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Symbaroum - anyone played it?

Cassius

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Iv played it in 1 year campaign as a player doing the Copper Crown trilogy and have been running the Throne of Thorns campaign for the last year and love it but have to say the setting is very much the main selling point which im completely engrossed in

The system works well enough but it is not a tight tied down system and expect the GM to make calls and house rule things as they see fit to shape the game as they want.

Im fine with this but people who are expecting a highly balanced ruleset out of the box may be disappointed as its quite easy to make incredibly powerful characters if you min max and the game expects the restrictions on this to come from the players/GM not the system which is left as open as you want it to be.

In regards to if corruption works as a suitable downside I definitely think it does as my players are utterly terrified of it and have always lost 1 PC to turning into a blight beast. Though like everything else this does depend how you run it as temporary corruption disappears after a "scene" which is intentionally vague. In my game a scene can be as long as exploring an entire ruin(or at least finding the thing you are after in it) so corruption stays around quite a while but you could have the scene end after every encounter which would make corruption much easier to deal with.
 

Elvish Lore

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I discovered Symbaroum in Swedish when it was first published. I couldn't read it but the creators were sharing basic info in English on Reddit. Later they KS'd translations... but that original premise inspired me and I've since made a massive D&D 5e setting from it and have been running it quite successfully for various group for years. Very foundationally same fundamentals in my version...but 90% of it is my vision of Symbaroum simply from the basics I could figure out.

So, weirdly enough, Symbaroum has been hugely inspirational for me. Its art, its mystique... the tone and atmosphere. It's good stuff.
 

stinkyfool

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I have played in a pair of PbP games that died out quickly, but I hope to find another (in person gaming is tough with my schedule). Still trying to sort out how to handle the magic/corruption balance, especially with starting magic users.
 

GRAAK

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I haven’t played it, so I don’t know if it counts. Feel free to ignore this post in case.
I’ve read it and studied extensively though and made a few simulations in white room combat “drills” to test the mechanics (that are very combat-centric).
Combat by itself works fine if you can get over what you’ve already pointed out regarding the fact that rules are meant to transform even fast-talkers and academics into fighters (read = the rules allow every character to use their main skill to fight with). I’m not sure I’ve accepted this, to be honest.
Apart from that there were a few other things that contributed to my decision to not playing it. Time has passed since then but I clearly recall the worst to me was the “polymorph dragon” effect. A wizard with maxed primary stat (not necessarily a truly min-maxed character overall) has a serious chance of shape-shifting even an elder dragon (or wyrm, I can’t recall the game terminology) into a rabbit, no matter the dragon innate resistances (IIRC it was something along 40% chance to success!). When I pointed out this thing in the subreddit most people reacted answering “Well? What’s the problem? In the turns the dragon is in rabbit-form you as GM can make it run in the bushes, hiding and trying to surprise the PCs when he revert to dragon form”. In my POV this is a poor gamey way to try to solve the silly situation ex-post. IMO a mechanic like that can be an atmosphere-killer…and a true waste considering how cool the setting is!

Having said all that: the art is gorgeous, the setting is unique, and the overarching plot of the main campaign is simply amazing!

If only I had more time to dedicate I would try to play it with a different system. At the time my idea was playing it with (a tweaked)WFRP2nd edition: it would keep the grittiness of combat, it has plenty of non-combat skills that can be central for character development and to explore the richness of the setting, and also has a risk-reward based magic system (wanna keep Corruption? You only have to track the times you rolled doubles or triples with magic rolls).
Another system that would work nicely is The One Ring but it has several baked in mechanics closely tied to the Middle-Earth setting, hence there’s some work to do before using it.

