Mummy: the Curse is the latest of the “4th Game” limited run series of the World of Darkness and breathes new life to the Hollywood-defiled idea of Mummies as monstrous creatures. Once left to the world of cheap comedy and action-adventure pulp, Mummy: the Curse applies a new spin on the Monster that gives them back their place in horror fiction.
How the Onyx Path team does this is to take on the inspirations of real-world mummies and apply their own origin mythology. Much in the same manner as the rest of the nWoD, the Arisen as this particular strain of mummies are known, hail from a lost empire which enacted one of the greatest feats of magic ever performed by mortal men: the Rite of Return.
This gives the team a lot of leeway with regards to forming a setting and situation where the Player Characters have something to do, and enemies to face. The Arisen struggle to fulfill their Purpose, while simultaneously discovering the nature of free will… all while their time on earth is ticking away.
Mummy: the Curse presents an interesting setting for players to explore, complete with secrets that can certainly color the way that stories go. I can see Mummy: the Curse moving onto tales that focus on self-actualization, making the most of the time we have, and the struggle of free will versus duty. These themes are central to the game, and have a lot of potential to be extremely rewarding.
The way the book was written is somewhat less… formal as I expected, with an almost conversational style that I can imagine is a bit of a shock to some readers. I had no problems with it, though I will admit that perhaps the writing is a little less atmospheric than say, Changeling: the Lost.
There’s also a certain complexity to the mechanics, but nothing approaching Mage: the Awakening. Character creation is easy enough (with careful reading and a bit of page flipping) and the powers are interesting and evocative. The rules on Cults and the secrets of the setting all add depth to the game, and the various Guilds and Decrees are useful to getting players into the game with more than just a fuzzy sense of what to do.
The Storytellers also get an extra bit of help with regards to the Frameworks for the campaign, allowing for a mix of character types to work in the same game. The villains presented in Mummy: the Curse are fearsome, and certainly appropriate to the power level of Mummies who can command some of the most potent abilities in the World of Darkness.
Overall, Mummy: the Curse is a unique game which tackles some very heady themes without losing it’s horror roots. The backstory is compelling and relevant, giving the kind of storytelling glue necessary to orient the players towards the same direction. While not quite so compatible for crossover games with the other Supernaturals, I’m pretty certain that I wouldn’t want to mix it up. The Arisen are an awesome supernatural group and their themes are uniquely suited to them.
I would definitely recommend Mummy: the Arisen to those who are looking for something new in both horror and potential for stories. The Onyx Path has definitely struck gold with this one.