Rite of Passage is a campaign-starter adventure that focuses on the wilds of Davokar and the society that inhabits it; the barbarians. Characters are young villagers, completing three sacred trials as they become adults. In contrast to other Symbaroum adventures, the players get to view Davokar from a new, non-Ambrian perspective. This is a low-combat scenario that ends near Thistlehold to easily transition into other published Symbaroum adventures. GMs are encouraged to review barbarian lore (page 27-28) to better reflect their cultures and worldview.
Players should create barbarian characters, choosing a clan. Other races can be chosen, but Ambrians would be the most inappropriate. If players want to use another race, the GM should discuss with the player about why exactly their character is participating in these sacred barbarian trials; strong ties with a barbarian clan are crucial. Characters start with only the most basic of equipment, tattered clothes and camping materials. Weapons and armor will be provided throughout the adventure in a meaningful way, characters should not begin with them.
The Rite of Passage begins at sunset in Godinja on the spring equinox where the characters and their families have arrived for the initial ceremony. Conversations cease as a tall bearded man in a long bearskin cloak stands up, introducing himself as High Chieftain Tharaban (page 27). He begins to speak: “All those who seek to undergo the Rite of Passage step forward. Today begins a sacred ritual, one that unifies the barbarian clans. At the bonfire ceremony in Karvosti, you will become an adult. Now starts the journey to show your families, villages, and yourself that you are strong, you are capable, you are a barbarian! Tell us your name, and your clan.”
Tharaban then calls forth three wraithguards who will accompany the characters through Davokar as trial-givers and protectors. The wraithguards are Verama, a kindly warrior woman, Lothar, a moody brute, and Taran, an amiable fighter who wishes to respect the spirits of Davokar. Tharaban then gestures for the wraithguards to lead the characters into the forest to the sound of ceremonial drums.
Race Human (barbarian)
Accurate 5 (+5), Cunning 10 (0) Discreet 10 (0), Persuasive 7 (+3), Quick 13 (-3), Resolute 9 (+1), Strong 15 (-5), Vigilant 11 (-1)
Abilities Iron Fist (master), Man-at-arms (adept), Two-handed force (master)
Weapons Double-axe 11 (deep impact)
Armor Scalemail 4 (impending)
Toughness 15 Pain Threshold 8
Equipment A wooden or metal beaker, wooden figurines (the clan’s spirit guardian). Stone for sharpening axe. 1d10 shillings.
Shadow Dark moss colored with hints of hazel. (corruption 0)
Tactics: These warriors lead by example and will die for the ones in their charge.
After a night of travel, the group is led to a clearing where a large rock crevasse splits the earth. There are tribal markings nearby for “temple” and “caution”, but no temple can be seen. The wraithguards, staying at the edge of the clearing, hand each character a palm-sized mosaic tile. Verama announces that the first trial has begun and that the tributes are now forbidden from speaking until entering the temple.
Upon further inspection, there is a large stone at the edge of the dark crevasse inscribed with “Leap of Faith”. Roughly 3m wide, no bottom can be seen in the shadows of the black chasm. Sturdy vines grow over the edge and dangle into the crevasse, which look like they could support weight.
Characters who leapt into the darkness land in a tangle of roots and vines hidden by the shadows. Climbers are sliced and battered by sharp rocks and thorny brambles, taking 1 damage, 2 poison for 3 rounds. As their eyes adjust, characters see the entrance to the stone temple.
Players should not know their character’s fate until everyone has entered the pit. The darkness of the pit and wind whistling across the opening prevent characters from knowing what happened to their companions who entered.
The temple consists of 13 pillars of a circular chamber, one for each clan, overgrown with old roots from trees on the surface. Light from cracks in the ceiling above shines down, reflecting onto a floor made of thousands of colored stone tiles, with murals radiating from the center. After a few minutes, the sound of the wraithguards landing in the crevasse can be heard. They enter solemnly, instructing the tributes to add their mosaic tile to the temple floor, as did their families and ancestors before them. Players have the freedom to describe the particular mural that they add to, such as a great tree growing out of a building, or a snake consuming itself.
Once completed, the wraithguards unroll a blanket to reveal several sets of protective gloves, shoes, and clothing, each set unique and intricate in design (light armor). Allowing each tribute to choose a set, they explain that these clothes represent your people, your village, your clan; for with your clan to protect you, you can withstand far more than you can alone. The characters find that with their protective clothing, they can climb up the sharp vines and rocks to exit the crevasse without injury.
It takes close to a week venturing through the outskirts of Davokar to get to the Yedesa stone fortress, led by the wraithguards. A gaudily dressed Ambrian is waiting, leaning against the stone of the gate, introducing himself with a bow as Blackhawk the minstrel. Taking their leave, the wraithguards explain that Blackhawk has volunteered to guide the tributes for their second trial, and at the end of the day the tributes are to meet them at the south gate to voyage deep into Davokar forest.
Blackhawk shows the characters several sights of the town, asking for details about the character’s home villages. He concocts an elaborate tale about impressing the High Chieftain Tharaban with songs and stories that rivalled the clans own storytellers. Many Yedesa villagers dislike Blackhawk, an outsider Ambrian, being part of barbarian rituals; Blackhawk instead sees it as a sign of goodwill between Ambrians and barbarians.
