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Al-Qadim: Arabian Adventures (2e)
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Al-Qadim: Arabian Adventures (2e)


We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

Magic carpets, ghoulish vixens, genies rising from the sand in a whirlwind of smoke and fire - such wonders, spun into tales by fabled Scheherasade, enchanted a king for a thousand and one nights.

The Al-Qadim campaign will enchant role-players for a thousand and one more

You are about to discover an exotic realm inspired by the tales of Sinbad, Ali Baba, and other classics from the Arabian Nights. The first in a series of products, this volume features everything DM's and players need to launch the Al-Qadim campaign.

Product History

Al-Qadim: Arabian Adventures (1992), by Jeff Grubb with Andria Hayday, was the 150-page rulebook that introduced the setting of Al-Qadim. It was released in April 1992.

Origins. Following the release of AD&D 2e (1989), TSR started creating new campaign settings en masse — something that would continue throughout the 2e days and may have contributed to the ultimate death of the company. The first three of these settings were Spelljammer (1989), Ravenloft: Realm of Terror (1990), and Dark Sun (1991). Al-Qadim was the fourth; it was a new Arabian Nights-influenced setting created in late 1990 and early 1991 by designer Jeff Grubb and editor Andria Hayday.

Al-Qadim somewhat naturally was a rival of Dark Sun, another desert-focused setting. However, where Dark Sun was being played up as the replacement for Forgotten Realms, Grubb and Hayday instead played down Al-Qadim, saying that it was just a "cultural book". Grubb would later say that this was to the line's benefit, because they "were able to hide [the setting's] potential from the suits".

About the Cover. The first cover for Al-Qadim showed a woman opening a bottle and releasing a genie. It was deemed too cheesecake and instead appeared in the Women of Fantasy Calendar (1993?). The final cover for Al-Qadim, with the horse, was a replacement — and ironically what the designers had originally wanted!

About the Name. At the time, product names at TSR were tricky because Marketing wanted self-explanatory names while Legal wanted unique, trademarkable names. "Burning Sands" was an early choice for the setting's name, but the team instead settled on "Al-Qadim", which was Arabic for "The Ancient" — though one Arabic speaker said it meant stale, as in "The cheese is old."

Al-Qadim is set on the continent of Zakhara, which was meant to reflect the word "sahara". Combined with Abeir-Toril, it also made the Forgotten Realms go from A to Z.

Introducing the Al-Qadim Line. With its basis in Arabian myth and legends, Zakhara was quite different from the average D&D game world. Though demi-humans were allowed, humans were dominant. Religion also took on a different tone, with priests worshiping entire pantheon, and the concept of Fate underlying the setting. The result was more cosmopolitan and more Middle-eastern than classic D&D adventures.

Al-Qadim was also a very carefully organized line. Grubb and Hayday specifically designed it as a limited-edition line, meant to run just two or three years. As it happened, the line ran two years, got extended for a third, and then management asked for a fourth year schedule, but canceled it before it came to fruition (as part of some widespread line cancellations around 1993).

The careful design of the Al-Qadim line is very obvious in the first year's releases, which also included: a monster book, MC13: "Monstrous Compendium Al-Qadim Appendix" (1992); a setting box, Al-Qadim: Land of Fate (1992); and the first adventure, ALQ1: "Golden Voyages" (1992).

Expanding Oriental Adventures. As a "cultural book" Al-Qadim: Arabian Adventures was following in the footsteps of AD&D's classic cultural book, Oriental Adventures (1985). In fact, it was explicitly designed as a follow-up and companion piece to Oriental Adventures. That fact is obvious in the "Arabian Adventures" subtitle of the book as well its contents.

Much like Oriental Adventures, Al-Qadim includes character classes, skills, equipment, and special rules appropriate for the setting. The "classes" are particularly interesting: Al-Qadim stayed with the 2e trend of using "kits" but made them requirements, effectively turning them into subclasses. Some of those kits were also very expansive — especially the sha'ir wizards kit, which got a whole chapter devoted to their genie-related magic abilities.

The setting material in Al-Qadim, written by Andria Hayday, was originally planned to go at the end of the book, exactly like in Oriental Adventures, but it was so good that it got pushed up to the start instead.

Graphic Design Tropes. Al-Qadim was one of TSR's two earliest settings that placed a heavy emphasis on graphic design — the other being rival Dark Sun. Al-Qadim included beautiful endpapers, gold-foil borders (printed with a fifth ink), and full-color plates. Graphic Designer Stephanie Tabat was instrumental in much of this work. In addition, the entire Al-Qadim line used the same artist for its black-and-white interior artwork: Karl Waller.

