Creating and Playing a Hunger Games Victor
The Hunger Games Victor is one of my all time favorite things to roleplay as. In fact, my most beloved tumblr character is an oc victor. They are each unique yet oddly bonded by the horror they’ve shared. It’s a fascinating concept and getting to dive into how these people deal — or don’t deal — with having killed 23 of their peers is always exciting.
However, I tend to see people throw together backstories for victors willy-nilly and then play them out as though they didn’t go through a life-changing battle to the death. With the new Hunger Games movie coming out that is partially centered around the victors, I thought I would make a guide to help you create your own original character that’s a victor as well as delve into the mindset of some of the canons.
Includes: The Year They Won, Choosing Their District, Their Reaping, Training and Publicity, How They Won, Effects of Winning, Mentoring, and Important Character Questions
A special thank you to Liz for helping me research for this.
"In the history of the Games, there have been seventy-five victors. Fifty-nine are still alive. I recognize many of their faces, either from seeing them as tributes or mentors at previous Games or from our recent viewing of the victors’ tapes. Some are so old or wasted by illness, drugs, or drink that I can’t place them. As one would expect, the pools of Career tributes from Districts 1, 2, and 4 are the largest. But every district has managed to scrape up at least one female and one male victor."
- Katniss Everdeen, Catching Fire
The Year They Won
This small detail is an essential part of your character. You have to keep in mind how old they were when they won and how old you want them to be currently. Finnick is described to have been one of the youngest victors ever at the age of fourteen. Based on the difficulty of winning, I would not make a character that would have won at any age younger than that. In fact, fourteen would probably be pushing it given the rarity it seems that young of an age seems to be. Remember, most Careers were 18 when they volunteered so the other district tributes have to be older or stronger in some way to make them winning viable.
With Katniss as our main informant in the books, we don’t have exact years for canon victor’s games. When you’re playing a canon victor or are setting up a roleplay with victors, make sure you research directly from the books because the Hunger Games Wikia is horribly wrong a lot of the time.
Here are a few basics:
If you are creating a roleplay, make sure that you figure out which years the canon victors you decide to include won their games. This is going to be vital to keeping track of who knows who and for allowing original characters that are victors to be made.
"The exceptions are the kids from the wealthier districts, the volunteers, the ones who have been fed and trained throughout their lives for this moment. The tributes from 1, 2, and 4 traditionally have this look about them. It’s technically against the rules to train tributes before they reach the Capitol but it happens every year. In District 12, we call them the Career Tributes, or just the Careers. And like as not, the winner will be one of them."
- Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games
A victor’s district is going to tell a lot about them so take care with which district you decide they are from. Remember that most victors are Careers from 1, 2, and 4 while outlying districts have the fewest number. There can also be no living victor other than Haymitch from District 12 and no living female victor other than Johanna from District 7.
If you aren’t sure which district you want to choose, read through the rest of this guide and base it off of what strategy you would want your character to have as that would rely on the skills they developed on through their trade.
"There’s some confusion on the stage. District 12 hasn’t had a volunteer in decades and the protocol has become rusty. The rule is that once a tribute’s name has been pulled from the ball, another eligible boy, if a boy’s name has been read, or girl, if a girl’s name has been read, can step forward to take his or her place. In some districts, in which winning the reaping is such a great honor, people are eager to risk their lives, the volunteering is complicated. But in District 12, where the word tribute is pretty much synonymous with the word corpse, volunteers are all but extinct.”
- Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games
The chance that your character pulled a Katniss Everdeen and volunteered is slim. Outside of the Career districts, there was no honor in becoming a tribute. Sure, you had a chance of winning, but most instantly lost hope. Think of Rue. She’s so obviously vulnerable and sweet yet no one volunteers to take her place, not even family.
However, if your character is a Career, they probably did volunteer. It is heavily implied that most, if not all, volunteered at the age of 18 to take the place of a younger tribute. If a capable Career was selected at a younger age though, they may have let it slide if they thought they were still able to win.
