"Colonel Jonathan 'Jack' O'Neil: Give my regards to King Tut…"

- Stargate -

Curse of the Pharoahs Review

By Mark Doney


After many months of planning and getting ready the items for the night it finally arrived. From what I can remember now it was a pretty cold day and the bag that I was carrying was pretty heavy (it contained the 16 folders for each of the characters).

The actual day didn’t start to well, I received an email the night before letting me know that one of the people coming had to pull out, so that’s when I kicked into overdrive and got Cathy to step in (she was originally going to use the video camera on the night but now that wasn’t going to happen). With that sorted I did some final prep work and made my way to the venue.

I asked people to arrive around 6pm and many did (some even before me). I then had an ok dinner and started to get the character envelopes out. I announced that around 6.30pm that people could have these envelopes and read them for 30 mins. Looking back now this really didn’t work that well. In previous games the 30 mins seemed a suitable time but here it would I think be better to give people more time as many of them were beginners. Perhaps a week before I could give them their main character sheet at least. This though could cause problems with people planning ahead with others so their was no right or wrong solution to this. The 30 min reading people was also for other people to eat.

Dave a few weeks before asked all people taking part to come in costume and many did, I was very impressed with the effort some people put into their costume, they didn’t have to come in costume but it was a nice touch. While people were reading their character sheets or finishing their food I got the Egyptian music out so people would start to feel the part. Many thanks again to Tim and Corinne for getting me a copy of this. I left it on for about 25 mins which was pretty good as all the sounds actually sounded the same!

Soon enough it reached 7pm and with everyone now here the game then started. It started with a 10 min intro talk by me. Even though I have done this talk twice before I was still pretty nervous talking in front of 20 odd people (especially for a long time). After I finished my talk I ask the host of the game Sir William (Dave) and Cleo (Anne) to remain in the room while all the other characters had to walk out. The reason being they were going to be introduced to Sir William at the party while others were going to come into the party a bit later.

Around this time I was hit by a further problem. Two people had to leave an hour before the game was scheduled to finish. This would therefore create some problems for me which I had to sort out while referring the game. It did work out in the end thankfully.

Dave was a great host and started the game in a brilliant way, he did look a bit like Austin Powers though (even with the glasses), each of the guests when then introduced and even by this early stage I could see who would do well and who could well struggle. Funny enough the laser taggers of the group (in which Dave was one) have had experience before as lot of the laser tag games did involve role playing and in some ways it showed. Many other people completely new to this also seemed to settle in very well.

I can remember the first time I did this type of game as a character how nervous I was (even worse when I didn’t know 90% of the people), so it was a kind of jumping into the deep end for many people.

Being a gamemaster though I could not see how the game was flowing as must of the time I was helping out any problems that people had or answering any questions they may have (and their was some real strange ones as well). As the game went on more people were introduced into the game and at one stage I was 30 mins ahead of schedule!!! (which was a first as normally I fall behind). So before the halfway stage I had to slow things down a bit.

Near this halfway point and after the initial greetings and starter plots I started to increase the tension level but (as acting as a Servant) shouting things out, basically over the top acting shouting out clues or advice to certain characters or generally the group.

The main one was the angry mob which was going to feature heavily in the second half of the game. During the end of the first half I could now easily see who was liking the game and who was bored. So by the end of the first half, I started to think of new ways to liven things up in the second half and that involved the eventual end result between two characters (played by Tim and Steve 5/5) and the angry mob (played by me). Tim would eventually escape the angry mob and rush back to the party with a warning. Steve sadly wasn’t so lucky.

I asked Steve a question "Would you mind being killed off and becoming an angry mob member during the second half of the game", in which he replied "definitely".

So after a quick 10 min break (could have been longer but people wanted to carry on the game due to tiredness perhaps or just keen to carry on), the second half started. What they didn’t know but soon realised was that people could not be killed and I suddenly ran out of first aid kits.

The majority of people in the game by the second half were trying to get their objectives and goals done, originally at the end of the game I would be going around asking each person if they were successful or unsuccessful during the night and then read them what happened to the character after the events of the evening. I opted a few days before the event to miss this out as it would have taken at least another 20 mins for the game to finally end.

