November 8, 2009: An article on the Discovery News website reports that archaeologists have discovered bronze weapons and hundreds of bones in the western Egyptian desert, which they believe may be the remains of a legendary Persian expedition that was lost in the desert.
According to the Greek historian Herodotus, King Cambyses II of Persia, the son of Cyrus the Great, sent 50,000 soldiers from Thebes, Egypt to the Oasis of Siwa in 525 BC to destroy the oracle at the temple there. En route, the army got caught in a massive sandstorm and was never seen again.
Game and Story Use
- The PCs could be part of the archaeological team searching for the Lost Army of Cambyses
- In a historical or time travel campaign, the PCs might actually be a part of the army.
- If it was a natural occurence - or maybe even if it wasn't - this could be a good way to start an Anabasis story.
- What caused the sandstorm? Was it a natural occurrence? Or were the gods of the temple wreaking destruction on the foreign army?
- Perhaps there's some kind of potent artifact at the Temple at Siwa that can control the weather.
- In your fantasy campaign, an army like this coming back out of the desert can form the background to a whole story arc. Nothing like an entire army of mummified soldiers to wig a nation on the edge of the desert.
- Indeed, someone else who wanted to destroy Siwa might well find this army of dead men, pre-loaded with a last purpose to make it to the target (if only for the water), much easier to reanimate.
- Naturally snow can substitute for sand fairly easily once you're above the permafrost line - or in the grips of a Fimbul winter. Marshes and jungles are also well known to swallow armies without a trace.
- There was an old Dragon Warriors adventure in which the party could follow a trail of dead pseudo-Romans through the frozen mountains to the temple that they were seeking.
- What kind of Alternate History might have been if they had arrived at their destination after all?
- What if they had ended up elsewhere?