I've mentioned in passing my love for 2nd edition's "Mummy Lord." The fact of the matter is that I love the mummy monster in general. I don't know if it's my lifelong fascination with Egypt, my seeing the treasures of King Tut circa age five (when they were in Seattle), or just that I dig cursed movie monsters wrapped in bandages (hiding their Only-My-Imagination-Can-Guess hideousness)...I've just always dug on mummy monsters. Despite cinematic missteps (you know which ones I'm talking about), I'm always ready to throw down some cash on mummy fiction.
So it was that I ran into this post from Matt Jackson the other day that inspired today's idea. Let's talk about the B/X mummy.
For my money, the mummy doesn't get used enough in the B/X game. Heck, undead in general could stand to make a stronger appearance (that's a whole 'nother post...).
|Just waiting to be dropped|
into your game.
The monster as presented in the Cook/Marsh expert set is only slightly evolved from its original appearance in LBB2. Armor class, hit dice, movement, treasure type, number appearing...all its stats are exactly the same. Even the 1d12 damage is from OD&D (from Supplement I, when Gygax introduced variable weapon damage). None of that differs from the creature's earliest incarnation.
Holmes, so far as I can tell, was the first one to introduce the fear trait (similar to Greyhawk's presentation of the lich...in effect, if not actual system), though with the added complication of bonuses for multiple party members (this is pure cinema movie monster stuff, and shows up in the MM and later editions, too). Cook/Marsh ix-nays any such bonus, and I prefer the simpler form of fear found in B/X.
However, I disagree with B/X's "nerfing" of the mummy rot ability. In all editions prior to B/X, a cure disease spell only reduces the effect of the curse (from healing taking ten times as long to healing "only" taking twice as long)...and then only if the spell is cast within an hour of being affected! This makes the mummy's special ability at least as dangerous and permanent as the energy drain of lesser undead (the wights and wraiths): a permanent crippling of the character's ability to heal damage. True, magical curing is unaffected by the earlier (OD&D and Holmes) versions of the rot, but it's still an ongoing penalty as additional resources must be spent to heal the wounded character.
Regardless of how one values the trade-off, the B/X version is still too easily cured for my taste. Any 6th level or greater cleric has access to the spell that will cure mummy rot, and as there's no additional debilitating or detrimental effect, it's unlikely to produce much inconvenience for parties likely to encounter the monster (mummies don't show up till the "levels 6-7" Wandering Monsters table). Yes, mummies are durable and hit hard, but they're still slow and their special ability doesn't strike nearly enough fear in the hearts of PCs...I think most BX players would rather take their chance with a trio of mummies than fight an equal number of wights.
So what to do...up the nasty as AD&D does? In addition to the standard "advancement" of undead (adding an extra HD) in the Monster Manual, we find that the AD&D version of mummy rot causes eventual death (in D6 months) and permanently reduces Charisma by two points for every month affected. ALSO, an individual killed by a mummy immediately "rots and cannot be raised from death" unless both a cure disease and raise dead spell are used within 6 turns (one hour). Well, now!
[it is interesting that a raise dead spell cast upon an AD&D mummy will turn the creature into a normal human "of 7th level fighting ability, naturally." Raise dead spells cast on undead in B/X simply destroy the creatures (unless a save versus spells is made), but AD&D allows for the raising of undead creatures (other than skeletons) to life, so long as they are "newly made undead" and are within the normal time restrictions of the spell]
No, I can't say I'm a huge fan of the AD&D version of the mummy. And while the older form of rot found in Homes and OD&D is probably my favorite for its long-term ramifications, I think I prefer to stick with the B/X version for its immediate impact potential on an adventure. Characters infected with B/X rot receive no benefit from magical healing, including that of potions, magic staffs, and spells; if the rot finds them deep within the bowels of a dungeon (and out of cure disease spells) their ability to survive will be severely curtailed.
Still, it's fun to ratchet up the challenge such creatures present to players. Without going "full Mummy Lord," here's an idea I've got to make the mummy a bit more of a threat to mid-level characters. You'll note that a mummy has pretty much the same combat stats as a 7th level cleric, albeit one with tremendous (18) strength...that's the basis for the following variation:
ANCIENT MUMMIFIED PRIEST*
(all stats as the B/X mummy, except that it saves as C7 and has Treasure Type G)
The magical ritual for creating mummies was developed by ancient priests who wanted deathless guardians watching over their burial tombs for eternity. Some of the more devout priests chose to undergo the ritual themselves, in order to better safeguard the sacred resting places of their kings and high priests.
A mummy priest has all the same powers and abilities as a normal mummy. In addition, a mummy priest may perform the following magical spells, each 1/day, as a 7th level cleric:
1st level: darkness, cause fear
2nd level: hold person, snake charm
3rd level: locate object, curse
4th level: stones to scorpions/scarabs (functions exactly as sticks to snakes)
5th level: insect plague
A cleric may attempt to turn an ancient mummified priest as a normal mummy, but the creature receives a save versus spells to resist the effect.
XP value: 925
|Okay, maybe there wasn't always much|
"choice" in the matter...