Ruins of Symbaroum – RPGBOT.News S2E46

Show Notes

In this episode of the RPGBOT.Podcast, we discuss the newly-release Ruins of Symbaroum from Free League Publishing. We discuss what sets the game apart from DnD 5e, what players can expect from the game, and we dig into some of the mechanics, including the corruption system at the heart of the game.

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Special thanks to Free League Publishing for providing review materials.

Materials Referenced in this Episode


Randall  00:20

Welcome to the RPG bot dot news. I’m Randall James and with me is Tyler Kamstra.

Tyler  00:25

Hi everybody.

Randall  00:26

And Ash Ely.

Ash Ely  00:28

Hey guys.

Randall  00:29

All right, Ash, what is happening?

Ash Ely  00:33

So today we’re gonna be talking about a new system. It’s sort of like a plugin for FFIV called Symbaroum. Now this is a point of contention, because we don’t exactly know what the proper way to pronounce it is. So you’ll have to forgive us if we pronounce it wrong. Or two running theories or Simba Rome, or Symbaroum, but we’re gonna go Symbaroum.

Randall  00:56

We think Symbaroum wins because we went and we listened to the original announcement, which was not in English, and the syllables that we extracted…

Ash Ely  01:03

Were those.

Tyler  01:05

It was pretty close to…

Ash Ely  01:06


Tyler  01:10

So for Swedish listeners out there. We are so sorry.

Ash Ely  01:13

Yeah, we are really sorry.

Randall  01:16

Everybody. We’re sorry.

Tyler  01:19

Your general statement? We’re sorry.

Randall  01:24

That scene in a Home Alone 2, we love you. No. Okay. Anyway. Symbaroum, Pretty cool, huh? Yeah.

Ash Ely  01:33

Yeah, no, it’s a it’s a really cool system. So I believe. So. This system is based off of the original system that this company made. Remind me of the is it Fantasy Flight or…  Free League, Free League, sorry, I apologize. So freely, made Symbaroum, whichever you prefer. And it was its own d20 system. And I read it when it first came out. And it was a very exciting system. My one complaint about it was it was it was a bit dense and complicated to sort of figure out it had a sort of, it had too many attributes and too many variables of success, which we talked about in a previous episode, but I am glad that they decided to do a conversion for 5e because it is a lot more user friendly now. There’s gonna be a few things that we want to talk about, about Symbaroum. So it was originally published in Swedish, excuse me, in 2014. And it was translated into English in 2016. I don’t know if you guys got a chance to look at the document.

Tyler  01:47

Free League.  Yes.

Randall  02:44

Absolutely. I do. I want to ask a history question just so everybody can kind of be grounded in the same thing. So in 2016, we were still playing fourth edition, right?

Ash Ely  02:52

No, 5e came out, I believe in 2015.

Randall  02:56

Okay. All right. So 5e was fairly new. All right. Cool. Cool. Cool.

Tyler  02:59

Yeah, I remember Symbaroum coming out and being translated to English in 2016. And there was a lot of buzz about it and online discussion for a long time. I never dug into it at the time, but I recognize the name and it’s just kind of been hanging around in the back and like, right around the time when I thought I should look into Symbaroum and see what’s up. See if that’s still cool. Hey, look, there’s a 5e adaptation. How about that?

Ash Ely  02:59


Randall  03:24

And we really like those Free League, folks, they do a lot of really cool stuff. Okay, so to be clear, I want to see if I have this right, so Symbaroum is the original setting. It is a d20. game, but it is not D&D. This new thing? It’s called Ruins of Symbaroum.

Ash Ely  03:40


Randall  03:41

And it is a 5e adaptation of the most important parts of Symbaroum.

Ash Ely  03:45

Correct. So it tries to translate the classes mechanics, the overall feel and the lore and setting. So Symbaroum has its own has its own lore, I don’t want to get too much into the lore. I think it’s better that for our purposes that we focus on mechanics, but the lore is essentially that you know, it is it is a dark fantasy. It is probably the most like Dark Soulsian kind of fantasy that you could find for a tabletop, there a side from like Warhammer or something like that.

Randall  04:17

Or maybe Dark Souls anyway.

Ash Ely  04:19

Yeah, we don’t talk about that.

