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[Mage ST] Need a crash course in Mummy

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  • Justin Sane
    started a topic [Mage ST] Need a crash course in Mummy

    [Mage ST] Need a crash course in Mummy

    For my Mage game, I'm planning to have an encounter with one of the Arisen - he's going to be holding a Relic/Artifact which the PCs will need/want for themselves.

    My problem is, I know next to nothing about Mummy, and what I do know is what pops up on the Mage forums. That said, that might be a blessing in disguise, as I intend to translate the mechanics to a Mage PoV.

    My first question is - would one of the Arisen be willing to "lend out" a Relic, if the PCs prove trustworthy enough?

    Second question is - how would you build this Mummy? Bear in mind, I'm more looking for narrative descriptions of its powerset than actual mechanics, but some indication of "how it should work" would also help.

    Third question is - how do I make this encounter memorable? What's the thing that should stand out the most? I think I've got the cult nailed down, but the leader should be impressive on its own right.

  • ElvesofZion
    replied
    Dana's building from Ghostbusters comes to mind, if we assume Zuul is a Mummy.

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  • Vent0
    replied
    Originally posted by Justin Sane View Post
    I guess I'm on the wrong continent to understand that reference.

    That said, I'm not looking for locations, I'm looking for visuals - I kinda want to go outside the "classic tomb" box. Is there a reason for that specific theme?
    Well, Tradition (capital T). Mummies can't remember too much, so some consistency probably helps. That said, since one of the Cult types is Enterprise, Mummies obviously can get with the times. Nothing is stopping you from having an office building as their Tomb, with the sacred geometry built in by a cultist-architect, and any mystical symbols cleverly concealed behind corporate imagery and decor. The "on-site data warehouse" stores something other than servers.

    Brings a different meaning to "I'm going to reboot the Master Controller".
    Last edited by Vent0; 03-23-2018, 02:34 PM.

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  • Justin Sane
    replied
    Originally posted by Second Chances View Post
    Mummies Alive!

    ...

    What?!?

    ...

    I'm serious!
    I guess I'm on the wrong continent to understand that reference.

    That said, I'm not looking for locations, I'm looking for visuals - I kinda want to go outside the "classic tomb" box. Is there a reason for that specific theme?

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  • Second Chances
    replied
    Mummies Alive!

    ...

    What?!?

    ...

    I'm serious!

    Okay, jokes aside, Mummies Alive! could be a good source of inspiration. Four hallowed walking corpses take up residence in what is effectively a knock off of the Vegas Strip. While, yes, they do build their tomb inside a fake Sphinx, you could easily translate that into any prominent monument.

    Big Ben? Easy. Lincoln Memorial? Only if you can beat off the other mummies first. Statue of Liberty? Why not? The Smithsonian? Maybe a bit cliche, but damn you will have a lot of information at you finger tips. The Pentagon? They'll never suspect it. Google's corporate headquarters? Digital is the way to go.

    The point is, pick somewhere big and prominent, then build a classic tomb inside of that. The tomb itself doesn't have to be big, but you can still go big with the structure containing it.

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  • Justin Sane
    replied
    Thanks for all your answers, everyone.

    One final question - where can I get some inspiration for the Mummy's tomb? Because outside a literal tomb, I'm stumped.

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  • Satchel
    replied
    Originally posted by Justin Sane View Post
    Oookay, that's a lot faster than I anticipated.
    It's worth remembering that the variability of the rate of Descent is owed to the need to fail a Sekhem roll to retain your current rating; while the odds of success still gradually increase over time, by Sekhem 3 a mummy is not only rolling less often but has a better grip on what they've held onto.

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  • Azahul
    replied
    Originally posted by Justin Sane View Post
    That was what encouraged me from changing the timeline and saying the Mummy will be awakened by its Cult - they'll consider the PCs' presence as a possible threat, and that false alarm will make the Mummy too weak to handle the return of the Dethroned Queen by itself.

