log in or register to remove this ad

 

Opinions on Symbaroum?

TheAlkaizer

Game Designer
The tone and atmosphere presented in the game suggest to me that it would be a perfect opportunity to make a hexcrawl*/endurance game, where survival, exhaustion, and morale could be used as ways to influence how ready the PCs are to fight the next abomination from the depths or negotiate between barbarian cities or save the goblins from the local petty tyrant or whatnot.
That's also the fantasy that the game evoked for me. I'm happy that there's rules in the Game Master's Guide, but I'll surely tweak things and borrow from other systems.

Oh, hey, I forgot those were coming (I guess already have come now). Clearly I stopped following the release schedule before this release.
Understandable! It's also a headscratcher for me as to why they didn't. The Core Rulebook heavily focuses on combat in its rules, and I'd even add that the fantasy evoked by the setting is one where you'd want to avoid most fights. For me, it's the same as when products like Pathfinder 2E come out without a starter edition for almost a full year.

I can't reflect too much on your other criticism, I'll need to play it. But that part (exploration rules) revealed true after a quick glimpse in my books. There was absolutely a lack.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
That's also the fantasy that the game evoked for me. I'm happy that there's rules in the Game Master's Guide, but I'll surely tweak things and borrow from other systems.


Understandable! It's also a headscratcher for me as to why they didn't. The Core Rulebook heavily focuses on combat in its rules, and I'd even add that the fantasy evoked by the setting is one where you'd want to avoid most fights. For me, it's the same as when products like Pathfinder 2E come out without a starter edition for almost a full year.

I can't reflect too much on your other criticism, I'll need to play it. But that part (exploration rules) revealed true after a quick glimpse in my books. There was absolutely a lack.
I think that is why the brand new starter set includes explorations rules with an hex map of Davokar. Full on hexcrawl.
 

Grendel_Khan

Adventurer
I guess I disagree. The tone and atmosphere presented in the game suggest to me that it would be a perfect opportunity to make a hexcrawl*/endurance game, where survival, exhaustion, and morale could be used as ways to influence how ready the PCs are to fight the next abomination from the depths or negotiate between barbarian cities or save the goblins from the local petty tyrant or whatnot. And that was the long and short of my point -- the game can be anything the designers want it to be, but I saw a tonal mismatch between what I felt the setting and artwork suggested would be the central gameplay loops and upon what was primarily focused (obviously moreso when looking core-only).
*which we know Free League can and has the interest in doing.
I hear you, but I feel like the system is too streamlined to really make that sort of thing work. It takes long enough to get through daily encounters during a Davokar expedition using the random tables for coming across friendlies, enemies, nasty terrain and ruins, and then additional rolls and resolution for what those ruins are like, who's already in them, how long you want to search them. To layer on more and more survival subsystems....I don't know.

That said I could imagine a different kind of game that's all about some doomed excursion, where it's accepted that no one is going to survive. That's definitely a thing that could happen in Symbaroum, but I feel like its going for a slightly different tone and approach--like a half-step between 5e and OSR.
 

TheAlkaizer

Game Designer
I hear you, but I feel like the system is too streamlined to really make that sort of thing work. It takes long enough to get through daily encounters during a Davokar expedition using the random tables for coming across friendlies, enemies, nasty terrain and ruins, and then additional rolls and resolution for what those ruins are like, who's already in them, how long you want to search them. To layer on more and more survival subsystems....I don't know.
The way I intend to run it is to have fewer encounters. I'm more interested in navigating the forest, managing rations, finding landmarks, findings spots to camp and have the occasional encounter loom over the party. I might be wrong, but the exploration rules seemed heavy on the chances of encounter to my taste.

I have very little experience with Hexcrawls and exploration heavy game. But I've been looking at Forbidden Lands and The One Ring 1E as inspiration. I'll find something light that'll work.
 

Grendel_Khan

Adventurer
The way I intend to run it is to have fewer encounters. I'm more interested in navigating the forest, managing rations, finding landmarks, findings spots to camp and have the occasional encounter loom over the party. I might be wrong, but the exploration rules seemed heavy on the chances of encounter to my taste.

I have very little experience with Hexcrawls and exploration heavy game. But I've been looking at Forbidden Lands and The One Ring 1E as inspiration. I'll find something light that'll work.
You're absolutely right--if you use the expedition-related tables encounters are very common. Which is interesting, because it's a real shift from a more standard, LotR-ish journey. For a while there I thought the tables just weren't properly playtested, but one of their campaign books, Mother of Darkness (which also has the expedition rules that are in the GM's Guide) includes a detailed, day-by-day account of someone's month-long expedition, and it's PACKED with encounters. It also kills off the entire expedition, including the journal's author.

So my sense is that Davokar is supposed to be absolutely horrible, and not just a relatively rough place to travel through en route to the real adventure. Davokar really is the adventure, and then when you make it somewhere and have to deal with even more threats, and also wonder how you'll get home, the difficulty really starts to mount.

This isn't to say that you should stick to the suggested rate of encounters. Just that the way the designers have it, Davokar is an absolute nightmare, and it seems like any expedition that lasts more than a week is incredibly dangerous and narratively time-consuming.
 

Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
I'm running my first game tonight with an Ambrian weapon master*, a barbarian witch and a barbarian monster hunter. We are doing the first mission in the starter set: Where Darkness Dwells. Very curious to see how it goes.