Randall  04:21

Not yet, at least.

Ash Ely  04:22

Not yet until they fix things. But so essentially, the premise is, there is a wild untamed forest that is kind of a living entity on its own. And there is an eldritch sort of presence that lives under the forest and the Fae folk like elves, Goblins and trolls have a sort of distrust of the humans and the other people who inhabit the civilized areas. And the conflict comes when humans are trying to tame this wilderness and the more they tried to tame it, the more nature sort of fights back, and the more that this Eldrich [garbled] to start to corrupt things. So corruption is a central pillar in the design mechanics of this system. And I think it’s really well done. So as a person who really likes corruption, in a lot of games, I have tried to use corruption in several of my games before, it always seems either really brutal, or just kind of, like it’s just flavor.

Randall  05:25

Give us some example. It’s like, what’s the system that had corruption prior? And like, Why wasn’t that quite working for you?

Ash Ely  05:30

So one of the biggest examples that comes to mind, it’s not necessarily corruption, but it is it is like corruption ajacent, is the Madness system and 5e. So, in 5e, you have a temporary insanity and permanent insanity, and temporary…

Randall  05:48

And these are optional rules that we could bring in if we wanted to, if it fits your world.

Ash Ely  05:52

Exactly. But it’s never really made it explicitly clear how you would go about giving insanity, and that is something that probably needs to be cleared up. Because, especially with some of these, these effects, they can be brutal. Like for temporary insanity, I think there’s one where you’re just like, paralyzed for a while. And so for permanent insanity, it was mostly just a flaw in your character, like you got a new flaw. We talked about character creation previously, and how flaws are really important. So it would be essentially replace your previous flaw with this new one, which feels kind of bad. And some of them weren’t all that interesting. Or some of them would completely change a character, or characters concept. And players don’t really like that. It’s like, well, I’m essentially playing a character that I didn’t sign up to play at this point. And that’s something that I’ve seen a lot with corruption systems, there’s been some supplements that have used corruption. I believe Matt Mercer actually made one for corruption, which was, it was all right. I love Matt Mercer. But this one again, was, it was pretty harsh. And it was really easy for it to spiral very fast. And it could like essentially, take away your your character, I think the closest that I came to really liking a madness or corruption system was Call of Cthulhu, which has a very in depth madness system. It’s a little too complicated. And I don’t want to get into it right now. But essentially, it is, like varying degrees of like severity until eventually you you basically lose control of your character. But there are ways to reduce your madness by spending time in an asylum or holding on to things that tie you to your sanity.

Randall  07:40

Well, and so a similar game we’ve talked about so One Ring, Second Edition has this idea of it’s called shadow right, Tyler? Yeah. And so it’s a little bit of a similar idea where there are things that you can do to reduce your shadow over time. But it winds up having a similar mechanical effect, I would say not that you’re going to pick up flaws, but it is going to impact your character’s effectiveness. Yeah, you know, how much shadow you’re carrying? And another Free League game?

Ash Ely  08:07

Yeah, And there are a lot of systems like that. Another one that comes to mind is the beast mechanic in vampire, where are your humanity, I should say. So essentially, as you go down further in the humanity pool, you get closer and closer to the beast, and the way that you prevent yourself. When you break one of your tenants, that you create a character creation, you have to make a humanity roll. And some of the things that can help you stay grounded are those connections that you commit, like a significant other, a place that means a lot to you something that ties you to your humanity, those kinds of systems I do really like. And I think that they’re not as unforgiving as some of the at least, the attempts at implementing such a system in 5e have typically been pretty hardcore or kind of meaningless.

Randall  09:00

Okay, so that’s an interesting coverage and kind of what you’ve seen for like corruption or madness and other systems. So ultimately, how did Symbaroum land it in 5e?

