I’ve been playing in the new World of Darkness (Now named Chronicles of Darkness) for about ten years, and I have almost as much experience with some portions of the Classic World of Darkness (specifically Vampire: The Masquerade, Dark Ages, and Hunter: The Reckoning).
I didn’t back the Kickstarter of this game, and purchased my copy from print on demand.
I would like to preface this review with a very important caveat: I loved the idea of this game, and I intend to run it. However, don’t know if I will love this game after I run it, and that concerns me (you’ll see that reflected in my review below).
1.) Size and Production Quality
The book is standard RPG size, and fairly solid on page count (286). The interior is color technically, but seems to stick to sepia tons, and no real color outside of that. The cover is very minimalist, like any White Wolf/Onyx Path production, and fits.
The print on demand quality of the pages is good enough, but they do feel a little thin.
Here’s the real point knock. Some of the fonts chosen in the book are practically unreadable. There’s whole sections of flavor and story that I can’t read because it’s too much work and strain to try to piece together what it’s saying through the terrible font. No good. Having whole pages unreadable is exceptionally frustrating.
The art is solid, (as any OPP/WW production, again), and is fairly rife with Egyptian themes, mummies, and entertaining illustrations of the powers and abilities mummies wield. The sepia tone was a little too much for me, and it obscured some detail on pages I wanted to see, but overall, it was well done.
Here’s where the game both shines and struggles. The explanation of where Mummies come from (proto-Egypt, cosmic magic, spiritual journey to face the very core of your identity), is intriguing, excellent and provides great fodder. The idea of the Judges, missions, and continually being reanimated as this sort of “immortal troubleshooter” on Earth is clever, fits the theme well and very fun. The overall setting was a joy to read, and I loved every aspect of it.
The powers Mummies can wield are fantastic. They’re thematic, powerful, interesting, and cleverly designed. However, it seemed that a good number of them are fairly rules heavy, and lack some of the “single roll resolution” that I loved about previous nWoD/CoD games. Without a reference/cheat sheet, they could quickly become unmanageable.
The reason they can become unmanageable, is due to the sheer power that Mummy’s start at. In a twist on the regular World of Darkness, where creatures grow in strength over time and experience, Mummies start the game at the height of their power, and dwindle and diminish over “The Descent“. You start as what might be one of the most powerful beings in the World of Darkness, and as you strive to accomplish the mission that awoke you, you slowly lose your power to do so.
The idea of no memories is excellent, and the use of Memory as a stat to drive roleplaying and growth is well done, and well delivered.
Here’s the bad. Players get little to no say in the background of their character, and instead, learn it as the Storyteller unfolds it throughout the game. This puts the onus of story telling, creation, and almost ALL of that on the Storyteller. Player’s can only react, and try to learn what their characters are and mean without a lot of guidance at times.
The sheer power level Mummy’s start at will make the game challenging for new players to the World of Darkness, and I can see them quickly becoming overburdened and overwhelmed.
Now again, I haven’t ran it yet, this is a read-through review. It’s possible in play this issues would melt away, and it would work just fine. But the idea of running and starting a Mummy chronicle I find daunting, even after a read through.
4.) Game Master Section
Well, if a game ever needed a GM Section, Mummy: The Curse is one. The big twists of the Mummy setting are here, and and you discover that as player’s powers grow, and memories return, the setting has a BIG SECRET that they can find out. The book prefaces this section with a “GM ONLY” warning, and that warning fits. All of the GM advice works, and in practice, would help alleviate some of my worries about running this game.
So here’s my question. If my players find out THE BIG SECRET does that impact their desire, and my ability to tell other stories in Mummy? If we go through everything, and they learn all the secrets, why will they want to come back to this setting (which I think is excellent).
On a read-through, Mummy feels more like a one-shot campaign book with a special set of rules, then an actual core-book for ongoing adventures.
5.) Pre-Made Adventure
The premade adventure is great and really drives home the feel of ancient history, Mummies, and powers beyond belief. Can’t complain or knock it.
Total Score: 34/50
So, here’s the weird thing. I love this game on paper, but in practice I simply don’t know. Is it something I’d bring out once, and then put back on the shelf? I’m really unsure, and while the score might seem low, the game does pass the biggest test of any RPG:
“Am I willing to put the time into trying this game?” And the answer is unequivocally yes. It’s a great game, setting, and book from Onyx Path and White Wolf.
I’m just not sure it fits my group or my needs.