Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday Tangent: Humanoids


This is another D&D related post- though it applies to pretty much any fantasy setting. In these kind of worlds, one of the things I enjoy are a variety of beasts and beings, both magical and mundane. But on the other hand, I like a little ‘realism’ to my fantasy (other Old School gamers have termed that ‘Gygaxian Naturalism). In short, I like to have my beasties make some kind of ‘sense’- even if it is a convoluted sense I have made up. What I didn’t like about the line of monster books produced for the D&D game was the abandonment of ‘classic’ monsters in favor of the ‘flavor of the week’ new monsters. To me, this was very prevalent in the introduction of various humanoid races in the Fiend Folio and Monster Manual II.

This explosion of humanoid races seems all the more strange when you consider how ‘sub-races’ of Elves and Dwarves and the like were handled- not as their own distinct species- but rather as a variation of a ‘stock’ species, with different cultures and perhaps some minor physical differences.

For my own fantasy world, I would go down this road when handling humanoid creatures. Below are some examples of this:

The Goblin Family.

I see goblins as the ‘basic’ D&D villain, especially for low-level beginner groups. They are dangerous enough in numbers, but weak individually- thus, they make a good ‘cowardly villain’ type. There would be variations of these humanoids mostly based upon what environment they have adapted to:

Stone Goblins: These represent the ‘typical’ goblins, evolved to live in caves located in hilly or mountainous regions. They partner with Worgs and survive by raiding other tribes or settlements nearby. They are short but wirey and deceptively strong for their size.

Forest Goblins: These are lankier versions of the typical goblin- evolved to living in the deepest, darkest parts of forests. Though many tribes continue to ally themselves with Worgs, some groups actually form partnerships with giant spiders, even riding them into battle.

Dark Goblins: These pale-skinned creatures visually resemble the ‘Dark Creeper’ monster of Fiend Folio fame. They are very sensitive to light and typically live in dark caves deep underground. They are masters of stealth- even moreso than your typical goblins. Where possible, groups in large cave systems partner with Giant bats to use in battle and raiding. Some groups who live closer to the surface use these bats as well, riding them out for raids on moonless nights.

Jungle Goblins: These are based off the Tasloi, from the Monster Manual II. They are skinny goblins evolved to living in Jungle canopies. They typically partner with giant insects such as wasps or other jungle types.

Swamp Goblins: These are based off the Bulluwugs from the Fiend Folio. Instead of actually being ‘Frog Men’, they would be bug-eyed, lanky swamp dwellers adept at swimming and jumping. They would also utilize giant frogs as guard and attack beasts.

Gibberlings: Typically found only in the remotest wilderness or caverns, Gibberlings represent Goblins pushed beyond sanity by their desperate situations. They are mad, gibbering things who think only of eating. They would be without the sharp swords specified in the Fiend Folio, however. That never did make much sense to me. In appearance, they would be like ‘normal’ Goblins, only crazed, unkempt and naked.

Hobgoblins: These represent an evolved ‘high’ species of Goblins, larger and more intelligent than their bretheren. They tend to construct their own villages or cave system/fortresses. Depending on the terrain in which they live, they might still ally themselves with any of the ‘beast companions’ the lesser tribes do- such as Worgs or Giant Spiders, etc.

Bugbears: These are huge versions of standard goblins- they are barbarians by nature, taking what they want from any ‘lesser’ (i.e. smaller) species. Again, they might have racial traits and animal companions similar to any of the base goblin tribes.

The Orc Family

There is a bit less variety here as Orcs seem to me to be more ubiquitous than goblins- just as humans are among the ‘good’ races of the surface. Your typical orc is beast-faced (with squinty eyes, protruding brows, blunt noses and pronounced fangs). Their bodies are powerfully built but typically hunched, with long arms and stocky legs.

Grimlocks: This is a variety of Orc adapted to living deep underground. They are albino in nature and blind. They make up for this by having acute senses of hearing and smell.

Orog: These are large orcs- said to be a hybrid between Orcs and Ogres. While not much more intelligent than the base variety, they are quite a bit more powerful.

Beast Men

These represent humanoids that display the distinct traits of various beasts. In most cases, these races were brought about by dark magics and the twisting of humanoid species into unholy ‘man-beast’ hybrids. They are not related to eachother except for this origin. Beast-man tribes include:

Gnolls: Hyena men of desert/arid regions (similar to Northern Africa)- however, they could have spread beyond this to colder regions in search of food. They are fierce fighters, but (like their Hyena stock) are opportunists- preferring the easiest route to prey. They sometimes partner with actual Hyenas.

Ratlings: Rat/Man hybrids, they dwell in swamps or sewers or other places where they can live off the resfuse of others. I see them based somewhat on the Skaven from Warhammer.

Wolfen: Wolf men- essentially like Gnolls, only more prevalent in temperate regions. I see them as being more beastial than the wolfen presented in the Palladium RPG.

