• Long long long ago: Before Nog and Kadar existed, dragons came to Zakhara but they were slain or turned away by the power of the genies (From the Dragon and the Genies tale)
  • Long long long ago: Gods and genies lived in Zakhara but did not know how to share. The gods sailed the great sea and fought with the genies. (Could the gods be giants or titans?) The gods and genies fought over something precious to both, they rent the land and the sky filled with fire (a meteor). Some people fled to the mountains and became the hill tribes, few others remained (survived) in the lands of the gods and genies and became the faithful of the gods. The gods and genies fled (were destroyed by the meteor?). (From the Maiden of Beauty tale)
  • Long long ago: The first Sha’ir found the Ruby of Yalsur in the mountain caves (was this the Heart of the World that both gods and genies longed to possess???), and an ancient sword on an elven corpse that could kill a great ghul (bane against genies???). He learned how to bind genies to his will. (From the Boy and the Genies tale).
  • -300 DR to 700 DR: In the memory of an elf’s grandfather’s grandfather (4 generations ago), the Haunted Lands were a rich, verdant plain crossed by rivers. The people warred ceaselessly until the desert claimed the Haunted Lands and the people were scattered across Zakhara (From the City of Peace)
  • c.300 DR: The Kingdom of Lions collapses when the forces of Amakim and Azaltin go to war
  • Amakim leads his people from Al-Anwahr northeast to found the city of In’aash (modern: Muluk)
  • -339 DR to 329 DR: Bedine tribes are transported to Anauroch from Zakhara.
  • Up to 767 DR: The people of Zakhara were in desperate straits. Intertribal wars, intercity conflicts, and interreligious squabbles. Plagues swept the land and priests were unwilling to perform cures. Famine stalked the fields and no one wished to risk going into them. Monsters were at large and none would defeat them. The Laws of the Loregiver end this time of trouble.
  • c.767 DR: Huzuz is the site of a small village where desert tribes come to trade with the merchants in Suq Bay.
  • The first Caliph receives a vision from the Loregiver at Huzuz
  • 767 DR to 867 DR: The Pact of the Sword: Wise readers, know that before the time of the Law, before the words of the Blessed Loregiver appeared once more to men, before the First of all Lions sat on the Righteous Throne, before men were civilized, the world was wild and men did not know the Law. Men worshipped unrighteous gods. Then said the First Caliph, Let all people know the word of the true gods, and the heathen heard him and were enlightened. Thus did they foreswear their unrighteous gods and learn the teachings of the Law. But there were those who hardened their hearts against the Law, saying, We will not abandon our masters. Against these the First Caliph made the Pact of the Sword, and so the unrighteous and their gods were driven from the Land of Fate. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)
  • Hilm is the first of several cities to swear allegiance to the Law of the Loregiver, they receive bountiful harvests.
  • Legends say that in the first century of Enlightenment, those leaders who swore their allegiance to the Law of the Loregiver and the First Caliph were blessed with bountiful harvests, rich treasures, a profusion of strong sons and daughters, and a unified people.
  • As city after city fell before the wave of faith and understanding, many of the older emirs and sultans were toppled by their people.
  • The City of Moradask on the shores of the Jacinth Sea resists the Pact of the Sword offered by the First Grand Caliph. Moradask’s forces are defeated and the city captured. The Jacinth Sea dries up to become the Sea of Salt and Moradask becomes an abandoned ruin.
  • c.867 DR: Aswar al-Mutiq, ruler of Muluk disappears with messengers from Huzuz. The city of Muluk swears allegiance to the Law of the Loregiver.
  • c.1267 DR: The City of Dihliz is founded by the padishah of Afyal to facilitate trade with the cities of the Pantheon.
  • The Quiet Multitude, a mystic order of Selan worshippers, spreads throughout Zakhara.
  • c.1327 DR: A rebellious desert sheikh leads his army against Huzuz (in the time of the Grand Caliph’s grandfather). The sheikh and his army are destroyed by genies on the plains outside the city. Much of the land is destroyed by the genies.
  • The wells around the city of Sikak begin to fail.
  • c. 1357 DR: The city of Qudra launches an attack against the cities of the Corsair Sea. The attack fails at the city of Hawa with great losses. This encourages the city of Utaqa to rebel.
  • Not long ago: A group of Helmite adventurers lands near Qudra and attempts to seize control. They are defeated by marids and djinn and then enslaved by the mamluks of Qudra. The Helmites bring worship of Helam to Zakhara.


Visitors to the Land of Fate can hear a variety of languages being spoken. Midani, the language of all civilized and intelligent creatures, is by far the most prominent. Midani is Zakhara’s Common – the language understood by all enlightened citizens and most unenlightened savages.
The Land of Fate also has five regional dialects.
Natives of the Free Cities and Qudra speak with a sharp, precise rhythm, clipping the end off their sentences. The people of the Pearl Cities tend to speak with a melodious lilt. Inhabitants of the Pantheist League seem to trill their consonants at random. In eastern Zakhara, the speech of enlightened mortals has a nasal quality. Finally, the people of Huzuz and Hiyal – who believe they speak true Midani – often sound flat and mechanical compared to the natives of other regions. In addition to these quirks in rhythm and pronunciation, each dialect is distinguished by a smattering of unique words and expressions. With a little practice, however, anyone who speaks Midani can understand these regional tongues.
The Land of Fate also has a number of languages spoken by select groups:
• Thieves’ Cant. More a lingo than a language, this choppy vernacular is spoken only by rogues (members of other classes can’t understand it). Thieves’ cant differs slightly from city to city. Player characters may not consider it a known language.
• Racial Languages. Zakhara lacks the alignment tongues found in many other worlds. It does, however, have a number of racial languages. The most prominent is Jannti, language of the genies. Whether Jannti is a single tongue with a number of dialects or four closely related elemental tongues is a matter for the sages to debate. In game terms, Jannti is one language (unless the DM decides otherwise).
Other racial languages include the ancestral tongues of many demihuman and civilized humanoid races: Elvish, Orcish, Dwarvish, Gnomish, Kobold, Ogre, and the like. Giantish and its dialects are also included. Like Jannti, Giantish is considered to be one language unless the DM decides otherwise. In general, racial languages are used only between speakers who belong to the same race and know each other well.

Monster Tongues. Many of Zakhara’s fell creatures and unenlightened races speak a language all their own. Examples include the tongue of the brutal yakmen and that of the rare and savage dragons.
• Dead Tongues. Through magic, sages have mastered some of Zakhara’s forgotten languages-those no longer spoken by any living culture. The Dead Tongues include Noga, Kadari (from the Ruined Kingdoms), Drow (from lands west of the Pearl Cities), Affa (ancient language of the Isle of the Elephant), and Chun (a savage tongue written upon the ruins of
the Haunted Lands).
• Outlander Languages. Several languages heard in Zakhara are imports – languages acquired from foreigners who trade with Zakharan merchants. Such outlander tongues include Thorasta (and its dead ancestor, Thorass) from the distant North, ShangChou from the far-flung East, and Akotan from the western trading outposts. A number of lesser languages are spoken throughout the islands of the Crowded Sea, but these have been increasingly replaced by Midani,
the language of trade.
The following words and phrases are commonly heard throughout Zakhara:
Aywa (EYE wah) – Yes.
La (LAH) – No.
Es salam alekum (ess sah LAMB ah LEH koom) – May peace be upon you. A general greeting.
Wa alekum es salam (wah ah LEH koom ess sah LAMB) – May peace be upon you also. Response to the
Maas salama (mahs sah LAMB ah) – Go with peace.
Saheeda (sah EE da) – Greetings. Hello. Also goodbye.
Min fadlak (min FAHD lahk) – Please.

Shukrun (SHOOK rahn) – Thank you.
Afwan (AHF wahn) – You’re welcome.
Kwayis (KWAY iss) – Good.
Mish Kwayis (mish KWAY iss) – Bad. (Mish negates whatever adjective it precedes.)
Hatar (hah TAR) – Danger.
Samm (SAHM) – Poison.
Ma (MAH) – Water.

Baghlas – large dhow
My liver!, Ymmah! (Oh, mama!), Ybbah! (Oh, papa!) – Expressions of surprise.
May Fortune smile upon you. May Fate guide thee to glory. She is to a man us rain is to the desert. – Compliments and good wishes.
You are the son of camel dung. You are the son of a dog’s water. May you sleep with a restless heart and know a thousand nights of misery. May a porcupine live in your trousers for a thousand days and die there for a thousand and one. – Insults and ill wishes.
I conjure you to do it! I beseech or command you to do it. The gods are merciful and Fate is all-knowing and I am but a humble slave before them. – Said by a person receiving a compliment, as a matter of humility and a defence against the evil eye.
You are the life-stuff of my liver! You are very dear to my heart. – Said of spouse or family.
I have a pain in my liver. I have a pain in my heart. – You have caused me pain, shame, or sorrow.
My eyes, my eyes, my soul, my soul, the heart of my heart! – You are my life. (Lovers’ talk.)
You have given me an internal wound. – You have pained my heart deeply. (Lovers’ talk.)
He makes coffee from dawn until the dead of night. – He is truly an outstanding host.
You have baked your bread; now you must eat it. – You must live with the consequences of your actions. You’ve made your bed, now lie in it.
As the mind expands, the tongue grows quiet. – Those who are wise do not chatter idly.
Though your companion may be honey, do not eat him completely. -Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.
We opened our home to him, and he brought in his ass. – He overstepped the bounds of good taste; he tested the limits of our hospitality.
Guests are like fish; after three days, both stink. – Al-Badian proverb. Refers to the three-day limit for a guest’s stay, a custom observed throughout Zakhara.
When it begins to rain, he takes shelter in the fountain. – He leaps from the frying pan into the fire.
A man’s head is like the desert; the hotter it gets, the emptier it appears. – Foolish deeds are done in anger.
After the incense has come, the guest must go. – A reference to the custom of passing a tenser filled with frankincense following a coffee ceremony, after which the guests leave (or retire for the evening).

Aba (or abba). Robe resembling a modern-world graduation
gown, worn primarily by Al-Badia (nomads).
Agal. Cord or group of cords designed to hold a keffiyeh, or
headcloth, snugly to the head.
Alim. Learned man, scholar, sage, or wizard.
Amir. Ruler (or emir). Amir is also a title assumed by paladins
who are 10th level or higher.
Anjar (pl. anajir). Grapple-type anchor.
Bahriyin. Seamen.
Balanj. Ship’s cabin.
Bananiyah. Sailors.
Bander. Port (as in Sams Bandar).
Barchan. Crescent-shaped dune, commonly at the desert’s
edge. The horns point away from prevailing winds.
Barijah. Small, 40-foot dhow that commonly serves
fishermen, pearlers, merchants, and shore-dwelling
Bawara. Heavy anchor for sandy or muddy bottoms.
Beam. The width of a ship from gunwale to gunwale.
Blood price. Diyyah; payment to settle a blood feud or
conflict involving the loss of life or honor.
Caftan. Flowing, ankle-length overgarment, often cinched at
the waist with a sash.
Casbah. Castle or keep.
Chador. A modest or moralist woman’s full-body robe with a
hood, plus a veil or cloth mask that may conceal even
the wearer’s eyes.
Daftar. Sailing instructions often used for navigation in place
of charts.
Daqal. Mast.
Dhabb (also dhubb). Large, edible lizard; fish of the desert.
Dhow. A ship, particularly of Zakharan manufacture.
Didban. The ship’s look-out.
Dirah. The territory of a given desert tribe, usually about 200
square miles.
Dishdashah. Simple tunic, usually worn by farmers and poor
Diwan. Court or council of a ruler.
Diyyah. See blood price.
Dolman. Loose, floor-length robe with sleeves.
Dusur. Oakum or cordage for caulking seams in a ship’s hull.

Fez. Round felt hat, like a cone with a flat top. A tassel
roughly as tall as the hat dangles from the top.
Gassi. Rocky path between two seif dunes.
Hammam. Bathhouse.
Haram. Holy site.
Harim. Women’s quarters; female counterpart to selama.
Also refers to the women who spend time in those
Harrat. Field of volcanic debris.
Imam. Priest, usually one who is 8th level or higher.
Ins. Midani term to identify the enlightened races of
humans, elves, dwarves, and the like.
Ishtiyam. Ship’s pilot or navigator.
Jalla. Camel dung; useful for fuel and many other purposes.
Jama. Pulley block.
Jambiya. Curved, double-edged dagger commonly employed
by desert dwellers.
Jazirat. Island.
Jellaba. Heavy winter aba, worn over the traditional aba
and usually made of wool or felt.
Jummah. Ship’s hold.
Kamal. Simple navigation tool consisting of a card and
knotted line.
Kashabat. Wooden scaffold that serves as beacon and
Katar. Short, easily-concealed weapon, sometimes called a
punch dagger.
Kavir. Salt/mud flat; a dangerous terrain in which a salt crust
lies directly over a sea of black, slimy mud.
Keffiyeh. Headcloth.
Khabb. Gale, typhoon.
Khann. A point in the compassthere are 32 different
compass points for navigation.
Khayt. Stitch, as in the stitched hull of a ship.
Koumiss. Drink of fermented mare’s milk, very potent.
Lamellar. Type of scale mail made of overlapping metal plates
(lamellas), connected by metal links.
Leben. A sour milk; staple of the Al-Badian diet.
Markab (pl. marikab). A ship.
Mizen. Mizzenmast of a ship.
Mudabbir al-Markab. Ship’s mate.
Naffatun. Artillerists who man the fire throwers.
Najhuda (pl. nawakhid) The ship’s owner, but not necessarily
the captain.
Nargil. Coconut.
Oculus. Eye decoration painted on the bow of a ship.
Qadi. Judge.
Qal’at. Fortress; a fortified keep, manor, or palace.
Qinbar. Coir (coconut fiber) cordage for making ropes.
Qutb al-gah. The pole star.
Rahmani. A book of sailing charts.
Ra’is. Head, a title of respect, often used for those who
hold civil posts.
Raqi. Title of honor bestowed upon wizards who are 10th
level or higher.
Rubban. Captain.
Rubbaniyah. Ship’s officers.
Sufinah. Ship.
Sahil. Coast.
Saj. Teakwood.
Saluqi. Desert greyhound.
Sambuk. The most common boat in the Land of Fate, aside
from the barijah.
Seif. Also called a sword dune, it is the largest of all dune
types. It runs parallel to the desert winds, has a sharp
peak, is very rugged, and can extend for hundreds of
Selama (selamlik). Men’s quarters; counterpart to harim.
Sherbet. Zakharan sweet fruit drink.
Shira. A ship’s sail.
Sinn. Toothed anchor.
Star dune. Twisted mass of sand resembling a starfish.
Suq. Covered marketplace, typically at a city’s center.
Suwar. Sailing charts of maps.
Tiger’s claws. Also called bagh nakh, this weapon resembles a
set of brass knuckles with spikes.
Tufenk. Little more than a long blowpipe, the tufenk is used
to project Greek fire across a short distance.
Ulama. Plural of alim.
Wadi. Seasonal watercourse that floods but once or twice a
year, and is otherwise dry and solid.
Whaleback dune. Dune resembling a colossal beached whale.
It runs parallel to prevailing winds.
Zaruq. Small ship, slightly larger than a barijah. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

Al-Badia: desert nomads of Zakhara
Al-Hadhar: town- and city-dwellers of Zakhara
alim: A learned man, scholar, sage, or wizard
ajami: outlander
baksheesh: a bribe, or a tip
bazan: flames
burj: tower
da’i: missionary, minister, an assassin officer
dinar: a coin, roughly 1 gp
diwan: The court or council of a ruler; a time or
place of audience
fidai: one who sacrifices himself for a cause, a brave
warrior, pl. fedayeen
hama: spirit
hammam: public bath
huriye: a voluptuously beautiful young man or
imam: a holy man and leader of the church
ins: A Midani term to identify the Enlightened
races of humans, elves, dwarves, and the like.
jabal: mount, mountain
jari: courageous
khamsin: scirocco, a hot, destructive wind storm
lasiq: beginners, the lowest rank among assassins
madina: town center/market
manjus: rascal
mehari: racing camel
mulahid: the impious
nabidh: an alcoholic beverage made from
fermented dates
nidir: vow
nisr: eagle
qatil: an assassin (pl. quttal)
qadi: a judge
rafiq: comrade, term used by assassins of
saji: brave
sarahin: wolves’ den
suq: marketplace
taqiyya: Doctrine of caution. Under compulsion, a
believer may be exempted from fulfilling obligations of religion. Used to justify concealing
beliefs that others object to.
wadi: a dry or seasonal riverbed
zardkhanah: arsenal (Assassin Mountain)

Al-Badia Life and Society

Tribes of the High Desert

The people of the High Desert are mostly enlightened nomadic tribes. They are the classic desert riders; passionate, romantic, and powerful. In spring, they travel in search of the seasonal grasses. In summer, they camp near wells and oases, many of which are unmapped. But in the very heart of the desert, not even the nomadic tribes and their mounts can survive, for here lies the Genies’ Anvil (Saddan al-Jinn). Nine major tribes lie scattered throughout the High Desert. These are described below. Hundreds of smaller tribes, bands, and raiding parties make their home here as well. Even the major tribes aren’t found together in full numbers, save at gatherings for water or trade. These tribes are broken into clans, each of which consists of several families. The clans of the major tribes are often larger than some of the smaller tribes, numbering hundreds of individuals and thousands of livestock (horses, goats, camels, and sheep).

House of Asad (Children of the Lion): The House of Asad is an enlightened tribe that numbers some 5,000 men and women, divided into 20 clans. They claim the Jamal Oasis as their own, though they permit other enlightened nomads to use it. Asad is one of the wealthiest tribes in the High Desert, and it is blessed with strong camels, fine sons, and beautiful daughters. The people of Asad are proud to the point of arrogance. They are easy with their friendship but also easy to offend.

The Leader: Sheikh Najib bin Kamal al-Asad (hmF/dr/20), a lean, middle-aged warrior hardened by a life in the desert, is the most powerful sheikh in the entire High Desert.

Important Individuals: Of greatest significance to the tribe is the sheikh’s wife and chief vizier, Alia al-Jamal umm Nabil (hfW/sam/l 7). Alia is a beautiful middle-aged woman, soft-spoken but thoughtful and forceful. She is as much a leader of the tribe as is her husband, and her words carry the same weight as his. As such, she negotiates with other tribes and makes rulings in Najib’s absence. The bond between husband and wife is so strong that, even though the sheikh is successful enough to have additional wives, he chooses not to.
Nabil bin Najib (hmW/dr/4) is the eldest son of Najib and Alia; he inherited his father’s strength and his mother’s wisdom. Still a youth who has just attained his majority, Nabil is taking over some of his father’s traditional duties, including the yearly journey to the city of Tajar for trade. Nabil is bright, friendly, and trusting-all traits that can lead to trouble when dealing with less than honourable people.

House Ashurim: Over a century ago, House Ashurim was one of the most powerful tribes in the High Desert, with a reputation as having the most well trained soldiers in Zakhara. Their conflict with House Fajirik has led to a decline in their fortunes. They claim the lands west of Jamal Oasis. (Caravans)

House Bakr (Clan of the Young Camel): Most of the House Bakr, an enlightened tribe, now lives in and around the city of Tajar, where Sheikh Ali al-Hadd rules. However, some tribe members chose to remain true to the desert life; most have married into other tribes. The others; a core of some 500 members of House Bakr, still remain in the High Desert, determined to carry on the tradition of their people.
The Leader: Sheikh Ali al-Hadd (hmF/dr/16) leads the House of Bakr, the majority of whom live in the city of Tajar (see Tajar in Chapter 8 for more information).
Important Individuals: The remnant of House Bakr still living in the High Desert is led by Ajan bin Najon al-Yaqud (hmF/dr/15), the son of Sheikh Ali alHadd’s sister and, as such, the nephew of Tajar’s sheikh. Ajan’s father, Najon, was part of the vanguard that led the rebellion against the old sultan who ruled Tajar. When Kori al-Zafiri (father of Ali al-Hadd) took the throne, he offered Najon a position as captain of the cavalry. That night, Najon had a vision of a beautiful marid, crying and lamenting that only sadness would follow House Bakr in the city of Tajar. The next morning, Najon refused the position and returned to the desert with a handful of people, including his son Ajan. Najon promised to aid the sheikh and his descendants should they ever need assistance. Najon told his son Ajan this tale, and Ajan has watched the fruit of Tajar wither with the passing years. Ajan’s tribe wanders the south-central region of the High Desert and often pursues bandits who prey on the caravan route to Akota. Ajan believes that the rest of the tribe is in danger as long as it remains confined by walls and fettered by civilization. He prefers his freedom, living by the will of Fate. Periodically, he sends representatives and messengers to the sheikh in Tajar to report on the clans, but he will not go there himself. Ajan, like his father, has had his own vision. It has told him that if he enters Tajar, he will never leave the city alive.

House of Dhi’b (Sons of the Wolf): The House of Dhi’b numbers some 4,000 enlightened people, most of whom are herders and craftsmen. Sheikh Anwat al-Makkar maintains several raiding clans of 200 or more warriors each. These clans prey on the caravans traveling through the south and southcentral region. The sheikh has allied with or against most of the other major tribes over the years, depending on the circumstance. He and his warriors rode with Kori al-Zafiri to cast out the old sultan of Tajar, but now Anwat’s raiders attack the caravans serving Kori’s son, Ali al-Hadd. Conversely, Anwat has offered Ajan (the leader of the Bakr people remaining in the High Desert) the service of his household and warriors.
The Leader: Sheikh Anwat al-Makkar (hmT/sl/1B) is a wizened greybeard, so thin and gaunt that his nickname is Tarkib al-Azam (skeleton). Sheikh Anwat is a sly old man who has outwitted his enemies for many years, and he uses the qal’ats of the mountains as personal fortresses and treasure vaults. It is said that he has a dozen such hideouts, concealed by magic, throughout the south-central mountains of the High Desert.
Important Individuals: Anwat’s chief advisor, Mamun bin Harun bin Hamid (hmW/sh/10), is the grandson of Anwat’s first vizier, the legendary Hamid al-Garib. Mamun commands genies and jann but would never dare question the ruling of his sheikh, whom he regards with equal amounts of fear and respect.
The Sons of the Wolf use a number of contacts and go-betweens to unload their raided goods, but their most notable middleman is Takira min Hiyal (hfT/mr/12), a trader out of the City of Intrigue. Twice a year Takira takes a caravan of dried fish, weapons, and jewellery and returns with an odd assortment of spices, woods, and other riches not normally found in the High Desert. Takira meets Anwat and his raiders at one of the qal’ats the old skeleton uses as a temporary base.

House of Dubb (House of the Bear): The House of Dubb, an enlightened tribe, lives in the southwestern corner of the High Desert, hard on the borders of the Al-Suqut Mountains. There are about 3,000 tribe members, broken into nine separate clans. Most live by herding, but some clans do a thriving business among the Realm of Bleeding Trees, where they harvest aromatic gums. The tribe is on excellent terms with the people of the city of Ajayib, and has aided Ajayib’s caliph in her raids against the mountain people.
The Leader: Sheikh Yaqub al-Quwwat (hmF/dr/13) is a tall, proud, powerful man who would frankly rather see himself as the leader of an army than a collection of clans that gather sap and raise goats. Still, one must play with the tiles that Fate provides. The young sheikh drops everything to adventure with a few choice companions. These hunting trips are usually filled with excitement (and a few casualties). As a result, much of the tribe’s duties have fallen on the shoulders of Yahun al-Hattab, the tribe’s kahin (see below). Lately, the sheikh has been smitten with the beauty of Ajayib’s caliph, who is known as the most beautiful woman in the Pearl Cities (if not all of Zakhara). This attraction spurs the sheikh to extra efforts. He has no wife or children and, if a certain kahin is correct in his predictions, will not survive long enough to acquire them.
Important Individuals: Yahun al-Hattab (hmP/k/10) is one of the wise elders of the tribe, though he now doubts his wisdom when he recommended the heroic, headstrong, and impulsive Yaqub as sheikh. The lad had acquired a number of abilities under his belt while adventuring, and he had a reputation for courage and coolness in the face of danger. What Yahun didn’t count on was that Yaqub as sheikh would have the same traits as Yaqub as adventurer and would bolt off at a moment’s notice. As a result, the venerable Yahun is left picking up the pieces. He would hate to admit his recommendation was wrong, but already some of the clan chieftains are complaining about Yaqub’s leadership (or lack thereof).

House Fajirik: Over a century ago, House Fajirik was one of the most powerful tribes in the High Desert, with a reputation as having the most well trained soldiers in Zakhara. Their conflict with House Ashurim has led to a decline in their fortunes. They claim the lands west of Jamal Oasis. (Caravans)

House of Nasr (People of the Eagle): The House of Nasr roams the northern reaches of the High Desert and maintains the Desert Mosque, a haram (holy site) of great importance to the desert tribes. The enlightened tribe numbers some 3,000 people (split into 30 clans), and all are known for their hospitality and prowess in weapons-none more so than their sheikh. Every year a single clan is entrusted with protecting the Desert Mosque. The clan members work with the kahins and mystics at the mosque.
The Desert Mosque is a huge, domelike sphere of volcanic rock buried in the ground. The mosque is arranged so that, in facing Huzuz, one also faces the rock. Dedicated to no specific faith, the mosque is maintained not by hierarchy priests, but by kahins and mystics. The site became holy when Yusef al-Nasr, the first of desert dwellers, received enlightenment there. He promised that the enlightened peoples of the desert would hold that great land in the name of the Grand Caliph.
The Leader: Sheikh Nadia umm Fadela (hfF/dr/15) has led the tribe for the past 20 years. Although a female leader is uncommon, it is not without precedent in the High Desert. Furthermore, the tribe members have no more resistance to following a capable, independent woman than they would an independent man. Sheikh Nadia is extremely capable. Some of her feats include protecting the Desert Mosque from savage defilement at the hands of an ajami raid and singlehandedly rescuing her eldest daughter from the hands of Qudran slavers. Nadia is the daughter of the previous sheikh and has outlived two husbands.
Important Individuals: Fadela bint Nadia (hfF/dr/8) is the eldest daughter of the sheikh and Nadia’s likely successor. Fadela is much like her mother in her strength and force of will. She is also visibly different from her comrades. Her hair is dark red, the shade of dried blood, which gives her the name Fadela Bloodmane (Fadela Urf-al-Dam). The
true name and nature of Fadela’s father is in question. Although Nadia insists that Fadela’s father was Nadia’s first husband, rumours persist of outlanders and jann. Such hearsay is whispered only well outside of Bloodmane’s hearing, for whoever her father is, Fadela inherited a hot temper from him. Fadela is well known for her adventurous spirit, which led to her capture by mamluk recruiters as a barbarian (her hair colour led them astray at first, and her curses confirmed their suspicions). Nadia broke into the tower of Qudra’s emir, Hatit Abd al-Wajib, for a chat with him on the matter. Identities were revealed, the matter was settled, Fadela was reunited with her people, and the mamluk captain responsible was assigned to a naval unit. The House of Nasr has since enjoyed good relations with the slave-soldiers of Qudra.
Not as fortunate as Fadela is Nadia’s son, Amar bin Nadia (hmW/sam/6). The youth has been overshadowed by his stronger, better-liked sister, and this has made him bitter and cynical. By rights (ancient traditions from before the enlightenment), the eldest son should be considered before the eldest daughter for inheritance, but such is not the case with the House of Nasr. The fact that Fadela is more competent than her brother is all the more reason for her position as heir apparent.
A third major figure to the Nasr is Angaloran of the Desert Mosque (hmP/k/14), a kahin. He maintains the haram for all followers; and the haram is protected by one clan of the Nasr and a mystic group known as the Dome Dancers. Angaloran is a quiet, retiring individual, given to stories and parables. His two favourites are the enlightenment of the desert peoples at the mosque (of course) and the tale of Nadia breaking into Qudra to rescue Fadela.

House of Sihr (Jann of the High Desert): In the heart of the desert lies the Genies’ Anvil, an inhospitable place where no mortal can survive for long. It is the home of the enlightened janni tribe of the High Desert. Although jann normally choose to live far removed from mere mortals, the Genies’ Anvil is their land. The interloper who travels there had best have good reasons for coming to see the jann.
The number of jann in the House of Sihr is unknown. Those living in the desert have never been counted by the likes of men. Further, some members may be serving genie masters in faraway magical lands. The tribe itself is divided into a number of clans, each with its own sheikh. These clans wander, herd, trade with other enlightened tribes, and occasionally raid settlements. All sheikhs claim allegiance to Amir Bouladin (see Leader below).
Whether the jann should be considered a major tribe is a point of argument to some-but not to the desert tribes or the jann themselves. One scholar of Tajar put forth publicly the idea that there were only eight major tribes and discounted the janni tribe. The next morning he was found tied up and hanging from a minaret. Individual jann are often playful and adventurous, but in large groups they tend to be respectful, diligent, and very dangerous.
The Leader: Amir Bouladin al-Mutajalli, His Resplendent Magnificence, may the gods themselves speak highly of him (a janni of 10 HD, maximum value with vizier abilities), is the official ruler of the jann of the High Desert. However, each sheikh commands his or her own tribal house, which consists of 11 to 31 jann. The amir is noble, honest, and ruthless with those who oppose him. Amir Bouladin has pledged to aid Sheikh Ali al-Hadd and the city of Tajar in its time of need. A janni representative has appeared before the Grand Caliph himself to pay Bouladin’s respects and to pledge
the loyalty of the jann.
Important Individuals: The sheikhs of the janni tribe all consider themselves to be first among equals and superior to their fellows. This fact should be remembered among those who seek the blessing of the jann or a boon from their ruler. Flattery, thick and heavy, is the meat and drink of these petty sheikhs. Their amir, while wise enough to see it for what it is, enjoys adulation as well.
Bouladin’s eldest daughter is a janni named Jamala who, like Fadela Bloodmane of the House of Nasr, is hot-blooded and eager for adventure. She is a janni of 8 Hit Dice, and she has vizier abilities as well as the ability to shapechange. She may masquerade as a mere mortal to accompany humans during their travels. If she does, she will fight to aid them. Should anything happen to her, however, both her father and the full power of the janni tribe will turn against the miscreants. Fate protect those who are so foolish!

