Pathfinder Adventure Path #79: The Half-Dead City (Mummy’s Mask 1 of 6) (PFRPG)

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Pathfinder Adventure Path #79: The Half-Dead City (Mummy’s Mask 1 of 6) (PFRPG)
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Chapter 1: "The Half-Dead City"
By Jim Groves

The Mummy's Mask Adventure Path begins with "The Half-Dead City," an exciting new adventure in the pyramid-laden realm of Osirion, Land of Pharaohs! In the city of Wati, the church of Pharasma holds a lottery allowing explorers to delve the tombs of the city's vast necropolis in search of the nation's lost glories. In the course of investigating dusty tombs and fighting their ancient guardians and devious traps, the heroes encounter a group of rival adventurers intent on keeping one tomb's treasures for themselves. At the same time, the heroes learn that a dangerous artifact has been stolen from the tomb. Can the adventurers defeat their rivals, or will they fall to the undead defenders of the city's necropolis?

This volume of the Pathfinder Adventure Path launches the Mummy's Mask Adventure Path and includes:

  • "The Half-Dead City," a Pathfinder adventure for 1st-level characters, by Jim Groves.
  • A double-sized gazetteer of Wati exploring both parts of this vibrant city dedicated to the dead, by Crystal Frasier.
  • A rough welcome to Wati in the Pathfinder Journal, by Amber E. Scott.
  • Five dangerous new monsters, by Jim Groves, Will McCardell, and Michael McCarthy.

Each monthly full-color softcover Pathfinder Adventure Path volume contains an in-depth adventure scenario, stats for several new monsters, and support articles meant to give Game Masters additional material to expand their campaign. Pathfinder Adventure Path volumes use the Open Game License and work with both the Pathfinder RPG and the world’s oldest fantasy RPG.

Cover Art by Tyler Jacobson.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-588-4

The Half-Dead City is sanctioned for use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. The rules for running this Adventure Path and Chronicle sheet are available as a free download (595 KB zip/PDF).

Other Resources: This product is also available on the following platforms:

Fantasy Grounds Virtual Tabletop
Archives of Nethys

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscription.

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5/5


A thematic start to an Osirion AP


So let's start with a full disclosure - I am a massive fan of Ancient Egyptian history and also the 1999 The Mummy film (which I know are only transcendentally linked). If you asked me what I wanted to be when I was around 10 years old, I would have said an Egyptologist.

This was the first AP I bought when it first came out many years ago having only planned/run my own games in the past. I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to read and run this one! Reading through it was great fun (I've read through it at least 4 times in the last 6 years). The organisation is great, the gazetteer is fun and also useful; in my opinion the best gazetteer I've seen.

The game itself starts assuming all the PCs are already in a group signed up to the lottery, so it's important to get your players talking before you start.

Now a lot of people seem to say this first book is just dungeon crawling not roleplaying and they would technically be right. BUT there are so many opportunities for roleplay as there is no time-limit on this competition per see. I've GM'd it irl and the roleplay opportunities were second to none if you try to make the most of Wati. The right role-playing group will absolutely rise to the challenge.

Some of the encounters in this can be pretty deadly for a party of 4 but managed right work well. If you have a slightly larger party, they will do well.

Overall, this is one of my favourites and I absolutely recommend if you're looking for a good atmosphere.


Part 1

5/5

I thoroughly enjoyed GMing this chapter of the campaign. Partly because it is set in Osirian and I am really intrigued by the fantasy Egyptian lore.

The party I am running for is (at time of completion) a human cleric of Nethys, human occulist, dhampyr sorcerer (undead bloodline), elf fighter/bard (archaeologist), dwarf unchained monk, and a human alchemist.

As for the scenario:

The good:

* The premise works. Adventuring parties come together because the tombs of Wati are being opened to explorers. It gives a decent explanation for the players to form their party. No sitting in a tavern this time.

* Three different locations each with it's own distinct feel and set of challenges. Felt very old school to me so it gets a thumbs up.

* Although I have noticed many didn't like it, I love how this has nothing to do with the actual campaign plot until the very last minute of the book. Not every campaign needs to start off face first into the plot.

The Bad:

* This book is basically three dungeon crawls. By the time my players had finished the book I was bored of describing corridors and rooms.

* There are role-play opportunities but not enough. This chapter is very heavy on the combat and the dungeon crawling.

The Ugly:

* Nothing.


