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*[[Idiom Productions]] Costume and Props Workshop creates custom hand-tooled leather armour, clothing and LRP weapons
*[[Idiom Productions]] Costume and Props Workshop creates custom hand-tooled leather armour, clothing and LRP weapons
*[[Evenlode Studios]] - High quality leather armour, costume and props handmade
*[[Evenlode Studios]] - High quality leather armour, costume and props handmade
*[http://www.darkbladeuk.co.uk/EMPIRE-LARP/Varushka/c-1-114-125/ Darkblade] Leather lamellar and Leather scale

Revision as of 20:34, 6 September 2012

This is a placeholder page for content that PD are actively working on.

Note: The tone and style of this page may need editing. All costume advice pages should be written in third person voice, using verbs that make clear that this page is advice, not direction.


Varushkans' grim outlook on life is contrasted by their clothes, which are beautiful, bright and warm. Perhaps as a remedy to the cold and dark of their lands, they take great pride in intricately embroidered shirts, richly coloured trousers and warm fur trim on coats and hats.


Varushka is primarily influenced by Rus and Slavic costume and players can draw heavily from these sources for their costumes. The traditional Slavic white shirt or dress with red embroidery at the hem is a favourite for Varushkans, and the Rus trousers, hats and wrap over coats provide inspiration for the rest of the nation.

Similar nations

The ancient origins of Wintermark and Varushka can be seen in their similarities of costume. Both nations most commonly wrap their trousers to the knee although Varushkan baggy trousers are far more fashionable than the rather staid and narrow Wintermark trousers. Tunics of varying length and decoration are the staple of both nations. In the Wintermark these are normally pulled on over the head but Varushkan styles are commonly open at the front and asymmetrical or diagonal-cut. The bright colours, intricate decoration and fur trims will also help to pull similar clothes into a more Varushkan style.



Varushkans tend to wear multiple layers of light fabrics like linen and cotton. Poorer Varushkans use practical and hard wearing materials like wool, felt, heavy cotton, leather - but the fabric is less important than the decoration. Fur is common, but is usually reserved for trim. Silks and velvets may be worn by the rich, but it is usual to keep the fabric simple and splash out time or money on the decoration and trims. Clothes can be embroidered directly, trimmed with bands of tablet or inkle woven wool or silk, or edged in fur. The wealthy may sport several of these features in combination, like silk edging embroidered and then trimmed with a fine fur.

If you're adding fur trims, you can avoid pelts from animals kept in poor conditions in several ways;

  • Faux furs can be an excellent substitute to real fur, but beware of cheap 'fun furs' which always look like nylon and matt together very quickly. Fabrics Online sell some excellent quality faux furs in various colours, lengths and patterns.
  • Vintage furs are cheap and easily available online, from charity shops (you may have to ask for them) and from car boot sales. One coat can trim a range or garments and torn furs can be bought for a few pounds.
  • Furs can also be bought after licensed culls of animals and you can be sure they have not been farmed.
  • Finally, there are ethical furriers around. House of De Clifford are one who sell a huge range of products online.


Bright vibrant colours predominate, especially brilliant red, yellow and blue and are worn with white, black and grey. A white shirt or dress is the most common under garment, with brightly decorated hems. Garments are made from cloth of a single colour, with contrasting colours being used for decoration and under garmets.

Varushka colours.png


The most distinctive feature of Varushkan costume is the decoration applied to their clothes. Garmets are not made from decorative cloth or covered entirely in decoration, rather it is put in bands usually around the upper arms and the hems. Complex and detailed embroidery is the favourite, most commonly in brilliant red for a white garment. Smocking is also common and fur is used extensively to trim garments of all kinds including armour.

Intricate embroidery provides a stark contrast to the simple clothing of Varushka. Embroidery should stand out and show off the wearer’s wealth. Red embroidery on white cotton is the most common, but blue on yellow and other strong, contrasting combinations are also found.

An alternative to embroidery is decorative trim in the form of woven braids, ribbon and tablet or inkle weaving.


The most common base layer for Varushkan costume is a white shirt, tunic or dress, often white or a light colour. This is intricately embroidered on the hems, the most commonly in red but any bright contrasting colour is fine. Women’s dresses have full, layered skirts and aprons. Most Varushkans prefer to wear multiple layers of lighter clothing, often in contrasting colours.

Varushkans men and women wear plain coloured “hero trousers”. Ideally these should be baggy down to just past the knee. Anything worn below the knee should be strapped to the leg. Trousers may be plain or brightly dyed but are usually made from fabric of a single colour, the strapping is another opportunity for a bright contrasting colour, embroidery or both.

Coats are more common than cloaks. The ideal coat has an asymmetric overlap across the chest, is nipped in at the waist but flares out below the waist to a full ‘skirt’. The wealthiest wear coats in bright strong colours often with fur trim or embroidered hems. Warm shawls in bright colours are handed down through families.

Varushkan hats may be simple embroidered round caps trimmed with fur or else pointed caps that fold over the head.

Wise Ones

Wise ones have a distinctive look which marks them out from other Varushkans. Their iconic accoutrements such as hair braids, blind folds, and long garments with red trim tie them together and mean they can be identified easily.

Hair braids – Wise ones receive a lot of gifts from the people they help, and many people choose to give hair locks in return for luck and answers. These can be braided into the wise one’s own hair giving a very wild and multicoloured look. Talismans and other items may also be braided in for a distinctive appearance. This can be simply and easily achieved with fake hair pieces, available from shops like Claire’s Accessories, eBay or hair and wig shops. Extra pieces can be clipped or plaited into your own hair. Wigs can also be modified with additional pieces of hair, and would allow you to add lots of talismans without needing to undo your hair before bed! An alternative to wearing the locks in your own hair would be to add them to your belt, maybe even in one large bunch.