Ash Ely  09:08

So I think they found an interesting middle ground. So the thing about it that I think works really well is that since corruption is such a central mechanic to how the system works, everybody, no matter what class or race they play, has to interact with it on some level, and so that it is balanced a little bit more towards interacting with that system. And working within that system. It’s a really elegant way of doing it. And we’ll talk a bit more about like, how those specific classes interact with corruption, specifically when we’re talking about spellcasters because they tend to deal with corruption the most, but essentially the way it works is, you have temporary corruption and you have permanent corruption. But these aren’t anything like temporary or permanent insanity in 5e. So essentially, every character has a Corruption threshold, which is your proficiency bonus plus your charisma bonus, mages double that. But or no, I’m sorry, it’s two times your proficiency bonus, plus your charisma bonus. And so you can get permanent corruption through a variety of means, either by attuning to specifically powerful magic items, or casting really powerful spells. It’s not easy to get permanent corruption. So you have to really kind of go out of your way and be really risky about it, if you’ve want to get permanent corruption, which I don’t know why you would want to do that.

Randall  10:36

For instance, you shouldn’t just grab a hold of the Palantir. And like, carry it around. And that’s a bad idea.

Ash Ely  10:39

Probably a bad idea. Yeah, probably a bad idea. And that can add a lot of interesting stuff. Like, if you’re holding on to this magic artifact of doom your it gives you a lot of power, but the cost of your soul and stuff like that, so it…

Randall  10:54

I wasn’t using it anyway, what was I gonna do with it?

Ash Ely  10:57

Exactly. But so temporary corruption is a lot easier to get, you can get it from certain monsters, you can get it from just casting basic spells, some abilities give you temporary corruption. And you can get rid of corruption every short and long rest equal to like your proficiency bonus. And then you can spend hit di, sacrifice a hit di to do that again, so as many times as you want to. So it’s easy. It’s easy to gain easy to get rid of, but you have to be careful because you can think of permanent insanity as sort of the floor. If your threshold is your max, the permanent insanity is your floor, it cannot your corruption cannot go below that. So let’s say I have two permanent corruption. Even if I were to get rid of all my temporary corruption, I would still have two. Does that make sense?

Tyler  11:43


Randall  11:44

Oh… it a vessel?

Tyler  11:46

Yeah. So it’s similar to shadow scars and one ring where it creates like a floor. And then your your effective like maximum and minimum shrinks as the permanent corruption eats it from the bottom?

Ash Ely  11:58

Yeah. And before you get too scared, will Oh, what if I hit my corruption threshold or go over it? It’s still that’s still not necessarily bad. I mean, it’s bad, but it’s not like game ending bad. Essentially, once you go above your threshold, for between a combination of temporary or permanent corruption, you have to make a  d20 roll. If the d20 roll is less than or equal to the difference between your thresholds, your current threshold and how much you have over it, then you roll on another d20 on a mark of corruption table, which can vary by like usually, they last for about 24 hours. And these are just some most of them are just kind of like aesthetic things like you grow some horns and people are repulsed by you. Some of them will add temporary corruption. If you roll really bad on this table, you will get permanent corruption. So like I said, it is hard to get permanent corruption. But getting it is really bad. Because there there are very few ways to get rid of it once you have it.

Randall  13:05

To be clear, when you say permanent corruption, do you mean permanent corruption is in raising the floor again?

Ash Ely  13:10


Randall  13:11

So my temporary corruption pushed me above the mark, I rolled. And my penalty was raising my permanent corruption. So even if I make the temporary go away, I might, you know, eventually my permanent corruption is going to accumulate to the point where every time I gain corruption I have to roll on the table again and again and again.

Ash Ely  13:25

Yes, it can spiral. But you But once your permanent corruption reaches your threshold, your character is done. That’s it, they’ve essentially died.

Randall  13:39

Okay, what do we say? That’s it? I thought you meant the good that said like, Hey, you can’t be corrupted anymore. No, no, anymore.

Ash Ely  13:46

It is still, it is still hardcore. Like it still is part of that. Like, this is a dangerous world where things are trying to kill you. So I don’t recommend I still don’t recommend it for people who who want a more laid back thing. This is people who want like this is who want to create a world that is threatening and feels like you could die at any moment. But it doesn’t feel unfair because you can see it coming from a long way. And in large part, corruption is kind of within your control. That’s one of the things that other corruption mechanics don’t, at least in 5e you don’t really do very well. It’s like, Oh, I rolled a bad thing. And you know, now my character just sucks. Where’s this this it’s a gradual build up, and you have to roll real bad twice. Or really go out of your way to start getting that permanent corruption because like if you only go one above your threshold, rolling a one on a d20 and then rolling to another one or a two on another d20 is… You’re just unlucky at that point.

