Ordinarily, the Christian ideal is to live a Christ-like life, one lived as much as possible according to the teachings and commandments of God. When you miss the mark, you sin. To sin is to move away from this divinely established model for a good life.
For the Followers, salvation is only possible through forgiveness for your sins. Because of this, the Followers have a paradoxical relationship with sin. You must understand that to sin is to move away from God’s light so that you can be redeemed and once again enjoy God’s grace.
To be allowed to come back, you must first leave. To rejoin God, you must first be separated.
Both intent and the action itself matter. God sees the state of your soul but good intent doesn’t absolve you if the action itself is sinful. Only God’s infinite love does that, when it is your time to be redeemed.
Apart from this philosophical basis for sin, there’s also a lot of custom and tradition which categorizes a lot of different things as sinful, from undue pridefulness to having sex for some other purpose than making children.
The Road To Sin
There are many actions that are not sinful in themselves but can easily lead to sin. For example, pursuit of knowledge and intellectual matters is not sinful but if it takes you away from your commitment to God and blinds you to His glory, you have sinned.
Reading is not a sin. Becoming obsessed with knowledge so that you ignore the needs of your soul is a sin.
This same logic holds for many things, from hobbies to drinking. A glass of wine is not a sin, becoming blinded by alcoholism is.
To generalize, excess and obsession are sins no matter the form they take. This means that virtually anything can be a sin if engaged with a sinful mindset. Actions matter, but so does intent.
At birth, God has assigned each and every one of us a place in this world and a fate we’re meant to fulfill. Attempting to change one’s fate, shake the established order and escape the role you were given is a sin.
The Czar has been appointed by God. Any challenge to the Czar is a direct insult to God.
Fraternizing across class lines is a sin. Sex, romance and marriage between social classes is obviously deeply sinful but this also extends to simple friendship. A nobleman who frequents a working people’s gambling den is sinning. (And yes, the gambling is also a sin.)
The fact that disrespecting the established order is a sin has led many revolutionaries to the Followers. After all, how do you reconcile your revolutionary beliefs with your Christian faith, unless sin becomes something you must pursue?
All this means that pretty much everybody is living in sin to some degree. Every soldier is a sinner because disloyalty is a sin but so is killing. A Follower must do much more than that and become a paragon of sinning.
Sinning At the Larp
The reason the characters have come together is to find salvation through sin. They want to sin together, helping each other reach new heights of sinfulness. Nobody can be certain that they’ve sinned enough.
During the larp, the design of the larp, collective rituals and actions will help you find new and creative ways to sin. Hopefully, you’ll be in a very supportive environment both in-game in terms of your character and off-game as a player.
Sin is individual and the mental state of the sinner matters a lot. Having sex for other purposes than making children is sinful. Homosexual fornication is even more sinful. Homosexual fornication with someone you absolutely hate is more sinful still. In this way, you can explore the sins that you and your character find meaningful through interactions with other characters.
If something feels wrong, that’s a good sign that it might be sinful. If it feels excessively attractive and pleasurable, it could also be sinful.
As a note on how to play this larp, we suggest trying to find a personal interpretation of sin that guides you towards the kind of play that you find interesting. To make this easier, the Followers understand that people have individual takes on what sin means to them. Others can judge your actions but only God can judge your soul.
The design also guides you towards experimenting with different types of sin. If you feel you’re done with exploring sins revolving around hate, perhaps lust is next.
What kind of sins are the most meaningful for my character and me as a player?
What kind of sins are fun to play with the other characters present in this larp?
What kind of a path would I enjoy as the player of a character seeking redemption through sin?
These are good questions to ask yourself as you prepare for the larp. Some things are sinful but also difficult to do in a larp, such as inciting the masses to revolt. Other sins are much more larpable, such as attempting to seduce the Grand Duke for the purpose of defiling their nobility with the touch of the hand of a commoner.
Some sins are extremely specific but also relevant to some characters in the larp. For example, the Grand Dukes married to the Black Princesses have committed the sin of being a pair of brothers who married a pair of sisters.
