Sunday, March 4, 2012

I don't know why I try... be original in any way, shape, or form. Clearly, I am constantly to find myself duplicating efforts that have already been done.

Picked up a copy of Al-Qadim today, the "Arabian adventures" campaign setting book for 2nd edition AD&D. Ugh. How can someone steal idea 20 years before you even have it?

Al-Qadim was written in 1992 (carrying the by-line of Jeff Grubb, a designer for whom I have immense respect due to the Marvel Superheroes RPG). It basically sets out to do everything I intended to do as background material for my D&D Mine project, drawing on the "three distinct versions of Arabia" for its material:

1) the historical Arabian Empire
2) the legendary or "mythic" Arabia
3) the Hollywood (TV and movie) Arabia

Which is exactly what I was drawing from as well.

Other sources of irritation:
  • the "Holy Slayer" (i.e. assassin) carries the same hard-line guild requirements that I included in my version of the assassin. Remember I was saying I still wanted to use the problematic assassin class because I dig my version/rules for the class? Well, Grubb did it first.
  • they include lamellar armor, dammit! Here I thought I was being all cool and innovative with that. Of course, AQ still keeps "scale mail" instead of replacing it with the former, which is kind of lame.
  • the magic-user classes, ESPECIALLY the shi'ar kit, is done better than my own spell-using classes, which adhere too closely to the original game rules (even as they don't...more on that later). makes me want to scrap the whole mage concept and ONLY use a knock-off version of the shi'ar. Dammit!
I suppose I could just make my game MORE generic (i.e. more like "classic D&D"), but I agree with the conclusion Noisms came to the other day: having a particular authorial flavor or personality makes rule systems a lot more palatable (if not more digestible) than more generic, "bland" RPGs. I guess I'll just bite the bullet and accept that I'm not terribly original.

Or maybe I'll throw more Gorean elements into the game/setting.
; )

I am NOT tempted to re-write Al-Qadim wholesale (say, as a B/X campaign setting, something I was looking at doing with Dark Sun for sure) looks a little over-worked and under-whelming in most areas, and even though I LIKE a lot of what's in the book, I'm not sure it really delivers what it promises. And how can they get away with NOT presenting the True Faith as an option for character worship?

That being said, I fully intend to keep this one on the work bench, and may well borrow some of its cooler ideas (like the shi-ar class or random sandstorm tables) for my own game.

: )


  1. Never read AQ, but I ran a C&C campaign a few years back where I got a lot of the "Arabian Nights" flavor from GAZ02 (Ylaruam)

  2. Ylaruam is the one Of the few Gazeteers I do NOT own. And I wish I did (it's really damn hard to find these days).

  3. Noisms is wrong. "Flavors" tend to be covering-up strategies for food-companies who want people to forget their food has no substance or nutritional value.

    You want a good world? Forget what it tastes like going down. Think about how long it takes before you're hungry again.

  4. I love AQ when I was in high school. Very original for its time. I yanked the holy slayers for my home brew. Your posts on the planet or eris got me working on my own- The Flaming Canyons of the Transfigured Dawn. I riffed of Jeff's abstract gods for Mangalla whiched fixed a lot of my issues with clerics. One of the deities is "the secret word". The followers are holy slayers. Their special power for B/X is the only clerics that can cast Finger of Death. They also surprise on a 1-3 on a D6. If they surprise they can assassinate if the humanoid is the same or lower hit dice. If they hit, the target fails a save vs. death they are killed. Their chosen weapons are daggers and garottes. They can fight with any weapon as a Normal Man so as not to give themselves away. Their other restriction is they can't sneak or use their assassinate ability if they are in armor heavier than leather. They are unfortunately the only faith that is illegal. Penalty is death. I got the idea from AQ plus the book Kings of Albion. Of course like all B/X whether the conditions are right for surprise is up to the DM. Allows for soma sneaky assassins with a simple mechanic- which can also be use in a dungeon unless someone in the party doesn't want the risk of being hung if the townsfolk find out they have been hangin' with holy slayer. Peace Steve

  5. I never did pick up Al Qadim way back when. I think this was when they were releasing new campaign settings at a record pace - too fast for me to keep up, anyway.

  6. I don't remember seeing this, but I do know that I have wanted to do more with the "arabic" portion of my fantasy world for decades. Some time in the 90's I had a brief visit or two for characters, but just passing thru stuff. I alway ended up focusing more on the Asian and Roman type areas of my fantasy world. Still, I still have hope for Arabian Knights type stuff for some day in the future.

  7. I was tempted to try this when it came out, but my gaming was fading by then and I never did. Have often wondered what it was like.

  8. I'm running an Al-Qadim campaign, and I agree with that it doesn't deliver what it promises. Parts of the book are really good, like the rules for the Evil Eye and the Sha'ir. And even if the mechanical aspects of the other kits are often a bit underwhelming, all of them are apropriate for the background.
    The Complete Sha'ir Handbook has some kits wich are also nicely done.