Adventure Pack 1 – Review

symbaroum-3The Symbaroum – Adventure Pack 1 ebook has been available for a while now, but I haven’t touched on the content in detail – only offering a brief overview in my Symbaroum review on Geek Native.

The book provides an overview of treasure-hunting and two brief adventure landscapes in one easy-to-digest 24-page booklet. In the space available it provides the GM with tools to ease the business of creating adventures rather than simply depositing a whole adventure in front of you.

Neither brief landscape – The Curse of the River Goddess and Blight Night – provides sufficient material to be considered an adventure proper, but certainly has enough content to drive a scene or three. The challenge of these two briefs should suffice to fill a single session of gaming or serve as the basis for a convention session.

In game terms, you have the potential to turn these into part of something more substantial – but right here you have at least 2 or 3 Experience points worth of challenges.

Beyond the brief landscapes the Adventure Pack includes two maps – one of a boat, the other of a gated inn, tables and guidelines for handle treasure-hunting and generating treasures, seven random tables for encounters, curiosities, dig sites and mystical treasure, eight artifacts, two new traits, three medicinal concoctions, and stats for five different adversaries. I think that makes it valuable for anyone, as even if you don’t run the landscapes you can pillage them for maps, characters or concepts.

The treasure-hunting rules will prove useful to anyone considering a quick dash into Davokar, either as the basis for ad hoc adventures or generating ideas for something more substantial. The components about setting out and finding a site can tie neatly into the material I’ve posted on The Iron Pact about travel and hirelings.

So, for an investment of $3.99 you get 24-pages of material, much of which has immediate value and reuse for anyone running a Symbaroum campaign.

travel-in-Symbaroum-3Treasure Hunts in Davokar fills 8-pages, following a brief introduction at the start. The entire section can be used as a means to completely randomise treasure-seeking adventures or provide the raw materials for more considered and constructed digs in the depths of Davokar. The system offers guidance in four steps: preparing to find a site; discovering the potential of a site and unearthing finds; uncovering the value and nature of successful finds; and fending off danger attracted by the noise and disturbance created by treasure-seeking.

The section handles much of this with a balance between general guidance and various tables, suited to random generation or quick selection, depending on your preference.

The Curse of the River Goddess runs to 6-pages, including a full page map of the River Goddess barge. The adventure centres around a river journey with the potential for use the characters choose that particular mode of transport. They might do this through choice or necessity – perhaps a patron buys them tickets to get them where she needs them. Ambria and Davokar have plenty of rivers running through them. At heart, this is a bit of a murder mystery with a clock ticking on finding a solution and some immediate threat to the characters.

Blight Night is 6-pages long, including a half-page map of a walled inn, Jakad’s Heart. The inn could be almost anywhere in Ambria and the text offers ideas on adapting the site to fit different locations. The adventure puts the characters at the heart of a siege situation, made a little more complex by the motivations and intent of the adversaries – not all of whom have the freedom to choose the better course of action.

For anyone who has picked up the Core Book and The Mark of the Beast, only to discover the end of the adventure in The Promised Land falls 200+ miles away from the events of the adventure in The Mark, this Pack might help. A river trip and a stop at an inn can easily help to cover some of the distance. For a GM new to the game, or new to gaming in general, any structured adventure from the creators of the game can help to communicate style and approach.

The adventure landscapes do not provide immediate straight-from-the-page value – but that isn’t the intent. After the carefully guided approach taken by The Promised Land in the core book, which transitioned from scripted examples into a fairly straightforward and somewhat linear adventure, the Adventure Pack requires a little more effort. You could run either brief landscape as is, but to get the most from them you need to do a little preparation.

The Treasure Hunts in Davokar section can provide an ad hoc and immediate use as it provides more of a framework. The guidelines and random tables mean you could absolutely kick something off with little preparation. An adventure could easily come from a quick roll on the dig site table and a randomly selected artifact. At the same time, each element of this section can serve as a structure for detailed adventure construction.

In terms of theme and style, these adventures are not quite as grim as the setting overall, although that might be down to the way they’re run. There’s a desperation to the core setting that isn’t quite echoed in the adventures. However, Blight Night does have some similarity to The Promised Land in awkward moral decisions, where possession of the fullest facts about a situation might lead to a different outcome. That provides an interesting twist and adds complexity to what might otherwise become a drawn out combat.

I’m surprised the Treasure Hunts section didn’t make it into the core book – as it provides immediate and ongoing value that an adventure like The Promised Land does not. Once you’ve played out The Promised Land, you’re done. You might reuse some of the stats or return to the wider location of the Mountain Pass, but the characters will not return to the events themselves. The tables in Treasure Hunts would have served as a means to generate many fresh digs and delves. On the one side, it would have been nice to have the 8-pages in the core; on the other, this makes the Adventure Pack 1 a solid buy because of the potential for reuse.

Symbaroum – Adventure Pack 1 – available from DriveThru and RPGNow, $3.99, 24-pages, published by the Järnringen team.

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