Approximate time to read: 4 minutes.
While travellers and treasure-seekers enter the eaves of Davokar with the reasonable expectation of the dangers to come, that’s not to say that they cannot find solace nor a place to rest. Many small settlements in Bright Davokar actively promote their presence as a respite from the dangers – and benefit much in return for their hospitality.
In this short adventure outline, the travellers come to one such settlement, drawn by stories of restorative hot springs, to find the settlers in a panic and one of part of their village aflame.
Rather than set out all the facts in a way that takes all the narrative control and background out of the GMs hands, the outline leaves many facts vague and unanswered. In the time I’ve been playing and discussing the world of Symbaroum, it has become clear that the game has sent people in many directions. I think keeping some things uncertain makes it easier for GMs to insert concepts and ideas into their own world view.
That, in my opinion, is the beauty of Symbaroum.
The travellers come upon a settlement in Bright Davokar situated in the midst of hot springs, pools of bubbling water reputed to possess healing properties. The characters arrive to find the settlement in a state of much consternation, as three people have recently gone missing; and, as they arrive, they find a building on fire and the locals desperately trying to quench the flames.
Talking to the locals the characters finds that since establishing Kaffis three years ago, as Free Settlers, the settlements has benefited from the presence of the hot springs. In the past, the Ordo Magica has taken an interest in the spring’s properties but account for the beneficial effects of the pools as a subtle natural process.
In the past two months, the Springs have become more lively, but the passing of seasons and the variations of Davokar make most natural phenomenon unpredictable. It meant that they have had more visitors and that has benefited everyone. A constant stream of explorers, bright walkers, traders and more have provided variety in goods, a fresh supply of news and plenty of coin.
The settlement has an election ahead of them, as they call a vote on the leader of the settlement each year. Gero, Kell and Hendred have all, at one time, held the position since the founding of the settlement. Hendred has chosen to stand again, facing off against a Theurg called Kerr and a retired treasure-seeker by the name of Forrum.
The characters are unlikely to discover the truth until after the Conflicts outlined, below, but Hendred has discovered an artefact called the Tear, a flattened, perfectly round stone the size of his palm. The Tear exudes a slight heat, but when directed it can send that heat into objects sufficient to burn wood or roil waters. He plans to promote his cause and unseat his opponents through selective use of the Tear – but he’s like a child playing with matches. He has almost no concept or grasp of the Tears actual potential or power, hardly scraping the surface of what it can do. Having started using the artefact the corruption has turned the relationship; Hendred now serves the artefact, though he cannot perceive that shift in the relationship himself.
The fire provides the first conflict for the characters, as the building contains two desperate, weeping children trapped from escaping.
In the woods they discover that the local animals appear abnormally fearful of fire; they attract a fight if they start a campfire or use torches, and the attackers appear particularly strung out.
Visiting the hot springs they witness a transformation as a bathing local becomes consumed by fire, a twisted flaming abomination.
If they confront Hendred, he uses his limited grasp of the Tears powers to defend himself at first – but then the Tear itself takes measures by summoning up a fiery mantle around Hendred’s servant Klaus and seeks to put an end to their interference.
If the characters find a way to dispose of or destroy the Tear, the threat to the settlement subsides, but so does much of the benefit from the hot springs – although they do continue to bubble away and provide a means for weary travellers to relax their aching muscles.
The locals may not consider Hendred a suitable leader after the characters uncover his involvement – they take a vote, mark him a criminal with a brand, and cast him out into Davokar to fend for himself.
To be clear, a Symbarian adherent created the Tear as a means to free her masters from beneath Davokar. The artifact taps into elemental fire at a fundamental level and subverts it as a means to permanently annihilate the scabrous growth of the forest. It’s possible that other Tears exists – or that the adherent left behind apprentices who have survived the passing centuries amongst elves or human stock.
The characters will have a new enemy in the form of Hendred, though he may take a while to muster the friends and resources to do anything to them.
If not disposed of properly, the Tear might pose a threat in the wrong hands, as the artifact invariably possesses more complex and subtle powers outside of the ability of a simple settler to tap into. The Tear is corrupt, however – even in the hands of an experienced wizard, it continues to pose potential harm to Ambria.
The bigger question – where did Hendred find the artefact, who originally created it, and where are they now?
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