Thursday, February 23, 2012

Something to Watch

Over at No Signal!, @arcadian writes about creating a Sinbad-inspired setting, a project I support whole-heartedly.

Since I was a boy, I've been fascinated by the tales of the Arabian Nights. I had a picture book that came with a vinyl record, and I would put on the record and follow along in the book as Scheherazade narrated Sinbad's adventures. When I got a little older, I received a copy of the Scribners' edition of The Arabian Nights, with plates by Maxfield Parrish. I saw The Golden Voyage of Sinbad on a trip with a church group in 1974, and Sinbad the Sailor on Saturday afternoon television, and some years ago I discovered my favorite fantasy film - and one of my favorite movies, period - The Adventures of Prince Achmed.

When I think of the fantastic, that's still what comes to mind today - djinns and flying carpets and domed temples and flashing scimitars. From the time I started playing roleplaying games, my fantasy campaigns were washed in 'Oriental' color - my hobgoblins traded in their o-yoroi armor for abas and djellbas, allied with turbaned ogre magi.

Even now cities like Tashkent, Samarkand, Bokhara, and Khiva summon a feeling of mystery and adventure for me. The stories of Khlit the Cossack, set on the steppes and deserts and mountains of central Asia by the great pulp author Harold Lamb are among my favorites, as are Robert E. Howard's 'Oriental' tales.

In fact, it was one of REH's stories that lead me to run Flashing Blades, "The Shadow of the Vulture," about the siege of Vienna in 1529. I remain fascinated by the meeting of East and West, and sprinkled throughout my setting are rumours and clues designed to pull the adventurers eastward, to Candia, to Jerusalem, to the Levant, possibly even as far east as the Roof of the World . . .

I'm looking forward to following @arcadian's "Marabia" as it develops.

6 comments:

  1. "Shadow of the Vulture" is one of my favorite Howard yarns as well. Have you read Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road? If not, I think you'd enjoy it.

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    1. I haven't - I'll check it out. Thanks for the tip.

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  2. You might want to take a look at the work of Howard Andrew Jones and Saladin Ahmed. I listened to the latter's "Judgement of Swords & Souls" on Podcastle, and I think it is a part of his recently published /Throne of the Crescent Moon/. I'm six chapters into the former's /The Desert of Souls/, and really enjoying it so far. The illustration on the cover of the original DMG dredged up my Harryhausen early memories and majorly inspired me, so I hear you, loud and clear.

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  3. I'll give those a look as well - thanks.

    The efreeti on the cover and the City of Brass on the back of the DMG was like a caress of my brainstem.

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  4. Thanks for sharing this. I'll be keeping tabs on it.

    My upcoming campaign has a splash of Arabian/Middle Eastern mythos and culture in it, as well.

    Just out of curiosity, what are your thoughts on Al-Qadim?

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    1. The only Al-Qadim product I owned was City of Delights, purchased long after the setting was out-of-print, and I liked what I read well enough. I never played 2e AD&D, so I don't have any actual play experience with the setting, but if Whizbros ever decides to release them as .pdfs again, I'd consider checking out a few more of them.

      Did you use Al-Qadim at all?

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