House of Tayif (Ghost-Warriors): The House of Tayif has at most 1,000 unenlightened members who follow their sheikh, Mouli al-Ajami, in the High Desert. The tribe’s numbers seem much greater, for the people roam the entire length of the desert. Raids conducted in the name of Mouli have struck caravans outside Qudra and resin-farmers in the faraway Realm of Bleeding Trees. Almost superhumanly fast, Mouli and his followers survive solely through raiding. They seem to have no set pattern or purpose other than to damage established trade. The other tribes believe that only serpents and vultures must deal with Mouli, for they have no contact with the raider except in combat.
The followers of Mouli wear white in battle, and they are always veiled. No Ghost-Warrior has ever been identified, save for the leader and his vizier.
The Leader: Sheikh Mouli al-Ajami (hmPal/mb/14), a foreign-born interloper, has brought together a large number of smaller tribes and unenlightened clans to rebel against the Grand Caliph. Intelligent and charismatic, Sheikh Mouli has freakish blonde hair and blue eyes. The man learned to hate civilized people because of the torture he suffered at the hands of the Qudran mamluks. Escaping into the desert, Mouli gathered a group of raiders, matruds, outcasts, and dispossessed persons. He led them in lightning raids against oases, trading posts, wells, and civilized lands. Mouli is a powerful leader-so much so that his followers attain fanatical status while in his presence. There are rewards in Qudra, Hiyal, and the Pearl Cities for Mouli al-Ajami. Indeed, even the Grand Caliph has heard of this outlander’s exploits.
Important Individuals: Known today as Fadahl the Crippled, Vizier Fadahl al- Araj (hmW/so/18) was once Fadahl the Enlightened, a sage in the city of Hiyal. He ran afoul of Hiyal’s sultana and had his legs crushed for his troubles. Reduced to begging, Fadahl was apparently befriended by Mouli himself during Mouli’s escape from Qudra. Fadahl’s knowledge of the land and his hatred of his former rulers aided Mouli in surviving the desert’s hardships, and the pair now form the core of leadership of the Ghost-Warriors. Fadahl may almost always be found atop a flying carpet, a present of Sheikh Mouli to his accomplished companion.

House of Thawr (Children of the Bull): The enlightened tribe of Thawr has dwindled to some 1,500 people. The Children of the Bull have been lured away by the prospect of employment and adventure in the Pearl Cities. The Thawr land is currently in the south-eastern spur of the desert, where the tribe supplements trade by raiding the border regions for horses and supplies. These raids were originally minor and inflicted little injury or damage to either side. Now, however, the Pearl Cities are striking back hard against the raiders. Losses among the tribe have been heavy, and the tribe is thinking of retreating into deeper desert. Their other option is to migrate north and seek shelter with the Bakr in the city of Tajar. So far, the leader of the Children of the Bull has refused these plans. Instead, he speaks of a cleansing wind that will resolve all conflicts.
The Leader: Sheikh Ali al-Sadid (emF/dr/17), already old when he took on the responsibility of leading his people, has ruled wisely for 80 years. To his misfortune, during the last five years his wife and four of his five children have died. His three youngest sons died at the hands of adventurers and raiders out of Gana. Their deaths have plunged the sheikh into a black mood, and in this mood he has had visions. These visions are of the desert winds rising, driving a great force of sand to the south to smother the soft young cities. The winds rip apart the stone walls of the cities and tear the flesh from the unworthy men and women who take shelter behind them. The sands leave only a blanket of desolation, where true beings may ride at their own will, with only Fate to guide them. Sheikh Ali is slowly going mad from his visions.
Important Individuals: Ali’s only surviving child is his daughter Alia bint Ali (hefP/k/9). She is disturbed by her father’s words and actions. He has ordered the tribe (and those adventurers who could be hired) to scour the region for old ruins and ancient treasures. He seems to be searching for a particular item, the nature of which he will not reveal. Alia’s father has been consumed by sorrow, and he seems lost to others. With great regret, Alia has begun speaking with the clan chieftains. If the sheikh is no longer capable of leading his people, someone must step forward and take the reins of command from him. Alia has volunteered to do this herself if necessary. She has also sworn to lead the people back into the desert where they will be safer from Gana and the other Pearl Cities. The response from the clan chieftains has been mixed. As the losses from raids grow and the sheikh seems more consumed by his madness, conflict seems likely.

House of Uqab (League of the Vulture): The House of Uqab is made up of outcasts from the desert and their descendants. They consider themselves enlightened, but their respect for the Grand Caliph is slight and their reconciliation of the gods fleeting. Like the creature they pattern themselves after, they are scavengers, living off the success of others. They raid caravans and steal horses. Adventurers who encounter them in the desert will not find a welcome-only daggers and arrows. There are likely no more than 2,500 members of the House of Uqab scattered in small bands throughout the desert, but their numbers grow with each attack and each telling of the tale thereafter. The Vultures recruit savages and mountain tribes to aid in their attacks, but the tribe lets these outsiders do most of the dying so that they can gather most of the treasure. The House of Uqab is regarded among the civilized tribes as unworthy of acknowledgement. Most other desert-dwellers would rather call upon Fate than admit they had been defeated by this miserable tribe.
The Leader: Sheikh Hanjar al-Haqara (hmT/mt/18).
Important Individuals: Hanjar’s chief aid is a flame mage named Solina al-Ganij (hfW/fm/15), a former member of the Brotherhood of the True Fire who turned traitor to her comrades. The brotherhood had planned to assassinate the sultana of Hiyal. Solina turned her comrades in, only to find the sultana’s men chasing her as well (the sultana decreed there should be no survivors). Solina fled into the desert, where she was rescued by Sheikh Hanjar. A cowardly, greedy young woman, Solina will remain with him as long as he brings her jewels and gems and wonderful items. She longs to return to civilization, however. She hasn’t figured out yet how to make this return without the brotherhood coming after her.

Tribes of the Haunted Lands

The Haunted Lands are home to ghosts and mournful winds. The region they encompass is larger than the High Desert but has even fewer inhabitants. In ancient times, the land was dominated by warring kingdoms, but they are long gone. The remaining people, a few of whom are enlightened, are nomads or wild beings such as jann.

The peoples of the Haunted Lands are more scattered than their brethren in the High Desert. There are fewer enlightened major tribes and a greater number of small, savage bands of nomads who act as raiders and slavers. Of prime value is the overland route from the Ruined Kingdoms to Talab in the Pantheon, leading on to the independent city of Halwa. Smaller routes provide a back-door for trade to Hiyal and the Free Cities, though these must pass through the Furrowed Mountains.

Al-Badia of the Haunted Lands survive by raising sheep, goats, and camels and by harvesting isolated patches of dates and figs. They trade livestock and carpets with the lowland countries for weapons, metalwork, and exotic fabrics. They also explore the aged ruins that are occasionally revealed in the shifting of the sands. The reward is often great treasure-and great danger as well. Raiding is also common, both against each other and against the outposts along the coastal civilizations. Direct attacks against larger cities have usually resulted in disaster, but a few much vaunted successes over the generations still encourage the brave and the reckless.

The position of tribal leader is hereditary and is usually passed to the eldest son. The ruling family takes the tribal name instead of a parent’s name to identify their position. The small size of these tribes means that, to be effective against larger targets, they must band together. As a result, charismatic leaders can lead a gathering of diverse nomadic warriors in a plundering raid. Such alliances usually last as long as the leader lives; the associations fade into the desert wind upon the leader’s death.

Current major power groups within the Haunted Lands are presented in the following text.

House of Hanif: The largest enlightened tribe of the Haunted Lands, House of Hanif numbers some 10,000 people and is powerful enough to send its own ambassador to the Court of Huzuz. The tribe controls the region surrounding the Ghost Mountains and the Al-Akara Mountains. It also maintains a permanent base in a qal’at that was formerly held by holy slayers, located a day’s ride west of Halwa. As a people, this tribe has an intense loyalty to the throne and is known for rescuing thirsty pilgrims lost en route to Huzuz. The people are brave, honest to a fault, and open to strangers in their lands. The other tribes of the Haunted Lands call the Hanif Our Grand Caliph’s Hunting Dogs and not in a complimentary sense.
The Leader: Sheikh Kaldhun bin Hanif (hmF/dr/19) is a powerful, middle-aged man, his stylish beard just beginning to show grey. His wealth affords him two wives, and he has two talented (but egotistical) sons. Sheikh Kaldhun is a sensible, reasonable man, more given to careful decisions than outbursts of passion. He knows his days of greatness are behind him.
Important Individuals: The most prominent of the many people of Hanif are the two sons of the sheikh, born on the same night to different mothers. Mu’awiya (hmF/dr/9) was conceived second and born first, while Yazid (hmF/dr/9) was conceived first and born second. These facts were revealed by a wise woman traveling through the lands 10 years ago. Both men have reached their majority, and each has his supporters. Mu’awiya bin Hanif is as tall as his father, but gaunt. His manner is calm, and his eyes are soft and caring. He believes that the ways of his father and grandfather are basically sound and that the tribe should continue as a desert guard and aid for the Grand Caliph. Mu’awiya has visited the Court of Enlightenment in Huzuz, where he marveled at the buildings and accomplishments of the civilized peoples.
Yazid bin Hanif is rather short, but he is as strong as his father was at his age. He also has his father’s keen eyes and sharp features. Yazid is dissatisfied with the tribe’s life, believing they are tethered to the court of Huzuz, and he feels they could build their own enlightened city far from courts and caliphs and merchants. Eight years ago, Yazid was separated from his tribe in a sandstorm and located five days later. He says he spent that time among the jann, who told him marvellous secrets of the future. This is at the core of his romance with the deep desert.
Both sons have loyal and excitable followers among the tribe. As yet, their father has shown no preference for one or the other as heir. Both sons can make a convincing case of rightful claim and leadership ability, and the tribe may split in two if each son chooses to take on the ruling mantle. In addition, the current actions of the House of Hotek to the north is increasing the split between the brothers.

House of Hotek: The core of tribe Hotek is only some 2,000 enlightened people, but Sheikh Ibrin bin Hotek’s preaching
against the city of Hiyal and its sultana have caused the ranks to swell. Clans that have been oppressed, cheated, or harmed by the sultana and her brood have joined forces with this tribe. The House of Hotek traditionally roams the north-western corner of the Haunted Lands. Until recently the members lived in peace with the city. Now they move primarily by night, and the people of Hotek and its allied tribes are not as welcome as they once were in the City of Intrigue. As the raids grow more common, conflict with the other major enlightened tribe of the eastern desert, the House of Hanif, has increased as well. This is contributing to the division between the two sons of the Hanif’s sheikh, for Yazid is sympathetic to Ibrin’s cause against the Al-Hadhar, and Mu’awiya is concerned for how the attacks upon Hiyal affect the desert tribes’ reputation in Huzuz.
The Leader: Ibrin bin Hotek (hmF/dr/l2) is one of the charismatic leaders mentioned earlier who are capable of inspiring desert tribes to unite in a larger group. Ibrin is a leader with a vision-to destroy the city of wickedness and oppression. He seeks the collapse of Hiyal, the City of Intrigue. The vision has come to Ibrin late in life. He had spent most of his life trading with the very city he now reviles. He says he was a blind man then who enjoyed the sins of the flesh, but now he is pure and can see clearly the lair of the sultana for what it is-a trap for free people. Ibrin now gathers new followers with the strength of a man possessed. He leads them in raids against the outposts of Hiyal and the caravans.
Important Individuals: The cause of Ibrin’s conversion is his new vizier, a kahin named Amene (hfP/k/13). She has showed him that the ways of the City of Intrigue are evil and corrupt. Amene is constantly at his side as his aide and comfort. Some say Amene may replace Ibrin’s wife, who died shortly after the kahin’s arrival. Ibrin has a son, Jisaron (hmF/dr/10), and a grandson, Kahlil (hmR/dr/7). Both are dutiful to their sire and stay out of the way of Amene. Jisaron has taken to wandering far afield to avoid his potential stepmother.

Jann of the Haunted Lands: The Jann of the Haunted Lands are wildly crazy and impulsive, dangerous to themselves and to all who accompany them. They are vindictive, insistent, prone to insult, mischievous, and very powerful. These tendencies have always been present in the jann and may have something to do with the great destruction of their homeland. A typical janni tribe will number 11 to 31 individuals and will be led by a sheikh. In the past few decades, the jann’s actions have become extreme. Some raid humans or other janni outposts regularly, while others remain allies to various human or janni tribes. The homeland of the jann is the Great Anvil, the large waste of inhospitable land set in the centre of the Haunted Lands. Here lie great ruins of civilization that are now uninhabited, save for the elemental peoples. Intruders are not welcome. The Jann of the Haunted Lands, under Amir Heidar Qan, have pledged their support to the Grand Caliph. This pledge has been honoured time and again to the 14 individuals who have sat upon the Enlightened Throne, but no official representative of the jann has appeared to the current Grand Caliph to renew loyalty. Those few jann who have appeared at court have stated that ill health delays their lord, which gives rise to stories of the Amir’s death. The Grand Caliph is most concerned with this matter, particularly with the advancement of Ibrin’s forces in the north.
The Leader: Amir Heidar Qan, his most distinguished and respectable master, wise in all matters beneath this sky and other skies, is the leader of the Jann of the Haunted Lands. The amir has not been seen in 50 years, and he is believed to be either dead or dying. His inactivity is reflected in the increasingly wild actions of his servants, who are dangerous at the best of times.
Important Individuals: Other than the Amir, there is one janni known throughout the Haunted Lands. His name is Majnun, and he is being hunted by his brethren. Majnun apparently either stole an item from the Amir or poisoned him (the stories vary) and then fled into the wilds. Now he wanders, disguised as a mystic of great power, but he is cautious around other genies and particularly so around the jann. The one who turns Majnun over to the jann will be greatly rewarded.

House of Mawli: A group of desperate outcasts and raiders some 150 strong, they survive by preying on caravans and travellers, they are also slavers. The tribes of Mawli number no more than 200-500 people each, sufficient to raid the smaller tribes and outposts with minimal losses. They rely on speed and surprise, and will cross long distances to find a new raiding ground if there is major resistance (or if the Grand Caliph’s Hunting Dogs, the House of Hanif, show up).
The tribes of Mawli use everything they raid from the caravans, and will readily engage in enslaving enlightened beings for resale in the Ruined Kingdoms, Hudid, and Halwa. Some tribes have contacts with the Brotherhood of the True Flame and with the distant Yak-Men, and sell their human cargo to these groups.
Each clan of the house of Mawli is independent and individual. Except for Al-Barq, none of the leaders and their abilities are particularly well known. If encountering a particular clan, the leader will likely be hmF/dr/11-16th level.

The Leader: The leader of these tribesmen varies. At any one ime, there are a dozen Sheikhs of Mawli within the desert, each the commander of his own little band of brigands. The individual currently making life unpleasant for caravan drivers in the south and east is known as Al-Barq (The Lightning) for the speed of her raids. Al-Barq bin Mawli (hfF/dr/14) is a strong warrior whose true identity and base of operations are unknown. What is known is that she and her people can swoop down upon an encampment of travellers at dusk and have it picked clean by dawn.

Rashid al-Mawli (hmF/dr/13) and his son Jaffer al-Mawli (hmF/dr/6) lead a band of raiders some 150 strong.
The last official Sheikh of the Mawli disappeared three hundred years ago in an expedition to the World-Pillars to the far northeast, and his tribe soon disbanded among other peoples. The name was retained by a group of brigands, and as such has spread through the entire Haunted Lands in a loose brotherhood of thieves, robbers, and outcasts. To be of the House of Mawli is to be of no tribe at all.

The Daily Routine
Aday in the life of a nomad family begins early, when days are still
relatively cool. Two hours before the dawn, a daughter of the family rises
and begins to make leben, a sour milk or buttermilk. First, she fills a goatskin
with milk and hangs it from a tripod. Then she rocks the skin back and forth,
often singing, with the sloshing leben providing a rhythm. Cultures inside the

skin eventually thicken the milk. If she uses sheep’s
milk, she will have butter left over. Camel’s milk has
virtually no fat, so it yields neither butter nor cream.
Nonetheless, sour camel’s milk is an Al-Badian staple.

An hour before dawn, the rest of the family rises
and washes, using sand when no water is available. If
the tribe is enlightened, all family members face Huzuz
and kneel upon the ground, praying for guidance and
good fortune. Breakfast follows-usually just a handful
of dates and some milk for each-person. Many families
share a wooden bowl filled with leben, passing the bowl
until it is empty.
If the tribe has sheep and it is not summer, a boy
assigned to shepherding leaves the camp in search of
good grazing ground. (During the summer months,
grazing is poor or nonexistent, and the tribe stays near
an oasis or town.) Having found a good spot, the boy
plants his staff on the ground and hangs his aba upon
it. The sheep, notoriously stupid, mistake the robe for
the boy and are less apt to wander. This allows the boy
to doze or hunt for jerboas (desert rats). If the hunt is
successful, the shepherd roasts his catch and enjoys a
snack. Otherwise, he eats only the dates he brings with
him each morning.

Nearly all Al-Badia own camel herds. At night, the
animals are tethered or hobbled. In the morning, a few
dates and kind words encourage them to rise. Most
camels range freely during the day, seeking their own
fodder. As evening approaches, a call from a boy or girl
brings them back to camp, where they know fresh
water and more dates await them.
Most women attend to chores during the day:
milking animals, caring for young children, spinning
wool, weaving cloth, and mending tents. Girls and
boys gather brushwood for the fires. Older children
may take a camel to fetch fresh water-a task that can
take all day if the source is far.
Unless it is summer, men go hunting-setting their
saluqis (hounds) after the gazelles or setting their
falcons after hares and desert bustards. Not every
nomad has a saluqi, but most men (and some bold
women) have at least one falcon, which they raise,
name, and treat almost as a pet. Other prey of the
hunter includes the dhabb, a tasty but elusive lizard
about two feet long, which is shot with a bow and
arrow. No matter what the prey is, however, an

enlightened nomad always utters a prayer to Fate and
the gods before slaying it, giving thanks for the animal
and asking that its death to be quick and merciful.

When game is scarce (a common situation), the
hunters train hawks or patrol the area around the
camp, reading the desert for signs of recent events.
Where a town-dweller sees nothing, a nomad sees
all-what kind of camels have passed, what they were
carrying, how many men accompanied them, and
more. Warriors may also go on raids (see below) during
the day. Some, exhausted by events of the previous day
or evening, simply relax in the shelter of the tent and

share stories.
As evening approaches, the shepherds and the
hunters return to camp, and the family gathers round

the fire for dinner. This is the usually the second meal
of the day; most Al-Badia eat no lunch. If a family is
fortunate, the evening meal includes bread, rice, and a
bit of meat. To make bread, the cook throws dollops of
unleavened dough directly onto the fire. After it has
baked and then cooled slightly, the eater scrapes off the
ash and sand, and then dunks the bread into a bit of
clarified butter before devouring it. Al-Badia consider
this a treat because flour is expensive. Al-Hadhar claim
that a nomad’s bread tastes worse than dirt.
The nomads of Zakhara observe a number of
customs during meals. Like Al-Hadhar, enlightened
Al-Badia eat only with their right hands; to do
otherwise is shameful. Belching is a compliment to the
cook. The back wall of the tent is the proper tool for
wiping greasy hands-the more grease marks the wall
shows, the better the family’s fortune.
The nomads stay gathered round the fire after the
sun has set, telling stories and singing songs. Small
children retire to women’s quarters and fall asleep
listening to the talk outside the tent. In most AlBadian tribes, men and women do not segregate
themselves during the evening; in others, the
segregation is hardly meaningful, since only a thin
curtain divides them. (For a look inside a typical A
Badian tent, see Card 12 in this boxed set.)
Nomads are lean and strong. They rarely sit on
their haunches as the town-dwellers do. Instead, they
crouch, resting their entire weight upon their heels. A
town-dweller finds this difficult, but to the sturdy
nomad, it’s a natural position. Al-Badia sometimes

recline upon carpets and lean on their camel saddles
within the tent, but outside, around a campfire,
everyone sits in the manner described. (This position
helps avoid another breech of etiquette: showing the
soles of one’s feet to a guest.)
Two hours after sunset, enlightened Al-Badia wash
themselves with sand or water, say their evening
prayer, and retire for the night. For safety, new lambs
are tethered inside the camp (if not inside the tents).
Other animals are gathered behind the lambs. Only
the person assigned to the watch stays awake-sitting
by the fire to guard against wolves and other dangers.
During the summer months, when the grasslands
are bare, Al-Badia establish crowded camps beside
oases or wells. Their tents offer little relief from the
sun; temperatures inside frequently top 110 degrees.
For most Al-Badia, this is a miserable experience-not
simply because it is hot, but also because nomads
despise being settled.
This is a good time to seek diversion by doing
business in a village or town. The nomads sell
livestock, wool, woven textiles, curd cheese, and
perhaps some roasted locusts (considered good eating
by many). In turn, they buy rice, wheat, dates, and
weapons. If the tribe is wealthy, they also purchase
trinkets and finery.
With the onset of autumn, a bit of rain begins to
fall in the desert. Spirits soar, and the tribe packs up
the camptents, food stores, cushions, ornate carpets,
and thin mattresses stuffed with cotton, in addition to
personal belongings. The migration begins. For eight
months, the tribe will move from place to place,
breaking camp every week to 10 days. (This is a matter
of sanitation as well as restlessness.) With the coming
of winter, nights grow windy and cold. In higher
elevations, a bit of snow even falls to the ground,
melting as the sun breaks free of the horizon.
With the onset of spring, grazing is at its best.
Families camp far apart, seeking what is otherwise a
luxury: privacy. The camps remain close enough to
hear the warning blast from a neighbor’s horn,
however. Each family knows the position of their
neighbors, and they feel honor-bound to protect them.

Tribes arrange their tents in a widespread circle,
making raids by the enemy more difficult. If raiders
penetrate the circle, they’re surrounded-which
usually leads to their defeat.
Each tribe migrates within its own territory, or
dirah. A typical dirah covers 200 square miles.
Boundaries are unofficial, and alliances between
neighboring tribes are common. This helps ensure
their mutual survival; if the grazing in a tribe’s own
dirah is poor, they must seek it elsewhere. When
enmity does exist between tribes, each fiercely protects
their own territory and, most importantly, its wells.


To the Al-Badia, theft of livestock is not sinful- it’s the mark of brave, successful men. Women
may also take part in raids; those who do earn a
reputation as great warriors.
Al-Badia routinely travel over a hundred miles on
camelback to conduct a raid. Along the way, they seize
anyone who might be able to warn the enemy of the
impending attack. If the target’s location is close, and
the raiders own horses, then both mounts are used,
with one horse backing each camel.
Provided all goes well, raiding is a quick affair: a
swift assault just before the break of dawn or a harried
attack during a dust storm. For honorable tribes, death
of the enemy is not a goal; they raid only to acquire.
Warriors fight valiantly hand-to-hand, but those who
are weaker feel no duty to fight to the death. Surrender
is not dishonorable. To show their desire to go on
living, embattled warriors simply place their thumbs
between their teeth and extend their fingers toward
their attackers. (No white flags are raised.)
The Al-Badian code of honor demands that women
who do not fight be left alone. In their tents, they are
usually quite safe, for only a dishonorable nomad
would harm them. Pots, carpets, and food stores are
suitable for looting, but anything a woman wears on
her person (as much as possible, during a raid) is
considered off-limits.
Many Al-Badian tribes also conduct raids against
distant villages and outposts. Unfortunately, towndwellers do not observe the same rules of etiquette in
battle as honorable nomads. As a result, these raids are

often bloody affairs for both sides, creating an enmity
and hatred that do not fade quickly.
Blood Feuds
Despite the nomads’ rather civilized views on
raiding, fights to the death do occur. Known as a
blood feud, such a conflict may arise when a tribe
believes one of their members has been wrongly killed.
Or a matter of honor may trigger the feud. Whatever
the cause, the conflict escalates into a deadly
exchange, with each side killing a member of the other
until the conflict is resolved.
Sheikhs of warring tribes can rarely end a blood
feud between them. A third, neutral sheikh must
mediate. He or she begins with a ceremony of digging
and burying. Each side in the feud draws lines in the
sand-one for every tribe member killed. If the death
toll is uneven, the side with fewer lines must pay a
blood price (usually a combination of camels and
money) to offset the other tribe’s loss. The neutral
sheikh strives to set a price that preserves the honor of
everyone involved.

The Coffee Ceremony
Throughout Zakhara, from the poorest Al-Badian camp
to the most luxurious palace, coffee-making is the
measure of a good host. If a woman rules the house (or tent),
she may make the mocha, but this is typically a man’s job.
Nowhere is the preparation and drinking of coffee more
ceremonious than among the Al-Badia. A prince or sheikh
may allow a slave to prepare the coffee and an honored son
to pour it. But the average Al-Badian host does it all with
great flourish and pride.
A nomad’s coffee-making begins when the host sits
before a little hollow in the sand and lights a fire. Camel
dung is the fuel of choice. Next, the host spreads out his
coffee equipment tiny cups; mortar and pestle; utensils for
stirring; and a shallow metal dish with a long handle,
designed for roasting the beans. The host also sets out two
coffee pots-one sooty and battered, the other shiny. All
the while, the host asks his guests how they are, but he
never inquires directly about their business or wealth,
because that would be rude.
Next, the host places some dried coffee berries in the
mortar and begins to pulverize them. The pestle rings like a
bell as the mortar strikes it. When the berries have been
thoroughly crushed, the host puts them in the roaster and
holds it over the fire. As soon as the beans are brown but
not burnt, he sets them aside to cool. Then he pours a little
of the previous day’s coffee into the black pot, adds water,
and sets the pot on the fire. When the mixture boils, the
host adds the freshly roasted coffee and stirs. A helper (his
wife or son) brings a little cardamon, which he quickly
pulverizes and adds to the still-boiling pot.
When the coffee is as black as oil, the host transfers it
from the battered pot to the shiny one. After allowing the
grounds to settle, he at last begins to pour-a ceremony in
itself. The host must hold the pot in his left hand; to do
otherwise is a serious breech of etiquette. He must take the
first swallow himself, proving that the brew isn’t poisonous.
Then he commences serving. According to custom, he
pours for the eldest guest first.
After drinking coffee, a town-dwelling host often passes
round a censer filled with frankincense, allowing each guest
to inhale the scent and bask in its fragrance. Among the
nomads, only sheikhs observe this custom. Once the tenser
has been passed, guests are expected to leave or retire for
the night. Town-dwellers, who have frequent visitors in the
afternoon, light the incense after guests have been present
as briefly as 15 minutes. Al-Badia consider that practice
extremely rude; incense is reserved for long, languid visits.
A l-Badia look for four things in a sheikh: courage,
wisdom, generosity, and luck. The importance of
the last trait should not be underestimated. A lucky
sheikh is blessed by Fate, and all members of the tribe
would like to share in that good fortune.
While it is true that many sheikhs are the sons of
former sheikhs, in the High Desert neither a family
connection nor a sheikh’s sex are as important as the
qualities listed above. In the Haunted Lands, the
position of sheikh usually passes to a sheikh’s eldest
son, but he is not guaranteed to keep it. No Al-Badian
tribe will support a sheikh who is unworthy of respect.
Over the course of time, nomads have banished and
killed many leaders who were deemed weak, stupid, or
As noted above, Al-Badia expect their sheikhs to
be generous. That, in a large part, determines a
sheikh’s honor. It is the sheikh’s job to ensure that no
tribe member goes hungry or cold while others have
food and warmth. The basic necessitiesfood, water,

clothing, and housing-are every Al-Badia’s right. A
nomad has only to need these things, and, if it is at all
possible, he or she will receive them.
Al-Badian Hospitality
Like all civilized Zakharans, nomads believe
hospitality is a matter of honor. Though a prince
or a caliph may offer more gifts and a greater banquet,
none can approach the Al-Badia’s generosity of spirit.
A nomad’s everyday meals are meager until an guest
appears; then the family may prepare a feast that
surpasses all they have eaten for weeks. A sheep is the

main course of preference, with the fatty, succulent tail
being handed to the guest of honor. If a sheep is not
available, the family may slay a camel instead.
It is a fairly simple matter to gain a nomad’s
hospitality, but some rules of etiquette must be
observed. For example, it is bad form to approach the
back of a nomad’s tent. Instead, travelers must appear
within full view of the front. Further, it’s extremely
rude to approach a tent directly. Travelers are expected
to stand a good distance from the tent and wait to be
noticed, busying themselves with their camels or
horses. Then the man or woman of the tent goes out to
extend a formal invitation. If a guest is important, the
hostess hangs her gayest frock at the front of the tent,
like a banner, to celebrate the guest’s arrival.
Guests who approach during the day and are just
passing through can expect a bit of leben. Those who
seek shelter at night receive, dinner, coffee, and a place
inside the tent. A polite traveler never offers money in
exchange for lodging; to the nomad, that’s an insult.
Instead, a traveler who wishes to show thanks may
offer a gift before departing. As is the custom
throughout Zakhara, guests should not remain beyond
three days. One exception exists: important guests of a
sheikh are permitted to stay for up to a week if the
invitation is extended. The sheikh offers gifts, and the
guests generally reciprocate.
Attire and Vanity
In contrast to a sheikh or well-to-do AlcBadia, many
nomads own little more than the clothing on their
backs. When a robe becomes so tattered that it falls

off, they get a new one. Washing clothes is a luxury for
those who do not know the value (or scarcity) of
water. While sand can scour bodies, it does little to
clean fabric. Consequently, a nomad’s clothes are
usually filthy. No one seems to mind the smell.

