Hi, gang. Last week, we presented one of the foundational design elements of Mummy — the decree — along with a look at a sample decree (the decree of spirit). This week, we offer a little behind-the-scenes action as Malcolm rejoins me to dish on our thought process behind the Arisen.
A note on one of the half-dozen scraps of paper produced by phone calls with CAS says, “Fuck it, you start as the prince.” Like all brainstorming, it’s not exactly where things ended up, but it’s good enough to root this next bit. Mummy twists a popular formula: Invest time in your characters and you get to do cooler things, unlock more impressive challenges, and make your mark on the world. You level up, build your domain, and kick the prince’s ass. Over the years, various games have spun the formula. Maybe you start out as a badass and progress to universe-wrecking power. Perhaps the “you” in the equation is your player-self and you earn author-style narrative control. Whatever.
But fuck it. It’s Mummy. You can start out as the “prince.” If you want servants, you’ve got them. You step from the sarcophagus at the peak of innate power. And why not? You’re immortal. But unlimited time doesn’t mean the right time. The Arisen obey magical cycles, and try to synchronize them with their goals. There’s a big difference between a thousand years and the right year, week, or hour. You’re strong. The cult obeys your commands. But power is fleeting, and regulated by the god-things of Duat, the Underworld. CAS and Greg Stolze developed a great system to determine how the Arisen’s power ebbs and flows, and it plugs right into the game’s central themes. But watch out… Stolze is cruel.
The Deep Myths
One can design supernatural protagonists for the World of Darkness with two basic approaches. First, you can get archetypal with walking “builds” and “toolkits,” sacrificing specificity for breadth. On the other side, you can get specific, so their backstory and mythology sets the foundations. These are really poles, not either/or options, and like all contrasts there’s a little bit of bullshit, but it’s enough to define mummies further. The Arisen have a specific origin in the strategies of a Stone-Age empire, and the sorcery of its ruthless culture heroes. The Arisen remember fragments of the past; they want more. The virtual boxed set reintroduces the separation of player and Storyteller knowledge found in classic games to support this motivation (not to give Storytellers authority by hiding what the players need). Read what you want; the game organizes its mythology so that you’ll understand what characters know, and what they might discover about themselves over the course of a chronicle. This also helps the Storyteller determine when a mummy had uncovered an ancient secret — an act rewarded by Sebayt Experience, which can enhance her Memory.
Does a specific mythology make Arisen the only immortals around? That’s up to you. CAS’s vision of the World of Darkness hews to the original design documents, which discourage supernatural theories of everything in favor of lots of strange threads. Mummy: The Curse weaves together a world of Arisen, ghosts, magicians and monsters, but leaves plenty of undefined space for Storyteller expansion. Beyond the flow of Sekhem, the threat of the Devourer, and the remnants of the City of Pillars, the world contains anything you desire.
Until next time,