Quick Start Guide
The eight attributes shared by all creatures in the game world make up the backbone of the ruleset. They are meant to reflect what basic characteristics the PC has developed over the years, and consequently how well prepared the PC is for handling different types of challenges. When the PC is facing a challenge, the player grabs a D20 and tries to roll under the value in one of its attributes. In other words, the higher the value the more apt the PC is in that regard. A vital aspect of character creation is to decide what attributes should be the PCs strongpoints. Attribute values normally range from 5 to 15 and there are two ways to distribute values on the character sheet – either you use the typical values 5, 7, 9, 10, 10, 11, 13 and 15 and assign each of them to one of the attributes, or you take 80 value-points and distribute them as you wish (no single value being below 5 or over 15). Secondary attributes are derived from the basic ones and include:
Toughness (= Strong, but never below 10)
Pain threshold (= Strong/2)
Defense (= Quick)
Corruption threshold (= Resolute/2)
Table: The Attributes
Attribute Example Actions
Discreet: Avoid detection, sneak, smuggle items, trail person, pick pockets
Quick: Initiative, balance, climb, avoid being hit, sprint
Cunning: Recollect facts, make conclusions, do research
Strong: Withstand damage/poison/disease, perform feats of strength
Accurate: Hand-eye coordination, hit antagonist with bow/sword/axe
Vigilant: Detect person/item, avoid ambush, sense danger
Resolute: Succeed with or resist various spells, resist being influenced
Persuasive: Influence/convince others, lead, rally
Race & Traits
There are four playable races in the core rulebook: human (Ambrian or barbarian), goblin, ogre and changeling. Regarding game mechanics, the only way they differ from each other is in terms of the traits available to, or mandatory for, them. Aside from that, they only differ in regards to history, culture and social standing. Traits reflect both social and physical characteristics of the race. For instance all goblins and ogres have the trait Pariah, making them start with less money and having to make two successful dice rolls to succeed in most social challenges. Ambrian humans can have the trait Privileged, which works much the other way around. The physical traits function like Abilities (see below) and may be developed by spending experience points. For instance the ogre can be Robust, thereby hitting harder, resisting more damage but being easier to hit; the changeling can Confuse, that is, alter the perception of its appearance, voice and even clothing.
Archtypes & Occupations
The Four archetypes of the game – Warrior, Mystic, Hunter and Rogue – cover the most common functions needed for combat and problem solving in a group of adventurers.
Warrior – Berserker, Duelist, Captain, Sellsword, Knight, Tattooed Warrior
Mystic – Witch, Sorcerer*, Theurg, Wizard, Self-Taught Mystic
Hunter – Witchhunter, Ranger, Iron Sworn*, Bounty Hunter, Monster Hunter_
Rogue – Charlatan, Thug, Treasure Hunter, Guild Thief, Gentleman Thief
And with each of the occupations comes suggestions on what is suitable in terms of Attributes, Race and Abilities. However, both archetypes and occupations are mere recommendations, meant to be inspirational and exemplifying. There is nothing that states that you have to choose one of the listed occupations when creating you character. More on that later on …
The abilities are what really give a character in Symbaroum its distinct role and place in the game world. They represent a person’s skill to utilize his/her basic attributes as efficiently as possible and are graded in three levels from novice to master Most of the 35 abilities are related to combat. Some makes it possible for the PC to attack or defend with other attributes besides Accurate or Defense.
For instance the novice level in the ability Iron Fist lets you roll the attack dice against the PCs Strong when engaged in melee, and the ability Sixth Sense lets you attack with Vigilant (instead of Accurate) when using ranged weapons. Others let you deal more damage (e.g. Berserker, Natural Warrior), pin down enemies (e.g. Sharpshooter), avoid opportunity attacks when passing by an opponent (e.g. Acrobatics, Equestrian) or lower the enemy’s defense or armor value (e.g. Two-Handed Force_). Some of the combat abilities can be used for other kinds of challenges (_Acrobatics may let you climb a wall without rolling the dice), but there are also abilities that have little or nothing to do with fighting. Depending on your level, the Scholar ability gives you social and arcane knowledge, as well as the ability to read and communicate on other languages. Medicus lets you treat and investigate wounds/disease;
Alchemy lets you produce and understand toxins and other elixirs.
You will also have access to the ability Exceptional Attribute, which makes it possible to add 1 to 3 points to an attribute value. Last but not least there are the Mystical Abilities described down below.
A PC typically starts the game with two abilities on the novice level and one on the adept level. Interestingly enough, much of the actual effect of the individual abilities comes from how you combine them with others. And if you are really serious you take some time to talk to the other players before selecting abilities for you PC. The efficiency of the group will greatly depend on how you mix and mash the abilities!
