"Tyr is free! Tyr is free!"
Such is the heady cry that echoes from the darkest warrens to the gleaming chambers of the Council in that ancient city. Now is your chance to savor life released from the oppressive gloom of the sorcerer-kings-but for how long?
New forces threaten the newly-born independence of Tyr, as outside forces march upon the city. King Tithian is determined to resist, but there are others on the Council of Advisors less eager to risk their wealth and lives for the cause of independence. It falls upon you to help mobilize and lead the citizen-army of Tyr on the road to Urik.
Designed for four to six characters of 4th to 7th level, Road to Urik is set in and around Tyr, the campaign base for your Dark Sun game. A stand-alone adventure, Road to Urik can also be played as the sequel to Freedom.
DSQ1: "Road to Urik" (1992), by David "Zeb" Cook, is the second Dark Sun adventure and the first in the "DSQ" series of "Dark Sun Quests". It was released in March 1992.
Continuing the Dark Sun Series. TSR published the first Dark Sun adventure in 1991: DS1: "Freedom" (1991). Then in 1992, TSR started using a new "Q" suffix to mark all of their adventure books. As a result, the second Dark Sun adventure had a "DSQ1" prefix, even though it was a direct continuation of the storyline from "Freedom". The Freedom campaign would run through a total of five module, and would amusingly feature three total adventure codes. The whole sequence was: DS1, DSQ1, DSQ2, DSQ3, and DSE1.
"Freedom" had been an unusual and innovative adventure for TSR: it was produced as a folio that contained two spiral-bound books and a 16-page short-story booklet. The spiral-bound players book contained pictures and other info to be shown to players, while the spiral-bound DM's book contained the adventure itself. This format continues in "Road to Urik", with the short story for this second adventure being "Loyalties" by M.C. Sumner.
Adventuring Tropes. The AD&D 2e era is renowned for its heavy use of plotted storylines and its general move away from dungeons. "Road to Urik" is a prime example of the format that if anything is more event-directed than the rest of TSR's line. Here it was once more following in the footsteps of "Freedom".
Much of "Road to UriK" is laid out as a series of individual encounters, each of which contains sections on "setup", "start", "encounter", "role-playing", "reaction", "statistics" and "outcome". Even at the time this rigid organization of an adventure as individual encounters was unusual; today it's very reminiscent of the Wizards of the Coast Encounters program, but still a rarity. Plotted adventures of this sort can get rail-roady, but "Road to Urik" avoided some of the problem by occasionally offering some choice for what encounter to run next — like in a choose-your-own-adventure book.
The actual content of "Road to Urik" focuses on politics (as the players work with the factions of Tyr) and warfare (as they battle the army of Urik).
War World Battles. The world of Athas was originally created to support Battlesystem Second Edition (1989). The first edition (1985) of the mass combat game was less successful than desired, so TSR decided to integrate the second edition more tightly with D&D via a new setting, War World, which eventually became Dark Sun.
"Freedom" had made some light use of Battlesystem as an optional way to depict riot combat, but "Road to Urik" was the first adventure to fully treat Athas as a War World: players gather together an army to fight in a battle between Tyr and Urik.
The Novel Connection. "Road to Urik" follows directly on from the first Prism Pentad novel, The Verdant Passage (1991) — which occurred contemporary with the "Freedom" adventure. The second book in the Prism Pentad series of novels, The Crimson Legion (1992), then follows the events of "Road to Urik".
Though TSR had been adapting novels into adventures (and vice versa) since the Dragonlance Chronicles (1984-1985) and the Avatar trilogy (1989), interweaving fiction and adventures that depicted somewhat parallel storylines was somewhat more novel — though the Empires trilogy (1990) for the Forgotten Realms had done something similar.
Expanding Athas. "Road to Urik" continues to expand the Tyr region of Athas, primarily by providing more details on the factions of Tyr and by looking into the nearby city of Urik.
About the Creators. By the '90s, Cook was clearly one of TSR's star designers. It speaks to the importance of Dark Sun that TSR had him write the first two adventures, "Freedom" and "Road to Urik" — though he wouldn't contribute to the rest of the series. Cook's next big project would be Amazing Engine (1993).
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Thanks to Robert Adducci for Dark Sun advice. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.