I've always been interested in Arabian settings for roleplaying adventures -- the second adventure I wrote was set in a Arabian country. So when Military Simulations had Arabian Adventures, Land of Fate and City of Delights on special I couldn't help myself. Al-Qadin is the name for TSR's Arabian campaign for Fogottern Realms. The first sourcebook they release for the setting was Arabian Adventures, which they suggest can be used to give any campaign an Arabian flavour it is designed specifically for Zakhara. As mentioned above, Zakhara is located in the Fogottern Realms world of Faerun, so if your characters have tired of the high fantasy setting of Waterdeep and surrounds this may be your ticket to reviving their interest.
The sourcebook is divided into eight sections. It starts off with The Land of Fate -- the common name for Zakhara. It gives a broad overview of the land and its people, covering such important concepts of honour, family, purity and hospitality. It gives a flavour to the rest of the book as well as a strong foundation to build on. Characters starts the rules specific chapters and gives a broad overview of how character mechanics work in Al-Qadin. This is built on by Character Kits which details over twenty new character kits. What I found most disturbing was they felt it necessary to place all outlander characters in one of four general character kits (according to their class). Why did they feel it was necessary? Can't the character kits coexist happily? It seems odd that a sourcebook that encourages "cross-pollination" between campaigns should have this strange quirk. The trilogy of character chapters ends with Proficiencies, which details eleven Al-Qadin specific proficiencies (or at least variations).
Perils of Adventure covers travel and survival in Zakhara while At the Bazaar covers the obligatory new equipment. The final two chapters covers wizards (Sha'ir Abilities and Wizard Spells). The first is of the most interest as it covers rules on genies and their kin (the second is just a chapter with more spells). This is where more of the uniqueness comes and there is much to recommend in this section.
Arabian Adventures seems to suffer in much the same way as the Earthdawn rulebook. Too much time seemed to have been spent in tweaking the core rules and not enough on the background. But like Earthdawn the solution is another sourcebook -- Land of Fate.
Summary: Overall not bad. It serves its purpose in providing GMs an easy way to integrate Arabia into their AD&D campaigns, but is a little light on the background.
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© 2000 David Schibeci