Review

4/5

The good thing about THDC is that is set in Ossirion, the land of the exotic and the hot. The bad thing is that THDC starts slow, very slow in fact - the first third of this adventure felt more like a training session for the beginners - few monsters, few traps and some treasure. The speed began to pick up in the second third, but even then the action was uneven, and in the final third THDC did feel like a proper RPG game, but the problem was that there was little connection between the three parts. Yes, it did give us plenty of time to play-act various scenes...but this situation works only when players want to play-act; otherwise, it is just a waste of time. THDC feels more like three different adventures combined into one, and this isn't the best of feelings.


Please Paizo, improve the book binding

4/5

First, I need to comment on the book binding. These are very nice, magazine style paperback books. But, after paging through the first third or so several times prepping for the first session, the pages are falling out. I'm very careful with the book, nothing got pulled on, and I don't flatten the book open nor strain the binding in any way. The glue binding just starts falling apart and now a whole section of pages has fallen out completely. This is incredibly disappointing for what otherwise is a great looking book. It makes me limit how many times I dare crack open the other volumes I've received.

As for the adventure itself:
The other reviews here are right on, the adventure/encounters are good, and if you do some flavor work-up around the theme of tomb-raiding, it can be interesting - but yeah, the whole first couple adventures into the Necropolis just seem to be completely disconnected to the actual story.

I would have liked to see one or two encounters based on exploring outside in the necropolis on the way to something, running into more unexpected troubles (other than the ambush already there, I mean). It does provide some good suggestion-type details on the necropolis to make this on your own. I would suggest cutting the second adventure site in half (both the layout and number of encounters) and having the party deal with two other encounters out in the necropolis based on where they say they go.

It does, however, lend itself well to a group that isn't very experienced in a table-top rpg, and maybe that's what Paizo had in mind here. The distinct chunks of tomb exploration are a great "intro to dungeon delving", if you will. The dungeons, traps, treasure, and random encounters are all there without the risk of being away from town. That can really help a new group. And if you're a GM that makes traps more interesting than default, those fit in pretty well.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

No it should be some character of a guile type profession, like Merisiel, Damiel, Harsk or Lem.

Merisiel: maybe but then again she has gotten a lot of spotlight already. Though she is one of JJs favorites.

Damiel: would work well considering the closeness of Thuvia and the image of him destroying traps in Dungeoneers Handbook.

Harsk: hunt monsters and master of traps, possibly visit the Pahmet.

Lem: every troop of heros needs entertainment! :)

Dark Archive

Rob McCreary wrote:
There is a pattern emerging - any guesses as to the last iconic?

1) All divine casters;

Lini, Harsk, Imrijka
2) All ladies;
Merisiel, Seoni, Lini, Amiri, Imrijka, Lirianne, Feiya
3) All Garundi / south-of-the-border;
Sajan?, Balazar, Lirianne
4) No skill-monkey yet;
Merisiel, Lem, Harsk, Imrijka
5) No arcanist yet;
Seoni, Ezren, Seltyiel, Feiya, Balazar

I'm not convinced that the pattern would be (or should be) all-divine or all-women (since an all woman Iconic party seems as off as an all-male one), so I'd go with Balazar, to cover both the arcanist and Garundi angles, although a tomb-robbing Osirioni group without a dedicated trapfinder does seem off, so Merisiel might be the only possible other option, being the only trapfinding Iconic, unless I'm missing one.

Lirianne or Imrijka might make for an interesting twist, 'though, if the pattern is 'all-women.'

Lem might come closest to ticking off both the arcane caster and skill-monkey boxes, but doesn't feel terribly Garundi, nor does he have that all-important trapfinding that would seem to be almost a requisite for Osirioni tomb-raiding.


All female iconics has been done before, anyway (Carrion Crown)

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Totally need to mix it up and start using some of the 'non-Iconics' on covers. The Dragon Disciple, Mystic Theurge, Duelist, Loremaster, etc. are all awesome looking characters.

Perhaps one of the Advanced Class Guide 'iconics' will actually be / look Osirioni. Right now, the best Osirioni-looking character portraits seem to come from Hugo's deviantart page.

Although there's other stuff out there.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Another big thumbs down for the cover, I'm afraid. After appropriate / thematic illustrations for other region specific APs like Jade Regent, Skull and Shackles, and Reign of Winter, I find this a crushing disappointment as I really hoped this would shout Egyptian / Osiriani. Poor decision, IMO.

Silver Crusade

Set wrote:

Perhaps one of the Advanced Class Guide 'iconics' will actually be / look Osirioni. Right now, the best Osirioni-looking character portraits seem to come from Hugo's deviantart page.

Although there's other stuff out there.

My God YES. To all of that. I am seriously in love with these now.