    As for the Descent itself, a few questions:
    First, what happens when a Mummy wakes up? Eldritch flares? A corpse slowly regenerating itself? I need some help with the visuals.
    Beyond the mystical sensation of a veritable flood of Sekhem (and let's be clear, 10 "points" of Sekhem suddenly filling a corpse is an insane quantity. Relics capable of reshaping the entire planet cap out at Sekhem 5) pouring into the world, there isn't really a visual component until the corpse starts moving. The descriptions we have of newly awakened Arisen are that their movements are bizarrely fluid, with no direct relation to anatomy. This withered, near-skeletal corpse sits up and its limbs move into the positions the Arisen's mind wills them to be in, so bystanders perceive their initial movements as this impossible flow.

    Originally posted by Justin Sane View Post
    Second, how does having high/low Memory work, exactly? I'm having some trouble grokking that part.
    In a nutshell, think of Memory as how much of their previous Descents the Arisen remembers. When they first wake, they are always at Memory 0 for a scene or two, or a couple of hours, whichever way you want to handwave it. Memory 0 means that they know the Purpose they were raised for, but that's it. They aren't idiots, but they have no distractions from their Purpose, no reason or will to deviate. It's why cults are often reluctant to raise an Arisen, and part of why Arisen are so terrifying. They fall back on violence so often because they're full to the brim with power that demands to be used and lack any reason to not just go for the most directly expedient and violent method to remove potential obstacles. A pedestrian standing in their way is going to get run over because the Arisen doesn't remember that the long term consequences for that action may be more inconvenient than stopping and waiting for the pedestrian to pass, and it certainly can't recall any connection to the pedestrian personally or any common humanity that may stay its hand.

    After a few hours, the Arisen regains its sense of self and can usually remember most of its descent immediately prior to the current one. Over the course of a descent it will usually raise its Memory a couple of points, enabling it to recall more and more of its 6,000 year history and undercover everything from secrets about itself and its own motivations to important information about the city where it lives and the other immortals it has to deal with.

    Interestingly, Memory actually interacts a bit with your first question. As has already been mentioned, after a few hours the Arisen reconstitutes a body made out of Sekhem to cover its withered bones. This body, called the sahu is based on the Arisen's own recollection of what it ought to look like, so it should look roughly like the Arisen did in life. Small details may change later in the Descent, and there's a tendency for the body to age and look more rundown and tired at the bottom end of the descent.

    Originally posted by Justin Sane View Post
    As an unrelated question, how many Affinities/Utterances does a Mummy get, out of chargen? Want to make sure it's not overwhelming, but needs to feel powerful.
    Three Affinities, and one or two Utterances depending on the character build. You can comfortably assume two Utterances as the norm though.

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  • Azahul
    replied
    Originally posted by SunlessNick View Post

    Human Sacrifice: Mummies can extract some of their organs (the same ones Egyptians put in canopic jars), and store them for a rainy day. If the mummy's body is destroyed, they can be woken up via one of their organs - the body will reform around it, and then awaken. If everything is destroyed, a mummy's cult can put their soul into a human, who then becomes the mummy in every mechanical/metaphysical way that matters (though their appearance will remain that of the donor body). It's pretty rare to need this.
    An Arisen with a Sadikh enables their Cult to Lift the Black Caul and raise the Arisen through human sacrifice without doing the Twice Arisen. Just kill a human and it's equivalent to draining a relic or vestige for the purpose of the summoning ritual.

    A Sadikh, incidentally, is the Mummy equivalent to a Ghoul. A human given immortality and undeath and an incredible amount of resilience, plus some decree-based powers, but in return they end up bound to the Arisen's life-death cycle and have their memories mucked with to give them the impression that their older cycles are actually inherited memories/remembered stories from the past, not actual lived experience. You probably don't need to bother having a Sadikh actually show up in the story though if what you want is a murder to get the ball rolling.

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  • SunlessNick
    replied
    Originally posted by Justin Sane View Post
    So, for a few hours after their awakening, they're little more than zombies, correct? Okay, I can work with that.
    Not quite. They're as intelligent as they ever were, they just remember nothing of their lives.

    Devourer - that name keeps popping up, who/what is it?
    Ammut, a huge hungry demon/realm/thing based on (though in universe of course it's the other way round) the Egyptian mythical entity who eats the hearts of sinners. A bit like if Oblivion from Wraith was personified. A portion of the world was sacrificed to her, including the souls of those who failed to become proper mummies. It's unlikely to matter to mages unless they go deep into the Mummy mythos.