Boons & Burdens (Advanced Player Guide)
Boons is a new category, even if it existed implicitly in the Core Rulebook: the traits Contacts and Bushcraft now become boons instead. Boons are more limited in their use than abilities and more suited for problem-solving when compared to the combat-oriented abilities. The boons are also perfect for adding nuance to a player character, for a lesser cost in Experience points. Any character can acquire any boon; it is most often a question of practice. But since they tend to be associated with certain cultures and environments we offer some suggestions regarding which occupations they are best suited for.
A system of burdens is also presented in this book, for gaming groups that enjoy such a concept. In fact, the trait Pariah in the Core Rulebook is here counted among the burdens. Burdens are characteristics, phenomena or repercussions of life-choices which make life harder for the character – but more interesting for the player. When adding burdens to their characters from start, the players gain a few more Experience points to use when selecting abilities and powers. In other words, the burdens allow for players and gaming groups to create characters with diverse life experiences; for instance, older characters can be designed using added Experience points but burdened by a traumatic past or damaging life-choices.
Mystical Traditions & Abilities
All PCs can learn mystical abilities (i.e. spells) and rituals, but not without the risk of becoming spiritually corrupted. To lower the risk for corruption you have to master the theory and practice of some Mystical Tradition (Wizardry, Theurgy or Witchcraft), designed for precisely that purpose. Once that is done you can still select whichever spell you want, but the tradition will only protect you when learning and using the ones covered by its theory and practice. The wizards of Ordo Magica are typically disciplined students of the natural laws. They can for instance deal damage with spells like Firewall and Sulfur Spray; influence opponents with Mind Control and Disorder; or manipulate gravity with Telekinesis and Levitation. The Theurgs are servants of the dying Sun God Prios. Among other things they can treat the wounded and sick with Healing or Inherit Wound; draw from Prios strength with Holy Aura or Witchhammer; or deal damage with Soul Burn. Witches deal with the power of the wilds, following the path of the blood, the winds and all things growing. The can for instance become one with nature with spells like Shapeshifting or Nature’s Grasp; ensnare enemies with Bewitch or Vines; and deal damage with Larva Boil or Wind Arrow. There is also the dark tradition of Sorcery, practiced by mystics who embrace rather than try to avoid corruption. But we will not go into detail about them in this document …
Corruption is nature’s way of responding to all attempts to warp, violate or exploit it. The rules distinguish between Temporary and Permanent Corruption. The latter is afflicted on the PC when it for instance learns a mystical ability or ritual, binds with a mystical artifact or when its total corruption reaches the PCs Corruption Threshold. Temporary Corruption melts away at the end of the scene and is for example gained when casting spells, using mystical artifacts, suffering injuries from certain beasts or travelling through especially dark places in Davokar. To calculate a person’s Total Corruption you simply add any temporary corruption to the permanent one. Depending on the amount of total corruption the PC will suffer spiritual as well as physical stigmas. As soon as the PC receives his first point of corruption his shadow (or aura) gets tainted (a taint which may be detected with rituals, spells and the ability Witchsight). Later, when the total corruption surpasses the corruption threshold, the PC suffers some form of physical stigma – e.g. wounds that won’t heal, eyes that glitter in the dark, sulfurous breath, a taste for raw flesh or lukewarm blood. Even further down the road, when the total corruption surpasses the double corruption threshold, it is over and done: the PC transforms into a full-fledged blight beast and nothing can reverse that process.
Finally some notes on equipment, or to be precise on the weapons and armor of Symbaroum. In the hands of a player character a weapon basically does 1D4 to 1D10 in damage – ranging from unarmed (D4), via daggers (D6) and one-handed arms (D8), to heavy weapons (D10). Armor worn by a PC absorbs 1D4 to 1D8 of damage. (Note that NPCs and other antagonists have fixed damage and armor values, consequently ranging from 2 to 5 for weapons and 2 to 4 for armors.) Adding to this are the qualities. A one-handed weapon typically does 1D8 in damage, but the Raven Axe has the quality Deep-Reaching giving it +1 in damage and (sadly) also making it five times as expensive. Other qualities make the weapon easier to hit with (Precise), boosts the defense value (Balanced) or awards its carrier an opportunity attack when entering into melee (Long). Armors always have the Quality Impeding, reducing the defense value of the one wearing it (easier to hit but withstands more damage). But that can to some extent be counteracted with the quality Flexible (less hindering but much more expensive). In other words, starting with a basic damage/armor value and adding positive or negative (e.g. Blunt or Cumbersome) qualities you can easily design and mimic any kind of specific weapon and armor.