Men among- Al-Badian tribes wear either a
loincloth, simple trousers with a drawstring waist, or
both. Over that, most wear a long, buttonless shirt that
hangs almost to their ankles, like a narrow smock or
nightshirt. An aba (robe) tops the shirt. If the man is
well to do, the front of the aba may be trimmed with
embroidery. Rarely is it silk, however; most Al-Badian
men consider such softness shameful. A keffiyeh and
agal (headcloth and cord) complete the attire.
Women’s attire is much the same, but it may be
more gaily colored. Many women loosely drape a shawl
over their heads instead of a wearing a keffiyeh and
agal. All don as much jewelry as possible, adorning
themselves with silver, gold, turquoise, pearls, and glass
beads-from headpieces and nose rings to ankle
bracelets. The wealthier the woman, the greater her
finery. Few Al-Badian women wear veils. (In fact, in

some tribes only the men are veiled, wrapping their
black headcloths across their faces.) Finally, a nomadic
woman wears one other item of interest: a little key,
which opens a chest containing her personal treasures.
She wears the key openly, on a chain or silken rope
around her neck.
The Al-Badian woman enjoys many vanities. Her
kohl-rimmed eyes are practical as well as alluring; the
black lines help shield her eyes from the sun. Henna
stains her hair, hands, and feet. She brushes her teeth
with a bark that reddens her lips. Perhaps her most
notable vanity is tattooing. Forehead, cheeks, chest,
calves, hands, feet-all may be adorned with attractive
and simple patterns of dots, lines, and cross-marks.
Each tribe’s women favor a unique set of designs.
Marriage and Family
Monogamy is a way of life among the Al-Badia.
Few nomads can afford more than one spouse
and family. Moreover, aside from a handful of well-todo sheikhs, few of them think polygamy is worth the
inevitable hassles. Parents typically arrange marriages,
favoring a union of cousins. By tradition, a girl is
bespoken to her first cousin on her father’s side. But if
she objects strongly (and preferably quietly), she may
convince her cousin to seek the hand of another.
Should she fall for the wrong man-an enemy, a slave,
or a man from an inferior tribe-they’ll have to elope
and abandon both their tribes to be together.
A groom always gives his prospective bride a
jehaz gifts that include clothing, money, livestock,
and the all-important marriage bed (cushions and
carpets). These are hers to keep forever. Because the
livestock multiply, and because her parents may have
already given her a few camels, an Al-Badian bride
soon owns a sizable herd.
Divorce is a simple matter among the Al-Badia.
Nomads completely ignore the supposedly
enlightened ways of the Al-Hadhar. If a man wishes
for a divorce, he simply says so, repeating his desire
three times aloud. If a woman wants a divorce, she
returns to her parents’ tent. Her husband may try to
woo her back with gifts, songs, and ardent pleas. If she
resists, he’ll eventually tire of her absence and agree to
divorce her. No shame is involved for either of them,
and both usually find new spouses with ease. After a
divorce, children over the age of eight live with their
fathers, but their mother may visit them freely. In fact,
she often becomes friends with her former husband’s
new wife, offering tips on how to handle him.
Like Al-Hadhar, desert-dwellers value a large
family. But the desert’s harsh life means that many
children die at birth or during infancy. This sorrow,
coupled with the nomad’s fierce moral code and love
of life, makes children precious to the Al-Badia.
It is nearly every new wife’s desire to become
pregnant. When she does, it’s cause for celebration in
the tribe. Her husband remains especially close and
watchful until the baby’s birth. For 40 days thereafter,
however, tradition demands that she and the baby
sleep alone, preferably in a separate section of the tent.
Like town-dwellers, the nomads believe that
children are especially susceptible to the evil eye. As
proof against this sinister force, Al-Badian mothers
attach a small blue bead to the baby’s cap and mark
each cheek with a line of kohl. Further, almost every
mother places a steel dagger at the baby’s side while the
infant sleeps. If the child lies upon a leather mat on the
ground, the mother sticks the dagger in the earth beside
the baby’s head. In a cradle or hammock, the
unsheathed dagger simply lies alongside the baby, who
is swaddled so snugly that the risk of injury is slight.
For the first few months, an Al-Badian mother
carries her baby about in a leather cradle, which she
slings over her shoulder. Thereafter, the baby spends
most of its time in a little hammock suspended near
the front of the tent. This arrangement makes sure
visitors can admire the family’s latest addition. It is
customary for a newcomer to place a coin or trinket in
the baby’s fist. Supposedly, this brings the child luck.
Certainly, it brings the mother a bit of good fortune,
for she quickly retrieves the gift. (After all, if the baby
were to die choking, no one would view the gift as a
good luck charm.)
Volume One of the Monstrous Compendium
provides combat statistics for the dromedary, or
single-humped, camel-the type found throughout the
Land of Fate (see the page titled Animal, Herd).

From an Al-Badian standpoint, the brief description in
the Compendium could scarcely begin to pay justice to
this wondrous, beloved creature.
The camels of Zakhara are brown, black, or white.
Golden brown is the most common color. White is the
rarest and most prized. In any market, a she-camel that
is young, healthy, and as white as a pearl commands
the highest price.
An Al-Badia’s greatest desire is to begin his or her
adult life with a dozen camels. If most of the camels are
female, their number will double in a few years.
Nomads owning 40 or 50 healthy camels consider
themselves rich, regardless of the herd’s color.
Owners give all their camels names. Some beasts
even come when called; others simply hiss and spit.
Nomads are very fond of their camels, but it has
nothing to do with their disposition. Camels, as a rule,
are ornery and mean-especially males. Rather, the
nomad loves the camel because of its practicality. The
camel’s uses are seemingly endless. It carries water
bags, cargo, and riders. When it falls to the ground,
unable to travel farther, it may be slain to provide
meat. The female, especially valued, gives milk, a
staple of the Al-Badian diet. The camel’s hair can be
shorn and mixed with the hair of sheep or goats to
make wool. The camel’s dung is a treasured fuel,
creating embers that are especially suited to heating
coffee. When the dung has dried until it is virtually
odorless, it becomes a powder that protects a newborn
nomad’s skin.
The urine of a female camel has as many
applications as a con-artist’s snake oil-but in this
case, the substance works. Urine serves as a weekly
shampoo for Al-Badian women, especially when water
is scarce. Wondrously effective (though not exactly
fragrant), this water of the camel cuts grease and
filth with ease. More importantly, the urine kills a
variety of pesky head vermin (which are especially
problematic in summer). As an added benefit, the
urine lightens hair, enhancing any subsequent
application of henna. On a more practical note, urine
also serves as an eyewash and a purgative.
Camels are extremely well suited to life in the
desert, enduring hardships that quickly kill the average
horse. The animal’s broad feet are designed for
plodding easily across the sand. And its heavy fringe of
eyelashes help protect its eyes from the sun and
windborne sand.
Most importantly, a camel’s need for fresh water is
minimal. It can go without water for two to four weeks
during winter and early spring, when grazing is good.
The desert’s green plants satisfy the camel’s need for
water. It is a misconception, however, to believe that a
camel can survive for long without water and fresh
fodder. When the spring days grow warm, a camel
begins to need watering about once a week. During the
height of summerwhen Zakhara’s deserts are as dry
as tinder and ash-camels must be watered every two
days to remain healthy. A camel in top condition can
survive two weeks without water and food, but few
nomads would purposely risk so valuable a life for a
foolhardy trek.
Nomads can tell the health of a camel by the
condition of its hump. If the hump is firm and full
weighing about 25 pounds on its own-the camel is
healthy. On the other hand, if the hump is small and
shrunken, the camel is weak. Contrary to popular
belief, a camel’s hump is not a storehouse of water-it’s
mostly fat. Yet by metabolizing this fat, the beast
converts a good portion of it to water.
A dehydrated camel is bony. If it has grazed a bit
recently, its hump looks about half full (a 15
pounder). The animal’s body makes every effort to

conserve water, limiting urination and sweating, and
even slowing breathing. When the parched camel at
last reaches water, it can suck in as many as 30 gallons
in just a few minutes’ time. Gradually, its entire body
will regain a plumper, healthier look. The hump will
not enlarge again until the camel has resumed vigorous
grazing or feeding, however.
In addition to green fodder, camels need salt. The
shrubby brush that grows near the mineral flats and
lakes can satisfy that need. If a camel does not have
access to this brush at least once every 10 or 12 days,
however, its owner will hand-feed it salt.
Like the nomads themselves, camels are extremely
fond of dates, though the beasts devour the stones
along with the fruit. Al-Badia give dates to the animals
as bribes or rewards for good behavior. Nomads also
feed their camels a mixture of dates and milk in
preparation for a long or difficult trek.
The camel’s need for water and food plays an
important role in determining an Al-Badian tribe’s
mobility. During the winter and spring months, a tribe
can camp many miles from a well or oasis, using the
camels to haul water each week. By filling leather skins
and buckets, Al-Badia collect water for the people as
well as the beasts in camp. Camels need only an
occasional drink when grazing is good, but the lambs,
dogs, horses, and goats drink freely from a leather
trough outside the tent.
As previously noted, camels can be ornery
creatures. When urged toward some awkward task,
even a particularly docile camel will hiss with
annoyance’. Most show their opinions by spitting
deftly aiming a parcel of green, slimy cud at the person
who raised their ire. A male camel takes his anger one
step further: he bites. This is rarely a playful nip; the
jaws of a bull camel have been known to break a man’s
forearm with a single chomp. For this reason, few male
camels serve as mounts. Most bulls, in fact, are best
suited to stud service, after which they may end up as
the main course during some festive occasion.
Camel meat is tough and rather coarse, but tasty.
One camel can serve an entire tribe. The hump is
tender, and nomads consider it the best part for eating.
Guests are always offered their fill of the hump before
anyone else-a practice in keeping with the Al-Badia’s
intense desire to be hospitable.
Travel by Camel
A l-Hadhar have dubbed the camel ship of the
desert. True, this beast is the most common
conveyance across a seemingly endless sea of dust and
sand, but that’s not the reason for the name. Camels
are called ships because they sway back and forth
beneath their riders. To the uninitiated, this endless
wobbling can cause nausea, much like the swaying of a
boat beneath ocean swells.
Most Al-Badia mount a camel by bending its neck
toward the ground, using it as foothold, and then
swinging up into the saddle. This demands experience
in handling camels as well as acrobatic talent. Those
who haven’t mastered this technique (or acquired the
camel-riding proficiency) must force the camel onto
all fours, and then quickly climb onto the beast. The
rider’s weight signals the camel to rise.
Camel-riding is in itself a physical challenge. Some
nomads ride with their legs astride. Most kneel,
however-even when the camel is at a full gallop. This
feat takes exceptional balance and endurance.
When a tribe is on the march, moving from one
camp to another, nomads rarely ride their camels.
Instead, the camels are loaded and the nomads walk
beside them. Women are an exception. Frequently,
they ride in large, elaborate litters. (Card 11 shows
such a litter, as well as a common saddle.) The more
elaborate the litter, the more important the woman.
Camels walk at an easy pace of about 4 to 6 miles
an hour. Pack animals that are fully laden travel only
half as fast. While carrying a rider, camels can trot at
speeds of 10 to 13 miles an hour, and maintain that
pace for an entire day. At a full gallop, most camels
reach a maximum speed somewhere between 15 and
20 miles an hour. Exceptional mounts-prized during
raids-can attain speeds as high as 30 miles as hour.

Al-Hadhar Life and Society

The Daily Routine

A day in the life of a typical city-dweller begins with dawn breaking over the rooftops. Those who are not already awake are roused by the sound of gongs in the minarets and the morning call to prayer. Al-Hadhar who are very religious, and those seeking favour of the priests if not the gods, are already at their mosque by this time. For most, however, the morning call involves prostrating oneself to one’s chosen deity at home, reflecting upon one’s chosen path, and asking for guidance.

No one may be unclean before prayer to an enlightened deity; ablution is required (see “Patterns of Worship” in Chapter 5). Servants of the wealthy carry fresh water to their masters’ chambers about an hour before the dawn, while others wash with ewers of water that were filled the night before. Most Zakharan men shave, and they do so at this time.

Breakfast is usually foods served cold: bread, curd cheese, olives, and dates. Among the poor, a few dates may suffice. Those who are more prosperous may eat bread smeared with jams and preserves. During cool weather (or in higher altitudes), the morning menu may include soup. Rich or poor, nearly every Zakharan drinks a bit of dark, bitter coffee with breakfast. After the meal, it is customary to wipe one’s teeth with a cloth.

Next, the Al-Hadhar turn to their work. Merchants travel to their stalls or stores; artisans go to their shops, which may be located at the front of their houses; public functionaries go the court or the bazaar to monitor and tax the transactions of the day. Women in the traditional role of wife and mother turn to matters of the household, tending to the children and preparing the evening meal. In rural areas, the chief occupation is agriculture. In urban areas, the majority of Al-Hadhar devote themselves to weaving, sewing, and selling textiles. Wood is at a premium throughout most of the Land of Fate, so the preponderance of goods in the bazaar are either metal or made of woven fabric.

Two hours past midday, a gong sounds. The imams (priests) in their minarets again call the faithful to prayer. In some major cities, it is sufficient to face a mosque with a bowed head and utter a silent prayer. This “half-hearted” effort is frowned upon by most moralists, however, who feel a visit to the mosque is required (at least for men).

After prayer, it is time for lunch, and many of the open-air markets close against the heat of the sun. For those who can reach home, lunch usually consists of the reheated remains of the previous evening’s supper, often made into a soup or ragout. Those whose business keeps them away from home may carry with them an onion, dates, and some bread for a midday snack, or they may purchase a bit of stew from a cookshop or a peddler.

The afternoon schedule for the Al-Hadhar is much the same as the morning’s. To escape the heat, some engage in business meetings and commerce in the suq, a market sheltered by tarps or rooftops high overhead. For others, the early part of the afternoon is a time of leisure. Some visit the hammam (bathhouse). Others relax and enjoy the diversions of the marketplace.

Bazaars and other public squares usually have areas set aside for spontaneous public speaking. Those who wish to teach, harangue, or enlighten the masses may do so quite freely. Travelers tell of great discoveries. Hakimas and dervishes describe their wondrous encounters. On the more practical side, the arrivals of ships are also announced in these open-air forums. All is permitted within reason, according to the laws and customs of the area. Blasphemous, obscene, or revolutionary speech is forbidden, of course., and the city guards remain nearby to handle malcontents.
Further, even the most exemplary caliph retains a few priests who are armed with silence, 15-foot radius spells, so that heathen speech need never offend the enlightened

Entertainers are also common sights in the bazaar. These include poets, tale-tellers, musicians, and young dancers. The dancers frequently arrive with their own musicians. Other dancers may accompany themselves with drums, tambourines, or wooden clackers, or by hissing pleasantly as they dance. Most entertainers will agree to perform at a private engagement in exchange for the promise of an evening meal. The truly talented, however, may catch the eye of a high-ranking courtier and be commanded to perform before the local caliph or emir. Thereafter, such entertainers will be able to demand high prices for their performances.

With the approach of sunset, most of those working in the city or town return home for the evening meal. Whatever their standing, enlightened Al-Hadhar wash before eating. Where appropriate, the master of the household says a-grace thanking the gods for the family’s bounty and good fortune. The evening meal is the largest of the day. Among members of the upper class, it may consist of a number of courses, especially when guests are present. A low stool forms the base for a large tray that is brought from the kitchen. The tray is laden with plates and bowls, which are overflowing with meat, rice, and flat bread. A number of courses are served in quick succession; ragouts, pilafs, and soups. If it is a special occasion, wine or koumiss may be served (though not in the Pantheist League). Dessert consists of candies and spiced or sweet coffee.

Al-Hadhar who are not as wealthy eat a dinner of
fewer courses, though this is still the largest meal of
the day. They devour a good deal more rice and far less
meat than the upper class. Though dessert may be
skipped, coffee is not.
In a wealthy household, a servant may prepare the
coffee after the meal. However, it nearly always the
host who actually serves the coffee. (A ruler might
appoint someone else to the task, such as a favored
son.) This is a ceremonious affair in which the host
takes great pleasure and pride.
In traditional households, men dine separately from
women, who take their meals in the harim after the
men have been fed. In more liberal and cosmopolitan
areas, men and women eat together. A servant or slave
(or the youngest wife in a polygamous household) may
bring the trays.
Al-Hadhar rarely use dining utensils. Spoons are an
exception, but these are seen primarily in the cities of
Hiyal and Qudra, where people eat a good deal of
soup. Most food is eaten with the fingers or scooped up
with pieces of flat bread. Civilized people always eat
with their right hands (unless they have been
maimed). To do otherwise is a serious breech of
etiquette. Many a rawun’s tale begins by describing a
guest who eats a meal with his left hand. When his
host demands an explanation, the man reveals that his
right hand has been rendered useless or completely
severed. This, in turn, leads to the story of how the
man came to be in his wretched state.
Following the evening meal, family members wash
their hands. Then they may gather to tell tales or
enjoy small entertainments, often religious in nature.
Al-Hadhar who engage in evening crafts or business
typically do so at this time.
Two hours after the sun touches the horizon, the
gongs of the local mosques sound for the third and last
time of the day. This signals the commencement of
evening prayer. Citizens are not expected to visit a
mosque; evening prayer should take place in the home.
Afterward, most Al-Hadhar retire for the evening.
Some try to finish handiwork by the light of an oil
lamp. The night watch is active, too, patrolling the
streets to seek out nefarious characters.
Most Zakharan cities observe a curfew, during
which no one is permitted to wander the streets. The
curfew begins an hour after the evening prayer, lasting
until two hours before the dawn. Those who are found
wandering the streets during this time should be
prepared to explain themselves-either to the night
watch or, later the next day, to a qadi (judge).
Through the passage of time and the seasons, the
routine of the Al-Hadhar varies little. The sound of
the gongs provide a framework and a constant rhythm
for their daily lives. Outsiders-especially desertdwellers-view the Al-Hadhar as clockwork
automatons, trapped in the same rut throughout their
lives. While it is true that some Al-Hadhar are
prisoners of their routine, most find it reassuring that
time passes in an ordered fashion. This shows that all
is correct beneath the eyes of the gods and under the
watchful and beneficent rule of the Grand Caliph.


A l-Toril, the planet graced by Zakhara’s presence,
completes its journey around the sun every 365
days. Each year on the Zakharan calendar holds 12
months. Each month holds 30 days (roughly matching
the orbit of the single moon). The Zakharan calendar
also includes the High Holy Days-five days belonging
to no month.
Months of the Year
Taraq: January
Masta: February
Magarib: March
Gammam: April
Mihla: May
Qawafil: June
Safa: July
Dar: August
Riyah: September
Nau: October
Rahat: November
Saris: December

High Holy Days
Ahad, Atnen, Salas, Arba, and Yasadthese are the
five High Holy Days. They follow Qawafil and precede
Safa each year (belonging to neither month). From
dawn until dusk, the High Holy Days are a time of
faith, meditation, and fasting. After the sun sets, they
become a time of celebration and revelry. The greatest
festivals take place in Huzuz.
Yasad is also called Ascension Day. Long ago, the
First Caliph is said to have ascended the throne on this
date. Each Grand Caliph who succeeded him also
assumed rulership on Ascension Day. When the
rulership remains unchanged, Yasad is distinguished by
the Grand Caliph’s public appearance and worship in
the Golden Mosque. Many pilgrims flock to the
mosque on this day to hear him speak.
Many cities in Zakhara have their own celebrations,
commemorating local battles, miracles, or great leaders
of the past. Gana, the City of Riches, holds a
spectacular three-day festival each year to mark the
end of the pearl season. Further, most cities observe
the local ruler’s birthday with feasts and
entertainments; such celebrations usually start in the
morning and last well into the evening. Citizens of
Huzuz celebrate the Grand Caliph’s birthday with
parades and processions throughout the city. The
current Grand Caliph’s birthday falls on 27 Dar.


Zakhara’s Al-Hadhar adhere to an established and
regular system of agricultural production. Common
crops include wheat, maize, rice (where water is most
abundant), dates, legumes, and citrus fruits. In the
terraced plantations of the Pearl Cities, fragrant
lemons and pomegranates flourish on the lower slopes.
High above, coffee grows.
Most of Zakhara’s agricultural land relies on
irrigation; few areas receive enough rainfall to grow
crops without it. In some villages, a single waterwheel
turned by a donkey may support a small farm no larger
than a glorified garden. Near the cities, where
agriculture occurs on a larger scale, the grand civil
works required to irrigate the fields are more than an
individual farmer can handle.
In the Land of Fate, the ultimate and official owner
of all land is the Grand Caliph. He is granted this land
by the gods in exchange for guiding Zakhara’s people
along the path of enlightenment, in accordance with
Law of the Loregiver. In turn, the Grand Caliph grants
ownership of the land to petty shahs, sultans, lesser
caliphs, and emirs, who are to manage the parcels
granted and provide for the Grand Caliph’s people.
These local rulers in turn provide grants to still lesser
magistrates and worthies (in large areas) or to
individual farmers.
A farmer’s grant commonly states that the farmer
will forward a portion of the crops grown or money
raised to the creator of the grant. This money takes the
form of a tax. Funds raised in this manner are used to
create irrigation ditches, dig new wells, fund public
works, and strengthen the city walls when necessary.
They are also used to pay the grant-giver’s own tax,
forwarded to whoever stands one rung higher on the
ladder of ownership. In the cities proper, a similar
system applies to space in the suq and in the
warehouse district, as well as to facilities that are used
for manufacturing or artistry. In other words, through a
series of grants, the common merchant, business,
person, or artisan can obtain a little plot.
Farmers are not bound to the land. They are
essentially renters; few of them own the ground on
which they toil. They work solely to earn a livelihood,
and much of what they earn goes to the land owner.

Because the land owner must also pay taxes, it is not in
his or her best interest to apply too severe a tax, or to
insist on receiving full payment when the farmer’s
yields are poor. Harsh magistrates soon find that
farmers are drifting off, production is down-and tax
collectors are hot on the magistrates’ trails.
Responsible magistrates gain enough funds to pay their
own grant-taxes with something left over to improve
the land, thereby bringing in even more funds. In
general, all land “contracts” are flexible and can be
rewritten to avoid disaster. Crops may fail, and no one
wants to see farmers starve when such failure is beyond
their control.
The government of Zakhara provides two types of
land grants: temporary and permanent. The temporary
grant is enforced as long as the grantee lives up to his
or her obligation and pays what is due in taxes. If the
grantee fails to fulfill such obligations, the granter may
choose to cancel the agreement. Temporary grants also
end if the grantee dies, moves on, or ceases to use the
granted land in the intended fashion without first
obtaining the permission of the granter.
The recipient of a permanent grant is a family
rather than an individual. The grant’s term is
indefinite-it remains in effect as long as the family
continues to live in the area or utilize the land. It may
be rescinded, however, if the family dies to a man or
fails to pay its taxes. This type of grant is less common
than the temporary variety. Though a permanent grant
typically involves lower taxes, it requires a higher
initial payment from the grantee. Because a permanent
grant allows a family to build on their land, three or
four generations often live in the same city block.
This orderly system of grants and ownership was
established under the First Caliph (though the
tradition of granting land is much older). A group of
advocates and judges—the qadis— arose to handle
conflicts between granter and grantee. The qadis’
duties quickly expanded. Today these important figures
adjudicate crimes against the state, against faith, and
against fellow men and women.

Attitude and Customs

The Arabian Adventures rulebook introduces many
of the attitudes and cultural themes shared by
civilized men and women throughout Zakharathemes such as family, hospitality, and propriety. For
instance, nearly all Zakharans feel that offering
hospitality is a matter of honor. In practice, however,
the interpretation of these themes frequently varies
between the Al-Badia and Al-Hadhar. This section
describes the attitudes and ideas that prevail in
Zakhara’s settlements. While the text below may paint
the Al-Hadhar with the broadest of strokes, it is, for
the most part, true enough to be representative.


In the villages, towns, and cities of Zakhara, a love of
family is closely linked to a love of one’s home. To the
nomad, “home” and family are synonymous. To the AlHadhar, “home” means having roots and continuity—
a safe and constant haven that helps give a person an
identity almost as much as his or her family does. Even
traders who wander the seas on voyages of many years
pay tribute to their home town.

“Home” also represents familiarity. Given their
sedentary tradition, Al-Hadhar can usually trace some
relationship-through blood, marriage, or mutual
history and experience—that links them to most of the
people in their village, town, or city. While such a thin
bond may not open the palace doors to a beggar, it
does create a sense of community, and it helps the AlHadhar in gathering information, conducting business,
or merely getting around in their home town or city.


Like the desert tribes, the people of the cities and
lowland settlements believe an honorable person must
be hospitable. Al-Hadhar make much of welcoming
visitors at the city gates-even strangers. In practice,
however, individual city-dwellers do not feel as great a
sense of duty toward a stranger as they do toward a
guest they know. Often, an Al-Hadhar may discharge
his responsibility to be hospitable by directing an
unfamiliar or somewhat displeasing face to the nearest
mosque or hospice. (Though the man has not
welcomed the stranger into his own house, the “town”
has welcomed the stranger, and that is what truly
counts.) A known traveler, however, is almost always
welcomed by the Al-Hadhar.
Guests who have been invited into a city dweller’s

house receive the same respectful treatment as an
honored guest of the Al-Badia. On the first eve of a
guest’s arrival, a great feast is laid out, often above the
means of the host. If the guest remains on the second
and third evenings, smaller meals ensue. The
atmosphere is festive. The traveler tells of his or her
journeys, and family members or hired minstrels
provide further entertainment. On the third morning,
the guest is expected to depart. The guest may leave a
gift of some type if he or she is so inclined, but this is
not required.
If a guest has no other business in the city, the host
may request assistance with the family business:
making deliveries, carrying messages, minding the
stall, and so forth. This often exposes the traveler to a
number of different professions. Occasionally, a
wanderer will arrive in town, become intrigued with a
particular craft, and remain as an artisan. Adventurers,
on the other hand, have often discovered that
immersion in such a routine interferes with their deeds
of glory. Rather than become “glorified messengers” for
their hosts, they stick to inns and hospices.
As long as a guest is working on behalf of a host,
the host is responsible for the guest’s actions. In turn,
the guest may not shame or endanger the host in any
way. The guest may not steal from the host or the
host’s comrades. Nor may the guest draw a weapon
except in defense of the host. Such are the rules of
Hospitality is closely related to a city-dweller’s
willingness to be tolerant. A guest need not share the
beliefs or racial heritage of the host to be accepted and
welcomed. Indeed, a fellow Zakharan with varying
religious or social beliefs—who venerates a different
enlightened god or comes from a different part of the
civilized world-can count on several evenings of lively
discourse but nothing worse. (Visitors to the Pantheist
League frequently encounter exceptions to this rule; see
Chapter 9.) Though agreement among civilized peoples
may be uncommon if not rare, tolerance of other ideas
is in effect a Zakharan tradition.
Tolerance does have its limits, however. In general,
it extends to those who profess a belief in the words of
the Loregiver, a belief in the authority of the Grand
Caliph of Huzuz, and a belief in a god or gods,
regardless of type. An individual who does not believe
in some higher divinity is viewed with suspicion and
perhaps even hostility. A lack of belief indicates that a
person also lacks the moral anchor that separates
civilized folk from barbarians. To the Al-Hadhar, it is
better to believe in an antithetical position or a
competitive god than to believe in nothing at all.
Unbelievers can expect to be denied hospitality by
most, to be sent on their way by many, and to be
verbally or physically attacked by a righteous few. A
wise unbeliever, it can be said, keeps his or her
philosophy private.
Respect for Authority
An Al-Hadhar’s notion of what is civilized (and what
is to be tolerated) harkens back to the recognition of
the Grand Caliph’s ultimate authority. This is
something of a paradox: All civilized men recognize
the greater authorities who help bind them into a
cohesive realm called the Land of Fate. Yet each city,
city-state, or island nation often feels a great
independence from the rest of Zakhara—and
frequently a sense of superiority.
Distance accounts in part for this attitude.
Zakhara’s outposts are far-flung. That distance, coupled
with tolerance on the part of the Grand Caliph, gives
local rulers’ a fairly free hand in attending to the
demands of their communities. The basic
independence of the Zakharan peoples also plays a role
in establishing this regional autonomy. Like the AlBadia, many Al-Hadhar are accustomed to choosing
their own rulers. If rulers and the authorities who
accompany them are unfit, few “commoners” have
qualms about removing them. A leader’s position is
based on an informal contract between the leader and
the people he or she leads. The people agree to follow
a chief or to honor the ruling of a qadi or a religious
authority. In return, the leader is expected to make
choices that are wise and fair to the people.
Among the Al-Badia— who choose their sheikhs for
their merit and not necessarily for their bloodlines—
this democratic respect for authority is at its finest.
Among the Al-Hadhar, however, the bureaucracy is
well entrenched-overseeing trade routes, collecting
taxes, and keeping records that span generations. In

theory, the Grand Caliph can choose his successor from
among his sons, naming the most competent. But for
the past five generations, only the eldest son has
succeeded his father. In keeping with this tradition, a
local ruler regularly chooses his eldest son as successor
and grooms him accordingly. (Local rulers who are
female, however, have already broken with tradition.
Often, they choose whichever successor they deem fit.)
Further down in the hierarchy of power-beneath
the courts of kings, caliphs, and emirs— a more
democratic form of rulership occurs. On a local level,
the qadis (judges) are arbitrators and mediators. As
noted above, they are chosen in one of two ways: by
the community or by the ruling bureaucracy. The
common people frequently view the latter group with
suspicion, for the goals of the bureaucracy do not
always coincide with the desires of the people. A
community often ignores the rulings of judges they
don’t respect. Qadis who fail to earn this respect are
usually removed from office.
Zakharan attire may vary between regions or cities,
but several common themes predominate. Wealth
and station are stronger influences than geography.
The following description generally holds true for
civilized Al-Hadhar throughout the Land of Fate. (See
Chapter 6 of Arabian Adventures for further definition
and detail.)
Among lower-class men, dress is a simple set of
trousers with a drawstring waist, a loose-fitting
overshirt, and a sash at the waist. Whenever possible,
all but the poorest man wears sandals or leather
slippers and a soft cap or headcloth; city-dwellers do
not relish having bare heads and feet.
People who live in the great cities of Qudra, Hiyal,
and Huzuz usually wear turbans-including the lower
classes and a handful of fashionable ogres. In cities that
feel the press of the desert, where trade with the
nomads may be important, keffiyehs and agals are
more popular. (In the Pearl Cities, for example,
keffiyehs and agals far outnumber turbans on the
streets, though the gaudy men of these towns have
been known to wear headcloths of silk—something a
true man of the desert would not do.) Where men don
keffiyehs, the women often wear a shawl draped over
their heads. The richer the woman, the sheerer and
more ornate the shawl. Cotton is replaced with silk
and cloth-of-gold. Among the upper classes, shawls
often give way to peculiar ornamental headpieces
adorned with brilliant feathers and gems.
The working or middle class-comprising lesser
merchants, bureaucrats, craftsmen, barbers, caravan
workers, and similar tradesmen-always dress more
elaborately than the lower classes. Men wear
trousers-either knee or ankle length. Shirts are
common, topped by a sleeveless robe or a dolman. The
waist-sash is tied over all. Men tuck tobacco and
weapons into the sash. They keep their money in a
small purse or place it in a folded handkerchief; either
way, riches are commonly tucked inside the shirt or
robe, in a pocket formed by the sash, just below the
breast. Leather stockings attached to the trousers
commonly adorn men’s feet. Middle-class men also
don leather slippers with soft soles. For long trips on
foot, harder shoes of yellow leather or even loose boots
are common. When the weather is inclement, a caftan
is worn over the entire ensemble, again secured by a
sash. A turban wrapped around a soft cap is
predominant among middle-class males.
Middle-class women usually wear full trousers and
smocks. Slippers and overshoes are common on the
street, but around the house, bare feet are more
popular. A shawl draped over the head completes the
typical ensemble.
Among the upper classes—great merchants, court
officials and courtiers, highly skilled artisans, and
heroes of renown-dress resembles that of the middle
class. Each garment becomes more elaborate and
expensive, however. Gemstones adorn buttons and
buckles, blouses are adorned with golden thread, and
caftans are embroidered and decked with small jewels.
Turbans are wrapped around a fez instead of a skullcap,
making the turban (and the man) appear taller.
Women don fine silks, and their jewelry becomes
opulent (except in the Pantheist League, where such
vanities are considered improper). Both men and
women carry bejeweled little purses beneath their
robes or dolmans, though people of especially high
stature may have servants who accompany them to the
market. In that case, the servant carries the purse – an

activity which may be his or her sole job.
As noted, local variations in clothing exist, usually
in the favored colors of the costume or in the choice of
headdress. This is especially true in the Free Cities,
where middle- and upper-class men prefer fezzes to
turbans and keffiyehs. Each city’s fezzes and sashes can
be identified by their color (see Chapter 7 for details).
Ironically, it is the common folk of these cities who
wear turbans, wrapping the cloth (often tattered)
around their fezzes.

