Welcome to Empirical Purple

A blog by Simon Brady to cover a surprisingly wide range of geekiness, in a combination that no-one else does quite the same way. Probably. Either that, or it'll just be Simon talking about the likes of Football (usually the Soccer variety), PC & Tabletop Gaming, WWE, Movies, Music and occasionally even my actual job of Graphic Design, depending on what I'm up to in the world.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Empire LARP Event 1 - My Character Arc

Ideally, this is what Jacob will end up like.
Less than 24 hours later and 450+ views of my overall thoughts on Empire is absolutely amazing; it has thrown that post right to the top of my 'Most Popular' list by a couple of hundred views. Evidently sharing the link in a Facebook Group with 2,069 members is a good idea to get readers. Thanks to everyone who read it, and everyone who's reading this.

Onward to the post itself, though! I realise everyone is the hero of their own story, so this will feel very me-centric. That can't really be helped, as it's my story, but hey. Whether you're a new LARPer, vaguely interested thanks to my last post, or just looking for something to read in order to not do work, then this is the post for you.

I went to Empire as a LARPing newbie with an overall one-point plan of what to do thanks to Tom our OC group co-ordinator, but little idea of who my character - Jacob of the Cenotaph, a Highguard Warrior/Priest - actually was. I ended up discovering this character by playing him (shock horror), and it all seemed to click.

It felt like Jacob had a full, important, character arc across the weekend.  If Jacob were to be filed away and never played again, he had his moments in the sun. Based on the actions of that weekend, be might have got himself a redlink on a wiki or, at best, a two-paragraph article with no picture and half-truth information that you don't really want to trust because, y'know, internet. But here's how it went...

Beforehand I didn't have a clue what sort of character I wanted to play. In other games, on forums and for other applications I've created dozens, perhaps hundreds of characters in various forms before, but to actually inhabit one for a weekend was a little daunting. The skill mechanics were easier to choose: a little bit of Warrior skills so I could happily join a battle and keep going if I liked it, along with some Priestly skills and resources to help out the group and fit in to what we were playing as.

Looking back now, finding the Warrior Priest inspiration before the event would have been more useful, but without knowing that I was going to enjoy the battles, I didn't want to risk going down that path too early. I didn't expect to enjoy the priestliness of it as much as I did, either. Random people coming into our tent looking for the advice and guidance of a Priest of Ambition (itself a fairly random choice) made me feel like a wise village vicar - especially when I was actually able to provide some insight, service or guidance.

The secret to this is 1) Bullshitting Improv skills and 2) reading the Empire wiki.

When it seemed like our group could be the only one representing the Necropolis territory, the opportunity to provide a Senator arrived. With no-one in our group particularly eager to do it, I volunteered, because at E1 at least the Necropolis would have a single issue they cared about: the retrieval and burial of the fallen Empress Britta. I can argue, I can debate and I figured that a one-issue campaign was well within my grasp.

So I read the appropriate bits of the Empire wiki like there was no tomorrow. Imperial, Highguard and Wintermark burial customs and beliefs were where I focussed, coming up with a plan on how to make the Highguard point of view come to fruition.

So it came down to the Senate elections on Friday afternoon and boom, I lost. Well, came second (of two) by a couple of votes in a really well-fought debate with an interested crowd. But never mind that, because the guy who did win - Adamah of the Silent Tide - was immediately a firm friend and also was way better at being a Senator than I would have been. The knowledge I demonstrated under that Inquisition meant that I was the immediate go-to guy for Stewards of the Dead, which the Cenotaph is mostly made up of, and the burial issue itself. Brilliant!
Paladin. Because they're ace.
So there I was, picked to be part of a long conversation with the Wintermark's own version of Funeral Directors. We came up with some compromises and that was that. Job done, I thought.

That was until Senator Adamah needed an 'expert witness' to speak for him in the Senate surrounding the burial issue, as he and a Wintermark Senator proposed a joint motion about the Empress, based on a compromise reached after the initial meetings I'd been a part of. Awesome! So I had the honour, privilege and responsibility of speaking to the most powerful people in the land - including another Senator who had come to me earlier about being dedicated as a Pilgrim of Ambition, so I had four favourable faces of the twenty-odd in there already and it all went very well.

