UKGE Best Expansion Category: Symbaroum: Mother of Darkness
Finding this in the Expansion category came as a bit of a surprise to many, particularly those of us who play Symbaroum on a regular basis, as Mother of Darkness is the fourth part of the epic campaign of The Chronicle of the Throne of Thorns. We asked if they wanted to switch the category, but received no reply and so left it in the category of Expansion.
This presented us with a quandary…
An Expansion needs to expand on something that came before, so by the letter of the requirements, this does expand on the existing campaign, but with 200 of the 244 pages devoted to the adventure and notes for the adventure, it became a more interesting question.
Mother of Darkness starts with a journal of Vidina, a traveller in the lands that the characters are soon to be wandering. While interesting, this takes up more than fifty pages and would take anyone some time to go through, which means that it’s likely that one person will go through it and summarise for everyone else rather than everyone going through it.
What follows are a number of factions that can be used in the game, and some sample ruins to provide a brief interlude between the games. Then a brief section on how to adventure in Symbaroum, random encounter tables and new equipment and artifacts.
At which point, the book moves on to the main body of the adventure, split into three acts.
Act 1 – Prelude to the Expedition covers the preparations taken by the characters before the main adventure gets underway, interesting because the adventure considers all the possibilities of the things that the characters might want to do, including sabotaging the other people setting out.
Act 2 – To Symbar covers the journey onwards to Symbar itself, with the different ways that can be taken to reach the city and some of the difficulties that will be faced. It does strike an excellent balance between the preparation of the first act, and the serious nature of the city itself in the third act.
Act 3 – Symbar covers what goes on when the characters reach the city, with several very interesting locations, a slew of NPC’s to use, and a compelling narrative with which to finish up the acts. The characters that make it out of this adventure will be rightly proud to have done so.
There are maps and hints all the way through the acts, and it’s written for all levels of GMing, although the first and second acts are written a lot more freeform than the third. The production values are excellent, artwork is sparing, but always on point and always evocative.