Osirion fanservice is fine too, as long as it's thematic and appropriate. ;)

It veers heavily toward the stylized, but Genzoman's Ramses picture is an old favorite too. Really useful for Osirioni paladins...


What are the monsters in this one?

Dark Archive

It is a little bit of a challenge to find suitable stuff, since the majority of Egyptian-themed fantasy art seems to be of incredibly scantily clad ladies, video-gamey looking dudes with animal heads and / or anthropomorphic fanservice.

Then again, compared to Seoni, these ladies might as well be wearing burqas. :)


The textile/fashion department at the Borås Högskola (where I spent 3 months being clinically depressed and staring at a ceiling instead of studying information science at another department) reproduced a bunch of Ancient Egypt style cloths about 15 years ago, and going by that, we should get a lot of see-through stuff. Thin doesn't begin to describe it.


Set wrote:
Rob McCreary wrote:
There is a pattern emerging - any guesses as to the last iconic?

1) All divine casters;

Lini, Harsk, Imrijka
2) All ladies;
Merisiel, Seoni, Lini, Amiri, Imrijka, Lirianne, Feiya
3) All Garundi / south-of-the-border;
Sajan?, Balazar, Lirianne
4) No skill-monkey yet;
Merisiel, Lem, Harsk, Imrijka
5) No arcanist yet;
Seoni, Ezren, Seltyiel, Feiya, Balazar

I'm not convinced that the pattern would be (or should be) all-divine or all-women (since an all woman Iconic party seems as off as an all-male one), so I'd go with Balazar, to cover both the arcanist and Garundi angles, although a tomb-robbing Osirioni group without a dedicated trapfinder does seem off, so Merisiel might be the only possible other option, being the only trapfinding Iconic, unless I'm missing one.

Lirianne or Imrijka might make for an interesting twist, 'though, if the pattern is 'all-women.'

Lem might come closest to ticking off both the arcane caster and skill-monkey boxes, but doesn't feel terribly Garundi, nor does he have that all-important trapfinding that would seem to be almost a requisite for Osirioni tomb-raiding.

.

Actually, as I point out in People of the Sands, a Trapfinding Iconic is not necessary for this AP. I still haven't decided how I feel about that...


Hmm, I am interested in this adventure path; but the start sounds a little bland that hat is ridiculous and the crossbow looks like a toy.


Sounds interesting to me;)


Gancanagh wrote:
What are the monsters in this one?

Probably won't find out until March, since it's not released yet...


Rob McCreary wrote:
There is a pattern emerging - any guesses as to the last iconic?
Set wrote:

1) All divine casters;

Lini, Harsk, Imrijka
2) All ladies;
Merisiel, Seoni, Lini, Amiri, Imrijka, Lirianne, Feiya
3) All Garundi / south-of-the-border;
Sajan?, Balazar, Lirianne
4) No skill-monkey yet;
Merisiel, Lem, Harsk, Imrijka
5) No arcanist yet;
Seoni, Ezren, Seltyiel, Feiya, Balazar

I'm not convinced that the pattern would be (or should be) all-divine or all-women (since an all woman Iconic party seems as off as an all-male one), so I'd go with Balazar, to cover both the arcanist and Garundi angles, although a tomb-robbing Osirioni group without a dedicated trapfinder does seem off, so Merisiel might be the only possible other option, being the only trapfinding Iconic, unless I'm missing one.

Lirianne or Imrijka might make for an interesting twist, 'though, if the pattern is 'all-women.'

Lem might come closest to ticking off both the arcane caster and skill-monkey boxes, but doesn't feel terribly Garundi, nor does he have that all-important trapfinding that would seem to be almost a requisite for Osirioni tomb-raiding.

My guess is one from category 3 (all Garundi or southern), probably Lirianne or Balazar. Balazar can send his "summons" ahead to set off any traps, or - as Irnk pointed out - someone can take the campaign trait which allows non-rogues to find magical traps.


MMCJawa wrote:
Gancanagh wrote:
What are the monsters in this one?
Probably won't find out until March, since it's not released yet...

Hmmm it got pushed back so much?


So much? Maybe a month if you go by the February/August release cycle the adventure paths usually try to follow.


Gancanagh wrote:
MMCJawa wrote:
Gancanagh wrote:
What are the monsters in this one?
Probably won't find out until March, since it's not released yet...
Hmmm it got pushed back so much?

Just one month. That's least possible amount it could have gotten pushed.

EDIT: ninja'd!


Last time I checked I would be released this month? 29st?

Scarab Sages

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Gancanagh wrote:
Last time I checked I would be released this month? 29st?

