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Al-Qadim: Land of Fate (5e conversion)

DrOct

Villager
[MENTION=20323]Quickleaf[/MENTION]! This is really impressive! I'm very excited to keep following the development!
 
Thanks [MENTION=65948]DrOct[/MENTION]

[MENTION=6798775]Ath-kethin[/MENTION] also made the point that I should resolve any issues of income from the project, since there's a few folks getting involved now :) In the beginning it was just me, so it's awesome to see [MENTION=6789613]MessiahMushroom[/MENTION], [MENTION=6798775]Ath-kethin[/MENTION], and several others contributing things.

I'm thinking we'll offer it "pay what you want", and after any commissioned/purchased art costs are deducted, remaining profit would be donated to a charity like St. Jude's or American Red Cross. That way, it's clear this is for the love of the setting, not making money, and there's no bad feelings later.

Hopefully, what this will do is provide a common touchstone for anyone wanting to write DM's Guild products dealing with AL-QADIM in the future. Say you want to put together an AL-QADIM adventure, a monster book, or a class supplement? You could reference the Adventurer's Guide to Zakhara in your work. I think this plays to one of the strengths of DM's Guild which is that, ideally, it allows sharing of ideas and linking of products in this way.

Your input sought!
One point I've heard brought up a couple times is questioning the 100 year time jump that happened in FR, and claiming AL-QADIM should be insulated from this time jump as well as the Spellplague/Sundering shenanigans. I'd like to hear from you guys and gals what you think about this?

Should I throw together a poll maybe?
 
Also, a very worthwhile read from Jeff Grubb about the AL-QADIM line...some thoughts relevant to the question of whether AL-QADIM should be seen as part of FR or not...

http://grubbstreet.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/l-is-for-land-of-fate.html

Jeff Grubb said:
Shannon Appelcline, who writes a great deal on the history of RPG Projects, got in touch with me a few weeks back asking about Al-Qadim - any behind the scene stories and the like. Well, I had a few, and warned him that it would eventually show up in the blog. So therefore L is for the Land of Fate, and here is what I sent him.

1) Al-Qadim Arabian Adventures (1992) was conceived as being a companion piece to Oriental Adventures. While OA was put together and then glued onto the Realms (there was some shrinking of the map scale in the process - Zeb put in not one but two full-sized Chinas onto Kara-Tur's map), Arabian Adventures was planned from the get-go to be part of the Realms, and situated to the south of the existing Realms map. The name of the area, Zakhara, evoked the word "sahara", and went to the Z because Abeir-Toril started with an A. [Hey, A to Z reference!]

2) The name itself was a challenge, in that there were different needs from marketing (which wanted a name that said everything and didn't need to be explained) versus legal (which wanted new words which didn't have any other meaning). At one point the name was "Burning Sands", which everyone on the creative side just hated (though I was amused when it showed up years later as part of Five Rings CCG). I was armed with an arabic dictionaries, and came up with the Al-Qadim, which meant, according to my dictionary "The ancient". I put it in some cool fonts and we sold that name in.

3) However, management was concerned that the name may have other connotations that we didn't know about. Maztica, for example, sounds like the Mexican word for "chew" (Doug had checked the name with other Spanish-speakers, but they were from the Caribbean, and as such did not make the connection). Since my Arabic dictionary was printed in New Dehli, I went to the Internet User Groups for help, and got that the name meant ancient, old, venerable, and wise. One contributor noted that it meant old in the sense of stale - "This cheese is old". Not horrible, but we kept the name, and thanked David Hirsch and Daniel Wolk in the credits for their help.

4) Speaking of credits, the great hero of this project was Andria Hayday, who served as the editor but is credited with "Additional Writing and Development". She is responsible, with graphic designer Stephanie Tabat, for the look of the project. She fought for the style of the Karl Waller line drawings, the gold foil borders (a 5th color), and the end papers. More importantly, she wrote the bulk of what became the first chapter. Originally we were planning on talking about the society at the end of the book, much like we did for OA. But her work was so good we moved it to the front, and I argued to give her full co-credit. She passed on getting her name mentioned on the cover (she didn't want to get gaming questions), but I got her name on the back.

5) Another unsung hero was Jon Pickens, who, when we first started talking about AQ (and it took a few years to put it on the schedule), started collecting books on the subject. When I started on it he delivered three boxes full of books to my office. My favorite was a Marxist analysis of Bedouin life, and it was from that volume I pulled the name "sha'ir" for our wizard kit. In addition to Jon's books, I had also been reading the Burton Arabian Nights and followed a lot of pop culture - Harryhausen movies and the like. We wanted the game to be a combination of history, mythology, and modern knowledge on the subject.