My 2 cents :)
 

Cassius

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The Maltransformation (Polymorph) spell is definitely the 1 spell in the game that properly rings alarm bells in my head at being potentially encounter destroying, the rest of the powerful things in the game have been pretty easy to deal with so far

Iv not had a player take that spell yet but if they do I will definitely be telling them I have concerns about it and may modify it in future before they decide to invest points
 

WistfulD

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I’ve read it and studied extensively though and made a few simulations in white room combat “drills” to test the mechanics (that are very combat-centric). Combat by itself works fine if you can get over what you’ve already pointed out regarding the fact that rules are meant to transform even fast-talkers and academics into fighters (read = the rules allow every character to use their main skill to fight with). I’m not sure I’ve accepted this, to be honest.
It's certainly noteworthy, although it should also be said that it means that you can make characters who dedicate all the build resources to the combat-adjacent traits (the stealthing skills, utility magic, etc.) and never take a combat-dedicated ability... and still be okay at fighting. Which, given the setting, actually probably works. The game is clearly a reaction to D&D and similar games (not exactly clear when the original Swedish version of the game was first published, but I am guessing during the TSR era), so the idea that you might want to make a character who would never fight probably was not really considered.

the worst to me was the “polymorph dragon” effect. A wizard with maxed primary stat (not necessarily a truly min-maxed character overall) has a serious chance of shape-shifting even an elder dragon (or wyrm, I can’t recall the game terminology) into a rabbit, no matter the dragon innate resistances (IIRC it was something along 40% chance to success!).
Hmmm. Hadn't noticed, but I guess I'm hardly surprised. It's not the first fantasy game to be stymied by shapechange mechanics--it's kind of a save-or-lose type effect when used offensively so you either have to make it so unlikely to occur/overly expensive that it is a paper tiger, or it runs away with the game. The general point that the magic system isn't finely tuned for balance is certainly a good point.

but I couldn't for the life of me find any depictions of women (well perhaps there just one but you can't really tell). It is rather off-putting for me to be honest.
I just wanted to go back to this in case others who had no access to the book are reading the thread. I have found artwork depicting women (I haven't done a count to do a ratio, although I am sure there will be more men than women, although both will be positively dwarfed by pictures of picturesque landscapes and foreboding forests). The example character for the character creation system is not only a woman, but she is a badass melee warrior who defies 'the female lead has to be sexy'/chainmail bikini stereotypes (she's an ogre name Grumpa). And the game setting includes badass female leadership. I think there is definitely room for improvement, particularly in light of the overall positive trajectory the hobby has taken towards inclusivity (the positive examples at least, the industry still has some serious issues, particularly with some problematic people behind the scenes), but I'm not finding this game system to be specifically misogynistic. Are you sure you are not conflating it with another system that you've read?
 

Wickus

Mirthless Gummy Bear
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Having read through the posts, I find my reaction and that of my players positive. We love it. It has its own quirks but that's why I enjoy it. You cannot come to Symbaroum with a 5e or similar mindset - I've been there. It is its own thing and I love it for that.

Players facing rolls - brilliant. Non combatants using their highest skill in combat - fantastic, now the social strong character can confuse or BS his way out of conflic (ymmv as a GM, but that's how I use it)! It is great system and relies on narrative description from driving the interactions. My one player described it as as wonderfully european - he is French and is of the opinion that european games differ from American games. To me it feels different, but I cannot give any coherent answer as to why.

The setting is so much more interesting that what's out there currently and like every one else - I think the art is fantastic.
 

Faethor

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The only thing keeping me running it beyond the introductory scenario is a good solid lexicon / name list. Perhaps it's just me, but I struggle with recalling exotic names unless they are 'to hand' (something I first noticed in Tolkiens work).

There are many names for places, people, organisations and 'stuff' which are exotic yet thoroughly spread throughout the core rule book. When someone asks me for details of a tribe off the cuff or a tribal leader I like to have those bare kind of details easily available so I can, at the very least, riff off them.

Ive had two failed attempts trying to write one (a 'mechanical' failure; my eyesight isn't up to the task).
AMBRIANS OF NOTE

King Ynedar Kohinoor - Deceased King of Alberetor, Queen Korinthias father.

Korian Kohinoor - Deceased brother of the Ambrian Queen

Queen Korinthia 'Nightbane' Kohinoor - Soverign of the Ambrian Empire

Esmerelda Kohinoor - 17yr old Daughter of Abesina Kohinoor and Duke Sesario, Dutchess of Kasandrien

Abesina Kohinoor - Mother of Queen Korinthia.

