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In All Their Looks & Words: The Tomb Of Niankhkhnum And Khnumhotep Part 2

This article consists of prep material that works better if you’ve read the intro [1] and Part 1 [2]of this series.

Investigative Game Prep

I will say, investigation games take a lot more prep than I’m used to. Do some more research into how these types of RPGs are planned and try to work that into your prep. What I can give you here is more of an atmosphere or setting, as well as an outline that could be a short session, or a side adventure B Plot to your normal game. This follows a generic Three Act Structure and should be loose enough to work into your prep. Obviously no plan survives first contact with the players so you will likely need to tweak this as appropriate.

Act 1:

The Esoterrorists (Pelgrane Press) could be an intriguing system to wrap around this story

An up and coming scholar is trying to do some research on ancient sexuality for an upcoming conference and has decided to investigate Niankhkhnum & Khnumhotep. However, he is barred from entering the tomb itself because his boyfriend is currently in prison and he himself has been flagged by a watchdog organization. He reaches out to the PCs to provide some more interesting evidence, or to go to the tomb on his behalf.

Act 2:

Upon reaching the tomb (or upon returning home) the PCs find that the scholar’s work has been challenged by a conservative organization, and his spot has been pulled from the conference. The scholar asks the PCs to look into what happened. It turns out that the scholar has an academic rival who tipped off the hate group and stole the scholar’s conference spot. If investigated, the PCs discover many artifacts in the rivals study that could be traced back to the Saqqara burial plots.

Act 3:

As the date of the conference approaches, the scholar’s boyfriend is released from prison and the two men again call the PCs for help. Desperate, the scholar tells the PCs that he may not have much time in the country left and this conference was his chance to make a name for himself before he has to return home. Later, if the PCs stay with the scholar they are privy to these events, but if not, the rival shows up at the PC’s home and recounts a tale: the scholar and his boyfriend confront the rival either because of, or despite the PC’s advice, but get in over their heads. A small artefact, a plate taken from the tomb and on loan from a museum in Egypt, is damaged in the scuffle. The scholar & his boyfriend double over in pain and shrivel over before crumbling to dust. The rival admits to sabotaging the scholar but has no clue what happened and is in a state of panic. If the PCs go to the conference, or see any promotional material, the two faces of Niankhkhnum & Khnumhotep stare out from a flyer, eerily similar to those of the scholar and his boyfriend.


YA-Fiction Style Game

Monsterhearts, by Avery Alder, is a great game to tell this story.

Heru & Seth have been an off-again-on-again item for the past four months. Now, as the Halloween Dance approaches, the local art history museum in which the dance is to be held receives a last-minute addition to their Ancient Egypt wing: duplicates of Niankhkhnum & Khnumhotep’s burial engravings. With this addition came a wave of anti-gay protesters and historical “purists” who malign these relics’ inclusion. Now it seems like Heru & Seth’s relationship is rockier than ever before, and as committee members on the Dance Planning Committee, their split may cause the whole production to fall apart. (Catch this third-party skin for Monsterhearts, The Mummy [3])


Heru – Junior & part time lifeguard who loves sunbathing & eyeliner. Comes from a rich family & likes to go falconing in his spare time.

Seth – Senior & amateur storm-chaser, Seth is a key figure on the school’s rowing team and loves to tell the story of how he rowed a race with a frantic garter snake who had stowed aboard.

Ambrosia Tun – Museum Curator who is a little too excited about Ancient Egypt, and a little “doesn’t quite get it” when it comes to relationships.

Gerred Gere – Evangelist & self proclaimed “historical purist” who’s in town protesting the “gaywashing” of ancient history.

Menace: The Looming Halloween Dance

Stakes: Will the Dance Planning Committee reconvene in time to save the Halloween dance? Will the PCs find dates? Will Heru & Seth get back together or are they better off split up?

Threat: Heru & Seth were the backbone of the Dance Planning Committee.

Craving: Intimacy (Isolate them)

Offerings: Sex (Seclude them & seek promises)

Capacity: Cold Betrayal (Turn their friends against them)

Custom Moves:

When you make plans for a date to the dance, roll with Hot. On a 10+ you have what you need to see the date through. On a 7-9 you’ll

Isolate them, seclude them & seek promises, turn their friends against them.
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need to ask someone for help lining things up.

