[Mummy: the Curse] A Further Discussion of the Arisen

Posted: May 24, 2012 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Mummy: the Curse, Roleplaying Games, World of Darkness

Today’s preview for Mummy: the Curse delves deeper into the nature of the Arisen, and brings some interesting details to light. CAS introduces Malcolm Sheppard, who takes us through a few interesting tidbits about the primary protagonists of Mummy: the Curse.

Again, bold text is mine for emphasis:

The Memory of Flesh

The Arisen are undead, but not merely reanimated corpses. The Rite of Return generates a fleshly shell of necromantic power, modeled on the subject’s body at the moment of its ritual death. The beings who made the Arisen subjected them to the full art of corpse preservation, so a mummy’s “true form” is salt-withered, dead and dry. But understand that this is a simulation. Over centuries, a real corpse would erode, but the Arisen’s spiritual shell compensates, replacing tissue with solidified magic.

Fortunately, the mummy’s magical body — his sahu — isn’t locked into a mutilated, dead state. Magic responds to thought and emotion, so an Arisen with an elementary understanding of his Memory reshapes himself into a simulacrum of his living form. But memories are unreliable. Sometimes, the mummy takes the shape of his dreams of youth and health. Sometimes he forgets life signs he never paid much attention to before — he doesn’t blink, or his heart forgets to race with exertion. And sometimes twisted thoughts inflict themselves on the sahu as physical Flaws. CAS and I designed these systems to produce atmosphere over punishment. In a game where characters possess powerful, common drives, it’s important to find ways for players to add an individual style.

Despite the fact that the sahu isn’t a projection, but a real bodily form, that’s not to say it maintains its cohesion at all times. Most of the time, it displays the mummy’s overall remembrance of itself, as noted above. At certain times, though (especially in the early moments after arising), the Arisen’s corpse-form shows through, offering the seeming of the traditional “shambling mummy.” And finally, whenever an Arisen calls upon the greatest magics at its disposal, its ancient power surges, revealing its essential nature to those nearby. For other mummies, and those capable of perceiving magical patterns, this actually results in a glorious secondary seeming, superimposed over the first. In these moments, the Arisen’s majesty and age are on full and terrible display.

More fluff here, but good fluff nonetheless. I found it interesting that Malcolm chose to use the word “beings” with regards to those who created the Arisen. Magic was obviously involved, but it does give a hint that those who created the Arisen might not necessarily be human. We’re also seeing the first mention of why Memory is important, at it’s most basic form, it affects how the Arisen’s sahu manifests.

I do like the mention that unlike Promethean, the manifestation of physical flaws during mental and emotional anguish isn’t meant to feel like punishment. The assurance that they’re focusing on flavor more than giving players a hard time is always a good thing to bring up front early on.

I can’t help but feel amused by the glorious secondary seeming idea. Part of it reminds me of the old Mage: the Ascension Avatars, and I certainly can’t find anything wrong with having a badass mummy image superimposed over a modern-day being that’s busy casting powerful magic. It’s an awesome mental image and makes being a Mummy definitely interesting.

Here’s hoping that next week’s preview brings up the topic of what Mummies can do… or even better, who their antagonists are.

  1. uncleasriel says:

    With the callback to Promethean and how the problem of Mechanically Reinforced Otherness can come off as making a game too harsh, it’s nice to see White Wolf has learned their lesson when it comes to past lessons.

    My fears for mummy were very much “Oh, it’s just Promethean with ancient Egyptian dudes”, but this bit of fluff tends to point it as having more nuance. Like Promethean, I see Identity being one of the game’s big themes, but the journey is less of self-discover like a sojourn into adolescence and more of a study on how Memory impacts Identity, and how what one has done in the past will shape one’s current self.

    I get a slight vibe of Exalted and it’s exploration of how past lives impact the present self. I’m also reminded of something a friend of mine once said, about how werewolves were the monster of teenaged boys in puberty (hair in funny places, new physical drives, etc) and mummies were the beast of a man in mid-life crisis (Remembering a glorious past fading from the, but with a mixture of personal wealth, power and experience by their side).

    This game seems as though it may play up these themes, and it should be interesting to see how WW handles them.

  2. The fluff, as well as the more granular nature of the being are giving me hope that this will not be a retread of Promethean, which I mentioned a few posts ago was something that was hitting my brain. I have to say that the idea of “beings” involved in the creation almost brings to mind the “Others/Fae” from Changeling, and could be very thematic for RP and story purposes.

    I like the concept, but I see a lot of borrowing from already published core books in the “Supernatural” line. I am definitely looking forward to more info and hope to be proven wrong.

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