By the second half I really had no choice and started to liven things up while in the process of speeding things up as well. If the game carried on as it did in the first half some people who were stuggling would have been very bored so I wanted to avoid this. I also wanted to add a fun element into the game (a mad element as I called it). This centred around two characters, one was the before mentioned Steve 5/5 who would now be the rampaging mob member. The other was a character called John Montahgrew-Smythe (a student that could not hold his drink so would be ‘drunk’ for the majority of the second half).

By this time their was a ‘mob’ outside the tent (bunch of very angry locals) who demanded the murderer of the found dead digger (the party started with the emergence that someone had actually died a native digger). Meanwhile inside the tent various plots and sub plots were going on, some characters revealed who they were really and were either punished or successful.

After initial contacts with the angry mob (when Steve 5/5 character died and Tim character just survived), the mob came back and demanded some money. To my surprise the group managed to raise the %pound;200 but what they didn’t know was the mob now wanted %pound;700 (which the group didn’t have) or give them the murderer. In the end this was pretty easy as Darren had to leave early so the group decided to sacrifice Manfred the evil German diplomat.

During this time I gave instructions David (who was the John character) to go and pick fights with anyone (as he was drunk he was allowed to), for his character this was a risk of death as he could win fights but also lose them. If he kept losing them then he would eventually die. Thankfully he actually lasted quite a long time (despite the best efforts of the remaining characters tieing him up) and made it nearly to the end.

Meanwhile Steve 5/5 was also given instructions to pick fights with anyone, so this ended up with him just running into the middle of the room and pointing at another random character and thus the fight sequence started! He did this about 6 times in which he was successful in quite a few of them (expect against Tim the policeman and his truncheon!). Funny enough David and Steve formed an alliance later on and picked a fight with a character together!! (geez John must have been really drunk!!)

Their were ways of avoiding this of course, if someone stayed at the entrance of the tent then the natives would have not charged inside it, also to get John a bit more sober then he could have had some water but this didn’t happen. Many characters were now getting injuries but no-one died (this was due to many first aid kits some characters had). If I could change things again then I would have given less kits out that would have meant more people under the threat of death.

Another plot of the game was a pretty confusing one for a few people, the main artefact that was found was the Jade Scarab which unknown to many of the characters was in some way used to stop the evil Crimson Pharaoh (hence the name of the game Curse of the Pharoahs). During the game the Crimson Pharaoh (under the guidance of its supporters Eva played very well by Sue and Manfred (Darren) would be summoned and hence rule the world. This though didn’t happen as Eva and Manfred didn’t get time to hatch a plan (as Darren had to leave early), what did happen was the Crimson Pharaoh enemy (which was actually his wife Queen Bity) was brought to life under the disguise of student character Helen (played very well by Gail).

When I gave Gail the nod (after she read her additional character sheet) she went into the Queen Bity character, and tried to brainwash Sir William. Sadly the police (Tim and the very well dressed Vikki) stopped her just in time, so the magical element of the game ended before it really started.

Soon enough I had to draw the game to a close and by 10.45pm the game ended by the mob rampaging into the tent, this caused around 6 characters to be killed.

We then had a 20 min de-brief asking all characters who they were and what their real motives were and then we had our awards ceremony with Sir William (Dave) and Eva (Sue) picking up the awards.

Overall it was a pretty tiring but good evening, I will not though do another one until perhaps next year (as it does involve a lot of preparation. I am in the middle of writing the sequel but that’s still in its initial stages at the moment). Curse could comeback though?

I was very happy that the LOTNA crew tried their best in this game as again if you not use to Freeforming then its indeed a bit of a challenge, from the feedback that I got (and the pictures that were taken) it looked everyone enjoyed themselves.

So a big thanks for everyone who took part (Dave, Corinne, Tim, Sue, David, Mark, Steve 5/5, BG Steve, Tony, Vikki, Darren, Anne, Russell, Janine, Cathy and Gail) and especially my other GM Caz for helping.


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