Stalin's Story (2005)

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RPG Item: Stalin's Story
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Alpha Version PDF
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Year: 2005
Electronic (PDF, DOC, eBook, HTML, etc.)
18 pages
Size: A4
English
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Stalin's Story is a free, one-session RPG created by Victor Gijsbers, who has created several other non-commercial RPGs as well as some highly regarded Interactive Fiction (i.e., text adventures).

One player takes the role of Stalin; the others are either members of his politbureau, or actors that have been brought in to entertain the Supreme Leader. Stalin is tired of his Stakhanovite labors in collectivizing agriculture, which isn't going so well, and wants to hear a story. The players' job is to tell him one, preferably without being summarily executed or sent to the Gulag.

It is played as a story-within-a-story: the actors must improvise a Russian fairy-tale for Stalin. Cards with story elements are distributed to the players, and they may play them at certain times to shape the story, with the actors improvising accordingly. In the exterior story, Stalin is going to order the death of at least one player, and all are desperately trying to ensure their own survival.

From the Introduction:

It is 1928, and Stalin has retreated to his personal chambers. In the world outside, his agricultural reforms have been unsuccessful, leading to a food crisis. He doesn't want to hear a word about that. The peasants are hiding the scarce food from the state collectors, and it is only at gunpoint that they are 'willing' to give it up. But Stalin doesn’t want to hear a word about that either.

What he does want to hear is an old Russian folk tale of the kind his mother used to tell him. A tale of a poor boy going out into the world to slay a dragon and win the hand of a princess, as simple as that, nothing fancy. Especially nothing fancy.

To that end, Stalin has invited some of his closest companions to join him in his sitting room. Also present is a troupe of actors, ordered at a moment's notice to come and improvise a fairy tale for the pleasure of their great leader.

Everybody is on their toes. In these times of crisis, it is only too easy to displease Stalin. And if you displease Stalin, bad things happen to you. And so the actors play their tale, and the courtiers scheme for power and favour, and Stalin – capricious and inscrutable – decides over life and death.

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