Anyway, its time to get back to work. These are just a few ideas I had and wanted to get down in writing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Emperor was (and is) awesome

I've commented before on how much I enjoyed the expanded role the Emperor played in the Star Wars Prequels. In fact, I would say this was the high-point in these three movies. And the more I think about his plan and rise to power, the more respect I have for him as a villain. What got me thinking about this again was a conversation I had with a co-worker regarding the Clone Wars cartoon. My work buddy asked (since I am the resident Star Wars guru at work): "If the Darth Sidious is in charge of the Republic AND the Separatists, why can't he simply 'hand' the victory to the Separatists?" To which I replied. "Because he doesn't want them to win. He doesn't want EITHER side to win until the time is right and his goals are accomplished."

And that is what is so freaking awesome about his plan. By fabricating a war and essentially running both sides of it, Palpatine created an environment where he can accomplish ALL the things necessary for him to rise to power. These are as follows:

1) By giving the Republic an external threat Palpatine forces them to create (or rather 'accept') a huge military force where none existed before. So desperate is the Republic in the early days that it completely overlooks the shady origins of the Clone forces entirely.

2) Palpatine creates a crisis whereby people give him emergency powers that will only last 'for the duration of the crisis'. By prolonging the crisis, people get 'used to' him having that power. They begin not to question it.

3) People don't question that power because Palpatine can, whenever he needs to, set up an instance where only HIS foresight and action prevented a major military failure. Thus, he is regarded as a hero- becoming a 'father figure' to his people who would look to him for 'stability' during the war.

4) Palpatine weakens his enemies- and not just the Jedi. Yes, he makes sure THOSE people are at the front of the conflict and are actually being whittled down, but the Separatists themselves would likely oppose Palpatine's bid to 'unite' the galaxy. By spurring them into a war, he grinds THEM down as well. In short, he allows all his potential enemies to destroy each other. Awesome. It is even MORE awesome when you realize that almost all the people on BOTH sides of the conflict do not realize they are being used. I think that, perhaps, Count Dooku knew the plan, but I doubt anyone else did (Grievous, for instance, probably didn't).

5) Palpatine creates a permanent enemy/threat that furthers his anti-alien stance. It is uncertain (to me at least) if Palpatine really hated aliens or if he simply saw them as a way to consolidate his power. Either way, by conspiring to have the Separatists lead by non-humans, he creates a situation where other (perhaps troublesome) non-humans can be cast in a doubtful light if he so requires.

6) Palpatine sets the Jedi up. I've spoken about this before, so won't go into detail. But suffice it to say that he really worked them over. Palpatine got a bunch of them killed in combat and had the others spread out and unwittingly placed in front of the guns of troops who were programmed to be loyal to him. And when he defeated those who knew his true nature, he could spin any story he wanted about the Jedi- namely that they were trying to seize power for themselves- something which would gain a lot of traction based upon the trust the people had for him and the seeming isolation the Jedi had from the rest of the galactic public.

Seriously, that is an awesome plan. And what is more awesome is that it WORKED. For over twenty years, it worked. That's not something MOST movie villains can boast. I mean, your typical Bond villain never lives to see the fruition of their evil plans. The Emperor, in this instance, does NOT follow the 'Evil Overlord' rules set. And that is what makes him (in my book) one of the best movie villains of all time. And you know what? It is the prequels that were responsible for telling this awesome story. Say what you will about other aspects of those films, but this is one thing they really got right.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday Tangent: D&D

While I may currently hide behind the ultra-cool label of "Star Wars Geek" currently, I must also admit to the fact that as a younger geek I also indulged in a certain role playing game by the name of Dungeons and Dragons. In fact, D&D was my introduction to the world of 'gaming' and the focus of a lot of my creative energies in Jr. High and High School. Alas, my relationship with D&D mostly came to an end when I discovered my 'true love'—the Star Wars D6 RPG.

I've spoken before as to why I like the D6 system so much more than any other, so I won't go into that again. But even saying all of that, there is something compelling about the D&D system, even after all of these years. I have run fantasy adventures and even a few campaigns using the D6 system, but strangely enough, they never felt quite...right? I suppose a lot of that has to do with nostalgia for the D&D system. It is what I 'cut my teeth' on, and what I came to so closely associate with that particular genre. When I see knights and dragons, I think of 'classes', 'levels', 'hit points', etc.. It just seems natural. For whatever the reason, that genre and those rules seem to fit. It is just the same with Star Wars and D6- it doesn't feel right with '10th Level Jedi Guardians' and 'hit points'.

So I am forced to admit that as much as I LOVE the D6 system, and still feel that it can be used in ANY genre, there are times where I 'yearn' for a good 'old fashioned' D&D campaign. But whenever I get to thinking about doing that, I always run into the same old blocks that turned me off of the system in the first place. Advanced D&D, for instance, just doesn't have the 'symmetry' to it that I like. It is, for lack of a better word, 'quirky'.