6) This was an era when we did a lot of "kits", and with AQ the kits blossomed pretty much fully into subclasses. Many of them paralleled western classes, but their own flavor. I think we had the first female-only kit with the Hakima. When I first wrote up the Corsair, I used the female pronoun because the art piece we used showed a female character. Andria changed it, which was probably for the best.

7) One thing that the Arabian legends did not have was the mixture of Tolkienesque races. As a result, Zakhara was created as a more cosmopolitan world, where species and race did not matter nearly as much. It made for a different flavor in the game.

8) Another big difference was Faith. Religion was and is a touchy matter, and we wanted the faiths of Zakhara to be evocative of the Middle East, but no more descriptive of living faiths than the Gods of Faerun are to western religion. As a result, gods themselves were gathered into pantheons as opposed to having their own unique clerics, which again made the world feel more cosmopolitan. We did break the priest classes of these pantheons into three broad groups - The Faith Pragmatist, The Faith Ethoist, and the Faith Moralist. These were based more on outlook on Protestant denominations (Unitarians, Presbyterians, and Baptists, if I remember right) than any Middle-Eastern group.

9) The concept of Fate worked well for a number of reasons - it gave us an overgod like Ao who would be evoked but not worshipped. It gave us neat little evocation ("We have no fate but the fate that we are given"). And it gave us a reason for what Ed had all of these Middle-Eastern style civilizations scattered around the Realms - Anauroch, Raurin, Thay, Calimishan, et al. In Ed'd campaign, he would always put these Arabian Night civilizations on the borders, and as his borders grew in his campaign, he just added more. We created a folk legend where the various peoples could not get along, so Fate banished them to the far corners of the world for a time out.

9) The cover was a bit of challenge, in that we asked for a horse. Jeff Easley is a great artist, but does not like drawing horses and has gotten flack for it from the fans (I don't get this - I like his horses). As an option we suggested a young woman opening a bottle and genie coming out. He created a very cheesecake piece (which was used in the "Women of Fantasy" calender that year) which looked like the young lady was ... um ... smuggling bowling balls in her vest. So we went back to the horse.

10) The interior art was great, but Jim Ward was concerned about nipple rings on the ogres in one piece. We had that one fixed. However, we did get a letter after publication from someone who was angry about the "blatant foreplay" we showed in one picture. That would be the one of two genies (male and female) playing chess on page149. OK, we had a good laugh on that one.

11) The map of the world was designed to be broken up into components for the boxed adventure sets. If we did them all (we didn't), we would end up with a huge mega-map.

12) Andria and I conceived of the line as having a definite life span of two, maybe three years tops. We did not want to fall into the mode where we had to do an AQ adventure every year, regardless of sales (see OA or Greyhawk). We would do cool stuff, and once the sales trailed off, we would be done. I think we did two years, then they added a third, and then we were asked for a fourth (which would have included the Land of the Yak Men, which was going to be Tibetian in nature), but management changed their minds and so the line closed out

13) The big rivalry in-house was with another desert-based adventure - Dark Sun. Dark Sun sold better per units than AQ, but AQ didn't have as high a unit cost (we didn't do the ring-bound adventure books and custom boxes), and as such is remembered more fondly. Further, we pitched AQ very much as being a sequel to Oriental Adventures. DS was going to "Replace the Realms" which was a statement that often would be the kiss of death for a line.

14) When we launched, we were supposed to run demos at GenCon Milwaukee. I got fezzes for our demo team, we had some play areas map up to look like desert terrain, and we ran short adventures (Andria and I actually came up with what the specific adventures were while driving to GenCon - I was going to make them up on the fly, while she wanted just a tad more structure). And I am the one responsible for the gong - I borrowed it from the Lake Geneva High School orchestra, and we were to ring it only at the end of the demo. The sales booth said later that every time the gong rang, they got more AQ books out of storage for sale. Other people running demos next to us did not like the gong so much, primarily because Jim Ward loved the gong, and would strike it whenever he was nearby. After the second day we started hiding the striker from him.

15) The books sold well - Dark Sun sold better, as I noted, and we got good reviews. I was told (but never saw the figures) that it sold very well in Israel, which is cool. I am very proud of what we did, and happy to have worked on it.
 
