Whispers of the Prophet
Setting Assumptions and Starting Storyline
1) Players will start in or around the Free City of Tyr, after the overthrow of the sorcerer-king Kalak by Tithian [a]. With the old order gone, possible backgrounds might include ex-templar, ex-slave, etc., if you’re from Tyr. You could certainly be from other places, but remember that you have to have a reason for adventuring and/or being in the Free City, i.e., if you’re an elf, there’s a reason why you’re not a desert marauder anymore (or at least right now), or if a halfling, a reason why the citizens of Tyr shouldn’t kill you outright because of your cannibalistic nature. :) The Dark Sun Campaign Guide (DSCG) has some solid recommendations along this line in each race section, and for Tyrian backgrounds, pg. 134 is instructive.
2) It has been almost ten years since Tithian, the former High Templar of Kalak, led the rebellion that overthrew his master, freed all the slaves of the city, and completely upset the social order of the city. The first few years of Tithian’s leadership of the so-called Revolutionary Council, were plagued with chaos and strife, as various rivals challenged him, either to set themselves upon the empty throne, or counter-revolutions to restore the old ways under new, aspiring sorcerer-kings. Through various political maneuvers, aided by his brilliant and socially adept wife Elaiodora — with an unfortunate mix of old-fashioned tyrannical purges and executions — Tithian was eventually declared King by the newly formed Tyrian Senate (formerly the Revolutionary Council).
An uneasy and tenuous balance among all the rival factions was eventually achieved. Tithian rules as King, but he must essentially seek the tacit approval for every decision or decree from the Senate, comprised of representatives of the various factions that have formed within the city (nobles, merchants, freedmen, etc.) The city’s army (composed mostly of templars who served under him) has pledged loyalty to Tithian, the keystone upon which his power is built.
The ever-constant strife with the Senate is not something that has made Tithian very happy, and it is rumored that he grows weary of constant checks and balances — but other, more pressing problems have arisen…
3) The other sorcerer-kings, sensing a change in the old ways represented by the overthrow of Kalak and the rise of Tithian, seeing their own thrones in jeopardy if their templars and slaves rose against them, have engaged in all manner of efforts to undermine and destroy Tithian and Tyr: sabotage, subterfuge, espionage, assassination attempts, and outright war. A year before the campaign begins, Hamanu, king of Urik, led several of his legions out from his city against Tyr. Hamanu the Lion, never defeated on the field of battle, set out to slay Tithian and then sack Tyr, intending to raze it the ground and drive its populace into the desert as an example.
But Tithian received advance warning of the Urikite armies marching from the Silver Hand tribe of elves, who had a long-standing grudge against Hamanu. The desert elves struck an alliance with Tithian, and he quickly mustered and forced march the Tyrian Guard to intercept the Urikites near the oasis at Silver Spring. Although outnumbered and outmatched, Tithian’s army of ex-slaves (with help from the Silver Hand tribe, who had harried and harassed Hamanu’s flanks since he marched out of Urik) caught the professional Urikite legionaries by surprise, stopped Hamanu’s march, and even broke their formations on the battlefield. Hamanu, for the first time ever, had lost a battle.
Before Tithian was able to completely rout Hamanu’s legions, however, a freak storm hit and brought an end to the battle — when the storm cleared, Hamanu’s legions had quickly reformed into an organized retreat… and Tithian was nowhere to be found. It is believed by some that the storm was created by the combined magic of the Oba of Gulg and the Shadow King of Nibenay, in a temporary alliance of the two archrivals, in the hopes of destroying the armies of both Tithian and Hamanu.
And that’s where we begin: a year since the Battle of Silver Spring has passed, and Tithian’s wife Elaiodora rules (barely) as Queen Regent, ostensibly until their ten-year-old son Agallon comes of age. She is supported, more or less, by Hardar, Tithian’s High Templar (and now general of the army in Tithian’s absence) — and the factions once lined up against Tithian are growing even stronger and bolder in their opposition to Queen Elaiodora.
And the other sorcerer-kings are even more determined to end the threat to their rule represented by the continued existence of the Free City of Tyr.
Of King Tithian himself, there is no word of either his death or capture, no clue as to what became of him, although there are unfounded rumors of sightings of him wandering the desert, blind and insane…
… and a mysterious prophet wanders the streets of Tyr, muttering insanely in rambling speech, whispering to any who will listen or pay his alms, of a new age to come in Athas: where heroes will strive against all odds and even sacrifice their lives for the dying world to be reborn anew… or fail, and see it totally destroyed once and for all.
[a] The rebellion and overthrow of Kalak will be described later, somewhat differently than indicated in the DSCG.