Thursday, March 26, 2015

Stories for Players

The lost city of Thepsis was found in the year 3742 B.C., on a fertile, grassy plain that can be found some sixty miles east by southeast of Luxor on the Nile River.  By the time of Julius Caesar, this plain had already been reduced to a desert for a thousand years, called the Eastern Desert, a desolate plateau of sand.  Until the time of the Middle Kingdom, however, during the Nile's time of inundation, when Egypt was flooded, a channel of the river would overflow the Nile's modern banks and flow to the east, drowning the plain of Thepsis and making the land fertile and green.

Dedicated to the lion goddess Sekhmet, the city grew wealthy through trade with the Red Sea coast and Nubia.  It was said that the spirit of the city was defended by the brethren of Phix, the first Sphinx, who dwelt upon the plains of the Sahel for thousands of years before the founding of the Old Kingdom.  The lifespan of a sphinx is believed to be near to 4,000 years, although this has never been confirmed.

Thepsis includes the great tomb of Sekhimib-Perenmaat, an immense catacomb that was built in a progressive series of galleries, said to include fourteen great chambers.  This tomb was designed by Horajefa, a polymath who served Sekhimib and is said to be buried in the second gallery of the tomb. The first gallery is said to contain "a phenomenon such as has never been seen in the world since that day" - but nothing beyond those words, found in a tomb near Asyut, is known.

According to legend, in the 8th century the lost city was located by Arabian astronomers, who determined that the city could be found if the plain were observed during a full eclipse from Abozaed, an isolated mount located in the Eastern Desert.

View of the Thepsis plain as seen from Abozaed.
The legend says that after the city was revealed, the discoverers kept the secret to themselves while carefully making plans to transfer the treasures within to Babylon, where they would be given as a gift to the Caliph - but while en route to Luxor, the whole party was caught exposed to a sandstorm and buried forever in the desert, the secret lost.

Another eclipse is set to take place on April 12th, 1651 - but this is known only to a small adventuring party that is now making their way from Gazira, through the Holy Land and into Egypt.  The date for them is January 30th, 1651.  Will they reach the right vantage point in time?