I’d heard about Symbaroum about a year ago. I’d had a brief chat with one of the developers and was pretty enthused with the idea of a Dark Fantasy RPG. Life got crazy, I flew to the US and got swept away with all things EncounterRoleplay.With the Core Rulebook have been translated into English I finally got my hands on a copy about two weeks ago. Since then I’ve been delving into the depths of the Davokar Forest and devouring the contents of Symbaroum.
The World of Symbaroum
There’s something quite intriguing about how the world of Symbaroum is presented. Symbaroum itself was once an ancient power, rumoured to have fallen when its ruler angered a wrathful creature or being. Now, the secrets of the civilization are lost deep within a dark and brooding forest, filled with all manner of terrifying things that go bump in the night. And that’s all we really know. While other fantasy worlds have been explored to death by hundreds of novels & adventure books, Symbaroum is for the Adventurers to explore, not the authors. It looks at the large scale, and doesn’t go into minute detail about every village and a list of 100 NPCs who exist there. Instead, it gives you free range as a GM to fill in the blanks.
That being said, there are flavourful and unique characters who exist within the world of Ambria. Indeed, the entire feel of the world has gripped me very quickly. You’d think that the world would feel small with only a handful of cities & areas compared to the breadth of the Forgotten Realms, but the mystery of Symbaroum actually makes it feel very alive. It’s also much darker than your standard fantasy fare. If you’re familiar with the Witcher universe, Symbaroum hits many similar notes. It’s steeped in a lore which feels unfamiliar to standard Tolkein-tropes we see in many Fantasy RPGs, and that’s part of what makes it so exciting to read through. I get to read lots of RPGs, but few have kept my attention for as long as Symbaroum has.
The Art of Symbaroum
I could try and write about art as if I know anything about it. Instead, here’s some pretty pictures.
Mechanics So Far
I’ve yet to dive into the Chapters regarding the mechanics of the game itself, so wait until the full Review for a more established opinion. That being said, flicking through my PDF copy in the few days before my hardback arrived, I didn’t see too many terms which were unfamiliar to a long-time D&D player such as myself. It’s a D20 system, and Symbaroum describes it’s mechanics as being story-focused and narratively driven. Is it too good to be true? I’ll keep reading, and let you know!