lot of lore. It might be a good idea to move into that as I go, I suppose - as I immerse myself I’m sure I can pick it up. Just worried about front loading it and messing up IC. You all seem a friendly bunch so far but I’d hate to break immersion for anyone else at an event :frowning:

Honestly I’d like to be a little less involved for the first event, maybe the first couple of events I go to while I get my head around it all. The lore looks wonderful but it’s impressively (and intimidatingly) deep.

The Wiki is both wonderful and monstrous in that regard. There’s so much there that it can be daunting.

First thing: nobody knows the whole Wiki. Many of us carry around little books with the important parts of the wiki* either printed out in nice fonts, or hand-written. I can never remember the Anointings, but a quick look in my Book of Things and I’m back in the groove. I use it as an IC prop with the Anointee - which one do you think best applies to your situation etc. etc. etc.
Pick and choose the areas that you expect to play in, and concentrate on those. Make yourself IC or OC notes, and remember that half the field are blagging it too.

If it helps I know absolutely nothing about magic, and I’m pretty patchy about all the nations except the ones I’ve played in. This is completely in character as my character does no magic, and had never left Varushka until she came to Anvil. No reason for her to know anything about League hearth magic…

A lot of us come into play with a ‘backwards, country priest’ backstory to cover our OC lack of knowledge, or someone who is sort of a priest because of ‘Circumstance A’ but it’s only when they come to Anvil that they really discover what The Way really means (cough cough). You could also be a new priest wanting to apprentice themselves to someone (a good way to try to make friends?), or some other IC reason as to why your character doesn’t know much.

My character also totally refuses to be a Wise One on the grounds that she isn’t Wise enough, despite people telling her she is. Not all priests are awesome oracles, some are using The Way to help them become better people.

That all said - do what you feel is right. Don’t make yourself nervous because it would ruin your enjoyment. And as and when this character pops her clogs, I might see if you want a music partner. :slight_smile:

*There is expected to be some minor changes to some priest stuff before next event, so perhaps hold off handwriting anything until we find out what the changes actually are.

Don’t worry about not knowing things. I turned up to my first event having never been to a larp before, and having read only the first page of the Navarr brief. That wasn’t really enough, but it wasn’t absolutely terrible. You can ask questions in-character about most things, and write down anything you think you really need to remember - I have a notebook with scripts for all my magic rituals.

For your first time, I’d recommend an in-character excuse for why you don’t know much about the wider world yet - ‘I’m from a small vale in Varushka, I’m here to see the world and have adventures, but it’s all a bit new and scary’ could work well for you.

People absolutely love telling you about their character, culture, and the world. Walking up to strangers and saying ‘Why are you wearing those silly clothes?’ or ‘What are you doing with that?’ or ‘Do you believe in mammoths?’ is a brilliant way to start conversations and for your character to get to know people. My character started off a year ago being extremely confused by everything, socially clueless, but determined to find out as much as she could about the rest of the Empire. Now she has friends all over the place and got called ‘the famous Isca’ :slight_smile:

People absolutely love telling you about their character, culture, and the world. Walking up to strangers and saying ‘Why are you wearing those silly clothes?’ or ‘What are you doing with that?’ or ‘Do you believe in mammoths?’ is a brilliant way to start conversations and for your character to get to know people. [/quote]

Yes! Most people love getting the chance to tell others about their backstory. A whole chunk of my game is based on asking people to tell me why they are awesome. :slight_smile:

The New Player thing is optional but recommended and run by the lovely Kaya.

As for Priests, we are a fairly tight bunch in Varushka and I, as well as several others, am always happy to help new priests learn the ropes so to speak. As for Aga’s comments re books, I have at last count 1 note book, 1 lore book and a general “other interesting things” book. I walk around with. But you don’t have to be a Wise One to be a Priest or indeed visa versa.

Regarding groups, is there a particular stick you are going for, this may help … 6627074246 but also talk on the Varushka page and pm people on the Varushka page.

Hope this helps.
PS - Vor’azi are awesome but then I would say that :slight_smile: But to be fair Varushka is awesome. I came to Empire as a newbie hardly any kit (a black robe and cloak) at the 1st event and have loved every minute of the game.

For what it’s worth, “GOD Person on Reddit” would be me.

I’m sorry, didn’t know your name!

Thanks everyone, You’ve all been super friendly and helpful :slight_smile:

Try not to worry too much about not knowing how all the religion stuff works even if you’re playing a priest, you can get by reading the main overview page and the 7 virtue pages. Other bits like Imperial Theology you can pick up as you go.

The excuse for this is that everyone at Anvil is ‘catching up’ having replaced the older leadership after they all died alongside Empress Britta 3 years ago. My character is a Cardinal but in no way does he consider himself a theological expert, he was a mountain preacher before the game started.

Definately get yourself a notebook and copy some notes from the wiki about religion into them, or have fun cutting and pasting stuff then printing and gluing them into a book. But pick interesting topics up off other players and then come back to the wiki over a few games. As long as you’ve decided a few things to have strong opinions on (like Schisms and Heresies) you should be good to go :slight_smile:.

Hi Joe,
I’m sorry I’m late in responding to this, I don’t come on here very often. I’m Daisy, one of the people who did a lot of the background music for Empire and I play in Varushka as both a musician and a priest. I’d just like to stress that a balalaika is perfect for Varushka and it will be great to have you along. Here’s the Varushka music page: … shka_music and if there’s anything in particular you’d like a recording of, or chords for, just let me know and I’ll do my best to provide (caveat, I have a fairly new baby so don’t have massive amounts of time but I’ll fit it in somehow!) If you learn the chorusses to the ‘commonly known’ songs on there you’ll be able to easily join in right from the get-go.
Feel free to also approach me during time in and I’ll happily teach you any of the songs/tunes I know (I’m with the Gremani, a group who do a lot of singing in the Varushkan style). I was thinking of doing another song workshop this coming event so will certainly post it up here when I decide what I’m doing.

Regarding priestliness, I echo the advice above and I’d also say that you absolutely don’t need to know that much about anything before starting play (except the core rules of course) and you can still have fun and be successful. I came in without having read any of the Synod rules and was Cardinal within 3 events :confused: You simply say “It’s my first time out of my home vale, how does the Synod work?” whenever you aren’t clear about something and that gives other people a chance to roleplay with you and give you their perspective on it - if you want to become an expert, then you go away and read all the info but it’s totally not necessary, people will help you on the field and it can be a really fun part of the character’s growth.

Welcome to Varoooooooooooooooshka!

Just a thought, but if you’d like a more gentle introduction to Empire and to larp than being in a field for four days, and you enjoy music, you might like to come along to my player event on January 23rd in York. The in-character excuse is that it’s a Festival of the Performing Arts, so we are having all sorts of music, singing, plays, speeches, workshops, and so forth, but no pressure to join in anything you don’t want to, just watching what’s going on and chatting to people over a cup of tea is fine. There will be about 30 people there.

I’ve found that player events give me much more chance to get to know other people and their characters than main events. In Anvil then my character spends all her time running around shouting at people, whereas at player events then she gets to talk to the same people for more than two minutes at once, without having to be saving the Empire at the same time.

Facebook page here if you’re interested.