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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

RMA: Mummies

Keeping up with the Halloween theme, here's another classic monster.

Mummies aren't rare in D&D, but they aren't always a "go-to" monster, even for undead. I think it's partially because of the exotic nature of the trope. We usually think of pyramids and deserts when we think of these relics, but many cultures besides the Egyptians practiced forms of mummification of their dead.

Unlike other powerful undead, eg vampires or specters, mummies aren't necessarily intelligent or mindless. I've probably seen them most often played more like a ghost: either haunting some ruin or acting as an agent of vengeance against those who would defile a tomb or temple. 

Mummies are quite frankly among the scarier of the undead in classic D&D. Before we get into it, let's review the stats:

Mummy (from Cook):

AC: 3
HD: 5+1*
Move: 60' (20')
Att: 1 + disease
Dmg: 1d12 + disease
No. App: 1d4 (1d12)
Save: F5
Morale: 12

From a purely combat perspective, Sir Wraps-a-lot here is reasonably respectable. He's slow, but that makes sense (shambling undead, anyone?). His AC plus the normal undead immunities and decent hit dice mean he can take a fair bit of punishment, too.

A brief side note: I believe the Mummy is the only attack that uses the d12 damage die (as opposed to 2d6 or some such) in all of BX.

Where the mummy gets really formidable are in its special abilities.

  1. In keeping with an earlier post about the undead being scary, it's worth pointing out that mummies actually have a fear effect rule. Just seeing a mummy forces a Save vs. Paralysis or the character freezes up. If the mummy moves out of sight or attacks somebody, the effect is broken, but still. I do like the idea of a character just locking up and not alerting the party because he's too scared to speak!
  2. In addition to the 1d12 damage, the mummy's touch infects the victim with a rotting disease. What's curious about the disease is that it doesn't kill, it just prevents magical healing and slows any natural healing to 10x as long. According to Moldvay, normal healing = 1d3 hp/day of full rest. [B25] This would mean 1d3 per ten days of rest! Best find yourself a 6th level cleric and get a Cure Disease if you want those festering wounds to close!
  3. Lastly, in addition the usual undead immunities like Sleep, Charm, or Hold spells, the mummy can only be harmed by fire or magic (spells or weapons) and these only do half damage! I always think of mummies going up like a bonfire, but in truth they are quite resistant to flames. 
  4. While it's true that a mid-level or higher cleric can automatically turn or even destroy mummies, if you are in their lair (lost temples and the like), there can be up to a dozen of them! That's 60 hit dice to turn, and that's not gonna happen. 
Mummies get a pretty generous treasure type (D). It's not "dragon hoard" levels of loot, but potentially quite profitable. Which is in keeping with why tomb robbers would bother with the risk of digging these linen-swaddled nightmares up at all!

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