Mapping Tropes. Much like the western Forgotten Realms, Al-Qadim was designed with a huge mega-map that could be broken up into individual maps for boxed adventures. Several parts of the map were published, but the entire mega-map was never revealed.

Expanding the Realms. Al-Qadim was officially placed in the Forgotten Realms as the new continent of Zakhara, following the original subcontinent of Faerûn and the lands of Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (1988) and the Maztica Campaign Set (1991). As such, it was another huge expansion for the Forgotten Realms.

Al-Qadim was actuallynotthe first Arabic-like setting in the Realms. Ed Greenwood had originally placed such lands at the edges of his world, and then when the world got bigger, he added more Arabic lands, so there were a lot of them — most notably Anauroch and Calimshan.

Grubb came up with a great reason for the scattered Arabic peoples, saying that Fate had banished them to the edges of the world because they couldn't get along. He's also reputed to have linked some elements from the Bedine culture from FR13: "Anauroch" (1991) into Al-Qadim. Conversely, he'd didn't really link Calimshan from FR3: "Empires of the Sands" (1988). In fact, when Calimshan was revisited in Empires of the Shining Sea (1998), it became less Arabic and more influenced by the Ottoman Empire — apparently because the Realms had one too many Arabic-influenced setting by that point.

About the Creators. It takes a village to create a new setting. As noted, Andria Hayday oversaw the line and also wrote the setting chapter, while Jeff Grubb wrote the main text of Al-Qadim, Jeff Easley painted two covers, Karl Waller drew the internal black-and-white illustrations, and Stephanie Talbot did the graphic design of the project. Jon Pickens is the uncredited hero who provided Grubb with three boxes full of reference and research material for the project — which is the sort of thing that Pickens did frequently at TSR.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (5)
Discussions (7)
Customer avatar
Mitchell M July 26, 2020 8:11 am UTC
How come everything The Represent Podcast has targeted gets two disclaimers but everything else has just one? I am also a brown player and what you are doing is wrong.
AD&D was one of the few things that PoC could do and be just another person at the table having fun back then. It is funny that you wont listen to your fan base but you listen to people who do not even play AD&D who pirate copies of the books to "deep read" and never mention any of the good in these books. Like in OA they leave out the Asian consultants and play testers they dont mention the bibliography they dont mention anything that is positive about any of these books. But they spend 2 hours talking about how stats are racist, 4 talking about how universal game mechanics that affect every race are racist and 1 hour and 30 min talking about how saying rice is a staple of Kara-Tur diet is racist..
AD&D was the perfect choice for them it is old and no young "progressive" person would ever bother to read...See more
Customer avatar
Philip C July 12, 2020 7:45 am UTC
As a Chinese American growing up in the 1980s playing D&D, especially Oriental Adventures and Al-Qadim, I loved these games. I never once found them insulting or degrading to Asians or anyone else.
These D&D books were written with fantasy setting in mind. The authors of Oriental Adventures or Al-Qadim back then were not intentionally trying to insult or degrade people. In fact, these books were a way to offer kids like me an escape into another world where we could explore and have fun.
I remember wanting to visit Japan, China, and Egypt (i.e., pyramids) and the Middle East after playing these games. Before internet and cell phones, we only had books and newspapers to read about far off places.

What WOTC is doing is appalling and disgusting. Bending over to appease the woke mob. By restricting and banning such books, it's like what the Nazis did with their book burnings. People need to have access to these books and make their own decision.
For those offended, I say either...See more
Customer avatar
Joe C July 11, 2020 2:03 am UTC
P.o.D please
Customer avatar
Wolfgang W July 10, 2020 4:07 am UTC
POD when? :D
Customer avatar
Jason M July 09, 2020 3:45 pm UTC
This a great product, a true representation of Arabian folklore. Ive been waiting for a print on Demand but thought I better get this while I could. Please dont let The current culture of book burning delete a piece of history. If this is politivly incorect the so is The tales of Arabian Nights, Sindad, Ali-Baba, Aladdin and all the rest.
Customer avatar
Philip C July 12, 2020 7:47 am UTC
Totally agree. Leave politics out and let us enjoy these classic games. These books were never written to degrade or intentionally insult people.
These books actually helped bring awareness to the American public, especially young kids, who wanted to explore far off locations before the days of internet, cell phones etc.
What WOTC is doing is appalling and doing a huge disservice to many loyal fans who played this game back in the 1980s and had memorable childhoods.
Customer avatar
Cynthia C October 19, 2019 2:35 am UTC
*chanting* PoD, PoD, PoD, PoD ...
Customer avatar
Timothy S March 01, 2019 8:18 am UTC
That full-size preview was terrible. Not even a table of contents.
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TSR 2126
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