They always debut an AP at Gencon in August, so they try to debut the other one 6 months out from then, in Feb.


Oooh, are we still placing bets on the last iconic?

My guess is. . . Sajan.

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Maybe we'll have a preview Iconic from the ACG as our mystery fourth, one that's actually Osirioni in theme and style? Doubtful, since the art was probably ordered before the appearance of the ACG Iconics was nailed down, but still, not impossible.


March come quickly please! So much cool series and movies come out + a desert based AP!

After the demons AP's which brought little monsters I liked with it in the bestiaries (only the water leaper and the Vescavor queen), i'm hoping these bestiaries of the desert will bring with it huge numbers of awesome creatures I can use much like the Winter AP's bestiaries had, the only thing that could go wrong is when there are too much humanoid undead in it...


Gancanagh wrote:

March come quickly please! So much cool series and movies come out + a desert based AP!

After the demons AP's which brought little monsters I liked with it in the bestiaries (only the water leaper and the Vescavor queen), i'm hoping these bestiaries of the desert will bring with it huge numbers of awesome creatures I can use much like the Winter AP's bestiaries had, the only thing that could go wrong is when there are too much humanoid undead in it...

What water leaper?


The creature with bat wings, 3 eyes and a tadpole body in the 4th Demon AP's bestiary, it has a difficult name in there Lamygny or something, I know the creature as Water Leaper tho.


Gancanagh wrote:

The creature with bat wings, 3 eyes and a tadpole body in the 4th Demon AP's bestiary, it has a difficult name in there Lamygny or something, I know the creature as Water Leaper tho.

Cool didn't know that

Scarab Sages

Hey I have a legit question. I am planning on running this, and so far I have a heavy anti undead party. Will this approach, though prudent, make it a cake walk? Granted this has likely been done before in other circumstances, when the players gear up specifically for the theme of the AP. Thanks!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

My guess is Seoni, and "black girls" as the pattern. :D

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Malbraxis wrote:
Hey I have a legit question. I am planning on running this, and so far I have a heavy anti undead party. Will this approach, though prudent, make it a cake walk? Granted this has likely been done before in other circumstances, when the players gear up specifically for the theme of the AP. Thanks!

Rob will have a better answer, but in the interim, I think it will vary from chapter to chapter. Certainly undead will be regular threat, but your PCs will be challenged by other threats routinely.

I think you'll find that sometimes the encounters play to their strengths, but there may be other times that they're disadvantaged by that same specialization. I hesitate to say more and spoil anything though...


Does this adventure have a strong ancient Egyptian flavor?

The cover image and key words in the description - tombs, skeletons, rival adventurers - sounds a bit generic.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

What keywords would you think would be better? Pharaohs? It's there. Pyramids? There too. What exactly do you think is missing?

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Jeven wrote:

Does this adventure have a strong ancient Egyptian flavor?

The cover image and key words in the description - tombs, skeletons, rival adventurers - sounds a bit generic.

It does have a strong Egyptian flavor, regardless of what you take from the description, and so shall the entire Adventure Path.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Did you guys make any conscious changes from how real world Egyptian names go, to how Osirion names work? Or are you pretty much copypasting the rules for Egyptian names over to Osirion? I think it would be sort of cool if Osirion names had some kind of slight, but *consistent* differences from Egyptian names. Small enough that it wouldn't ruin the Egyptian flavor, but big enough that you'd notice that, hey, this isn't just Egypt copypasted to a fantasy world.


Great idea Samy.

Scarab Sages

Thanks for the reply Mr Groves!

Now for another question...

Will this use the medium advancement track? I am assuming that the experience of all the encounters will add up to leveling the party at the right time..

I ask because I have never ran an AP, and when I read the first installement of legacy of fire it seemed the party would not be the right level XP wise..

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I've always thought that all APs are written for the medium advancement track. (Please correct me if I'm wrong.) However, totalling every single xp reward will overlevel you slightly because they are written with the assumption that PCs may not clean out every room and find every trap and so on, so a "normal" run that doesn't score every single reward would get the appropriate xp, and a "perfect" run that finds all the xp rewards would get more than planned.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Yes all the AP's are set for the medium advancement track for 4 characters


Malbraxis, I believe the Legacy of Fire adventure path and the ones released before it all ran on what would be the fast advancement track in the context of the advancement tracks Pathfinder RPG has in place, since they were written for D&D 3.5. All adventure paths written for the Pathfinder RPG - of which Council of Thieves was the first - are written with the medium advancement track in mind.


