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Sem Priest

Dating from before the founding of the pharaonic dynasties, the Sem Priests of Egypt remain some of the most well-respected of all clergy positions. Experts at the arts of embalming and mummification, Sem Priests are responsible for the care and preparation of the deceased as they make their final transition to the afterlife. To this end, Sem Priests tirelessly study the ritual spells and incantations contained in The Book of the Dead, an ancient text that was once reserved only for the most deserving. During the reign of the Pharaohs of the Old Kingdom, only the Pharaoh him or herself was guaranteed the eternal reward of an afterlife, but over the millennia this service has become attainable by even members of the lower class that can afford it.

Skill Proficiencies: Medicine and Religion

Tool Proficiencies: Embalmer’s Tools

Languages: One of your choice.

Equipment: A set of Embalmer’s Tools, a leopardskin cloak, a copy of The Book of the Dead in the form of a papyrus codex, and a bag containing 10 gold coins.

Feature: Chosen of Osiris

The leopard cloak you wear serves as your badge of office, and is instantly recognizable to anyone familiar with Egyptian culture. Representing Osiris’ victory over Set, the leopard cloak marks you as one with an intimate understanding of the balance of life and death. You are free to roam wherever your duties take you, and are welcome in even the most private sanctum or tomb, as to bar your entry would be to invite the wrath of the gods. Only a High Priest or the Pharaoh have true authority over you, but even they would think twice before interfering in your sacred rites.

Suggested Characteristics

Sem Priests tend to be disciplined, reserved, and unflappable. Being well-acquainted with death in all its many forms, they are less likely to be disturbed by the morbid or grotesque, and often rely on dark humor others might find distasteful. The job can take its toll, however, and not all go unaffected by the daily exposure to the deceased and the mourners they leave behind. Some Sem Priests take solace in lighter pursuits as a means of separating their personal lives from their occupations, but for many their macabre task becomes itself a way of life.

d8 Personality Trait
1 I take great pride in my work. A well-preserved mummy is a true work of art.
2 I am deeply sympathetic to those experiencing loss. Consoling families is often the most important aspect of my job.
3 I have an intensely morbid outlook. Death is inevitable, so working hard to avoid it is pointless.
4 My proximity to death has given me a greater appreciation of life. I live every day to its fullest.
5 I am very selective in choosing to whom I provide my services. Not everyone deserves an afterlife.
6 I can often be persuaded to work for free. Being poor shouldn’t deny you a proper burial.
7 I remember every soul I’ve worked on. I keep careful records, or collect mementos of the deceased.
8 My ambitions are lofty. I worship and study relentlessly in hopes of one day becoming High Priest.
d6 Ideal
1 Faith. I trust that the judgment of the gods is fair. So long as I obey their will, I shall be rewarded.
2 Duty. The service I provide is not just important, it is necessary. I shall not shirk my responsibilities.
3 Knowledge. Pursuit of the hidden secrets of the world drives me to study scrolls and texts with ravenous interest.
4 Diligence. I understand that the nature of my profession demands a keen attention to detail. I make no mistakes.
5 Altruism. My services extend to the living as well as the dead. I practice medicine to keep the sick and wounded off of my embalming table.
6 Stoicism. My time spent with the dead has shown me that vibrant emotions remain a luxury of the living.
d6 Bond
1 I work with a partner that I’ve known for years. We rely on one another’s particular talents.
2 Though my training is long complete, the High Priest of my temple remains my personal mentor.
3 I remain in touch with many of the families to whom I provided my services.
4 The local nomarch has called on me to perform the Rites of the Dead on certain nobility in the past.
5 A foreign scholar has taken keen interest in Egyptian culture and sees my work as a point of study.
6 I sometimes visit the tomb of a relative to provide customary offerings.
d6 Flaw
1 I have a callous disposition which many find off-putting.
2 My obsession with the afterlife grows by the day. I find the world in which I currently reside dull by comparison.
3 I have no fear of death. A complete lack of self-preservation has nearly cost me my life on more than one occasion.
4 I deeply distrust adherents of other religions, and even worshipers of Egyptian gods different from my own.
5 My greed has been known to get the best of me. I sometimes steal offerings intended for the deceased.
6 I am deeply lonely. Sometimes I feel as if only the dead truly understand me.
Section 15: Copyright Notice

5E: Age of Antiquity Adventure and Intrigue in the Ancient World © 2019 Aruzian Publishing, Stephen Delucchi, Marcus Lundin

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