Duke Gadramei - The son of deceased King Ynedar's younger brother

Duke Junio Berakka - Popular General ascended to Nobility.

Duke Ynedar Kohinoor - Son of the Ambrian Queens deceased brother. Korian.

Duke Alesaro Kohinoor - Younger brother of deceased King Ynedar.

Jeseebagai (nee. Demeon Soleij) - First Father of the Sun Church. Blind and burned.

Commander Iakobo Vearra - First Knight of the Dying Suns

Levia Soleij - Master of the Order

Lasifor Nightpitch - Founder, Mayor and Prince of the realm of Thistle Hold

BARBARIANS OF NOTE

Haloban - Executed Chieftain of the Jezora; Jezite barbarian clan.

Chief Tharaban - High Chieftain of the Barbarian clans

The Huldra, Yeleta - Arch Witch

Chief Rabaiamon - Chief of the Gaoia barbarian clan.

Chief Karona - Chief of the Enoai barbarian clan

Chief Didramon - Chief of the Varakko barbarian clan.

Chief Razameaman - Chief of the barbarian Saar-Kahn clan.

Chief Vikomer - Chief of the Godinja barbarian clan.

Chief Leonod - Chief of the Yedesa barbarian clan.

Chief Monovar - Chief of the Zarek barbarian clan.

Chief Embersind - Chief of the Barbarian Odaiova clan.

DEITIES

Prios - Sun God, Law Giver and ascended deity of the Ambrian civilisation.

Uron - Serpent god of the Gaoia barbarian clan, similar to old Ambria's goddess, the Earth Mother.

The Earth Mother - Ambrian Goddess prior to Prios's ascension.

Arex - The Bloodwolf, god of the Baiaga clam, similar to old Ambria' God, the Pathfinder.

The Pathfinder - Ambrian God prior to Prios's Ascension.

Oroke - Spider god common the Barbarian tribes and the Barbarian clan Enoai, similar to old Ambria's god, The Hangman.

The Hangman - Ambrian God prior to Prios's Ascension.

(?) Grandfather Lint - Lindworm that the Gaoia are alleged to be allied with.

The Blood Daughter - bestial Goddess of barbarian clan - Saar-Kahn.

PLACES

Yndarien - The Grand Duchy of Korinthia

Mervidun - Duchy ruled by Duke Sesario on behalf of ailing Abesina his wife.

New Beretor - Peaceful Duchy ruled by Duke Yndar Kohinoor.

Seragon - Poor and unruly Duchy ruled by Duke Gadramei

Kasandrien - Duchy ruled by Esmerelda Kohinoor

Narugor - Duchy ruled by Duke Junio Berakka

New Berendoria - Duchy ruled by Duke Alesaro Kohinoor

Prios Domain - Duchy stewarded by First Father Jeseebegai


The Ravens - mountain range to the east of Ambria.

The Titans - mountain range running between the kingdom of Alberetor and Ambria

Davokar Forest - location of the once mighty Symbaroum civilisation.

Doudram - River

Noora - River

Doudram - river

Lake Ebel -

Ravenia - City

Karun - City

Gaoia - Region and brutal Barbarian clan, Chiefed by Rabaiamon

Enoai - Region and tree dwelling barbarian clan, Chiefed by Karona

Yndaros - Capital city of Ambria, built on the ruins of Lindaros.

Karvosti - Forest plateau and residence of the Barbarian clans High Chieftain.

Mergile - Chief city in Mervidun, a wealthy mercantile hub.

Agrella - Chief city within the dutchy of Kasandrien, situated on the shores of Lake Ebel.

Thistle Hold -

Otra Senja - fortress in the Dutchy of Narugor

Otra Dorno - fortress in the Dutchy of Narugor

Vajvodar - Vajvod fortress.


Karo's Fen - Ambrian colony in Vajvod

Enovak - Large Enoai village


Alberetor - fallen kingdom of the Ambrian culture.