A poll might be nice to see everyone's opinion. Personally, I could go either way. My players are relatively new and wouldn't know or really care to know about some historic event that doesn't really relate to them or their story.
[MENTION=20323]Quickleaf[/MENTION], the .pdf is looking so good! I've got a few monster conversions we can add too (mostly beasts for our friend, the moon druid). The antlion lacewing, giant antlion larva, giant serval, dire lion, hippopotamus, giant mason wasp, elephant bird, giant monitor, and giant horned lizard are all primed and ready!
 
[MENTION=20323]Quickleaf[/MENTION], the .pdf is looking so good! I've got a few monster conversions we can add too (mostly beasts for our friend, the moon druid). The antlion lacewing, giant antlion larva, giant serval, dire lion, hippopotamus, giant mason wasp, elephant bird, giant monitor, and giant horned lizard are all primed and ready!
Thanks! Those style guides you linked me to helped quite a bit.

I'd actually encourage you to hold off on including your monster conversions in this product. I think that kind of work is worthy of an independent monster book that you'd deserve to be remunerated for! If there's one thing that DMs are always looking for, it's new monsters after all :)

EDIT: On second thought, since those are all animals, they would be useful for wizard's familiars, beastmaster ranger companions, and druid's summonings?
 
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So poll options would be something like...

In a conversion product for AL-QADIM on DM's Guild, how would you want to see the story and setting treated?

1) Leave the story/setting out of it - that's what dndclassics.com is for. Just do a rules conversion document covering kits, spells, equipment, and magic items.

2) Unchanged setting. Use the setting from the original AD&D books unchanged, providing a synopsis of cities/tribes from the boxed sets.

3) Follow the Forgotten Realms timeline. Update the setting to the 100 year time jump and Spellplague/Sundering that occurred in FR.

4) Other
 
Well, it appears I've been gone too long. These are some intriguing developments I'd very much like in on as my group is just about to do some trial runs with my conversion materials in a month or so.

I hadn't even considered the possibilities of the Judge's Guild.

So. I'd be very happy to work on whatever section might be needed, but here's what I've got or partially got:
1. A list of all of the kits worked out as backgrounds
2. A reworking of the background personal characteristics into the virtues of Al Quadim
3. A lot of use of the optional rules from the DMG

So what I'd propose is that I'd be very happy to contribute an appendix covering the use of DMG options for Al Quadim. The DMG at the time of release Al Quadim's release was not what the customization engine it is now and it might help cut some time out for people and/or better demonstrate the unique possibilities of the setting.
 
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Well, it appears I've been gone too long. These are some intriguing developments I'd very much like in on as my group is just about to do some trial runs with my conversion materials in a month or so.

I hadn't even considered the possibilities of the Judge's Guild.
Nice to see you back, mate! Yes, we're slowly gaining steam.

I'm actually burning the midnight oil working on a Kahin conversion (a Circle of Aged Masters for druids).

Dr. Strangemonkey said:
So what I'd propose is that I'd be very happy to contribute an appendix covering the use of DMG options for Al Quadim. The DMG at the time of release Al Quadim's release was not what the customization engine it is now and it might help cut some time out for people and/or better demonstrate the unique possibilities of the setting.
Sure! What's an example of what you're thinking?

The "kits as backgrounds" model was something I considered early on. Then I realized that there are 3 types of kits in AD&D Al-Qadim...
  1. There are those that present new mechanics to the game, mostly spellcasters like the Astrologer, Clockwork Mage, Digitalogist, Elemental Mage, Ghul Lord, Mageweaver, Mystic of Nog, Sha'ir, Hakima, Kahin, and Mystic. These definitely need new sub-classes.
  2. Then there are those that are just a re-skin like the Askar, Mercenary Barbarian, Outlands Warrior, Ajami, Jackal, Matrud, Sa'luk, Ethoist, Moralist, Pragmatist, and Outlands Priest. These don't need much of anything, maybe a snippet of flavor text, but not much else.
  3. Then there are those that are a mix of class abilities and backgrounds, mostly "martial" archetypes. For example, the Corsair, Desert Rider, Mamluk, Barber, Beggar-Thief, Holy Slayer, and Merchant-Rogue. These are the ones that are a bit ambiguous. Most of them can be realized with existing PHB backgrounds and classes, though there is also a history of some of these being given d20 prestige classes write-ups. I have to make a judgment call on each of these on a case by case basis.

For example, take the Beggar-Thief. In the original AD&D it gave you a Face in the Crowd type ability, begging proficiency for free, some modifiers on thief abilities, and a penalty on reaction rolls with civilized beings. Sounds like the Urchin background to me, or a variant of it!

