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How hard is it to change Mummy's backstory?

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  • How hard is it to change Mummy's backstory?

    I was having a talk with my group just now, and I was telling them about Mummy, giving them a TL;DR (I haven't actually read the book myself, I'm merely recounting the TL;DRs I've seen myself). We were talking about how as it is, it's not really appealing to us, and how it'd be a lot more appealing if Mummy worked like Changeling, in which you're a normal person who is kidnapped and murdered in a ritualistic way, then embalmed and turned into a Mummy. You are given a purpose by your creator and interred (and that purpose is almost always "protect this location"), and then at some point, much like a Changeling's Durance, you break away or are somehow freed from your purpose. So now you are an undead creature whose entire existence was meant to have a purpose, and have lost it (which means you must now find your own purpose in the world).

    Since I haven't read the book yet, I was thinking I'd ask the community: how hard is it to refluff Mummy's current backstory and fluff assumptions to fit this idea?


    My homebrew hub.

  • #2
    Dude.

    Read the book.

    The backstory is not only integral, it's freaking gold.


    Sean K.I.W. Steele, Freelance Writer
    Work Blog Coming Soon
    The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey

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    • #3
      Mummy revolves around the Egyptian concept of the fivefold soul and the enduring legacy of an empire that predates history. If you want the game to be something other than that, you'll likely have an easier time building from scratch than you will trying to turn MtC into something it isn't. If you want a similar flavor, use Mekhet Vampires or Osiran Prometheans.

      The game is fantastic, by the way. It helps to read it before you decide you don't want it.


      Just call me Lex.

      Female pronouns for me, please.

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      • #4
        I'd say doable, but whether you feel it's worth it to you I can't say. Some people gladly rip everything apart to rebuild it from scratch, others resent having to make any changes, I don't know where on that spectrum you fall.

        Off the top of my head, mummies as written lose sekhem (their power stat, going to 0 kills them temporarily), or rather risk losing sekhem, when they break their masters rules. You'd need to consider cutting that out, or making different rules for different mummies, if you like the idea of them still being dependent on their original programming to survive.

        Secondly, mummies are largely dependent on their cult for continued activity, in this set up it sounds like the mummies cults would basically be their archenemies, since when they wake the mummy up they give it a task- protect us from our enemies, kill our enemies, retrieve the sacred artifact, whatever.

        Thirdly, relics are rather important because retrieving relics is their default purpose in the world, they can sense relics, use relics more safely, feed on relics to empower themselves, etc, so "undead made to guard whatever" probably wouldn't have such an affinity for them.

        Now I have no idea about the mechanics since it isn't out yet, but theme wise, the set up you described sounds a whole lot like Deviant the whatever- Deviants are people altered magically or scientifically (or by even weirder options I suppose), sometimes post mortem, left trying to make a new life for themselves while avoiding, or taking revenge on, the group that did this to them or seeks to capture them for their own purposes.

        Tomb guardian turned undead cop, undead assassin who now does missionary work, etc, sounds like it will be less work using Deviant as the base.

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        • #5
          The back story of Mummy in the Nameless Empire is as integral to the themes of the game as the Durance in Arcadia is to Changeling. I'll try to sum it up for you.

          You served living gods. They ruled the Guilds, and the maddening artists of the Guilds were the engines of Iremite society. Irem is a false name given to the Nameless Empire, immortal, eternal, invincible. You were a peerless craftsman, hand-picked by your personal god - king to serve as the strong right hand of the Judges of Duat.

          You serve forever. You woke in a world of impossible blasphemy. Irem is gone, the people of your homeland worship false gods, false memories of the Nameless Beasts. You know next to nothing of your life, barely even remember your name. You're bewildered, frail, and simultaneously bursting with incredible power. Worst of all, you're hunted by mad cannibals that know you better than you know yourself.

          You are served. Cults worship you like the Divine being you are, and you continue to worship the Judges as you always have. They are yours hands and feet, teachers and students, who aid you in the endless search for the works of Irem, some that you made yourself in the Guildhalls of old.

          You are forever. It is almost impossible to kill you. If you die, you rise again and again, so long as people remember your name, you can be summoned again. Some blessed by the Judges always have a cult to return to, or rise with the merest spoken utterance of your name. The only thing that can end you is destruction of every sacred text, your body, your canopic jars, and your talismans. Even then, you must only wait for the stars to be right and you can return whole, or your worshippers can try a risky ritual.

          You are a god. At your waking you can level cities, part seas, call fire from the sky, start plagues, and strike your enemies down to a fate worse than death. You command and warp the dead as your playthings. To gaze upon you is to risk sanity, and your waking life twists the world around you to make your god hood evident like some Eldritch abomination.


