The eight individual Attributes make up the core of Symbaroum’s mechanics. When you challenge yourself or face a challenge you complete a Test against one of your Attributes and aim to roll equal or less than the target. Low good, high bad (something you have to reiterate to those coming in from a Dungeons & Dragons-style tangent).
Oddly enough, I find it useful to have the list of Attributes to hand with a clear definition of their coverage. I have simplified it a little. I find it useful to have this list in front of me to keep it really clear what Attributes covers which area. I can see why the Core Book suggests you might rename Attributes – perhaps you come from a long-running background with another game and would prefer to read something familiar. For my purposes here I’m sticking to the basics as offered.
- Accurate: hand-eye coordination, precision, timing; in most cases opposed by an enemy’s Quick.
- Cunning: wit and knowledge, common sense, schooling and education. Remember facts, solve puzzles or research.
- Discreet: being silent, agile, discreet. Avoid detection, hide, smuggle, shadow someone, steal something.
- Persuasive: influence others, persuade another person; usually opposed by an enemy’s Resolute.
- Quick: reflexes, balance, nimbleness, fleet-footedness; determines initiative; actively jump, avoid harm.
- Resolute: resistance to influence, like social pressure, mind-bending magic or corruption.
- Strong: physical strength, lifting, breaking, heaving; capacity to withstand physical pain, resist poisons and diseases.
- Vigilant: general awareness, sense attunement, ability to detect details.
I think the best list of Attributes appeared in the quick introduction PDF produced as part of the Kickstarter for Symbaroum. The Core Book has a less detailed list, so when I put my Symbaroum Reference Sheets together I looked to the introductory guide.
I imagine that the approach to creating characters will prove highly variable from group-to-group, driven by preference, experience, common interest, balance and a bunch of other factors.
In the Core Book, you have two standard approaches and an optional one. You can go for Typical Distribution, where you assign scores of 5, 7, 9, 10, 10, 11, 13, and 15, or Point Allocation, where you have a pool of 80 points to assign across the eight Attributes with no score less than 5 or greater than 15 – with only one score of 15 allowed.
The Options section provides a more ‘traditional’ approach for those from a certain pedigree – namely Rolling for Attributes Values on 2D6+3. Obviously, that will lead to a wide range of characters with a considerable breadth of expertise. You should likely view this one with caution – perhaps exercising some controls and thresholds to ensure no one walks away with an unplayable character.
- Rolling Safety Net: If all the character Attributes fall into a certain threshold or lower, allow them to re-roll some (or all) of the dice. If you offer the option to re-roll all, it means all – don’t let them pick and choose numbers to keep and others to throw again. You might opt for this where a character has no Attributes in double-digits or where the total of all Attributes falls below 70 when totalled.
- Rolling Shortfall Expertise: If a character does end up with low Attribute scores – say 70 points total – offer them a few Experience points or a Boon (if you have the Advanced Player’s Guide).
- Rolling an Attribute Pool: Instead of rolling 2D6+3 for each Attribute, roll 14D6 and write the scores down (or leave them on the table if you have enough six-sided dice to roll them all at once!). Start each Attribute with a score of 4 and add whatever values you want to your Attributes. The average works out at 81 instead of 80, but it allows you to be a little more freeform but focussed around what you end up with. This isn’t far off Rolling for Attribute Values as the Core Book suggests assigning these appropriately rather than throwing strictly once per stat.
- Old School: Of course you could go totally Old School and stick to 2D6+3 assigned to each stat, working down the list above. You can swap two values at the end of this process if it helps you get closer to the recommended values for an Archetype. Or you might agree with the GM to go ultra-old school and not allow yourself even a single swap.
In all cases, you still can’t have an Attribute score lower than 5 or higher than 15. You may end up with a character with more than one score equal to 15.
You might choose another option by selecting an Archetype. This might be one from the Core Book, the Player’s Handbook or could be the selection of a Zeroes’ occupation. In that instance, you know where you need your strengths and might have an inkling about your weaknesses.
If you take this route you can assign 13 and 11 to your Recommended Attributes, then deploy one of the options outlined above to finish off the rest. If you’re Rolling an Attribute Pool, drop the dice throw to 10D6. You cannot assign points to either Recommended Attribute in this instance.
If you go Old School you roll for each Attribute not assigned a value, ensuring you have the basics to follow your career of choice. With a forgiving GM, you may have the option to swap one pair of scores and this could include the Recommended Attributes. If you roll a 15, you would probably want that score in the best spot possible!