Randall  14:56

That’s extremely low likelihood. I do want to say the math that you were describing a bit ago for how we actually calculate this started to feel a little bit like what I think that grow might be like. And so it gave me feelings. I’m not gonna lie, but that seems pretty trackable. I think folks could probably handle that.

Ash Ely  15:13

It seems it seems like math, but it’s really not that hard. Because unless you’re really like blowing a bunch of, excuse me, blowing a bunch of stuff, it’s, you won’t be rolling like, big numbers. Okay, it’s pretty much within the d20. So it’s like the difference will be pretty minor between your threshold and what you’re currently at.

Randall  15:36

Okay, so I think that makes sense. I feel like I have a good feeling for the corruption mechanic. And I know we’ll dive a little bit further. Let’s talk a little bit more about the setting.

Ash Ely  15:45

Sure. So it is a it is a low magic setting.

Randall  15:49


Ash Ely  15:50

There is only one class, there are some subclasses of the other classes that can cast magic, but they tend to be like half or a third casters. But there’s really only one class that casts magic. And that’s the mystic.

Randall  16:04

I want to pause for a second. We’ve talked about this a way, way back. But let’s you know for maybe newer listeners when we talk about a half cast or a third caster, what do we mean by that again?

Ash Ely  16:11

So a half caster is someone like a Paladin, or trying to think of what else

Tyler  16:18


Ash Ely  16:19

Ranger thank you. So they are like classes that can cast magic from the start. But that’s not their whole shtick, their shtick is more than a combination of martial and casting classes. Third casters tend to be like arcane trickster, or eldritch Knight I believe, which are based off of your subclass. So a half caster, I believe can only go up to fifth level spells. And then third casters can go remind me again how high they go.

Tyler  16:51

Fourth Level spells.

Ash Ely  16:52

They also go to fourth levels. Yeah, they also get access to less spells. And, and so full casters can go all the way to ninth and they get the most spells. Fifth kit level. Fifth casters get less than that. And third casters get less than that.

Randall  17:10

Okay, awesome. And so kind of with that context of understanding, like our full casters, you know, think your classic Wizard think your classic Sorcerer, they get all the spells, they get lots of spells. And that’s kind of that’s the shtick of the class.  Yeah.  Go to a half we cut, you know, we cut the max level and the available spells down go to a third kind of even more. And so with that context, you were saying a second ago that you had a third level caster?

Ash Ely  17:30

Yeah, so there are third level, there are third casters, there are like half casters. But the only full caster is the mystic, but the way that Symbaroumm kind of approaches, approaches classes, which I don’t want to I will save this for later. But it’s sort of like you have archetypes that are then split into actual classes rather than a class that has subclasses. But so the defining conflict of the setting, like I said before it is this, this constant conflict between civilization and the untamed wild, the deeper you go into the forest, the more old primeval and untamed it is. And the basically the premise of it is, is that you you’re going to be spending most of your time in town, and going into expeditions into this dense forest. It’s sort of like what if the forest was like exploring the Underdark it’s, like, there are parts of the forest that are really alien and weird and scary. And it’s, it’s a very threatening sort of aesthetic.

Randall  18:38

So what motivates the average party to go into the forest? Like, why are we exploring,

Ash Ely  18:42

It’s about sort of knowledge gathering, resource gathering, that kind of stuff. There’s a lot of money to be made. There’s a lot of power to be gained from going into the forest and uncovering the dark secrets that lie within.

Randall  18:58

So mostly picking mushrooms. Is that the answer?

Ash Ely  19:00

Yes. If you just want to go out to the forest and pick mushrooms, you can do that. You probably won’t make much money, but you can do that too.

Randall  19:07

That’s really good mushrooms. Yeah, like the red ones with white dots.

Tyler  19:10

So it sounds like this is very much like a murder hobo sort of thing where like, okay, I guess not hobo, but like, you live in a city, you leave the city to go crawl a dungeon. Yeah, and then come back with loot. So it’s like that that dungeon based economy?