When you try to get the planning committee together, tell the MC if you go to Heru or Seth first. They’ll remember your choice later.

Menace: A Charged Exhibit

Stakes: As “moral panic” spreads over a modern reading of ancient relics, will the discussion remain academic? To what lengths will the protesters go to shut down the museum? How does the town see the role of ancient art in modern lives?

Threat: Gere’s right wing protesters rail against a modern view of Niankhkhnum & Khnumhotep as lovers.

Craving: Ownership (Viciously protect coveted things)

Offerings: Inclusion (Show them what they’re missing)

Capacity: Sudden Violence (Outright kill someone they love)

Custom Moves:

When you try to deescalate a bigoted mob, roll with Volatile. On a 10+ choose two from the following list. On a 7-9 choose one.

You have some connection to the museum. When you first visit the new exhibit, choose one from the list below and work with the MC to flesh out its inclusion in your game:


Dungeon Crawl:


Dungeon World is my go-to for dungeon crawling fun

For a chance to explore the space during a dungeon crawl or more traditional hack & slash RPG feel. The PCs stumble across a tomb while exploring ancient burial grounds. The debate on the ethics of grave robbing is better left for other folks, and the party ventures inside.


Agenda: Make the world fantastic. Fill the character’s lives with adventure. Play to find out what happens.

Goals: Establish details, describe. Use what they give you. Ask questions. Leave blanks. Look for interesting facts. Help the players understand the moves. Give each character a chance to shine. Introduce NPCs. Fill out your worksheet.

Dungeon Moves: Change the environment. Point to a looming threat. Introduce a new faction or type of creature. Use a threat from an existing faction or type of creature. Make them backtrack. Present riches at a price. Present a challenge to one of the characters.



Custom Moves:

When you enter a new room, roll +Str. On a 10+ you enter unimpeded. On a 7-9 you are winded from clearing debris and must take a moment to breathe & look around you.

When you closely examine the art, roll +Wis. On a hit, you learn a new detail of the lives of these two men. On a 10+ you take +1 forward when acting on this information.

The silence of the grave is complete. Take -1 ongoing when you try to discern reality based on your hearing.

When you open an ancient container, roll +Con as a cloud of arcane dust fills your senses. On a 10+ the dust grants you a vision. On a 7-9 you still receive the vision, but the dust Sickens you.

When you sleep in the tomb, you are visited in your dreams by one of the people from the decorations who will speak with you for a time but will not answer any questions.

Sand, so much sand . . .
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When you inadvertently wake a mummy, roll +Cha. On a 10+ you can parley with it and it may even be friendly. On a 7-9 you can choose either to parley or to have it be friendly, but not both.

When you think you’ve found a way out of this room, roll + the amount of dreams you’ve had while in the tomb. On a 10+ you’ve found an exit. On a 7-9 you can see the other side but there’s no way you can reach it. On a 6- the mirage clears and you’re left once again in the darkness.

Well, that’s our show!

As we wrap up here, I’d like to do one small plug for this list of queer/LGBT+ gaming resources [8] I curate over at my site, RiverhouseGames.com. Like I said in the first installment, I don’t quite know how to answer my question of where I want queerness in tabletop to go. That said, reading others’ work, playing queer games, and working through some creative processes has given me some great enrichment in this area. How about you? I’m only one person and I’m limited to my own experiences. What would you like to see in the future of this series?

3 Comments (Open | Close)

3 Comments To "In All Their Looks & Words: The Tomb Of Niankhkhnum And Khnumhotep Part 2"

#1 Comment By Madmaxneo On November 12, 2017 @ 12:32 pm

I am unable to access either the intro or part 1.

#2 Comment By John Arcadian On November 12, 2017 @ 4:49 pm

Found the issue and fixed it. Thanks for pointing it out!

#3 Comment By Jared Rascher On November 13, 2017 @ 9:31 pm

The history articles have been good, but you did a really great job of bringing in the gameable material at the end. Really looking forward to more of your articles.