Every night you hear the Volkskoja whispering out beyond the wire while the Lyud wail and hammer from the high ridgeline. They want your blood for the soil. You can feel the crack and staccato boom as Old Man Lednik fights the Red Army up at the head of the Valley. Victory will come soon. And then the Siren sounds, it is morning. The State Anthem crackles and spits from the guard towers. You shuffle to the breadline. People are stamping their feet and talking. Surely it will be honey oats this morning? It has been so long.
Overhead, the first rays of sunlight splash the banner, Stalin welcomes you to this new Soviet Socialist Republic. His arm is a wide rectangle and his hand is open as though casting seed. You have queued beneath it every day of your life. No new ships have breached the Curtain Storm since your parents arrived. Soon the overseers will be forming work gangs.
The Premise of LEDNIK is:
Stalinist Soviet GULAG meets a Palaeolithic Dream-time.
Lednik is a tabletop roleplaying game that emulates the themes and motifs of the great Russian authors from before the Revolution and from the Soviet era. Explore themes of personal salvation and sacrifice in a fickle world, what does it mean to do good or be good and does it matter? The tension between belief and ideology. Can there be trust if there is doctrine?
The Action takes place in a glacial valley that might be in the distant future or past or perhaps in another dimension. There are compelling arguments for each possibility. An expeditionary force arrived via the Curtain Storm that shrouds the bay at the foot of the valley, it was late 1949. The first Sharashka (Secret science camp staffed by GULAG prisoners) was established at the beach head. Was it part of an energy or weapons project linked to the freshly minted Soviet nuclear program? All attempts to communicate, and later to return, through the Curtain Storm were fruitless. Soon they discovered they were not the only occupants in the valley.
Lednik is built on the foundations of Graham Walmsley’s Cthulhu Dark. The character sheet is also their identity papers. The permission stamps, overseer notations and Party awards Players earn inform the pressure that they can exert and pathways they can take when faced with the trials and challenges that lay ahead.
I look forward to blogging more about Lednik. The core mechanics are in hand and that will be the focus of the next few posts. Then content and playtesting. My current plan is to publish on a zine model and maybe Patreon or some similar option is the way to do that. Time will tell.