Symbaroum: The Gloaming Roads

Led by their Barbarian guide Tior Huldrasson, the party walked the Gloaming Roads and found themselves at the crumbling ruins of an ancient fortress deep in Dark Davokar. Tior called it ‘the bastion of Kal’Nohr’ and claimed it was here that the party would find the artifacts they were searching for.

The group advanced cautiously down the stone stairs and walked the path between the collapsed buildings. Dark as it was, one of their number noticed a pattern of strange, intricate symbols drawn in the dirt off to one side. A careful check revealed these drawings were made with black salt and they surrounded each of the buildings. The symbols seemed to change through the course of the pattern; arcane glyphs twisted into letters that morphed into numbers that formed beasts and astrological signs. It was difficult to determine where one ended and the other began.

It was Tior who finally gleaned some meaning from them. “They’re warding symbols. The oldest, most powerful kind. What I can’t tell is if they’re meant to keep something in, or something out. ”

“We didn’t come all they way here to sight see,” the Cleric of Prios said. “We need to search these buildings.”

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Which was true, but the question was how to get past the wards without disturbing them?

One idea then and another was batted back and forth, finally the Ogre decided he would get a running start and jump over the salt barrier. He would check out the nearest building, a small one, and report back.

A Quickness test. At +1 no less. (He’s a big guy. Not like the warding pattern is tall or anything. And it’s maybe three feet wide.)

Critical Failure.

The Ogre backs up, jogs toward the ruins and just as he’s about to leap, catches his boot on a root and tumbles face first onto the ground, flailing and sliding through the dirt smearing a wide, messy path through the carefully laid, complex drawings.

The Ogre gets to his feet sheepishly, brushes dirt, salt, moss and twigs from his jerkin.”Sorry.”

The rest of the group stares, mouths gaping. Silence reigns for the space of maybe ten heat beats. And then a loud groan erupts from the forest around them.

There’s a rustle in the dense undergrowth and six, massive, Blighted dryads emerge. They are the guardians of Kal’Nohr’s Bastion.

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A vulgar brawl ensued. Several party members were hit hard and came close to death.  But the Ogre redeemed himself and took down a number of the Dryads on his own and got an assist on one more. The rest of the party accounted for the others, the Wizard’s ‘Brimstone Cascade’ spell coming in very handy here. Finally, the last of the creatures was felled.

At last, the party limped into the largest building at the end of the path and started searching.

***

Symbaroum is a great game; rich lore, evocative art, a dark and dangerous setting. Focused on storytelling, the combat scenes are easily shifted to the table top. It’s simple to pick up, deep enough to make mastery worthwhile and satisfying, and loaded with potential. If you play RPGs, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Large ZONA ALFA mission next week. Have a great weekend. (Get some painting done, will ya?)

ZONA ALFA: KHRABROST’

They say you can’t measure an intangible like courage, only see it in action. Well Khrabrost’ (translated from Russian as ‘mettle or ‘courage’) is how ZONA ALFA measures a Zone Crew’s potential effectiveness in battle. A Zone Crew’s khrabrost’ is linked to the total available Actions among its members. It’s the main value used to build a squad.

There are three types potential crew members in ZONA ALFA, experience levels if you will: Green, Hardened, and Veteran. When activated, each can perform a certain number of Actions according to their level: 1, 2, and 3 respectively.

That in mind, Other Pat and I ran a quick game Sat. afternoon. Two crews in a Threat Level 1 Area. (2 Hot Spots) We each built a squad of 7 K. (Seven Actions/Activation between all squad members)

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The Town of Lyetsk
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Other Pat’s Crew: Veteran Crew Boss, Hardened Second in Command, and 2 Green newcomers
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My Crew: Veteran Commander accompanied by 2 Hardened comrades

The larger 6 x 4 mission area allowed us to start some distance from each other and focus on the particular Hot Spot nearest to our deployment. With a 6 turn limit, we each pretty much decided to live and let live, and go for the salvage. Although we traded shots near the end, (a mistake which cost Other Pat one of his new recruits) both of us cleared out the Zone Hostiles and snagged some loot before it was time to evacuate the area. Other Pat got a good roll on the Salvage Table, finding not only valuable stuff but an Anomaly –  which yielded an Artifact worth a considerable amount of Zone Script. (It’s a shame he’s going to have to spend a chunk of it to fill the newly vacant spot on his crew roster)

 

Very straightforward game with plenty of room to avoid your opponent and maneuver behind cover – which we did. Both of us used Bolt Toss to trigger the Hot Spot and spawn the Zone Hostiles. (Dogs at the first, Zombies at the second) The tone of the game would have been much different in a smaller area, say 4′ x 4′ or even 3′ x 3′, far more aggressive and dangerous. (I think a 4′ x 3′ is optimal; 48″ is wide enough to vary deployment spots and allow for flanking, and 36″ is not so deep as you need to use the first turn just getting stuck in.) All in all, it was a good game and there being only two of us, we could stop and discuss options/finer points without worrying about dragging things out for the others.

One we finish up our current Symbaroum adventure, we’ll all be making Zone Crews for a lengthy session of ZONA ALFA play tests. I’m very curious to see how a mini-campaign plays with six players. We’ll probably split into two teams of 3 each, with one fig from each of the team’s squads able to activate each turn. You’ll find out with us how well that works.

