Archive for the ‘Symbaroum’ Category


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We’re at book 2 of Symbaroum, after having had a chance to absorb a bit about the setting of the game it’s finally time to make our character.

Goals

One of the earliest bits of the Player’s section of the game talks about is having Goals. This is a neat little thing as it ties in nicely to the fact that Symbaroum feels a bit sandbox, and that it relies on the initiative, drive, and determination of the players to make things happen. People don’t just sit on their thumbs all day waiting for a Mysterious Stranger(tm) to walk through the door and declare a need for adventurers after all!

These goals define what it is that a character wants to achieve. A couple of goals suggested by the game include: Restore your family’s honour, become leader of a guild, chapter or an organisation, or take revenge upon a person or creature.

It’s a neat way to tie a character into the setting by giving them stakes right away.

The game also suggests having Goals for the group, just so everyone has a reason to work together. Whether it’s glory, coin or a higher purpose. The game also gives a few examples for these like: Lead a large group of people to safety, establish an organisation together or overthrow a leader.

Goals don’t always have to be epic, it could just very well be the next step in a bigger plan. What matters is that you give your group a direction to go.

Archetypes

Characters come from three archetypal backgrounds: Warrior, Mystic and Rogue. Each of these specialises in a different way of engaging with the world and game-wise it gives everyone a chance to shine.

For today let’s go with a standard Warrior Archetype.

Looking it up I see that there are further options. Among these I choose to go for Sellsword. This suggests that I take the following abilities: Iron Fist, Man-at-arms, Polearm Mastery, Shield Fighter

Attributes

Characters in Symbaroum are defined by their eight Attributes: Accurate, Cunning, Discreet, Persuasive, Quick, Resolute, Strong and Vigilant. In the game, the player rolls a d20 and compares the result with the value of one of the Attribute. If the outcome of the roll is equal to or less than the Attribute, then the test is successful.

There are two ways to generate Attributes in the game: an Array Distribution (with adjustments), and Point Buy. For this example let’s go with the Array where we assign the following values: 5, 7, 9, 10, 10 , 11, 13, 15

Accurate 13
Cunning 5
Discreet 7
Persuasive 10
Quick 11
Resolute 10
Strong 15
Vigilant 9

We’re definitely looking at a beefy guy with more brawn than brain, but does have a way about him that makes him somewhat likeable given his middle of the road Persuasive stat.

From this, we now derive his secondary attributes:

Toughness (= Strong): 15
Pain Threshold (Strong / 2): 8
Defense (Quick -Armor): 11
Corruption Threshold (Resolute / 2) 5

Success Tests

A quick segue into systems. While I mentioned the basic die roll of d20 vs Attribute. However when the roll is opposed by another character, this roll is modified by a value set by the opposing characters’ Defense. If the Defense Attribute is low (like 5) then the roll gets a bonus of +5, while high Defense Attributes like 15 apply a -5 penalty to the roll.

Race

For my character’s Race (and Name) I’m going for a Ambrian Human, which gives me access to either Contacts or Privileged traits.

Looking up the Ambrian Names, I think I’ll go for the male name “Karlio”

Abilities

Starting characters get an option of having two Abilities or Powers at Novice Level, and one at Adept, but also have the option of starting with five abilities at Novice and no Adept level abilities instead.

For Karlio, I’ve decided on taking the standard Two Novice and one Adept

  • Shield Fighter (Novice) – The damage dealt by weapons held in the character’s sword arm is increased by one step; to 1D10 if the character fights with a single-handed weapon or to 1D8 if using a Short wea – pon. The novice Shield Fighter also wields its shield as an instrument of protection with greater efficiency and therefore receives a +2 Defense bonus instead of the usual +1 when using a shield.
  • Recovery (Novice) – Active. With a successful die roll against Resolute, the character regains 1D4 Toughness. Multiple attempts can be made, but only one successful attempt is allowed per day.
  • Man-at-Arms (Novice) – Passive. The character knows how to use its armor for maximum effect, which increases the armor’s Armor tier by one step: light armor protects 1D6, medium armor protects 1D8 and heavy armor protects 1D10.
  • Man at arms (Adept) – Passive. The character is used to wearing armor and can adapt his or hers actions to its limitations. The armor no longer has a negative effect on Quick or abilities based on Quick (including Defense). The Impeding quality of the armor still has a negative effect when using mystical powers.

With this, Karlio is one tough cookie.

Shadow

Every character in Symbaroum has a Shadow (not that shadow, silly, a big “S” Shadow) which represents their spiritual connection to nature or civilisation.  In Karlio’s case, he’s a city boy of moderate standing, so I’m making his Shadow that of Copper, one that could tarnish into a sickly green with Corruption, or a different shade as his connection to Davokar improves.

Equipment

Karlio begins with Medium Armor and a Shield thanks to his Abilities. For a weapon he starts with a sturdy one-handed sword and a dagger.

He also starts with 5 thaler in his purse.

And that’s it! With that Karlio is complete.

Symbaroum’s character creation system is quick and easy, and the Abilities are really fun to look into. There’s a lot of room for character customisation here, and I’m glad that it’s easy to make characters while being able to retain the kind of mood that fits such an atmospheric setting.

Next up we’ll take a look at the Combat mechanics, as we toss Karlio into a fight!

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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Hello again! After a lengthy absence, I’m back to blogging, taking on the rest of Book 1 of Symbaroum with a quick glance at the rest of the setting chapters.

