Archive for June 12, 2017


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The GM Guide of Symbaroum is broken up into several chapters, each one geared to helping the Game Master better run games set in the dark fantasy world of Symbaroum.

Game Master’s Rules

This covers some basic rules that haven’t been explained in the Player’s Rules from the prior book. One particularly important spot would be the Corruption rules. I suppose it’s up to the Game Master to determine just how transparent he’d like to be about how Corruption works in his world, but some might feel that it enforces the horror of the setting to just hold back on the details and let their players figure it out in play.

Campaign Rules

This section deals with the rules governing travel and random encounters in areas in Davokar. The economy and some rules with Artifacts are also given some attention here.

Adventures

This is more of an advice chapter than a rules one, with handy bits of good-to-know information with regards to how to run adventures in Symbaroum, using two “modes”: The Classic Adventure, which is more structured around a story, and the “Landscape” which is a sandbox where various elements are let loose and the player characters are free to interact (and meddle) with them however they will.

Monsters & Adversaries

This is the bestiary of the game, and reveals quite a few of the nasties found in Davokar, as well as having stats for more “mundane” threats in the cities. Monsters have their own special Traits, from Poisonous to Corrupted Blood. I’m actually a little worried about what kind of threats to send my players. Certainly a team of four adventurers can handle a lot, but something like a Blight Beast could very well take a few of them with it!

The Promised Land

This is a sample adventure that could be used to open a campaign of Symbaroum. As an opening, it does tend to favor playing Ambrian humans quite a bit, so the GM will have to work with players to justify Changeling, Ogre or Goblin characters, as well as having a Barbarian in the team.

That said, it’s a sound opening, and I do plan to run this as the beginning of my own adventures for Symbaroum.


Conclusion

Where other games look to try to make their dark fantasy repulsive by adding more gore, Symbaroum manages to get away by being Romantic (in the literary sense of the word.) It doesn’t go for the gross out, but rather delves into the implied horrors of the past, and how it echoes into the present.

In many ways, this careful treatment of the entire feel of the game is Symbaroum’s greatest achievement, as adventurers seek fame and fortune knowing that their journey is one doomed to suffering. It’s not that people can’t win, it’s just that they have to be prepared to understand what winning will cost them.

Mechanics

The systems in Symbaroum are easy to learn, and cover all the things you need to feel like a competent adventurer. The lack of actual classes, and the freedom to choose your abilities is a big plus, as every character is unique.

Combat is quick and deadly, and getting hurt feels like a major risk. While player characters might have their own advantages over the enemy, it rarely feels like they’re always going to win.

Layout and Artwork

The game is gorgeous, featuring superb artwork, each one of which is an inspiration for a scene in a game. The layout is friendly and easy to read, and breaking things down into three books makes it readable and easy to digest.

Concerns

I suppose my only concerns would be that some of the rules are tucked away at odd spaces. Reading it from cover-to-cover mitigates this, but sometimes it’s hard to quickly look things up. Thankfully the simplicity of the system means you don’t really miss out on too much.

Conclusion

In a hobby already oversaturated with grimdark fantasy, Symbaroum manages to weave together a compelling setting with stunning visuals and a seamless, easy to learn system and come up with a product that doesn’t just work, it sings.

For those interested in checking it out, you can purchase Symbaroum on PDF over at DriveThruRPG for only $18.99

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Before we move on to the GM Rulebook for Symbaroum, we’re taking a look at the Mystical Traditions that exist in the societies of Ambria and Davokar, as well as the various spells and rituals that exist within them.

Mystical Traditions

Symabaroum is a magical setting. However, magic itself has been corrupted, and those untrained in it’s use expose themselves to corruption simply by tapping into the latent energies of magic. However, Magical Traditions are studies that have been able to reduce the effect of corruption among spellcasters.

The traditions in the core book include: Theurgy (powers of the Faith), Sorcery (powers from Corruption), Witchcraft (powers from Life and Nature), and Wizardry (powers from disciplined Study).

Each of these traditions are given a short writeup, and are pretty flavorful. They also have a section each on the sort of powers they wield, rituals they perform and how they view Corruption.

A fifth faction of Independent Mystics exist, but that’s more of a catch-all for the untrained, whose advantage lies in being able to study and cast spells from all the prior four without limitations, but subject to more Corruption.

Mystical Powers and Rituals

The next chapter of the book goes into descriptions of the various Mystical Powers and Rituals open to each of the Traditions. Mystical Abilities are formatted in the same way as standard Abilities, with Novice, Adept and Master levels that show the depth of skill of the caster.

Rituals on the other hand are time-consuming spells with various uses that don’t have the immediacy of Mystical Powers but are very handy for investigative purposes. These range from Clairvoyance to Commanding Confessions, and each of the Traditions sports some very interesting Rituals.


