Exotic Encounters: Mummies
Publisher: Necromancers of the Northwest
Cost: 99 Cents
Page Count: 9
Release Date: 09/20/2013
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com
Long time readers knows I’m a huge proponent of mummies and that I feel they are an exceptionally hard type of undead to get right – especially in a fantasy RPG or in video games. In both cases one of the only times I’ve seen it done right is with the Ravenloft campaign setting for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Second Edition where an entire island was devoted to Egyptian culture and folklore and so the mummy was used wonderfully. Stone Prophet remains one of my favorite SSI video games and Ankhtepot one of my favorite D&D big bads. Unfortunately that’s one of the only times I’ve seen mummies done right for a fantasy RPG. Sure, horror games like Call of Cthulhu, and Chill have used them masterfully and White Wolf of course has done a full fledged Mummy based RPG not once, but FOUR different times, with each one being exceptional, but fantasy? Nope – they just have a hard time making mummies work in a world filled with paladins, rust monsters, beholders and more.
I don’t think any system has even done mummies worse than Pathfinder though. This is mainly due to the OGL which lets anyone write a piece on mummies and publish it. The end result is a lot of third rate third parties releases that water down the product. It doesn’t help that Paizo‘s core mummy from the Pathfinder Bestiary was terribly done either. Case in point: Monster Focus: Mummies was one of many mummy supplements for Pathfinder that have come out, and at best I could say it was mediocre and inoffensive. So when Necromancers of the Northwest announced their Mummy version of Exotic Encounters, I was both hopeful and skeptical. Unfortunately, while a huge step up from Monster Focus: Mummies and even Paizo’s take on the mummy, what’s here still isn’t very good.
Let’s talk page count first. When you see in the header that there are nine pages for this supplement, you’re probably expecting a lot of content, stat builds and the maybe some DM tips on how to run a mummy, right? Well, wrong. There are only THREE page of content – all of which are merely stat builds. So what are the other pages? A very blurry front cover, a back cover that is equally blurry, a credits page, an introduction with the same exact verbiage as on the back cover, and two pages for the OGL. That’s…really sad when you think about it.
So what do you get for your buck? Three mummy variants – two of which are good in theory but poor in follow through and one that outright sucks. The first is the Relic-Bound Mummy, which is a mummy who exists to guard a treasure throughout eternity. If you steal, break or otherwise mishandle the treasure, it comes after you with a vengeance. It’s also able to come back from complete destruction – each time more powerful than the last. This is the best of the mummies, but it feels incomplete. For example, any antagonist that comes back more powerful each time you kill it, should have some sort of fear aura or terror check after you realize that even after your burned it into ashes, it comes back up and is simply more determined to cause a TPK. As well, the CR and stats seem a bit low for the concept. I also HATED that the Mummy is listed as Lawful Evil, when by the description for the creature and why it exists clearly makes it a Lawful Neutral creature. Honestly, being undead doesn’t make something automatically evil. Especially with mummies. What’s here is a good idea as a rough draft, but it really needed to be fleshed out and retooled substantially before considered a final release stat block.
The second mummy is a “Curse Lord Mummy” who has an aura that acts as a constant “Bestow Curse” spell and also has the ability to have “Dire Curses.” This plays in well with the “Mummy’s Curse” motif, but I feel the dire curses are far too weak for what they are supposed to do. The DCs are too low and the effects are too easy to get out of. Once again we also see a creature described as a protector and guardian…given a Lawful Evil alignment. That’s just sloppy. Lawful neutral is once again the way to go with the description, but the writers just fell into the “Undead equals evil” trope and the piece suffers for that.
Finally we have a “Possessed Mummy” who isn’t a mummy at all, but rather a corpse possessed by a negative plane based being. That’s just lazy, especially when there are so many other things we could have seen. Why not do a mummy who is a priest of Ra and thus suffers none of the usual undead issues against fire, sunlight and even turning. What do players do when the Mummy laughs in the face of your cleric and says, “Not only is my faith stronger than yours, but my God is far older?” That’s a potential freak out situation for players. What about bog mummies who are naturally created mummies through accident rather than ritual? What about a mummy with levels of a sorcerer? These are such obvious things, but they are ignored for basic, unimaginative and uninteresting ideas that have been done many times before over the past few decades, and far better than what we get here.
Look, I generally love Necromancers of the Northwest and along with Rite Publishing I feel they are the best third party Pathfinder providers, but this was uncharacteristically terrible. Sure it’s only a buck, but only a third of the piece is actually content and what’s here is kind of poor. I’m still looking forward to Liber Vampyre, Second Edition when it comes out next month, and I’m generally a fan of the Exotic Encounters supplements, but this was just underwhelming at best. Take note Pathfinder writers – go pick up a copy of Mummy: The Curse and Van Richten’s Guide to the Ancient Dead (AD&D 2e) if you want to see mummies done right. Otherwise, you’re just adding to the long line of bad mummy based products for Pathfinder.