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11/27/2016 8:47 am  #1

My Ancient Egyptian game (blame Narmer - he asked about it)

My Ancient Egyptian game uses real history as a backdrop, but is not bound by it. Some things are changed to make a better game. I suppose the game is about one third history, one third Hollywood Egypt and one third pulp. I use the stories of Kamose, Archpriest of Anubis by Keith Taylor as one source of inspiration. Also, Lovecraft is part of the mix.

 The setting is not long after the death of Pharaoh Akenaten. He had renounced the old gods and instituted the sole worship of the solar disc, the Aten. After Pharaoh Akenaten’s death, his son, Pharaoh Smenkhkare ruled for no more than six months before illness took him also. Smenkhkare’s brother, Tutankhamun, aged 9, now rules Egypt. There are two co-regents: Ay, who was Akenaten’s father in law and is Tutankhamun’s grandfather; and General Horemheb, commander of the army. Ay was an enthusiastic worshiper of the Aten, who has found it politic to embrace the old gods again. Horemheb loathes Ay and hates unconverted Atenists, hunting them down and persecuting them. Both men secretly desire to be Pharaoh.

[This is the setting – not necessarily what the real situation was at the time. There is a theory that Pharaoh Smenkhkare was actually Akenaten’s wife, Nefertiti, ruling as Pharaoh. This has been a hotly disputed era of history – but I thought the above set up would give a good game.]

In the game the PCs work for General Horemheb. One is the only honest medjay (policeman) on the force, and the other is a reprieved tomb robber. The General uses them to root out corruption and threats to the state, and threats to his own position. This will include working against the schemes of co-regent Ay. Unconverted Atenists are seen as a major threat….but there are worse.

The religious conflict of the time has shaken some people’s faith, and agents of entities that we know as beings of the Cthulu mythos are working to increase their followers, power and influence. General Horemheb is aware of this threat also, and so will use the PCs to deal with mythos foes. For their part, mythos cultists of various sorts have infiltrated both the fugitive Atenist networks and the priesthood of the established Egyptian gods. The General is convinced that there are ‘things man is not supposed to know’, so he tells the PCs very little!

The first game was a simple chase after an escaped Atenist prisoner, across the desert to Koser on the Red Sea coast. The Atenist had gone mad working in the quarry where he was held, and had heard the voice of Great Cthulhu in his dreams. After his escape he used both Atenist contacts and his new cultist allies to gain a magical scroll and set off to summon Dagon to an underground lake under the tomb of a 7th Dynasty demon hunter. Most of this was (and remains) unknown to the PCs.  They simply tried to catch up with the fugitive while being attacked by assassins and ghuls on the Koser road, until the final confrontation by the underground lake (enter hordes of Deep Ones).

We have played two further sessions, both set back in Thebes. The first started out as a murder mystery, where the murderer was a secret Atenist. This led to the discovery of a secret Atenist chapel set up in a desecrated royal tomb, which was also being used as a store for stolen goods. An Atenist service was terminated with extreme prejudice, but two bound and gagged prisoners were executed while the PCs explored another part of the tomb complex – before they could be questioned.

The last session had the players following up leads to the Atenist underground and trying to find out how far corruption goes in the police force of Thebes. The session ended with them kidnapping the medjay commander for the Thebes docks and making him ‘disappear’. He is to be interrogated about his own crimes and also how far the Chief of Medjay is involved in theft and the Atenist underground.

The players have so far uncovered little of what is really going on, but they do know that there is an organised crime network in Thebes which seems to be involved somehow with the Atenist underground. The head of this crime ‘family’ is a man called Surere. He works through trusted deputies and is rarely seen. He is allegedly something of a scholar, and has spent the last few years studying ancient texts. He is known for ruthlessness and brutality – and rumour has it that he has apparently become practiced in magic.

The Atenist underground includes ordinary folks on the street up to rich nobles with political influence.

As well as trying to discover the extent of covert Atenist worship, the players have to deal with the  corrupt and untrustworthy police force. One of the PCs has been given the job of reforming the Medjay police and is recruiting a small group of medjay he can rely on (who the players refer to as The Untouchables.) However, he still technically reports to the Chief of Medjay, who he knows is corrupt.

The way it’s shaping up, it’s a sword and sorcery, detective, spy, gangbusting, political, horror game!

Last edited by Gruntfuttock (11/27/2016 8:48 am)

My real name is Steve Hall

11/27/2016 11:18 pm  #2

Re: My Ancient Egyptian game (blame Narmer - he asked about it)

Now this is really cool.

With Aten as a major theme linked to the antagonists, you could use the sun as a thematic device. A major heatwave, bringing failed crops and disease. PCs find it too hot to walk very far or doing anything strenuous. And the sun is just hanging there, bloated, like an eye in the sky.

I wonder where the campaign is going....

