I used to be a kind and benevolent Dungeon Master (DM). I never killed a Player Character (PC). A Dungeon Master or Game Master (the terms are interchangeable) controls a role-playing game. The DM creates the story, draws the maps, and prepares what happens in the story for the players. The DM acts as all the other characters the PC’s interact. These other characters are called Non-Player Characters or NPC’s. Being a DM does give a license to kill the PC’s; it can sometimes happen, but the DM isn’t out to kill the player’s characters (players put a lot of effort into creating character so just slaughtering the character is frowned upon).
Several months ago, I met a group of people at my local gaming store and began to play the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. We all had a great time and I suggested we actually play the Pathfinder Role Playing Game. They agreed, and we started down the Mummy’s Mask Adventure Path. Pathfinder Adventure Paths are a set of six magazines containing a complete adventure. All six together from a campaign that can take a group of PCs from level 1 (The very beginning of a PC’s career in adventuring) to a high-level character (typically somewhere between level 14-18). Each set of Adventure Paths offers a different flavor of story. While not wanting to spoil the Mummy’s Mask Adventure Path plot, I might drop parts of the plot inadvertently. If you are playing or want to play in Mummy’s Mask or want to play, you have been warned of spoilers.
Mummy’s Mask starts very simply. The ruler of the fictious country has decreed that the city of Wati open its expansive necropolis to plunder by adventurers. The local priests aren’t all that happy about it and have set forth a lottery to ensure that looting is kept as orderly as possible. Enter the PC’s, who happen to have one of the many winning tickets and the adventure progresses from there. As a plot, Mummy’s Mask is very straight forward. The players jump from one tomb to another in search of treasure. One of the treasures they find gets the attention of the villain and the conflict continues till the very end. Because this is incredibly linear (for a game of this type, anyway!), this makes it an excellent beginning campaign for a beginning Dungeon Master. I might have been a DM and GM for many years, but I haven’t run a lot of Pathfinder until this Adventure Path.
I learned a lot going through this Adventure Path. Pathfinder runs best when a map is used, and players mark where they are on the map and I place the monsters they face. Tactics come into play with how far a player can charge to a monster or where a magic spell is placed. At that, Pathfinder becomes a tactical miniature game. So, I had to draw maps…. a lot of maps. I learned to hate drawing outdoor maps or mags in an underground cavern. Rooms with square corners are easy! And some of the maps were expansive. One particular complex took up several tables to lay out. The last complex could paper the floor of one of the bedrooms of our house. The gaming group played on the floor for that one. One thing I would beg for the makers of Pathfinder to do in the future, keep in mind the size of the map! Huge maps look great on paper, not so much when you have to draw it.
This campaign had a lot of firsts for me. It was the first campaign I ever completed. Before either the group or I would lose interest, or one horrible instance, I lost all the player character sheets. I got to play with rules and spells that I only read in the game book (the players are not allowed—BWAAAAHAHAHAHAH!). As the game progressed, the monsters that the players fought got more complicated requiring more attention and took more time. It wasn’t unusual for one combat to take hours of game time, not exactly a bad thing, but sure slowed the game down when we approached the end of the campaign. One particular first, I killed a player character in the game for the first time. The monsters in Mummy’s Mask can get particularly deadly and it seemed to take its toll on the Player Characters. None of the original characters from the very first game survived to the last game. The last character of the original group died in the fifth book when a fellow player character accidently shot him in the back. The deaths piled up till the second to last game of the campaign. At the end of the campaign, I created an “In Memorium” for all the fallen player characters. I figured they deserved it!
I enjoyed Mummy’s Mask for the most part. While I enjoyed its straight-forward approached, the lack of sections in the game where the player characters could interact with other non-player characters outside of combat frustrated me as the game progressed. If your group isn’t into the acting part of role play, this Adventure Path is perfect. The Adventure Path offers little in deviation of the plot, the characters are pretty locked into one path through the game, which can actually make the player characters resent being forced into going to the next complex. Mummy’s Mask, great for beginners but more experienced players might not enjoy it as much.
Next issue: the joy of TORG!!!