Approximate time to read: 4 minutes.
The mythology of Symbaroum lies in the hands of the GM.
When you really consider the nature of the world set down in Symbaroum, you have no obstacles in generating your own myths.
Imagine you were an archaeologist diligently scraping away at the layers of earth on a dig site. Over the course of weeks or months, you uncover strata of detritus that link back to ages past, each uncovering another culture or some tribal offshoot. And then, if time and funding allows, you keep going.
If you take England as an analogy, Symbaroum only really goes back to the invasion by William and the Normans. What about the early Vikings? The Romans? That still only takes us back a couple of thousand years. What if we keep on digging? Digging down to early settlers isn’t so hard, but rewarding? Why yes.
I used that principle at LongCon a few weeks back, digging a little bit deeper. I used the setup from my April posts, around the city of Ambra, but didn’t refer to the specifics directly as I opened the session in The City. A great centre of population spreading to the horizon, a shining light of advancement and peace. The player characters all sat around a council chamber discussing the worsening state of diplomatic affairs with a tribe of upstart barbarians.
Each character has an area of focus and I allowed them to improvise a specific issue with the tribe. So, the Guildmaster could moan about the state of trade or the Knight about the discontent around the defence of the realm. Once the players had introduced their characters and outlined their personal issues with the negotiations, the non-player character leader of the council duly noted that whatever the state of discussions, the City would not bend to the will of barbarians – these represents of the “Symbaroum”, or whatever they called themselves, would reach a compromise with the City.
And then the attack started, along with the screaming.
It was a chance to dig down deeper, plumbing the depths beyond the timeline in the Core Book. Anyone who has read the overview of the current adventure campaign can see that the great cycle has run through many times. As civilisations rise and fall, they leave something of themselves behind. For the Ambrians, the remains of the Symbaroum Empire happens to be most evident because of the extreme measures taken by the Iron Pact to bind it.
But, what lies beneath the beneath?
The great forest sits like a scab across the cancerous growth of what once was the Symbaroum domain – but, beyond the limits of the forest the archaeology becomes more accessible. Ambra lies 100 miles west of Davokar BECAUSE I wanted the remains of the City to be something the Ambrians could reach without the trauma of dealing with Elves, Trolls, Spiders, sleeping Gods and whatever else.
Davokar equals life-shortening danger – and you absolutely want to make it a focus for a time, but so much lies outside.
The published Rapport to Queen Korinthia clearly set out the many lands that lie beyond the borders of Ambria. Like a dig for Roman coins, treasure-seekers could cut their teeth on lesser ruins and remains in the lands encircling the great forest. The pickings might not be quite so rich, but they should be enough to justify the effort.
At the previous LongCon, the Symbaroum GM included a small tomb as part of The Mountain Pass adventure. It provided a small break in the middle of the written adventure and allowed the introduction of a key artefact relevant to later events.
Characters could make discoveries outside of Davokar that link or lead into other stories. The adventures in Adventure Pack One have just such a basis, placing characters into the midst of events and encounters beyond the treeline.
Earlier articles on The Iron Pact have touched on the idea of adventure beneath Yndaros, in the ruins of the city-state of Lindaros – akin to digging up the artefacts of the Tudors on the way down to the Romans. It might be a Roman hoard you’re after, precious gold coins to make your name, but the Tudors and Normans were not without their own treasures. And a hoard might contain information as well as treasure – perhaps hints at what the clans discovered about the secrets of Davokar?
In game terms, why not relive the events the Ambrians uncover?
If you start with treasure-seekers uncovering something that hints at events in the past – why spend a session or two right there? Retell the events of that half buried past – revisit the events that resulted in the outbreak of the virulent bleeder’s disease. Or was that even the event that laid low Lindaros? Was it something else? Could it have been dark magic? Or some terrible curse laid on the city-state by the Blood Daughter? Create new characters and relive the events, knowing that those characters can establish some of the very history that will support the expansion of your “future” campaign.
As I say, the mythology of Symbaroum lies in the hands of the GM. But, it can also be something the whole group takes a hand in and becomes all the more satisfying in the process.