    In the theme of names that keep popping up, what is Sybaris? I was under the impression it was some sort of Disquiet (from Promethean) equivalent, but then I noticed a mention to Enticing Sybaris, which gummed up my works.
    You're right, but it can spark a wider range of emotions, including devotion and fascination, though awed fear is the most common - mummies can parley the affected into being cultists, albeit not very efficient ones. This may matter to mages - they're probably not going to be affected themselves, but some of their own minions might fall victim to it, even if the mummy herself doesn't mean for it to happen.

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  • Second Chances
    replied
    Originally posted by Justin Sane View Post
    Perfect.

    So, for a few hours after their awakening, they're little more than zombies, correct? Okay, I can work with that.
    Not quite. They look like zombies, but they are driven by PURPOSE (and they would put it in bold and all caps). They don't know who they are until Sekhem starts to drop, but they know why they are awake and will fuck up anyone who gets in their way

    Originally posted by Justin Sane View Post
    The ultimate last resort, then, not an actual failsafe. Okay.
    Devourer - that name keeps popping up, who/what is it?
    Ammut the Devourer, the primordial goddess of Chaos who predates even Irem's gods. May have screwed over the Mummies and their masters in the past. This may be helpful.

    Originally posted by Justin Sane View Post
    In the theme of names that keep popping up, what is Sybaris? I was under the impression it was some sort of Disquiet (from Promethean) equivalent, but then I noticed a mention to Enticing Sybaris, which gummed up my works.
    You aren't that far off with the Disquiet analogy, but Sybaris creates a larger range of emotions. Basically, all of them make mortals into putty in the mummy's hands. Some are terrifying and send mortals running in fear. Others draw them in and grow the mummy's cult.
    Last edited by Second Chances; 03-21-2018, 04:04 PM.

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  • Justin Sane
    replied
    Originally posted by SunlessNick View Post
    Waking: A big flare of Sekhem. It seems the kind of thing mages with Life, Death or Mind might notice, but not be able to identify.
    Perfect.

    A newly awakened mummy spends a few scenes with next to no memory of their life and identity - but they know their capabilities, and the category of reason someone's awakened them (for crossover, the best categories are someone messed with their stuff or their cult did it via a ritual). To begin with, they look like a walking mummified corpse - after the first time their Sekhem drops, which is quite quickly, they form a mystical body around said corpse, which looks and feels real - this happens fairly rapidly, and is done by the second time Sekhem drops.

    Memory: From waking until the body is reformed, they start remembering their lives in fits and starts - previous times they've woken up in mummy form tend to come more easily than memories of their mortal lives - but recent times they've woken up are not necessarily more likely than earlier ones. How much they remember is actually their Interity-type stat, and starts at three, so you can extrapolate from there.
    So, for a few hours after their awakening, they're little more than zombies, correct? Okay, I can work with that.

    Human Sacrifice: Mummies can extract some of their organs (the same ones Egyptians put in canopic jars), and store them for a rainy day. If the mummy's body is destroyed, they can be woken up via one of their organs - the body will reform around it, and then awaken. If everything is destroyed, a mummy's cult can put their soul into a human, who then becomes the mummy in every mechanical/metaphysical way that matters (though their appearance will remain that of the donor body). It's pretty rare to need this.
    The ultimate last resort, then, not an actual failsafe. Okay.
    Originally posted by Second Chances View Post
    Not to mention risky. A Twice-Born mummy risks their soul being claimed by the Devourer which would mean they become the hungrier, eviler, more soulless version of a mummy. Even if the ritual works, there is no guarantee that the mummy arises sane on the other side of it.
    Devourer - that name keeps popping up, who/what is it?

    In the theme of names that keep popping up, what is Sybaris? I was under the impression it was some sort of Disquiet (from Promethean) equivalent, but then I noticed a mention to Enticing Sybaris, which gummed up my works.