However, one thing I'm considering is going all out making it a sub-class with baked in flavor. I could look to parkour athletes, the Prince of Persia, and the Acrobat-Thief of old giving the sub-class features including Taunt, Misdirect Attack, and Reduce Falling Damage. And those would be cool features! Maybe I'll do that as an experiment and see if there's enough meat to put on those bones.

Then you could have a character of Noble background who becomes a Rogue (beggar-thief). Hmm, not sure I'm sold on that name "beggar-thief" as a sub-class. We'll see.
 
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Beggar-Thief sub-class (proof of concept)

Do you think the Beggar-Thief kit merits its own roguish archetype?

Here's my rough conceptual draft... is this worth pursuing? Or better to leave it as a background (Urchin: Beggar variant) + class (Rogue: thief)?

Beggar-Thief

Rooftop Tumbling
Starting at 3rd level when you choose this archetype, you take no damage from falls less than or equal to 10 times half your rogue level in feet. In addition, rising from prone no longer costs you any movement.

Face in the Crowd
At 3rd level, when you are in a city, you may blend in with the crowd effortlessly so as not to draw attention to yourself or to throw off pursuers. This allows you to make a Dexterity (Stealth) check in crowds, and if there is a significant beggar population you gain advantage on the check. Additionally, nobility and royalty tend to ignore you when passing you on the street.

Taunt
At 9th level, as a bonus action you can taunt a creature that can both hear and understand you. Make a Charisma (Performance) check opposed by the creature’s Wisdom (Insight) check.
If you win the contest, and the creature is hostile, it must target you with its next attack and cannot willingly move farther away from you. Additionally, its next attack against you is disadvantaged.
If you win the contest, and the creature is not hostile, it becomes hostile to you, acting in a manner suiting its nature.
If the creature wins the opposed check, it is immune to your Taunt for 24 hours.

Misdirect Attack
At 13th level, when a creature misses you with a disadvantaged attack, or a creature against whom you would have advantage misses you with an attack, you may use your reaction to misdirect their attack. The creature must re-roll the attack against another target of your choice within range.

Lightfoot
At 17th level, you gain a climb speed equal to your walking speed, you do not set off traps triggered by pressure plates or tripwires that you are aware of, and opportunity attacks made against you are disadvantaged.
 
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Nice to see you back, mate! Yes, we're slowly gaining steam.

I'm actually burning the midnight oil working on a Kahin conversion (a Circle of Aged Masters for druids).

Read more: http://www.enworld.org/forum/newreply.php?do=postreply&t=358985#ixzz3zMZbNayO
Thanks, it's very exciting to be a part of this.

Sure! What's an example of what you're thinking?
Oh, I got a LOT:
From the DMG -
  1. Flavors of Fantasy: Scimitar and Sorcery; Swashbuckling
  2. Ability Options: Skill Variants: Background Proficiency (let's us shoo in some of the specific AQ skills)
  3. Hero Points
  4. New Ability Scores: Honor
  5. Adventuring Options: Rest Variants: Desert Climate
From AQ:
  1. Honor, Family, Purity, Hospitality, Piety as Personal Characteristics
  2. Station in Life
  3. Calling Upon Fate
  4. The Evil Eye
  5. Bizarre Economics of the Suq

I've certainly been dabbling in more, but I think these are all fairly easy to spin off of the core products. We could certainly get, for instance, into some of the options presented by the Unearthed Arcana posts.

The "kits as backgrounds" model was something I considered early on. Then I realized that there are 3 types of kits in AD&D Al-Qadim...
I certainly ran into that, too. What made me persist with Backgrounds though is two things:
1. I REALLY liked the way AQ used Kits to push the setting specific character options right up front and put them all on the same level - without making all new classes or having to flip between books while deciding things - you do eventually, but you decide Askar vs Sha'ir first and then pick up the PHB you don't go "Ok, for Fighter I do PHB and then look at Askar backgrounds and for Sha'ir I do PHB then AQ for classes and then AQ or PHB for backgrounds.
2. I think the AQ kits kind of invalidate backgrounds. Like AQ was clearly using kits as backgrounds prior to backgrounds. A lot of products were, but my point is that that set-up creates some inherent dissonance between picking Mageweaver as an Archetype and having something other than Mageweaver as your background.

To solve that I did this:
1. Have everyone start at 4th level
2. Build archetypes where necessary and make them background dependent. So include language, where necessary, along the lines of, 'to pick the Sha'ir archetype you must have either the Sha'ir background; possess a gen familiar; OR have access to a bound genie.'
3. Reduce each kit to a Background.