In the Pearl Cities, dyes and fabrics are imported
from northern Zakhara as well as from the far-flung
East. The vast array of brilliant colors distinguishes the
locals, not the cut of their costumes. Pantheists across
the Golden Gulf frequently refer to these people as
peacocks, with no compliment intended. In contrast,
the heavily moralist citizens of the Pantheist League
can by identified by their black garb, which befits their
somber and self-denying nature.
In the great cities of Qudra, Huzuz, and Hiyal, a
cosmopolitan mix of styles can be seen. With the great
influx of visitors from other cities and other lands,
local traditions have blurred over time. Here one can
find a broad array of costumes, from the sweeping abas
and flowing headcloths of desert riders to the dark
chadors of moralist women. In the great cities of the
continent, the kaleidoscopic designs of the Pearl Cities
blend easily with the common and simple dress of the
caravan drivers and pilgrims.
Island cultures and the remaining small city-states of
Zakhara tend to follow the provincial variants of the
nearest larger city. Usually, the fashion of these small or
isolated settlements is several years out of date. Even
Afyal, which boasts a rich trade in silk and other fabrics,
tends to cut its outfits in a fashion that was out of style
during the Grand Caliph’s own grandfather’s day.
One group is routinely an exception to the general
rules of attire. Adventurers, heroes, and other
roustabouts in Zakhara usually dress as they see fit, in
whatever, manner makes them comfortable. As the
Loregiver once said, “Never argue fashion with one
who sings the song of the Sword.”

Clothing of the North: Fashion in northern Zakhara differs slightly from that found elsewhere. In Qudra, where mamluks reign, padded armour is a common sight. In the Free Cities, the influence of foreign visitors is clear. Instead of ankle-length pantaloons, men in the Free Cities often wear pants cut at the knee to reveal tall, cream-colored stockings. Turbans and keffiyehs are rare. Instead, men prefer fezzes, worn in a distinctive colour for each city. Men may also don sashes in the same colour. While these city colours are not a uniform worn by all males in the Free Cities, in general a man with a white fez and sash hails from far-flung Utaqa, while a fellow wearing purple hails from regal Muluk.
The men and women of the Corsair Domains typically wear light-weight cotton blouses and pantaloons, with supple black boots. Veiling for either sex is a matter of personal taste and protection from the elements rather than any moral predisposition.
Personal weaponry is commonplace. Even the youngest corsair lad wears a dirk, and even the most lithe young dancer may have a knife tucked away.

The thickness and placement of veils in Zakhara’s
settlements tell a great deal about the status and sense

of propriety of both men and women. In the Free
Cities of the North, across the Great Sea from the
barbarian nations, neither men nor women cover their
faces. These are defiant city-states whose people feel a
rather fragile tie to the Grand Caliph of Huzuz. In the
gaudy and festive Pearl Cities, upper-class women wear
veils, but these are no more than fashion statements—
flirtatious wisps of transparent silk designed to be more
alluring than modest. In the League of the Pantheon,
by contrast, both men and women are thickly veiled.

Indeed, most Pantheist women don the traditional
chador of the moralist factions-a garment that
conceals their bodies from head to toe, revealing the
eyes and hands at most.
Settlements that came to
as the cities built among the
enlightenment late-such
ruins of Nog and Kadar, as
well as some civilized islands in the Crowded Sea—
observe a grab
veiled but not
bag of customs. In some places, men are
the women. Elsewhere, the reverse is
true, or both are veiled, or neither. In Afyal, tradition
demands that
that she wear
a woman have a veil at all times, but not
it. Her veil simply hangs aside. Thus,
what is a symbol of modesty and propriety in some
places is little more than a more flirtatious ploy on the
Isle of the Elephant.
Customs vary even among the great cities on the
continent (Qudra, Hiyal, and Huzuz). According to
Qudran custom, neither men nor women wear veils.
Such garments are inappropriate frills in the life of a
slave-soldier. Further, veils may conceal the facial
tattoos denoting each man and woman’s mamluk
society and rank. Smoky Hiyal and golden Huzuz
observe a variety of customs, tolerating those who
choose to go unveiled, and respecting those who do.
Veils are more prevalent in Hiyal than in Huzuz—
which is not surprising when one compares the open
atmosphere of City of Delights to the clandestine
activities in the City of Intrigue.
Throughout most of Zakhara, wood is at a premium.
Hardwoods of value must be imported from islands
across the Crowded Sea, or must brought overland from
the Ruined Kingdoms of Nog and Kadar. Such
considerations affect the way buildings are constructed.

The simplest building material is unfired mud brick,
shaped into a one-room building with a roof of woven
fibers or cloth and a floor of packed dirt. Easily
constructed, this is the poorest form of housing. This
style of architecture is most often used for outposts and
the houses of poor villagers.
Multi-room buildings of baked clay brick are an
improvement upon the previous design. Their roofs are
made of branches woven into a mat, which is then
clad with clay tile. Woven mats cover the earthen
floor, and niches in the wall serve as containers and
cupboards. This is the most common form of housing
in rural areas and agricultural communities. Such
homes often boast a small central court.
In the cities, housing styles improve dramatically.
Baked brick is still the building material of choice, but it
is usually white-washed on the outside and plastered
within. Arched ceilings become common, along with
tilework and other interior ornamentation. The house
gains simple wooden furnishings, usually just a table and
a chest of drawers. Some of these structures rise several
stories tall, housing generations of the same family.
Wealthy merchants and officials of the cities can
afford to build homes using stone and timber. The
interiors are richly tiled, with painted frescoes on the
court walls. The central court becomes an oasis of
greenery, an extensive garden with flowering plants,
pools, and bubbling fountains.
The greatest buildings of Zakhara are its palaces and
mosques. These are worked in stone, richly detailed
with mosaics and hand-painted tiles, and decked in
precious metals that are often inlaid with ornate
patterns. Palaces generally bear the mark of
generations of rulers and their individual tastes. They
are great, complex sprawls of individual buildings,
apartments, and private courts.
Mosques of Zakhara’s cities are large structures
where the faithful can gather en masse. The ground
floor of a mosque usually contains one great, single
room with arches and pillars soaring high overhead.
Most mosques also have minarets: tall, slender towers
from which the priests call the faithful to prayer.
While the temples of Zakhara’s towns and villages may
not be as grand, most have the same basic floorplan.
The central garden court is a common theme in
Zakharan housing, found in simple abodes as well as
grand palaces. (Even the poorest villagers may strive for
this luxury, grouping their simple one-room houses in a
cluster that surrounds a communal garden.) Life in a
house with a central courtyard focuses upon the court.
Outer walls have no windows on the ground floor,
giving the home the appearance of a small fortress.
Even the upper stories rarely have windows facing the
street. Inside, however, each of the rooms on the
ground floor has a set of glass doors or windows that
open onto the court. Rooms of the upper stories
overlook the garden court with balconies and verandas.
In its simplest form, the garden court is no more
than a collection of potted palms grouped around a
cistern. In larger homes, it may be an opulent garden
of flowering shrubs and fountains, laid out in a
geometrical array. In the palaces, acre-large courts are
filled with roses and other flowers, fountains, pools,
ornamental trees, and tame beasts. The garden is an
oasis for the inhabitants of the house, an island of cool
tranquility in a hot and often hostile world.
Another feature common to the settlements of
Zakhara is the central marketplace. In the villages, this
may be no more than a sleepy open court set aside as
the bazaar. In the cities, however, the marketplace
often includes suqs—great shopping areas that are
sheltered from the sun by roofs pitched high overhead.
Women’s Roles
n unenlightened times, before the word of the
Loregiver spread throughout the Land of Fate, the
roles of men and women were simple. Men ruled the
household and were responsible for its livelihood.
Women kept the house and raised the children. The
coming of the Loregiver and the establishment of the
Grand Caliphate have broadened women’s roles
among the Al-Hadhar, but a good deal of the
traditional customs remain. The Land of Fate can be
said to provide an opportunity for equality, but any
town-dwelling woman who desires that equality must
be willing to grasp it for herself.
Today, throughout most of Zakhara’s settlements, a
man is still is responsible for his wife and family, and
he is expected to provide a living. The woman is
responsible for upholding the man’s honor through
moral behavior. She maintains the house and rears the

children. Though an upper-class woman may oversee
servants who work in the household, rarely does she
relinquish all duties where her children are concerned.
According to Zakharan tradition, women live apart
from men in the same household. Women’s quarters are
the harim. (A similar concept for men is the selama or
selamlik.) The harim is a separate area where only women
and children may go. (The master of the household may
enter, but in general, even he does not, or he may ask for
permission to enter out of respect for the women’s
privacy.) In a poor household, the harim is no more than
a room with a tapestry hung over the door. In the Grand
Caliph’s palace, the harim is a magnificent complex
guarded by its own elite unit of eunuch mamluks.
Al-Badian women have always had a high degree of
equality with men; the nomads’ harsh, impoverished
lifestyle demands that every person do his or her part to
ensure a tribe’s survival and success. This kind of equality
has only recently come to town-dwelling women.
Nonetheless, today there are bold women among the
Al-Hadhar who act as merchants, artisans, and mercenaries-who take up many of the same roles as men.
A woman may receive land grants and maintain
them under the same conditions as a man. A woman
may choose to serve in the armed forces in times of
peace or war. (In contrast, men of suitable age may be
drafted into service.) Though certain groups and
fellowships exclude them, women have served as
deadly assassins, wise viziers, and brave generals. They
have been as caliphs, emiras, and sultanas. The tales of
Zakhara are filled with women who were wiser, bolder,
and more capable than the males in their own families.
Perhaps it is telling, however, that a woman has yet
to hold the title of Grand Caliph (though several have
acted as regents for their sons until they had reached
the age of majority). Nothing in the philosophy of the
Loregiver prevents a woman from being Grand Caliph,
but the men of Zakhara are still resistant to crossing
this final threshold.
Marriages are essentially contracts between two
families, arranged by parents even while the
children involved are young. In many regions, the
“best” marriage is still a traditional one: the union
between a girl and her first cousin on her father’s side.
If two young people without this relationship desire a
love-match, the parents may still approve-provided
station, faith, race, and profession do not stand in the
way. In general, a civilized man can marry beneath his
station, but a woman does not. A “bad match” may
voided by parents or authorities. In poems of the
rawuns, such a parental impediment is often the start
of evening-long tales of how the lovers are split apart
and pass through all manner of adventures before they
are at last reunited and married.
As in many areas of their lives, heroic and
adventurous men and women may ignore tradition and
do pretty much as they please. Or perhaps it is the
other way around: to avoid an unwanted marriage, an
average city-dweller suddenly becomes a free-wheeling,
far-ranging adventurer.
If a woman is independent (usually defined as
capable of making her own living), even if she marries
she is considered a separate legal entity under the law.
She can hold property apart from her husband. In

contrast, a woman who is dependent on her spouse
must share any property she attains during her
marriagewith the exception of the amount she
brings with her to the marriage. A husband may always
have property or possessions that are considered
separate from the wife’s.
Polygamy—the practice of having more than one
spouse at a time—is rare but tolerated in most of
Zakhara’s settlements. The traditional arrangement-a
husband with more than one wife—is more common.
Four wives is the unofficial maximum. According to
legend, the first sha’ir had four genie wives, and
Zakharan tradition reflects that legend. In general,
only wealthy men can afford more than one wife (in
part because every new wife may bring forth more
children). Many upper-class men feel one wife is
sufficient, however. The first wife must approve of any
additional wives in the household. If she agrees to
share her husband, she still retains authority over the
Some men keep courtesans (as do some
independent women), but only with their wives’
permission. While Zakharan law does not prohibit this
practice, it doesn’t endorse it, either. Tradition
demands that a man be married before taking a
courtesan; to avoid marriage entirely is now considered
In the past, Zakhara’s Grand Caliphs rarely married.
Instead, they maintained large harims of courtesans and
concubines, some of whom were gifts from lesser rulers.
This allowed them to neatly bypass the “four-wife”
limitation of proper society, and to only recognize
offspring who showed promise or worth. Both children
of courtesans (free-born courtiers) and concubines
(slaves owned by the Grand Caliph) have risen to
power in this fashion. Today’s Grand Caliph does have
four wives, however, in addition to a large harim. This
practice has helped endear him to the common people.
While a polygamous marriage generally places all
wives under one roof, a second tradition is common in
many trade cities on the Golden Gulf, especially the
Pearl Cities. In this arrangement, each wife lives in a
different port of call; she works as an independent
woman, selling the goods her husband conveys. These
wives know of each other, but they may never meet.
Upon the death of their spouse, each fully owns the
trading post she operated during the marriage. The
moralist governments of the League of the Pantheon
have outlawed this practice in their cities.
Polyandry—the practice of having multiple
husbands—is a custom on the isle of Afyal. This
practice arose because many of Afyal’s men are traders,
who are often far from home. A woman is allowed to
take many husbands in the course of her life (though
always with consent of the first). She owns and
manages the trading company for which all her
husbands work. This system has resulted in a tight
circle of female-dominated mercantile houses. Their
combined power rivals that of the padishah of Afyal
The children of Al-Hadhar are raised in the women’s
quarters until they reach the age of five. At this time,
boys leave the harim and live with the men in the
selamlik. Separate instruction begins for both boys and
girls at age five. Tutors (if they can be afforded) teach
the children about matters of language, faith, culture,
etiquette, and law. In wealthier families, these early
years of instruction help determine where a youth’s
interests lie and to which livelihood he or she is best
suited. Girls begin to reveal if they are more interested
in living as independent women-l-thereby gaining an
education similar to that of the boys, which is more
socially and economically based. A girl who is destined
for a traditional role may focus on household skills and
the “gentle” arts. For the middle class, artisans, and the
poor, such a choice in education is a luxury; any
training for boys or girls takes place in the family trade,
be it pot-making or caravan driving.
If men or women of a cultural group wear veils, the
boys and girls begin to follow suit at age 12. A boy is
commonly considered a man, and a girl a woman, at
age 16. They are allowed to marry at this time, though
their unions may have been arranged years earlier.
Prior to the establishment of enlightened civilization,
a man of the coastal cities could divorce his wife
merely by declaration. She would be then sent packing

to relatives or friends (taking whatever she owned
before the marriage with her). Under the Law of the
Loregiver, women have greater protection. Both
parties must agree to the divorce, or one partner may
ask a qadi for a ruling. Should the qadi rule against
such a split, the pair must live together and attempt to
reconcile for the next year before asking again. A
woman who is granted a divorce may rejoin her
original family or become independent (though a
woman does not need to be divorced to be
independent in the Land of Fate).
Slavery is a fact of life in the Land of Fate. It is most
common among the Al-Hadhar, but it is not a
dominant feature is most areas. Mamluks, of course,
are an exception, but their roles as soldiers and
administrators make them unusual. A person may
become a slave in one of three fashions: by debt, by
breaking the law, and by lacking civilization.
People who have incurred a great debt and are
unable to pay it off may be enslaved and sold, usually
to the group they owe payment. Such enslavement
lasts until the debt is considered paid through labor or
until the slave’s family finds sufficient funds to settle
the matter. A debtor’s relatives are never enslaved in
his or her place, and children who are born to debtor
slaves in Zakhara are considered free.
Those who have seriously transgressed Zakhara’s
laws may also be enslaved for their crimes. The term of
enslavement is life. In numerous cases, however,
rulings have been reversed in response to a slave’s
sincere penance and good deeds. Again, a criminal’s
family may not be enslaved as a result of the crime,
though in a sense they are punished, for their honor is
stained. (Some families avert the whole issue of slavery
by doing away with the one who committed the
crime.) Children born of slaves who are criminals are
considered free. The slave’s owner often raises them as
his or her own.
Finally, some people in Zakhara are enslaved simply
because they are uncivilized. They lack understanding
and acceptance of the Loregiver’s law and, therefore,
are in need of firm enlightenment. Natives of various
islands, certain mountain tribes, and unbelievers who
wander the Haunted Lands are often captured by
slave-masters and sold into servitude. The Law of the
Loregiver prevents a civilized person from being
enslaved in this fashion, but a slave may later be
enlightened and still not gain his or her freedom.
Slavers who are truly unscrupulous may sometimes
capture pilgrims and claim they were heathens at the
time-asserting that the ways of civilization came
later, spurred by the desire to escape slavery. Children
born of such slaves remain slaves only if they fail to
embrace the Law of the Loregiver.
Slave-owners have a number of responsibilities
under Zakharan law. They are responsible for the
health of their charges, and failure to comply may
result in fines. Slaves who are starved and otherwise
abused are poor workers who may eventually rebel;
qadis have been known to grant their freedom in light
of their masters’ immoral conduct. Slave-holders are
also responsible for the actions of their slaves; if a slave
damages another person’s property, the slave-owner is
held accountable. Slave-holders may not cast out or
sell a slave due to illness or age, and they must provide
for slaves who can no longer perform their normal
duties. However, slave-owners may free healthy slaves
at any time, and some owners have granted whole
groups their freedom. A slave may receive the owner’s
permission to marry a free spouse, and thereby also
become free.
While it is true that the law requires slave-owners
to treat their slaves well, the mamluks—a much more
tangible power—are the greatest enforcers. The most
elite military forces in Zakhara, mamluks are
themselves slaves, property of the Grand Caliph. They
were captured as youths by other mamluks and trained
to become perfect, loyal warriors. The fortified city of
Qudra on the Great Sea is ruled by mamluks. Slaveholders who make port in this city must be honorable
and fair or suffer a price, for the mamluks do not
tolerate anything less.
Qudra, in fact, is home to the largest active slave
market in Zakhara, which the mamluks run.
Companies of mamluks roam the mountains near the
Free Cities and beyond, seizing youths from the Hill
Tribes. Youths captured in such raids who turn out to
be less than suitable for mamluk training are offered in
the slave market as personal servants.

Pantheists also promote slavery—and not just the
enslavement of debtors, criminals, and the
unenlightened. With provocation, they are willing to
enslave anyone who does not agree with their fivepower Pantheon.
The island of Afyal engages in slave-trading, too,
impressing criminals into servitude and raiding
unenlightened islands to the south for potential slaves.
Lastly, the raiders who hail from the Ruined Kingdoms
and the Haunted Lands often engage in slaving, and
they tend to be very liberal in determining who is not
civilized and therefore suited to slavery.
Though it does not endorse it, the legal code
throughout most of Zakhara permits slavery. For this
reason, slavery is tolerated in Huzuz, Hiyal, the Free
Cities, and the Pearl Cities. No official “slave market”
exists in any of these locales, however. Slaves who are
brought to Huzuz are often “enlightened.” Whenever
possible, they are also purchased and freed. Officials of
the Pearl Cities tolerate a fair-minded visitor who
owns slaves, but, unlike the people of Huzuz, they
make no attempt to interfere. For its part, Hiyal has no
official slave market. It does, however, maintain a
shadowy black market that deals in slaves-including
slaves who have been captured illegally.
Most of the clans of the High Desert do not
recognize slavery. If they capture slaves in a raid, they
free them. Tribes of the Haunted Lands keep no slaves
themselves, but they treat captured slaves as booty to
be traded. The Corsair Domains are strongly
abolitionist, and slaves who fall into their hands will
be freed and recruited to serve in their ships.

Pearl Diving
Spring marks the onset of the pearling season in
Zakhara. Hundreds of pearl boats dot the coastal
waters between Gana and Jumlat. For five months,
divers search the ocean floor for valuable pearl oysters.
Summer brings a period of dead calm and intense heat
to the area, making work difficult for everyone on deck.
Each pearl boat (typically a sambuq) carries a crew of
about 50 men. Most divers are male. Only half the
crewmembers actually dive. The other half, mostly boys,
serve as attendants. Their job is vital; an attendant holds
a rope to which the diver is tethered. If danger arises,
the attendant must quickly haul the diver to the surface.
The divers themselves have little equipment. Each
wears a wooden nose-clip, a finger-guard for dislodging
oysters from the bed, and a small basket for collecting
oysters (which usually hangs around his or her neck). A
safety rope is tied around the diver’s waist. Otherwise, a
male diver typically wears a loincloth. A female also
dons a swath of wool that serves as a cropped shirt.
When jellyfish and other stinging creatures pose a
hazard, divers may opt for black woolen bathing suits
that cover their bodies from head to toe. Gloves protect
their hands, and eyeholes allow them to see.
Dives usually occur in water up to 90 feet deep, with
an average depth of 30 feet. Nosebleeds are common. To
descend swiftly in depths greater than 20 feet, each diver
steps on a large stone, around which a rope has been tied
(apart from the rope at the diver’s waist). When the
diver reaches the seafloor, the attendant hauls up the
A skilled diver remains on the seafloor for nearly
three minutes before returning to the surface, signaling
the desire for a swift ascent by tugging on the rope at his
or her waist. In shallow water, some divers forgo the
safety rope and simply dive from the surface. (Given the
dangers that often lurk nearby, this may prove
Diving is a harsh existence. The work begins at dawn
on the docks, when each diver counts the previous day’s
harvest and removes the pearls. The captain of the boat
watches carefully and-after crediting the diver for a
fraction of the pearls’ worth-claims all. Pearls that are
large, luminous, faintly pink, and well formed have the
greatest value. Only the rare black pearls of Zakhara may
command a better price.
After the pearls have been counted, the boats depart.
Divers have only coffee for breakfast, then begin their
descents. Each man and woman may perform dozens of
dives each day. Lunch is a handful of dates and a short
break. At sunset, the boats return to port. The divers eat
a meager evening meal, say a prayer, and then retire.
Nearly all divers are severely indebted to their
captains. During the off-season, the divers must borrow
money to support their families, promising to return for
another year’s work. A diver’s catch must be exceptional
in order to pay off his or her debt.


The Great Elephant (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

The Guiding Star (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

The Star of the World (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)


Although there are no proofs, no studies of the matter, any Zakharan sailor will tell you part of their secret lies in their ships. Well-travelled bahriyin have seen the tubby scows of the northerners. With their nailed sides, these ships would be easily broken on the many reefs and shoals of the Crowded Sea. The barges of the distant eastern lands, with their flat bottoms and awkward sails, would never survive the fierce genie inspired storms that rage without warning across the oceans.
Building ships in Zakhara is not an easy task. Foremost of these difficulties is that the Land of Fate is a land without wood. True, there are fruits, palms, and other fine trees, but the Zakharan shores lack great forests ripe with lumber for ship-building. Wood must be brought from the islands of the Crowded Sea and distant Afyal. The favoured timber is teak, renowned for its durability, but palm wood is also used. The lack of wood has also meant there are few large shipyards.
Most vessels are built by a single ship-builder and his crew, working on the beach when the lumber is available. Many dhows sport distinctive touches that identify the builder, a signature in wood.
To deal with such problems as reefs, bad winds, and fierce storms, Zakharan hulls are made from planks sewn, not nailed, together. Holes are drilled through each plank and the ship is literally stitched together with coconut fibre rope. The holes and seams are then caulked with pitch and more fibre to prevent leakage. The result is a lighter, more flexible hull than that built with nails and pegs – a feature useful when blown onto a hidden reef or forced to beach before a coming storm. Of course, sewn hulls tend to leak more and Zakharan ships must stop often to recaulk and repair. Nor are the light hulls sturdy in rough, deep seas, but then the Crowded Sea and the Golden Gulf are shallow and marked by many islands.
The most distinctive feature of any Zakharan ship is its lateen sail, a style not used in the northern or eastern lands. Triangular in shape, the lateen is easily identifiable on the horizon from the square sails of other lands. In some ships the lateen is not a true triangle, having the front corner cut away to leave a luff. Large ships, such as the baghla, carry two sails one on the main mast and a second from the mizzen. The triangular shape of the lateen allows the sail to be larger than a normal square sail and lets the ship sail closer to the wind (windward), which makes sailing much simpler.
The rudder on a dhow may be mounted either on a square stern or along the side of the ship (when the stern is not square). Only larger ships are built with a square stern; for the smaller vessels the stern is pointed and the rudder mounted on the side. The square sterns may be an innovation taken from the northerners, whose cogs and caravels sometimes reach Quwwat but no true Zakharan ship-builder will ever admit to it.
The Baghla: The largest of the dhows are the great baghlas (or baggalahs). They are also the rarest and most expensive ships to ply the Crowded Sea. Most sail from Tajar, Jumlat, or Huzuz, where the great merchants dwell, but the caliphs of every petty state aspire to have one or two baghlas of their own traveling the trade routes. Not only can these ships carry great amounts of cargo, but they also reflect the power and influence of those who own them. Owning a baghla means more than just possessing a large ship; it is a symbol of membership in the elite ranks of the rich and powerful.
Baghlas range in size from 150 to 200 feet in length with an average beam of 25 to 30 feet. Only one deck runs the length of the ship. It is set, as in all dhows, low in the hull so that the hold below deck is quite small and cramped. Most cargo is carried on the main deck, especially since the hold tends to leak. At the stern, which is often elaborately carved, is a small poop deck set over a number of cabins. The square stern has a rudder mounted at its center. The quarters beneath the poop deck are most often reserved for important passengers and dependent women. The captain and his mate, like the rest of the crew, sleep on deck under the open sky.
A baghla can carry cargo tonnage equal to its length, madly packed and crammed onto every square inch of deck until the crew must virtually walk and sleep atop their freight. Its passenger capacity is astonishing. Up to 400 souls can be pressed aboard a single ship although such loading threatens the sea-worthiness of the vessel. The ship requires a crew of 30 to 40 men. Any less makes handling the sails near impossible.
The baghla has a base move of 4 and an emergency speed (main, mizzen, and a topsail) of 5. Its seaworthiness is 50% when checking for foundering from storms and whirlpools, but rises to 60% if the check is for breaking up on a reef or shoal.
The Boom: Although nearly equal in size to the baghla, the boom is a far more common, and thus less prized, ship. The boom is the standard workhorse of the great merchant families, gathering cargoes from distant lands for sale in the suqs of Huzuz and beyond.
Booms range in size from 100 to 150 feet long, with an average beam of 25 feet. While cut on the same lines as smaller dhows, the boom is easily identified by its jutting stem. This is used to fasten a foresail in those instances where extra cloth is needed. The stern is square with a central rudder, but the boom lacks the cabins and poop deck of the baghla. Instead, the aft portion is covered by a small roof that provides shelter for the captain, his mate, and any important cargo. It is also used as a sleeping platform during the night.
Like all smaller dhows, the boom has but a single deck set low in the hull. Cargo is carried on deck and ships are often packed to incredible levels. The cargo capacity of the typical boom varies between 100 and 125 tons. Up to 300 passengers can be crowded aboard a single vessel, although this leaves no space to even turn around.
Booms require a crew of 25 to 30 men, necessary to raise and lower the great yardarm and perform other tasks. The ship has a base speed of 3 and an emergency speed of 5 when the main, mizzen, top, and foresail are used. Rigging for full emergency speed takes at least an hour, during which the mainsail must be lowered to fix the top- and foresails. If only the main and mizzen are used, the boom has an emergency speed of 4. In storms and open sea, the boom has a seaworthiness of 45%, while along coasts and reefs this rises to 60%.
The Sambuk: Of all the ocean traders, the sambuk is the one most frequently encountered. Smaller and cheaper than a boom, it is the standard ship used by medium and small merchants. Although the hull follows the same general lines as the boom, the sambuk can be identified by its distinctive wings that sweep off the square stem. It is also generally smaller in size. Sambuks range from 50 to 100 feet in length, with the average hull being an even 75 feet long.
The sambuk sports a single deck, although many have a slightly higher poop deck for the captain and his mate. The small space beneath the poop deck is used only for cargo the ship has no cabins and everyone sleeps on deck. Cargo is lashed on deck and left exposed to the elements.
Speed and seaworthiness of the sambuk are given in the Arabian Adventures rulebook.
The Zarug: The zarug is the largest of the everyday coasters, ships most often used for medium- to short-range voyages. It typically can be found hauling cargo and travellers between the cities of the Golden Gulf. It is also the favoured ship of the various bands of coastal pirates, primarily for its speed and capacity.
The zarug is similar in appearance to the sambuk, except that the stern tapers to a point where it sports a distinctive, nearly vertical rudder. This is worked by a complicated steering gear, another feature of the zarug.
The zarug is well built, but not intended for deep-sea travel. Thus, it has two seaworthiness ratings. When sailing within sight of shore, where the waters are typically less violent (and a small ship can find shelter quickly), the zarug has a seaworthiness rating of 50%. However, when venturing onto open waters (which are prone to high waves and sudden changes in weather) the zarug’s seaworthiness is reduced to 30%.
The zarug requires a crew of 15 to 20 men and has a carrying capacity of 60 tons, as given in the Arabian
Adventures rulebook.
The Barijah: The barijah is the smallest merchant vessel found in Zakhara. It is primarily used by fishermen, pearl divers, and traders who carry goods to the small villages on the coasts of the Land of Fate.
Barijahs vary greatly in appearance; some have a side-mounted rudder while others are square-sterned. The exact details vary from builder to builder, according to local custom. The only distinctive common feature is the raised platform at the back, which serves as the captain’s bed. Barijah are invariably 40 to 50 feet in length and fitted with a
main and mizzen mast.
Barijahs are not the most robust ships on open water, so the wise rubban tries to always sail in sight of the shore, where the ship’s seaworthiness is 40%. In deeper and more dangerous waters, the poor barijah has only a seaworthiness of 30%.
With full sail (main and mizzen) and a good wind, the barijah can make good speed, thus accounting for its popularity. The crew of 10 and its cargo capacity of 40 tons are as listed in the Arabian Adventures rulebook. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

Maritime Navigation

Daftar: The most treasured of navigational instruments are daftar, the instructions and tables compiled by generations of navigators. Daftar record a wide variety of information composed into sailing instructions from one city or land to another. Daftar are not maps but logbooks and tables. For example, one might read instructions in a daftar as follows:
When the winter monsoons come, sail three days to the point of the Great Elephant, then set your ship so the Guiding Star rises half a hand over the mast. Sail for two days, and on the third the didban (lookout) will sight to the left a line of cliffs, half sunk beneath the horizon. One day after sighting these, bear directly toward the Star of the Word….
Sailing instructions such as these rely on many observations – the time of year, the height of the sun or stars above the horizon, distant landmarks and their position on the horizon, annual migrations of fish and birds, and prevailing currents. Although they lack pinpoint accuracy, a navigator who follows a good set of daftar gains a +2 to his navigation proficiency score.
Daftar can seldom be bought and are often jealously guarded by their owners. The secrets of a daftar are most often shared as a great gift, repayment for a favour, or a trade of information.
Rahmani: Another equally valuable tool of the navigator is a rahmani, or book of charts. These collections of maps note coastlines, landmarks and rhumb lines, and provide annotated sailing instructions. With a set of rahmani, a navigator gains a +2 for those waters depicted. This bonus cannot be combined with that for the daftar, however.
Like the daftar, rahmani are not bought or sold. The information is shared as part of the tradition of hospitality among Zakharan seamen.
Cross Staff: A common tool of navigators is a simple device known as a cross staff. The cross staff measures the height of the noonday sun over the horizon, or the height of the pole star at midnight. With this information, a navigator can get a more accurate fix on a ship’s latitude than by just using one’s fingers to judge. Navigators using a cross staff gain a +1 on their proficiency score, but only for checks made at noon or midnight.
Compass: Although Zakharan navigators are familiar with magnetic compasses, these devices remain primitive and unscientific. It is commonly believed that the needle is possessed by a gen, thus accounting for its strange behavior. Compasses have only a fair accuracy, particularly aboard the moving deck of a ship. Furthermore, navigators do not have a full understanding of magnetic declination (the angle of difference between the magnetic pole and the pole
star), limiting the instrument’s usefulness. Navigators using a compass gain a +1 on their checks.
There is also an extremely rare and expensive magical compass (which really does contain a trapped gen in the needle). This compass points not to the magnetic north, but to the pole star at all times. It is far more accurate than a normal compass, giving the fortunate navigator a +2 on his proficiency score. However, confusion is sometimes created when magical and nonmagical compasses are compared, since the two show different headings for north and south.
Kamal: This simple device is the most commonly used navigation tool of the Zakharans. It is nothing more than a rectangle of wood with a rope through the centre. The cord is knotted at different lengths. Each knot represents a specific port. By taking a sighting on the pole star at evening, the navigator can determine if the ship is sailing north, south, or at the same latitude as any port knotted on the string. Using this device gives a +1 to navigation checks, but only for those made in the evening.
A kamal can be bought at most large seaports, or one can be made with a minimum of skill, although many are elaborately carved. As opposed to their possessiveness about daftar and rahmani, navigators like to show off their kamals, comparing knots and artistic workmanship (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)


As on all waters, the most sinister threat comes not
from reefs or unpredictable weather, but from man.
Enlightened though the Zakharans may be, the inlets
and channels of the Crowded Sea provide shelter to
many a brotherhood of cutthroats and fiends. Pirates
range from a lone zaruq of scoundrels to organized
fleets of five or more fine booms. Further south, there
are opportunistic islanders with war canoes, equally
willing to trade with or plunder passing ships.
Pirates of the Crowded Sea do not follow the same
traditions and customs of pirates elsewhere
(particularly in the barbaric oceans of the north).
Zakharan traditions affect even their behavior. For
example, they consider themselves subjects of the
Grand Caliph who have been given claim over his vast
oceans. Should the Grand Caliph ever sail their
waters, they will give him all respect he is due. All
others, however, enter pirate waters at their own risk.
Pirates are not immune to the traditions of hospitality
either. Thus, it is possible to meet with pirates and
survive the encounter mostly intact.
The pirates of a given ship or fleet are commonly
brought together by some common bond. They may all
be ex-slaves of a harsh master, inhabitants of the same
village, or former mamluks. They do not consider each
other thieves or cutthroats but honorable men (of
sorts) carrying out a trade. It just so happens that their
trade is to take from others. Zakharan pirates consider
themselves part of the civilized people of the Land of
Few Zakharan pirates are easily identified as such.
Raiding is an honorable profession in many ports,
provided the raider practices his trade elsewhere.
Pirates do not fly distinctive flags, conduct their trade
in pirate towns, or form anything like a brotherhood
of the sea. On the waters, a pirate ship looks no
different from any otherexcept, perhaps, for the
larger than normal number of men she carries on deck.
As a consequence, most captains are wary of any ship
encountered at sea.