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          • #6
            Originally posted by ShadowKnight1224 View Post
            You are given a purpose by your creator and interred (and that purpose is almost always "protect this location"), and then at some point, much like a Changeling's Durance, you break away or are somehow freed from your purpose. So now you are an undead creature whose entire existence was meant to have a purpose, and have lost it (which means you must now find your own purpose in the world).
            Mummy's story as written supports this part pretty reasonably, with the caveat that, while the escape from Faerie forms the beginning of the story in Changeling, the purpose-built servant severing the ties to her masters and then having to navigate the world without the support of an inborn purpose is part of the in-game Mummy arc. It's something you strive for and achieve. It's not like Promethean either, where completing the Pilgrimage often serves as the conclusion to the core story; there's mechanical support for having broken away and still being a Deathless supernatural being with player character doodads and powers and conflicts to fight.

            As for originally being an average person turned to service against your will, and other thematic differences... well, I'll just say that Mummy: the Curse is a game that is filled with intricate mechanical attention to its setting and themes. It's not an interconnected case where changing one thing over here tends to cascade through the system and break the whole thing. It's more that there are just lots of exception cases, details and particulars you might have to pick apart. You might end up needing to ignore or replace the triggers for early Descent Rolls, for example, or the effects of Unease Sybaris, or the Cult systems.

            The one thing that will be very hard to extract is the sense that mummies are, by nature, grand and majestic, even when relegated to the status of servants. The characters of Mummy: the Curse typically regard themselves with great conviction and look down upon the people of modern society to some degree; many of them consider their service a privilege rather than slavery (though I would say the subtle tone of the game is that these mummies are at best misguided). That feeling of stature comes out in the flavor of a lot of their powers, and in the way that Sekhem booms forth and recedes. If you try to refluff Curse to run a game of reluctant servants to foreign masters, your reluctant servants are still going to be picking from powers that do things like gather people under them in worship, or break them in the face of your eternal glory.

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            • #7
              I have actually heard nothing about Deviant whatsoever, so I didn't know there was already something that approached what my group was interested in.

              Thanks for the replies, everyone. I'll be fair and give the book a read, but none of us really find any appeal in playing a character that's thousands and thousands of years old and tied to a complex backstory about an empire with its own culture and history and gods and judges and now operating via cults, and so on. I don't think it's a bad idea in the slightest, it's just not the sort of thing we're interested in.

              I suppose I'll put this on hold until Deviant comes out. Thanks again!


              My homebrew hub.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by ShadowKnight1224 View Post
                I have actually heard nothing about Deviant whatsoever, so I didn't know there was already something that approached what my group was interested in.

                Thanks for the replies, everyone. I'll be fair and give the book a read, but none of us really find any appeal in playing a character that's thousands and thousands of years old and tied to a complex backstory about an empire with its own culture and history and gods and judges and now operating via cults, and so on. I don't think it's a bad idea in the slightest, it's just not the sort of thing we're interested in.

                I suppose I'll put this on hold until Deviant comes out. Thanks again!
                Fair enough.


                Sean K.I.W. Steele, Freelance Writer
                Work Blog Coming Soon
                The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by ShadowKnight1224 View Post
                  I was having a talk with my group just now, and I was telling them about Mummy, giving them a TL;DR (I haven't actually read the book myself, I'm merely recounting the TL;DRs I've seen myself). We were talking about how as it is, it's not really appealing to us, and how it'd be a lot more appealing if Mummy worked like Changeling, in which you're a normal person who is kidnapped and murdered in a ritualistic way, then embalmed and turned into a Mummy. You are given a purpose by your creator and interred (and that purpose is almost always "protect this location"), and then at some point, much like a Changeling's Durance, you break away or are somehow freed from your purpose. So now you are an undead creature whose entire existence was meant to have a purpose, and have lost it (which means you must now find your own purpose in the world).
                  I mean...that is Mummy. You were a normal person ritualistically murdered and turned into a Mummy that has a purpose given to you by your creator (which is most likely 'protect this [tomb]') except now you wonder if that's relevant in the modern world so you have to find your own purpose in the world.

                  The only difference is that the game as is states this all happened five thousand years ago and you want to change it so that it happened yesterday.

                  I get that. The draw of the CofD is that you're monsters in the modern day and you live dual-lives. Mummy is my favorite game and that's my favorite theme of gameplay, but I'll accept it doesn't fit in Mummy as well as it does Werewolf or Mage.

                  I wouldn't let all that backstory intimidate or overwhelm you either, though. It won't always be relevant in your chronicle or for your PCs. The Arisen have mud for memory anyway (probably literally)

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ShadowKnight1224 View Post
                    I have actually heard nothing about Deviant whatsoever, so I didn't know there was already something that approached what my group was interested in.