Symbaroum’s magic system is easy to understand, and very flavorful. Each Tradition brings a unique form of casting to the table, and there’s room for multiple spellcasters in any party. Given the nature of the things in Davokar (and even the human opponents that can be found in Thistle Hold, Karvosti or Yndaros) having some magical ability in your party can only be a good thing.

For those interested in checking it out and following along, you can purchase Symbaroum on PDF over at DriveThruRPG for only $18.99


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Now that we’ve got ourselves a fairly robust starting character in the form of Karlio from our previous post, let’s see how he does in a standard combat against one of the many, many threats of Symbaroum: a bandit.

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Stat-wise a bandit (or Robber in this case) has high Vigilant and Discreet stats, while having only a middle-of-the road Accurate rating. Still, there’s no point in underestimating any fight in Symbaroum.

That said, let’s take on a stereotypical scenario just to give context to this matchup:

Karlio is returning from a quick visit to the Davokar and is hurrying his way back to Thistle Hold, hoping to make it inside the gates before nightfall. His hopes of being able to get there without delay were shot down however, as a wiry looking man with missing teeth stopped him along the road, brandishing a rusty sword.

“Oi, you there, hand over your money and nobody has to get hurt.”

Karlio, being no stranger to violence, gave a sigh as he drew his blade, “Let’s just get on with it. You’ll be just another corpse on the roadside for the crows to feast on.”

Turn Order

The character with the highest Quick can choose to go first or to wait. Surprisingly Karlio has a higher Quick score of 11, and decides to go first.

Actions

Characters in Symbaroum are able to Perform Combat Actions, Movement Actions, Reactions and Free Actions.

Being without a ready weapon, Karlio decides to be careful and spend his Combat Action readying his sword, as well as his shield.

The Robber then takes his action, spending his Movement action to close the distance between him and Karlio and then attacks!

This is resolved by a [Defense <- Accurate] Test, meaning that Karlio rolls his Defense modified by the Robber’s Accurate. Karlio’s Defense is 11, +2 for his Shield Fighter Bonus. The Robber’s Accurate has a modifier of 0, meaning Karlio needs to roll a 13 or Less to avoid harm.

Karlio’s player rolls a 3!

Karlio swats aside the Robber’s sword-strike with his shield in an almost negligent shrug.

Turn order then comes back around to Karlio, who makes an attack of his own, swinging his sword down over the Robber’s shoulder!

Karlio’s attack is an [Accurate <-Defense] roll, with Karlio’s Accurate being 13, and the Robber’s terrible Defense of +4, bringing Karlio’s target number up to 17! Karlio rolls a 14, hitting the Robber on the shoulder with his blade.

Damage

Normally, a one-handed sword like the one Karlio uses has a damage rating of 1d8. But thanks to his Shield Fighter Ability, it now counts as 1d10. Karlio’s player rolls a 7, which is then reduced by the Robber’s Crow Armor value of 3, bringing the damage down to 4.

This is then deducted from the Robber’s own Toughness, bringing him down from 11 to 7 instead. Definitely wounded, but still far from dead!

Karlio’s attack was savage, but the Robber’s last minute parry was able to soften the blow somewhat, saving his life as he staggered backwards, sporting a bloody gash on his shoulder, with some white of his collarbone peeking through.

He counter-attacks with the ferocity only a hungry and desperate man could muster!

Again, Karlio’s player has to roll his defense, and scores a 12, just barely enough to avoid the Robber’s blade.

Taken aback by his opponent’s rabid aggression, Karlio barely parries the robber, before stepping forward to try and run him through!

Karlio’s player then rolls his attack once more, hoping to put an end to this!

Karlio’s player rolls an 8, scoring a hit! His damage roll for his one-handed sword rolls a 9, which is then reduced by armor to 6!

Scoring damage to meet a target’s Pain Threshold opens up two options for Karlio: 1) He may choose to knock the target to the ground, or 2) take an extra Free Attack on the target. Reluctant to let the fight go any longer, Karlio decides to finish the job!

He makes a second attack roll, scoring a 17 (just barely a hit) and damage of 7.

Karlio drives his blade into the Robber’s gut, blade finding a space between the man’s armor. Not bothering to pull it free, Karlio twists the blade  and slices horizontally, along the robber’s armor, until he sees the life fade from the other man’s eyes.


As you can see, combat in Symbaroum is pretty dangerous. Karlio has the advantage of having strong Defense and decent armor, but a few lucky rolls could have meant the difference between survival or being food for the crows.

I imagine that fighting multiple opponents would be very dangerous as the Advantage mechanic for Symbaroum grants a +2 bonus to Success Tests and a 1d4 bonus to damage! So if Karlio were to go up against two Robbers instead, they’d likely flank him and whittle him down that way.

For those interested in checking it out and following along, you can purchase Symbaroum on PDF over at DriveThruRPG for only $18.99