Heirlooms and Legacies

Approximate time to read: 3 minutes.   

legacy-and-heirloomThe Player’s Handbook offers the option to enhance your starting equipment with an Heirloom. Essentially, you can choose a weapon or piece of armor to add to your starting gear without expending any coin. An Heirloom, like all Advantages, effectively costs 5 Experience. In reality, you’ll likely balance this out with a disadvantage.

Someone in the Symbaroum Google+ community asked whether a character could start with an heirloom that possessed some measure of immunity from harm. I get the idea that if you spend Experience on something you’d like to think it’ll stay around, but in the brutal world of Symbaroum, you can spend Experience to offset poor dice rolls or bind yourself to a corrupting artifact.

The advantage in the Player’s Handbook doesn’t cover this scenario, but it isn’t quite an artifact either.

A player should practice some caution in considering use of the suggested Legacy Ability, especially if taken with Heirloom and/or Privilege. All of these qualities of a character tie their potential into items rather than character traits – any of which might become target of theft or loss. While a character might temporarily lose an innate Ability due to injury, it’s far easier for the adversaries to deprive a character of their possessions with disarm or stealthy thievery.

With Great Power

I suggested that if a player requests an item you should treat it like any other object – it can be stolen, lost or broken if not looked after. If the player spent XP on it, they should learn to look after it! Given you can spend Experience in the Optional rules as a means to avoid ill effects, I don’t see an issue with a character losing something they spent XP to acquire if they don’t treat it with care and respect.

However, if you insist on something more, consider the following:

An Heirloom is just a piece of ordinary equipment that has family significance. This is an Advantage, costing 5 Experience.

Otherwise, you can have a Legacy. Taking a Legacy provides an item with potential mystical properties or powers. It would work like an Ability, with powers that increase with XP. You’d start with a spend of 10 XP.

As I mentioned under the article Challenge and Resistance an artifact should be considered as part of the Challenge for an encounter – and the same seems appropriate here. The Novice level of the Ability would offer simple benefits, with higher levels revealing more significant powers.

The Player’s Handbook includes a whole section of crafting lesser artifacts, so any Ability associated with possessing one from before the start of the game needs to take into consideration the information presented.


The character possesses an item of family significance, handed down through the generations. Unlike a more commonplace heirloom, rumor and family tradition suggests the item holds far greater potential than it might at first appear. However, a character must take the time to attune to the legacy and unearth that potential.

If forced to act without the legacy under circumstances where the character would normally use it, all tests should be rolled with disadvantage (roll two dice, take least favorable result) for the whole of the current and next scene. The character should feel compelled to recover the item if lost and favor the item, even when not convenient.

Use and development of this Ability require the player and GM engage in some active discussion to develop the potential of the item within the constraints of the game and setting. The GM should refer to existing artifacts – in the Symbaroum Core Book and Adventure Pack 1 – as the basis for developing reasonable powers – and might offset certain abilities with additional drawbacks, such as temporary corruption or specific, but narrowly defined, situational disadvantages.

Novice. Reaction. The character has a mild but increasing bond with the legacy, sensing when others touch it or actions might threaten loss or harm. To achieve this connection, the character must keep the legacy close at all times, and will become uncomfortable when not in possession. At any time that the GM requires a roll to determine loss or misplacement of the item – whether due to theft, disarming or loss of one’s senses – the player may roll two dice and take the most advantageous result.
Adept. Passive. The character unlocks some of the legacy’s hidden potential tapping into powers of a minor nature. This might provide the option to use one characteristic instead of another or apply a +1 modifier in narrowly defined circumstances, provide a step improvement in damage or protection, make a roll under specific circumstances advantageous (or force disadvantage) or allow a once per scene use of a Mystical Power (for appropriate temporary Corruption).
Master. Passive. The character unlocks additional potential from the legacy, harnessing the full potential of its power. As Adept, but the item has a different additional ability, agreed with the GM.

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