In addition to providing the basis for interesting and sinful larp scenes, the design of Redemption also seeks to support internal play. What does sin mean to you? Is it difficult to sin, or seductively easy? Are you afraid of God’s judgment or do you long for His grace? Are there sins that fill your heart with fear, anger, lust?
Remember that you’re in the larp to sin with other sinners. If you get stuck, you can seek their help in trying to determine your path forward, both in-game and off-game.
Russian Orthodoxy recognizes the Eight Deadly Thoughts:
2. Lust or Fornication
3. Avarice or Love of money
4. Dejection or Sadness
6. Despodency or Listlessness
Many of these, such as pride, lust, sadness and anger are very larpable because they invite creating scenes that involve the sinful emotion. In this sense, your character has a very similar motivation as you the player have: To create situations that allow them to explore these and other sins. What could help me explore the sin of anger? Maybe I could interact with someone in a way that’ll surely make me extremely angry…
Here’s a selection of sins to act as the basis of inspiration for play:
Being proud, boasting of your abilities, achievements, family, connections or riches.
Consider yourself worthy before God.
Being vain and ambitious. Trying to win praise and glory.
Not bearing it easily when you are blamed, scolded or treated unjustly.
Thinking too much about your looks, outward appearance and the impression you make.
Sinning in thought, word or deed, by a look or glance, or in any other way against the seventh commandment. (Adultery, fornication, all extra-marital sexual relationships with others, masturbation, engaging in unnatural sexual acts, fantasizing, pornography, etc.)
Being lazy, not doing your duties heartily.
Wasting your time, energy or abilities in things that do not profit the soul.
Becoming obsessive about something. Being despondent or listless.
Thoughts of harming others or yourself.
Bringing a curse on yourself or others or ill-wished them, being impatient.
Having a weakness for alcohol. Drinking too much or becoming dependent on drink.
Taking drugs, other than necessary medicines.
Excessively reading books other than religious texts that nourish your soul.
Giving yourself up to any other similar pastime which wastes your time and energy and might have harmed you.
Being greedy, either with regard to food or to possessions.
Being picky about your food, or wasteful of foods, forgetting that so many people are without proper nourishment. Being extravagant or wasteful.
Not caring for and seeking first the salvation of your soul, the spiritual life and the kingdom of God, but instead putting earthly considerations in the first place.
Not respecting or obeying your parents.
Offending your parents, superiors, priests, teachers or elders by rudeness or contradiction.
Quarreling and fighting.
Not being able to control your anger or bad temper.
Called people names and using foul language.
Entertaining bad feelings, ill will or hatred against someone.
Not forgiving those who have offended you, or failing to ask forgiveness from those whom you have offended.
Leaving the needy without help when you could have helped.
Not showing kindness and attention to all, remembering that God is expecting just such an attitude from you.
Stealing. Taking or using other people’s things without asking.
Keeping money or things that were lent you without returning them.
Wasting your employers’ or superiors’ time or resources.
Being obstinate, always trying to have your own way.
Being inconsiderate of other people’s feelings.
Trying to have your revenge against those who have offended you.
Harboring resentment. Deceiving people.
Judging and condemning others.
Not praying to God in the morning and evening, before and after meals.
Allowing your thoughts to wander during prayer.
Rushing or gabbling your prayers.
Not reading the Scriptures daily, not reading other spiritual writings regularly.
Reading books whose content is not Orthodox, or is spiritually damaging.
Pronouncing the name of God without reverence, joking.
Making the sign of the Cross carelessly, thoughtlessly.
Not keeping the fasts.
Behaving irreverently in church, or before the clergy and monastics.
Laughing or talking in church, or moving about unnecessarily, thus also distracting other people from prayer.
Leaving church after the Divine Services, and particularly after receiving the Holy Mysteries, and immediately engaging in light talk and thus forgetting the blessings and graces you have received.
Being ashamed of your Faith or the sign of the Cross in the presence of others.
Making a show of your piety.
Using the Orthodox Faith or its teachings merely to browbeat others or belittle them.
Using it as a shield or excuse for your own inadequacies rather than humbling yourself.
Believing in dreams, fortune telling, astrology, signs and other superstitions.
Doubting God’s providence concerning yourself.