D&D is a product of its upbringing- i.e. it was not developed from the 'top down', but rather, during play- with all manner of house rules being gradually incorporated into its canon. Thus, you have bizarre things like the percentile differentiation for strength, but straight numbers for all other stats. Likewise, skills and abilities (thief 'hiding in shadows' and elven 'detect secret doors' for instance) are sometimes governed by percentile dice, other times by d6. I guess that is one of the things that DID appeal to me about D&D 3rd edition- the more consistent approach to things like this.

So where does all of this rambling lead me? To another 'project' of course!- a revamping of the D&D system. Yes, I know. So many others have done this already. And no, I don't intend to 'publish' this or anything of the sort. Its just something I'd like to do so I can run my own D&D campaign at some point- without all the complications and annoyances I found in the other published editions. If I had to describe what I have come up with so far, I would say it is a 'mash up' of the old B/X (Basic/Expert) D&D, with a healthy dose of 3rd (or 3.5) edition- with a little of 2.5 thrown in.

I won't go into a lot of detail here, but a few aspects of what I'm thinking are as follows:

1) There are only five main attributes: Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma.

As per the '2.5' edition rules, these can each be broken up into two 'sub-attributes' (though this is purely optional). For example, Strength is broken into Muscle and Constitution- which can vary slightly from the base stat. For example, a character is generated with a 16 STR. They could split this up into a 17 Muscle and 15 Constitution (favoring Muscle over health) or a 14 Muscle and 18 Constitution (not overly musclebound, but very healthy). As with the 2.5 edition rules, you can't vary more than 4 points between the sub attributes (thus, the 14/18 split above is as far as you can go). To me, this makes sense, especially with strength. I never liked the idea that it was possible for someone to have an 18 Strength and a Constitution of 3. Yes, you can make all kinds of arguments as to how this would be possible, but to me, it was never PLAUSIBLE. Plus, I like the idea of being able to 'fine tune' your character if you want. I also like the idea that you can just ignore this rule if you'd like. If you roll a 16 for strength, you just keep a 16 in Muscle and Constitution. Easy peasy.

2) There are only 3 classes. Fighter, Mage, Rogue.

There are also multi-class combinations of the above- which allow you to progress in two (or even all three) classes simultaneously. I never liked the D20 system of being able to multi-class each level- mainly because it forced EVERYONE to be single class at first level, no matter what. You're an elf who was raised by a great warrior and a wizard? Well, too bad. You can either have NO fighting abilities or NO magic abilities until you're second level. Bleh.

What I did like from the D20 system was the fact that all classes use the same level advancement scheme- i.e. no matter what class, it costs the same amount of XP to advance a level. For multi-class characters in my system, it would mean that folks with 2 classes pay twice the XP to go up a level and a Fight/Mage/Rogue would pay three-times the XP. Again, simple.

Depending upon what skills/spells a character chooses, these three classes can incorporate a variety of different 'sub-classes' that people are used to in their D&D. For instance, a Fighter who has wilderness skills could be termed a 'ranger'.

2a) Why no Priests/Clerics?
I suppose it is a personal thing with me. I never much cared for the 'religious' system implicit in most D&D settings. I never liked the idea of 'gods' just being ultra-powerful, extra-planar beings (complete with stats and hit points). Likewise, I always disliked the idea of player characters being raised to the status of gods. I'm not saying it is 'wrong' or that my 'christian beliefs' don't allow it or whatever (hey, its just a fantasy game). I just personally don't care for it. I also feel that having a more 'ambiguous' faith- one that does NOT have such 'tangible' evidence as a god coming down to say howdy to his followers- is more dramatic. Oh, I would still include all the 'Gods' of ancient beliefs (Olympians, Asgardians, etc.). They would still be powerful extra-planar beings (with stats and hit points), but they would not, in fact, be the 'creator spirit' of the universe. So, yes, maybe there is some christian influence in there. But that's just my particular preference.

For those wondering, most cleric spells would be just another 'school' of magic spells, available to any mage who studied them (i.e. Mages could be healers, etc.). The exception to this would be spells of a truly 'divine' nature- things like 'Bless' and Holy Word and even the ability to turn/control undead. 'Divine' spells like this would be available to mages ONLY if they chose a special ability I call "True Faith". In the game world, these 'divine' spells would be of somewhat ambiguous origin. For those of 'true faith', they would be a sign of 'God's' power, focused through them, the faithful. For atheists, they would be simply another school of spells- albeit one that seems to require a particular belief that they do not possess. Also, even Non-Mages can take this 'true faith' ability- allowing them to utilize holy symbols to turn undead. To me, this hearkens back to the old adage that it is not a cross that turns a Vampire, but the faith of the person using it. True faith would come with a price, however- requiring an individual to live by a code of ethics, etc.

3) Hit points and healing would be handled just a bit differently.

I didn't like the fact that as player levels increased, the effectiveness of cure spells dropped off. A cure light wounds cast on a first level fighter with 1 hit point left out of 8 could, conceivably, heal him from the brink of death to perfect health. Now take a high level fighter who has lost 40 of his 80 hit points. It would take at BARE MINIMUM 5 cure light wounds spells to bring him back to full. When you consider that loss of hit points represent a wearing away of 'luck' as well as actual physical injury, this makes no sense at all. So, what I propose is this (some of which is taken from D&D 2.5).

