Land of Fate
I've already mentioned that I enjoy Arabian settings in my review of Arabian Adventures. I also said that the lack of background in Arabian Adventures had a solution -- Land of Fate -- one of two box sets I bought with the sourcebook. As with all TSR box sets, Land of Fate is full of stuff -- some useful and some less so.
Two books provide the meat of the box: Adventurer's Guide to Zakhara and Fortune and Fate (which has the unfortunate honour of having "For the Dungeon Master™ Only" written on the cover -- haven't we got past that yet?). Adventurer's Guide to Zakhara -- or "Player's Handbook" -- starts with the obligatory Introduction before launching into Lay of the Land. This chapter provides a description of all the symbols that appear on the included maps. How useful this is depends on whether you are interested I what a harrat is or how to get around a kavir. The next two chapters -- Life in Town and Life in the Desert -- are the most useful if you are interested in getting a handle on Arabian style adventures in general. They provide a nice dichotomy between desert and town life that can be the source of some interesting roleplaying. Most of the information is general in nature and could be transplanted to any geographical location. Religion is nicely cover in Gods and Faiths with covers the various great, local and savage gods. The next five chapters -- Cities of the Heart, Cities of the North, Cities of the Pearl, Cities of the Pantheon and Cities of the Ancients -- provide the Zakhara specific information required to play in this setting. Over twenty cities that make up the land of fate are described. A lot of information is presented: the current ruler; important people at court; the size of the city; features of the city; major imports and exports; the size of armed forces located in the city; religious status; and major figures outside the court. Speckled throughout are hints, rumors and thread that could become the kernel for adventures. Also include are five legends from Zakhara folklore (though why as an appendix), a guide to the language and the Zakharan calendar.
Fortunes and Fates (close your eyes if you are a player) is a little less impressive. Skipping over the obligatory chapter on Magical Items and High-level Characters, the rest of the book is a bit more interesting. The discussion on The Law and how it affects the characters is a nice touch. Of more interest are the chapters on Power Groups and Secrets of Zakhara. Though the discussion on how to create your own secret group annoying, I like the idea of all the secret sects running around doing their own thing. There are a lot of good adventure ideas lurking in these groups.
Pulling out the books, what are we left with? There are three maps I mentioned earlier, one overview map and two more detailed (with a plastic thing to put over them). A few more sheets to put in your Monstrous Compendium (if you have the binder version) and twelve cards with various bits of information round out the set.
Summary: If you're interesting in roleplaying in an Arabian setting, Land of Fate provides you with the backbones of a fairly decent setting. Even if you want to play AD&D, Land of Fate is going to be much more useful than Arabian Adventures. It all depends on how much legwork your willing do yourself to overcome in cohesion that exists between the two books.
© 2000 David Schibeci