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Doubtful Guests: Help coming up with MTC vs Edward Gorey

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  • Doubtful Guests: Help coming up with MTC vs Edward Gorey

    Bon soir, tout le monde.

    So, not too long ago, I started a new job that utterly destroyed my social, and by extension, gaming life. I've started to get used to this job, and now I'm trying to get back with getting some games going-or at least planned. With that said, I need help coming up with a plot hook for my next MTC game, and indeed, I do kinda have one.
    The Arisen vs the works of Edward Gorey.
    Allow me to elaborate.
    When it comes to getting a game, or any artistic piece going on, I usually have a pool of inspirational sources. And so, I've always had a fascination with what I call 'sleepy urban gothic' pieces of American history. That's the only way I can explain it, but allow me to just show this aforementioned list of sources:

    -The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
    -Fight Dirty by Mischief Brew & Guignol
    -'Sleepy urban gothic' pictures of the Chicago subway, and the early Edwardian art from that area, of cobblestone streets, muckrakers and when Teddy Roosevelt was president.
    -And finally, the works of Edward Gorey.

    I really want to run a MTC game in this time period, which I've nailed as Chicago, in the year 1906-the year The Jungle was published (aka Edwardian America). In this setting, the role of the judges would be downplayed, at least for this game. A few of my rough notes include:

    -Meeting Upton Sinclair
    -Cult families being involved in the meatpacking industry
    -Ghost cults of the city
    -The White Jackal having distant ties to the setting
    -Fighting the Edward Gorey 'bestiary'

    In short, I have my list of sources, I just haven't found a way to make them all connect. Any thoughts/advice?

  • #2
    I mean, what makes this a Mummy game, and not any other chronicle set in the time period?

    Remi. she/her. game designer.


    • #3
      atamajakki I thought about this a bit. On the one hand, I can give you a few definite reasons; the numerous cults you can have here, from the families that inspired the characters in The Jungle, to-and I thought about this just as I was writing this post-The Gashlycrumb Tinies as a ghost cult of children. In fact, with the number of ghosts you can have here (the song Mr. Crumb from that album I mentioned as an inspiration, the titular character, would work well as a revenant), makes it more suited to mummies than, say, the vampires. I think the corporate structure here of the factories lends itself well to the power dynamics of the Arisen, whether they're in control of the industrial districts or not (you could even have Last Dynasty present here in some fashion). There's also a big social life here, and you could easily transplant Club Taboo here.

      But also... And I don't mean to be so vague but, it just kinda clicks with me? I mean, there is something fairly iconographic about this era, where you can just say 'old Edwardian subway of Chicago' and I'm sure the person you're talking to would have some kind of idea of what you're talking about. It's moody but calm, and to make a point somewhat against the excellent Dark Eras Ruins of Empire, this is kind of the last calm before the era of Egyptomania that would soon hit the world.

      I want to talk more about the Edward Gorey connection. First of all, and maybe it is just purely coincidental, but it should be pointed that Edward Gorey had a mummy's head.

      But also, I really like the idea of the mummies, as powerful as they are, not being powerful enough to stop the power of the macabre. So far, I have this idea of a relic turning the drawings of Gorey into actual beings; what if 'The Doubtful Guest' suddenly showed up along with the meret and would not leave. No matter what Utterances they used against it, it just will not go away. How horrifying! Or, what if the Insect God makes an appearance? While his work doesn't work in this way as well as, say, Lovecraft's, I feel like there's a really big horror sea here that's just waiting to be swam through.

      Sorry if this is rather 'rambly,' but I hoped that helps justify this as a specific MTC setting.


      • #4
        Not to be rude, but... I feel like you’re doing a wonderful job pitching it as a Geist setting, more than anything.

        Best of luck anyway!

        Remi. she/her. game designer.


        • #5
          atamajakki Lol, all good, I hear you! I mean, Geists and Mummies, as the two splats that probably deal with ghosts the most, have a lot of crossover with each other. But actually, if it's not too much to ask, how would you make this setting more appropriate to mummies? Take your time and I hope all is well.


          • #6
            I have a vague idea based on your sources. It's always thematically appropriate to pit Mummies against social trends of that time. You get to contrast contemporary life of Mortals with memories and dogma the Arisen carry from the Nameless Empire. Whether they approve of them or not, social trends are something Mummies are hard-pressed to change, even with all their powers.

            From what I can tell from your sources, you can cover the struggle for livelyhood of the lower classes and struggle for relevance of the upper classes - different levels of the hierarchy of needs. This is another great contrast you can work with. Depending on social status of its members, a Ghost Cult would function completely differently - focused on pragmatism, resentment or self-indulgence. Also, if the higher classes try to hold on to lost relevance, their detachment from the present and isolation from the needs of the common people may cause a break from reality. This may let their neuroses manifest as the Doubtful Guest, or the Insect God.

            Your players may decide who to support and in what way. I'd give more details, but I'm just not familiar with the period. I do know it's a bit before Edward Gorey's time as an artist. You may use that chronological confusion to mess with your players, if they remember Gorey from the future. It could also help in creating that surreal quality.



            • #7
              Let's start with the low hanging fruit. Chicago has some significant ancient egyptian exhibits in the Field and Oriental Museums. These would make good guildhalls or at the very least natural targets for arisen cults.

              My game is set in Saint Louis, a city on the Mississippi south of Chicago. One thing my game is taking advantage of is two major incidents in the past that scream "Mass unease sybaris" outbreak. The first is the rise of the great Southern Cult, a large scale religious movement among indian tribes across the Mississippi valley. Major death motiffs started playing a significant role in this cult. Also, the cult featured a falcon and snake god as prominent figures, which has my Contendings of Set and Horus brain ticking. Much later, in the 1830s settlers had a bad winter and needed imports of grain from the north of Illinois. This.somehow is supposed to relate to the outbreak of towns in lower Illinois named after Egyptian and Middle Eastern Cities- Cairo, Memphis, Thebes, etc. The area is still called Little Egypt even today.

              If you haven't yet, pick up World of Darkness Chicago. Check out unreal city, a Mage adventure involving an ancient egyptian spirit attempting to invoke an architect's Egyptian Revival architecture across the city in order to turn the region into a spiritual rebirth of Egyptian Culture in the form of She-Ka-Gou "The Ka is Sealed by the Lake". In my opinion the superficial elements of this adventure can all be easily adapted for a mummy game- the spirit becomes a ghostly servitor or summon from Duat, the heroes become arisen mummies awoken by the shift in Sekhem in the area, etc.