As they reach a busy marketplace in the town center, Blackhawk explains the second trial. Barbarians are strongest when they have friendships and connections with other clans; each tribute must be given a trust-bead, representing a sacred bond between barbarians. These bonds are not taken lightly, as a trust-bead can be used once to ask an important favor from the giver. No villager will give trust-beads to multiple characters.
Characters may seek locations around town, people of specific trades (such as blacksmith), or simply ask who is around them. Trust-beads may be given for many reasons, establishing friendships, aiding someone, offering advice or entertainment, and more. Some possible villagers can be found below.
- Liwanu – Seven year old girl punching a tree to train to become a wraithguard, defending against Davokar’s corrupted creatures.
- Ner – Gruff trader from Vajvod. Dislikes Ambrians , for the entire Jezora clan was annihilated by Ambrian steel.
- Ornesh – Legless drunk whose daughter refuses to speak to her. Sister to Yeleta.
- Hyin – Spry, scraggly-bearded young man seeking someone to spar with.
- Bhe – Elderly witch, seeking to practice tattooing.
Before they reenter Davokar forest, the wraithguards provide each character a well-made, decorated weapon. These will be the weapons normally provided during character creation.
On the way to the Baiaga clan, a shuddering scream is heard from deep in the forest. A blight born human emerges, with several violings. The wraithguards distract the blight born, while the violings attack the characters. After several rounds, the blight born kills Taran suddenly. Verama, fighting to buy them time, shouts for the characters to flee. Lothar gets the tributes away.
Blight Born Human
Race Abomination (once human)
Traits Acidic blood (I), Natural weapon (I), Robust (I)
Accurate 15 (-5), Cunning 9 (+1) Discreet 10 (0), Persuasive 5 (+5), Quick 7 (+3), Resolute 13 (-3, Strong 11 (-1), Vigilant 10 (10)
Abilities Berserker (Novice), Natural Warrior (Novice)
Weapons Claws 9 (short)
Defense +9, corrosive blood 3 for 3 turns
Toughness 11 Pain Threshold 6
Equipment 1d10 Ortegs, rapier
Shadow Fully corroded copper (thoroughly corrupt)
Tactics: The abomination closes in on the biggest threats, the wraithguards and tears into them with reckless hunger.
Race Winged creatures
Traits Swam (I), Wings (1)
Accurate 13 (-3), Cunning 10 (0) Discreet 5 (+5), Persuasive 7 (+3), Quick 15 (-5), Resolute 10 (0), Strong 9 (+1), Vigilant 11 (-1)
Abilities Natural Warrior (adept)
Weapons Beak 3, 2 attacks against the same target
Toughness 10 Pain Threshold 5
Shadow Blackish green, like tar bobbling on the surface of a pond (corruption:6).
Tactics The Violings swarm around the player characters until they are at half toughness, then they will retreat.
Lothar grimly leads the tributes the remainder of the way to a Baiaga encampment. Dakar, the Baiaga chieftain greets the tributes, offering sympathies when he learns of the attack in the forest. He tells them about the nomadic culture of the Baiaga clan, and how they catch and tame sacred baiagorns, bear beasts of Davokar. A mother baiagorn and cub have been seen; the tributes must capture the cub for the Baiaga clan.
When the characters arrive at the den, the baiagorn mother is out foraging as the cub eats inside. Upon seeing the characters, the cub screams, enraging the mother nearby. It might be necessary for one group to distract the mother while others attempt to capture the cub.
If the tributes return with the bear cub, Dakar bows to them, presenting the characters each a horse, representing how the tributes’ aid helped the Baiaga clan, making all barbarians stronger as a whole. If they return without the cub, Dakar tells them that this was an important lesson; they will be of low status among barbarians until they redeem themselves. If the cub or mother were slain, Dakar is distraught as a witch performs a ritual to beg forgiveness from Davokar.
Traits Natural weapon (I), Robust (1)
Accurate 10 (0), Cunning 10 (0) Discreet 9 (+1), Persuasive 5 (+5), Quick 7 (+3), Resolute 13 (-3), Strong 15 (-5), Vigilant 11 (-1)
Abilities Berserker (adept)
Weapons Claws 8 (short)
Armor Bear fur 4
Toughness 15 Pain Threshold 8
Shadow Green as a pine tree in spring (corruption: 0).
Tactics: A calm baiagorn is a careful creature, but if agitated or wounded it transforms into a roaring, foaming storm of claws that attacks anything close to its young.
Traits Natural weapon (I)
Accurate 10 (0), Cunning 10 (0) Discreet 9 (+1), Persuasive 5 (+5), Quick 9 (+1), Resolute 13 (-3), Strong 13 (-3), Vigilant 10 (0)
Weapons Claws 4 (short)
Armor Bear fur 2
Toughness 10 Pain Threshold 5
Shadow Green with bits of vibrant brown. (corruption: 0).
Tactics: Quicker and more timid than an adult, a baiagorn cub will flee, fighting only to defend itself. It submits once it’s evident it cannot win or wounded.
More than a month since the ceremony in Godinja, the characters arrive in Karvosti. The glow of a bonfire can be seen in the pre-dawn darkness. An elderly woman with an animal skull necklace is standing with Tharaban in front of a crowd. She invites the tributes forward, looking into their eyes, announcing herself as Yeleta, the leader of the barbarian witches. She asks each tribute to announce their name and clan to the barbarians. She takes crimson paint in her hands, marking each tribute, announcing that they have undergone their trials; they are truly barbarians, and they have Davokar’s blessing.