Al-Qadim is an Arabian Nights-themed campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. The setting was developed by Jeff Grubb for TSR, Inc., and was first released in 1992. Al-Qadim is set in the land of Zakhara, called the “Land of Fate.” Thematically, the land of Zakhara is a blend of the historical Arabian Empire, the stories of legend, and a wealth of Hollywood cinematic history.
Zakhara is a peninsula on the continent of Faerûn in the world of Toril, the locale of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, although Al-Qadim is designed to stand on its own or be added to any existing campaign setting. The basic campaign setting was divided between two game products: Al-Qadim: Arabian Adventures, a sourcebook describing character creation rules, equipment, and spells unique to the setting, and Al-Qadim: Land of Fate, a boxed set describing the land of Zakhara, with separate sourcebooks for the players and the Dungeon Master.
There are a number of important concepts to the Zakharan culture including honor, family, social station, purity, piety, and hospitality.
Zakharan society is broken into two main divisions:
- Al-Badia: The nomadic desert people.
- Al-Hadhar: The city people.
Zakhara's society is made up mainly of humans, but demihumans such as elves and dwarves are present in the setting also, as well as humanoids such as orcs, goblinoids, and ogres. Unlike most settings, there is practically no racial disharmony in Zakhara: humans, elves, and orcs alike share the same culture, lifestyle, and social status, and races traditionally considered evil savages, such as goblins, are instead valued members of society. The nomadic Al-Badia are predominantly human, whereas the Al-Hadhar possess greater diversity. The nomads and city-dwellers, humans and non-humans alike, are all united as a single culture under a single religion (a polytheistic pastiche of Islam) and as subjects of the caliph; the entire continent is effectively a single empire, although different regions, city-states, and tribes have unique local cultures.
Not all inhabitants of Zakhara belong to the shared culture, however; there are many tribes of pagan human barbarians who reject the Law of the Loregiver and the worship of the Pantheon, and certain monstrous races—including the yuan-ti, the vile yak-men (or yikaria, as they call themselves), and most giants—dwell apart in their own societies.
The people of Zakhara speak and write a common language called Midani (represented by Arabic).
Zakhara has a wide variety of gods, but all recognize the power of Fate. Fate may cast down the mightiest sultan or raise up the meanest beggar. None can agree on her nature, whether the mother of the gods or an elemental force. All acknowledge her power, however. In Dungeons & Dragons game terms, Fate is not given statistics, spells, or priesthoods as are most deities.
In the distant past, a woman known only as the Loregiver penned the scrolls that clearly laid out the laws of the land, some say guided by the hand of Fate. The wisdom of this Lore was immediately recognized and became the basis of law in Zakhara. The vast majority of Al-Hadhar and most Al-Badia are Enlightened in the way of the Loregiver.
Player characters in the Al-Qadim setting can choose from any of a number of character types. Al-Qadim makes use of the concept of character kits, a more rigid layer atop the traditional Dungeons & Dragons character classes. These kits are generally available to all characters, with certain restrictions based on the race of the character.
All races are present, including humans, elves, dwarves, half-elves, gnomes, and halflings, although they do not suffer many of the racial prejudices traditional to most Dungeons & Dragons campaign settings. Non-human characters are rarer than they are in other traditional Dungeons & Dragons settings, including the rest of Abeir-Toril.
Kits described in the core campaign setting are as follows:
- Askar: a kind of citizen warrior.
- Corsair: Sea-born warriors; your typical swashbuckler.
- Desert Rider: Nomadic fighters who ride horses and camels across the desert.
- Faris: Holy warriors fighting for their faith and their people.
- Mamluk: A slave warrior noted for the special tattoos they wear.
- Mercenary Barbarian: Warriors from abroad come to fight for money, fame, or power.
- Outland Warrior: A fighter truly foreign to the land of Zakhara.
- Elemental Mage: A master of one of the four elements: sand (earth), sea (water), flame (fire), or wind (air).
- Sha' ir: A wizard whose magic centers on genies and is aided by its familiar, a gen (minor genie).
- Sorcerer: A wizard who deals with two elemental forces. They are the most common mages in Zakhara.
- Ajami: Any outland wizard from beyond the Land of Fate.
- Sa'luk: A free man or woman who follows his or her own path.
- Barber: Experts in the ways of the bazaar and the city.
- Beggar-Thief: Often overlooked by others, beggar thieves can go places others would be noticed.
- Holy Slayer: An assassin working for an assassin order.
- Matrud: Cast out of their tribes, these individuals make their own way in the Land of Fate.
- Merchant-Rogue: Masters of the mercantile arts, these individuals carry their trade from town to town.
- Rawun: The story-tellers and bards of Zakharan society.
- Pragmatist: The most liberal and common of all priests, the pragmatist tries to adapt their faith to the everyday world.
- Ethoist: Conservative priests who promote a particular path.
- Moralist: The most conservative and intolerant among the priests.
- Hakima: Wise women who serve as valuable advisors to the outer tribes.
- Kahin: These are the idol-priests of Zakhara, and often champions of nature.
- Mystic: Hermitic priests who tend to visit populous centers to deliver prophetic pronouncements.
- Outland Priest: A priest who follows a faith foreign to the Land of Fate.
Al-Qadim had a number of support products released before the line came to an end. These include:
- Al-Qadim: Land of Fate (Box Set) TSR #1077 (1992)
- City of Delights (Box Set) TSR #1091 (1993)
- Monstrous Compendium Al-Qadim Appendix (MC13)
- Secrets of the Lamp (Box Set)
- Cities of Bone (Box Set)
- A Dozen and One Adventures (Box Set)
- Reunion (Adventure Module)
- Ruined Kingdoms (Box Set)
- The Complete Sha'ir's Handbook (Accessory Book)
- Assassin Mountain (Box Set)
- Golden Voyages (Box Set)
- Caravans (Box Set)
- Corsairs of the Great Sea (Box Set)
Official material Edit
V3.5 edition material Edit
- Sha' ir core class (in Dragon 315) )
- Barber, Corsair, Holy Slayer, and Mamluk prestige classes (in Dragon 321)
- Al-Qadim campaign site
- Al-Qadim art gallery
- TSR Archive Al-Qadim product list
- The New Arabian Adventure
- Pen & Paper RPG database