Ash Ely  19:27

Yeah, it is very much like a dungeon crawl sort of thing. But I have I’m I haven’t dug too deep into the setting. Because what I wanted to try to do when I was play testing this was I wanted to see if I could adapt this system to other settings and if it would still work, and I can largely say that. Yeah, I think it translates pretty well to any sort of setting you can make it setting agnostic.

Tyler  19:55

That’s great. So the if you want to use the rule set in a setting an agnostic way. Like you, you want kind of I don’t want to say generic, but like you want races, classes, etc, that aren’t super strictly tied to the setting like you want those things to make sense in other settings. So looking at characters, like we’re, we’re used to D&D where there’s clerics, bards, wizards, etc. And all there’s all the different kinds of casters, and then Symbaroum has just the mystic. So like the the collection of character options available, like are they robust enough that you could take those to another setting? And they would still make sense?

Ash Ely  20:40

Absolutely. I think that the, you might have to change a few things about just like some of the verbiage and that lore and stuff like that, but you can absolutely tweak some things to make it work in other settings. And like I said, the, the classes in Symbaroum are very broad. The sub classes in of themselves are kind of like, full classes. So for instance, the mystic, so each class has its own approach, right? So that’s what they call sub classes in Symbaroum is approaches. The base classes are let me take a look here.

Tyler  21:17

We can just list a couple favorites.

Ash Ely  21:19

Yeah, I’m sorry. Ah, there’s so many. Okay. There’s just so many pages. Okay, here we go. Perfect. So the base classes are captain, Hunter, Mystic, scoundrel and warrior. So it’s kind of so those are very broad archetypes, but each one has several, not just like three, several different approaches. For instance, the captain has something called a merchant master. Or it has an officer, an outlaw, a poet Warrior, all different kinds of stuff. The ones that, the one that has the most though is again, Mystic because mystic is the only casters so it’s a it’s trying to incorporate a lot of different play styles for full casters. So you have the artifact crafter, the self taught, Sorcerer, Wizard, staff mage. Essentially, it’s trying to appeal to each of those archetypes. So like, you have the mystic version of a Druid. You have the mystic version of a Cleric. You have the mystic version of a Wizard and a Sorcerer. You also have a mystic version of like a Monk Wizard. And then you have one that’s analogous to a Bard and stuff like that. Scoundrel is kind of incorporates, obviously Rogue stuff. So they have, you know, the rogue caster. They have solid rogues, thieves, assassins, that kind of stuff. Hunters are kind of a mishmash of both Ranger and Fighter. Captain I would say is actually closest to the warlord in fourth edition, because it’s all about bolstering your allies and giving them extra attacks and stuff like that. And then warrior is combination of Fighter Paladin, and Barbarian. So each of those subclasses like I said, before, we’ll have the Templar is like closest to a Paladin, the tattoo warriors closest to like, bare Barbarian and stuff like that. It’s a lot of versatility

Randall  23:28

Does or do any of these kind of come close to the idea of the Druid? Because I can imagine that actually being really important in this world. Given the central conflict.

Ash Ely  23:37

Yeah, no. So like I said, under the mystic class, there is one that is analogous to Druid, and that is the witch. And in the witch, they have also three different pads that they can take. So when I say these subclasses are a bust. I mean, they’re pretty robust. Like some of them change how the class plays. And like for mystic, you’re told, what is your spell casting ability modifier? How does your…. How does your class view corruption? And how does it deal with corruption and like, what their titles in their circle is, and like, what their place in the world is. And so like witches have green paths, which are probably the most analogous to Druid, like you can interact with nature, you can, you can take on wild shapes, stuff like that. The red path, which is kind of like a combination between Druid, and kind of like a Paladin, and then the white path, which is like a Druid crossed with a Cleric, bunch of different ways that you can play your characters and a lot of flexibility in playstyles and how you want to present the world that you’re trying to present.

Randall  24:48

So I feel like we’ve talked a little bit about like races and classes. What about the other parts of character creation, like do we get to bring like backgrounds or their feats, do the feats come in trees?

