Characters are the focal points of any larp experience. Each and every character brief will contain a background detailing the character’s past experience and how they came to be the person they are at the start of the action. As organizers, our hope is that the characters will change and grow over the three days they are part of Triumph.
Your experience (and character brief) will depend upon whether you play a Triumph, a Mentor, or a Citizen. We will strive to give you your choice of character type wherever possible though, as there are limited numbers of each type, we cannot guarantee this.
Triumphs occupy a paradoxical position in the world of the Imperium. They are celebrated and glorified in the media, fêted, and pampered in the opulence of the Eternal City and fawned over by the residents there, only to be sacrificed afterwards. While they are the center of attention, the smarter among them will recognize this as a facade. They remain largely powerless to do anything except try to cheat death through winning the Games.
In our larp, the first couple days will encapsulate the experience of arriving in the Eternal City. There will be media interviews, a formal dinner, strategy sessions with their Mentors, and the opportunity to size up the opposition. This is critical to success in the Games, where securing a sponsor or bribing an unprincipled Gamekeeper can provide a weapon at a crucial moment.
On the final day, the players of the Triumphs will travel to the arena where the Triumphal Games will take place. From here the experience will be a series of scenes — the battles and deaths of the Games — within the arena. Over roughly eight hours, we will run about one scene an hour. These scenes represent the explorations, ambushes, and showdowns of the Triumphal games and culminate in the crowning of the final survivor as the winner. All battles will be on camera and broadcast back to the hotel, where the Mentors and the Citizens will have an opportunity to react and try to influence events by cutting deals with other Mentors or pulling strings with the Gamekeepers to improve the odds for their Triumphs. Between the battles, Triumphs will be communicating with their Mentors, playing out scenes with their allies in the arena and possibly sneaking off to meet with other competitors out of sight of the Imperium’s cameras.
We’ve had a lot of questions what happens to a player when their Triumph character dies. The final day starts 22 hours after the larp begins so there won’t be much time remaining, no matter when you die in the Games. You could choose to just return to the hotel and relax in the afterparty space, or your room both of which will have screens on which you can watch the rest of the Games. Or you could take advantage of the spa, out-of-character. If you aren’t ready to derole quite yet, we will be facilitating scenes where you can haunt some of those who failed you during your life—your Mentor, or allies, or those who killed you—and try and find some closure to your story. Finally, if you really want to go back, we will have some characters you could use to reenter the larp, as a Citizen of the Eternal City.
As is traditional, after the final battle, the surviving Triumph will return to the Eternal City to give their victory speech. This concludes the larp.
Mentors are the bridge between the Triumphs and the Citizens. In the world of the Imperium, they were not an original part of the Triumphal Games — the Triumphs received no assistance to prepare for their battles or to navigate the politics of the Eternal City. Residents from the Cantons living in the capital naturally started offering help to those selected from their province, and those who had already been through the Games had the most to offer. The formalization of this relationship took place on the 10th anniversary, but it was not until the 21st Games that every Canton had a victor in a position to serve as Mentor.
For the past 18 Triumphal games, every pair of Triumphs has had a Mentor. Some Cantons only currently have one Victor who can serve in this capacity, others, have more to choose from. Jupiter’s Canton with its academy and Mars' Canton with its strong military tradition have most with seven apiece. Canons with more than one candidate vary in how they appoint their Mentor. Sometimes there is fierce competition, sometimes they rotate, sometimes the first Victor has proven reluctant to give up their position.
Most of the Mentors, as a result of their victory, are wealthy; the rewards from winning coupled with sponsorships and endorsement deals means they can retire comfortably. And while some genuinely enjoy their wealth and fame, most tend to avoid the spotlight, particularly after a few years have passed. Some of them fine the memory of what they went through to survive an almost intolerable burden, and the steady progression of Triumphs who die under their watch, year after year, eventually wears down the rest.
Despite this, all the Mentors do their best to give their Triumphs the best chance of success. Some for personal glory, some for the honor of their Canton, but the majority because they genuinely want their Triumphs to survive. None are under any illusions as to the odds of that happening. For the larp, there are three important roles the Mentors play. First, they will be responsible for preparing their Triumphs: Meeting them when they arrive, schooling them on the etiquette of the Eternal City, helping them understand the demands of the Games and the ways to improve their chances. Most Mentors have chosen to settle in the Eternal City rather than return to their Cantons — it is difficult to face the families of those you have failed, day after day — and their understanding of the way the Games work in a practical way, as opposed to the way the media presents it, is crucial.