The 'wound level' of an individual is determined by the percentage of hit points he has left.

A person with 75% to 99% of their hit points are just a little, bruised or Superficially Wounded, with no real injuries. A character suffers no ill effects at this wound level and their health will not deteriorate further unless they are injured again.

A person with 50% to 74% of their hit points are considered Lightly Wounded. A Lightly wounded character suffers no ill effects from their wound, but must bind or heal the wound within a short while after combat (within 1 turn- requiring an 'easy' Healing skill roll) or they may become moderately wounded.

A person with 25% to 49% of their hit points are considered Moderately Wounded. A moderately wounded character suffers a penalty of -1 to all attacks, defenses and skill rolls. The wound must be bound or healed within a short while of combat (within 1 turn- requiring a 'moderate' Healing skill roll) or the character will become severely wounded.

A person with 1 to 24% of their hit points are considered Severely Wounded. A severely wounded character suffers a penalty of -2 to all attacks, defenses and skill rolls. The wound must be bound or healed within a short while of combat (within 1 turn- requiring a 'difficult' Healing skill roll) or the character will become critically wounded.

A person with negative hit points are considered Critically Wounded. A critically wounded character must be bound or healed within a short while of combat (within 1 turn- requiring a 'very difficult' healing skill roll) or the character will die.

A superficially wounded character is 'healed' with a few minutes (1 turn) rest. i.e. after 1 Turn, a person would be restored to 100% of their hit points.

Light Wounds are healed with a cure light wounds spell. i.e. someone injured down to 50% of their hit points could be restored to full health with this spell. If no spell is available the wound may be 'bound', requiring an easy healing skill roll. This keeps the wound from becoming more serious, but does not give back any hit points.

Moderate Wounds are healed with a cure moderate wounds spell which will restore the character to full health. A cure light wounds spell will automatically 'stabilize' the wound- keeping it from getting any worse, but will not give back any hit points. Likewise, a successful (moderate) healing skill check allows a moderate wound to be 'bound'- but does not return any hit points.

Severe Wounds are healed with a cure severe wounds spell. Which will restore the character to full health. A cure moderate wounds spell will automatically stabilize the wound- keeping it from getting any worse, but will not give back any hit points. A Cure Light Wounds spell has a 50% chance of stabilizing the wound as above, but likewise will not return any hit points. Likewise, a successful (difficult) healing skill check allows a severe wound to be 'bound'- but does not return any hit points.

Critical Wounds are healed with a cure critical wounds spell. Which will restore the character to full health. A cure Severe wounds spell will automatically stabilize the wound- keeping it from getting any worse, but will not give back any hit points. A Cure Moderate Wounds spell has a 50% chance of stabilizing the wound as above, but will not return any hit points. A Cure Light Wounds spell has a 25% chance of stabilizing the wound as above, but will not return any hit points. Likewise, a successful (very difficult) healing skill check allows a critical wound to be 'bound'- but does not return any hit points.

So, yeah, this is quite a bit different than your usual D&D. Though it hasn't been playtested, I imagine this is going to have the effect of giving characters a bit more 'longevity' during a dungeon crawl. They will likely be able to replenish their hit points after a battle a lot more easily than a 'standard' party would, especially if they are only 'superficially' or 'lightly wounded' in a confrontation. I personally like this idea, as it prevents the group from having to withdraw from the adventuring locale as often as they might otherwise.

I also like the idea of giving wounds 'weight'. In D&D, folks function at 100% effectiveness even if they're down to their last HP- that never sat well with me, either.

Anyway, those are just some of my thoughts for the system- and enough for my tangent today.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Adventure Conversion: The Mummy - Part 4



The heroes (and a rival group of treasure hunters), begin to explore the ruins of Hamunaptra. Here, they find a variety of dangers- from ancient traps to flesh-eating beetles. Here also they begin to uncover the story behind the curse on this place. Unfortunately for everyone involved, all this activity has drawn the attention of the spirit of Imhotep. This dark lord waits only for the a mistake that will rouse him from his slumber...

As the groups of explorers reach the outskirts of the ruins, a tremor seems to run beneath the sands, as if something stirs there- but always just out of sight of any of these new arrivals. And as the group reaches the sand-swept central plaza a great, mournful moan seems to sound from the various open cave entrances as a wind suddenly sweeps through the area...then settles.


Now that they've reached the ruins, the heroes no doubt wish to proceed inside and find the treasure (or, for more altruistic groups, seek to preserve the treasures within?). There are a number of different passages into the ruins- all of which seem to lead into the tunnels below (with all the surface buildings having long since been obliterated by erosion).

