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WtFYRP: Al-Qadim

I may not be a gamer but I’m one hell of a party planner, and planning a meal to go with a game is all about theme! I kill at themes. So, each week (if all goes well) I’ll have Todd pull out a game from his vast collection that I’ll read up on. Then I’ll share my thoughts on the game set-up and what sorts of things to feed your group.

Case Study: Al-Qadim: Arabian Adventures (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, No. 2126)

  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Races: Human, Elf, Half-Elf, Drwarf, Halfling, Gnome, Orc and Ogre
  • Main Setting: the Land of Fate, an island nation Southwest of Kara Tur of the Forgotten Realms expansion
  • Setup: Based on the traditional AD&D concepts, these adventures take place on a large desert continent and the various smaller islands around it. Magic and mysticism run deep, here, as the land relies more heavily on the Arabia of Hollywood and fable than on the historic Arab Empire that has ranged throughout Europe, Asia and Africa in it’s heyday. On one side you’ve got nomads, the Al-Badia, and on the other the city-dwellers (or at least more stationary), the Al-Hadhar. Rather than disdain, the two factions treat each other with pity, believing their lifestyle to be the superior, freer and the more exalted choice.

Game play follows the basic D&D method: you go on a quest, explore, and deal with what comes. While some expansion modules/campaign settings welcome a lot of overlap with the general D&D rules and characters, Al-Qadim seems to want to keep their land a bit more separate, encouraging characters particular to the land you’ll be exploring and almost discouraging “foreign” characters. The biggest adjustments, though, seem to be needed in the spells category as the Land of Fate has it’s own magic to draw from.

Unlike Shadowrun, where I had to make a lot of guesses as to what foods would be readily available, the Al-Qadim book goes into some detail about meals both within the text as well as in the “At the Bazaar” chapter, listing the various goods available for purchase. That, plus a pretty good knowledge of some of the cuisines that would have been encompassed by the Arabian Empire in real life, lead me to make the following suggestions the next time the gang comes over for an Arabian Adventure:

To begin, have a variety of nibbles on hand as folks are arriving. Marinated olives, curried nuts, and a nice goat cheese/hummus blend (equal parts goat cheese and hummus, blended together) with pita crisps would all be great for this sort of gathering (plus they’re incredibly simple to prepare and may be available at your local store with no additional work needed from you!).

For dinner, may I suggest my Andalusian Lamb? This is my recipe as redacted from a 13th century Spanish cookbook and it is absolutely delicious! Yes, it’s a little bit of work, so you could also make a lamb and vegetable stew and serve it over fluffy rice if that’s more your style. Serve a variety of figs, dates and fruit on the side along with a stack of naan or loaves of rustic bread.

In the Land of Fate there are a variety of drinks to choose from. Being a desert land, hydration is paramount, so you can never go wrong with water! No cows that I can tell, but they do have milk-bearing goats and camels. Unless you’ve got a source for camel’s milk (and if you do, please let me know–I’m curious!), goat’s milk should be pretty easy to find, in most areas. Turkish coffee would be a nice after-dinner pick-me-up (from what I understand it’s fairly strong stuff) or serve some Port* to simulate the Al-Qadim “Heart of Wine” (a fortified wine left to concentrate buried in the desert or similar harsh conditions). They also mention Sherbet which, based on the description of a cooled fruit drink, absolutely screams smoothies to me, the more exotic the fruit, the better!

For dessert? Well, if you haven’t had your fill of fruits, figs, dates and raisins, offer your guests someĀ honey-sesame candies or why not try the delicacy that is Turkish Delight? You can make it yourself or purchase it in specialty shops.

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