Other talismans and totems received as gifts could also be stitched onto clothing or worn in quantity as necklaces and bracelets. As most of a wise one’s belongings will be gifts, each necklace or bracelet they wear should have a story behind it. Charity shops and boot sales are the best places to look for old jewellery and trinkets – large beads, pendants, rags, ribbons and small animal figurines would be perfect for use as trinkets. Spider and squirrel totems will be the most commonly seen icon amongst wise ones, and some may wish to add a totem tattoo on their face. Beware of stepping into Navarr or Kallavesi territory though by staying away from animal headdresses and warpaints.

Blindfolds – Wise ones tend to wear blindfolds when they are conducting official business. There’s no reason to totally remove the blindfold afterwards though, and worn as a stole or head band the blindfold can remain as an iconic piece of costume.

Long garments – Wise ones tend towards very traditional styles – the wrap over coat being the most common of these in the favourite colours of Varushka. The cut tends to be longer than average, though since they don't need to be especially agile. Wise ones will frequently add red ribbon or trim to cuffs, hems and fronts. Shawls, cowls and the like can be worn over these long coats, and could be edged in matching trim.

Age - Among wise ones, age is particularly respected, and many wise ones will attempt to age themselves in some way in acknowledgement of this. Crow's feet markings round the eyes may be common, and often appear obviously fake, as a sort of ritual body art. Other aging signs, such as white streaks in the hair are also seen in wise ones. You could think about carrying an old, natural wood walking stick, and even leaning heavily upon it. A stick would also be a great way to display the tokens and talismans collected, you could try tying them on with scraps of cloth or nailing other totems to the wood. Clothes may also be ‘aged’, and frequently patched and fraying. Some wealthy elders may be better dressed, though would retain their slightly wild and unkempt look, whilst a poorer wild elder would be scruffier and obviously ragged. Some wise ones will refuse to buy anything new and rely entirely upon gifts, leading to a very eclectic and slightly odd collection of clothes and charms.


Costume for Varushkan children follows the traditional styles and emphasis on bright colours. For toddlers and babies, traditional smocks, or simple t-tunics and drawstring trousers are simple and easy to pull-on garments, that can be made in linen or cotton for easy washing! These types of clothes also have plenty of flexibility in terms of size, meaning you'll get more than one year's use out of them. Traditional children's smocked dresses are easy to find in white and often have red or blue embroidery. These are an excellent simple costumes for babies and small children in Varushka.

When making costumes for smaller children, remember to avoid anything tight around the neck - strings, cloaks, hats on cords etc and in addition, all tabards should secure under the arms. Make sleeves and armholes wider than needed; they're the bits that get tight as they grow. Neck holes also need to be bigger than for adults or should fasten at the back.

Images to avoid - DO NOT USE THESE

An LRP setting is defined as much by what you leave out as by what you include. In defining the Varushkan look we have actively chosen to exclude some elements. Please do not use any of the images or looks seen in this section.

Hussars Jacket - DO NOT USE THESE

Hussars are too modern for the game and the Hussars jacket is not part of the Varushkan look. Varushkans wear full length coats, not the short jackets favoured by cavalyrmen.

Please try to avoid frogging or tablet braiding across the chest that is so elaborate and intense that it evokes the Hussar image. Varushkan decoration is primarily embroidery and fur trim.

Thor’s Hammer - DO NOT USE THESE

Thor’s Hammers have become as evocativeand iconic as a crucifix. They are irrevocably associated with Thor, a deity who does not exist in the Empire game setting, so please avoid this specific piece of jewellery.


The Varushkan look is inspired by Rus and Slavic costume

and does not include Cossacks. We have excluded the Cossack look from the setting because like the Hussars it is evocative of a much later period than the game draws from. Please avoid elements that are reminiscent of cossacks: boots that rise to meet the trousers, small waistcoats, and cossack- style hats made entirely of fur. Please also avoid cossack dancing. It is iconic - for Cossacks - but is not appropriate for Varushkans in Empire.


Amber and silver are most commonly worn. Hunters carry amulets, talismans and fetishes designed to protect them from the monsters that might otherwise hunt them in turn.


The most common armour is scale or lamellar, either leather or metal. Splinted greaves and vambraces are common. Helms usually rise to a point, often with a plume. A few Boyars wear plate that has a simple design but is intricately decorated. Plate can be tooled to emphasize the strength and power of the wearer and to make them appear darker and more intimidating.

The traditional Varushkan armour worn by the Schlacta, the professional soldiers, is tightly woven scale or lammellar.  Varushkan armour is as likely to be leather as metal.

Round shields are common and some Schlacta employ a pavisse.

Varushkan Helms

The ideal Varushkan helm is pointed with a plume emerging from the point. 


Boyars who are warriors often wear the traditional lammellar armour but with more complete coverage and supplemented with hardened leather or plate on the fore-arms and legs.  Boyars are not sadistic tyrants, but their rule may be authoritarian, callous or even cruel. Some adopt an intimidating demeanour, the better to project their power and authority over their dominion. Warrior boyars who choose to fight the monsters of the dark forests by appearing as dark as their foes may wear a suit of plate fashioned that reflects the dark gothic tone of the nation.


Schlacta, the Varushkan professional warriors, use heavy weapons of war such as broad swords, war axes and bardiches. The woodsman’s axe is a common weapon for many other Varushkans.