Beni's group will immediately 'claim' one of the tunnel entrances and set up camp around it. Evelyn doesn't seem to think that entrance is any more promising than the others, so she is content to let them have it. This could, however, spark a confrontation between the groups. Beni's group is stubborn and will, if pressed, fight to protect their claim- but they won't start a fight. In fact, they are much more likely to strike up a friendly rivalry with the heroes team- taking bets on who will reach the treasure first. They will begin to explore their tunnel entrance immediately, bringing their hired laborers in with them and leaving a few outside to keep watch. Beni, while anxious to find the treasure, will be more than a little 'jumpy' due to the dark presence at the site. In general, however, the group will not work directly WITH the heroes.

The heroes are free to do their own exploration now. Evelyn and Jonathan are quite eager to get going (though the latter seems just a little spooked). If the Imperial Magistrate (Gad Hassan) is with the heroes, he too will be quite eager to get started.


The tunnels themselves form an immense maze beneath the sands. Many tunnels lead to dead ends- either by design or due to collapses. Within these tunnels, the GM can have the heroes encounter a variety of dangers and oddities, including:

1) Cave in. A section of the tunnel gives way as the heroes pass- forcing them to dodge the collapse and possibly cutting them off from their original route back. The GM should use this to re-direct the players, though- not to trap them in an inescapable location (unless they have the means to dig themselves out).

2) Ancient Traps. This could be anything from a pit filled with spikes to crushing walls to darts firing out of holes in the wall. The GM is encouraged to have the players run into a variety of traps to help show how dangerous this location is. In or near some of these traps, the heroes may find the remains of previous treasure hunters. Considering the age of this place, this could be anything from 'ancient' Jedi or Sith to explorers from the Old Republic to completely alien and unknown beings. If he feels like it, the GM might even place some salvageable artifacts on these remains.

3) Odd sounds/sights. These are mood setters- designed to keep the party off balance as they explore. It could be anything from the faint skittering of insects (hinting at the deadly scarab beetles) to seeming movements in the shadows (a trick of the light or perhaps even supernatural phenomena)

4) Old Tombs. These tunnels are home to more than just Imhotep's remains. Here and there can be found the bodies of other ancients. Most would be laid to rest in modest cubicles, carved into the walls. Others are held in sarcophagi found in small side chambers and a few might even have a full blown tomb with antechambers and the like (usually protected by a hidden door and several traps). The GM may include some treasure with these finds, but should keep the reward in line with the difficulty of recovering it. Also note that this IS a grave site, and that stealing from the dead isn't necessarily a 'good' thing to do. If the heroes go about this callously- stripping dead bodies of their valuables, the GM may wish to utilize a 'bad karma' rule- penalizing all their further skill rolls by 1 or 2 pips or otherwise facing them with 'bad luck'. If, however, the players are at least somewhat respectful in their handling of the dead, they may be able to recover these treasures without incurring penalty.

5) Hieroglyphs. These are found throughout the tombs. Most simply reflect the daily lives of the ancient Aegyptian empire. This will be a great find archaeologically speaking (Evelyn will certainly be interested), but for the most part they have no bearing on the adventure). Some hieroglyphs, however, will offer clues as to the story behind Imhotep- showing his rise to power, his Dark Side corruption, his treachery and his downfall. Astute characters might notice a few things of interest- one being the symbol of the Medjai- one they may have seen on the 'nomads' that attacked the sail barge during their trip here. Others may also notice an uncanny resemblance between Evelyn Carnahan and the pictographs of the Queen Ank-Su-Namun. Still others might notice the repeated depiction of a book, constantly associated with a forbidding, dog-headed deity.

6) The other guys. The heroes encounter Beni and his employers while exploring the tunnels. This can hopefully be played for a 'jump scare' as the two nervous groups suddenly come face to face around a corner. Though played mostly for atmosphere, it is possible this could spark a fight (depending on how the heroes react).

7) The scarab beetles. The heroes will come upon yet another wall covered with hieroglyphs, only this one seems to have some small iridescent stones inlaid into it. They appear to be of only moderate worth, but some in the group might attempt to pry them free (Gad Hassan certainly will). The stones do appear to be just that- though upon a very close inspection (or run beneath a scanning device), their true nature will be discovered. These 'stones' are actually a kind of silicon based 'beetle'- evidently gone dormant. The GM should have any of these 'stones' attack when it is least expected. If Gad Hassan steals a few then they might suddenly come alive and burrow into his flesh- killing him mysteriously. If one of the heroes unknowingly takes a scarab, it might come alive and attack him as well. If the heroes discover the true nature of the beetles, the one they are examining might suddenly come to life as well.


Also keep in mind the actions of the various NPCs during this initial exploration. Each will behave differently and may have an impact on how things play out.

Evelyn will be extremely excited and energetic in her exploration of the tombs- for her, this is a dream come true. She is clearly much more interested in the archaeological value of the site than she is any treasure. Though a smart young woman, Evelyn isn't as cautious as she perhaps should be and might wander into a trap that could require her to be helped by the heroes.