The best defense against a pirate is to outnumber his
crew. Thus, merchant ships often travel in small fleets so
as to intimidate potential pirates. Pirates, in turn, attack
with small fleets to overcome the merchants. Once
faced by a determined pirate, the best choice for a
merchant vessel is to turn and run. If crew and captain
act with speed and diligence and their ship is faster, the
pirates will be left far behind. If the ships are equally
matched, have the rubban make a sailing proficiency
check. If he succeeds, the pirates are evaded. If he fails,
something unfortunate has happenedthe ship has lost
the wind, the captain called for a change of direction at
the wrong time, etc.and the pirates close for boarding.
If the pirate ship is faster, the rubban must make a sailing
proficiency check, subtracting the difference in speed
between the two ships from his ability rating. If the
check is successful, the captain has performed a brilliant
maneuver and escaped; otherwise, the pirates close for
No matter where they occur, pirate attacks follow a
pattern. Outside boarding range, most of the pirate
crew remains out of sight so as not to arouse suspicion.
Powerful magic that might damage the merchant ship
is avoided, since a sunken cargo is worthless to most
pirates. Zakharan pirates (as opposed to barbarians
from the islands) even prefer to avoid missile weapons
since these might encourage a crew to resist. Arrows
and spells are used against select targets to cow the
crew into surrendering.
Once close enough, the pirates attempt to grapple
and board the merchant ship. To role-play these battles,
the DM can set out the appropriate deck plans from the
Map Booklet. (Permission is granted to photocopy
them for personal use.) The pirates block wind to the
merchant ship, making maneuvering impossible, and
then grapple with 3d6 worth of irons (smaller ships may
have fewer grapples). If not under missile fire or spells,
at this point Zakharan pirates typically demand
surrender (islanders are much more unpredictable in
this respect), promising mercy. PCs cannot call on their
crew to fight (unless fanatically loyal).
For Zakharan pirates, the law of hospitality that
guides all in the Land of Fate applies in a somewhat
peculiar way. Once close enough to board, these
pirates fight without mercy until a ship is captured, but
then treat captives (at least other civilized men)
leniently. All prisoners are spared, unless they prove to
be difficult, so they can be sold in the slave markets.
Merchants are given the opportunity to ransom
themselves from slavery. Those who buy their freedom
are typically released to the care of sympathetic
merchants in a civilized port. Any characters of
noteworthy ability may be offered a place among the
pirates, and truly charismatic individuals may even be
freed without concessions.
This behavior does not make Zakharan pirates
foolish. Their reputation for merciful treatment of
captives makes most merchants more willing to
surrender when faced by pirates. For the PCs, this
means that their crew will automatically surrender to
Zakharan pirates unless they are either fanatically loyal
or include marines hired to defend the ship. Loss of
cargo can be endured, death cannot. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)



Al-Hadhar, for the most part, inhabit Zakhara’s lowlands and coasts. It is cooler and wetter there, with frequent morning fogs and heavy but brief rains during the monsoon season. Life is not driven by the search for water and green grass, as it is for the nomads. Though irrigation and wells are still required for agriculture, in general, the people of Zakhara’s settlements have easy access to water and other basic necessities-things the nomads hold so dear.

Al-Hadhar are sedentary as well as settled. A man often lives in the same house as his father, and in the same community as his grandfather. There is a greater sense of continuity here than in the desert, with buildings and businesses offering proof of man’s ability to tame the land. Trade is more established in the settlements, which often have suqs (covered markets) in addition to open bazaars. The population is more highly concentrated here than in the wild lands, giving rise to stronger rules of order and law. Zakhara’s Al-Hadhar also are more cosmopolitan than the desert-dwellers, for they have been exposed to foreign visitors. Traders from far-off lands rarely venture into the inhospitable desert, but they frequently visit Zakhara’s great cities. As a result, Al-Hadhar have gained a broader, more practical outlook.

While they are often referred to as “city-dwellers” in the text below, Zakhara’s Al-Hadhar live in settlements of all sizes, from the crudest collection of mud-brick hovels to the golden towers of Huzuz, the City of Delights. From the perspective of the Al-Badia, their lives are the same-soft, sedentary, and restricted. Indeed, the similarities between Al-Hadhar who live in a village and those who live in a great city far out-weigh the differences.

Non Humans

Most of the enlightened residents of Zakhara’s cities are human, but not all of them. Almost all sentient humanoid races who recognize the nature of Fate, the Loregiver, and the sovereignty of the Grand Caliphate are considered members of the community (if not wholeheartedly embraced as such). The differences between them do not present a major problem, nor do most humans deem this multiracial mix to be worth much contemplation. How one acts not how one looks at birth-is most important in the Land of Fate.
All Zakharan cities have nonhuman residents. In most major settlements, nonhumans account for about 10 percent of the population. Qudra’s population is about 15 percent nonhuman. In Hiyal, the figure rises to 20 percent. The League of the Pantheon-while supposedly tolerant of other races-fails to attract many nonhumans. In fact, no Pantheist city has a nonhuman population that surpasses 5 percent of the total.
Who are the nonhumans of Zakhara’s Al-Hadhar? In most cities, they include a smattering of elves, dwarves, halflings, gnomes, orcs, kobolds, ogres, hobgoblins, goblins, hill giants, lizard men, and gnolls. Port cities may also host a small community of mermen and locathah. Though they are rare, other races may also be accepted members of the population, provided they do not pose a threat to the rest of the community. Such unusual residents must be intelligent enough to understand the nature of Fate and the Loregiver. In addition, they should not be phenomenally powerful.
Intelligent or not, some nonhuman races are entirely unsuited to Zakhara’s settlements. Those who are continually and unrepentantly evil (such as sahuagin and yuan-ti) are never invited to dwell among the enlightened. Further, individuals who are very rare in numbers (such as larger giants), who are wildly nonhuman (such as beholders), and those who by nature seek to dominate others (such as mind flayers) are never counted among the Al-Hadhar.
With few exceptions, the nonhumans’ traditions, faiths, occupations, and attitudes differ little from those of humans. The two groups live and work – cheek to jowl. Natural abilities do encourage some races toward certain professions; ogres and giants, for example, make excellent porters and warriors. But it is not unusual to find an elf working as an apprentice (or a master) in a foundry, a dwarf serving as a potter or gardener, or an orc serving as a nursemaid. In fact, one of Hiyal’s master jewellers is a stone giant, who can often be found crouched at his bench, working with fine-tipped, giant-sized tools.
The Law of the Loregiver does not forbid nonhumans to marry outside their race; nor do most individual faiths. Still, this is one matter in which race does matter. Marriage between humans and other races is frowned upon. It is also extremely rare. Most interracial marriages can never produce children – and a love of family is firmly embedded in Zakharan culture. Further, most marriages are arranged by parents, who wish to enhance their families’ standing.
Given these considerations, interracial marriages that do occur are matters of deep and abiding love. Few ..such newlyweds can remain within their former circles; usually the couple must leave their families far behind to seek a life together. With this stain upon the families’ honour, the lovers’ relatives might well hunt down the couple and slay them.
Orcs and elves are exceptions to the rule; marriages between orcs and humans as well as elves and humans are relatively common, perhaps because such households can include children. (Of course, orcs and elves almost never marry each other; in general, both groups find the concept ludicrous.) The union of elves and humans is much more prevalent than that of orcs and humans. The harim of the Grand Caliph has often included elves; through the years, half-elvish blood has been mixed into the line of the Enlightened Throne several times. Furthermore, some noble female elves keep human men as courtiers and concubines in selamas (counterparts to harims).
In general, the Law of the Loregiver recognizes no difference between humans and other races; a man is a man, a woman is a woman. Before a qadi, for example, a dwarf’s standing equals that of any other enlightened person. Nonhumans may be punished and enslaved in the same manner as humans. In some small communities, elves and dwarves serve as qadis elected by a human population, who acknowledge the value of their long lifespan and respect their accumulated wisdom. (This is another case where a natural ability or quality has guided a nonhuman race toward a particular profession.)
Military units, mamluk societies, holy slayer fellowships, merchant houses, navies, shops, church hierarchies-all these can count nonhumans among their numbers. No enlightened faith in Zakhara excludes nonhuman members. Zakhara’s armed forces also include nonhumans among their ranks. The emir of Qudra, the most respected mamluk of his city, is a dwarf. While foreigners might find this unusual, Zakharans speak of the emir’s race matter-of-factly, as if they were saying, “He has red hair.” Race is descriptive, not defining.


First Caliph600 years agoA desert nomad, little more than a boy, discovered the word of the Loregiver at Huzuz (then a small village used for trading)
Nasir al-Nasr (the Great Eagle)Calmed the factions that arose after his father’s death. With military might and diplomacy he kept the kingdom together
Expanded the reach of the Grand Caliphate
Expanded the reach of the Grand Caliphate almost to its present day size
First Grand Caliph to sit upon the Enlightened Throne. Perhaps during this reign the Golden Mosque and the Enlightened Throne were completed.
Established new trade routes.
Ensured that all could live in harmony in his land (even the previously oppressed)
Established the bureaucracy of the empire as it stands today
Maintained the empire through times of great natural disasters
An evil man is appointed emir of Qudra, he oppresses his people and creates an army to march south and take Huzuz. The mamluks in his army rebel and overthrow the emir of Qudra.
Maintained the empire through times of great natural disasters
Established firmer relations with the genies
Created housing for the poor and had all manner of buildings raised in Huzuz
Opened trade with lands beyond Zakhara and even beyond Toril
Established the current Palace of the Enlightened Throne
includes c.1327 DRGrand Caliph’s grandfather
Raised an army of genies to protect Huzuz from invasion
Quelled rebellions and encouraged exploration of the Haunted Lands
Grand Caliph Khalil al-Assad al-Zahir?? to today (1367 DR)Current Grand Caliph

Grand Caliph: The ultimate spiritual and temporal leader of all enlightened Zakharans is Grand Caliph Khalil al-Assad al-Zahir, Scourge of the Unbelievers. He follows in the footsteps of his father and of his father’s father before him, being the eighteenth man in his bloodline to ascend the Enlightened Throne. The First Caliph, who discovered the word of the Loregiver and spread its wisdom throughout the land so many years ago, was hardly more than a boy. (He was also a desert nomad, a fact in which enlightened Al-Badia take great pride.) The city where it all began was golden Huzuz, still the home of the Grand Caliph and his wondrous palace (see Huzuz in Chapter 6 for further details).

One step down in the hierarchy of power are the rulers of Zakhara’s city-states and tiny empires a collection of kings, caliphs, emirs, padishahs, sultans, khedives, and the like. While each pays tribute and taxes to the Grand Caliph, many rule their communities with a surprising degree of independence.

Even lower in the hierarchy of power are the local qadis (judges). Despite their rank, they may have a profound effect on the lives of an average man or woman. Qadis are arbitrators and mediators, or pronouncing judgment in virtually all civil and religious disputes. (Only the Grand Caliph or the ruler the qadis serve may override their decisions.) Qadis are chosen in one of two ways: by the community or by the ruling bureaucracy. The former is a common practice in settlements that have close ties to the desert nomads. Qadis chosen by the community are often scholars, merchants, or sages who are greatly respected for their wisdom and strength of character. Because they have popular support, they
may hold their posts indefinitely; their positions are essentially permanent.

Qadis appointed by rulers must answer to the bureaucracy. They may not hold their positions long. Those who fail to placate both the bureaucracy and the community at large are swiftly replaced. (For more on qadis and justice in the civilized lands, see “The Law” in Fortunes and Fates.

Law and Order

One of the great unifying principles of civilized people is the Law of the Loregiver, a common touchstone of tradition and rational behavior by which all Zakharans are judged. The Law of the Loregiver, more than any other force or language or government, holds the enlightened world together.
The Loregiver is a mythological figure, the handmaiden to Fate, supposedly a wise woman who codified the Law back in the eldest of days. Mankind was not ready to accept Fate’s wisdom at that time, the story goes, and so she hid the scrolls containing the Law until the time when they were needed.
Centuries later, the people of Zakhara were in desperate straits. Intertribal wars, intercity conflicts, and interreligious squabbles – all of which could have been alleviated had the Law been known to all – had brought all of civilization to the edge of disaster. Plagues swept the land and priests were unwilling to perform cures. Famine stalked the fields and no one wished to risk going into them. Monsters were at large and none would defeat them. Mankind was in need of enlightenment, or would follow the civilizations of the Ruined Kingdoms and the Haunted Lands into extinction.
Fate guided a young man to discover the caverns where the Loregiver had laid the scrolls to rest. The young man recognized that the Law inscribed on the scrolls was a unifier for his people, and, so inspired, went out among
them to reveal its wonders.
The young man was the First Caliph, whose blood now flows in the current Grand Caliph of Huzuz. Under his leadership, Al-Badia and AlHadhar began to pull together into a common people, setting aside longstanding differences. The religious hierarchies of the gods rallied around the law, creating a universal set of beliefs in which tolerance was stressed. Open mosques, where all could worship freely, became a hallmark of the civilized world. Embattled and impoverished merchants also supported the Law, for it established common prices and methods of dealing.
Soon the Law of the Loregiver was the one true law throughout the civilized world, and the burning world
of Zakhara became the Land of Fate.
The original scrolls were transcribed onto thick planks of lacquered wood that are now kept in the House of the Loregiver, in the centre of the Golden Mosque of Huzuz, the largest place of worship in the civilized world. As a symbol of authority, the Grand Caliph may present to local rulers a copy of these wooden blocks for installation in their own mosques. As for the original scrolls, it is written that the First Caliph, as an old man having seen the Law spread from the Free Cities to the Golden Gulf, went into the desert and returned them to the cavern from which they came.
For the early enlightened men and women, the Law provided a codified version of oral and legal traditions. In addition, legends say that in the first century of Enlightenment, those leaders who swore their allegiance to the Law of the Loregiver and the First Caliph were blessed with bountiful harvests, rich treasures, a profusion of strong sons and daughters, and a unified people. Such benefits do not apply to their descendants, but all agree that the Law of the Loregiver has prevented the Land of Fate from becoming a collection of savage, idolatrous states.
The Law and the PCs
The Law is divided into three parts. The first part sets down the relationship between Zakharans and their gods, the nature of worship and veneration, the idea of tolerance and unity. The effects of this portion of the law are seen in the religious hierarchies and the open mosques.
The second section deals with the relationship of the ruler and the ruled, and establishes the supremacy of the First Caliph over other leaders. This section is again a codification of existing oral laws among the desert tribes, which may be summarized by the idea that a leader rules by the permission of the led, and a foolish leader may be replaced by one who is more competent.
It is the third part of the law which concerns the player characters in the Land of Fate, for it deals with civil law: that is, the relationships among citizens of a civilized society. Again, it is a codification of pre-existing tribal laws and local traditions into a unified whole. The Law is enforced mostly within the boundaries of cities and within enlightened tribal groups. Its purpose is to allow local authorities sufficient leeway to deal with specific-situations, while at the same time setting forth definitions of right and wrong.
The Nature of the Law
The Law of the Loregiver divides all actions into five major groups: That which is Required, That which is Encouraged, That which is Tolerated, That which is Discouraged, and That which is Forbidden.
Forbidden actions are those which are heinous in the eyes of civilized Zakharans and their enlightened gods. Such actions are foul and savage, and usually those who engage in these activities are put to death.

Forbidden acts include:
• Wilful eating of sentient flesh
• Murder of the innocent
• Spreading (or attempting to spread) the belief that no gods exist
• Disobeying the word of the Grand Caliph
• Threatening the Grand Caliph, his court, or the magnificent lands entrusted to his rule
• Malicious theft: This is defined as stealing a man’s livelihood or cheating him of the bulk of his belongings.
• Enslavement of the Enlightened: Note that the state may enslave as punishment. This applies to individual slavers who capture the innocent.

Discouraged actions are those which are unpleasing in the eyes of civilized Zakharans and their enlightened gods. While they are wrong, they do not carry the heavy onus of the forbidden acts, and the criminal may be expected to make restitution to the offended party.
Discouraged acts include:
• Common Theft
• Assault
• Murder with just cause: A justifiable homicide clause for cases of self-defence and war.
• Bribery
• Reckless Endangerment
• Public Drunkenness
• Destruction of Property (including slaves)
• Fraud (including bearing false witness) and slander
• Actions against the agents of the Grand Caliph and/or his subordinate enlightened rulers
• Preventing others from engaging in tolerated actions
• Breaking curfew

Tolerated actions are those which are merely permitted as a daily part of life. These are basic rights of enlightened citizens. No punishment is meted out for them, nor is any reward granted.
Tolerated acts include:
• Trade (including making loans)
• Worship of one’s god in the open mosque
• Public celebration (including smoking and drinking, though not to excess)
• Free speech and discourse, provided that it does not defame or slander others

Encouraged actions are those which are most pleasing to enlightened men and their gods. These are the marks of true civilization, and the individual performing them is valued as a pillar of his community.
Encouraged acts include:
• Worship of enlightened gods
• Enlightenment of the unenlightened
• Tolerance of others
• Charity and hospitality
• Paying taxes
If tolerated actions represent basic freedoms, then encouraged actions represent virtues and attributes desired by civilized Zakharans. One who shows these attributes may expect more mercy from the court than one who does not.

Required actions are those which are fundamentally necessary for the maintenance of civilization, and flying in the face of these actions may be determined to be treason, heresy, and/or slander against the state.
Required acts include:
• Belief in a greater force, be it a common or enlightened god
• Obedience to the proclamations of the Grand Caliph
• Pilgrimage once in one’s life to Huzuz and the Court of Enlightenment. This pilgrimage is one of the great unifiers of the people of the Land of Fate, for it encourages travel and exposure to other peoples.

Justice and the Law
The Law is not Justice, nor is Justice the Law. The above listings set out the basic framework of the Law, that which is permitted and that which is not. These are ideals, and in a most perfect world, would be followed by all enlightened men without question, and the world would be safe, secure, and organized. Unfortunately (or fortunately, for those seeking adventure), that is not the case. How the Law is put into practice is the realm of Justice.
Justice is the province of the local magistrate, or qadi, in the cities, and is usually handled by the sheikh or vizier among the Al-Badia. In order to press charges against a wrong-doer, charges must be brought before the qadi, along with the accused. A crime that is not witnessed nor reported is not a crime in the Law of the Loregiver. While a complaint against an individual may be made, and that individual called before the magistrate, if the individual cannot be found, then nothing can be done (for serious crimes, the individual being sought may have to range far to avoid the hand
of the Law).
In cases of a dispute, both parties are brought before the magistrate. In cases where the crime is against the Grand Caliph or his agents, a representative is established. Both sides are permitted to make their case, succinctly. Witnesses are brought forward from either side, either to establish the good name of one of the complainants or to provide information about the crime. The qadi listens and makes a ruling for one side or the other. The qadi may delay ruling for up to one day if there are exceptional circumstances, but otherwise the ruling is immediate.

Punishment: The types of punishment depend on the nature of the crime. For Forbidden Actions, common punishments include death (by beheading), permanent enslavement, or disfigurement (by branding on the forehead or removal of body parts). For Discouraged Actions, punishment is more lenient: payment of damages (a diyya, or weregild, in the case of death), temporary enslavement or imprisonment, or exile from the community. The nature of the punishment is up to the discretion of the qadi or sheikh.

Appeals: A sheikh’s decision in the matter may not be appealed. A qadi’s decision may only be appealed to the local ruler, or the Grand Caliph himself. The accused’s friends must present a compelling argument for such an overturning, since most rulers have no tolerance for spurious suits.
Genies and Justice: Genies have their own courts, laws, and magistrates, which in many ways are more stringent than the mortal courts. A genie may not be called in a mortal court as a witness to a crime. A genie committing a crime against humans must be judged by genies. A human committing a crime against a genie is also judged by genies.
Magic and Justice: Magical evidence may only be admitted before the magistrate if the magistrate can confirm its validity, either by his own magical abilities or by the presence of other trusted individuals with magical power.
Slaves and Justice: A master is responsible for his slaves and his slave’s actions. Any debt incurred by the slave for diyya or payments must be covered by the master (who may use the slave as payment). A slave may be destroyed for Forbidden actions, and the master forced to pay restitution. For this reason, masters must keep a careful eye on their slaves.
Role-playing Justice in the Land of Fate: Roleplaying the situation before a qadi or sheikh is very difficult, as there are always situations where judgment must be used. Further, the appearance of truth is often more telling than the truth itself. For example, if a fighter is charmed and slays another while under the effects of the spell, the fighter must prove that (a) he was charmed, and (b) the effects of this charming caused the death. Even if he can prove such a thing, he may still have to pay a diyya to the survivors of the victim’s family.
Here are some guidelines as to the nature of punishment in the Land of Fate. In traditional and moralist areas, the punishment tends to be tougher, or longer, and the price higher than in more relaxed areas.
Willingly eating the flesh of sentients: Death.
Murder of the innocent: Death, diyya (of approx. 1,000 gp times number of survivors in family), and/or enslavement.
Treason (disobedience): Enslavement.
Treason (threats): Death.
Unbelief: Enslavement.
Malicious theft: Exile or disfigurement.
Enslaving the enlightened: Enslavement and diyya of 100 times level of the enslaved.
Common theft: Exile or enslavement.
Assault: Exile or enslavement.
Justifiable homicide: Exile and/or diyya (of 500 gp times number of survivors in family).

Reckless endangerment: Fine (100 gp), exile for repeat offenders.
Public drunkenness: Fine (50 gp), exile for repeat offenders.
Destruction of property: Fine (Value of property times two) and/or replacement of items and/or enslavement or exile.
Fraud and slander: Enslavement.
Preventing others from engaging in tolerated actions: Fine (100 gp), enslavement
Breaking curfew: Fine (100 gp).
Exile: Individual is banished from the city or tribe, and attempts to re-enter the-city or rejoin the tribe are met with death.
Enslavement: Imprisonment for light crimes, permanent enslavement and loss of rights for serious crimes. An individual may be enslaved to the complainant, or to a professional slaver,
Diyya: Restitution for the dead. Payment may include cost of resurrection, if available.
Fine: Payment of gold pieces.
Disfigurement: Removing of hand or branding. Disfigurement is a public spectacle, so there is usually a one-week grace period before sentence is carried out. Removing brands or restoring lost limbs of a criminal may itself be punished by disfigurement.
Death: As with disfigurement, death is a public spectacle, and there is a one-week grace period before sentence is carried out. The accused is imprisoned until that time.
In addition to the Law of the Loregiver, there are other courts and other rulings. The genies have been mentioned above, but other self-governing groups include the mamluks (who legislate the actions of their members by military tribunals) and the holy slayers (who declare the actions of their followers just or unjust). Merely beating the rap in the civil court does not protect an individual from retribution from other sources.
The rule of Law extends only among the civilized, and once beyond the borders of the cities and the enlightened desert tribes, a man may have to kill to triumph over the unenlightened. This is not considered a violation of the law, as long as no one brings it before the qadi. PC adventurers are advised to be on their best behaviour when within cities, or be prepared to leave town very quickly.


Formally, the Land of Fate is at peace with itself and its surroundings. It is a unified community, ruled with wisdom and enlightenment by the Grand Caliph. No major opponents of the Enlightened Throne lurk within its lands. The ajamis of the distant North and East do not pose a threat, for they are separated by great oceans and mountains.

Reality, however, is less pretty than these official court pronouncements. Zakhara has a plethora of lesser rulers-caliphs, emirs, sultans, khedives, khans, padishahs, and sheikhs. Which of these is superior to the others depends on the person you ask. Most are local rulers acting as if they are the supreme power in their own region, even though they recognize the ultimate authority of Huzuz. As a result, these small powers frequently become embroiled in petty wars with each other. When they’re not warring with each other, they may do battle with the small barbarian factions on their borders.
As a rule, the cities of Zakhara are well defended.

All maintain a common militia and a watch. The former is called upon in times of crisis to repel enemies. The latter is a permanent force of soldiers serving as palace guards and city patrols. In addition, a number of Zakhara’s cities have their own standing armies, navies, or both. Some cities retain the services of mercenaries and mamluks for protection. Most military units consist of infantry and cavalry, with an occasional magical unit or an airborne support wing.

Siegecraft is not common in the Land of Fate, and the natives of Zakhara generally lack the war engines of northern nations.

Afyal: The Isle of the Elephant boasts a healthy, prosperous navy that protects its trade routes in the Crowded Sea. This navy acts better than any fortification to repel raiders. It turns its magnificent face toward the lands of the far-flung East, displaying the power and wealth of the Land of Fate. Afyal also has a large standing army, one of the few able to use elephants as mobile and effective “machines” of war. (The islanders’ skill with these beasts is uncanny. So are the abilities of the beasts themselves.) On the debit side, the padishah of Afyal is mad, and he uses his armies the way a small child uses toy soldiers. His current plan: the conquest and colonization of Sahu, Isle of Serenity.

Hiyal: The great, smoky city of Hiyal is ringed with a wall. The city can be entered through just four great gates, each of which is guarded by the local sultana’s hand-picked guards. Hiyal’s greatest protection is not its wall, however. Many desert raiders have breached this relatively low barricade only to discover Hiyal’s best defensive structure: the squalid slums that ring the city. In this crowded maze, horses can scarcely move. Hopelessly stalled, the raiders cannot reach the treasure-troves at the heart of the city – Hiyal’’s suqs, mosques, and palaces. In addition to the slums, Hiyal has a more clandestine defence strategy. Striking from the shadows is very much the way of this city. This practice-plus the fact that various factions of Hiyal regularly conspire with and against the sheikhs of the Haunted Lands – helps ensure the city’s overall safety.

Huzuz: The City of Delights, gem of the Golden Gulf and Suq Bay, looks like a ripe fruit for the plucking. It lacks the forbidding walls of Zakhara’s northern holdings. Further, Huzuz is open sprawl of parks, easy to cross. It has a number of gates, but these primarily serve as a means for regulating trade and guaranteeing taxation; the gates would do little to
repel a serious invader. The strength of Huzuz lies not in its steel or its stone but in the authority of its Grand Caliph. Moreover, it lies in the hands of the genies who recognize the Grand Caliph’s sovereignty, choosing to protect the city in his name. Twice twenty years ago, in the age of the current Grand Caliph’s grandfather, a rebellious desert sheikh led a great endeavour against Huzuz. The sheikh reached the plains before the city, where his army was met by a lone sha’ir. The sha’ir warned the sheikh to turn back. In response, the sheikh rode down the sha’ir and slew him. At that moment, a host of genies appeared: djinn, dao, efreet, and marids, leading an army of jann. The sheikh’s army was destroyed to the last rider. The land was decimated. Most of that damage was the result of the genies, who competed to see who among them could slay the most riders, using the most impressive displays possible, Since that bloody occasion, no one has
challenged the magical protection of Huzuz.

League of the Pantheon: The Pantheist League maintains a united military force, heavy in footmen. This army is collectively called the Sword of the True Gods. The Sword’s purpose is to protect the religious leaders of the League from the incursions of tribesmen from the Haunted Lands and rivals in the Ruined Kingdoms. In reality, the Sword exists as a living extension of the League’s stated religious policy spreading the word of the Pantheon and denouncing the lesser, “incorrect” gods. Occasionally, units are sent far afield, into Nog and Kadar and to the islands of the south. No direct action has been taken against the decadent caliphates of the Pearl Cities and Afyal, but most feel it is only a matter of time.