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  • Second Chances
    replied
    Originally posted by SunlessNick View Post
    If everything is destroyed, a mummy's cult can put their soul into a human, who then becomes the mummy in every mechanical/metaphysical way that matters (though their appearance will remain that of the donor body). It's pretty rare to need this.
    Not to mention risky. A Twice-Born mummy risks their soul being claimed by the Devourer which would mean they become the hungrier, eviler, more soulless version of a mummy. Even if the ritual works, there is no guarantee that the mummy arises sane on the other side of it.

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  • SunlessNick
    replied
    Originally posted by Justin Sane View Post
    As for the Descent itself, a few questions:
    First, what happens when a Mummy wakes up? Eldritch flares? A corpse slowly regenerating itself? I need some help with the visuals.
    Second, how does having high/low Memory work, exactly? I'm having some trouble grokking that part.
    Third, I've read somewhere another way to bring a Mummy back from the dead is good old human sacrifice. Is it a possession type thing, where the Mummy's Sekhem takes over the new host, or does the old body reappear?
    Waking: A big flare of Sekhem. It seems the kind of thing mages with Life, Death or Mind might notice, but not be able to identify. A newly awakened mummy spends a few scenes with next to no memory of their life and identity - but they know their capabilities, and the category of reason someone's awakened them (for crossover, the best categories are someone messed with their stuff or their cult did it via a ritual). To begin with, they look like a walking mummified corpse - after the first time their Sekhem drops, which is quite quickly, they form a mystical body around said corpse, which looks and feels real - this happens fairly rapidly, and is done by the second time Sekhem drops.

    Memory: From waking until the body is reformed, they start remembering their lives in fits and starts - previous times they've woken up in mummy form tend to come more easily than memories of their mortal lives - but recent times they've woken up are not necessarily more likely than earlier ones. How much they remember is actually their Interity-type stat, and starts at three, so you can extrapolate from there.

    Human Sacrifice: Mummies can extract some of their organs (the same ones Egyptians put in canopic jars), and store them for a rainy day. If the mummy's body is destroyed, they can be woken up via one of their organs - the body will reform around it, and then awaken. If everything is destroyed, a mummy's cult can put their soul into a human, who then becomes the mummy in every mechanical/metaphysical way that matters (though their appearance will remain that of the donor body). It's pretty rare to need this.

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  • Justin Sane
    replied
    Thanks for the replies, everyone. I just need clarifications on a few points.
    Originally posted by Seraph Kitty View Post
    But, if you get a good look at a Mummy - such as their sympathetic connections - you might see glimpses of their Judge; and the Judges have pretty horrifying descriptions which are much more in line with Lower Depths (perhaps even Abyssal) appearances. The Exarchs, even at their most horrific, tend to be more human-like or at least more classically archetypal... the Judges are more like dead old gods.
    Just from a mummy's actions or even hearing about the decrees of the Judges, they'd probably be pretty easy to mistake from Exarchs. But if you can glimpse the entity pulling their strings, a mage would likely get a very different impression.
    Outside the Mummy corebook, where could I get some inspiration for their visuals? Is the Hall of Dead Gods, from American Gods, a good ballpark?

    Yes- Guilds are a bit like Orders. In brief, they are
    -Second Hands: middle managers and secret police. they foster cooperation, keep the orthodoxy, and are all about manipulating social networks.
    -Alchemists: their philosophy is that all things have an intrinsic worth which can be cultivated in different ways. They teach how to gain and use power.
    -Necromancers: priests of forbidden knowledge. They seem to be the ones most interested in understanding the Judges and the plan they have for mummies... mostly through experimental necromancy.
    -Scribes: historians and arbiters. They actively seek knowledge and correct injustice.
    -Builders: monumental architects. They believe the whole world has a "lifeweb" - the pattern Sekhem flows through - and that it is their purpose to reshape its flow with the intent of "organizing" society.

