Originally Posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2011/08/04/tabletop-review-the-marylebone-mummy/
The Marylebone Mummy is an adventure for the Victoriana 2nd Edition RPG, intended for 5 or 6 1st level characters. The adventure starts off with the characters receiving a mysterious invitation to an Egyptian artifact display, being held by a Dr. Reginald Cartwell. But this is not just any exhibit, it will also involve Dr. Cartwell unwrapping and examining the remains of a mummy. This elaborate exhibition has attracted the attention of others that intend on stealing the mummy.
The first two acts of the adventure are role playing heavy. The first involves the character receiving the mysterious invitation and warning of the potential theft and the second is Dr. Cartwell’s party. If your players want lots of combat and a high body count, they may find themselves bored, mingling at the dinner party. However, if your group loves roleplaying, this adventure is for them. They’ll find themselves interacting with a variety of well-developed characters. A backstory is included for each partygoer as well as future adventure hooks. I like this because you never know when a group may latch onto some random NPC and that character goes from being a bit player to a focal point in the campaign. With the addition of the plots hooks, you can easily facilitate that. You will also find some of the characters are the focal point of other adventures, and a reference is given to refer to that adventure for a more detail background.
A word of caution though, some of the adventures mentioned were written for the 1st Edition of Victoriana, which is a completely different game system. So any stats or game mechanics mentioned in those books would be useless to a second edition player. On one hand, referencing the older modules is nice, letting a first edition player who moved to second edition make use of their older adventures, but for a second edition player, they would be buying the module strictly for the fluff and would have to rework the mechanics to make it playable. You can look from a different perspective too – Cubicle 7 has avoided re-releasing the same material, with the only difference being the rules. So really, the referencing the older materials can be a good or bad thing depending on your perspective.
Everything you would need to run the adventure mechanically is placed at your fingertips, letting the GM focus on setting the scene and roleplaying instead of searching for mechanics. There are a few places, for example, where fire is involved, so the page number to the fire rules in the core rulebook are listed in that encounter. This is a nice touch, directly pointing the GM to the rules instead of making the GM search through their rulebook to find the need section. This is something all modules should do, have the game mechanics listed in the encounter or, when the mechanics are too long, have a location listed where the mechanics can be easily found.
The art in the adventure is similar that of the core rulebook. Outside of the cover painting, the entire book is black and white. You’ll notice quite a few line drawings resemble hieroglyphics, adding to the Egyptian theme of the book. The presentation is attractive and thematic to the ancient Egyptian plot.
But what is disappointing, though, is the lack of maps in the module. Several buildings interiors are describe, as the interior of Dr. Cartwell’s home, but you will not find a single diagram of any building. Nor will you find a map detailing the streets involving the footchase. Maybe I’m just a sucker for maps, but I really think having floor plans for the few key buildings would make the adventure even easier to run, especially if you have a gaming group like mine that uses maps and minis for everything, if they are not required.
As an added bonus, at the back of an adventure an added beastman race usable by players is included, called the Apophid. This is a snake like beastman race, with Egyptian ties. Reading the background description, these characters seem more suited for NPC, since they usually have criminal ties and are working to undermine society. Not to mention that Mohammedans see them as emissaries of the devil. So this should be treated, in my opinion, as a monster race that is playable by the characters. In the right situation I would allow a player to run this race, but I wouldn’t allow it in every game I played in.
Overall, The Marylebone Mummy is a fine adventure. It can serve as a campaign starting point and Dr Cartwell’s party serves as an easy way to introduce the characters to a lot of potential plot hooks. Just realize that the first half of the game is role playing heavy and may bore your hack ‘n slash style players. If you don’t require maps and have a group that loves roleplaying not rollplaying, The Marylebone Mummy is a good way to kick off a Victoriana campaign.