February 12, 2020

The Wrong Side of the River

If you’ve ever seen The Mummy (1999), there is close to a 100% chance you remember the classic exchange between Rick O’Connell and his ol’ buddy Beni from one side of the Nile to the other. As always, spoilers ahead!

After their Nile barge is attacked by mysterious assailants and set aflame, Rick, Evelyn, and her brother Jonathan find themselves washed ashore, lucky to be alive. As they get their bearings they see that Beni, who betrayed O’Connell years ago, has all of the horses and supplies on the other side of the river.

Rick and Beni noticing each other’s predicament is what sparks this famous short scene which we’re re-imagining as a group of people playing a tabletop RPG in this week’s “If This Were a Tabletop Role-Playing Game” (#ifthiswereaTTRPG) blog post.

The GM stares down the Rick, Evelyn, Jonathan, and Beni players, “Okay listen, the barge isn’t salvageable. You’re going to have to abandon ship. Rick: you’re up.”

“Ah, well, that’s a shame,” says the Rick player. “Well first I’m going to toss Evelyn overboard -“

“I protest!” interrupts the Evelyn player. “Not happening.”

“- and then I’m going to swim us safely to shore,” finishes the O’Connell player with a smile. The Evelyn player does not look amused.

“Oh, and I’d like to navigate us to the correct shoreline too,” says the O’Connell player who casts a side-eyed glance at the Beni player.

The GM, taking it all in, says, “okay well, that’s an Athletics roll to toss her overboard, then a Navigate roll to get your positioning square, and a second Athletics roll to swim to shore successfully.”

The Jonathan player butts-in, “Are you sure that’s wise my friend?” But is quickly silenced by a disapproving look from the O’Connell player.

The O’Connell player rolls their two, six-sided die three times for totals of eight, nine, and eleven respectively. Fantastic rolls.

“Wow,” says the GM. “Okay then. Yeah, Evelyn he scoops you and tosses you overboard despite your protestations. And yes, O’Connell, you realize that while the lifeboats and supplies are headed for the right bank of the river, the left bank is the place to be. And further, you’re able to swim both yourself and Evelyn safely to shore. Jonathan, you’re already there because your Luck is crazy high and that’s just how you operate.”

The Jonathan player tips their imaginary cap while the Evelyn player glares at the O’Connell player who, as you might expect, looks proud of themselves.

The Beni player speaks-up, “Obviously, I follow the supplies. Can’t get to Hamunaptra without horses and food.” They smile at the O’Connell player, thinking they have the upper-hand.

“Okay, a simple Athletics roll for you to swim to the shore with the horses and supplies should work,” replies the GM.

The Beni player rolls: a ten, an excellent roll. They’re beaming at this point.

“Alrighty,” says the GM. “Beni, you make it to the right bank of the river. You’ve got all the horses and supplies. The rest of you, you’re on the left bank of the river and you’ve got each other.”

Too excited for their own good, the Beni player says, “I’m going to shout-out across the river: Hey!! O’Connell! It looks to me like I’ve got all the horses!!”

“I yell back: Hey Beni! Looks to me like you’re on the wrong side of the river!” says the O’Connell player, smiling right back at the Beni player.

The Beni player’s face drops. “Is that true?” they ask the GM.

“Roll Navigate to find out,” answers the GM, trying to keep a straight face.

The Beni player rolls an eleven, a superb roll.

“You are most definitely on the wrong side of the river,” says the GM. In fact, the next Nile crossing isn’t for another fifty miles or so. While you may have the horses, they will have a big head-start on you in the race to Hamunaptra.”

“Ah, crap,” says the Beni player as the Jonathan player laughs uncontrollably. The O’Connell player beams as even the Evelyn player looks impressed for once…