    I recommend using a Builder (I think the guild is the "Father of Idols" / Tef Aabhi). They are extremely long-term, big scale thinkers. Their main schemes involve working occult geometry into a city's layout in order to control the resonance of each part, reorganizing the naturally-created mystic energy and applying it to a long term purpose. This plays merry hell with ley lines and the spirit world. It can be the source of many a mystery, as well as a huge point of either conflict or cooperation depending on your goals for the story. In your case, they could have the easy-in of lending out a relic to mages in order to trick them into shaping the lifeweb in a particular way.
    Originally posted by SunlessNick View Post
    The scribes, second hands, and necromancers are probably too concerned with mummy-specific matters. The builders are interested in the magical landscape in a way that makes them likely to cross paths with other supernaturals - plus they have cool statuary and architecture, which is good for the imagery. The alchemists would be a good match for materialist or deal-making mages - they believe in a concept called dedwen, which is as if value was an energy - worth cannot be created and destroyed, only transformed.
    Hmm. While the Builders do seem interesting, I'd really prefer this was a one-time thing. The Necromancers, on the other hand, seem to fit in just fine (and thanks for reminding me about WoDCodex, who know Mummies had so many powers related to ghosts?), especially because the Moros PC hasn't been using Death recently.

    Sekhem is described as the life force, a mystic energy that exists everywhere life (or the potential for life) is. In it's natural state, it is described as a passive force of emotional connectivity, carrying remembered passions of life. I interpret this as Sekhem = Resonance; as such, there is no arcana that it falls under, but Spirit, Prime, and Mind are all related to it, and you can probably see it with Life (as some life spells describe attacking or repairing the "life force").
    Originally posted by Azahul View Post
    I believe Dark Eras describes the Mage view of working with Sekhem to be roughly equivalent to working radioactive plutonium with one's bare hands. It's a bit nutso to have a being running on the raw stuff.
    Originally posted by SunlessNick View Post
    It's life force, but not just biological life - also experiental life, in the sense of "this life I have lived." The emotional connections between people, objects, and the world are all expressions of Sekhem. I don't know if you have the Reliquary blue-book supplement, but while the relics in that - and how they come to be what they are - aren't explicitly powered by Sekhem, they are a perfect fit for it.
    Okay, yeah, that plus the bit in Princes of the Conquered Land (thanks Octavo and Second Chances) made it click for me.

    Originally posted by Seraph Kitty View Post
    The relics described in mummy are potent magical items created with intention; a related item mummy's care about (and also collect to sacrifice), vessels, are kind of accidentally created by witnessing intense passions. If you extrapolate this for cross-over purposes, many items from Reliquary and most of the momentos in Geist would count, I should think. They might also take an interest in fetishes and imbued items, but I don't think artifacts quite apply. Although there's nothing to stop you from saying "all magic items belong to the Judges!" and have them seek out anything and everything.
    Originally posted by SunlessNick View Post
    Like everyone else, mummies can be prone to seeing everything through their lens, and assuming that any magical artefact is like theirs. They might also be right, in the sense that only the most utilitarian such items are unlikely to be imbued with emotional meaning for their creators or owners - and that meaning could imbue it with Sekhem, even if that is completely orthogonal to its other functions and energies. It probably won't be a lot of Sekhem, though, so even mummies that are interested in them might not prioritise them.
    Yeah, the Cabal's Obsessions boil down to "Build a Magical Hoard", so an inclusive approach works best. Plus, the Robe of the Dethroned Queen is anything but utilitarian, and, as of right now, not really Supernal.

    Their power stat is called Sekhem. It actually falls relatively fast: if they lose a level at every scheduled interval, doing nothing to hasten or slow the descent, it lasts roughly 400 days. Assuming they get lucky on a few rolls or keep to their purpose, they will probably stay active for 2 years on average. They'd have to go out of their way with epic accomplishments (killing a greater demon, murdering people in the streets to harken the Judges' law, building enormous works of art dedicated to Irem, etc) or be consuming relics themselves (a blasphemous act) to spend more time active.
    Since the descent is on an exponential curve, they've already dropped down to Sekhem 6 after 8.5 days, and are due to drop to Sekhem 5 after 10 more days. Basically, if they've been recently awakened, but had some time to orient, plan, and start getting shit done, they're at Sekhem 6 or less. It goes pretty quick. If they've been around for a while, kicked their cult into motion, and are finalizing plans, have time to work on themselves, are preparing for their long-term plans.. their more likely to be at Sekhem 3 or less.
    However, their cult can always raise them again, if they have access to adequate relics. Frequent or frivolous awakenings are highly discouraged (especially because they lose a dot in Memory every time they rise - if they aren't actively working on themselves every Descent, they quickly lose identity), but the cult can call them ~6 months or so, for another 2 year active period. So if you have a highly motivate mummy (who can stave off Memory loss), they might spend every 2/3 years active, but it's more likely for them to rise once every decade or more.

