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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Watch The Mummy, Because It's One Of The Best Actual-Play Games Out There!

You are probably wondering what the hell I am talking about in that title.  Let's start with the fact that The Mummy is one of my favorite movies ever made.  And its sequel.  It isn't the best movie ever made and the CGI leaves something to be desired (looking at you scorpion king in the Mummy Returns).  Nevertheless, I LOVE these movies.  If you haven't figured it out we're talking about the ones staring Brendan Fraser.


Now, why am I telling you to watch it?  Go read the title again.  No, really.  That's the reason.  If you don't believe me go watch the movies again.  Go ahead I'll wait.  Maybe I'll watch them too.

Ok, good?  Excellent!  This movie represents everything you should be doing at the table when you are playing an RPG game.  There is action, there is investigation, there are NPCs, villains, lackeys, artifacts.  It has it all.  No matter what you look at in that movie you can imagine a player behind one of the characters rolling dice or the DM narrating the results of those dice.

Over all, just look at what makes up this movie.  There is a quest that includes a number of parts that change depending on the success and failure of the main characters.  Throughout, however, the intermediate goals remain similar and related to the overall goal.  The PCs...eerrrm main characters...react to the world and plan very limited amounts, but they stick together and work with one another.  Even Johnathan has his uses and gets serious when he needs to be.  Remember in the Mummy Returns when he has the rifle and saves Ardeth Bay?  Probably has some levels in ranger.

But that's not the only reason I see this as a D&D game.  When O'Connell throws the chair to trip up Bennie?  Perfect!  It's an interrogation and intimidate can be assisted with brute force.  When Johnathan acts like a zombie and sneaks through the possessed crowd?  That trick should never have worked.  Definitely a natural 20 on his bluff roll.  Every scene in that movie inspires me to play or run a D&D game.

What really gets me in these movies, aside from the Egyptian themed Indiana Jones-ness of it, is that you can use this movie as examples on being a better player and a better DM.  What makes Bennie so memorable as a lackey NPC?  What makes Evelyn such a memorable PC?  Hint, its not the high history checks.  Its her stubbornness and determined action.  O'Connell is a reluctant hero and can inspire those who disagree with the choices of the party over-all on how to act while still progressing the game.

For the DM?  There are traps and enemies and obstacles.  Drama is set up and turns-of-events well played out.  The more you watch, the more obvious and predictable a movie it becomes, sure.  Perhaps it is even predictable the first watching.  However, it is basic but varied storytelling.  It gives very good examples of how a DM can structure the way the game flows.  How to trick the players, play off their failures, react to their successes, and do it all without accidentally killing them all but still giving the adventure a challenging and dangerous feel.  Hell, it even has a small NPC that you connect to quickly but ends up dying to help the party (poor Winston).

If I haven't convinced you, please go watch the movies again.  Enjoy the fun adventure that these movies represent.  Have a good time and pick up some tips on how to make a fun, great story at your table.  Realize how quickly things can go from goofy and fun to really serious.  Let that happen at the table.  Let the PCs do something like drive a double decker bus in a chase scene.  It's silly and crazy, but roll with it.  Turn it into a great time.  Just trust me that while many movies can be talked about like a D&D game, The Mummy really FEELS like one.  That's why it is such a good movie and that is why you can take from it many lessons back to your table!

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