Wednesday, 15 July 2015

The Scales of Anubis - A Pulp Campaign

Hi Folks

For some time now I have wanted to run a Pulp Campaign and over the weekend I put my thinking cap on and started doing some investigative work on the internet.

The following background, like all good stories has some grains of truth scattered in. The names of the Egyptologists and their histories are all real (according to Wikipedia) and the dates as best I can tell are correct...

Assuming it all works we are due to start next week - stay tuned

Back in 1923 the leading American Egyptologist James Henry Breasted aided Howard Carter to decipher the seals found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. It was during this investigation that he first found reference to the Scales of Anubis.

Anubis was the jackal headed god of Egyptian Mythology. He was the guardian of the entrance to the afterworld.

One of the chief roles of Anubis was the "Guardian of the Scales".

In the Book of the Dead, Anubis is shown performing a measurement that determined whether the person was worthy of entering the realm of the dead. By weighing the heart of a deceased person against Ma'at (or "truth"), who was often represented as an ostrich feather, Anubis dictated the fate of souls. Souls heavier than a feather would be devoured by Ammit and disappear into oblivion, and souls lighter than a feather would ascend to a heavenly existence.

The Scales of Anubis

The idea that these ‘scales’ could truly exist confounded Breasted but as he continued his work for the Oriental institute at the University of Chicago he unearthed more stories surrounding their actual existence and subsequent disappearance from history.

Those glyphs and texts he could interpret talked of an insane Pharaoh who was so mad he destroyed the scales thereby ensuring he could never be judged.

However Breasted struggled with many of these translations so in early 1933 he shared his findings with two trusted friends.
James Henry Breasted

Firstly he contacted Battiscombe Gunn of Oxford University and then secondly Adolf Erman at the University of Berlin. Both were eminent Egyptologists and experts in their fields.

Over the next few months the men shared their interpretations and views and between the three of them a picture began to emerge. One that could rewrite known history.

One particular text referred to Anubis as a traveller, and several epithets attached to his name in Egyptian texts and inscriptions referred to that role. This literally read Anubis was Khenty-imentiu, which means "foremost of the westerners".

These texts go onto say that the scales were broken down into several parts and scattered across the world. One location being the home of Anubis across the western sea.

The final piece of the jigsaw fell into place when an old tomb in the city of Tanis was uncovered. Although recently ransacked by robbers, the hieroglyphs confirmed the scattering of the Scales but it also talked of one piece being held by a Pharaoh known as Thutmunka . This piece was known as the ‘balance’ and one can only assume that this was the fulcrum of the scales.

Tanis Ruins


Breasted returned to Egypt in early 1935 to seek out Thutmunka’s tomb. He returned to the states later in the year apparently none the wiser. However in his last messages to Gunn and Erman he wrote that was convinced of the scales authenticity.

Could the Scales of Anubis be found and brought back together ? Were there sufficient clues to make this this journey possible?

Before Breasted could act further he died on 2nd December 1935 in New York City, supposedly from a Streptococcus infection after returning from his last expedition.

He bequeathed copies of his journals, testaments and notes to Gunn, Erman and the Chicago Institute of Antiquity.

The Chicago Institute of Antiquity (CIA) was the leading research institute in the States for items of historical significance. Breasted’s notes soon reached the higher echelons of power in Congress and as such the US Government began to supply the CIA with sufficient funds and resources to ensure that ‘interesting’ historic items would not fall into the wrong hands.
Adolf Erman

In Nazi Germany Adolf Erman’s career as the leading Egyptologist for the Berlin university came to a sudden end as a result of his Jewish ancestry. With his notes, texts and ideas seized by the newly formed Ahnenerbe he found himself alone in a dangerous world.

These notes and documents have now found their way into Ahnerberbe’s secretive paranormal arm known as the  “Order of the Black Sun” lead by the mysterious  Count Vrill, a Prussian Aristocrat hell bent on delivering the Nazi ideology across the world
Symbol of the Order of the Black Sun

For Battiscombe Gunn his fascination with the occult in the early part of the century had turned  - he saw the danger that the occult posed when combined with the rhetoric of the Nazi faith. In his leading role as Professor for Egyptology at Oxford University opened doors to many senior politicians, in early 1936 he approached His Majesties Government and suggested that it would be in the interests of the Empire to ensure that the treasures of the past must not fall into Nazi hands!

