Hello and welcome back to Part 2 of the Let’s Study Mummy: the Curse series! Today we’re looking at the first part of the Mummy: the Curse’s Player’s Guide to the Arisen. To clarify, M:tC is divided into two large sections: the Player’s Guide, and the Storyteller’s Handook. Both “books” are in the same tome, but I believe that there are plans to publish the Player’s Guide separately as to avoid revealing setting secrets.
The first part of the Player’s Guide section is called The Arisen World, and presents the setting for Mummy: the Curse. The section opens up with a bit of a primer as to what an Arisen mummy is like and how it differs from Mummies as we know them from pop culture. I find that this is always a good start as it will help people divorce their existing expectations and notions and come in to the game willing to learn about the Arisen without previous baggage getting in the way.
The Origins of the Arisen are then brought up in detail, starting with the birth of the civilization that created them. This is where we learn about the Shan’iatu, a group of powerful necromancers to came and fashioned an empire from the disparate tribes of the region. This empire thrived on conquest and tribute from the neighboring lands.
It was in this civilization that the Rite of Return was created and cast. The Rite of Return would be the mightiest feat of magic performed on earth at the time. It is a grueling process akin to torture as a supplicant is killed and has to undergo unthinkable spiritual torment until he proves himself worthy to face the Judges of Duat, enigmatic gods of the underworld. Upon reaching them, he is further scrutinized with pain and trials until he is able to make his decree to one of the Judges, who then becomes his patron for eternity, locking the Arisen’s soul into an eternal cycle of service.
The section then moves on to discuss the nature of the Arisen’s struggle with the ages. The Arisen are forced to awaken to fulfill their duties to the Judges. While most of the time the Arisen are in their dead state, three triggers can make them rise from their state of death. The first is a disturbance, whereupon if a thief or intruder touches an Arisen’s body or relics. Another is a summons by his Cult. The last is in a 1,461 year movement of the star Sothis, also called the Sothic Wheel.
I find the Sothic Wheel to be the most interesting as it is at this time that Mummies arises on their personal Sothic Turn. The other interesting part of this is that this is the only opportunity that the Mummies have in order to find their own hidden destinies. They don’t start off with a pre-programmed prerogative as is usually the case with an intruder (which usually amounts to a case of seek-and-destroy) or a summons where the Mummy is obligated to fulfill the request of the Cult.
Each of these obligations is detailed, including the usual purposes for which a Mummy is most often summoned by his Cult. This ranges from the defense of his Cult, to the acquisition of important relics, to being used as the equivalent of a supernatural tactical nuke upon the cult’s enemies.
One of the most interesting parts of being among the Arisen is the fact that the Morality stat for these supernaturals is tied into Memory. Mummies usually begin with very little Memory, and are basically undead machines. Without the memories that define them, they just follow orders. However as the Arisen gain memories they become more human.
The irony of this all is that Mummies also have a finite amount of life energy, or Sekhem. Much like gas in a tank, Mummies need Sekhem to remain “alive” but spend it in order to fuel their powers and abilities. As such they’re always on the clock. Therefore, the longer a mummy lives, the more human they become, and the more precious “life” is for them… just as their supplies of Sekhem start to run dry.
I believe it was in the spoilers when they mentioned that this Mummy is sort of like talking about old age. Much like the saying that “Youth is wasted on the young,” Mummies probably feel that Sekhem is wasted by those with little Memory.
While some people might have mixed feelings about placing a proto-Egyptian Empire as a history for the Arisen, I find that it’s actually quite helpful. For one thing, it can side-step the usual “historical accuracy” argument that can come up from the more… scholarly sort on the table. The other is that it’s less of a barrier for people to start playing as they won’t have to worry about how things really were back then.
The way that the standard cliche of a Mummy waking up to slay thieves who desecrated his tomb was a nice touch, and the importance of such Relics will be explained further in the book. Needless to say, they are a central part of an Arisen’s purpose that they’re hard wired to seek out and acquire these Relics.
Finally, the Sothic Wheel is a good way to avoid the other player complaint. My wife was actually the first to worry about the fact that Mummy’s seem to be very constrained by their “programming.” While that is actually the case, instances like a Sothic Turn mean that the Mummy can actually go on a journey of self-discovery by recovering their lost Memories.
Tomorrow we’ll start taking a look at the Guilds, 5 different groupings of the Arisen. As the Arisen were drawn from the servants of the Shan’iatu, these guilds are the Arisen equivalent of their roles in Iremite society.