Ash Ely  24:48

Yes. So there… There are there are different backgrounds, they they work kind of like 5e backgrounds. Some of them actually come with their own, like feature abilities. Because there’s not many features for each of the classes, I mean races. So some of those you have to take from backgrounds. Now, feats are also pretty robust in Symbaroum. It is kind of similar to Pathfinder. In there’s three different types of feats. There are boons, which anyone can take, they increase one of your stats by plus one. There’s also burdens, which are optional feats that you can take, they give you a character, some sort of disadvantage, but they also increase your, your attributes by more. So if you wanted to make a stronger character that had a drawback, you can do that, which is something I really like, like you can give your character an addiction that they have to deal with. Then there’s racial feats, and class feats, which are pretty self explanatory. But yeah, there’s a lot of ways that you can build your character, a lot of ways that you can, can sort of make them unique, and customize them.

Tyler  26:06

So do races work basically the same way as they do in 5e?

Ash Ely  26:10

So this is one thing that I think I have a bit of a gripe with with Symbaroum. So whereas most, where it seems like D&D is like trying to get away from the whole races and ancestry determined like yours, your skill, like every race is the same sort of thing. Like it’s moving away from that Symbaroum’s, like oh, what if we do the opposite of that? Let’s lean hard into all races are, each race is exactly this. So they still have the attribute bonus thing, the other thing that they do, so they do give you the option, you can either take your hit di is either determined by your race, or by your class. So it kind of is up to you, like if you want to be like, well, Goblin makes sense that they would have less health than a troll, let’s say, or you’re like, I don’t really want to lean into that that’s kind of problematic. Let’s just do classes. Just keep in mind, though, that this system that heavily favors you taking your hit die from race, because you can make an incredibly broken character with if you do hit die by class, because goblins are just objectively the best.

Randall  27:24

But optimization was like when you always just take the larger, like, if I want to take a class that has a lower hit die than my race, I take the race hit die, and vice versa?

Ash Ely  27:32

So the player doesn’t choose, they just decided at the beginning, like we’re going by race hit di, not classic di. There’s something that needs to be discussed at session zero.

Randall  27:44

Okay, gotcha.

Ash Ely  27:46

But the other thing that I really don’t like about the races is there are a lot of races that are what are called pariah races. That includes goblins, ogres, and trolls, and sometimes elves. But essentially, if you’re one of these pariah races, you have a feature called pariah race, which is you have disadvantage on all charisma checks with people that are not of your race. And I don’t like that. I think that that, again, leans into problematic territory, if that’s something that you like, then, cool. I personally didn’t like it.

Tyler  28:25

And so I think that’s one of the things you can sometimes get away with when you’re writing a setting for or sorry, when you’re writing a rule set for a single setting. Or you can say, like, within our single setting system, like this is a presiding conflict, these people are currently encountering these prejudices within the setting. But yeah, if you, if you took this rule set outside of the Symbaroum setting, then yeah, strongly considered removing those prejudices.

Ash Ely  28:54

Yeah. And I think like if you’re if you’re going to be a Simba purist and only played in the setting, then I think it’s fine for what it is. But if you want to adapt this to your own campaign, yeah, like Tyler said, I’d get rid of it.

Tyler  29:09

So talk to me a bit about magic like you.

Ash Ely  29:12

Ah Yes.

Tyler  29:12

So there’s the mystic, which is the caster class.

Ash Ely  29:15


Tyler  29:16

And then the Wizard is a subcategory of the mystic and I am deeply and personally offended that wizards are considered a sub anything of anything else, because wizards are my pure, perfect, beautiful babies, and I love them very much.

