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Symbaroum - Core Rulebook
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by calvin h. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/15/2015 00:06:54

Mechanically Sybaroum is a pretty simple game, with pretty straight forward and functional rules. There isn't a lot of math and modifiers going on, it certainly isn't simulationist, as far as complexity goes it comparable to 5e D&D if not slightly less complex. There are 3 Archetypes (Warrior, Rogue, and Mystic), and 5 Occupations within each of them (15 total) that comprise the "classes" in the game. Archetypes and Occupations are really just suggestions, you don't need to use them at all, though they do point towards effective and thematic packages of Attributes and Abilities. The Abilities you choose give you your special powers, and it is entirely up to you which ones you choose, you can follow the templates they suggest or make your own unique character that bucks the suggestions of the standard Occupations to fill a unique niche.

The greatest strength of this game is the world it is set in and the beautiful illustrations which help to set the tone of the story. They made an good choice not be yet another dime-a-dozen generic fantasy system, this is a system tailored for telling stories in a very specific setting and tone, focusing on detail over breadth. The young kingdom of Ambria, newly built by the refugees of a devastating war, lies in the shadow of Davokar, an immense and ancient forest inhabited by barbarians, elves, and much darker things. The Ambrians through military might have subjugated the barbarians, and now move to exploit the bounty of Davokar, but they are met with resistance from the elves who believe they risk waking ancient curses and threats with their trespasses. The world has a tone of traditional fantasy that is edging into more pagan European folklore and even horror. Wild beasts, ancient trolls, vengeful undead, and even more eldritch horrors can be found in the deepest reaches of the forest, stalking the ancient ruins that some believe hide great treasures. The plentiful illustrations in the book are all done by a single artist, Martin Bergström, and this lends a very unified feeling to the book as a whole. His shadowy pastel palette and loose brushwork give the impression of a world shrouded in fog and frost, the scale of his illustrations sells the Scandinavian landscapes and primordial forests.

What appeals to me most about this game is that it is so clearly designed with a singular goal, a story and tone to set. I think too many systems today try to be a toolbox to tell any kind of story, but end up making too many sacrifices in their quest to do everything. Symbaroum feels more complete than any rpg core book I have seen in years, it gives you the tools you need to tell stories in the Duchies of Ambria and among the glades of Davokar and that is enough for the system, it doesn't stretch itself thin by catering to every genre, it knows what it is supposed to be and put all its focus on doing that well.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Symbaroum - Core Rulebook
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Southlands Heroes for 5th Edition
Publisher: Kobold Press
by calvin h. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/01/2015 13:11:41

Its nice to see some 5e player options, but this PDF just isn't a good example of what they should look like. The art is really nice and the truly new elements are cool but there are even more problems overall. A lot of the formatting follows pathfinder conventions rather than 5e conventions, the subraces are more in line with pathfinder ability replacement than 5e sub-race packages, and the Aasimar (and to some degree Minotaur) is taken word for word from the WotC books but with added variant abilities at the end, again ignoring the sub-race standard set out by 5e. Not all of the sub-classes they present are particularly new either, the Rogue-Ambush Predator is more like a compination of other already published archtypes not something new.

At the end of the day this entire document really reads like it was made by someone with only a working familiarity with 5e who just wanted to make another Pathfinder book.



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[2 of 5 Stars!]
Southlands Heroes for 5th Edition
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