Tyre is old. It was already old when the well-greaved Achaeans butchered the sons of Troy. Its purple has died the the robes of kings since the bald rulers of Uruk battled the bearded men of Akkad. Some even say that before men dwelled on the Earth, that gods made their home where its walls now stand. It is here, the sorcerers of the East say, that man first took fire from those divine giants.
Though it is old, it is not invincible. Though the purple men of Tyre have long given their children to their horrid fire god, their city has been sacked times beyond counting. The Pharaohs of Egypt and their rivals the Hittites destroyed it numerous times, as did the kings of Assyria and Babylon. Alexander utterly ruined the city, and his successors squabble over it to this day.
The current city is a bizarre mixture of Greek and Eastern architecture, a perverse reflection of its Seleucid overlords. A Greek now resides in the palace of the King-Priests of Moloch. They call him a Satrap, a term that is as foreign to the people of Tyre as it is to the Greeks who rule it. Its markets are filled with goods from the Pillars of Hercules to the Indus. A hundred tongues are spoken within its walls, koine being primarily used to facilitate trade between the conquered and their conquerors.
The city has much to offer adventurers, rogues, and mercenaries. The satrap is always looking for men to help quell the brigands that constantly maraud further inland. Many wealthy sorcerers make their homes in the shadow of the Purple City’s temples, and of course the ruins said to lie below their city are rumored to be beyond the imagining of mortals.
A Typical Group of Adventurers in Tyre
Player characters are assumed to come from outside of the city. They are likely Greeks, or perhaps Romans. Such characters may either be Fighters or Magicians. These work as per their description in the Swords & Wizardry White Box, though Magicians must learn new spells either from scrolls or from a tutor of some sort. Additionally, a number of character types are described below that are also available if the character meets the appropriate requirements.
Requirements: Str 15+, Dex 13+, Neutral or Chaotic Alignment
Benefits: When wearing light or no armor and either alone or in a group of other barbarians, a barbarian surprises opponents on a 1-3 on a 1d6. They may also follow tracks and spot traps in the wilderness on a roll of 1-2 on a 1d6. This increases to 1-3 if in a forest and 1-4 if in either Gaul or Germania, depending on the homeland of the Barbarian.
Character Advancement: Barbarians may reach any level as a Fighter or up to level 4 as a Magician. They may advance higher if their Wisdom is 16 or greater.
Requirements: Int, Wis, and Dex 13+; Lawful Alignment
Character Advancement: Immortals advance as both fighters and magic users, splitting experience between each class. They must decide which class they will be at the beginning of an adventure and will remain that class for the remainder of the adventure. They may only learn spells from their strange cult of fire and water - which is distinct from the fire god of the Phoenecians.
Requirements: Str and Dex 13+, Con 16+, Lawful or Neutral Alignment
Benefits: Spartans with an ally at either their left or right flank gain a +1 bonus to AC. In addition, anything that would allow an adjacent ally to gain a free strike at a target, such as the opponent fleeing in terror, grants the Spartan a similar attack - but only if he is using a spear. Spartans cannot use this ability if their ally gains the attack through using Follow Through.
Character Advancement: Spartans may only advance as Fighters.
Most adventurers spend their early careers in Tyre’s undercity, though many of these careers are cut short by the horrors that lurk within. While the undercity is a great, sprawling labyrinth it is ultimately divisible into a number of distinct areas. Some of the most well known to adventurers - either because they are comparatively well trafficked or because of the numerous legends that surround them - are described below.
Catacombs of Mot
The people of Tyre worship many strange gods that horrify the Greeks and the Romans. Mot is one of them, and his worship was outlawed after Antigonus reconquered the city. The catacombs are his most sacred shrine, but their location remains undiscovered by authorities. Unlike normal catacombs, whose purpose is to preserve the dead, these were meant to provide food for Mot’s slavering ghoul-priests. It is said that much of the wealth of the cult was stored within as well.
The Thieves’ Tunnels
This network of tunnels was built by the people of the city over a long period in order to offer a retreat during the sieges that so characterize Tyre’s history. They network is now so complicated that even those who regularly use them only know but a small portion of the twisting tunnels. During times of peace, it is primarily utilized by the various criminal gangs that plague the city - though even Seleucid authorities have figured out this trick and sometimes send patrols into the depths. It is rumored that a long tunnel connects the island portion of the city to the mainland, but no explanation is offered as to why Alexander did not find this and make use of it instead of building his causeway.
The Tomb of the Black Pharaoh
While the ultimate fate of Nephren-Ka, the infamous Black Pharaoh, a demon who ruled among men, is unknown, some sources believe that he died during a battle in what is now the mainland portion of the city. These sources state that the people of Egypt feared interring their king in their homeland, for they thought that his presence would taint the Nile and cause the water to thicken and become a foul toxin. Instead, they made for him a tomb on the spot where he died, and buried his war loot with him in hopes that his ghost would not follow them back to Egypt.
The Vault of the King-Priests
This is believed to be the holy of holies for the Phoenician god Moloch - a baleful god of fire and hate. It is said that the King-Priests that ruled in the days before Alexander took all of the wealth from their conquered enemies and smelt it into huge statues depicting their god as a fiery bull. Thus there is supposedly one of these statues for each people the Phoenicians defeated in battle, of varying size based on the amount of wealth those people carried with them.
The Treasure-House of the Gods
It is believed that in the deepest parts of the undercity, there lies a great cache of treasure and weapons created by the gods during their wars with the Titans. However, few have made it to the depths where the Treasure-House can allegedly be found, and fewer still have any idea what sorts of things are contained within.
Many strange cults exist within Tyre, and these are often a source of new spells for magicians. A magician may only be a member of one cult at a time, and therefore may not learn spells belonging to another cult. The list below should not be considered exhaustive, since
Goddess of the hunt, the Moon, and fertility, Artemis has taken on a number of strange aspects since the Greeks made contact with the peoples of the East. She is typically depicted as a woman with many rows of breasts, and some of her statues are known to lactate during cultic rites.
Son of Apollo and god of the healing arts, Asclepius possesses a small temple in Tyre. His cult is surprisingly popular despite the modest size of the aforementioned temple, and many a cockerel has its throat cut in his honor.
Dagon is a strange sea-god venerated by the Phoenicians. Unlike Melqart (see below), the Greeks do not conflate Dagon with their god Poseidon. Dagon is a god of fish, darkness, and decay and his spells and cultists reflect this.
Melqart is the god of the city of Tyre, though the Greeks assert that he is none other than Heracles, who made his way to the Levant during one of his labors. The spells normally associated with him are protective, but he does have some of a more savage nature.
Baleful god of fire and human sacrifice, Moloch is the chief god of the Phoenicians. These people give up their children to his horrid fires, a practice which horrifies other peoples - though it is especially sickening to the Romans.
In addition to these cults, a number of sorcerers exist who may also provide spells; however, they rarely do so without a price. The most famous two in the city are, of course, Ningauble and Sheelba; however, the Scarlet One, He of the Thousand Mouths, Ajaxos the Mad and a hundred others make their homes within the city.