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Design and Themes [Ribelli]




A historical larp

Just as historical novels are set in the past, in a real time and a real place, a historical Larp such as “The Rebels on the Mountain” is based on a real setting, with an effort to reproduce it in the most accurate way: we consider habits, clothes, traditions, beliefs, ideas and issues of the historic period, and refer to several historical personalities and facts. However, our Larp does not pretend to become re-enactment: exactly like in a good novel, we will mix facts and imagination. And, exactly as a historical movie, our creativity will be rooted in history, careful to be true to the facts that will be the background of our story. “The Rebels on the Mountain” aims towards creating an accurate and realistic scenario, where the characters will experience life during 1944 Italian Civil War, with complete freedom in choosing their course of action. All our efforts notwithstanding, this aim cannot be reached without a strong commitment from the players to understand the setting and integrate it in their character’s psychology, virtually letting themselves slide into the past, in a world so far and at the same time so close to ours. 

A larp about ethics

"The Rebels on the Mountain" is a larp that focuses on important and complex topics. We will give great attention to the ethical choices the characters will be forced to face in game by the events. Will their faith still be strong, when blood will wet the church’s stairs? Will they be true to their ideas and their beliefs? How much is wealth worth, when the life of your loved ones is at stake? Will family and emotional ties prevail over the need to survive? What is bringing someone to die for an idea? "The Rebels on the Mountain" hopes to stimulate this sort of considerations. Every choice will require reflection, and everyone will have to take sides, sooner or later. Reality, anyway, is seldom black and white, especially in a situation as complex as the partisan war was. The characters will be caught between the hammer and the anvil, torn between personal interests and ideals, rebellion and obedience, hope and despair. They will be asked impossible choices, with no possible compromises, and they’ll have to learn that history is not just made of great events, but of people’s decisions. One of our ambitious aims is to allow players to think deeply over a complex time of our recent history. We would really like them to try and tackle the tough question of “What would have I done, if I were there?

An immersive larp

”The Rebels on the Mountain” will be an immersive larp, an event which is not only focused on theatrical drama, nor on some gaming elements: we are not looking for amazing acting, or the swift accomplishment of tasks. The aim of an immersive larp is to favour the identification in the characters and in the setting, by recreating everyday life and offering characters with a specific personality, upon which the players can base their in game decisions. It’s not just fiction or acting, it’s a simulation of reality: everything in the playing field will be part of the world, and every action the characters will want to take will have to be represented realistically.

An experience larp

The involvement of the players in "The Rebels on the Mountain" will not be limited to the psychological and behavioural component of the character, it will also include physical interactions and experiences of different kinds: from baking bread to chases in the woods, from sleeping in the open to plucking a chicken, even hunger and sleep deprivation because of tension and guard duty. This larp strives to recreate the feelings and sensations of the men and women who experienced the tragedy of war in Italy in 1944: living some of the same practical situations will be an essential part.

During the event we will stage relatively frequent situations of hardship like the ones described above -we believe successfully immersing oneself in an extreme setting like this one requires being subject to some extreme(ish) conditions, albeit for a limited amount of time. Naturally, the game of “militarized” groups, such as partisans and nazi-fascists, will be the most hardcore on the physical side. The inhabitants of Montelupo will experience much less exertion, but they will face toughness in other ways, nonetheless dramatically convincing.

A political larp

“The Rebels on the Mountain” will be deeply focused on thinking about politics and ideals, as it is unavoidable when working on the Resistance and Nazifascist occupation. The organizers, and especially the screenplay staff, do not refrain from declaring themselves anti-fascist, anti-nazi, and against all totalitarianism. However, it would be a mistake to think of our event as a mere partial representation, solely aimed at celebrating the fight of the Resistance. We would like, on the contrary, to underline the humanity and the complexity of the political and ideological situation of the time, highlighting the personal motivations and the ideals that were driving each and every one of the characters. Our screenplay will take contributions from historical sources and witnesses from both parties: we want to tell a realistic story, and to remember that everyone involved, besides being nazi, partisan,  fascist,  communist, anarchist, royalist, was a human being.