By March 1936 Gunn had founded  P.I.T.H. - Paranormal Incidents that could Threaten Humanity.

It is 1936 and the world is marching towards war. Could such an object as the Scales of Anubis change the course of history….


**Stop Press**

16th April 1936

Cairo* Earlier today excavators in the Tomb of Kings discover a new burial chamber..believed to be that of the Pharaoh Thutmunka. Egyptian authorities are not prepared to disclose exact location until proper procedures can be put in place.

** end message


The lost tomb

The race is on….



The Campaigns narrative is simple  - the players will be striving to collect the five pieces that constitute the scales of Anubis. Each game will be part of this journey. Adventures will be spread across the globe, in different environments.
Some games may feature all three major protagonists disclosed in the notes above…please note there are other interested parties that will feature. Each game will be principally aimed at the collection of one piece from its current resting place however as the game develops the players may end up losing pieces due to the back story that will evolve.

For example P.I.T.H. may secure one item and place this in the secure vaults of the British museum. The following week this might be robbed and the item mysteriously ends up in the hands of the Chicago Institute of Antiquities. I have a view of where this campaign will go culminating in a grand finale later in the year. 

During the course of these games the players leagues will develop, gain experience, equipment and new recruits.

The Scales have been broken into five parts:
The Fulcrum

The Stand

The Bar

The Dish of the Heart

The Dish of the Feather


It is not known at present what will happen should they then be combined...yet!

The resting place of each of these is hidden at the beginning of the campaign. Each item has been scattered across the globe and indeed some may have already be found and although their purpose is unknown they will be seen as treasures of antiquity.

At the beginning of the campaign the players will be converging on the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, a recent tomb has been discovered that has revealed a secret chamber beyond that of an already ransacked tomb. Local archaeologists have announced their find but have refused to identify the whereabouts of the tomb in question.
Until next time....

Part 1 of the campaign can be found here



  1. Very cool idea you have their, this should make for some great games, I look forward to the first batrep.
    I was thinking of doing some pulp games on King Kong's Skull Island

    1. Who knows maybe one of the pieces might be on a mysterious island??

  2. Really looking forward to this: great setting, should produce some great games!

  3. Great campaign setting!

    Very interesting story you have managed to weave with historical truths added to the mix.

  4. With a teaser like this I shall certainly be tuning in!

    1. Cheers Gordon - I might publish these updates at a specific time each week !

  5. Great back story, except the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) was formed until after the end of WW2 (in 1947). Its predecessor, the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) was only formed in 1942. Before that national intelligence was done by the two services (Army and Navy) and the State Department.

    Looking forward to the continuing story. And to seeing your marvelous scenery being put to further use.


  6. Oops, I should have read the story closer. Seems like the CIA is really the Chicago Institute of Archaeology. Sound of palm slapping forehead is heard.

    But I'm still looking forward to the developing quest.

    Will we see Indiana Jones or one of his cousins such as Ohio Smith.


  7. I'm going to stop here - Chicago Institute of Antiquity, not Archaeology. More forehead slapping heard. I'll blame it on the extreme heat we're having here - temps in the upper 90s F with heat index about 105 F.


    1. Jim I forgive you - James Henry Breasted did indeed head up the Oriental dept at the Chicago Museum...the CIA acronym arrived by chance but it was too good to let pass

  8. Since you are dealing with a scale, it seems right and proper that the last piece should be hidden somewhere in the original Toledo Scale Company, perhaps even being used inadvertently as something completely different (much like the "nutcracker" in The Prince and the Pauper was really the royal seal.

    Following with interest...

  9. Great stuff, look forward to the series. Hope the cliff hangers aren't too nail biting!

  10. A terrific campaign idea! I'm looking forward to reading how it progresses.

  11. A great idea, I look forward to seeing how it plays out.

  12. In 1933 Gunn was a curator of the Egyptian Collection of the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia.

    He did not join Oxford University until 1935.