City-State of Tyr (1993)

This is the City-State of Tyr sourcebook for Dark Sun. Because of the early focus on the Dark Sun metaplot, TSR only got around to publishing a sourcebook about its central city setting in 1993, two years after the box set release, which probably seems strange in retrospect. For all its brilliance in design and aesthetic, many of the same bone-headed business decisions that plagued TSR companywide hampered Dark Sun’s success.

This is a great sourcebook. Everything you need to know in order to run a game in Tyr after the assassination of its sorcerer-king, Kalak, is in here. And in defining the state of the city after Kalak’s death, the book spends plenty of time discussing how it was before the slave revolt, so it is handy for games before the metastory, too. I haven’t a clue who the cool plumed dragon dude on the cover is, though.

The art is a bit unusual for…hey, wait a minute. Is that Tony DiTerlizzi? It is!

Which brings me to another interesting aspect of City-State of Tyr: it seems to be a bit of a dry run for the design of Planescape’s Sigil. There are a number of parallels, the strongest being the Warrens, a poor district of the city that guards don’t dare enter, much like the Hive in Sigil.

To my knowledge, this was DiTerlizzi’s second TSR gig. I suspect working on City-State of Tyr was a valuable experience in world building that paid dividends a year later on Planescape.

Tony was also kind enough to share two scans of the original art from the book (the first two images after the cover). You can compare them to some of the illustrations I photographed out of the book (images four and five) and appreciate how much gets lost in the printing process.

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