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Minireview: Shifting Sands (Pathfinder "Mummy's Mask" 3/6)

Shifting Sands finally moves the “Mummy’s Mask” into its main plotline, a bit belatedly in my opinion. Here, the PCs search for an ancient vanished library in order to do some research about what they are up against. This is a refreshing change of pace from the normal “kill stuff and take loot” approach taken in D&D -style modules. In order to find the library, there is an initial “wilderness hex crawl” section which is potentially quite nice, though the GM would need to keep tight control on the game flow in order not to frustrate the players. One small problem is that the encounters here have little to no connection with the main plot, so they should be kept to a small number. Then, later, in the library, the module has a research minigame to reflect how well they do. And, of course, there’s combat.

It’s not bad at all, and as noted finally zeroes in on the “main plot”, which has been quite elusive and mostly invisible to the players up to now. There is a fun NPC here, but since it’s a single central figure, care should be taken not to make the NPC a source of frustration – the PCs will need to handle social interactions carefully, here. Of course, the fact that the module has social interaction and not just endless combat is a plus point.

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Minireview: Empty Graves (Pathfinder "Mummy's Mask" 2/6)

Empty Graves continues the “Mummy’s Mask” storyline, and after a lackluster first episode I have to say that this is more like it. It’s not problem-free, but at least it now starts the actual main plot (though that is still quite hidden to the players).

The events of the first episode triggered an attack on the city of Wati by and undead horde, and the PCs are expected to track down the source. On the plus side, this opens up Wati into a nice sandbox environment and expands on the (somewhat meager) location selection of the first adventure. There are neat little set pieces, and the fact that there are multiple plot lines running at the same time gives the GM some help for providing events for the PCs to tackle. On the minus side, I have a slight problem with PC motivation here; in the beginning, they are expected to be tomb raiders (of sorts), and now they are suddenly expected to save the city? Why don’t they just say “well, screw this!” and get the hell out of Dodge? Some GM intervention may be needed there. Also, I’m a bit worried that the main plot is too obscured here, and that the players will probably finish this with (still) no real idea of what is going on. This is not good for player buy-in. In any case, it’s a decent module and better than part one at least.

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Minireview: The Half-Dead City (Pathfinder "Mummy's Mask" 1/6)

Ok, start of a new adventure path from Paizo. This time it’s the Egyptian-themed (sorry, “Osirian-themed”) “Mummy’s Mask”, kicking off with The Half-Dead City. While there’s potential here, it ends up being a fairly “meh” affair, unfortunately.

The PCs play “tomb raiders” of a sort; the half-necropolis town of Wadi holds a lottery allowing explorers to venture out into the tomb complex (for reasons which didn’t really seem all that believable to me, but whatever). There are multiple parties on site, so the PCs have plenty of opportunities to interact with other raider/explorer groups. They get send to various tombs, and while the encounters there are ok, there’s little to really grab the attention. Also, I would have liked to see more general encounters and events in Wadi, not just a bunch of tombs and a “mission hub”.

The biggest problem is that this whole thing has almost nothing to do with the main plot. It’s not bad, and neither is it especially good, mostly it’s just irrelevant.

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