    The Purpose their given on an arising tends to require discrete steps to complete. An on-going one like that doesn't really fit with how they work. They'd be more likely to be called to protect the Robe of the Dethroned Queen for a critical period of time, kill the people trying to get it, or reclaim it after its been taken. Essentially, they'd be woken up every time their cult discovers an enemy plot to take it, and return to slumber once that's dealt with.
    Oookay, that's a lot faster than I anticipated. Still, it just means that their first contact will have to be the Cult itself (and its ghostly guardians). I still have some follow-up questions about the Descent, which I'll leave for the end of this post.

    Hope that helps,
    ~Seraph Kitty
    Immensely.

    Originally posted by Azahul View Post
    I will note that there is one other method wherein a Mummy could have been active for 35-40 years without ending their descent, and that would be if they were awake for a Sothic Turn. This probably isn't the best route to go down, one of the best ways to interact with a Mummy as an antagonist is to identify their Purpose and use that to mess with them indirectly or as leverage to cut deals, and a Sothic Rising means that the Arisen is awake with no purpose and stays at Sekhem 1 until something forces them to lose a Sekhem (death, blasphemy against their Judge, something like that) or they willingly end their descent. It would also mean your Arisen antagonist is likely hovering around the weakest end of the power scale, which probably makes for a less interesting encounter and would mean you wouldn't get to showcase the Descent through having the Mummy appear weaker from encounter to encounter.
    I will note that there is one other method wherein a Mummy could have been active for 35-40 years without ending their descent, and that would be if they were awake for a Sothic Turn. This probably isn't the best route to go down, one of the best ways to interact with a Mummy as an antagonist is to identify their Purpose and use that to mess with them indirectly or as leverage to cut deals, and a Sothic Rising means that the Arisen is awake with no purpose and stays at Sekhem 1 until something forces them to lose a Sekhem (death, blasphemy against their Judge, something like that) or they willingly end their descent. It would also mean your Arisen antagonist is likely hovering around the weakest end of the power scale, which probably makes for a less interesting encounter and would mean you wouldn't get to showcase the Descent through having the Mummy appear weaker from encounter to encounter.
    Oh, I'm aware of all of that. That's all really useful information if you're running Mummy, or interested in playing it. But for someone wanting to use an Arisen as an antagonist with a plan to mod the rules like the OP, that level of nitty gritty isn't necessary and also runs into the trap of misrepresenting the idea of the Mummy. If I want to highlight an NPC Arisen in a game, from a story perspective, you aren't going to capture the descent by having the Arisen be Sekhem 1/2 all the time save spiking to 7 when in their Tomb. That has a very different flavour to encountering an Arisen at Sekhem 10, then a few days later at Sekhem 7, then a week later at Sekhem 4, and so on. The former gives the impression of an undead creature bound to its resting place and granted phenomenal powers when inside, the latter allows you as a Storyteller to actually show the Descent to an external audience.
    That was what encouraged me from changing the timeline and saying the Mummy will be awakened by its Cult - they'll consider the PCs' presence as a possible threat, and that false alarm will make the Mummy too weak to handle the return of the Dethroned Queen by itself.

    As for the Descent itself, a few questions:
    First, what happens when a Mummy wakes up? Eldritch flares? A corpse slowly regenerating itself? I need some help with the visuals.
    Second, how does having high/low Memory work, exactly? I'm having some trouble grokking that part.
    Third, I've read somewhere another way to bring a Mummy back from the dead is good old human sacrifice. Is it a possession type thing, where the Mummy's Sekhem takes over the new host, or does the old body reappear?

    As an unrelated question, how many Affinities/Utterances does a Mummy get, out of chargen? Want to make sure it's not overwhelming, but needs to feel powerful.

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