[Mummy: the Curse] A Discussion of Themes

Posted: May 10, 2012 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Mummy: the Curse, Roleplaying Games, World of Darkness

Developer C.A. Suleiman has let out a few interesting details on the themes of the upcoming new game for the World of Darkness: “Mummy: the Curse” over at the White Wolf blog and I can’t help but feel as giddy as a schoolgirl with what he’s been talking about thus far. There’s not a lot of information that’s been revealed, considering that we’re still a ways off from the intended release date (which if I remember correctly is GenCon 2012) but what information we do know at this point is very, very encouraging.

Just recently the talk of themes has brought up some rather interesting details… I hope CAS doesn’t mind me putting up a copy of his preview here (bolded words are my own addition):

Like other World of Darkness games, the world of Mummy plays host or potential host to more than one theme. The protagonists who stand front-and-center in our setting — the Deathless — are ancient and complex souls, each with the potential to reach both the pinnacle of greatness and the nadir of loss or despair, possibly even within the same chronicle. With such a vast, dynamic range of story and personality, of character and complication, it follows that the underpinnings could be similarly broad.

With that said, two themes stand out as the most foundational to the game and to its main characters. The several other themes at work in the game all derive from either these foundational two or from the specific setting background and contextual elements in which the characters’ stories will unfold. The first, and by far the most central of these themes, is memory. Once-mortal souls that must weather not just the passing of centuries, and with them the death of all that’s familiar in culture and civilization, but also the passing of themselves through that same process — as they too must die and be reborn, over and over again — cling to memory like the balm that it is. Memory is not only that which sustains the soul as an independent entity, but that which defines the story of one’s existence. And when one’s existence drags on, through and beyond the lifetimes of all those around him/her — save only other true immortals — the importance of memory does not wither, but grow. Indeed, memory is so fundamental to a mummy that it’s represented by its own game Trait.

The Janus twin of memory, then, and our other foundational theme, is self-discovery. Even creatures that live for but a moment, as compared to a mummy, often struggle with what it means to simply identify themselves: their true character (or soul, if one prefers that term), as well as the purpose or purposes that drive them to daily action. If knowing one’s self and one’s place in the roll of history — or, in more esoteric terms, the role that Fate has in store — is important to a human being, imagine how important it must be to one who once was human, but whose soul now persists. Forever. This theme is doubly important in the specific context of this game, since mummies struggle to retain details of their origins and former life, which makes self-discovery — or re-discovery — a central narrative element in many Mummy stories and chronicles. The more a soul discovers or re-discovers of itself, the greater its memory and sense of its own place in the scope of time. Self-discovery isn’t represented in Traits, but that makes it no less pivotal to the game’s characters.

There you have it. The Deathless are another name for this particular supernatural splat, and the themes are certainly very interesting. I have to admit that the one most compelling and powerful facets of Exalted as a setting for me was the idea of playing reincarnated heroes with dubious past lives filled with atrocity and selfishness. The newly reborn Solars don’t know that of course, but the journey to re-discovering your past and coming to terms with it so that you can forge your own future tells a powerful story.

That is exactly what I’m seeing here in Mummy: the Curse, and I can’t wait to find out more. The idea of playing old souls who desperately cling to their memories as they try and cope with a drastically new future every time they reincarnate fascinates me. The struggle to define oneself in the face of an ever-changing world and coming to accept who you were, and who you want to be is great fodder for many stories.

Mummy: the Curse is definitely on my watchlist at this point.

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Comments
  1. I wonder, really- how is WW going to thematically make Mummy and Vampire distinct from each other? The two ideas seem very, very close; and I’d have a difficult time describing either sufficiently differently that I wouldn’t feel as if one was a “cheap remake/knockoff” of the other if I were outside the WOD crowd at the moment.

    • Hi Heather!

      I can see where you’re coming from. Vampire are technically immortal beings too that tend to stick around far longer than nature intended. I guess the first difference I see here is that the Deathless (despite their name) are implied to actually die but are reincarnated to new bodies, but with old souls with old memories. Of course this is all conjecture given what we’ve seen so far.

      Vampires tend to be more focused on the now, sure they have a few groups that tend to regard Ancient Vampire Ways as important, but their focus is in surviving the Requiem, extending their lives night after night. I feel that the idea of re-discovering oneself is something that can be done in Vampire, but is mostly central to Mummy.

      That said, I think we’ll be able to draw cleaner lines between the two once we get more information.

  2. Hikkikomori says:

    I… I… no words can express the awesome.

    It’s like Vampire Prometheans done right.

    I’m very interested to see what their political system would be. And, yes, also on how they would interact with the other long-lived supernaturals.

    The Deathless would most likely open new avenues of magical perversions for Mages.

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