                    Thanks for the replies, everyone. I'll be fair and give the book a read, but none of us really find any appeal in playing a character that's thousands and thousands of years old and tied to a complex backstory about an empire with its own culture and history and gods and judges and now operating via cults, and so on. I don't think it's a bad idea in the slightest, it's just not the sort of thing we're interested in.

                    I suppose I'll put this on hold until Deviant comes out. Thanks again!
                    Well, as reseru stated. Mummies have poor memories. Don't want the ancient baggage? Who says the Mummies and their cults remember enough of it to actually matter? If their previous cults were wiped out, and they are low Memory, they might assume as true any information they get fed or dream up.

                    And, really, given the above considerations, nothing says you can't have the "cannon" information in the books as merely the most accepted Arisen orthodoxy, that was simply fabricated long ago (or not so long ago, if you'd prefer) and accepted through traditional inertia.


                    Malkydel: "And the Machine dictated; let there be adequate illumination."
                    Yossarian: "And lo, it was optimal."

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                    • #11
                      Honestly, I would probably suggest using Geist or Immortals as a starting point, though I am a little hesitant to recommend the former. Still, you might find it easier to work in the ritualistic murder angle into those games than to retrofit Mummy - I probably would.


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                      - Perils of the Path - Other homebrew threads linked in the OP!

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                      • #12
                        I actually worked out a kind of way to have both the backstory remain, and allow more modern people to be raised as zombies - specifcally, for a character raised as a zombie/mummy during the Haitian revolution. It actually worked out well for the plot I ran.

                        There are four basic kinds of zombies - infectious, voodoo, revenants, and frankenstein. Vampire covers the infectious angle really well, revenants are basically ghosts with physical bodies (ie Geist: the Sin Eaters), and frankenstein is obviously covered by Promethean. Mummy is a game about magically raised undead servant zombies on steroids. Running with that idea,its possible to cut the Egyptian culture otu fo the game, and keep the heart of the stories.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MCN View Post
                          I actually worked out a kind of way to have both the backstory remain, and allow more modern people to be raised as zombies - specifcally, for a character raised as a zombie/mummy during the Haitian revolution. It actually worked out well for the plot I ran.

                          There are four basic kinds of zombies - infectious, voodoo, revenants, and frankenstein. Vampire covers the infectious angle really well, revenants are basically ghosts with physical bodies (ie Geist: the Sin Eaters), and frankenstein is obviously covered by Promethean. Mummy is a game about magically raised undead servant zombies on steroids. Running with that idea,its possible to cut the Egyptian culture otu fo the game, and keep the heart of the stories.
                          How do you account for the Egyptian fivefold soul being at the center of the mechanics?


                          Just call me Lex.

                          Female pronouns for me, please.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by atamajakki View Post
                            How do you account for the Egyptian fivefold soul being at the center of the mechanics?
                            Simplicity within itself. The Pillars only match the actual Egyptian beliefs in the most superficial way. I mean, seriously - raising a pillar had a direct effect on your personality, despite the Ba (and arguably Ka) supposed to be the personality of your soul. Breaking the separation between body and spirit that Egypt had. Frankly, calling it the Egyptian fivefold soul is being very generous in the first place.

                            Instead, the fivefold soul has basically become a shorthand for the modern Big Five Personality Traits - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Fi...onality_traits - given that the sense of self is a huge, huge part of Mummy. You go from an emotionless slave to your true personality. Its only natural that the five Pillars would reflect yourself.

                            Anyways, these are the difference between the five pillars.
                            1) Associated with an attribute. Your intellect (Int), perception (Wits), willpower (Composure), charisma (Presence), and glibness (Manipulation). The only non-physical attribute without an association is Resolve, and, honestly, Resolve has a lot of overlap with Composure, and far less useful, to the point not using it is virtually meaningless except a few niche cases.
                            2) Restoring pillars through your Decree. Each Decree reflects an aspect of human personality. Plus, it touches on similar tropes that most innate splats have in different CoD games - there's a reason that five is a common number for splats in CoD games.
                            3) Which Affinities and Utterances you get access to; this is a pretty arbitrary division, made to help shape the Decree archetypes/tropes mentioned above.

                            Other than the superficial painting, there's nothing innately Ancient Egyptian about any of this. Mind you, getting past the cultural baggage isn't easy for most people, but its possible if you want to run the game that way for a specific plot in mind.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by MCN View Post
                              Associated with an attribute. Your intellect (Int), perception (Wits), willpower (Composure), charisma (Presence), and glibness (Manipulation). The only non-physical attribute without an association is Resolve, and, honestly, Resolve has a lot of overlap with Composure, and far less useful, to the point not using it is virtually meaningless except a few niche cases.
                              Intelligence is the non-Physical Attribute without representation as a trait that Pillars can boost and the only Attribute not represented in the free dots from Decree is Dexterity.


                              Resident Sanguinary Analyst
                              Currently Consuming: Changeling: the Lost 1e

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