Pearl Cities: The Pearl Cities of the Golden Gulf and the Crowded Sea are primarily merchant and trade cities. They gain their armies the old fashioned way – they buy them. Mercenary units, naval units, desert clans, and untethered mamluk organizations are pressed into service as need demands. Usually, such a “need” calls for a limited action, over which the caliphs and sultans of the Pearl Cities have full control. Their main foes are the sporadic desert raiders from the High Desert as well as each other, with a looming threat from the League of the Pantheon across the Gulf.

Qudra and the Free Cities: The tiered city of Qudra is the greatest fortress in the Land of Fate. Its stalwart walls have been strengthened by magic, and they present a forbidding face to the northern barbarians across the Great Sea, reminding them of the strength of the Grand Caliph. Qudra is ruled by mamluks who elect an emir from among their mamluk societies. The main foes of the city are the Corsair Domains and rebellious rulers among the nearby Free Cities. Much to the annoyance of Qudra, the Free Cities regularly fight each other. This is primarily low-level warfare, taking the form of raiding. Each of the city states knows that a large-scale military action would certainly prompt a reaction by the mamluks of Qudra. It might also trigger a unified attack by the other Free Cities. For this reason, the rulers of the Free Cities expend a great deal of energy on political intrigue. Each strives to convince Huzuz (and, more importantly, the generals of Qudra) that his or her city deserves to be left alone and granted free rein (while all the others deserve to be watched more closely). Ultimately, these intercity scuffles are trivial. Greater threats exist. On land, the Free Cities must continually fend off raiders from the Hill Tribes of the Furrowed Mountains. At sea, the Free Cities must battle the chaotic and cagey pirates of the Corsair Domains, who wreak havoc with trade and travel.

Ruined Kingdoms: The cities built upon the ruins of Nog and Kadar are home to a mixed bag of petty tyrants. Some of these tyrants seek to rule with the blessing of Huzuz. Others seek to regain the glories of their predecessors’ savage rulers from a distant and long-buried past. This a land in which a man can raise an army by breakfast and see it destroyed by nightfall. Hiyal, Huzuz, the Pantheon, and even Afyal meddle in the politics of this region. A general in the forces of Kadarasto, Rog’osto, or Dihliz is certain to receive gifts and supplies from at least one of these would-be influences. Quite often, the same general accepts the gifts of more than one.


To the North
Ajami magic
High Desert
To the East
Sams Bandar

To the Eastern Lands: Salt, Wood

Furrowed Mountains


Haunted Lands: Livestock, wool, carpets, antiquities, dates

Halwa: Livestock, slaves, salt, wool

Huzuz: Pilgrims, cloth

Hilm: Grain, livestock, horses, pilgrims

Talab: Slaves, cloth, herbs, healers, wool

Hudid: Glass, books, sages, scribes

Mahabba: Wood, cotton

Sikak: Fish, boats, rope, salt

Jumlat: Pearls, shells, dye, coral

Afyal: Wood, gold, silver, gems, ivory, elephants, silk

Dihliz: Rice, antiquities

Kadarasto: Rice, cotton, antiquities

Rog’osto: Sages, art, crystal

To Akota: Gold, slaves, wool, exotica


The gods of Zakhara into three groups: major (often called Great), local (often called common), and savage (also called heathen). Savage deities are not recognized in the teachings and tales of the Loregiver. These include the Forgotten Gods of Nog and Kadar, the cults of the islands and the Hill Tribes, and the unfeeling elemental gods of whom the genies speak in hushed tones. Savage gods also encompass the extraplanar trespassers worshipped by outland priests. As a rule, enlightened Zakharans do not venerate these savage deities. Many Zakharans are quite tolerant of the misguided folk who do, but others-especially moralists-consider such heathen beliefs an affront to the Loregiver and all that is civilized and good.

Major gods (Great Gods) have the largest, most organized churches in Zakhara, because they recognized throughout the Land of Fate. These include Brave Hajama, Honest Hakiyah (Mistress of the Sea Breezes), her brother Noble Haku (Master of the Desert Winds), Jisan of the Floods, Kor the Venerable, Najm the Adventurous, Selan the Beautiful Moon, and Learned Zann. Members of the League of the Pantheon also consider Jauhar the Gemmed a Great God, though she is recognized only in their area.

Local gods (common gods) are recognized in the word of the Loregiver, but they are not worshipped universally. Well-known in one area or city, a local god may be unheard of just 10 or 20 miles away. The followers of local gods do not gain the benefits of a large church organization. (A DM who wishes to create new deities for his or her own AL-QADIM™ campaign can readily add them to the loosely defined mix of common gods.)

Worship and faith are largely a matter of personal choice in Zakhara. Lay people may worship a number of gods at the same time, or switch from one god to another. (The only true requirement is that one believes in some greater power, preferably enlightened.) Members of the priest kits usually devote themselves to a given faith, however. Pragmatists, ethoists, and moralists usually follow a single enIigIrrened god or faith, with most moralists belonging to the church of a Great God. Some mystics worship heathen gods, as do outland priests.

The Great Gods are neither good nor evil, lawful nor chaotic. They are beyond such matters. Bravery can be found in the most noble faris and the most black-hearted assassin, and who is Hajama to turn his ear from either of them? Individual followers or churches may be good or evil, but the Great gods are above these quibbles. This sets them apart from common gods and heathen deities, who are usually lock-stepped into their believers’ alignments.

The subject of Zakharan faiths would not be complete without mention of three important figures: Fate, the Loregiver, and the Grand Caliph. All three are powerful and influential aspects of enlightenment. They are not worshipped, however, for none is a god, and no mosque has been erected in their names. Further, none of these figures can grant spells to anyone who might mistakenly declare him or her a deity.

Fate: Fate is often described as the natural force that is a part of every man and woman’s future. She is not a goddess, but she does aid those who succeed, and she may comfort those who fail. The gods, whatever their nature, defer to her. While she is not worshipped directly, her name is invoked to show her influence in the world.

Loregiver: The Loregiver is in some ways the handmaiden to Fate, her servant and the director of her will. It was the Loregiver who first defined the Law that binds the society of Zakhara together. The Loregiver is or was recognized as a mortal being, however, and mortal beings are not to be worshipped.

Grand Caliph: The Grand Caliph sits at the centre of the world. He is the descendant of the First Caliph, the one who was smiled upon by Fate, who brought forth the Law of the Loregiver and spread enlightenment throughout the land. While he is respected and venerated, the Grand Caliph is not a god, for he is born of woman like any other being, and will pass with time. Nor does the Grand Caliph demand organized worship and godhood. It is enough to be cheered by the thundering masses, and to benefit from the riches of his far-flung empire.

Patterns of Worship
All enlightened Zakharans share a pattern of prayer, despite the differences in the gods they worship. For example, those who are faithful and enlightened wash before every formal prayer, using a small bowl of water (or sand where no water is available). It is also customary to prostate oneself upon the ground to pray, perhaps rising and kneeling several times. However, all that is truly required is that men and women bow their heads toward Huzuz and pray for guidance along the path of goodness.

Civilized Al-Hadhar pray three times each day to an enlightened god (or gods): at dawn, two hours past midday, and two hours past sunset. Each time, a gong sounds from the mosques, reverberating throughout the community. For the morning and midday prayer, imams in the mosques call from the minarets, inviting devout worshippers to attend services in the temples of their gods. While attendance is encouraged, it is not strictly required. The faithful may pray virtually anywhere. Enlightened Al-Badia follow a similar pattern of prayer, though no gong sounds to announce the time of day. In the morning and evening, they prostate themselves, facing Huzuz, and praise their chosen gods. At midday, most nomads simply bow their heads for a moment of silent contemplation.

At least once per week, family members commonly attend religious instruction and sermons at a mosque. In areas where moralist attitudes prevail, services for men and women are separate. Elsewhere, all are welcomed to a common service. Mosques that cater to many different faiths may conduct open services honoring many gods, or they may schedule a series of more specialized weekly services.

At least once in their lives, enlightened Al-Hadhar are expected to make a pilgrimage to a glittering Huzuz, the City of Delights, jewel of Suq Bay and the Golden Gulf, centre of all civilization. It is here that the greatest mosques and relics of the faithful can be found. More importantly, this is the home of the Grand Caliph Khalil al-Assad al-Zahir, He Who is Worthy of the Gods, Giant among Men, Scourge of the Unbeliever, Confidant of Genies. Pilgrims go to Huzuz to visit the Golden Mosque, where the House of the Loregiver lies. Almost as great a goal is standing in the Grand Caliph’s court, before the Enlightened Throne.

The pilgrimage is always a worthy undertaking, but the experience is especially prized on the Day of Ascension (Yasad) and on the Grand Caliph’s birthday. On those two days, His Enlightened Highness is sure to appear before the people. The faithful receive his personal wish that Fortune may smile upon each and every one, that the gods may guide them to goodness, and that Fate may guide them to glory. Many enlightened nomads also strive to make the pilgrimage to Huzuz during their lifetime. For most, however, it is enough to know that a representative of their tribe will make the journey in their names.

The text that follows describes many of the gods and faiths of Zakhara. Entries for major and local gods include these details:
Symbol, Common symbol of the god (or faith). These symbols are used with great care. While they may adorn official texts and be worn by the faithful, they are not to adorn mosque architecture or be used as an embodiment of the god. Such actions lead to the worship of the item as opposed to the ideal, and that is idolatry. (However, it is not improper to describe a god’s physical form in the context of a tale or legend.)
Major Mosques. Locations of the most prominent houses of worship.
Pantheon. Indicates whether a god is a member of the Pantheon. (The Pantheon is listed as a separate faith for the purpose of this discussion.)
Ordered Priests. Hierarchy of the church in percentages of pragmatists (P), ethoists (E), and moralists (M) throughout the Land of Fate. Also noted are any special abilities that are awarded to ordered priests of this faith. Bonuses to ability scores, where noted, are permanent.
Free Priests. Listing of the Free Priest kits (kahin, hakima, and mystic) normally part of this faith.
Omitted PC kits are not barred from the faith (e.g., a hakima of Kor); they are merely unusual. Also noted are any special abilities awarded to the Free Priests. Bonuses to ability scores, where noted, are permanent.
Ideal. Attribute or feature the god embodies.
Ethos. Brief statement of the god’s principles.
Principles. General guiding principles of the faith, suitable for living by, framing, or using in debate with others. If various factions espouse particular principles, they are noted here.
The Faith. A brief description of the areas in which the faith is popular, and the people who belong to the faith.

Great Gods

Zakhara has eight major deities, or Great Gods: Hajama, Hakiyah, Haku, Jisan, Kor, Najm, Selan, and Zann. The section below also includes an entry for the gods of the Pantheon, as well as for the goddess Jauhar, whom members of the Pantheist League consider a Great God.

Hajama the Courageous

Also known as Brave Hajama, this Great God represents the ideal of courage in the face of opposition. In legend, he is described as a stocky man whose long beard is as black as ink, When telling tales of Hajama’s adventure in the desert, Al-Badian priests describe a figure who wraps himself in a jellaba as dark as midnight. Al-Hadhar describe a god who comes to the cities wearing lamellar armour that is carved from the night sky itself.
Symbol: None, or a featureless disk. (Bravery is worn in the heart, not on the sleeve.) High-ranking male priests of Hajama also wear long black beards.
Major Mosques: Gana, Hafiyah, Halwa, Hiyal, Huzuz, Kadarasto, Liham, Sikak, Utaqa.
Pantheon: Yes.
Ordered Priests: 20 P, 65 E, 15 M. All gain a +1 bonus to Constitution (maximum 18).
Free Priests: Mystics. Those who worship Hajama may fight with short swords.
Ideal: Bravery.
Ethos: Bravery wins out over opposition.
Principles: Trust your feelings and follow your heart. Always dare to try; cowards fail because their great deeds are unattempted. Bravery takes many forms, the easiest of which is in battle (ethoists’ principle). Living through a defeat strengthens the spirit more than dying for an ideal (pragmatists’ principle).
The Faith: The faith of Brave Hajama is popular in rural areas, particularly those which border deserts, mountains, or other potentially hostile regions. If a man is said to have Hajama in his heart and Fate at his back, then he is both courageous and fortunate. The faiths of Hajama and Najm are on friendly terms, and priests of one faith will attend each other’s mosques. In the Pantheon, Hajama is portrayed as one of the sons of Kor, with Najm as his twin brother.

Hakiyah of the Sea Breezes

Also called Hakiyah the Honest, this Great Goddess symbolizes truth. In human form, she wears the trousers, blouse, and vest of a city-dweller. She is portrayed as the calm voice of reason, often correcting and guiding Haku (who is alternately her nephew, brother, and uncle) in his adventures.
Symbol: A cresting wave.
Major Mosques: Ajayib, Gana, Hawa, Huzuz, Jumlat, Muluk, Tajar, Utaqa.
Pantheon: No.
Ordered Priests: 10 P, 70 E, 20 M. All gain a +1. Wisdom bonus (maximum 18).
Free Priests: Mystics and hakimas. Like ordered priests, all gain a +1 Wisdom bonus (maximum 18).
Ideal: Honesty, truth.

Ethos: Truth will always win out.
Principles: Question and check, then check again. People see what they desire to see, not always what truly exists. All men and women may cast illusions even those who are not sorcerers, and even those who are ignorant of their actions. Danger lies in unquestioning belief.
The Faith: The nature of Hakiyah’s worship is calm, meditative, and methodical. Better to take no action than to take one impulsively, it is said. As a result, Hakiyah is popular in the Pearl Cities, particularly among members of the merchant class. Both Hakiyah and Haku have large mosques and universities in the Pearl Cities. In the Pantheist League, neither god is worshipped openly, and their followers are persecuted.

Haku, Master of the Desert Wind

Also called Free Haku, this god represents personal independence. In the old legends, he is always described as a desert nomad, wearing a flowing aba and keffiyeh, with a gleaming scimitar at his side. His words, when recorded by those who receive them, are always proud, self-assured, and even haughty. He implores his followers to apply themselves and to do nothing half-heartedly.
Symbol: A stylized gust of wind.
Major Mosques: Gana, Halwa, Huzuz, Jumlat, Muluk, Tajar, Utaqa, Wasat.
Pantheon: No.

Ordered Priests: 30 P, 40 E, 30 M. They gain no special abilities.
Free Priests: Mystics. They may use scimitars.
Ideal: Freedom, independence.
Ethos: A man and a woman must be free to be considered alive.
Principles: Do not burden others. Rely on your own talents. Trust the wisdom of your own experiences. Protect those you love and respect, but do not assume that they will be there to protect you.
The Faith: Haku is popular in regions lying in and near the open desert. In the Pearl Cities he is connected with Hakiyah, who is alternately described as a niece, sister, and aunt. Both Haku and Hakiyah’s worshippers are persecuted in Pantheist lands.

Jauhar the Gemmed

Representing wealth, this goddess is sometimes called Jauhar the Gem Studded. She is technically a common deity, because her worship is confined to the Pantheist League and a few cities of the Ruined Kingdoms. The heavily moralist League of the Pantheon considers her a Great God, however, taking the place of Bountiful Jisan (whom Pantheists view as common). Jauhar takes on a physical form only in rare portraits of old-those which Pantheists seek to eliminate. In such legends, Jauhar always appears as a comely maiden with straight black hair and luminous, kohl-rimmed eyes. She wears a dancer’s brassiere and pantaloons. The brassiere is covered with coins allegedly given to her by admirers. The seams of her silken pantaloons are similarly adorned. Old temples scattered throughout Zakhara once contained drawings of Jauhar in this garb. Nearly all of the drawings have been destroyed by Pantheists, leaving only a verbal portrait. Even that has been declared blasphemous by the Pantheists, who describe her as a more modest woman, fully cloaked in a chador, with only the gold dinar on her forehead serving to distinguish her from other moralist women.
Symbol: A gold dinar.
Major Mosques: Each Pantheist city.
Pantheon: Yes.
Ordered Priests: 5 P, 30 E, 65 M. They gain no special abilities.
Free Priests: Mystics, who gain no special abilities.

Ideal: Wealth.
Ethos: Money changes everything.
Principles: Work hard and you will be rewarded as you are due. A holy person is a wealthy person. Those who have no food cannot meditate; they think more about their empty stomachs than their empty souls. Wealth is the oil that greases the wheels of the civilized world. Fate gives to those who take.
The Faith: Jauhar represents the industriousness of the Pantheist cities, and she is venerated by merchants and craftsmen of that region. Her worship is tolerated in other areas, though not where Jisan prevails. Jauharites and Jisanites compete for followers, funds, and attention. At times, the competition is bloody. In the Pantheon, Jauhar is regarded as the beautiful daughter of Kor. This explains a popular Pantheist saying: Wisdom comes from Strength, but Wealth comes from Wisdom.

Jisan of the Floods

Also called Jisan the Bountiful, this Great Goddess symbolizes fertility and productivity. She may have been a storm-goddess long ago, for she was linked to the monsoon rains and the yearly flooding of the great rivers. From that origin, she became identified with people who prepared for the rains and floods-people who therefore gained the most from the water’s passing. In all the tales and legends, no physical description is provided for Jisan; she takes no human
or demihuman form.
Symbol: A rain cloud.
Major Mosques: Ajayib, Halwa, Huzuz, Muluk, Sikak, Tajar, Umara, Wasat.
Pantheon: No.
Ordered Priests: 10 P, 50 E, 40 M. They gain no special ability.
Free Priests: Mystics. They gain no special ability.
Ideal: Fruitfulness.
Ethos: Hard work brings abundance.
Principles: Rewards of the spirit and the flesh may be harvested from the act of applying oneself to a noble task. The gold brought from honest labour is repaid a thousandfold in the good it brings to the spirit. A person who does not work, wastes. Fate brings all things to men and women, but only those who are prepared may take advantage of it. If the sky were raining catfish, would you rather have a net or a parasol?
The Faith: Jisan encourages the work ethic. She is venerated by merchants, and her word is carried throughout the Land of Fate to every port. Jisan’s worship is nearly universal, though it is most popular in cities that boast thriving bazaars. Members of the League of the Pantheon consider Jisan a common god, unworthy of their worship. Instead, Pantheists worship their own local deity, Jauhar, who is similar (and allegedly superior) in nature. Followers of Jisan are energetic, industrious, and diligent. They plan for the future and try to play all the angles, such that if one plan fails, an alternative may yet succeed.

Kor the Venerable

Also known as Old Kor, this Great God represents wisdom. He may err, it is said, but he learns from his mistakes and becomes greater still. In parables describing Kor, the other gods ask his advice, as befits his age and wisdom. Old Kor has been described in one tale as a strong, gray-haired man carrying a great hatchet, which he uses to attack the root of a problem.
Symbol: A sunburst. Mystics who venerate Kor may also carry a hatchet.
Major Mosques: Dihliz, Hawa, Huzuz, Jumlat, Liham, Muluk, Qadib, Rog’osto, Umara, Wasat.
Pantheon: Yes.
Ideal: Wisdom.
Ethos: With age comes wisdom and with wisdom comes strength.
Ordered Priests: 10 P, 80 E, 10 M. Those who follow Kor add +1 to their Wisdom (maximum 18).
Free Priests: Mystics. Those who worship Kor may fight with battle axes.
Principles: Always seek out the wisdom of the elders, and heed their words even if you disagree with them. Learn from your mistakes.
The Faith: The church of Kor represents stability, order, and tradition. In making decisions, precedents are sought and elders are consulted. Among the ordered priests of Kor, moralists tend to be stiff-necked and unbending, while pragmatists tend to emphasize the principle of learning from one’s mistakes. Pantheist priests view Kor as a father figure.

Najm the Adventurous

Adventure and curiosity are the ideals of this Great God and his-or her-followers. In some tales, Najm is female. In others, he is male. In any case, Najm is described as dashing, hot-tempered, fervent, and very much alive (as a mortal might be). Al-Badian tales of this god have common themes: Najm doing the impossible, Najm finding the unfindable, or Najm attaining the unattainable.
Symbol: A single arrow, pointed upward.
Major Mosques: Ajayib, Gana, Hafayah, Hawa, Halwa, Hiyal, Huzuz, Liham, Kadarasto, Utaqa.
Pantheon: Yes.
Hierarchy: 50 P, 40 E, 10 M. All gain a +1 on Dexterity (maximum 18).
Free Priests: Mystics. Those who worship Najm may use short bows.
Ideal: Adventure, curiosity.
Ethos: Make the unknown known.
Principles: Achieve, do, and experience. The journey is more important than the destination. Do not be afraid of new things until you learn more about them. Curiosity leavened with caution never hurt anyone.
The Faith: As might be guessed, Najm’s church includes dynamic missionaries who seek to bring enlightenment to the heathen. It also includes explorers who journey into the hinterlands in Najm’s name, returning to civilization with tales for the young as well as riches for the church coffers. A Zakharan Priest of Order who is found in a far, foreign land is
usually a follower of Najm. As noted above, only 10 percent of Najm’s followers in the church hierarchy are moralists. These are found primarily in the cities of the Pantheon. Pantheist priests of Najm unwaveringly portray their god as male. They acknowledge the goddess Hajama as Najm’s sister. Rude jokes to the contrary, implying less platonic ties, are not tolerated by moralist Najmites.

Selan the Beautiful Moon

Also called Selan the Gracious, and Selan of the Garden, this Great Goddess represents divine pulchritude and heavenly grace. She is described as a flawless maiden cloaked in shimmering white, and in the oldest tales, she is said to be linked to the moon. Such tales claim that the moon is her chariot. She rides it across the sky while pursued by ardent suitors, who appear as a cluster of smaller stars, following in her wake.
Symbol: The ringed moon.
Major Mosques: Afyal (Great Mosque of the Moon), Ajayib, Dihliz, Gana, Hafayah, Halwa, Huzuz, Jumlat, Kadarasto, Rog’osto, Sikak, Tajar, Umara, Wasat.
Pantheon: Yes.
Ordered Priests: 10 P, 70 E, 20 M. All gain a +1 bonus to Charisma (maximum 18).
Free Priests: Mystics and some hakimas. All gain a +1 bonus to Charisma (maximum 18).
Ideal: Beauty.
Ethos: There is beauty in everything.
Principles: Reveal that which is pleasing. Accentuate the positive. Kind words can override angry curses. Beauty grows over time. Treat others with the sweetness and goodness they deserve.
The Faith: Selan’s followers, like Kor’s, tend to be traditional in their outlook, finding joy in what they know to be true rather than seeking out new ideas and new thinking. Deep philosophical thought has never been a strong point of Selanite philosophy. These priests place great stock in appearances, and they usually let initial reactions-which they call the sensation in the liver-guide them in their lives. Selan is much beloved by gardeners and artisans. Her greatest mosque is not in Huzuz, but on the island of Afyal, where her followers make up most of the population.

Zann the Learned

Also called Zann the Marvellous, this Great God is a scholar’s deity, for he epitomizes learning and intelligence. Zann has an amazing memory for details. In legend, he is usually described as a man in city dress, carrying a writing tablet and a case of pens, recording all he sees. Study and research are necessary, but a true scholar knows it is just as important to record one’s experiences so that others may also learn.
Symbol: A fountain’s jet.
Major Mosques: Ajayib, Dihliz, Hiyal, Huzuz, Qadib, Rog’osto, Wasat.

Pantheon: No.
Ordered Priests: 20 P, 40 E, 40 M. All gain a +1 bonus to Intelligence (maximum 18).
Free Priests: Mystics and hakimas. All gain a +1 bonus to Intelligence (maximum 18).
Ideal: Intelligence, learning.
Ethos: Understanding is the key to all doors.
Principles: Do not destroy what you do not understand. We stand on a mountain built by our fathers, and only a fool would step off that mountain. Learn from the mistakes of others. The written word is our gift to our grandchildren.

The Faith: The universities and libraries built by Zann’s followers are the largest and most complete in all of Zakhara. Zannites classify the contents of these libraries using three labels: great texts, common texts, and heathen texts. Great texts are considered official documents and histories, regarded by members of the faith as true and wise. They cover all manner of subjects relating to Zakhara’s enlightenment (not just the Great Gods). A scholar seeking answers will always consult these official texts first. Common texts are documents from an unofficial source or of questionable authenticity, including personal letters and diaries, and documents that challenge or disagree with the great texts. Zannites do not believe in denying information just because its veracity is uncertain. As learning progresses, common texts may become great, and vice versa. Heathen texts come from the world beyond the Land of Fate. Zannites treat such heathen documents with general suspicion. At best, they are considered to be legends or fairy tales.

Gods of the Pantheon

Hajama, Jauhar, Kor, Najm, Selan-these five enlightened gods make up the Pantheon. Priests of the Pantheon recognize only these gods, considering them to be the true Great Gods. Members of the Pantheist League (see Chapter 9) do not tolerate the worship of any other deities. All but Jauhar are known and worshipped throughout the Land of Fate. Still, the bond between Pantheists and non-Pantheists of a given faith is tenuous as best. The god is the same, yet the beliefs and practices differ. Pantheists of a given faith have more in common with fellow Pantheists who worship other gods than they do with outsiders who belong to the same faith.
Symbol: Pentagon.
Major Mosques: Kadarasto, Pantheist cities.
Pantheon: Yes.

Ordered Priests: 2 P 18 E, 80 M. Priests gain the special ability listed for the individual god they venerate.

Free Priests: None.
Ideal: Unity.
Ethos: Strength through unity.
Principles: Only by gathering together, and by combining the best talents of the group, can we succeed. Trust your foes to be jealous of your accomplishments. The gods of the Pantheon are the only true gods. All other so-called deities are common creations, and their followers must be enlightened. Excessive actions may be excused by excessive circumstances.

The Faith: Unlike worshippers elsewhere, Pantheists do not attend ceremonies tailored only to one god. Instead, Pantheist mosques are similar to open mosques found elsewhere; religious services reflect the variety among the worshippers who are welcomed. There is one key difference, however. Only the five deities of the Pantheon may be venerated in a Pantheist mosque. No other mosques are permitted within the cities of the League of the Pantheon; those which manage to exist are small as well as secret. The Pantheist church is a united body, devoted to the well-being of all its worshippers. The church works closely with the local rulers of the Pantheist cities to ensure that the needy are cared for, the hungry are fed, and the sick are healed. Pantheist followers are loyal and enthusiastic about their combined faith. Non-Pantheist priests who worship one of the deities of the Pantheon are regarded with tolerance and general interest. They are cousins hailing from outside the Pantheon, welcomed as members of related churches. Even a Pantheist believes that a priest of Kor is still a priest of Kor – even a somewhat misguided Korite from Afyal. Nonetheless, Pantheists would prefer to sway that cousin to a more like mind. Ironically, a Pantheist may not receive the same welcome when traveling to a sister church outside the Pantheist cities. As a group, Pantheists are regarded with suspicion, particularly in the Pearl Cities. If the gods themselves have any precise opinion as to whose views are correct, they have kept it to themselves.

Local Gods

There are more local, or common, gods than there are cities in the Land of Fate. Some are tied to a particular holy site or idol, some are venerated by a particular tribe or community, and some have but a handful of followers. Many of these individual faiths are served by kahins, who may venerate different gods in the forms of icons. The following are covered below:
Bala of the Tidings, the kahins, the Temple of Ten Thousand Gods, and Vataqatal the Warrior-Slave.

Bala of the Tidings

Also called Bala of Ill Tidings, this common god of music was openly beloved in Mahabba, long ago. When Pantheists took control of the city, her worshippers were forced to continue their faith in secret. Bala has been depicted as a middle-aged woman, dressed modestly but colourfully, playing a zither. So wonderful is her music that the genies come to dance for her, and the other gods pause from their work at the hint of a song. Such are the legends.
Symbol: The zither.
Major Mosques: None.
Pantheon: No.
Hierarchy: 10 P, 40 E, 50 M. No special ability.
Free Priests: Mystics. All gain singing as a bonus proficiency (expending no slots).
Ideal: Music.
Ethos: Song lifts the spirit to goodness.
Principles: The voice was made to sing, and the mind to create praise for all things. Bring news to the unenlightened and joy to the suffering. Speak freely and openly among friends. Strike against those who seek to silence our tongues (moralists).
The Faith: The Pantheists have attempted to stamp out the Balanite faction in Mahabba for years. As a result, the faith has spread to several other cities. At least one fellowship of Balanite holy slayers has formed as a result of Pantheist persecution. The holy slayers are dedicated to removing the oppressive yoke of Pantheist rule. Bala of the Tidings has become Bala of Ill Tidings playing a dirge for those who attempt to crush her followers. Outside the Pantheist League, a priest of Bala may worship at an open mosque just like any other priest. Within the cities of the Pantheon, Balanites do not profess their faith unless they are sure of the company they’re keeping. Meetings and worship are quiet, hidden affairs. Speak freely among friends is a greeting by which Balanites can recognize one another, but they also have other, more secret codes.


Kahins are idol priests. (Their kit is introduced in the Arabian Adventures rulebook.) They believe that divinity is found in all things, and that by worshipping a certain item, place, or even a common god, they may tap and understand the mystical power of the universe. Their faith is ancient, predating most other religions in the Land of Fate.
Symbol: Six downward arrows in an arc.

Major Mosques: None. Holy sites are scattered throughout the Land of Fate.
Pantheon: No.
Hierarchy: None.
Free Priests: Kahins. No special ability.
Ideal: The universe.
Ethos: Divinity is found in all things.
Principles: There is a great scheme, a master work that encompasses men and women, their creations, the gods, the genies, the world, and even Fate. This scheme is continually changing, like a tapestry becoming ever larger and more complex. Practice moderation in all things, say the kahins, and strive to achieve a balance. Accept that which you have been given. Play your role in life.
The Faith: While kahins believe in a greater scheme, they do not feel it is necessarily ordered. The future is forming, but it is not set. All actions of the present are taken into account to produce a balance. The future cannot be foretold and therefore must be as yet unrevealed. Whatever will happen will happen. Kahins are Free Priests, so they are not bound to an organized church hierarchy. Most are independent wanderers, preferring the wilderness to city life. They do share a kinship, however, and each would willingly come to the aid of another. At high levels, some kahins join together as teachers who impart their wisdom to the young. Their organization is still loose, however. All kahins believe in a divine, overriding force-a force which is the fabric of the universe itself. Its energy permeates the land. The kahins’ means of tapping that energy vary. Most individuals worship particular idols, local gods, or holy sites. These things are conduits to the divine force in all things. Idol priests are well versed in the ways of Zakhara’s gods, and many serve as mediators between groups. In general, they council acceptance of differences rather than attempts to convert others. Their nomadic lifestyle and broad knowledge make them ideal go-betweens for desert tribes, some of whom believe in various enlightened gods (such as Haku), and some of whom believe in local deities and forces.