He is nearly as excited as his sister, though for the exact opposite reason. He's interested in finding the treasure- and is impatient even in that regard. This may lead him to take risks a more cautious person wouldn't when in pursuit of those riches. He may likely wander into trouble and require rescuing. Even so, his greed isn't necessarily a selfish one- i.e. he won't 'backstab' his companions to get ahead.

Gad Hassan
The magistrate is motivated solely by greed. He wants treasure and he wants it right away. In much the same way as Jonathan, this will lead to him taking risks he shouldn't. Unlike Jonathan, however, he is keen on taking what he can even at the expense of others. If the GM feels it appropriate, this Greed could lead Hassan to an untimely death during the scarab beetle encounter (see above).

Beni is much like Hassan- eager to get wealthy and willing to cheat anyone else to do so. He is growing especially desperate now, though- since his main usefulness to his employers (Burne, Henders and Danis)- namely his knowledge of how to reach the ruins- is now no longer necessary. He may wander off in search of his own riches or even attempt to steal from or sabotage the heroes. Likewise, he might get into trouble in one of the traps- giving the players a choice of whether or not to save this thoroughly despicable character.

Burne, Henders and Danis
The three treasure hunters are keen on getting the treasure- and in that pursuit they reveal a degree of ruthlessness in driving their workers hard. Danis will even go to the point of using them to spring any traps the group suspects but cannot find. While not openly hostile to the heroes, they might well engage in some 'friendly' pranks or even sabotage (of a non lethal variety) if the opportunity presents itself.

The Workers
These are a group of local laborers who signed on in the hopes of riches but who are now regretting that decision due to the dark nature of the ruins. They are unhappy with their lot, but unwilling to risk the wrath of their employers.


After several encounters (and perhaps a day or two of searching), the GM should move events forward with one of the major happenings of the adventure. These are:

1) The discovery of Imhotep's tomb. This will actually be accomplished by the Burne, Henders and Danis- who will stumble upon it in their explorations near dusk on the first day of the 'dig'. Unfortunately, this tomb was trapped- resulting in the deaths of several of the group's native workers. Though they didn't find any treasure hordes, they did find several gold trappings of the former priest- including a scepter, a necklace and a diadem. Needless to say, the three will be keen to show off their hard won treasures that evening as both groups camp. They will also try to collect on any bets as to who finds 'the treasure' first (though technically, they didn't find THE treasure, just SOME treasure). The three will be rather callous in regards to the death of their laborers.

Though a bit disappointed at having been beaten to the find, Evelyn isn't particularly upset. In fact, she suspects (due to her knowledge of Ancient Aegyptian building practices) that there may be further treasures in the vaults on the levels directly BELOW where Imhotep's tomb was found. And it is here that she will wish to go the next day. That night, Evelyn will have strange and unsettling dreams- as may others in the group, especially Force sensitive types. Also, anyone on watch might (with rather difficult search skill rolls) notice what appears to be a nomad rider off in the distance across the desert- though he will quickly disappear.

In any case, the explorations continue the next day and this leads to...

2) The discovery of the Book of the Dead. This ancient tome contains many Dark secrets- including methods to raise the dead. It is a Dark Side artifact, of course, and will radiate an uneasy cold to any in its presence. This will be located in a side tomb deep within the tunnels- lying in a secret compartment under the statue of a dog-headed deity (something hinted at in any hieroglyphs the heroes may have examined). It was once one of the sources of Imhotep's power and remains a key 'anchor' for his spirit. Indeed, it is set on top of the sarcophagus that holds Imhotep’s mortal remains. Opening the Sarcophagus reveals a horrific body within- evidently one who had been entombed alive. Heroes may wish to destroy the body- and can be allowed to. It is just a husk now in any case- Imhotep exists as a disembodied spirit.

Evelyn will be keen to study the book- despite the protests of any PCs who might sense its 'evil'. She will relent if hard pressed, though. A few other trinkets may be found in the area, but nothing of extreme value. The group may continue their searching, but eventually, night will fall and people will return to camp to rest.

3) The Medjai pay a visit. The guardians of the city had hoped that the adventurers would be driven off or slain by the traps of the tombs. Meanwhile, they were forced to wait until they could gather strength again (calling in patrols from the far desert). As the heroes emerge from their day’s explorations (with the Book of the Dead in hand), riders will suddenly sweep in from the desert to encircle the camps. They are dressed in the same robes as the men who attacked the group on sail barge in the previous episode. They will impress upon the heroes (and the other adventurer group) their superior numbers. And indeed, they have a fair number of blasters among them as well (even if they are of an antiquated variety). This may very well turn into a battle if the heroes are trigger happy- but that is not the intention of the leader of the Medjai, Ardeth Bey. He will implore the heroes to give up their search and leave now- stating that there is a great evil here. Beni and the other adventurers will be skeptical and even insulting- and have no intention of leaving. Bey says that the group will have until sundown the next day to be on their way- or the Medjai will be forced to attack. With that, the nomads ride back out into the desert.