So you COULD create a Mageweaver who does not have the specific Mageweaver archetype (someone who lost their powers say or who worked with them for years but never displayed the 'true' mystical talent) but not vice-versa - at least not without DM permission. Aladdin, for instance, clearly starts out with the Tomb-Robber background and then picked up the Sha'ir Archetype through multi-classing into Warlock after gaining access to a bound genie.

AND you would NOT need to justify every possible archetype for every possible class because some backgrounds are open to many archetypes, even if others are less so by theme, and the Backgrounds carry all of the 'setting appropriateness' including 'not appropriate to this setting and that's cool.'

I do not think this is necessarily a general solution, but I DO think that having all the kits listed at the background level is a neat option and presents us with some organizational benefits.

Also, crafting a background for every kit IS easier than doing an archetype for every kit - and when I was doing a solo-conversion that was a real consideration.
 
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Thanks [MENTION=6788732]cbwjm[/MENTION] for reminding me about the monk's slowfall ability. Another reason the beggar-thief probably doesn't need a sub-class.

I just put the finishing touches on the rough versions of the fighter sub-classes: Guard and Mamluk Officer. Any thoughts or critique?
I think you could turn the Beggar-thief into a sub-class but you'd need to base it on more direct source material like the Thief of Baghdad or some Wuxia tropes in that vein than on the original kit. Personally, I'd swap slow-fall out and make the theme of the archetype either (A) a dodge tank and/or (B) ambiguity.

At that point you might look at Bard as the class to work the Beggar-Thief off of rather than Rogue.

Though, honestly, Monk actually sounds like a cool base too.

For the two shown:

Are guards distinct from Askar? Because historically Askar are exactly who you would use for that.

And the side bar on Mamelukes is exactly the solution I had for kits into backgrounds, albeit with the priorities reversed.

I'd also be tempted to throw in a free proficiency at 3rd level for Engineering Tools to bring out the military-science aspect of the character type.

Also, in terms of the initial write-up on fighter options? Per Huzuz City of Delights there is a background proficiency anyone can pick up who has access to formal training in Zhakara that lets you throw down with cantrips. So an Eldritch Knight or Arcane Trickster can just come from any relatively civil place, in theory, and certainly from Huzuz in addition to Qutub.
 
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Redthistle

Explorer
Your input sought!
One point I've heard brought up a couple times is questioning the 100 year time jump that happened in FR, and claiming AL-QADIM should be insulated from this time jump as well as the Spellplague/Sundering shenanigans. I'd like to hear from you guys and gals what you think about this?

Should I throw together a poll maybe?
About this: avoiding the Spellplague taint is okay with me, but I'm thinking the Sundering could be made to work for AQ.

Since the pantheons for Zakhara are distinct from those in the rest of the FR, perhaps AQ was sheltered from the problems of the rest of the world by its own gods and powerful elementals - pulled into a pocket dimension, or hidden by magical mists, or maybe even a Brigadoon-like separation from the rest of the world.

The latter notion would allow for the denizens of Zakhara to have side-stepped the entire century that passed in the rest of the world, oblivious to all of the changes and troubles that abounded outside its own borders.
 
About this: avoiding the Spellplague taint is okay with me, but I'm thinking the Sundering could be made to work for AQ.

Since the pantheons for Zakhara are distinct from those in the rest of the FR, perhaps AQ was sheltered from the problems of the rest of the world by its own gods and powerful elementals - pulled into a pocket dimension, or hidden by magical mists, or maybe even a Brigadoon-like separation from the rest of the world.

The latter notion would allow for the denizens of Zakhara to have side-stepped the entire century that passed in the rest of the world, oblivious to all of the changes and troubles that abounded outside its own borders.
The pocket dimension, magic mists, endless sleep, or Brigadoon-like separation are interesting ideas.

Right now, we're leaning toward a toolkit approach, covering the baseline setting as it appears in the old AD&D books/boxed sets. Then adding a section about the Great Unbinding (AQ version of the Spellplague), along with sidebars about how to change cities/tribes to account for that change & time jump. We could also add a section about running AQ as coming out of a pocket dimension/magic mist/etc.

So that way it's up to each DM and his/her group how to incorporate Al-Qadim.
 

