My local friend group got back together to play in person. We decided on Symbaroum, which I know some folks have bounced (hard) off of. Like any hard-headed gamer I of course had to make my own mind up. I am going to talk about my prep and such, but I do not want to bury the lead. Something wonderful happened in and around play.
I am the hardest core of the rpg’ers in this group. Everyone enjoys the experience but mostly uses it as a reason to socialize with their people. Now that does not mean that play is (always) sacrificed, but I admit sometimes we are rolling dice, but not actually playing. Some of these folks were part of the Star Trek Adventures game I mentioned a couple years ago? I still had some feelings about it, but not enough to wreck trying again with another game. I noticed, and perhaps failed to notice in previous games, that they were starting to take better ownership of their part in the games.
Out of the blue, they started talking the STA game. They expressed their feelings, took responsibility for what they perceived as their own missteps. And not just as friends might when they realize they may have ruined an experience, but about the game and how they approached it. This was encouraging as I had not brought up the game nor intended to. And I shut my mouth and listened, letting them talk about their perspectives as we prepared for Symbaroum.
This engagement continued. They helped each other with character creation and did not ask my help finding a rule if they could find itself. They helped me with some details as I fleshed out prep. We got into the game, and they were pro-active about getting into the situation. Only three of the four players were there but at one point, the character playing the Treasure Hunter said that they should look for a Witch to join their venture. The fourth player is playing a Witch. Yes, a little meta-gaming but it kept me from having to create a situation to add the character. They are actively seeking the fourth character in the fiction.
It may be hard to quantify, but these players were trying to play, not just socialize. And the low stress nature of the session reflected that.
Characters. All the characters are human-barbarians, save one who is a changeling.
- Roha (changeling – berserker archetype)
- Anamara (human – treasure hunter archetype)
- Jan (human – sell sword archetype)
- Unknown (human – witch archetype) – player could not make it
They are not all from the same clan but had run across one another previously.
Prep. My prep for the first session was basic.
- They are at the spring moot with all the clans attending
- One treasure hunter is looking to see if their piece of pottery is from Symbaroum or not. No one really likes this guy.
- Some trolls will attack as night falls, trolls who have run afoul of elves and Ambrians (humans from the south) previously. They are looking for a fight.
And that was it. I had a few names written down depending on which way it went. And I was reminded changelings might not be as welcome here, so I had to create a bit of a changeling campsite where Roha had camped with other changelings. But that was it.
Play. The session was short, we played for around 2 hours. The NPC treasure hunter approached Anamara and Anamara made a lore roll. She discovered it was indeed genuine but lied to the NPC (Braraga) and once he was out of earshot the three companions started digging for more information. They found enough to wet their appetites but did not pursue all the possible avenues of information, which was fine. This took up some time and then the trolls attacked.
Combat can be deadly in Symbaroum. Especially with monsters that use static damage numbers and static armor numbers. That said, Roha cleaved the hell out of the first troll. Then three troll friends showed up and things were dicey. Anamara did go down and the remaining characters with the help of a number of clans folk brought down the remaining trolls. Anamara survived her ordeal.
This was a good beginning. It was strange as the GM to not be rolling any dice and we had to do the math for rolls a few times. I think we may have missed a couple things, but that will smoothed out as we go. The players seem engaged with the fiction but also the system. I realize I might have done a bit more prep but subconsciously was waiting for a negative experience. Well the experience was quite the opposite.