Thursday, February 19, 2015

RPG Resources for an Arabian Nights Game: Al-Qadim and Beyond

It must have been around 1993 when I got the Al-Qadim book for AD&D. Its loomed in the back of my mind as something I've yearned to try since then: I made a crappy attempt or two in highschool, and was able to vaguely use it as a setting for some SaturD&D when I lived with the Antagonizer, but I never got to actually run any of its grand boxed sets.

Still, I kinda yearn for that and now that I basically live here I feel like I should give an Arabian Adventure its fare shake. Plus, I've actually almost completed my Al-Qadim collection (just have to re-purchase one boxed set that I got which did not have the maps in it). There's a lot of inspiration to go on though. This is an in-progress list with uneven annotations and formatting, but it might be useful to others as well, however imperfect. I'll update it as I form stronger opinions or if I miss anything.

Official D&D

d20/Pathfinder Supplements

  • Dunes of Desolation. Frog God Games. Pathfinder supplement. Covers some different types of deserts as well. 
  • Endless Sands. Avalanche Press. d20 supplement.
  • Southlands. Kobold Press. A pathfinder supplement for the Midgaard campaign setting. I kickstarted this but haven't gotten a chance to really look yet.
  • Legacy of Fire. Pathfinder adventure path. I keep thinking about picking this one up, but I never do.

Historical Settings/Games

These are all adaptations to a real-world medieval Arab setting. As such, they're all actually pretty decent for the background info. The rules are all different, but they're useful for inspiration. The Caliphate Nights one is particularly good.
  • Tales of the Caliphate Nights. True 20. Real-world based. This is really an excellent supplement, but I'm a bit more into the fantastic rather than the real-world. Still, great inspiration.
  • Gurps Arabian Nights. Real-world based.
  • Rolemaster Arabian Nights. Real-world based.
  • Nights of the Crusade. A self-contained, ENie & Origins nominated, RPG. Real-world based story game.

Indie Games

There's a number of 1001 nights inspired indie storytelling games. They're here:


Not required, but certainly helpful for many people. I've been picking up some when I can find them. Unfortunately, non-western minis can be difficult to come by [Edit: easier when you try a few different search terms, see below.]. If you've got a bit of cash to spend, the Reaper ones are good and you have a few options for PCs. Genies aren't hard to find either. But if you want camels (dromedary, not bactrian), river crocodiles and hippos, less pirate-y corsairs, and appropriate monsters (yak-men anyone?) you have to look around a bit. There's a good variety of human warriors for various war games though, so less-heroic fighters are relatively simple to find, even mounted ones.
  • Legend of the Sands. Reaper makes a fair number of Arabian themed minis, and this is a good collected set. Reaper is generally top tier.
  • There was a company called megaminis that made a good little variety of Arabian minis, though they are smaller scale (25mm?) than is the fashion these days (28+mm). I'm not sure the sculpt quality was up to today's standards (more like the 90s minis) but they're eminently useable.
  • As always, the second hand market for D&D minis and pathfinder ones is invaluable, but its best to keep up semi-regularly (once a year or so) to get them while they're reasonably priced. Some of the D&D minis from 10 years ago are ridiculously expensive for what they are. Then again, for less than $2 you can pick and choose, and a lot of the monsters are even appropriate for the setting. I've had good luck ordering singles from a bunch of different places. Sometimes you can shop for the best price, but with shipping its usually just easier to order from one pace.
  • I'm not sure how Hero Forge stacks up yet, but its likely you can build some decent options.
  • Shieldwolf Minis has a few "Araves" which are obviously Arabian-themed minis. 4 Genies plus a few heros and a Roc monster. They currently have a kickstarter where you can pick them up for a bit cheaper. These look pretty good, but I haven't ordered any yet. Possibly on-par with Reaper.
  • Perry Miniatures has some Muslim Crusaders which looks like it has a couple worthwhile minis. Specifically Muslim Civilians and Emir's Court. Worth a look but I haven't spent for them.
  • Black Tree Design has a number of saracens and warriors of Islam, including flying carpets and camel riders. 
  • There's also a set of saracens for Hell Dorado. They seem on the pricier side.
  • Harwood Hobbies has a Sinbad line. 
  • Steve Barber has some in a 25mm Arabian line, they look on-par with the now-defunct MegaMinis.
  • West Wind has some "The Mummy" figures. A few of the less 1920s looking one have guns though.
  • Artizan has a number of dark ages moors.
  • Gripping Beast likewise has moors.
  • Monolith's Conan board game will have a Stygia expansion that could have some good minis.
I guess the message is don't be afraid to use those old timey racist-sounding orientalist terms in your search. Also, there's a lot of miniatures out there for war games that could easily be repurposed for RPGs as long as you want a bunch of similar-looking men with spears.

Arabian Nights Texts:

The absolute best and most readable translations of the Nights are The Arabian Nights by Hussain Haddawy. And there's even a kindle edition. I don't think it matters which edition you pick up as long as he's the translator though. His Arabian Nights only covers some of the oldest portions, but he's also got a companion volume with Sindbad, Ali Baba, and Aladdin (no Kindle version yet though, so I haven't read it).  This isn't a victorian translation, but modern and readable. It looks like these are republished versions of the 1990s editions, so I doubt you'll miss much by getting an older, used copy.

RPG things I haven't looked at yet:

[Updated: Added a bunch of minis and formatting. 7March2015: And also notes on the actual Nights stories themselves.]

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