If shooting DOES break out, the Medjai will fight back. There are perhaps three dozen riders in all. You should let the fight play out as it will. If the heroes gain the upper hand, the Medjai will flee (heading back out to the desert to regroup and draw on reinforcements). If the Medjai gain the upper hand, they will stop short of slaughtering everyone- and will give them the same option of leaving by sundown the next day. If a fight does break out, Beni and the others will retreat into the tunnels- to a better defensive position- essentially abandoning any surviving workers to the nomads.

4) The resurrection of Imhotep. This could go a number of different ways.

a) The heroes open the Book of the Dead or allow Evelyn to. At first, all will be fine. They can examine the writings within, though only Evelyn will be able to decipher them- well, some of them, anyway. They seem to be a mix of ancient Aegyptian and an unknown language (actually a form of ancient Sith). As this happens, the reader may fall under the sway of the spirit of Imhotep- who wants to use them to read a phrase from the book that will release him- or rather 'bring him back' from the dead. This takes the form of a battle of wills- with the reader rolling his or her Willpower or Control skill vs. Imhotep's Alter skill. If Evelyn is doing the examination, she will automatically fail at this. A hero might have a better chance to beat this roll (especially if they use a Force point)- but if they do, Imhotep will use one, himself to counter. The most likely result is that the reader will fall under the spell of Imhotep (he is, afterall, an extremely powerful Force user. If the hero somehow defeats Imhotep (no small feat), then one of the contingencies below might happen.

b) If not allowed to examine the book, Evelyn (or even Jonathan or Gad Hassan) may attempt to steal it during the night and do so. This results in the same battle of wills described above- a battle the NPCs will automatically lose. If the book is under guard by the Heroes, Imhotep may attempt to mind control one of its guards as well (again following the rules above).

c) Beni, or even one of the other explorers (Burne, Henders or Danis) might attempt to steal the book and be bound by the will within to open it.

NOTE: In any of the above instances, the person ‘compelled’ to open the book will be released from the control of Imhotep after doing so. The mummy must focus his energies on his re-incarnation. If the book was stolen by one of the others or an NPC, that person will quickly abandon it after being released from control- wanting nothing to do with it (and allowing it to come back into the possession of the heroes).

d) The heroes may attempt to destroy the book. Unfortunately, it is constructed entirely of metal and, bound as it is, nearly impervious to destruction (at least by any hand-weapons or explosives the party may have on hand). Worse still, any attempt to destroy the book by violent means will- through the act of this violence- release Imhotep.

Assuming one of these things happens and Imhotep is released, stormclouds with gather over the city and the sand itself will begin to roil as if alive. The sand will soon die down. A moaning wind will suddenly burst forth from the tunnel entrances and the ground will tremble. Then everything will grow still. Uneasily still.

5) Should we stay or should we go? Everyone will seem to realize that something BAD has just happened. And on top of that, they know that a large force of Nomads is gathering and preparing to wipe them out. Most sane parties will attempt to flee at this point. Evelyn is shocked and horrified by what has happened (especially if SHE caused it), but will recover quickly and come up with a plan. Though it is a great find, Eve realizes that the book is somehow ‘evil’- she will hope to find some way of destroying it or perhaps some passage within it that will ‘set right’ what happened. In either case, she is at a loss here- but feels that with research in the libraries of Cairos, she may be able to find something that will help.

Beni and his greedy companions plan on fleeing- however, they intend to spend the night in the tunnels hoping to find some last minute loot before setting out in the morning. Some heroes may wish to do this as well- however, doing so will prove to be quite dangerous. Even if the players DO avoid the temptation, Jonathan Carnahan will not. He will slip off (if at all possible) and venture into the tunnels on his own last-minute treasure hunt. Evelyn will, of course, wish to go after him.

6) Mummy on the loose. With Imhotep now ‘freed’ of his hidden tomb- His spirit takes corporeal form- in this case, possessing the mummified remains of someone within the temple complex (there are thousands of bodies here suitable to his needs- including (possibly) his own (assuming the heroes did not destroy it earlier). In an effort to possibly find MORE treasure, Beni’s group splits up. Burne and Beni go one way, Henders and Danis another. Unfortunately for them, Imhotep finds Burne and Beni. The latter flees, terrified, into the tunnels, leaving Burne alone. As luck would have it, any Heroes in the tunnels will be nearby during this attack. They will hear hear screams (Beni’s), then blaster shots (Burne’s), then a horrible strangled cry (Burne’s). Assuming they go to check, the Heroes will be able to interfere with the attack- They will see a horrible, dead form grappling a helpless Burne and seeming to draw ‘energy’ from his body, causing him to wither and shrivel. At this point, Imhotep is relaviely weak (at least versus an entire party) and so they will likely be able to drive him off- and possibly even destroy his body ‘shell’ (at which point, his spirit will flee- being only eerily visible as he streaks off into the darkness to find another host.

If Evelyn is present during this fight, Imhotep may become distracted- either as his material (Mummy) form or as a spirit when that form is destroyed or driven off. In either case he will call out the name “Anck-Su-Namun”- as he recognizes her as such.