Again, I thought, job done. I'd fought in the battle on Saturday and swung a foam sword in anger for the first time, then done some training with the Dawnish Academy of Arms to learn how to do it better (which is very much recommended, by the way, they really know their stuff). In the battles I managed to not die (Achievement Unlocked!), deflect arrows with my shield and retrieve General Ruth's sword after she was flattened by a large Orc. I'd wandered around promoting the Cenotaph as the Stewards of the Dead, by which we collect the stories of the heroes of the Empire - both living and fallen - to inspire the rest of the Empire, and I'd also given out some priestly advice, feeling very much like a kindly village vicar. All of which were lovely.

I only really found the character of Jacob in a Navarr tent at 2am under the influence of Dawnish apricot schnapps. No, really. The conversations in that tent among those of a few different nations really helped it click in my head of what Jacob was all about. As my Exarch, Uriel, described the beauty of the sun rising over the Necropolis, I suddenly asked him the question "Have you picked out a spot where you want to be buried, if you're judged a Hero of the Empire?"

Bingo. That's the Ambition, that's the reason, that's the driving force behind this character. I selected the virtue of Ambition because I was going for Senator. It now occurs to me that in other, text-based RPing, I can do arrogance and disdain extremely well. So much so that "haughty wanker" has been used on more than one occasion, which is brilliantly apt and I love it every time it's said. The driving force and fire of ambition and the will to become a hero of the Empire, an inspiration for future generations, is the reason why Jacob sees himself as being on the planet. So that was the character found and I was very, very happy. I also thought that was pretty much it for the weekend, too.
Priest mode, but with hair

That was until Monday's battle came and the body of the Empress was recovered (sans head and crown, of course, but that's another story and not a thread to be pulled at here). Though Wintermark got the body - as per the earlier compromise - the Necropolis would get the armour, relics, etc. So who did that? Well me and Thaddeus (Jnr) of Cantiarch's Hold. We stripped the Empress (Achievement Unlocked!) then, along with the Wintermark guy, processed around Anvil with people joining in, kneeling, bowing, playing music and generally paying their respects. It was an unspoken group decision, something natural and improvised and simply awesome.

And that was Jacob's arc, from start to finish. Beginning self-professed as the Highborn expert on the subject, through to guest-speaking in the Senate, tending to the Empress and co-leading the procession of her body. Arc'd.

But what will I plan for event 2? Well, if nothing else, Jacob is a Priest of Ambition. I could elbow the current Cardinal up the ribs, maybe (I hated the first Synod meeting; I'm yet to go to any of the Assemblies or even vote yet). That might turn into the Empire version of Father Ted kicking Bishop Brennan up the arse, though, but would still be fun! I also need to promote the Cenotaph as story-tellers of the heroes of the Empire some more, as well as go a bit more fighty-holy-smitey and generally interact with more players from more nations. I managed to engage with Highguard, Dawn, Wintermark and Navarr fairly well, but there's plenty more where they came from.

So, if you've bothered to read this far, here's the advertising: you need a Priest of Ambition? Come to Jacob. You need a story of an amazing hero of the Empire recorded? Come to the Cenotaph. We're in Highguard, anyone within should be able to point you.

And bring on E2, I hope to see you there!

(pictures from my pinterest board of Empire Ideas, for those interested)


  1. I remember talking to you about the Brass Coast fallen after the battle on saturday.

    The first synod meeting was basically a gathering of priests to sort out who was in which assembly, don't give up on synod politics because of it. I was basically balls deep in the synod stuff all weekend and had an absolute blast. I think most of the best role-players in the system gravitated to the virtues and are playing priests.
    The cardinal of ambition could possibly use a kick up the arse, go for it, it might even work. Failing that you could try becoming a Gatekeeper for ambition instead and I'll see you at the council. I'm the Gatekeeper for Prosperity.

    1. Being the go-to guy for Ambition would be excellent. I seem to be quick-witted enough to prove that almost every situation of virtue is actually Ambition in disguise, so maybe that'd help.

      Had I done the Synod/Assembly I might have missed out on the cool stuff I managed to do already, so perhaps it was a good trade. Definitely going to try and get more into it for E2, though. Thanks for the comment and I hope to see you IC again at E2.

  2. Hello, sounds like you had a great time, just wondering what plate you were wearing, im looking for my first set and recommendations are always helpful

    1. I got mine from http://www.thevikingstore.co.uk/ which is where I've ordered pretty much all of my LARP gear from, Occasionally they'll be out of stock, but a quick phone call sorts that out with no problems.