Ruins of Symbaroum 5e Adventures review

Hellow my friend from C506. Davyd here, really happy to tlk about amazing material.

Since I heard that Symbaroum was a blend between Game of Thrones and Studio Ghibli’s Princes Mononoke, I was completely sold.

Ruins of Symbaroum is a 5e conversion of the original critically acclaimed tabletop RPG Symbaroum released in Sweden in 2014.

This adaptation takes place in a troubled world, filled with conflict, corruption, and forgotten lore. It plunges D&D players on a Dark, gruesome, hostile, yet oddly gorgeous trip through the forest of Davokar and the civilizations within and around it. The world is filled with unique details and vast world-building that make its setting feel very much alive. 

Both the system and the setting tackle difficult and sometimes uncomfortable themes. In this world everybody is in a constant struggle for survival, resources are scarce, trust doesn’t come lightly, and the magic is also limited and corrupts its users. Making its use dangerous and chaotic.

While the dark themes, crunchy rules, and unforgiving setting might be the selling point for some, Ruins of Symbaroum is not for everyone. The extra rules and limitations make Dungeons and Dragons’ already dense system feel as hard as walk through Davokar itself.

Its somber and miserable denizens leave little space for comedy and lighthearted scenarios. Its creatures and monsters are unforgiving and death is frequent. So you better have multiple character sheets just in case.  Almost all of the races in the ruins of Symbaroum have been largely re-imagined from the generic fantasy races we are all familiar with, Humans, Changelings, Dwarves, Elves, Goblin, Ogres and Trolls are the main and playable races.

For example, Goblins aren’t the green and small chaotic buggers that we are used to, here, they are just a stage or a larva of various other races. When a goblin nears the end of his life, he heads to Davocar and turns into a cocoon that will later transforms into an Ogre or a Troll. The theme of metamorphosis and change is frequent in Symbaroum and this is just one of many examples.

Lore aside, the books are a work of art, each one of them come in a sturdy hardcover with breathtaking art. The quality of the paper, prints, and hardstyle is superb and makes them look and feel like a treasure.

The adventures in the new books ‘’Adventure compendium’’ and ‘’Call of the Dark’’ as the name implies, are a compendium of adventures in the universe of Symbaroum that can be played as one shots or woveninto one another and they that takes players from level 1 up to level 10. It has everything you might want to play in this setting and they even give you advice on how to expand and create your own scenarios and adventures.

The books include everything from Murder misteries to forest expeditions and witch hunts; set in cities, villages, and the Davokar wilderness itself. All of the encounters are masterfully crafted, narrated, and explained in depth. Some of them even come with art of the characters and monsters. All of the adventures come with highly detailed maps of their respective cities and wilderness and come with the stat blocks of the NPCs and enemies you might encounter.

You will find encounters with the dark-minded cultist, roaring monstrosities, and raging abominations. Exemplifying the wide variety of stories that are waiting to be told in this world. The books make an effort to help the DM plan the encounters and lay down several different outcomes to most of the interactions however, I still found this to be one of the weak points since the layout of the information can be a little bit confusing from time to time.

The 9 Adventures can be played with your standard DND races and classes with a bit of tweaking to make them fit, but the setting and adventures excel when playing with the races and classes included in the ‘’Ruins of Symbaroum-players handbook’’.

In conclusion after reading through the books from cover to cover, I can say that Sybaroum has become one of if not ‘’My Favorite’’ D&D settings. I still feel like the classes need a little bit more work and fine tuning to differentiate them more and the gameplay can get hard from time to time but the atmosphere, themes, races, world, and possibilities for storytelling more than make up for it.

If you enjoy dark fantasy and systems that encourage careful planning, then you need to check out Ruins of Symbaroum and its adventure. It looks to be one of the best 3rd party experiences for Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition and I can’t wait to start adventuring with my friends in this grim dark world.

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