Arabian Adventures - Little Details to Spice It Up

edited October 2010 in Story Games
I'm running an Arabian Adventures themed game of Old School Hack this weekend but am a little poor in the neat little details I can throw in to make it really feel like that kind of setting. Anybody got any details, themes, NPCs, etc to share?


  • edited October 2010
    Arabic and Persian name lists.

    Picaresques from :1001 Nights might be inspirational. Gotta have a Mercury Ali.
  • Mark: Great idea for a topic series, BTW. When I have time to sit and think, I'll put together something for Japan.

  • The Thief of Baghdad (1924) with Douglas Fairbanks: click
    I always though that movie had amazing visuals.

    I'm also fairly certain Abulafia has a 1001 nights oracle, but the server seems to be down again.
  • There's nothing in the world like the sound of a souq:
  • edited October 2010
    Bastard Swords
    Forty Thieves
    Flying Carpets
    Onion Domes
    Pointy shoes
    Rope Trick
    Sand storms
    Seering heat (Too hot to wear armor!)
  • If you want to break your Arabian adventures with some fantasy, here are my hints:

    Crusaders, Westerners, Europeans (maybe even a stray Viking) - in the role of the Strangers,
    Long-forgotten shrines buried in the sand,
    Cities of tents, giant tribes of nomads,
    Giant scorpions (with merchants' tents on the backs of those)
    Assassins and the Old Man in the Mountain,
    Turbans and Talwars,
    the Roc bird,
    Brass golems in the underground factories,
    Secret oasis working as a teleportation device,
    A flying city made of brass,
    Ancient race of snake people,
  • edited October 2010
    Poets who speak about sex and wine and at the same time about God
    Poetry competitions held on the roof after the sun goes down
    Poetry written like art upon the walls

    (Apparently I'm all about the Persian and Arabic poetry today...)

    Deep wells with cold water, with rooms built out around them to be cool during the day (or palace rooms built along rivers underground, for the same purpose)
    Walls carved with intricate stone filigree, both for beauty and to let the air move freely through the whole building
    Fountains of rosewater that are fanned by giant peacock feather fans, both driven by pumps worked by teams of donkeys under the building
    Thrones that are large, flat pedestals rather than chairs, with gilded pavilion tops
    Grand Mosques, Great Fortresses, greater Places, and Tombs that are the greatest of all

    Stiff silk brocade shirts
    Flowing cotton robes

    Camels that spit and struggle
    Horses that step high and toss their heads into the wind

    Mint tea
    Thick, creamy garlic sauce
    Lentils, rice, and chick peas cooked in a tajine or a tavvas
    Olives of many kinds dressed with lemon
    Oranges and mangos that explode upon the tongue

    Debates by learned scholars under cypess trees in long fountained courtyards
    Caravansaries in which every language of the earth is spoken and anything is for sale
    Esoteric mystical traditions that live unknown on the fringes of civilization
    Dervishes spinning and singing their way to enlightenment

    A king, who on receiving an insulting letter from a rival, replies only "You shall feel, and not read, my reply."
    A vizier who is building a House of Wisdom in which he intends to have a translated copy of every book ever written
    A philosopher who has just expounded the shocking and revolutionary theory that in order to progress knowledge one must put forward a hypothesis, test the hypothesis, make a theory based upon the tests, and then publish that theory for peer review. He says that this, rather than ontology, is the route to true knowledge.
    A queen of a tribal people who worships a fallen angel who she says will save men from the fascism of God
    The greatest warrior of the land, honor bound to serve a king who is immoral and unworthy, now going to do battle against his son who is in righteous rebellion, leading an army of commoners who say that the no man can be king without consent of both God and all his subjects
    A priest of a persecuted order who has just found the boy that is the Gate of the Word of God, and must hide his nature from the world until the boy is ready to Speak Truth
    A wicked mage who has killed the king and now rules in his place, using magic and illusion, seduction and trickery to rule as though he was the king
    The untamable, unstoppable leader of the horse nomads, come to bring destruction and terror on one hand and new law and commerce on the other
    The clever daughter of a bazzar merchant who plans to marry the prince she loves despite his family's disapproval
    The wife of an unfaithful husband who makes herself into a courtesan in disguise so that when he goes out to cheat, he actually cheats on her with her

    Now I have to go to dinner, maybe I'll do more later
  • Don't forget the Shia Sunni split! The land of peace is not a monolith. Shiite revolutionaries are forever waiting out in the desert to ride in and put an Imam decendent from the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the Caliphate. It all comes down to a single point "Is holyness in the blood or in what a person does?" I personally don't think religion is a genetic trait (which probably explains why I'm Sunni).

    Oh, and there are those crazy Sufis with their wild teaching stories and mystical ways.

    One area I've long thought would be fun would be a game that played around with the statues of the pre-Islamic period goddesses. Al Uzza and Al Lat. They could be demons or effrets.

    And don't forget the Djinn - many of them are also Muslim (It says so in the Quaran.)

    Chris Engle
  • I love Sufi-ism, I can't believe I forgot about that.
  • If you can get your hands on the old Al-Qadim stuff from TSR's 2nd Edition AD&D, they have some nice thematic bits scattered through it, including impromptu cultural lessons in the middle of rulebooks. It's not perfect but then you're talking about a game of Old School Hack anyway... (Drop me a note if you can't find PDFs of the material.)
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