Factions

The Factions Chapter is a compelling read. Given the boundaries of having to cram a small slice of a world with as much detail as they can, Symbaroum proceeds to show how to do so with style.

The factions are presented in short, but evocative write-ups, detailing their history and mandate, along with a few details that add a lot of colour to each of the groups, whether it’s the political leanings of a  particular noble line, to details of the Knighthood of the Church of Prios are arranged.

Add to this that the major factions also have a sidebar that talk about key personalities and you get a great glimpse of the complex (and volatile) nature of the politics of Symbaroum.

Davokar

The next section deals with the nature of Davokar Forest. Being the key location for many adventures set in Symbaroum, Davokar’s chapter is less about maps and monsters and detail as much as it is about imparting the mood of exploring such a mysterious and ancient wonder, and the fact that every journey there is fraught with danger.

Further details on Davokar will be discussed in the GM chapters.

Thistle Hold, Yndaros and Karvosti

I’m tackling all three (perhaps unfairly) because each of these primary locations of Symbaroum share similar formats. Each is given a background of their founding, a description of their layout and features, and a discussion of the key personalities or factions that call each place home.

Among these are sidebars that discuss small bits of legend that add a great deal of flavour. Furthermore, each has a distinct flavour. Thistle Hold has a real “Gateway to adventure” sort of feel, while Yndaros is more stately and established, while Karvosti is savage and different from the lifestyles of those who came from a more “civilised” background.

I would be remiss if I didn’t add that each of these chapters also sports a beautiful map of each of the locations.

In our next entry in this series we’ll tackle the Player’s Guide, and put together a character for Symbaroum!

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

Also, Team Järnringen is holding a Kickstarter campaign for Symbaroum Karvosti: The Witch Hammer, their latest book for Symbaroum. Go check it out!


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After quite the hearty greeting, the book douses whatever warmth was in the opening with a dose of cold reality.

The game is set in “the region that in ancient times was ruled by the civilisation of Symbaroum – an empire that by all accounts was advanced in the areas of architecture, spirituality, magical schooling and the arts; a culture that without doubt suffered a both rapid and brutal downfall.”

History

This section begins with a fascinating image: after two decades of suffering and strife against the hungry hordes of the Dark Lords, the Great War was over. But the realm was in a truly sorry state: thousands had died, countless people were maimed and broken, and the land itself was ravaged by death magic.

The young Queen was rescued from the Dark Lords, but she returned as a shadow of her former self, a mask covering her once radiant smile.

Twenty-one years after the Dark Lords were vanquished, and the Queen was forced to lead her people to safer grounds, heading north of the mountain range called the Titans lay the ancestral home of her people. It was time for Queen Korinthia to claim her birthright.

For centuries that region had been under the control of warring barbarian clans, but Queen Korinthia’s forces took over after a three day siege and established the realm of Ambria, “the Shining”. Slaves and prisoners were almost immediately put to work on constructing the capital of Yndaros.

Over the next few years, the nobles of Ambria had begun to plan new conquests beyond the original borders of this new realm, and Lasifor Nightpitch, the uncrowned king of Ambria’s treasure-hunters established the town of Thistle Hold. Since then, the walled settlement of Mayor Nightpitch has served as a safe haven for Ambrians exploring Davokar, a forest full of natural resources and rich remnants of long lost civilisations; also a forest full of rampant abominations, dark-minded creatures of otherworldly origins and a band of wardens most unwilling to welcome the damages done by human explorers.

I have to admit that the history section is one that was a refreshing change from the usual. The idea of being in a region in a state of reconstruction after a terrifying war is intriguing, and immediately answers the question as to why such a place would require adventurers… and more importantly, why Davokar would serve to be such a prized target of expeditions, despite the horrors that lay within.

Next up, we’ll continue with the setting section with a look at the Factions of Symbaroum.

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

Also, Team Järnringen is holding a Kickstarter campaign for Symbaroum Karvosti: The Witch Hammer, their latest book for Symbaroum. Go check it out!


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I’ve been on quite the European RPG binge lately, enjoying titles like Mutant: Year Zero, Degenesis: Rebirth, and now Symbaroum.

Symbaroum is a dark fantasy RPG from Team Jarnringen that has been translated into English. Set in a grim dark fantasy realm of Ambria and the forest of Davokar, the game presents a region ripe for adventuring and exploration.

Rather than present the players with a sprawling continent with multiple biomes and vast empires, Symbaroum zooms into a section of the continent to present it in a way that affords the designers to really delve into the nuances of the setting and its people.

While not a novel idea, it’s one that I appreciate as many designers really get to show off their skill when it comes to being given restrictions. I’m looking forward to seeing how well they deal with it in my succeeding entries to this Let’s Study series.

The book itself is divided into three parts. Part 1 deals with the setting, giving us a look at the realm of Ambria and the forest of Davokar. We’ll see the history, geography and people of the region, as well as the conflicts between them.

Part 2 is the Player’s Guide, which contains player character creation rules, and game rules that players should be familiar with, such as the basic mechanics and combat.

Part 3 is the GM section, a coverage of more specific rules and guidelines on how to create adventures and a section with a bestiary and adversaries that players may encounter.

Being from a tropical country like the Philippines, the concept of a dark fantasy RPG with a huge emphasis on a Forest as a major component of environmental conflict is intriguing to me, and I’m definitely looking forward to having Symbaroum impress me.

Next up, we’ll be tackling the setting of Symbaroum

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