While you may just mention their reaping in passing at most in their bio, really think about how they felt when it happened. It is a key part of teling you who they are and I have found that writing out a victor’s reaping can really help you connect with them. Even if they have since developed from who they were then, they will still always remember the moment their name was called out or they yelled out that they wanted to volunteer. Who did they look to first or did they keep their eyes trained on the stage to keep from showing emotion? Where they sad or happy that someone else hadn’t been chosen? Did they think they had a chance or did they swagger onto the stage already confident they’d win?
"Since the training isn’t open to viewers, the Gamemakers announce a score for each player. It gives the audience a starting place for the betting that will continue throughout the Games. The number, which is between one and twelve, one being irredeemably bad and twelve being unattainably high, signifies the promise of the tribute. The mark is not a guarantee of which person will win. It’s only an indication of the potential a tribute showed in training. Often, because of the variables in the actual arena, high-scoring tributes go down almost immediately. And a few years ago, the boy who won the Games only received a three. Still, the scores can help or hurt an individual tribute in terms of sponsorship."
- Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games
Training and Publicity
Every tribute has a different sort of relationship with their mentors. Did they respect them, hate them, fear them, or what? And did this relationship get in the way of their training and getting sponsors? Mentors have so much control over the external forces surrounding the tributes that this can be a very important part of their experience. Did they feel supported or that their mentor didn’t care?
Before the Games, the victors are allowed to train with various weapons and learn different survival skills. Some of this is to help them to prepare, but a lot of it is for scoping out the competition. How did they use this time? Were there new skills they picked up or did they focus on tearing apart their competition to find their weaknesses? Yours answers to these questions can help you determine just how ruthless or scared they were which can help you figure out how they would have won.
But the training all leads up to the private training session which can sometimes mean something. It’s when the tributes get the chance to really show the Gamemakers’ their stuff and get scored. They have complete control over whatever they want to do, but their ultimate goal is to please the people grading them. Scores are between 1 and 12, but don’t just choose a high score to make your character cooler. Yes, the Careers would probably have high scores, but the scores don’t necessarily correlate with if they won or not.
And then the interview. Here is where you can really let your character shine. Just how manipulative are they? Are they playing the game and pretending to be someone they’re not? Or are they sincere with their naivety or ego? The interview is quick, but it’s where your character got to first really show themselves to the world. I would suggest writing at least the transcript of their interview out whether or not your roleplay requires it because it will open up your character to you.
"I’m sure the arena will be full of bags of flour for me to chuck at people."
- Peeta Mellark, The Hunger Games
It is important to remember that not every Game looked like Katniss’. In fact, she was lucky to have a forest setting. The Gamemakers strive to keep things new and different so really explore of the options for where your character could have been stuck. Where there any special twists like the mutts? How hard was it to find water and food? Was there any shelter to be found or intense weather?
Make sure that your character would be able to survive the environment without it being too much of a stretch. Even Annie was able to win, but only because she was the strongest swimmer. Different environments favor different tributes.
"Everyone seems to be playing up some angle. The monstrous boy from District 2 is a ruthless killing machine."
- Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games
How They Won
Though training for the Games is illegal, the Capitol turns a blind eye towards the Career districts. The Careers train and pride themselves in being the absolute best they can be before going out and fighting in the Games. With Katniss as our narrator, we get no real facts on how this works beyond that, but it is assumed that previous victors get the chance to train the district kids in secret while the peacekeepers look the other way. Careers will be the ones to take advantage of the Bloodbath by using their superior strength and weapon skills to kill as many tributes as possible before getting all of the resources at the Cornucopia. They form alliances with their fellow Careers and sometimes other tributes if they feel that they will benefit them. Their ultimate loyalties are too themselves and, as soon as it is down to them, they will kill their allies.
Some of the others form alliances as well, but no other tributes really have any previous training. If they weren’t a career, their ability to win the Hunger Games relied on trades they would learn in their districts. Finnick Odair used his ability to make nets and ensnare fish within them from his work in District 4 to catch the other tributes and kill them before getting a trident as a sponsor gift. This, as Katniss notes, gives District 12 tributes a distinct disadvantage as they only learn to mine once they turn eighteen.