So, I want to restart my AP subscription in time for Mummy's Mask. When I try to sign up, I can only get Book 5 or Book 6 of WotR.

Do I have to wait until another WotR book comes out to be able to sign up for Mummy's Mask, or is there a way I can do it now?


mbauers wrote:

So, I want to restart my AP subscription in time for Mummy's Mask. When I try to sign up, I can only get Book 5 or Book 6 of WotR.

Do I have to wait until another WotR book comes out to be able to sign up for Mummy's Mask, or is there a way I can do it now?

You must wait until they are shipping out WotR book 6. You can only start a subscription with the currently shipping item in the line or the next one coming up.


Thought so, but I figured I'd ask. Thanks!

Sovereign Court

Malbraxis wrote:

Thanks for the reply Mr Groves!

Now for another question...

Will this use the medium advancement track? I am assuming that the experience of all the encounters will add up to leveling the party at the right time..

I ask because I have never ran an AP, and when I read the first installement of legacy of fire it seemed the party would not be the right level XP wise..

It is a good bet the AP will use Medium advancement track. I dont use XP anymore but came up with a loose guide that works well for me. I play as is with 4 players. When I have 5 PCs I max HP on enemies and starting at about level 7 hold them back a level as they proceed in the AP.

Sovereign Court Senior Developer

What others have said is correct, but to confirm, Mummy's Mask will assume the Medium XP track for 4 PCs, as we currently assume for all of our APs.

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Hey everyone! Jim Groves was kind enough to sit down with me for an interview at The Encounter Table where we talk a little bit about the Half-Dead City, freelance writing, and a more. Check it out :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

@Jim Groves and Rob McCreary and others involved:

Do you think a crossover between Mummy´s Mask and Kingmaker set in the desert/Osirion setting on slow XP track could be a good idea? Perhaps foes and encounters adapted to that in Kingmaker?

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Hayato Ken wrote:

@Jim Groves and Rob McCreary and others involved:

Do you think a crossover between Mummy´s Mask and Kingmaker set in the desert/Osirion setting on slow XP track could be a good idea? Perhaps foes and encounters adapted to that in Kingmaker?

I am not sure and I don't want to be disingenuous. I'm not seeing a Mummy's Mask and Kingmaker crossover, myself personally. Please understand, however, that my insight into Chapters Two through Six is limited.

But!!!

I can see an Osiriani Kingmaker style campaign.

What I can say about the Mummy's Mask AP is that the support articles and Bestiaries will certainly be an essential resource, along with the new Player Companion and Campaign Setting books. Likewise without a doubt you'll be able to cherry-pick some great encounter ideas from the AP itself.

The idea that immediately springs to mind is that the Ruby Prince extends a land grant to re-occupy the City of Tumen, which temporarily became the Osiriani capital during the time of the Four Pharaohs of Ascension. Tumen is a ruin, but it is a sturdy stone ruin quite suitable for occupation with some caveats. It's also huge. With many secrets, mysteries, and dangers. But structurally intact!

There would be some big challenges. First of all, sooner or later the PCs would have to negotiate with the elemental tribes to stop trying to cover it up when the khasmin storms kick up. That might be making an arrangement with the Goanron Triumvirate or obtaining protection and support from the Aisi (more likely).

Then there is the gradual clearing of the lower sections. Establishing a safe trade route and water supply. It has.. possibilities. Also a lot of adventure hooks, exploration, discovery, and dungeon fightin' opportunities. Lost Cities of Golarion has a nice section on running a Tumen campaign, broken down into sections by PC level, that could be Kingmaker flavored.

*******************
Alternately, you could pick a less foreboding place. Perhaps the Ruby Prince wants to develop a new settlement along one of the rivers? Perhaps there is a competing interest?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

That sounds already great! After Jade Regent we will soon be ready for a new AP and were planning for something post apocalypse desert like, but Kingmaker in the desert could make a good sandbox too.

I´ll spoiler this:

After i read about the rival party in the description of the first mummy´s mask volume and reading the other descriptions, i thought that party could be in service to another competing empire. The mummy and her cult could just be another threat there.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Do we know all 4 iconics yet? Does it normally take this long to find out?

Sovereign Court Senior Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Nate Z wrote:
Do we know all 4 iconics yet? Does it normally take this long to find out?

We've already revealed Alahazra, Seelah, and Kyra. And the last iconic is: Balazar!

Now you know all four. :)

Dark Archive

Dang no Lini (Ah well always Iron gods for her.)


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So a paladin, cleric, oracle, and summoner.

I hope the iron gods AP will have the gunslinger, alchemist, druid, and sorceress(or barbarian).

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