Bravesword

Villager
Here is a small preview of the gazzetter that I am currently working:

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Holy Emirates of the Pantheon

Fomerly known as League of the Pantheon or the Pantheist League, the cities of the Crowded Sea that exist at the eastern side of the Golden Gulf and extend their domains as far as the mountain rages of Al-Akara and Al-Sayaj, formed the Holy Emirates of the Pantheon in the last century, a group of semi independent city states that became united to face the threats and perils from the Great Unbinding that were unleashed in the Land of Fate. They used to pay tribute and creed to the Grand Caliph of the Enlightenment Caliphate, but became more independent and even declared their sovereign over the Caliphate over 40 years ago. The current situation is unstable and uncertain, especially due to the position that each heir of the Grand Caliph have to deal with these “rebel provinces”.

Their fate are based upon a concept that venerate only five gods as the True Gods of Zakhara: Hajama the Caorageous, Jauhar the Gemmed, Kor the Venerable, Najm the Adventurous and Selan the Beautiful Moon. They do not accept the worship of any other god in their domains, which is strictly forbidden. Almost all rulers of the Cities of the Emirates of the Pantheon are religious leaders as well, meaning that faith and politics are very related to each other.

In spite of their secular and conservative traditions, the recent formal union of the pantheist cities into a cohesive, independent and unified political entity took everyone by surprise, meaning that they represent today a new power to be recognized into the Land of Fate, since they formally expressed their desire to detach themselves from the Enlightenment Caliphate. The Grand Caliph even sent armies to reattach the Pantheist League into the empire, but the will of the people (guided by their skillfull sheikhs and imans of the Pantheon) renounced the rule of the Grand Caliph. In addition, the brief conflict had a huge cost for trade as well, and considering that the Pantheist League already had a practicably independent management, the sheikhs and the Grand Caliph began peace talks and even signed a treaty, granted a semi autonomous position to the new Holy Emirates of the Pantheon.

Even the recent turmoil that affected the kingdoms and domains of Zakhara did not affected the Emirates with the same intensity. The cities that form the “capital” of each of the Emirates are very united, representing as a result a prosperous development, meaning that in the Cities of the Pantheon poverty and beggars are much lesser than in similar cities of the Pearl Cities, the Cities of the North and the Tuiganate and even the rich cities of the Caliphate, including shinning Huzuz. The city of I’tiraf represent the capital of the Emirates as a whole, holding court from diplomats and representatives of all other lands from Zakhara.

The rulers of the Emirates know that sooner or later their rule of the newly independent kingdom may be challenged again, and they prepared themselves for such uncertainty. Their secular army called “Sword of the True Gods” improved over time, and their soldiers and mamluks are among the best of the Land of Fate. Each soldier never is allowed to serve in their emirate of birth, being placed in another emirate. This practice enforces the concept that they should be loyal to the Pantheist Gods first, the Emirates second, and their homeland third.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

I shall describe each of the cities, considering their recent activity and development in view of the Great Unbinding and the Sundering (we could have a name for this event in Zakhara as well).
 
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Interesting stuff [MENTION=61095]Bravesword[/MENTION]! :) Currently, myself and three of the others working on this have moved the heavy design work to Slack which is a great free team platform app. Mostly I've been working on player-side stuff (sub-classes, backgrounds, etc), so it's nice to see someone thinking about how the setting might evolve over the course of the FR's 100 year time jump.

In regards to the Spellplague/Sundering/100 yr jump stuff, the approach that we landed on was simple...

We're going to present the original AD&D setting as the baseline. Then we're going to have a section about the Great Unbinding and how things have changed...this can be in broad strokes, but if we have the energy then we can go for more depth.

Basically, trying to appeal to as many types of DMs/players as possible. Here's an excerpt:
 

Attachments

Every time you post an excerpt of the work you've done I get a little more excited to seeing the finished product.
:) I had some cool developments on the art front recently.

Besides Rob McCaleb generously donating his Zakhara map for us to use, I am looking into commissioning some sketches from a talented art student, and Mr. Karl Waller himself has graciously agreed to donate a couple of his old Al-Qadim illustrations to the project! If you recall, he did most of the interior black/white art in the AQ line :D

We're doing tons of writing now, but I'm keeping layout in mind as well. If anyone can recommend a good source for golden damask (?) border art like the kind in the AQ books let me know? I've found a couple options, but nothing really sold me on it yet.

The final release will be free on DM's Guild.

It will be accompanied by a separate release of template zip file for others who want to produce quality stuff on DM's Guild for Al-Qadim.

Personally, I have a killer adventure in the works that involves the yak-folk, and I know another of the guys working on this project is itching to do an Al-Qadim bestiary. Interesting stuff down the road.
 
The Mageweaver

I wanted to share some sub-class design thoughts, so folks can see how I'm tackling some of the more challenging conversion tasks of this project. So you can take a peek inside my mind as a fledgling game designer, and also offer your critique.