NPC: "You have been granted the greatest of honours. There are rumours of a plot against the young Pharaohs life. You will protect him while he goes hunting in the delta. You realise, of course, that the slightest harm to even a hair on his head or a bump on his shin will mean your execution!"
Players: "Drat!"

Last edited by Peter (11/27/2016 11:18 pm)


11/28/2016 4:09 am  #3

Re: My Ancient Egyptian game (blame Narmer - he asked about it)

They haven't met Pharaoh yet - although they did sit in on a meeting between Ay and Horemheb where the two co-regents were wonderfully considerate and polite to each other (while clearly wishing the other one dead).

​Currently it's summer, so the rays of the sun are particularly trying come the afternoon - when the streets are near deserted and most folks are having a nap. The perfect time for a little B&E, or murder.

As for the direction of the campaign - well, I leave that choice up to the players.

​BTW, not yet had a chance to review your Mirkwood document, but it's on my to do list. I had a quick scan and it looks good on a first pass.

Last edited by Gruntfuttock (11/28/2016 4:16 am)

My real name is Steve Hall
     Thread Starter

12/29/2016 7:38 pm  #4

Re: My Ancient Egyptian game (blame Narmer - he asked about it)

This is really cool!

Where's my axe?

1/02/2017 11:17 am  #5

Re: My Ancient Egyptian game (blame Narmer - he asked about it)

After 5 sessions my players have finished the first story arc of this game.

​You will be pleased to know that they have cleaned up Thebes - breaking up the 'godfather' Surere's criminal organisation and uncovering the extent of corruption within the police. They also captured the two most wanted Atenist fugitives and have got leads to their network within the nobles of the court.

​Oh, and Surere turned out to be a Deep One Hybrid (which was why he was rarely seen of late) who was about to undergo the change, and was trying to hand over his mob to his trusted leuitenant, before going to the Delta and so the sea. The PCs stopped him getting there - fatally.

The last session was all blood and guts.

​The thief had learned magic and rapidly grew reckless, summoning a demon no less (with a bit of help). This left her drained of power and reliant on just her knives. The demon slaughtered an entire boat's crew - so it was worth it, she thought.

​The medjay finally walked into a trap that Surere had set up in the third session, and ended up close to death at the hands of a skilled assassin - finally killing the killer with only 1 Lifeblood left.

All in all, a great game.

Last edited by Gruntfuttock (1/02/2017 11:19 am)

My real name is Steve Hall
     Thread Starter

1/06/2017 3:33 pm  #6

Re: My Ancient Egyptian game (blame Narmer - he asked about it)

Sounds like so much fun!

Just a side question.  About how long do your sessions last?

Where's my axe?

1/07/2017 12:05 pm  #7

Re: My Ancient Egyptian game (blame Narmer - he asked about it)

Sessions usually start at around 4pm on a Sunday, and generally finish around 8-8.30pm. This last session though lasted until 9.30pm.

My real name is Steve Hall
     Thread Starter

1/07/2017 12:10 pm  #8

Re: My Ancient Egyptian game (blame Narmer - he asked about it)

Working on the next game now. It will start with a trip to Memphis, where General Horemheb is assembling the army for a campaign in Asia, and the ambassadors from various Syrian client states are arriving to give their reasons for failing to give more energetic support the collapsing Egyptian empire.

​The last thing Egypt needs now is for an incident during delicate negotiations.


My real name is Steve Hall
     Thread Starter

5/19/2017 11:58 pm  #9

Re: My Ancient Egyptian game (blame Narmer - he asked about it)

So, are you still running this campaign?  If so, I'd like to hear more.

Also, if you are in need of some inspiration I ran across this a while back.  It is from Imagine Magazine and has been posted to the interwebs by the author.  Of course, it would need some adaptation.


Where's my axe?

5/20/2017 3:11 am  #10

Re: My Ancient Egyptian game (blame Narmer - he asked about it)

I just wrapped up the Egyptian Campaign (which we have collectively decided to call it ‘Medjay’) after 11 sessions.

I run short episodic campaigns of around a dozen sessions, usually with an overriding story arc, which I develop in play. Essentially I start with a power structure/relationship map of the setting, where there are a couple of stresses and strains that are causing the various factions problems. Then the first session introduces the players to this playground as either part of one group or else as independent newcomers. Dependent on how the players deal with the first situation/problem they find themselves in, determines how the various factions react. The players have total freedom to do what they want, but understand that actions have consequences. (For example, they started out in this game working for General Horemheb, co-Regent of Egypt. They stayed working for him, but at any time they could have decided to betray him.)

I find that a 12 session run keeps everyone’s focus tight and fresh, with no sessions where interest flags, on either my part or the players.

I’ll post up some more details of the game in a little while.

Last edited by Gruntfuttock (5/20/2017 3:12 am)

My real name is Steve Hall
     Thread Starter

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