(I allowed players to use the Advanced Player's Guide)
 

schneeland

Adventurer
Would be interested in your practical experience with stuff from the APG. When I read it in depth a few month back, it left me with the impression that I should rewrite the system before I run Symbaroum (I have a tentative plan to run the Throne of Thorns campaign for a few friends once the last part is out).
 

Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
Would be interested in your practical experience with stuff from the APG. When I read it in depth a few month back, it left me with the impression that I should rewrite the system before I run Symbaroum (I have a tentative plan to run the Throne of Thorns campaign for a few friends once the last part is out).

I'll try to do a write up. No promise. I'm not a fan of modifying a system before any actual play and game input by players. Past experience has shown me that some things I was not sure off actually worked at the table.

One thing I want to put a cap on, if players agree, is to prevent raising the same skill two or three times in a row. I would like the progression of characters to be lateral rather than vertical to prevent a race to optimizing the few good abilities each character has despite actual role-play experience. That decision can wait after we have played.
 
Last edited:

Willie the Duck

Adventurer
I hear you, but I feel like the system is too streamlined to really make that sort of thing work. It takes long enough to get through daily encounters during a Davokar expedition using the random tables for coming across friendlies, enemies, nasty terrain and ruins, and then additional rolls and resolution for what those ruins are like, who's already in them, how long you want to search them. To layer on more and more survival subsystems....I don't know.
Well, yes, that is one of my critiques. The system we got is too streamlined to make that kind of thing work, yet that seems more like what the tone imparted to the system by the art, the setting, and game world set up all suggest than the character-build and combat-centric game system with which we ended up. That's why I keep saying that it is a tonal mismatch rather than an actually bad system. I see some general faults in the rules, but overall I think they are fine rules, just not for playing the game that the non-rules part of the book makes me think the game is.
Would be interested in your practical experience with stuff from the APG. When I read it in depth a few month back, it left me with the impression that I should rewrite the system before I run Symbaroum (I have a tentative plan to run the Throne of Thorns campaign for a few friends once the last part is out).
Agreed. I got a little gaming with the system after it came out, but mostly before. There are a few Talents in the APG that certainly look game-changing (the ones that double a warrior's HP or a mage's corruption thresholds, for example), but I'm not sure how that plays out when the dice hit the table.
 

schneeland

Adventurer
One thing I want to put a cap on, if players agree, it to prevent raising the same skill two or three times in a row. I would like the progression of characters to be lateral rather than vertical to prevent a race to optimizing the few good abilities each character has despite actual role-play experience. That decision can wait after we have played.
My biggest concern was caused by the third tier of many abilities, so this might work well enough. I'll give it a second thought before I my game.
 

Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
My biggest concern was caused by the third tier of many abilities, so this might work well enough. I'll give it a second thought before I my game.
I also asked them not to take any abilities to the second tier at character creation. They took 5 novice abilities instead.
 



Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
My first session last night went very well last night. The PCs left Thistle Hold with a Davokar forest exploration permit to find another missing expedition that should have come back one week ago. One member of the lost expedition is related to one of the PCs.

We had one minor quibble about a mystic power. It was resolved by re-reading the wording for each type of action. Symbaroum uses the word 'Active' for combat action or actions similar to combat actions - in the sense of 'physical activity' I guess. We were confused because Active usually means 'always on'.

My players are veterans that have played with the Basic and Expert rules so it was easy for me to explain the concept of hex crawl and ressource management. The orientation & misfortune rules of the starter set worked really well. The barbarian with the bushcraft talent got them lost on the first day they entered the forest! Fortunately one other characters made a really good cunning roll which put them back on track but they lost half-day. Hunting & foraging went well as the barbarian rolled a 1 (critical success). I gave them enough food for 2 days (3 characters) in the form a small deer. They also have 3 days worth of rations each.

Having a free attack for long weapons at the initial first contact round of melee can be devastating if they hit and the damage roll is average or more. On the other hand monster damage is a fixed average value so that hurts too.

The random encounters generated an attack by 4 Mare Cats with poison bites near the ruins of an ancient stone house in which the PCs had decided to sleep for the night. The second day everything went well. The random encounter was an Aboar (corrupted boar) that charged them near a march. After the fight the PC saw an ancient statue leaning near the edge of the marsh. Upon inspection the found a hole in the back which revealed a cavity that contain 4 Finds (1d4+4). The random rolls determined there was a useless debris, a curiosity (bronze statuette of a skeleton) and 2 mystical treasure (magic items) which are potentially worth a lot of Thalers (gold) when brought back to Thistle Hold.

The PCs received 2 XPs (one for each encounter) and 1 for the session itself. I liked the session and the system. Looking forward to the next session in two weeks.
 
Last edited:

TheAlkaizer

Game Designer
he random encounters generated an attack by 4 Mare Cats with poison bites near the ruins of an ancient stone house in which the PCs had decided to sleep for the night. The second day everything went well. The random encounter was an Aboar (corrupted boar) that charged them near a march.

Thank you for the write up! How did the encounters go? Anything that surprised you?
 

Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
Thank you for the write up! How did the encounters go? Anything that surprised you?
The Mare Cats was as expected. Managed to poison one PCs. The witch was a 7 temporary corruption on a maximum of 8 at the end of the encounter. He rolled a critical success 1 on a spell so I gave only 1 corruption instead of the usual 1d4.

The Aboar encounter was weird. The PCs hit it but with 7 armour because of robust and armoured traits they scored no damage. They panicked. The Mystic successfully cast Maltransformation on the Aboar and turned it into an inoffensive small mammal. Then it was the Aboar's turn... it fled into the woods humiliated. 🙃
 
Last edited:

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top