Temple of Ten Thousand Gods

The Temple of Ten Thousand Gods is an oddity among the enlightened faiths. While its members recognize the established gods such as Kor and Najm, they also recognize any deity, believing all gods to be aspects of the same divine power. In other words, the many deities, known and forgotten, are but different faces of the same divinity. Some moralists declare that the Temple of the Ten Thousand Gods is no more than a philosophy, and not a true religion. But priests of the Ten Thousand gain spells in the same fashion as other priests of their class or kit. Someone, or something, must be listening to their prayers.
Symbol: A nautilus shell.
Major Mosques: None.
Pantheon: No.
Ordered Priests: 80 R 15 E, 5 M. All gain religion as a free proficiency (without expending slots).
Free Priests: Mystics. All gain religion as a free proficiency (without expending slots).
Ideal: Acceptance.
Ethos: All deities are facets of the same divine force.
Principles: The gods are aspects of a greater holy power. Men and women, elves, half-elves, dwarves, and other creatures all these mortal beings mirror the diversity of that divine power. All are touched by the same holy radiance. Accept your brothers and sisters. Think well of them and treat them kindly, for they, like you, are divine.
The Faith: Followers of the Ten Thousand tend to be quick-witted, cunning, and pragmatic (the faith has the largest number of pragmatist priests of any church). They are often humorous to the point of being sarcastic, and sly to the point of deviousness. It is sometimes hard to discern whether they are telling the truth or whether they are merely toying with someone. Members of this popular faith tend to be wanderers, curious by nature. While kahins frequent the wilderness, priests of the Ten Thousand usually travel from town to town. As a result, there are few organized mosques for the Ten Thousand. (Those which do exist are, of course, open mosques.) Rather than locating a mosque of the Ten Thousand, it’s a small matter for the faithful to worship at another recognized mosque, or to accept the hospitality of a more organized religion. Priests of the Ten Thousand are essentially jacks of all trades (or all gods). They can debate theology with priests of Kor as easily as they can advise priests of Selan, for priests of the Ten Thousand worship both gods and more. Priests who venerate a single god treat members of the Ten Thousand as an interesting diversion in secular life. Some outsiders believe such a broad-minded cleric can bring new light to their own faiths by crossing over the lines between religions. Others view priests of the Ten Thousand as a chattering group of agitators and headache-makers who seek to ridicule the existent gods. In the Pantheist League, followers of the Ten Thousand are outlawed. While these outlaws frequently visit the cities of the Pantheon, they are almost impossible to catch, since they freely worship the Pantheon gods. Outlaws who are wise simply blend in with the Pantheist crowd.

Vataqatal the Warrior-Slave

Also called Master of the Battlefield, this common god represents duty and strife. He is worshipped in the far north of Zakhara, in regions that border upon barbarian lands. Vataqatal’s description matches that of barbarian war-gods. He is portrayed as a stronghewn figure in flowing robes. Beneath them he wears blood-stained lamellar. He carries a great scimitar in one hand. His face is veiled, revealing only his red, glowing eyes. Vataqatal is said to stride onto the battlefield, looking for opponents so that he can test their abilities and spirit.
Symbol: A red-bladed sword.
Major Mosques: Liham, Qudra.
Pantheon: No.
Hierarchy: 10 P, 50 E, 40 M. No special abilities.
Free Priests: Mystics. No special abilities.
Ideal: War, duty.
Ethos: Growth by conflict.
Principles: Attain true spiritual peace through testing one’s abilities against another. Thinkers may debate, but warriors speak with the strength of their swords and their hearts. Duty stands above all.
The Faith: Vataqatal’s followers acknowledge that their god has a lesser standing than Zakhara’s other enlightened gods. This is in keeping with his dual nature-that of a slave and servant, inferior in status, yet stronger in his sense of purpose and will. Those qualities enable him to effectively serve and protect the weak. Vataqatal is most popular among mamluks, farisan, and paladins – warriors who understand the value of duty, and who live to aid others (in one degree
or another). The greatest temple to Vataqatal is located in Qudra, the City of Power. It is the Mosque of Blood, erected by mamluks who used hewn red sandstone and then coated the walls with henna. Smaller shrines are found among the Free Cities, ,where the mamluk orders are powerful. But none of these shrines compares in size and grandeur to the Mosque of Blood.

Savage Gods

Major and local gods share a common origin in the legends of Zakhara, but there are also beings strange to these civilized lands, whose worshippers have never heard of the Law of the Loregiver, and who do not recognize that law or even the existence of other gods. These strange deities come from a number of areas, mostly from the borders of the civilized world. They have no organized mosques, and their clerics (mortals foolish enough to follow them) are usually considered outland priests. Only a few of the many savage (or heathen) gods are described below.

Forgotten Gods

The great river empires of Nog and Kadar worshipped their own deities, allegedly through foul and inhuman rites. Crumbling edifices and statues erected in honour of those gods still litter the Ruined Kingdoms. While little is remembered about these deities, the following have been identified:
• Kiga, the Predator, who commanded a pride of female were-leopards.
• Lotha, a human-headed spider venerated by evil elves who were burned alive for their sins.
• Migal, also called the Mentor of the Gods in some writings. He had a horde of winged assassins to enforce his orders.
• Shajar, an obese, hippo-headed god of the river.
• His mate, Raggara, who appears as a crocodileheaded woman with bat wings.

Gods of the Crowded Sea

Many islands in the Crowded Sea have been isolated for decades or centuries. In these exotic climes, strange and mysterious gods have arisen. Some are monsters. Others are heroes raised to mythic proportions. And some are truly gods of a type that has not been encountered since the first genie pledged service to the first sha’ir. Tales from these distant and savage lands include:
• The Drummer, who has no form but travels through the air when his shamans beat great drums made from hollow logs. When summoned by his worshippers, the Drummer can pass through the bodies of his enemies, gnawing the flesh off an unbeliever’s body.
• Kar’r’rga, a giant with the head of a horseshoe crab, who is said to live in the deep inlet of an uncharted island. The natives, it is said, give offerings to this immortal creature. In turn, the giant protects their villages from all who attempt to sail into the bay and enslave his worshippers.
• The Lost One, who is said to be an outcast from the land of Afyal itself. Statuettes of this being portrayed as a great elephant-headed humanoid with a long, flowing mane-are still found upon that island kingdom. When discovered, they are destroyed by the church of Selan (Afyal’s prevailing enlightened faith). The Lost One has no name, having abandoned it when he fled Afyal under the assault of priests of the enlightened gods, who were supported by genies. Since then, the Lost One has allegedly confined himself to some island or underwater shoal, where he lurks, brooding and awaiting his return to his homeland.
• Pag, a nature god who provides rich bounty. Pag is said to inhabit every tree and flower on the chain of islands over which he reigns. For this reason, his worshippers eat only fish and seaweed, and let berries rot on the vine.

Wild Gods

The gods who are deemed wild by civilized Zakharans watch over the Hill Tribes and others who live at Zakhara’s highest altitudes, far above the hot desert floor. These deities are brutal, beastlike creatures who are not native to the Land of Fate. Once, it is said, they ruled the heavens above far-away lands. As a punishment for misdeeds, they were cast out, seeking refuge in the outlands of Zakhara. There are as many wild gods as there are tribes and savage peoples, but two of them typify their breed:
• The Beast is worshipped by some Hill Tribes south of the Free Cities. He is said to be a drooling, snarling half-man with the eyes and fangs of a cat. According to legend, he stalks the hills looking for lost and stolen children, so that he may grant them the freedom of death. Shamans of the Beast can whip their people into a fever-pitch to assault the coastlands, resulting in a bloodbath for both sides.
• The Faceless God watches over the evil and malicious yak-men, who dwell in the north-eastern corner of Zakhara. These yak-headed humanoids are more deadly than any savage tribe, for they know the arts and magics of civilization, but they wield them without joy, wisdom, or tolerance. They have but one deity-a great giant. Like the yak-men, the god wears heavy, sweeping robes. It, too, has the head of a yak, with great, curved horns. Unlike its followers, however, the god has no face.

Cold Gods of the Elements

Akadi of Air, Grumbar of Earth, Istishia of Water, Kossuth of Fire – these are the cold gods of the elements. Their power is great. Mortals who have seen the phenomenal strength of an elemental monolith know that such a creation is but a slight shadow of the deity born of the same plane. Despite their power, few creatures look to the cold gods for magic or guidance. These deities are dubbed cold because of their attitudes toward men and other inferior beings: indifference or outright hostility. The genies, who are themselves creatures of the elements, recognize the existence of the cold gods. As a rule, however, not even the genies would worship them. Occasionally a mad priest or mystic may come under a cold god’s spell, but few would set out to do so. And more than one evil mage belonging to the Brotherhood of the True Flame has sought to tame one of these dark gods. Such mages have only courted their own destruction.

Ajami Gods

Some faiths are brought to Zakhara through traders and explorers from far-off lands. To Zakharans, such foreign gods – the ajami gods – are invariably vain and selfish. Their temples are restrictive, for each demands worship in a shrine erected solely in his or her name. Nearly all grant power through their symbols, and allow themselves to be flattered with graphic portrayals at every turn. Often they are carried like a burden by the travellers who worship them. While
these gods are many (too many, say Zakharans), only a few deserve mention here:
• Gond is revered by traders from the distant land of Lantan, who evoke his name while conducting business. Such traders occasionally make stops in the Free Cities. Gond makes devices, a poor occupation for a deity, but perhaps there was nothing else left by the time he reached the table of the gods. His symbol is a knobby wheel. It is used to mark devices that are potentially dangerous.
• The Golden God Helam, also called Helam the Watcher, serves as a guardian of the northern barbarian. Helam is the barbarian’s shield, much as the great city of Qudra shields the civilized world against a barbarian invasion. In fact, it was at Qudra’s door that Zakharans first gained their understanding of Helam. Not long ago, a group of ajami adventurers landed near the City of Power and attempted to claim all ground they spied in the name of their homeland. A few marids and djinn quickly discouraged such attitudes, and the survivors are said to be serving the mamluks as slaves.
• Clang exemplifies the strange nature of distant northerners. Like Gond, he makes things, meaning that northerners have two gods doing the same thing. But Clang is a dwarf god and Gond is a human god, which to a northerner makes all the sense in the world. Tales of Clang have been handed down in the families of dwarves for generations, usually diminishing in the process.

Many other gods from lands to the north and east have drifted through the Land of Fate, carried by the word of the faithful. Most left not so much as a ripple. A few ajamis felt the need to convert others to the right way of thinking. Some even managed to create small religious communities that survived as long as the outlanders themselves. More often, the would-be missionaries aroused an angry, insulted mob by implying that their ajami faith was superior merely because it was theirs.


Badlands: Sharp and forbidding, badlands are laced with steep ravines
and deeply eroded canyons that are still being carved by erratic downpours.
Barchan Dune: See dune, barchan.
Barren: A rocky terrain not dominated by any particular land feature, a
barren is arid and rough. Some light vegetation may exist, but it is typically
insufficient for grazing large herds.
Battle Site: The symbol of crossed swords marks the site of a great war or
an important conflict, some recent, others long past. Ruined steel and old
skeletons often litter such areas, half-buried by the sand.
Brushland: Found primarily in the valleys of the Ruined Kingdoms, this
land is overgrown with brush and vines.
Caravan Trail: See trails and roads.
City: Afyal, Hiyal, Huzuz, and Qudra are great cities-those of impressive
size or importance. Each is represented by a large oval symbol. Other cities
are represented by smaller ovals. (DM’s Note: Cities count as “cultivated land” for movement purposes.)
Cliff/Plateau: In the desert, this symbol (a
fringelike series of short vertical lines) indicates a
sharp transition between lowland and plateau. Where
the main elevation line intersects the cliff symbol, the
cliff represents a steep rise of 2,500 feet. (The average
elevation of Zakhara’s desert plateaus is 2,500 feet.)
Cultivated Land: Zakhara’s agriculture is
concentrated around its major settlements; this feature
is uncommon elsewhere.
Desert, Open: Desert lands showing no other
terrain feature on the maps are open tracts of sandy
desert. In general, such areas contain shifting sands
and a variety of small dunes.

The deserts of Zakhara are vast and foreboding. Temperatures
frequently climb above 130 degrees during summer days and
plummet below freezing during winter nights. No other region is as
cruel, yet to the desert nomads (Al-Badia), no other place is as divine. Many
a wanderer has remarked on the perfection of a cool desert morning: a
cloudless sky, glittering dunes, and no other creature to be seen for miles,
except perhaps a fleeting gazelle.
Most of the Zakharan desert is not dunes, however, but an expanse of dry,
rocky plains. Here and there are fields of volcanic debris-great, broken,
black expanses. Trees, where they exist, are stunted and brown. (Tamarisk is
the most common wood.) Thorny shrubs and grasslands dot the region,
turning green during winter and spring, then concealing their life behind a
brown, crackling facade. In the height of summer, a few hardy succulents and
sprigs of milkweed still grow on the dunes, but the gravel plains are barren.
Zakhara has two great deserts: the High Desert and the Haunted Lands.
Both are situated on plateaus that rise to an average elevation of 2,500 feet.
Between them lie the waters of the Golden Gulf, Suq Bay, and the Al-Tariq
Channel (The Passage). At the heart of these deserts, however, virtually
no permanent water source exists-just a handful of precious wells and oases.
A lack of water is not the only danger the desert holds. Mirages entice the
unwary travelers toward waters of sheer illusion. Sandstorms scour men and
beasts and bury encampments. Winter storms fill the sky with lightning,
flood the hollows, and rip tents from moorings. Worst of all, perhaps, are the
black clouds of locusts that strip a pasture bare to the last blade of grass
before the nomads and their herds arrive.
Dune, Barchan: This is a crescent-shaped dune,
typically located at the desert’s edge. The “horns” of
the crescent point away from the prevailing wind.
When this terrain symbol appears on a map, it means
that barchan dunes are predominant in the area, with
each of them arching in the direction shown.
Dune, Seif: A seif (or “sword dune”) is the largest
of all dune types. Like a whaleback dune, it runs
parallel to the wind. Unlike a whaleback, however, a
seif has a sharp peak, is very rugged, and can extend for
hundreds of miles. The space between two seifs is
virtually swept clean of sand and forms a rocky path
known as a gassi.
Dune, Star: A twisted mass of rising sand that
resembles a starfish, this type of dune is created in an
area that has no predominant wind. Most star dunes lie
at the very heart of a deep desert or at its edge.
Dune, Whaleback: This great, curve-backed dune
resembles an enormous beached whale. The dune can
measure up to 100 feet high and two miles from end to
end. Its form runs parallel to the prevailing wind.
Elevation: Only one major elevation line appears
on the Land of Fate maps. It marks the location at
which the elevation reaches approximately 2,500 feet.
(It does not necessarily depict a cliff-line. Cliffs are
represented by a fringelike series of short parallel
lines.) Future maps may also depict the precise
elevation of major mountains, using the “+” symbol
noted on the map key (for example, “+5,500 feet”).
Most of the lesser mountain ranges in Zakhara rise
no higher than 1,000 feet above the desert floor
around them. In game play, all are low mountain

terrain. This includes the small ranges scattered across
the plateau of the High Desert, though their actual
elevation may be up to 3,500 feet. The Tumbling
Mountains of southern Zakhara reach heights between
5,000 and 6,000 feet; they’re medium mountains. The
World Pillars have peaks exceeding 15,000 feet;
they’re high mountains.
Fort: See qal’at.
Gassi: This is a rocky, barren trough between two
seifs, or sword dunes (see dune, seif).

Grassland, Seasonal: This grassland is barren most of
the year. During seasonal rains, however, the apparent
wasteland comes alive with wildflowers and grasses.
Haram: A haram is a holy site. It may be a place of
religious miracles or legendary heroics, or it may be the
site of past triumphs over the unenlightened. Some
harams are venerated by kahins and certain mystic
groups, who view harams as places of power. Travelers
may often find a hospice at a haram, especially if the
haram is near (or is itself) a popular stopping point.
Zakhara’s most significant haram is the Golden
Mosque in Huzuz, which contains the House of the
Loregiver. All enlightened Al-Hadhar (city-dwellers)
strive to visit this mosque during their lifetimes, and so
do many Al-Badia (nomads).
Another famous haram is the Desert Mosque,
located at an oasis midway between the city of Qudra
and the Genies’ Anvil. The Desert Mosque is
frequented by enlightened nomads, caravan drivers,
and other travelers.
Harrat: A harrat is an area of volcanic debris. It
may contain the weathered remains of old lava flows
or the sharp, newly laid materials of recent eruptions.
In either case, travel may be difficult.
Hogback: See plateau and hogback.
Intermittent River: See river.
Jungle or Forest, Deep: These lands are the heart
of the jungle, thick and oppressive.
Jungle or Forest, Outlying: Once a region of scrub
or cultivated ground, land marked “outlying forest” or
“outlying jungle” is land that the forests or jungles are
reclaiming. (The terrain is considered light jungle or
medium forest in game play.)
Kavir: A kavir is a crusty salt flat that lies directly
over a sea of black mud, making travel treacherous The salt has crystallized and routinely expands and

contracts, giving the surface the appearance of a
glacier. The slimy mud between the cracks may appear
shallow, but it rarely is, being more deadly than the
moorlands of the far-off FORGOTTEN REALMS®
campaign setting.
In Zakhara, the greatest kavir lies just west of the
World Pillar Mountains, home of the savage yak-men.
The kavir and merciful Fate have helped isolate yakmen from the rest of Zakhara.
Lake, Alkaline: This is an evaporating, mineralladen body of water, usually surrounded by salt flats,
without an outlet. The water is bitter and undrinkable
unless it is magically enhanced.
Zakhara’s most famous alkaline lake is in the High
Desert, at the bottom of a valley called the Pit of the
Ghuls. The surface of this lake lies more than 1,000
feet below sea level. Though its edges are shallow, the
bottom quickly drops toward the center, and the
ultimate depth of the lake is unknown. The lake is a
source of valuable minerals, including bromides and
table salt, but its resources are still untapped. Let the
name be a warning to all who might wander here: this
valley is teeming with ghuls and restless spirits.
Lake, Seasonal: A seasonal lake may be nothing
more than a salt flat during the dry season. During the
rainy season, it may provide drinkable water and
briefly give rise to vegetation.
Mangrove Swamp: This swamp represents a
mazelike forest of trees whose roots are partially
submerged (usually below dark, almost opaque water).
Such swamps may spread to create new “islands”
beyond the land from which they originated. Travel by
boat or mount is restricted to cleared channels.
Individuals moving through a mangrove swamp on
foot must climb from bole to bole.
Mountain: See elevation.
Oasis: An oasis is a place where natural surface
water exists in a permanent waterhole. Vegetation
surrounding an oasis is lush, and plants that could not
otherwise survive in the desert thrive there.
Open Desert: See desert, open.
Plateau and Hogback: Much of the High Desert is
located atop a great plateau, which averages 2,500 feet
in elevation. In addition, the desert is broken by rocky
hogbacks— prominent ridges with steeply sloping sides,
named for their resemblance to the back of a wild pig.
Qal’at: The word qal’at is a generic term representing
all forts, fortifications, and castles found in the Land of
Fate. Many qal’ats have been abandoned (usually when
the water supply dried up or crops failed). These are
marked “unoccupied” on the maps, though some are still
the homes of bandits or foul creatures. Other qal’ats are
marked “occupied.” Such forts serve as outposts for the
military forces of nearby cities.
Quicksand: In the desert, quicksand is a fine,
powdery sand that gathers in depressions, posing a
hazard to those who may stumble into it unaware. The
quicksand symbol on the poster maps denotes areas in
which travelers have a 20 percent chance of finding
quicksand. An unencumbered person can float on
quicksand, provided he or she remains calm (animals
will panic and therefore sink). An encumbered or
panicked individual sinks beneath the sand in ld4
rounds. (DM’s Note: Moving cautiously through a
quicksand area costs twice the usual amount of
movement points.)
River: Zakhara has two types of rivers: regular and
intermittent. Regular rivers follow an unbroken path
over the land’s surface. They are always flowing,
though the water levels may vary between seasons. In
contrast, intermittent rivers disappear and reappear
from the surface, flowing underground for a stretch; or
they may disappear entirely as they flow into an
alluvial fan or outcropping. Intermittent rivers are not
wadis (see below).
Ruin: Only well-known ruins have been depicted
on the poster maps. Most have been picked over by
generations of explorers, but they still may contain a
few secrets of the deep past.
Salt Flat: A salt flat is an evaporated lake that
forms a level, smooth, featureless expanse. Travel
across this flat terrain is easy, except when the midday
temperatures are extreme.
Salt/Mud Flat: See kavir.
Sorcerer’s Tower: Maps with a scale of 30 miles per
inch include a guide to towers that are known to be
the homes (or hideouts) of sorcerers. This is not meant
as a “visitor’s guide”-quite the opposite. The symbols
have been provided to warn the unsuspecting traveler
away from the area. Most sorcerers value their privacy
highly, and they have set up shop in the wilderness to be free of meddlesome individuals

Stony Field: This rough wasteland is dominated by
boulders that have been smoothed by wind and water.
Travel here can be treacherous.
Town: A circular symbol depicts a town. These
appear only on maps with scales of 30 or fewer miles to
the inch.
Trails and Roads: Outside the cities and civilized
areas, Zakhara has no roads to speak of-no great
highways or bridges. The desert is very unforgiving of
paved or permanent roads. More common are simple
paths, trod by travelers and caravans.
Trails marked on the poster maps are little more
than dirt paths kept clear by frequent use. These run
along most coastlines, but they are not usually found in
sandy terrain. Wadis can serve as trails in the desert,
however, and may be treated as such. (DM’s Note:
Trails halve movement costs for those who travel
them, but they have no effect in farmland.)
Caravan trails cross the deep wastes of the High
Desert and Haunted Lands, marking the passage of
men and mounts. The trails are extremely wide,
measuring up to two miles across. That’s because the
route is good, but the travel may be easier on clear
sand. Caravan trails reduce the movement in their
area by -1 (to a minimum of 1 point).
Volcanic Debris: See harrat.
Wadi: This is a seasonal watercourse that floods but
once or twice a year, and is otherwise dry and solid.
Many caravan trails follow the course of wadis, since
the ground is relatively firm and even. (DM’s Note:
While a wadi serves as a trail for those following its
path, it counts as a ravine for those crossing it, and as a
river when flooded.)
Well: Water from a well must be brought up from
below ground to the surface, usually by a mechanism
turned by human hands or by beasts of burden. Only
major wells are marked on the Land of Fate maps. In
general, a number of smaller wells may be scattered in
the vicinity. The locations of such wells are often
secret, known only to the nomads (or creatures) who
have claimed them as their own.
Well, Artesian: Here water from underground rises
to the surface to create a natural fountain. A few of the
Pearl Cities are blessed with artesian wells, but they
are rare elsewhere. Like oases, artesian wells may host
a rich diversity of vegetation.

Coastal Cliff: This is forbidding territory at best.
Craft can not beach here, and attempts to do so
result in running aground on the rocks
Coral Reefs: This area off Zakhara’s coast is thick
with coral. Travelers must make a seaworthiness check
at -20 percent to avoid striking the reef. Reefs are host
a variety of sea life, from fish to monsters.
Deep Ocean: The seafloor lies more than 100
feet below the surface. Whenever seaworthiness
checks are called for due to weather, travelers in
deep ocean suffer a -10 percent penalty (in addition
to all other modifiers). For this reason, most craft
hug the shore.
Lagoon: A coastal water marked as a lagoon on the
poster maps is a warm, shallow pool. It is usually calm,
for lagoons are sheltered by a reef, a sandbar, or the
arm of an island. The bottom of a lagoon is typically
Rocky Coast: Submerged rocks and outcroppings
dominate this coastline. Large craft (those with a
seaworthiness rating) cannot moor here.
Rocky Shoal: This area is dominated by rocky
outcroppings. Travelers must make a normal
seaworthiness check to avoid hitting a rock.
Sand Bank: This area is dominated by sandbars.
Travelers must make a seaworthiness check to avoid
beaching their craft, but their ships take no damage:
Craft that have been beached must be hauled off or
left to float free with the next high tide.
Sandy Coast: Sand beaches and dunes dominate
this coast. All craft can be moored here. At low
tide, large craft can be beached and cleaned of
Seaweed: In coastal waters, this is a spot where
seaweed thrives, becoming a thick mass that can snag
ships. (DM’s Note: Seaweed cuts movement rates in
Shallow Ocean: The seafloor lies 100 or fewer feet
below the surface.

Important Sites

Bahr al-Ajami: From Al-Qadim Golden Voyages. Could be the Golden Gulf or the seas around Kara-Tur

Bahr al-Kibar: From Al-Qadim Golden Voyages. Could be the sea between Halruaa, Dambrath, etc and Zakhara

The Crowded Sea (Bahr al-Izdiham): Well-travelled bahriyin have seen the tubby scows of the northerners. With their nailed sides, these ships would be easily broken on the many reefs and shoals of the Crowded Sea. The barges of the distant eastern lands, with their flat bottoms and awkward sails, would never survive the fierce genie inspired storms that rage without warning across the oceans. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

Located at the bottom of the ocean, which is a mere 400 feet deep at this point, is a vast deposit of lodestone – powerful magnetic rock. As the ship passes over this region, every item with ferrous content is irresistibly drawn toward the bottom

Isles of the Crab (Jazayir al-Sartan): The most grim of the Four Pearl Strands found on the Crowded Sea, Jazayir al-Sartan (Isles of the Crab) is visited only by the most daring traders. It is an archipelago legendary for death and hideous terrors. Tales from the waterfronts tell of barbaric islanders and wild beasts, giant monsters, and well-guarded treasures, yet no one claims to have actually ever been there.

For Zakharans used to the shores of the Golden Gulf and the blasted wastelands of the interior, Sartan looks a veritable lush paradise. The islands of the chain are thickly covered with coconut palms, thorny brush, grasses, and flowers, but they are far from tropical. Sharp rocks break the tree-studded landscape, mixing barren wastes with open palm forests.
For all its palms, rain is not generous throughout Sartan. Most of it falls during the long monsoon season. During this time, the islands can be awash in rain. The monsoons are preceded and followed by a short, mild season. The rains relent to brief daily showers, almost invariably coming in the early afternoon. Opposite the time of the great monsoons is the dry season. Rains are intermittent and the sun blazes down, shrivelling much of the land. The palm fronds wither and grasses brown.
Wildlife on the islands is limited in both size and scope. The two most significant normal animals are goats and wild boars. Beyond this, the islands sport a wide range of birds, lizards, insects, rats, and small monkeys.

The islands of al-Sartan are divided into four major groups – Jazirat al-Sadaf (Island of the Shell); Jazayir al-Alfar (Islands of the Claws), of which there are a northern and southern chain; and Jazirat al-Qraidis (Shrimp Island). Sadaf and Alfar earned their names once mariners had sailed round the outward shores sufficiently to guess their shapes. Qraidis, known for its fishing banks populated with shrimp, was named long ago by the sailors who went there to cast their nets. It is the only island of the archipelago that has seen any Zakharan settlement, although even then only on the seaward side.
Between the arms of the crab lies Batihat al-Saji (Lagoon of the Brave), dotted with the Uyun al-Sartan (Eyes of the Crab). These waters are shunned by the fishermen of Qraidis, who tell stories of a hideous monster that lurks in the waters. (Al-Qadim GOlden Voyages)

Jazirat al-Qraidis: This large island is dominated by a mountain ridge that rises abruptly from the sea. So steep are the slopes that, in some areas, scraggly vegetation can barely cling to rocky cliffs that plunge precipitously straight into the sea. Three jagged peaks, 9,000 feet above sea level, loom over all else on the island. The narrow strand of beach around the island is thickly covered with plantains, coconut, and oil palms, cultivated in many places by the islanders. The steep slopes of the mountains, home to wandering flocks of wild goats, are jagged outcroppings of dry rock and twisted scrub.
Qraidis is the only island of the Sartan chain settled by Zakharans, and then only along the seaward side. The coast is strung with a line of scattered settlements looking out toward the Crowded Sea. The villagers earn a poor living by trading in plantains, dried shrimp, and the products of the versatile coconut palm – coconut husk ropes, lumber, oil, and copra cake (dried coconut meat). Reddish palm oil is shipped in jars to the kitchens of the Pearl Cities. Goats are raised
for milk, although passing ships often welcome the chance to obtain fresh goat meat.

Sams Bandar: Ruler: Najib al-Samsi, Amil al-Qraidis, (h/m/F/a/5) is a gaunt, balding man so heavily weathered that his age is impossible to determine. Titular ruler of the entire island, Najib spends most of his time commanding a modest fishing boat on the shrimp beds.
The Court: Once a week or so Najib convenes his court to gossip and settle any disputes. Those in attendance are his fellow captains and friends, particularly Qadi Yezeed (d/m/P/p/3) who, though infuriatingly slow of speech, knows intimately the bloodlines and feuds of all the islanders.
Population: 103, although it might be 104 or 102 soon, depending on whether Juleidah gives birth before or after Old Nura finally dies.
Distinguishing Features of Populace or Town: The reek of shrimp drying in the sun, mingled with the equally strong odour of palm oil, permeates the houses, clothes, and even the breath of the villagers.
Major Products: Dried shrimp, fermented shrimp paste, copra, dried plantains, coconut husk rope, coconut lumber, palm oil.
Armed Forces: 15 militiamen in times of need.
Other Important Individuals: Shipwrecked characters and captains with a ship in need of repair would do well to look up Safana the ship-wright. This middle-aged widow learned her trade helping her late husband build fishing boats. After his death, she was the only one with the skills to maintain the Qraidis fishing fleet. Over the years she has become quite adept at her work, and today her shipbuilding proficiency is 17 on smaller vessels, 14 when working with booms or greater.
Noted Features of the Town: Even though it is the largest village on Qraidis, Sams Bandar is a shabby collection of houses. From the sea, the village appears to tumble down the mountainside in a ramshackle cascade of mud-brick and wood. Running the length of the beach are frames covered with drying shrimp and coconut meat. A rickety wharf thrusts out into the water and there is a small, usually deserted bazaar of tattered awnings near the beach. Indeed, the entire village seems deserted most of the time since the villagers are either at sea or working the small palm plantations that surround the village.
For all its small size, Sams Bandar can outfit adventurers with most necessary supplies, although only goat-hide armour is available.
Local Lore and Legends: The fishermen of Sams Bandar know remarkably little about the Sartan chain. What little they do know, they speak of with great respect. They are particularly fearful of the Batihat al-Saji on the opposite side of the island. No local will steer his boat into those waters. Just what frightens them is not clear since the majority who venture into the lagoon are never seen again. Some claim an evil mage throws flaming death from the mountaintops or that a giant beneath the surface pulls ships to their doom. Others deny both of these and instead claim to have seen a great red-shelled crab rise out of the waves but, of course, only at a great distance. Whatever haunts the lagoon, if anything, has been sufficient to keep the villagers at bay.