Themes: oppression, choice, rebellion

“The Rebels on the Mountain” concentrates its storytelling on a handful of topics, and will try to explore their impact on the characters. First of all, war will be the basic theme: the event takes place at the end of one of the most tragic conflicts in history, a war that has directly involved every town and family in Italy. The characters will have to face the effects of the war on everyday life, the disruption that war causes on family and friendship ties, the falling of certainties, or, on the contrary, the bold attachment to one’s beliefs and ideals, that for someone will be the sole landmarks during wartime. Another theme that we think is fundamental is the relationship with an oppressive authority: being part of it or enduring it, each character will have to relate with despotic power and its vexations and choose how to react. Finally, the main driving force of the entire event will be the choices that characters will be asked to take. Can violence be justified by the abuses suffered, or by given authority? Can the protection of our loved ones, or of ourselves justify injustice? Does duty come before justice and mercy? Should a fighter use the same methods as his enemy, or should he have limits, and respect his orders? These are some of the dilemmas the players will have to face, and the answers their characters will give will guide their actions.




The event guide

Sometime around mid-June the organizers will publish the Event Guide booklet on the website and send it via e-mail to all participants. It will be a short document including all the information needed to play this larp: background, rules, schedule. Reading the Event Guide is required of all participants. In the following paragraphs you will find a short preview of the most relevant dynamics, yet the complete information will be in the Event Guide


Minimalistic ruleset and "Play to Lose" approach

"The rebels on the Mountain" is a larp focused on immersion and drama: the event’s goal is to build a rich, multi-faceted choral narrative while allowing the players to experience 'on their skin' the emotions, feelings and dilemmas that shaped the Italian Resistance Movement. 

We kept the rules to the barest minimum and every rule is there just to support a convincing and moving narrative. Rules only address those situations that would be hazardous in real life, or potentially controversial (fighting scenes, physical contact etc.). This is not a gamist event, there is no leveling up nor victory points to be earned, no “winners” in the competitive sense of the word, and no referees. The rules should always be considered subordinate to the players’ common sense and to the ongoing narrative. And since the goal is not to defeat a foe, but to “experience beautiful scenes”, we expect that now and then you will find natural and gratifying to “concede” the scene to an opponent, ending up on the losing side of a fight or caving in to their requests. This role-playing philosophy can be summarized as “play to lose”.

What You See is What You Get

Our LARP tries to recreate a realistic, convincing setting. The game location will be accurately prepared with props and sets so as to allow a very natural interaction with the environment (cooking with actual food and fire, calling through a working telephone, etc.). The same philosphy applies to interaction between characters. Whatever you want to do, just 'do' it. The idea is “What you see is what you get”. At the same time, it is worth clarifying that our take on this approach is safety-conscious, we expect you not to damage people or things in pursuing realism: you can't harm another player to have a more exciting brawl, nor really set a shack on fire, or toss your blank revolver into the river to get rid of it. If this sounds obvious to you, we are on the same page.

Physical contact and safewords

Physical contact between players is accepted and encouraged. In principle, should your character get mad at someone, don’t be afraid to yank them and shove them and play out a successful brawl scene together. In the same way, if you have to carry a wounded companion, you will need to do it for real. If you want to play out an intimate scene with your spouse or your lover, feel free to do so. Consent is the keyword here: it’s up to the parties involved to carefully regulate intensity, with the aid of a simple system of Safe Words. More details will be delivered in the Event Guide.  

Dramatic resolution of fights and injuries

"The rebels on the Mountain" will involve face-offs and stand-offs, firefights with firearm replicas, brawls, fights and beatings. These fights should be played out with narrative in mind and the outcome will depend on the players' choices. In any case, we will require you to restrain the level of tension and violence in the beginning, so that large-scale fights, serious wounds and killings will only be staged in the final stretch of the event. There will be no precise rule to establish how serious and crippling an in game injury is: the interpretation is pretty much up to the ones suffering them. Some characters (the doctor, the nurse, the old herbalist, etc.) will be able to attend to the wounded and suggest the severity of their condition, simulating surgeries, bandaging, etc.

In game and off game languages

For the first time in a Terre Spezzate Larp, we will experiment with the use of different languages in game. The languages will be regulated rather strictly in order to give congruence to the narrative as well as to ensure the involvement of International Players. In particular, the narrative will allow for the use of only two languages, Italian and English.

We will actually have the SS characters use a handful of callouts in German too, but just as 'a touch of color'. English and Italian, instead, will be used as an integral element to the larp dynamics. Some characters, labeled as “English speaking” in the character sheet, will have to be interpreted by players possessing a good knowledge of the English language: they will be the only ones, besides the International Players, to actually speak and understand English in the larp setting. This will allow them to interact seamlessly with the International Players, but also to understand radio communications, letters and notes written in English. On the other hand, all other players will play characters completely ignorant of any foreign language: in game they won’t understand whoever talks to them in English, nor any written text. 


General info about the larp

You can find all you need to know on the International Home Page for the larp.