So, I'm converting the Mageweaver kit from The Complete Sha'ir's Handbook into an arcane tradition.

Step 1: The concept & big picture
If you're not familiar with AL-QADIM or it's been a while since you read your books, wizards in the setting don't follow the traditional 8 spell schools. Instead, they have a bunch of weird and wonderful variations unique to the setting. The Mageweaver is one of those.

I decided it fit best as an arcane tradition because there's mention of spell prep and it involves taking a long time to do magic...things already baked into the wizard class with preparing spells and the Arcane Recovery feature. Plus, the flavor definitely does NOT feel like sorcerer's innate magic or a warlock's patron magic. A bard college could maaaybe be a fit, but then the name Mageweaver made be go with the wizard.

So...what kind of wizard is a Mageweaver?

Flavor-wise, it embodies some of the mystical-ization surrounding silk worm harvesting and the weaver "guilds" of South Asia. There's also undertones of an early artificer here. I'd think it might be more about subtle magic, but no, you can cast fireballs from your tapestries as easily as you can case mirror image!

Mechanically, it's built on what is essentially a Spell Point system, allowing the mageweaver to cannibalize higher level spells for more lower level spells. It's a bit messy. The 5e DMG already describes a solid Spell Point system as an option for any caster, so it's important that this conversion could work independently of (or in concert with) that DMG system.

Also, even though I always believe in making any kind of game design drip with flavor, it bears extra mention that one of my design goals is to crank up the flavor on the Mageweaver to distinguish it from a Spell Point caster.

Step 2: Class Features, the initial pass
Next, I'm looking to grab key pieces of text from the AD&D Mageweaver kit description that seem likely to translate into class features. After reading through those, I begin to sort them roughly according to the levels wizards get sub-class features: 2nd level (two features), 6th level, 10th level, and 14th level. Then I jot down my thoughts about translating each feature into 5e.

LEVEL 2
Their spellbooks are huge tapestries with intricate patterns woven into them.
Easy enough to re-skin spellbook as silks/carpets/tapestries. Maybe a tapestry is difficult to carry, but the others are no problem. Probably adding something about “all their spells have material component (piece of fabric), and existing no-cost material component spells change their component to (a piece of fabric).” For flavor, throw in weaver’s tools proficiency.

Probably not enough to justify a feature yet, at least IMHO, so maybe combine it with this…

Mageweavers are able to cast spells only through their weaving… Mageweavers must take care to protect their woven spells from [fire, water, and other sorts of damage].
In keeping with 5e’s removing most restrictions/ drawbacks from classes, the move here would be to grant a perk for casting with weavings. Also, it seems fair to give them mending for free to offset any potential vulnerability of their weavings.

LEVEL 2
Different spells are woven into different items, which are kept in scroll tubes or other protective casings.
Hmm... Conceptually, there’s 3 tropes associated with textiles in Arabian Adventures/gaming, that I think could make for a nice multi-choice feature.
  • You’ve got the flying carpet (in 5e that’s a very rare magic item that typically isn’t encountered till 11th+ level). A seriously toned down version that hovers only 5 feet off the ground and moves at the PC's walking speed miiight not be overpowered at 2nd level...right? As an offset, it could require an action/bonus action to activate or deactivate.
  • You’ve got the fancy silk sash/scarf/turban/veil, which is usually a means of evoking a hero who’s more unique and badass. Maybe this could grant advantage on saves vs. spells. Or just vs. spells from a school of your choice? As an offset, it could require attunement like a magic item.
  • You’ve got the magic tapestry which usually is associated with ritual-type magic or super mystical / big nasty spells. Maybe this allows you to cast all wizard spells without consuming material components? I kinda like that!

LEVEL 6
They have learned to trap magical energies within the warp and weave of silken scarves and tapestries and use those energies to cast spells.
This sounds awfully similar to the wizard’s Arcane Recovery, doesn’t it? So maybe some kind of boosted Arcane Recovery feature when they use/have access to a weaving (carpet, silk, or tapestry)?

LEVEL 10
In order to prepare their spells, a mageweaver needs to have time alone to weave the spells into the silk. This requires six square inches of silk for every level of a spell. It takes an hour to weave every level of a spell.
Well, that time requirement is ludicrous because 1 hour/spell level prep time would mean by 7th level, a wizard would require 23 hours to prepare all their spells from scratch. Yeah. I think I can safely cut that part right out!

