Van Richten's Guide to the Ancient Dead
[sterling]7.99 - 95pp
Now this is much more like it. If you've read my review of The Awakening
earlier in the mag, you'll know that I'm not a big fan of Ravenloft adventures
- especially those mythology types. Ravenloft should be more about the unknown,
or rather it should be about the vaguely hinted at - this is what Van Richten
does best. Nothing is certain, all Van Richten can do is provide you with
pointers that may or may not work, thus leaving the path completely open to
interpretation by the DM as he sees fit.
This time around, Uncle Van is delving into the secrets of the Ancient Dead
(mummies to me and you), and there's not even a pyramid in sight - yippee!
Instead, Richy baby explores plenty of other original (and not so) concepts of
mummified corpses playing an increasingly important part in your campaign.
Instead of appearing as your average disease ridden bod, mummies now come in
five different types. It's a bit like the PC level system - the older the
mummy, and its station in life, the more powers it has. And, why restrict the
ancient dead to humans? Now we are able to do battle against elven mummies,
dwarven mummies and.... halfling mummies - okay, so there had to be one problem
with the book; I think my players would never take me seriously again if I
succumbed to this temptation.
The book doesn't just give you new powers etc. It looks at the psychology of a
mummy, what brought it into this state - it doesn't just rely on the old
mummy's curse type of cliché that we're used to (read The Awakening if
you still get turned on by this sought of thing).
However, there is only one reason that you will be bring a mummy into your
campaign - to have your characters eventually either kill or it be killed by
it. This brings me onto the weaknesses section which is very well thought out.
Each mummy has its own weakness, or then again it may not. Sure, all the
standard things will kill 'em, but then that means getting a little too close
to the creature for comfort. It may be better to search and research a
particular creatures weakness. Now this could lead to all kinds of adventures
For those of you who may be a little disappointed, don't worry, there is still
reference made to tombs and curses, but with all the rest of the material in
the book, you may find that you don't really need them as the soul driving
force behind a mummy oriented adventure.
Overall: As in all of the books in this long lived series, TSR have given a new
breath of life (excuse the pun) to a creature who could have spent an eternity
wrapped in bandages and hidden under one of those strange triangular things.
Highly recommended for long winter nights. Good one Skip!
Review by Stig
Product supplied by TSR UK