July 26, 2019

How will combat work?

As Triumph is built around a winner-takes-all fight to the death, there’s going to be conflict between players. We have a number of design goals for a combat system.

  • Simple: The system needs to be easy to understand and easy to use.
  • Accessible: While characters may be athletic gods, the players probably won’t be. We want a system that allows anyone to participate in it equally, no matter what your physical limitations are. Your capabilities as a player should not limit your capabilities as a character.
  • Unpredictable: A key tenet of the Games is that anybody could die–indeed, most will. If someone’s trying to kill you, when combat breaks out, there should always be a risk of death.
  • Emotional: It’s our belief that what makes the combat meaningful are the emotional moments, at least for this game. We want a system that emphasises and strengthens that play, rather than strategic or tactical play.
  • Collaborative: While the Games are highly competative, that all happens for the characters. We want players to be encouraged to work together to create powerful scenes. It’s fine to rely on the system to decide what happens narratively. But it should allow players to negotiate outcomes where that makes for a better game for all of them.

Here’s how we’re currently envisioning the system will work.

In the Arena

Once the Triumphal Games begin, participants will enter the Arena. They’ll have a small, isolated space they can wait between encounters, and be provided with a way to communicate with their mentors, back in the Eternal City. They’ll be expected to be strategizing together, and come up with a plan (e.g. “We’re going to scout that ridge” or “We’re going to fortify our encampment”). The mentors are responsible for communicating those plans with the staff of the Games.

Once the staff has everyone’s plans, they’ll tell participants to show up at particular places in the arena at specific times.


Once participants show up for an encounter, they’ll find a member of the staff, a camera crew, and (most likely) other participants. The staff member will describe the scene (e.g. “You were scouting this area when you stumbled upon their encampment”). At this point, all the participants will have a chance to discuss what they want out of the scene.

If they all agree, then that’s what happens. If they don’t, there will be a quick randomized determination of what happens (we’re still working on what this will look like).


Once the participants have determined the outcome, the cameras will be turned on, and the scene will be acted out. The scene will we boradcast live back to the Eternal City, where mentors and citizens will be able to watch it play out.


After the encounter, suriving participants will return to their camps, where they’ll have an opportunity to communicate again with their mentors and make new plans. Those participants who were mortally wounded may have died immediately, or may linger long enough to have a final scene with their comrades-in-arms before dying.

This cycle continues until there is a final victor.

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