The Nature of Davokar

nature-of-DavokarReading through On the Nature of Davokar, available for free on RPGNow and elsewhere, I find my eye tripping over keywords and phrases, wishing to linger and learn more. If this were Wikipedia, I would drill down through the links or cross reference with another search. Better yet, I’d seek out studies of greater depth in articles, published research or books.

However, for the moment, Symbaroum doesn’t have a library of research to delve into. Indeed, the Jarnringen team has made it clear that isn’t what the game’s about at all. As they state in the core book:

…remember that even if future modules added to this game will expand on the description of Ambria and Davokar, you always have the freedom to travel wherever you want in the game world…

So, On the Nature of Davokar presents a brief written commentary by transcriber Iasogoi Brigo upon the ‘wise’ words of a treasure-seeker. The central text outlines the treasure-seekers ruminations on Davokar, while Iasogoi pens margin notes on the wisdom (or lack) therein.

The watchers patrolling the road between Otra Senja and Otra Dorno sometimes make tours into the woods, often together with the Queen’s Rangers…

Intrigued by this mention of The Watchers. They work the roads in the outer reaches of Davokar, but are not members of the Queen’s Rangers.

Are these the Symbaroum equivalent of the Black Watch from The Game of Thrones? Do they patrol the dark marches between towers on the limits of Davokar, each sworn to service as a means to repay some wrong?

Taking this to another level, are The Watchers made up of the loyal, but hard to justify, supporters of the Queen, mercenaries stricken with corruption, victims of undeath determined to battle to their last, and believers in the Old Faith, true in heart but distrusted?

…permanent outposts in the southern part of the forest, where the faithful servants of our Queen engage in woodcutting, excavations and scholarly studies of Davokar’s flora and fauna.

Strangely, I get the feeling of something akin to the polar outposts in the Antarctic, where the brave and the bold push science to the limits under life-threatening conditions. These are no the dry-and-dusty scholars of the libraries in Yndaros, tucked away amidst musty piles of curling research papers.

This feels like the Stargate Atlantis or CSI Davokar of Symbaroum, with highly qualified professional – experts in lore, science and magic – seeking deeper understanding from the long-term study of closed sites. While treasure-seeker flit between ruins employing a more lucrative snatch-and-grab strategy, outposts look to the less obvious riches of the great forest – in the resources of plants, wildlife and meticulous mapping of the surface. At best, digging into ruins manifests as archaeology – but with the nature of Davokar, nothing comes without risk.

There are tales of seas of thorns, petrified forests, pools of syrupy black water and rivers of magma. Even wilder legends tell of icy cold in the middle of summer…

I have looked at the map of Davokar and Ambria a couple of time and wondered how far away lies any ocean or sea. With these words, I find myself no closer to an answer, but the prospect of an actual ‘sea of thorns’ has me visualising contraptions of the Ordo Magica – great flat-bottomed vessels with thorn-breaker prows and billowing sails filled with enchanted winds. The Ordo has built and launched just two Thorn-Breakers, the Korinthia and the Thornwitch. The Thornwitch sailed on an expedition led by Master Ydvelia in Year 17, but the vessel disappeared with all hands and has been presumed lost to the Dark.

Rivers of magma would either suggest a proliferation of sinkholes and broken ground in the north of Davokar or a range of mountains north of the limits on the current map, alive with threat and fire.

…the so called Predatory Clan and its camp site in Saroklaw…

Like the current clans were not threat enough, the prospect of one intent purely on hunting down non-barbarian explorers of Davokar chills me to the bone. Well, I hope it would chill my players to the bone. I’m not certain whether this refers to the rumoured beast clan (“rumors circling about a possible twelfth clan, the fiendish brutes of the Beast Clan” – page 27 of the Core Book) or yet another hitherto unknown iteration of the barbarian menace. I’d like to think that this Predatory Clan represents something far worse – some cannibalistic and utterly alien throwback of the Symbaroum empire escaped from the underworld.

Davokar is not one creature but many, a horde of the woods…

Symbaroum has always sounded like an Entish word to me. The prospect of Davokar as a swathe of interlinked entities entrusted with sealing away the evil left behind by the passing of the Symbarian people – that appeals to me no end.

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