Ambria - "The Shining", alleged originative homeland of Ambrian culture, Renamed by Queen Korinthia. Fertile kingdom of seven duchies.


Godinja - Region and Craftman barbarian clan, Chiefed by Vikomer

Yedesa - Region and proud barbarian clan, chiefed by Leonod.

Baiaga - Region and transient barbarian people

Zarek - Region and Duke Alesaro allied barbarian tribe. Chiefed by Monovar

Odaiova - Region and trading Barbarian clan. Chiefed by Embersind.

Karohar - Region and warmongering Barbarian tribe, former allies of the Jezite clan.

Vajvod - Region and friendly Barbarian tribe.

Saar-Kahn - Region and Insolationist raiding Barbarian clan, chiefed by Razameaman.

Varakko - Region and Small barbarian clan, chiefed by Didramon.




HISTORY & MYTH

Lindaros - once prosperous barbarian city-state, wiped out 200 years ago by bleeders disease. Resettled by displaced Kadiz clan.

Symbaroum - Ancient, mysterious and fallen civilisation.

Symbar - Fabled Capital city of the lost Symbaroum culture.

The Dark Lords - Necromantic enemies and instigators of the Great war.

The Great War - Twenty year war between the Dark Lords and the Ambrian culture in Alberetor.

Jezora - the anihalated barbarian clan.

Kadiz - Barbarian clan quickly defeated at the ruins of old Lindaros (renamed Kazidar) by Ambrian troops and subjugated.

Templewall - High seat of the Sun Church

The Curia - High council of the Sun Church

Baiaga Clan -

Gaoia Clan -

Enoai Clan -

Saar-Khan Clan -

Huldra Aroaleta - Legendary barbarian poet and storyteller.




The Twilight Friars -

Berendoria - Border city conquered by the Darklords during the Great War

Eblis - River

Sevona - town

Kuam Zamok - insular Dwarven realm

Istaros - Barbarian term for Long and brutal winters common to the region.

Kohinoor - The Ambiran royal house

Cathedral of Martyrs -








Baiagorns - Tame bear beasts of Baiaga barbarian clan.



ORGANISATIONS

The Knights of the Dying Sun - Templers of Prios, dealing with external threats to church and state.

The Twilight Friars - Monastic brotherhood which aledgedly deals with internal threats to hurch and state.

Theurgs - Priesthood of the Sun Church that wield mystical powers in Prios's name.

Liturgs - Priesthood of the Sun Church who do not wield mystical powers.

The Slumbering Wrath - Honour wraithguard of the High Chieftain.

Ordo Magica -

The Queens Rangers -

The Sun church -


[As Far as I got - please feel free to pick up the banner]
 

Cassius

Registered User
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For NPC names there is an very extensive list that can be downloaded here for free though be aware it contains spoilers for the Throne of Thorns campaign if you are ever planning to play that as a player.

 

Sensei

Optimistic Anti-Hero
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To be sure, this is (broadly) a game of the style where most of the defined ruleset involves fighting, moving (/getting to places), noticing (or evading notice) and exploring. It seems that social interaction has some focus (certainly lots of reference towards either fighting or allying with other groups), but not a lot of complex social rules. Same with wilderness survival (plenty enough focus, not a huge amount of rules).
See, I haven't run it yet, but I have the core books and am reading through the Throne of Thorns campaign books (and have helped Kickstart the fourth book)... and I can't get over how much it seems like the authors of the adventures just want people to wander around and talk. I was expecting lots of adventuring, exploring, ruin-delving, treasure looting, etc., but it seems like the adventures are just an eye-glazing series of people the PCs are supposed to find/ chat with/ get info from - which is odd for a game light on interaction material. For all the advertising about it being a game of rousing exploration, the published adventures do not come off that way. I'm frankly bored with them at this point, and wonder if I'll bother running them.

I'm still hyped on the game itself, mind you! It just seems like the published campaign is a snooze, and in opposition to what the game was billed as. I feel like at this point I'll be writing my own scenarios much of the time.
 
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