Ash Ely  29:30

Well, like I said, the different subclasses are classes in and of themselves. It’s not like you, you have less features, like each of the subclasses get more features than like base 5e. I believe. They all but they all get them at the same level. So it’s like, I believe there’s one a third, sixth, eighth, 10th, 14th and 19th. I have to double check, but it’s something like that, like you get a lot and each class each subclass plays differently. So I can’t speak to Wizard. I didn’t, I haven’t played it. But my friend Colby, who people may have met before, from my old podcast was playing a Sorcerer, and sorcerers are interesting because their whole shtick is that they deal, they try to draw power from corruption, the more corrupted they are the, the more powerful they can get. It’s a very high risk, high reward sort of thing. So you can do what’s called cast from corruption, where you, you can cast levels of spells. Essentially, without taking corruption equal to lower than your I’m sorry, you can cast a number of spells equal to your total amount of corruption for free, essentially, the thing so the thing about casters is, you don’t have spell slots, you can cast as many spells as you want, your only limiting factor is corruption. And it can get pretty brutal, um, if you’re not careful. So essentially, you have a list of spells, and each subclass draws from a different list. So there’s the troll singer list, there’s the Sorcerer list. There’s the witchwood list. And there’s the Wizard list. And the theory list, which is the Cleric, and each, each class approaches corruption differently. So like, for instance, there’s the symbolist, which has weaker spells, but can is harder for them to gain corruption, because essentially, they cast spells from these little totems that they have. And then you have self taught, which is oops, I’m going to access all the spell list. But my corruption levels are like doubled. So yeah, it’s, it can be a lot of fun. But a Sorcerer…

Randall  31:52

With like meta magic or something or with a while.

Ash Ely  31:56

Yes, exactly. You sorcerers don’t have meta magic feats. But essentially, the way casting spells works is you gain amount of corruption based on it’s a d4, plus the spell level of whatever you’re casting, that’s how much temporary corruption you get per spell cast. And that can that can spiral really quick. But each caster gets a set number at certain levels of favored spells that they can cast, which is you don’t get a lot. And some of them can’t be favored, like most damaging spells can’t be favored. But essentially, you can cast those and it will only give you temporary corruption equal to the spell level, Cantrips don’t give you any corruption. The other thing… the other way that this sort of interacts again with the corruption is so for instance, Colby was playing a Sorcerer who took the feat demonologist which allows them to add a spell to their list called summon demon. And it’s a very good spell you can summon different varieties of demons and their different consequences. So they went went for broke, they summoned what’s called a guardian demon, which is a CR eight monster very good. But it comes at the cost of for permanent corruption.  Oh, it’s permanent. Oh! Permanent corruption. Yeah, so it’s like, I can go for broke if I want to. But I’m never going down from this. So essentially, they at the start of the game, their floor is nine cannot go below nine. And that can get really rough not only just because of, you know, you risk losing your character but also certain beasts in the beastiary interact with your corruption level. So for instance, I was throwing this monster at my party which was like a spirit that inhabits a body it’s kind of like a ghost and like the idle on a totem in like a Mordenkeinen’s Tome of Foes. It possessed a body. And when that body died, it could it could leave the body and try to possess someone else. And the possession role. The DC for was base was 10 Plus that person’s permanent, plus that person’s current corruption level. So yeah, so not only getting high and corruption can can bring you closer to the brink, it can also make certain saves more difficult for you. So like I said, Everything feeds back into this one system.

Tyler  34:32

So it sounds like they did a really good job building the entire system around that corruption mechanic rather than having it be just like, here’s something we tacked on at the end because there had to be corruption.

Ash Ely  34:43

Yeah. And that’s, that’s what I appreciate about it is like, it seemed like they started from Okay, we have this corruption system. Let’s build out from here. And there are certain, there are certain classes that can help with that. Like there’s certain classes that allow you to ignore corruption. For like, till your next short rest, or there’s ones that allow you to reroll, or temporary corruption removal, stuff like that or give you advantage on the corruption save. And it’s sort of like every… but every class has something that they bring to the party, not in terms of just combat, but in terms of out of combat stuff to help survive in the wilderness, because short, so there are three different rests, short rest, long rest, and extended rest. Short rests are basically what they are in 5e. Long rests are kind of like the midway point between a long rest, short rest and long rest in 5e, you get some features back, you still can’t feel the full, you still have to spend hit die, you can only heal the phone when you’re an extended rest, which you can only take in a safe place like a town or something, and you have to do nothing for about 24 hours. So hit died become incredibly valuable in the system, because they not only are your health, they’re also the ability to remove corruption. And so there are some classes that help you restore those hit die, which is incredibly useful and valuable for a team to have.

Randall  36:11

So I think that makes really good sense. I guess, I want to pose a question. So given everything that we’ve talked about, I’m a person who’s playing 5e, enjoys 5e I’m hearing about Symbaroum and I think it sounds interesting. What are the things that would motivate me to give ruins of Symbaroum a try.