Expensive and rare, sponsor gifts can mean the difference between life and death in the arena. They are sent from the meager earnings those back home in the districts were able to scrape together or from intense fans watching in the Capitol. Did your character receive any sponsor gifts in the arena? Finnick, one of the most popular victors, famously received a trident while Katniss received salve and bread. The gifts can be anything the Gamemakers would allow so think about what your character could have received to help them win their Games.
An important thing to think about is how many people did your character kill? Did they win through luck or skill? Their kill count — even if it’s just one — will greatly affect them and how they are able to come back into society. How did they ultimately win? Was it dramatic and bloody or tearful? Who was the last person to die? Did they have to kill their district parter or was it a Career?
"I nod, then let the conversation drop. But secretly I’m wondering if Haymitch sobered up long enough to help Peeta and me because he thought we just might have the wits to survive. Maybe he wasn’t always a drunk. Maybe, in the beginning, he tried to help the tributes. But then it got unbearable. It must be hell to mentor two kids and then watch them die. Year after year after year. I realize that if I get out of here, that will become my job. To mentor the girl from District 12. The idea is so repellent, I thrust it from my mind."
- Katniss Everdeen, Catching Fire
Effects of Winning
The immediate rush after winning the Hunger Games is thrilling. You’re cheered for and your district receives food for a year, but underneath it all you are changed. No character enters a tribute and leaves a victor without serious psychological damage. Even the Careers are messed up. Brutus and Enobaria are said to be eager to go back into the Games during the Quarter Quell. What would you do with yourself when your entire life had been built up for one moment that happened when you were 18? What do you do then? You’re built to kill, maybe you even want to kill, but after the Games there is no place for that anymore.
The move to Victor’s Village was not always an easy one. How do you face the people you love when you’ve just slaughtered your peers on live television? Many of the victors resorted to drink and drugs to ease their pain. Common afflictions the victors face are alcoholism, addiction to morphling, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and depression. Whatever you do, don’t take their winning lightly. It is life-changing to be the only one of 23 kids to live and then be celebrated for it. Handle the situation seriously. Has their personality changed? Is it obvious that they’re hurting? Do they view the world differently now? Do they think they have a chance at happiness?
It is also important to consider if they directly insulted the Capitol before, during, or after their Games. Haymitch, for example, used the force field to kill his last opponent. Pissed, President Snow had his entire family killed as payback and to show the future tributes and victors that they were not to make a mockery of the Capitol. Were any of your character’s family or friends killed because of things they did or said?
But sometimes, President Snow has a hand in the victors’ fates and forces them into a whole other lifestyle — prostitution. For the famous and attractive victors, they become an exciting prize for those in the Capitol with enough money to enjoy. Finnick explains that they threatened to kill all of the people he loved if he did not comply. He even implies that Katniss would have been thrown into the same life if Peeta hadn’t won alongside her.
"How odd you two find it amusing. You know your mentor is your lifeline to the world in these Games. The one who advises you, lines up your sponsors, dictates the presentation of any gifts. Haymitch can well be the difference between your life and your death!"
- Effie Trinket, The Hunger Games
Again, Katniss fails us as the main informant on how the Hunger Games work behind the scenes, but we do know a little about mentoring from Haymitch and Effie. Mentors are meant to help their tributes train and come up with strategies for the arena. They are also the only people who can officially make sponsor deals and send sponsor gifts to their tributes. A lot is riding on them and how your character deals with that can be an important part of who they are.
Do they feel sorry for their tributes or are they living vicariously through them? Do they treat them equally or do they obviously prefer the one with the better chance of winning? Do they try to make their last few days comfortable or do they force them to train and strategize all the time?
Important Character Questions
I hope that this was able to help you in some way. If you want anything further explained please message me and I can do my best. Feel free to request any other Hunger Games related guides and research from me as I am more than open to doing it.