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Sean_RDP
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About to Start A Game

Fri 10 Apr 2020, 16:38

I am going to be running a one-shot for Symbaroum that will, I hope, blossom into something bigger. I am reading through the rules and such and was curious as to any specific advice, either for a session or a longer campaign, that other GMs can give? One or two thoughts would be appreciated. I am an experienced GM, but this will be the first time with Symbaroum. 
~Its 2300hrs, do you know where your superdreadnaughts are?
 
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Falenthal
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Re: About to Start A Game

Fri 10 Apr 2020, 19:52

When I started GMing Symbaroum, I have to say that I found it really easy to work. Surely I made mistakes with the rules here and there, but the system is so simple that you could even say that it's difficult to blunder it.

What I found very necessary was to give some pause with descriptions to the combat. The fact that all rolls have to be made by the players provoked that those less acostumed to have a grasp of the rules got confused about what they had to do, specially during the enemies' turn (those players that always ask, after a whole campaign of the same game, "what do I have to roll now?"  :D ) . 

Besides that, I'd only say that keep it simple, and don't use anything from the Advanced Player's Guide: keeping track of the Skills, maybe some Trait, and combat scores (mainly how to de[font=-apple-system, Helvetica Neue, Helvetica, sans-serif]fend and reduce damage) and Thresholds is enough [font=-apple-system, Helvetica Neue, Helvetica, sans-serif]for a [font=-apple-system, Helvetica Neue, Helvetica, sans-serif]first session.[/font][/font][/font]
Last edited by Falenthal on Sat 11 Apr 2020, 19:18, edited 3 times in total.
 
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Fragpuss
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Re: About to Start A Game

Fri 10 Apr 2020, 21:43

I'd second pretty much all of that advice. The basic mechanics are pretty simple and the only time I find myself having to stop and think is if NPCs are using powers where the mechanics are written from the players perspective and you have to reverse the [attribute <- attribute] calculation and then get them to roll the dice.

For the first few sessions, keep it simple. Plenty of time to add in more detail if it morphs into a longer campaign. There's lots of great stuff in the Advanced Players Guide, but my group's been playing for several months and the only bits from the Alternative Rules section that I've used extensively are the Distance Categories for missile weapons and Encumbrance, which to be honest I enforced at the start, but now pay lip service to. My players don't try to take advantage and if they find a heavy or bulky item, we figure it out in the narrative. They've just discovered the possibilities of Alchemical Weapons, so that's going to be interesting.

If you haven't already, grab the Symbaroum Reference Sheets pdf from The Iron Pact - http://theironpact.com/symbaroum-resources-page/. As well as the most useful bits from the GM screen, it has a list of common situations and suggested [attribute <- attribute] combinations. Worth downloading the Unofficial Symbaroum app as well, it's great to have a full list of Abilities, Powers and Monstrous traits in one place for reference - we play online, so having that on a separate screen is a godsend for me.

One thing that I have found, which is more likely to crop up the more you play is that a lot of the Abilities and Mystic Powers are described quite vaguely, which can be confusing if your group is used to quite prescriptive systems. Taken as written, some powers like Bend Will, Maltransformation and abilities like Strangler can end the most carefully planned encounter quite quickly - so you may need to work out a few things at the table as they crop up. For instance the ritual Possess explicitly states the victim can't be made to commit suicide, but neither Bend Will, nor Enslave has that explicit restriction. Perhaps Magic has been made very powerful (unbalanced?) because the Corruption mechanic means that PC casters probably won't be able to get away with throwing a lot of spells around, but often they won't need to. In general my players have been pretty happy with the limits that we've agreed, but none of them has taken any really problematic powers so far (or maybe lack the imagination to abuse them ;))

The most important advice I can give though is - have fun with it. I love playing in a new setting, where everyone hasn't memorised the Monster Manual(tm) and you can genuinely instill a sense of mystery and wonder in your players. My players have learned the hard way that there are things in the forest that you can fight and things that you need to run from and I have had them genuinely panic a few times when a creature has done something unexpected or they've realised that they may have bitten off more than they can chew. That said, in 6 months or more of play only one PC has actually died, although that encounter was maybe 2 lucky dice rolls from turning into a TPK.

Hope that helps - Happy to kick around any more specific questions that come up.

And I hope you enjoy your time in the forest as much as we have.
 