Ash Ely  36:30

So if you’re trying to build a world that is in a crappy place, let’s say where you’re trying to create a world that feels very threatening, or like I said before trying to go for a Dark Souls vibe, because you know, the Dark Soul system we got was bad. This is a good starting point. For me. So the setting that I adapted it to I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but I have a setting that is near and dear to my heart is called Mittenheim. And it is essentially a world that the son died and is currently during a post apocalypse, everything’s cold, there are these monsters that try to extinguish the last vestiges of humanity. So it is very much a very threatening environment that is difficult to survive, and you have to work hard for every inch that you make. And that system… the system works great for that I have tried to find a system that worked for it. And I’ve tried to homebrew a bunch of things. But after playing this, I was like this is perfect. This is exactly what I wanted it to be. And so if you’re trying to go for a set, like this is not a setting that I would recommend for people who are who just want to have a happy fun time. And just like casual. That’s not what this is. This is definitely like, we’re going to work for it. We’re going to work and earn every inch that we can. And we might play with some dark forces and some power along the way. But if we achieve our goals, and we survive at the end of it, it will be worth it.

Randall  38:00

And it’s like are you looking forward to suffering from the consequences of your own actions?

Ash Ely  38:05

Are you prepared to die? I mean, yeah,

Tyler  38:07

Yeah. Okay. I’m sold on the concept.

Ash Ely  38:11

Yeah, it’s a really fun concept.

Tyler  38:13

So Ash tell us Ruins of Symbaroum just came out.

Ash Ely  38:18


Tyler  38:19

What source materials are available currently?

Ash Ely  38:22

So currently, they have a player’s manual, where you can get most of the new mechanics and systems and classes and all that stuff. And the feats and the backgrounds is like it has everything that you would want. And then you have the DMG, which it helps you run a game of Symbaroum in the setting. I would say if you have the DMG for 5e and you want to run it in your own setting, the DMG isn’t necessary, but it might be helpful to help you get some ideas because it goes into more detail about the setting and some secrets that players would know. And then they have a beastiary which is a very good beastiary. A there are a lot of really creative monsters in Symbaroum that are just really cool. Like there’s my one of my favorites is there’s this thing called a Kalasai. It’s essentially a large creature. It’s like four legged and it looks like a giant beefy elk I don’t know how to describe…the art in this these books are incredible. And I would recommend getting them just for the art alone. It’s beautiful. But they are essentially… they were these Kalasai were witches who there’s a faction of witches in Symbaroum, who through a ritual turn these voluntary witches into their giant mounts. And it is it is really cool. This is the beastieary goes really out there. It’s got some of the most creative monsters I’ve ever seen for a supplement for D&D, it’s I highly recommend it.

Randall  39:55

Well, I mean, as you pointed out the fact that some of the monsters interact with corruption and you’re just not gonna get that from the standard 5e monster or any of the other books.

Ash Ely  40:05

And yeah, so if you really want to play with that corruption mechanic, you definitely need to get the beastiary  because there’s a lot of monsters that interact directly with that. Also, little little thing for you guys at the end, they have an optional race and the Beastiary, which is a duck person race as an April Fool’s joke, but they said, This is an April Fool’s joke, but you can feel free to use this if you want

Randall  40:30

We’re not going to stop you… untitled Duck Race.

Ash Ely  40:38

It has a name I believe so you can check their website, they should have all of the material there. Like I said, it’s a really amazing system well worth the money. And the starter kit. Believe comes with all three of that. And so if you just want to get started right away, that would be the way to go.

Randall  41:03

Awesome, and we will have a link in the show notes. If you’ve enjoyed the show, please rate and review us on Apple podcast and rate us on Spotify or your favorite podcast app. It’s a quick free way to support the podcast and helps us to reach new listeners. You can find links in the show notes. You’ll find affiliate links for source books and other materials linked in the show notes as well as on Following these links helps us to make the show happen every week.

Tyler  41:24

When we started the segment we started talking about the philosophy the deep dark forest and the song lost in the woods from Frozen II has been popping in and out of my head the entire time.

Ash Ely  41:42

That’s such a tonal whiplash.

One Response

  1. Jordan M June 11, 2022

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