N is for Ne’er-do-wells

Light-in-the-WoodsOver the weekend, I ran a game of Symbaroum at the Seven Hills convention in Sheffield.

(That’s the reason the entry that I planned to post at the weekend experienced a slight delay!)

I ran the game for four players who each took on the role of disgraced guards of the Queen’s Watch sent to Thistle Hold for re-assignment to corrective duties.

As I covered earlier in the month, Korinthia can’t afford to have her precious subjects go to waste with corporal punishment or imprisonment. That would serve no purpose other than to put more pressure on a struggling state faced with overwhelming enemies.

Here, the ne’er-do-well could serve usefully, and they did.

Personal Impact

I’m running this adventure for another group at the moment so I won’t go into precise detail about how the events pan out. What I would cover relates to the ability of all characters – who in their own way can influence the events that shape a nation – to make a difference. More importantly, the very personal opinions and thoughts of each and every individual can create changes that matter.

As a GM of Symbaroum, I believe that every decision SHOULD matter and if you allow the campaign play to follow the flow of your adventures – no matter where you hold them or who with – you will have a richer and more exciting game. The actions of every ne’er-do-well, from common treasure-seeker through guards, Black Cloaks and lordlings, can make the difference in the survival of Ambria.

Symbaroum at Seven Hills 160416

This weekend, the powers of the Fae within Davokar grew in strength and the potential value of the Path of the Sleepless has been weakened. Potentially, Korinthia will have to quieten the voices of the Church of Prios and accept that without more Sleepless in service it will become impossible to hold the line. Protection of the kingdom requires vigilance and that only comes with a 24-7 watch – something that the numbers within Ambria cannot support without assistance from the deceased.

In my earlier adventures, Camp Titan – in the far south – suffered disaster not once but three times. Now, it lies in ruin, a blackened patch of bare earth used by refugees only as a point of briefest passing. The Black Cloaks have now established an outpost there and warn any new colonists from Alberetor to tarry no longer than necessary.

The ne’er-do-wells did that.

They set the camp to flame to begin with; they sealed off a seeping wound in the landscape slick with corruption.

Playing in the Sand

Discussing Symbaroum with the players, after the game on Saturday night, I extolled what I saw as the virtues of the game. I see the rich illustration and broad brush background as the framework for a personal campaign, not seeking to set the world down in stone, but – I guess – sandboxing a grim and corrupt environment of hardship and threat for new players to make their mark in.

When you draw a line in the sand, it stays for a while. For a time, others will see it and feel the difference it makes. They might make marks themselves and some of what they do might obliterate that old scar… but something will remain. Every personal decision makes a difference for a time and no one can completely ignore what has come before.

I like that.

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