But there’s an opportunity here to play up the “artisan weaver doing slow magic” thing, and tie in the “these guys get lots of low-level spells” thing from _The Complete’s Sha’ir’s Handbook_. Maybe during spell prep using weaver’s tools, the mageweaver can sacrifice one (and only one) higher level spell to gain a number of extra 1st level spells equal to the sacrificed slot’s spell level? (i.e. sacrifice 6th level slot, gain 6 extra 1st-level spells)

The ideas here is to encourage a creative play style that maximizes use of 1st-level spells some wizard players may look down at once they’re higher level. And also involves a bit of forward planning as in, which suits the feel of the Mageweaver well I think.

LEVEL 14
Mageweavers…may never learn to cast spells above the sixth level. To compensate for this, [they] gain additional low level spells…
To modernize this feature, we need to use a carrot instead of a stick. Old school D&D was good with the stick approach. 5e definitely is about the carrot. :) So...we’ve got to consider a way to incentivize casting lower level spells. Luckily 5e has a method baked in for us: casting lower level spells with higher level spell slots.

Also consider that in 5e spells of 6th level and higher were treated differently by the designers - you get fewer spell slots of 6th-9th level. So that’s our cut off. Since a wizard doesn’t get 6th level spells until reaching 11th level, that means this feature would be meaningless before then. Thus, this has to be the capstone feature of the sub-class.

Using 6th level and higher spell slots to cast lower level spells (that don't already have additional effects if cast at higher level) does…

…something magical!

That part about "doesn't already have additional effects if cast at higher level" is relevant because most of those spells tend to be about damage dealing. So this is a subtle way to encourage the Mageweaver to select exploration/roleplaying spells all while burning higher level spell slots on lower level spells.
 

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gweinel

Villager
This is really great work!

Few days ago i exchange some tweets with Wolfang Baur (I am sure he has an account here, but i don't remember the nickname) regarding Al Qadim. It was the first days of the dmsguild and Wolfang somewhere said that it would be great to see Al Qadim again in 5e through dmsguild.
Here is the tweets. https://twitter.com/monkeyking/status/690302161226326017

Maybe a contact should be attempted? His input would be great! :)
 
[MENTION=2165]gweinel[/MENTION] You're totally right! Thanks for the link! I've chatted with Wolfgang before, and wrote a little piece for Kobold Quarterly too. He's a great guy. :) And his work on the AQ line was very influential for me as a gamer, writer, and fledgling game designer.

I think his handle on here is [MENTION=22474]Monkey King[/MENTION]? Wolfgang, I'd love to get your feedback here!

The project in brief (to avoid having to wade thru 13 pages of posts -- I'll update the OP with this too)...

Myself and three other gentlemen are taking point on a quality conversion of Al-Qadim to 5e, to be published for free on DM's Guild. The intention is to (a) rejuvenate interest in this wonderful setting, (b) provide a foundation for future publishers to put out AQ stuff on DM's Guild, and (c) offer both the traditional setting and a post-Spellplague setting (what Zakharans know as the "Great Unbinding" of the Seal of Jafar al-Samal) for DMs to choose from.

I'm pretty good with layout and I've also written a few freelance gaming articles as well as Tales of the Caliphate Nights for Paradigm Concepts/Green Ronin. The others committed to the project have skills in copyediting, game design, and writing. We're working via the Slack app and have done some solid of work so far! I've attached a PDF of our working table of contents.

I've been in touch with Matt McElroy, Director of Publishing & Marketing at DrivethruRPG, who patiently fielded my legal questions.

Also, we have some terrific artists who are donating to the project. Karl Waller said he'd graciously donate a couple of black and white pieces from the AD&D line :) Though we need to work out who has the rights. Also, Rob McCaleb donated a fantastic fan-made map of Zakhara. Woot!

Lastly, I'm looking to pay out of pocket for an art student - the talented tea-for-jbass to do a few sketches or a cover.

EDIT: There are two new Al-Qadim products on DM's Guild at this time. Neither are affiliated with us.

The first, Al-Qadim Classes and Backgrounds by Brent "VAD" Rogers is a quick n' dirty guide with low reviews. Not much else to say.

The second, Al-Qadim Archetypes - Scimitars Against the Dark by Jeremy Forbing does a great job of putting a darker Cthulu-esque spin on Arabian Adventures. You may recognize this title from the article "Scimitars Against the Dark" by a certain Mr. Wolfgang Baur in DRAGON #198! I think Jeremy did a terrific job and I connected with him via Facebook to trade notes - he was stoked to hear what we were doing, and I think his work should be plenty compatible with what we're doing.
 

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