If the heroes do NOT help, but investigate anyway, they will find only Burne’s dessicated corpse, seemingly drained of.. well, everything.

Henders and Danis will race to the scene, though too late to affect the attack. They will find either Burne dead or in horrible condition- evidently at the hands of the Heroes. Some quick talking should be able to prevent a fight, however- and the adventurers will have finally had enough- they’re packing up and leaving- and don’t care that Beni is evidently missing.

The sounds of all of this will attract Jonathan as well (assuming the heroes have not already found him) and Evelyn will then urge that everyone flee- since she has no idea how to defeat a ‘spirit’. Their only hope now is to try and get to Cairos and the library there, where maybe here is information on how to do so.

And so everyone decides to flee, abandoning Beni to his fate in the tunnels as they pack up their mounts and ride off into the desert. It is a simple and relatively uneventful trek back to the Canal- and from there, the heroes should be able to hop another Barge back to Cairos. All the NPCs are no doubt a bit twitchy and frightened at this point. If Burne is still alive, he will be in bad condition, lingering on in a shriveled form. Henders and Danis hope that medical treatment in the city will be able to help.


Considering the open nature of this episode, there are a lot of different possibilities of what can happen. I have tried to deal with many of those in the above outline. As anyone reading this will note, there seem to be a lot of ‘pre-ordained’ things in this particular episode. And that’s true. It is one of the difficult things about adapting a movie (with a linear plot) to an adventure where the heroes determine the outcome. But even with this ‘railroading’, there are a lot of options for the heroes to take. Most of those options DO lead to failure of one sort or another, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, sometimes there are ‘no win’ situations (no matter what Captain Kirk says).

The release of Imhotep is vital to the plot of this adventure. And so it is that there are a LOT of different ways this can come about. Ideally, this should happen organically, based upon what the heroes do- and any precautious they take. It is possible that a particularly wary and paranoid group of heroes might thwart any attempt of the mummy escaping. In this case…well, more power to them, but the adventure as written will probably not work. It could work in some other way, however. Say the heroes bury or otherwise hide the book again. In this case, Imhotep’s spirit will ‘call’ to one of the NPCs- and lead them to find it. Which may very well put things ‘back on track’. If the heroes manage to get the book back to Cairos without somehow releasing Imhotep, then it is STILL possible they may do so once they get there. They will miss having the first encounter with the mummy at the tomb, but Imhotep will come to seek them out eventually- he may well even follow them off planet. In these far-ranging cases, the GM is on his own as to what happens next, but It could be a lot of ‘fun’ having an undead Darkside Force user chasing after you, right?

And finally, what if the heroes are particularly stubborn and decide to stay in Hamunaptra and fight the mummy right then and there. Any who do this are going to have a very difficult time. Imhotep can continue to chip away at them, possessing as many corpses as necessary to press the attack. And the heroes will have no real way of fighting him in his spirit form. They also have to worry about their supplies- and the fact that the Medjai will likely come in and try to kill them as well. It is hoped that even such a stubborn group will see the futility of this effort and return to Cairos to seek knowledge.

Friday, September 2, 2011


So, I'm hoping it is all a rumor. But if you're reading this blog, odds are you've heard the latest about the release of the Star Wars movies on Blue Ray. The 'rumor' (which has, according to some folks been 'confirmed' by Lucasfilm) is that they're 'enhancing' Return of the Jedi. How you might ask? During the finale of the movie, there is a scene where the Emperor is frying Luke with Force lightning. In the original film, Vader looks on in stoic silence before suddenly lunging and attacking the Emperor. He hoists him over his head and throws him down a reactor shaft.

Well, now Vader isn't quite so 'stoic'. Evidently Vader now shouts. "No. NOOOOOOOOOOOO!" while doing all of this.

So. Right. Is Lucas actually TRYING to piss off his fans now? I mean, I can understand creative ownership and doing what you want to with 'your' product. I mean, when Vader did that in the Prequel trilogies, I'm sure Lucas thought it was a good and dramatic moment. I saw that movie on opening night- with a room full of hundreds of Star Wars fans all psyched to see the movie. That 'dramatic' scene drew laughs. Out loud laughs from the whole theater. NOT the reaction George was looking for. And I doubt seriously if my particular theater was in the minority on this point. Even so, I can chalk that up to "oh well, guess that didn't work".

But then to take that scene- the one that fans LAUGHED at- and duplicate it in a previous film...well, that just seems stupid. Stubborn even. I mean, was the thought behind it: "Well, they didn't like it before, but this time, for sure!".


Again, I have to say that I still do admire Lucas for a LOT of reasons. Heck, I even have a grudging admiration for him holding his ground AGAINST a lot of fan feedback. But I have to wonder at the reasoning behind things like this.

In any case, its a small thing in my book. I can remember the movies how they were- and I've been 'mentally editing' his stuff for decades now. Here's hoping that this is just a rumor, but even if it isn't- Meh. I'll cope.