Monday, December 5, 2016

A Mirage Appears Before Me


That's a Leap of Faith, right? (I know nothing about Assassin's Creed.)



The leaves have nothing on how changeable my moods can be.

The current duet game is a modern paranormal romance/urban fantasy game borrowing heavily from Changeling : The Dreaming, but not quite using that setting’s mythology (I should be using either Fae Nightmares or Marchland for Savage Worlds, as I own both, but I just can’t seem to penetrate either of those books.) A few weeks in, though, and I find myself fantasizing about running an Al-Qadim campaign.

Al-Qadim, for those not familiar with it, was AD&D 2nd Edition’s setting of pseudo-Arabian, 1,001 Nights-inflected adventure. I bought the first book – Al-Qadim: Arabian Adventures – and first boxed set – Al-Qadim: Land of Fate – back when they first came out, but never ran the setting. As a fan of the Forgotten Realms, I was put off by the rather high-handed tone the new setting took toward the older one, calling out the cultures of Faerun as backwards and barbaric compared to the civil and cosmopolitan lands of Zakhara.

I realize now that designer Jeff Grubb was just channeling a bit of historical accuracy from the time of the Crusades, but it really rankled back then (and I still think it’s functionally incorrect, given the vast age and technological advancement of Faerunian culture). In fact, I’m amused and impressed at how hard TSR worked to avoid (and even reverse) the orientalism one might have expected from a mishmash of authentic Middle Eastern history, dubious folklore, and Ray Harryhausen’s Sinbad movies.

Ironically, of course, my own interest in the setting verges on the orientalist. I’m intrigued by Al-Qadim’s possibilities precisely because of the sensuality and passion my primitive lizard brain associates with belly dancers and harems, windswept dunes and blue seas, shirtless heroes and scimitars. Perhaps I want those harems to be reversed (after all, I as GM am catering to Robin as the player, not vice versa), but I still want the game to drip with mystery and the exotic.

(And before any of my fellow Savage Worlds fans chime in, yes, I do own the Hellfrost; Land of Fire product line in PDF. I just find it less sexy than Al-Qadim. Heck, I’d probably run the game using Savage Worlds and stealing NPC stats from Land of Fire as I have no desire to much around with 2nd Edition again.)

It’s probably the rain and the cold and the promise of an unpleasant winter ahead (both in the physical and metaphorical senses) that have me suddenly sympathetic to a pseudo-Islamic setting. Oh well, we just started this paranormal romance game, so it’s not like we’re just going to throw it away already. I’ll just have to keep this idea in mind for a few months, and maybe build up some materials for it. In the meantime, I guess I’ll just jam to the hypnotic tunes of the Pandora traditional Arabic-Andalusian station and dream of warmer climes as a vision of genies and domed cities dances before my eyes.

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