Speaking of reinforcements tho… Here’s some new Lead Adventure and SASM figs. I’m a fan of Igor Karpov’s sculpting and wanted to keep the same aesthetic. Below are some pictures. As you can see, the SASM miniatures have the same look but are not as chunky as the original Lead Adventure Last Project line. Still, I think they serve the purpose quite well.

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Lead Adventure figs
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SASM 1
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SASM 2
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L->R: Lead Adventure, SASM, Pig Iron
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L->R: Lead Adventure, SASM, Crooked Dice with Pig Iron Head Swap

And just because I had the camera…

 

That’s it for now. Thanks and have an excellent weekend.

 

 

 

Symbaroum: The Gloaming Roads, part 2

The Adventure Continues in Davokar

More Symbaroum last night as the party made its way deeper into the forest, heading toward a Lone Gate. These ancient structures are portals that lead to the Gloaming Roads; the mystical pathways that allow one to travel swiftly across the trackless leagues of  Deep Davokar.

 

Three incidents worth noting: the first was the appearance of a wizened trapper. Hunched, wrinkled and worn, with intricate blue tattoos in precisely half his body, he was accompanied by a blind and mute boy who carried his bags. While one member pondered attacking the seemingly defenseless duo (bad idea) common sense and common courtesy prevailed. The party left the scene with less gold but a number of useful provisions.

Next was a campsite. The bodies of five novice treasure hunters were discovered, all with terrible wounds and signs of corruption.  Unfortunately, the ogre tripped while searching one of the tents, knocked over a cooking set and smashed one of the camp stools. The racket alerted a blighted toad, demon… thing. Some minor wounds but the ogre redeemed himself and killed the vile creature.

Last was the Gate itself. Barbarian raiders had been tracking the party, having recognized one of the characters as a wanted fugitive. Their ambush wasn’t as successful as they’d hoped, but the ensuing brawl was quite ugly. Here again, Max’s ogre was in fine form, absolutely destroying barbarians with his hammer and sword. (twin attacks, each 1D8, +1D4 damage. It is a beautiful thing when it works.)

The last of the raiders was dispatched just as the sun set and the full moon rose. Ritual performed, the Gate opens and our heroes step onto the Gloaming Roads.  To be continued next week.

 

Game Night: Symbaroum

Apologies for the silence on the hobby front – I have the good problem of an abundance of work and when you’re self-employed, you have to take it when it comes. Our weekly game nights have been consistent despite that, (priorities, right?) but due to the hectic schedule, we’ve been focusing on RPGS. And when there are six regulars, it makes sense space and time wise to dial the scale of battle down so everyone stays engaged.

So with that in mind, John recently ran an excellent DnD one-shot wherein our party investigated an ancient crumbling fortress rumored to be tainted by evil, not to mention the most likely cause of a number of local peasants disappearing. Despite the rescue and subsequent accidental death of one of said aforementioned farmers, (Alas, poor Kevin, I knew him well…) we defeated the ruinous powers lurking beneath the fortress and freed the land from its malignant influence. It was a good time and lots of fun.

Now there are some very nice reinforcements on the painting table for our upcoming ZONA ALFA campaign, modern Russians and Chechens sculpted by Igor Karpov for SASM.  (Igor is the putty genius behind Lead Adventure Miniature’s ‘Last Project’ post-apocalyptic figs.)  That means six full crews should be entering the Zone some time in November.

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In the meantime, I’ve discovered the dark fantasy RPG ‘Symbaroum’. Created by Jarnringen in Sweden, I was first captivated by the artwork’s brooding menace and melancholy. Now games don’t always live up to the marketing, but I took a chance on a hard copy of the rules. Fortunate for me, this one did. In fact, this game is downright excellent.

I’ll spare you the review – there are plenty of good ones circulating on the inter-webs already – but suffice it to say the mechanics are smooth and solid, and translate easily to the tabletop – which is important for me, a long time war gamer. Having said that though, I want to stress Symbaroum is about story telling, not loot and leveling – which is important to me as a writer.  The back-story and aesthetic of Ambria and Davokar is dark and rich, a gold mine of inspiration. I confess that in 40+ years of hobby gaming, I don’t recall ever being this intrigued by a game setting.

So, while I catch up on glass work and brush my way through the painting queue, I’ll be running a one shot adventure titled ‘The Gloaming Roads’. Basically a treasure hunt, I wrote it up after  reading the rule book and advanced players guide. It’s an introduction to the game and world. To make things easier, the players start out a couple levels up, sort of seasoned adventurers entering the forest of Davokar for the first time.

I can post specifics if there is interest but for now, here are some pictures of our first session and the player characters.

You can click on the images for larger versions, but basically you can see a town near the forest, a Barbarian Mystic, a Changeling Hunter, a Cleric of Prios, an Ogre Fighter, an Ordo Magica wizard, and an Ambrian Man-at-Arms.

The next episode of The Gloaming Roads is slated for Tuesday evening. More on that as it develops.  For now, I’ll leave you with this:

When the Moon’s Womb is ripe, the Lone Gates open

By Blood and Root, the Learned may stride the Gloaming Roads

That span the breadth of sacred Symbaroum.

 

 

Have a good weekend.