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Falenthal
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Re: About to Start A Game

Fri 10 Apr 2020, 21:59

Fragpuss made me think of another two advices:

1) Before running the session, take a look at all the enemies' skills and traits. Some of them will have active powers that you need to be conscious of to use them during combat. I think fria Ligan could improve a bit the enemies' stats blocks by underlining those abilities that need to be looked for active powers. I second fragpuss: download the Symbaroum app in your phone so you can look at them while reading the adventure in your book or tablet.

2) Depending on the adventure you've chosen, talk as little as possible of the world with the players. If you run The Promised Land, talk about Alberetor and (fancy) rumours about the richness of Ambria. But don't spoil anything about Davokar, the Iron Pact, the different barbarian clans, etc. That information should only appear during the adventures, and only from specific NPCs. 
Or if your are running an adventure with barbarians and ogres in Davokar, don't talk about the schism in the Sun Priests; for the barbarians, a Templar, a Theurg or a Black Cloack are all the same, and they surely have no idea who Sarvola's Reformists are.
Last edited by Falenthal on Fri 10 Apr 2020, 23:48, edited 2 times in total.
 
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Fragpuss
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Re: About to Start A Game

Fri 10 Apr 2020, 23:02


1) Before running the session, take a look at all the enemies' skills and traits. Some of them will have active powers that you need to be conscious of to use them during combat. I think fria Ligan could improve a bit the enemies' stats blocks by underlining those abilities that need to be looked for active powers. I second fragpuss: download the Symbaroum app in your phone so you can look at them while reading the adventure in your book or tablet.

That's a really good point - in the published books and adventures, the stat blocks for the NPCs and creatures (and pregens) should have all the numerical aspects of their abilities baked in, but understanding the difference between actions, free actions and reactions is quite important. In fact I've just realised that I made that very mistake in a game I was running last night. One of the NPCs had an ability that was a free action that I only let them use once in a round and it made them a much less daunting foe.
 
Hurskuldr
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Re: About to Start A Game

Sat 11 Apr 2020, 13:06

The rules are written so that the GM can put their own interpretation on how the game works and there is no absolutely correct way of doing it

For example there are quite a few things that last for a "scene" such as temporary corruption, you could either take this quite literally have have a scene be 1 conversation / battle etc or have it being something bigger like exploring a ruin being a scene or going from 1 place to another forcing the players to manage this more carefully. There is lots of stuff like that where you can easily adjust to taste so dont be afraid to tinker for the flavour of game you want 
 
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Sean_RDP
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Re: About to Start A Game

Sat 11 Apr 2020, 19:08

This information is very useful to me I appreciate folks sharing their experiences.
~Its 2300hrs, do you know where your superdreadnaughts are?
 
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jerichojeudy
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Re: About to Start A Game

Sun 12 Apr 2020, 15:02

I agree with the above.

For me the most important thing is to carefully read all of the PCs abilities and traits. Some abilities are open to interpretation because the wording isn't super detailed. Decide before the session how you will rule these and tell the players in advance, so they aren't disappointed if they saw otherwise.

Some Powers, Maltransformation and Bend will come to mind, are easily spammed and abused of by players. There are quite a lot of GMs that have house ruled them, to suit their style of play.

In my game for example, Maltransformation is Resolute vs Resolute even to cast. And the transformation is a Glamour effect, not an actual physical transformation. And the RAW says the creature loses all abilities and powers, but not its traits. Robust, Armored, Natural Weapons, are Monster traits, so it will keep those. At least the way I see it. But see, it's clearly open to interpretation.

Symbaroum is a game where Abilities and traits, combined with player creativity, will demand of the GM to make rulings on the fly a few times a session. The thing is, it's not a flaw, it's part of the design. They designed it this way to make the game more fluid and to empower GMs. But just be prepared, be consistent, and be generous. :) The game is brutal as it is.

Lastly, the combat system, which I love personally, is swingy. Battles can go from really easy to really deadly in a second. It's unpredictable, it's hectic. Sometimes you'll be abashed by how easily the PCs will low through the opposition. But later, a seemingly ordinary scrap will menace their lives. Every living thing has 10-15 hp in this game...

I recommend using the perfect hits and fumbles, combined with the re-roll for experience rule. It makes the unpredictability even more exciting, while giving the players a way to manage risk and save their skin in a tight spot.

Happy gaming!
 
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Sean_RDP
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Re: About to Start A Game

Sun 19 Apr 2020, 17:22

I am collecting the players and preparing the situations. I appreciate the advice. We may record the sessions and if so I will link it here. Otherwise I will be back with my experiences and no doubt a ton more questions.
~Its 2300hrs, do you know where your superdreadnaughts are?

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