Once the Games start, the Mentors act as liaison between the Triumphs and the Gamekeepers. They will need to stay in contact with their Triumphs, keeping their mentees updated on the goings on at the capital and keeping Control informed as to what their team is doing in the arena. Finally, both before and after the start of the Games, they will be acting as advocates on behalf of their Triumphs. They will have connections to other Mentors and Citizens of the Eternal City. They may know a Gamekeeper who is open to bribery or a bookie vulnerable to blackmail who always has a little inside information. Some are experts at it, some are still uncomfortable and learning the ropes, but they’ve all danced this dance before. Now it’s time for another round.
In Triumph, of the three different types of characters, the Citizens are the most varied. Some are here willingly. Some are forced to attend by politics or circumstance. Some are unbelievably wealthy, born to riches. Others earned their way to the Eternal City, still well-off by the standards of most of the Cantons, but not able to compete with the true elites. Some have a job to do, some have deep investments in the Games, and some are trying to accomplish their own goals using the Triumphs and their Mentors as pawns.
For purposes of the larp, you can roughly divide Citizens into “high” and “low” groups. The “high” Citizens are those that were born into power, the long-term residents of the Eternal City. They’re the ones most comfortable wielding their wealth and status, the prime beneficiaries of the status quo. In contrast, the “low” Citizens are more recent arrivals, often serving at the behest of those born in the Eternal City, usually with friends and family still living in the Cantons. Their loyalties are divided between those who provide them with wealth and access and those they left behind. It’s hard to describe a standard play experience for Citizens, since they’re so varied. But here’s a few examples of the kinds of characters who will be available:
The Triumvirate are the absolute rulers of the Imperium. Theoretically they are freely elected by the Senate, who in turn are elected by the residents of the Cantons. In practice, between hereditary seats controlled by families in the Eternal City, voting restrictions still in place since the war, and backroom political deals, the Senate wields little actual power. Those who serve on the Triumvirate are largely only beholden to each other and the cabals that got them elected.
Those playing members of the Triumvirate will find themselves in a position of control, toying with those beneath them. At the same time, each one chafes at the restraints placed upon them by the other two, and (perhaps with an eye toward Ancient Rome) looks for a path to declare themselves Emperor. But operating too openly might find one deposed by the Senate, and given the pleasures of the Eternal City, perhaps it is best not to overreach.
This small group of citizens is responsible for designing and running the Triumphal Games. This includes setting the rules and designing the arena, as well as determining the timing of events and adjusting the difficulty of survival to ensure an exciting spectacle. Accusations fly every year over whether they play favorites, but in the aftermath of a scandal the former head of the Gamekeepers has resigned and there have been promises of a crackdown to ensure the integrity of the Games.
In play, the Gamekeepers are likely to find themselves the focus of a lot of attention, since they — quite directly, in some cases — hold the lives of the Triumphs in their hands. Some are incorruptible, and the recent scandal has hampered most of the open corruption of the past. But there are still opportunities to slip a favorite weapon into a supply drop, or whisper a warning into the right ear, assuming the price is high enough.
The first few Games were somewhat somber affairs, but they swiftly turned into spectacle, and none are more responsible for that than the media. Ambitious television personalities realized the games were a great opportunity, and soon the broadcasts were laced with tear-jerking stories about the Triumphs, their deprived upbringings, the sublime tragedy of their deaths, and the miraculous glory of those who survive.
Players of these characters will be responsible for interviewing the Triumphs before the Games start, and the Mentors as the Games begin, and the losses begin to pile up. Their position and access gives them prime opportunity to spread gossip — or misinformation — in pursuit of their own agendas. Apart from the games, many rising stars are present among the citizens and these will seek out media attention for their own purposes.
With the prime viewing numbers the Triumphal Games command, there are unparalleled advertising opportunities for business in the Games. That’s where the sponsors come in. There are key drops of supplies — food, medication, weapons — scheduled during the Games, each one underwritten by a particular corporation. For a Triumph, gaining the official recognition of a corporation means having that prize to yourself.
Playing a sponsor in the Games means meeting with the Triumphs and trying to decide who is likely to represent your interests best on the field. More than one sponsor has been known to agree to a deal at the start and then renege after a desperate Mentor put forward a sweeter counteroffer.
The socialites attend the games because they can, because it’s a time and a place to see and be seen, because it’s the year’s biggest and best party.
Playing a socialite in the Games might you free of any “task” or obvious agenda (though some have secret agendas and are attending under cover). These citizens can talk to anyone, offer to act as independent sponsors (most have plenty of money to throw about) and pursue romance, fame, fortune, or the chance to undermine the oppressive regime. Needless to say, every socialite has both an “excuse” and an ulterior motive for their attendance. They might, on the surface, be there to find a rich life partner, to support a lover or simply to have a good time. Beneath the surface they could be an industrial spy, trying to find out what other corporations are developing, they could be rich supporters of the rebels" cause, they could be bodyguards of a paranoid Triumvirate, or they could have been placed by a Mentor to undermine a specific Triumph’s chances of victory at the Games.