X is for Xavagunda

Approximate time to read: 3 minutes.   

Grumpa, a lost and bewildered ogre, was adopted by a traveling theater company, which had her do the heavy work like raising tents and digging latrines. When the leader discovered she could read people’s minds the theater company added the act “Xavagunda – the Horrendous Witch” to their repertoire.


Strangely, I have read more than one comment about the lack of a bardic career path in Symbaroum. At the same time, the commentator on this omission noted that most characters in the game probably have some facet of the bardic about them.

Certainly I come away with a strong sense of verbal tradition amongst all races in the game – the nomadic lifestyles of the present generation or their cultural mores empower spoken word.

The Symbaroum Empire might have a lot to do with this. The Dwarf approach to avoiding written word as a means to retain personal control and not give anything up that might be taken away could well have seeped out into the consciousness of other races. As in our own histories, the expense of possessing great books of written word likely serves as another factor – why would anyone spend money on paper and ink, given the greater priorities of food, shelter and clothing?

I suspect that Ambria will have a diverse population of travelling entertainers, ragtag circus caravans, theatre companies, and lone wandering minstrels, each with a story or two to tell alongside acts of strength, dexterity and mind-reading. As the basis for a character group concept, the wandering players have a lot of potential as settlements will likely welcome their arrival in anticipation of receiving the latest news and the most delicious rumours.

Bardic Character

If you want a character who wields the power of song and worthy tales, you will need to wait for the arrival of the Player’s Handbook (or brave the business of translation from Swedish). The book contains many references to song and story, not least in the impressive figure of the Trollsinger.

At a low level, a character can acquire Advantages, like Storyteller and Commanding Voice, that assist them in handling niche acts of persuasion. Storyteller gives a positive modifier when trying to weave a credible tale to willing listeners; Command Voice assists a would-be leader in getting others to do something on the field of battle.

At the other end of the spectrum, you have bardic powers of song. Hero’s Hymn and Fighting Song, for example, both provide a means for the song-empowered character to assist allies in situations by increasing their Characteristics. The former focuses on spiritual and intellectual capacity; the latter bolsters physical characteristics.

In between, we might just have a gap for potential inclusion of something else – by way of which I experimentally offer Mellifluous Tongue as an Ability. In terms of potential, you could go for something that emulates the abilities of the Song Powers – which modify characteristics of others. Advantages allow you to be a little better yourself. I’m not quite confident enough in getting a balance!

Mellifluous Tongue

The character has a strong grasp of the potential of words to bend situations favorably or avoid direct confrontation. Whether in the bustling streets of urban Ambria or ‘neath shadowy leaf cover in Davokar, the right word can be enough to buy time or render service.

Novice. Passive. The character has an aptitude for cutting words and taunts, intended to wrong-foot the enemy. The character can use Persuasive instead of Quick for initiative.
Adept. Reaction. The character possesses a divisive tongue able to draw allies out even when distracted by the influence of others. Where an ally fails to maintain control or stick to a course of action by making a Resolute test the character can make a second attempt on their behalf to shrug off the onorous command or affect.
Master. Active. The character cries out and draws the attention of everyone, seeking to engage and distract. The targets of the distraction pause and listen until they make a successful [Resolute<-Resolute] test. Out of combat, such distraction makes any action committed by other characters that inflict no direct physical attack or action of the victims either automatically successful or at least easier. In combat, the victims lose their Action for the round – but any harm breaks their distraction, such that they can still react to defend themselves.

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