Jazayir al-Alfar: These two island chains are distinguished as the north and south claws, or sometimes as the greater and lesser. The islands that form the arms are uncharted by Zakharan sailors. The channels here are a treacherous maze of hidden reefs, mangrove swamps, and contrary currents. Without a knowledgeable pilot (who only can be hired from the not-always-friendly locals), any ship venturing into the channels runs a 50% risk of running aground each day. If the sailors are lucky, they only hit a sandbar. Woe to those who drive their ship onto the reefs. If grounding does occur, assume the ship has struck whatever type of sunken hazard is nearest to it on the map.
The treacherous waters aside, the al-Alfar are populated by natives. The northern chain is the home of the Tarangu, a halfling tribe; the southern, the dark-skinned, human Haifami. Both are fierce and warlike, rumoured to be cannibals. The latter is not true – that honour is reserved for the malevolent Gurum of Sadaf. It is true, however, that the Tarangu and Haifami have no love of strangers, particularly those speaking Midani.
Both tribes are the frequent target of slavers since neither is counted among the Enlightened. They have learned not to welcome the great ships that appear off their shores. They are barely hospitable to each other either, although the two tribes have been known to unite from time to time against the evil Gurum.
The Tarangu: Ruler: Indeema (hg/f/P/k/12), a fat, heavily tanned and freckled matron, is respected by the tribe for her patience and fair-handedness. She is a priest of the crab god that lives in the lagoon, and she supervises sacrifices made to appease the beast.
Description: The halflings of the north live a seminomadic life and primarily live off the fruits of land. They are not great fishermen. Their canoes are small and simple, just sufficient to carry them from island to island. They tend widely scattered groves of coconut palms and plantains, supplementing their diet with land crabs, snails, fish, and the occasional wild boar.
Although all of one tribe, the Tarangu spread themselves throughout their chain as a number of family groups. A family has 2d6 x 10 members and tends a series of traditional groves that range over several islands. Groves can be identified by a carved marker pole set somewhere nearby. Each family uses a different carving style.
The marker pole also indicates the presence of the family’s settlement. The Tarangu do not build permanent houses on the ground, but establish finely wrought nests, roofed and floored with palm fronds, in the tops of a cluster of specially planted palms.
Coconut husk ropes connect the palms, allowing the halflings to easily get around without having to touch ground. (Although halflings are normally considered earth-dwellers, underground warrens are not practical here. Monsoons would flood any warrens, and rats and vermin would infest the holes. Thus, the halflings have adjusted their culture to life in the palms.)
Approximately once a month, the Tarangu make offerings to Kar’r’rga, the great crab god. The offerings are left along the lagoon-side beaches during the new moon and consist of coconut meat, plantains, other fruits, wild boar, and captives, if they have any. These offerings are eaten by the giant crabs of the lagoon, along with nibbling rats and birds. In rare instances, Kar’r’rga itself will come ashore to take an offering. Still, Kar’r’rga occasionally takes tribe members, perhaps as punishment for some crime or sin.
Armed Forces: The Tarangu do not seek out battle, but fight valiantly at the least threat. To defend themselves, up to 75% of a family can take up arms, including young children. For raiding (mostly against the Gurum), no more than 30% of the family the ablest males and females will take part. They battle equally well on ground or among the palm fronds.
Their preferred weapons are copper-tipped spears, clubs, and hurled coconuts when in the trees. (A blow from a coconut does damage equal to a club.)
Relations with PCs: The Tarangu are not apt to welcome the player characters with open arms, given the tribe’s past experiences with Zakharan slavers. Should the player characters land on their shores, the first defense is to disappear into the coconut forest. Thus, the characters will find marker poles, obviously-tended clusters of coconuts and plantains, and strange tree-top villages, but all will be deserted. If the characters threaten to damage either groves or nests, the Tarangu will attack and then fade into the palms. They repeat this process until their enemy is destroyed or retreats.
The characters can make friendly or forced contact. If the PCs cause no damage to Tarangu property and leave gifts at the base of a marker pole, the Tarangu will eventually come out to trade. Short of trading, the PCs might capture, heal, and release a Tarangu warrior. After this, characters can deal with the Tarangu Forced contact only comes about if the characters capture a tribe member and hold him or her hostage. The tribe will fearfully open negotiations at this point,
remaining well armed and dealing from a distance.
The Haifami: Ruler: Chief Shafiya (h/m/F/mb/8) is a tall, young man of great vigour and good looks. Third son of the previous headman, he has risen to power through undeniable displays of bravery and martial skill.
Court: The Chief convenes no regular court, informally ruling over the Haifami from his Great House. On those occasions when momentous decisions are made, Shafiya is sometimes assisted (or opposed) by the six village headmen under his rule.
Description: The Haifami are a large and powerful tribe, spread between a half-dozen small villages on the same number of islands. The Haifami are black people, tall and lean. They typically dress in a single long cloth made of coconut fibre, although white cotton sarongs are popular with those who can get them from traders. Men and women alike wear a long cloth wrapped around their brows and heads as protection against the heat. Important individuals embellish this wrap with brilliant decorations – dyed cloth, feathers, coral, and pierced silver coins.
The villages range from 50 to 200 souls (5d4 x 10). Each is a permanent site, located along the coast, usually at a small bay. The houses are built of palm lumber and fronds, raised slightly off the ground to protect from rats, snakes, and spiders. Mud-brick tiles, glazed green and blue, decorate the sides. Each village is enclosed by a stockade built from square-hewn coconut trunks. Outside the stockade are fields for a few vegetable crops and pens for the large flocks the Haifami raise.
The main source of Haifami food and trade comes from the sea. Using sturdy outrigger canoes, the Haifami are not afraid to venture far out onto the ocean or into the Batihat al-Saji. Such trips are always made with a village sea-mage. Sea-mages are always women, members of a special tribal society. Although the Haifami fish the lagoon, even they will not set foot on the Uyun al-Sartan. Those islands are sacred to the servants of the crab god Kar’r’rga.
Armed Forces: Under Chief Shafiya’s guidance, each village keeps a ready store of weapons. All men from age twelve and up are drilled in their use. Thus, each village can raise a militia equal to 50% of the total village population. A network of watchtowers and alarms allows any militia to fully assemble after one turn. Each member of the militia is armed with a set of spears and a fancifully-decorated shield carved from a giant crab shell.
In addition to defending the village, the chief can call on the tribe to assemble its forces under his personal command. In this way, Shafiya can raise 2d100•x 10 warriors. These warriors are backed by magic. One kahin or sea mage (level 1d4+1) backs up every twenty militia. As noted before, these spellcasters are always women.
Relations with PCs: Victims of Zakharan slave raids, the Haifami rely on strength to protect themselves. Any ship spotted off their coast causes immediate alarm. The militia is called out and the vessel is shadowed by armed men as long as it remains in sight. Any party that comes ashore is challenged on the beach. If raiders get ashore, Chief Shafiya directs constant attacks against the strangers. If all these fail and the stockades do not hold, the Haifami take to their boats and seek shelter on the lagoon. All the kahin then pray for the intercession of their god.
Chief Shafiya recognizes the value of trade, thus giving the PCs a chance to deal peacefully with the tribe. If the group comes ashore in a nonthreatening manner (probably just a small party), the Haifami will warily meet with the group. Relations will be cool at best until the player characters prove themselves and their intentions.

Uyun al-Sartan: These small strings of islands are unsettled by sentient life, but they are far from uninhabited. This rocky string of islets is the hatchery of the many giant crabs that infest the lagoon. To the few Zakharans brave enough to venture here, the crabs are known as the children of Sartan. Landing on these islands would be foolhardy, for the hatchlings are hungry and carnivorous. Within one turn of landing, every person ashore will be swarmed by tens, even hundreds, of small hatchlings. These little beasts, far too many to kill, cause 6d6 points of damage each round. A ring of
fire will hold them at bay, otherwise two new hatchlings rush in to fill the space left by any the characters kill.
Jazirat al-Sadaf: Sadaf is the largest island of the Sartan chain – and the most forbidding. The inhabitants of the rest of the Sartan chain only speak ill of Sadaf. It is the home of monsters, cannibals, and worse. No native or settler from Qraidis is willing to go there, and most will advise the player characters to avoid it.
The great island is bounded on nearly every side by forbidding cliffs and craggy flows of volcanic rock. The ocean relentlessly batters these with swelling waves. The hidden rocks and rough ocean present a danger to any ship circumnavigating the isle, since there are no knowledgeable pilots to pick the safest way. For each hour the ship sails within 1 mile of Sadaf’s shore, it risks a 70% chance of striking a submerged rock (resulting in a seaworthiness check). If the ship breaks up, characters must swim through the stormy sea and then along the shore until they find a place to drag themselves ashore. This effort leaves all characters completely exhausted, unable to do more until they rest.
Once ashore, the characters are no safer, for Sadaf is the home to many dangerous creatures. Monsters abound on the island. Fortunately for the other tribes of the Sartan islands, the rugged shoreline and fierce seas prevent most of these creatures from reaching other shores.
Like Qraidis, Sadaf is marked by towering peaks with steep slopes where scraggly vegetation clings. As such, the island provides a mean existence for the only sentient tribe group living there, the Gurum. This savage tribe is one of the main reasons the Sartan islands have gained such an evil reputation.
The Gurum: Ruler: Yaaz Gut-Breaker is a powerfully-built ogre mage with polished azure skin and fiery red eyes. The formidable Yaaz is not as cultured as those ogre magi sometimes encountered closer to civilization, but what he lacks in urbanity he makes up for in sheer savagery.
Court: The heads of the four families who advise Yaaz do so at their own risk, for any dissent is quelled by brutal death. This has resulted in a superficial approval of all his actions. In secret, each family head searches for the means to eliminate Yaaz and seize his position.
Description: The Gurum are a tribe of mixed ogres and ogre magi who live in scattered dwellings all over the island. Each small settlement – typically a small cave – holds a single family which may have twenty or more members. Although all one tribe, each family is independent and often at odds with all others. The most frequent cause of trouble are disputes over hunting territory, usually resulting in bloody skirmishes and long-standing feuds.
The Gurum are divided into three castes. Foremost are the powerful but few ogre magi. Long ago, these powerful creatures arrived on Sadaf to find it already populated by ogres. With their greater abilities, the ogre magi quickly conquered and dominated the normal ogres. Today, four small families can still claim pure ogre mage heritage. Most chiefs of the Gurum are drawn from these four families.
Second in the caste structure are the pure ogres. These are old families that never interbred with the invading ogre magi. Nonetheless, they have benefitted from contact and are generally more educated and advanced than wild ogres. The old families remember the old traditions and are responsible for the sacrifices made to the crab god Kar’r’rga of the Batihat al-Saji. They surround these sacrifices with mysteries to protect their position.
The least of all are the ogrima, a mixture of ogre and ogre mage blood. Both ogres and ogre magi consider them tainted, either physically weak or spiritually corrupt. They are, however, the majority, growing more numerous every day. The ogrima refuse to accept their station and grow ever more restless under the domination of the other two castes.
The Gurum are fierce raiders of their neighbours and build good-sized, if crude, boats for this purpose. In these raids, they seek slaves and meat for the cooking pots. The Tarangu, who lack a strong defence, are their preferred target. Enemies killed in battle are taken back to be eaten; those captured serve as slaves until they too are eaten by the brutal Gurum.
Armed Forces: The Gurum have rarely fought as a single force – which is good for their neighbours. Instead, each family can field 2d6 warriors to raid or defend. Of any family encountered, roll 1d10 to determine family type: 1-2 ogre magi, 3-5 ogre, 6-10 ogrima. Except for ogre mage families, all warriors will be the same race. In ogre mage families, 1d3 of the warriors will be ogre magi. All others will be ogrima under their command.
Ogre magi wear padded cotton robes and fight with fine swords. Ogrima wear no armour and typically use two-handed swords with one hand. Ogre families rely on traditional weapons – a thick club or copper-tipped spear.
Relations with PCs: Unless the player characters are superior in strength and firepower – and make a brutally clear display of their power – the Gurum will attempt to enslave them. Even if the PCs can dissuade any immediate attacks, they must be wary against sneak attacks and treachery. Dealing with the Gurum is not safe or advisable.

Rumours and Lore: Mus, leader of the ogre magi of the Gurum, is able to exert some control over Kar’r’rga, perhaps he has made a pact with the creature. Mus is able to summon and command the sartani through the use of magical pieces of shell gifted from Kar’r’rga.

Batihat al-Saji: At the heart of the Sartan chain is the Batihat al-Saji, the source of so much veneration, fear, and mystery. The gently waving blue waters are deceptively calm, concealing terrifying death below. More than one bold rubban has sailed his boom into the lagoon in search of pearls rumored to line its bottom, never to sail out again.
Anyone who sails out upon the waters of the lagoon will marvel at the richness of the warm sea beneath them. The sea teems with firm-fleshed fish, brilliant walls of coral, gaping giant clams, and the scuttling forms of giant crabs. The barnacle-crusted hulks of sunken ships are barely visible in the shallow areas.
At the deepest part of the lagoon is a shimmering pearl of great size. This is a vortex to Kar’r’rga’s plane, Pandemonium. Fortunately for the unwary, the vortex can only be opened by the proper command. Through this vortex, Kar’r’rga sometimes projects his avatar, who rises out of the lagoon in a form familiar to the Tarangu, Gurum, and Haifamia horseshoe crab-headed giant of terrifying power. The avatar normally appears on moonless nights to collect the offerings gathered by his servants, but he will rise to sink seamen who have not paid him proper obeisance or who endanger his servants. Consequently, great treasures now lie sunken on the lagoon bottom.

The Strait of Sorrow: Nada al-Hazan is a chain of relatively well explored and moderately settled islands that rise in bare rocky prominences above the sea. Well known to mariners of the Crowded Sea, the chain is sometimes known as the Silver Road since it is an important way station of the sea lanes. Although composed of a hundred uncharted rocks and islets, the chain is normally divided into the Masud Jazayir (Fortunate Isles), of which Bandar al-Sa’adat is the centre. The islands continue down the chain, gradually becoming less and less settled. Closest to civilization is al-Zabdiyat (the Bowl), now claimed by a mysterious sha’ir. Then comes Tawil (Long), a place noted only for its bleakness. Dirs (Jaw-tooth) and al-Sayyad (The Hunter) are famed for falcons and sea bred horses, respectively. Finally, there is the dreaded Jazirat al-Gawwar (Island of the Whirlpool), shunned by every mariner and pirate familiar with these waters. Here ferocious currents have given the whole chain its name as the Strait of Sorrows. Entire ships are said to have been sucked to the bottom, never to surface again.

The unfathomable vagaries of current and wind have rendered most of Nada al-Hazan dry and treeless. The majority of the islets are covered with thorny scrub and straw-like grasses; only the largest islands are capable of supporting sparsely wooded vales primarily of tamarisk, date, and coconut. These line the infrequent streams that wash down the jagged slopes. A few waterways end in silt-laden mangrove swamps, slowly thrusting themselves farther into the sea.

Birds and pestiferous insects, giant and small, are the most common creatures of the islands. It is claimed that a pair of rocs nest at the southern tip of the chain, occasionally snatching crewmen from passing ships.
However, it is the small creatures who dominate the land. The types vary widely from island to island. On al-Zabdiyat, goats that escaped from pirate villages have nearly deforested the entire isle. Parts of the Masud Jaziyar are noted for an abundance of rats and spiders. Serpents, ranging from small and harmless to great poisonous monsters, are found on Tawil, along with a species of rock ape unique to the island. These primates live in colonies on the steep slopes, well away from the giant ophidians. As noted before, Jazirat al-Sayyad is the source of a particularly fine wild horse, sea-bred with the stallions of the foam, while the falcons of Dirs are worthy gifts to the sultans of the Golden Gulf.

Masud Jazayir: Clustered west of the northern tip of the Nada al-Hazan chain is a group of islands known as the Masud Jazayir. The islands are the farthest outpost of Zakharan colonization in the Crowded Sea. The isles are low and rolling, marked by small streams from natural springs that wend down fertile vales. With such temptations, the Masud Jazayir has quickly become the vanguard of Zakharan expansion. Small coastal settlements dot these islands. With careful irrigation, the islands yield a wide variety of produce from orchard and field almonds, sesame seeds, dates, sugar cane, grapes, pomegranates, citrons, figs, and cotton. Goats, sheep, and a few cattle are raised for local use.
The settlements have not brought with them all the features of Zakharan life, however. Many of the islanders descend from outlaws, rebels, and malcontents seeking to escape the relatively rigid law of the mainland city-states. The concept of the Law as presented by the Loregiver is respected in theory. Ask a man who owns his land and he will freely answer, The Grand Caliph, for truth – and if he comes I will give it to him. Thus the Law is flexed and bent to suit individual strains of the islanders.
Actions barely tolerated in other lands – moneylending, blood feuds, excessive speech, public displays of celebration, even occasional honest piracy (i.e., not against your neighbours or anyone who can make trouble)are somewhat the norm for the islanders.
Moralist priests find the Masudi to be abhorrent degenerates or rebellious troublemakers; the Masudi consider those of the Pantheon, in particular, to be pinch-faced toads.
Bandar al-Sa’adat: Ruler: Ra’is Mahmud Ben Aziz (he/m/T/mr/11) rules al-Sa’adat with a relaxed yet unquestioned grip. Given the morality of the region, the qadi’s decisions are often convenient – some would say corrupt – but Mahmud knows just who to keep happy in the town. Mahmud would deny any wrong-doing on his part it’s just that he approaches justice as another business, selling the law to those who can pay.
The Court: Since Mahmud has many interests, he cannot attend to every little matter of town administration. He has created several posts to handle the day-to-day affairs. Naturally, he would only entrust these to family members. There is his brother Karim Ben Aziz (he/m/F/a/8), captain of the marketplace guard (whose guardsmen are all sons, nephews, and cousins of the Aziz); his widowed daughter Halima (he/f/T/mr/5), town bookkeeper; and Aasim (e/m/W/sh/7), his brother-in-law, who inspects all cargoes at the wharf. Like Mahmud, these officials view their posts as a business meant to enrich the Aziz family.
Population: An average of 800, although this number varies greatly with the coming and going of the trading seasons.

Distinguishing Features of the Populace: Two features mark an outlander from the citizens of al-Sa’adat. The obvious one is speech. The Masudi have a passionate love of words and, thus, never approach any conversation directly and to the point. How are you? becomes Hail, my brother, on this gracious day that Fate has created and sent to entertain us, including myself, least of all beings, while surely you must be richer than I to be out on this fine day? Haggling for them is more than just business – it is a chance to show off one’s artistic skill.
The second distinguishing feature, while not as overt, is a trait of personality. For the Masudi of al-Sa’adat, all life is business and all business is pleasure. Making deals is more than a way of making money – it is a reason for existence. Furthermore, a sharp deal or a hard bargain can earn a man fame and reputation. The Masudi judge according to the cleverness of one’s haggling.
Major Products: Trade goods of all types.
Armed Forces: The citizens can be mustered into an effective militia of 100 soldiers. They are practiced at defending the port from sporadic pirate raids. The militia is backed by a cadre of assorted wizards (lvl 3-6), eight in all, who work for the merchants of al-Sa’adat and the eight priests of the small temples in town.

Coffee House of Buri: Buried behind a rickety line of heaped fruit, tucked next to Usamah the Carpet Dealer’s stall, is the Coffee House of Buri. The small establishment is carpeted and furnished with worn cushions. A number of customers are enjoying small cups of heavily-spiced and sweetened coffee, as is the style in Bandar al-Sa’adat.
Other Important Individuals: Al-Sa’adat is a way point for many travellers and adventurers of the Crowded Sea. Thus, there is always a good chance that someone of fame or notoriety may be temporarily residing here. Of permanent and semi-permanent residents, the most infamous is certainly Ghunayya of the Rose Petal (h/f/F/c/12), the pirate queen. Captain of a ship sometimes called the Djinni’s Flower, sometimes the Floating Rose, Ghunayya is a semi-legitimate privateer who does not raid indiscriminately. Instead, she sells her skills as a pirate to cities and nations throughout Zakhara. Armed with the appropriate letters of marque, she raids the ships of her employers’ rivals, dumps the cargoes in al-Sa’adat’s marketplace, and keeps 50% of the profits. The rest is magically shipped out to her employers. By wisely spreading her wealth throughout the town, she has become a respectable citizen – at least so long as she is successful.
Noted Features of the Town: It is said of al-Sa’adat, like it is said of many places, that here is a market where a man can buy anything. The claim is more true here than most; gems, gold, silver, and magical pass through the port’s stalls. Is there nothing that cannot be bought or sold by the merchants of al-Sa’adat? One local legend maintains that here the gods themselves come in disguise to trade for the souls of the living. Another maintains that Anwar the Fool bought the secret of Shulifan, the Caliphate of Gold, from a merchant here. Was he swindled? Perhaps, but no one has ever seen Anwar begging in the streets since.
Bandar al-Sa’adat, the Crossroad of Trade, is the centre of the ungoverned Masud frontier and the meeting point of two major trade routes. From the east come ships bearing the iron and silver of Harab, and spices from Bariya; from the south come exotic treasures from wild and unexplored lands. It is to Bandar al-Sa’adat, the gateway to civilized lands, that the sailors converge to refit and celebrate. Because of this, the large and powerful merchants of the Pearl Cities and great Huzuz herself have set up shop here to buy up the choicest items brought in the ships. Each major merchant house maintains its own caravansary (a combination traveller’s inn and warehouse) for visiting captains. The caravansaries are stout, well-protected compounds, a scattering of small forts rising above the rest of al-Sa’adat.
The towns shoreline is lined with piers, wharfs, and quays. Those owned by the town are fine, solid affairs of stone, with cranes and porters in abundance. Berthing fees, paid to the Ben Aziz, are high: 2-5% of the cargoes’ value. Farther to the edges the piers become rickety affairs, and the berthing fees drop accordingly. Typically a ship owner will deal with the same merchant house from year to year, berthing with regularity at the same pier unless angered or lured away by offers of better deals. Once sold, the goods are carried back by ships that sail only from al-Sa’adat to the Golden Gulf and back again, a practice known as trading the short road among the merchant community.
Indeed, many of the captains who ply the Crowded Sea never once carry their cargoes to the Golden Gulf. Instead, they off-load all their goods in al-Sa’adat. Although most of a ship’s goods are hauled to the caravansary, a few items always manage to reach the Swallows’ Bazaar (named after the birds that roost under the nearby eaves). As a result, the town has a thriving marketplace. Though Bandar al-Sa’adat has the appearance of an outlying backwater, this façade conceals vast fortunes of both legal and questionable means.
Al-Zabdiyat: Visible from the shores of the Masuds are the very tips of the mountains that form the walls of the ill-famed al-Zabdiyat, a pair of crescent islands at the mouth of the Strait of Woe. These islands are rarely visited by honest folk, and they are usually avoided by sailors, for the round, storm-free lagoon is now the abode of Khadiga (h/f/W/sh/15) and her pet, Shipwrecker, a giant sea snake. Since the two arrived several decades ago, the few other islanders have fled or disappeared.
The sha’ir, through inhuman messengers, has made it clear that no one is to disturb her islands. At first a few ships ignored the ban; they were never seen again. Since then there have been more than a few strange sinkings and attacks against vessels which stray too close to her shores.
Of the few reports heard from those who have visited the island and survived, all concur upon a single point. According to survivors, a great domed and towered mausoleum of the clearest crystal rises from the very centre of the great lagoon. Why is Khadiga building it? No one knows for sure, but some say it is for herself. Others suggest it is meant to honour a dead lover.
If this gossip weren’t enough, other mysteries seem to swirl around the reclusive Khadiga. Each year, near the Festival of Fasting, strangers arrive in Bandar al-Sa’adat. Sometimes they are human, sometimes they are clearly not. With each visit, the discreetly asked questions are always the same: Has anyone seen the woman of al-Zabdiyat? Have they bought anything from her? Has she asked for this curious item or these rare goods? The strangers are no more open than Khadiga herself, sometimes artfully, sometimes threateningly, turning aside all questions. It is a mystery within a mystery.
Dirs: When in the Samardaz the poet Kalil said, How the falcon speaks in words of flight . . . , surely he was writing of the regal birds of Dirs. The rocky slopes of this island have been the nesting home of an exceptional breed of hunting bird for centuries. The falcons of Dirs have been presented to sultans and caliphs, even shipped as gifts to the kings beyond the Land of Fate.
Given the wonder and value of the birds, it would be reasonable to expect Dirs to be well settled – or at least with one small thriving village of falconers and merchants to capture, train, and sell the birds. This is not the case. Dirs is a desolate wasteland, a bitter tangle of cliffs and rock, sun-burnt grasses and twisted trees. No civilized settlement is found here, not even a single hut, for the falcons of Dirs have special protectors.
Dirs is the domain of maskhi (see the Monstrous Compendium: AL-QADIMTM appendix), a shape-shifting race that calls Dirs their home. These creatures want little to do with the outside world. Since the maskhi can assume falcon form, they are highly distrustful of falconers. Indeed, there are tales of bird-catchers snaring their prey only to discover an angry and armed little maskhi in their nets. Rather than continually endure snares and the resultant humiliation (and possible death), the maskhi find it much simpler to keep Dirs free of strangers.
Landing on Dirs, a group is likely to be faced by an emissary of the maskhi. In accordance with the traditions of their people, the emissary courteously warns the strangers from staying on Dirs. If the characters remain, they are subject to incessant ambushes by concealed maskhi.
It is not impossible to befriend the maskhi, though it is hard. If the strangers show both courage and gentleness (refusing to fight an ambush or voluntarily surrendering to the emissary), they can gradually befriend these strange people. Only those who have gained the trust of the maskhi can hope to snare the falcons, since the little people otherwise assume bird form and warn off the intended prey.
In Bandar al-Sa’adat there is one family of birdcatchers whom the maskhi do trust – the Ben Nabil. Once a year the grandfather, father, and son of the family make the voyage to Dirs, snare a few birds, and bring them back for training. Because their few catches bring in vast sums, the Ben Nabil jealously guard their secrets, particularly of their relations with the maskhi. The Ben Nabil are not above sabotaging the efforts of others to reach Dirs.
Jazirat al-Sayyad: This long island (sometimes called the Sea Anvil for its shape and jagged shores) is considered deadly water by most mariners. Wild currents curl around its cliff lined shore and threaten to sweep ships into any of a thousand rocks that wait like jagged teeth beneath the waves. Huge stormy swells threaten to sweep ships against the grey cliffs. Most of the shoreline is a jagged wall with few safe places to land. The beaches can only be reached by threading the treacherous maze of rocks and steering close to the grey cliff walls.
Nonetheless, there are mariners who will try, for there is valuable trade to be had. Jazirat al-Sayyad is the source of the magnificent Sayyad bloodline of horses. The breed is noted for its speed, grace, and fiery temperament. Sayyads are referred to as sea-bred, for it is rumoured that the island’s mares are mated to magical stallions that rise out of the ocean foam. It is also said that only a true horseman can master a full-blooded Sayyad. Since there are more horse riders than true horsemen, Sayyads are normally sold on the mainland to sire other Zakharan horses. Half -, even quarter – Sayyads, retain much of the fire and fine qualities of their sires.
The horses of Sayyad are watched over by most unusual herdsmen – tasked herdsmen genies. These servants were bound long ago by Alim Zangi, a great sha’ir, when he cunningly tricked them into accepting his service. At first the genies railed against Zangi and their task, but over the centuries they have come to accept and even enjoy watching over their charges. They take great pride in the fame the Sayyad breed has achieved. Thus, they have become quite particular about who buys their steeds (for they do sell them). Buying even a single stallion (for that is all they sell at a time) from the genies of al-Sayyad is much more complicated than just simply haggling for a fair price.
The genies care nothing for money, but demand extraordinary payments. Such costs are meant to test the character of the buyer. Suitable buyers must demonstrate honesty, compassion, wisdom, knowledge of horses, and nobility. The genies assume that those who possess these qualities will treat their precious stallions well.
The purchase deed, since it invariably involves a task, changes with each transaction. Even those who have dealt with the genies before must undergo the same critical examination each time they return. The herdsmen have no faith in the reliability of humans they are too short-lived to be dependable. (Not that herdsmen genies are the image of reliability.)
Payments demanded by the genies include the answers to riddles, winning near-impossible races, or punishing previous buyers who have mistreated their precious purchases. The genies consider every Sayyad stallion theirs, even those they have sold. More than once they have demanded and received a great price only to tell the buyer he can claim the horse of so-and-so who is no longer worthy to own it. (Of course, it is then up to the new purchaser to collect his goods.)
Jazirat al-Gawwar: At the very southern end of Nada al-Hazan lies the treacherous namesake of the entire island chain, a ferocious and unpredictable whirlpool several leagues across. It is known by many names – al-Gawwar, al-Hazan, the Marid’s Mouth, the Isle of Sadness, and Maut Ahmar. If it had a fixed position, the maelstrom would be an easily avoided threat, but this whirlpool seems to operate with a malevolent intelligence. It has been sighted in scores of different locations, sometimes churning at the centre of a fierce storm, other times unexpectedly shattering the surface of a placid sea. The only thing certain (and that only reasonably so) is that the Marid’s Mouth always appears close to the shoreline of Jazirat al-Gawwar. Thus, this island is named after its evil companion.
Not surprisingly, Jazirat al-Gawwar remains a mysterious and unexplored place – at least by ship. It is said that wizards travel there by means of their sorcerous powers. If this were true (which it is not), they have been very tight-lipped about what they have found. There are many rumours about the island, but characters cannot gain any solid facts before arriving.
Rumours the characters can learn are:
• Jazirat al-Gawwar is just an uninhabited rock. After all, who could ever live there?
• The whole island is overrun by evil creatures, but the gods created the Marid’s Mouth to keep the beasts on their island.
• The island is a secret fortress of the Brotherhood of the True Flame.
• The island is the stronghold of the Wordless Ones, a sect of holy slayers.
• It is the last outpost of the lost wicked kingdoms of Nog and Kadar. Their dark wizards summon up the whirlpool to destroy all who venture too close to their land.
• Jazirat al-Gawwar was granted to the genies by the First Caliph in exchange for the secrets of the ship so that we could rule the seas as we rule the land.
Of course, none of these rumours is completely true. Jazirat is inhabited, but not by monsters, evil wizards, dead civilizations, or genies. It is the home of the Forbidden, a people cursed by the gods to remain in isolation. Thus they have been hidden for four centuries, all memory of who they once erased with time from the records of the civilized world.
Their story is thus: Once there was a city, Takabbar. It was small but rich and urbane, and the people were proud of their accomplishments. Alas, but it was their blasphemy to deny the existence of the True Gods – indeed the existence of any gods when the word of the Loregiver was brought to them.
Incensed by the pride of these humans, the True Gods hurled their small city skyward. They allowed it finally to come to rest here, and then set al-Gawwar off-shore to prevent any from ever discovering the Forbidden. It was then decreed that, since the citizens of Takabbar had denied the gods, thereafter would the gods ever deny them. All knowledge and signs of the greater powers were wiped from the minds of the Takabbari. Only one god, Hakiyah, the Voice of Mercy, took pity on them. She decreed that their isolation would end on the day they understood the True Sorrow. As a sign of her promise, she set the Tower of the Test on the hill at the centre of town. There the imprisoned of Takabbar could face the challenge that would release them from the prison of Jazirat al-Gawwar.

Since that time centuries ago, the citizens of Takabbar have endured the isolation by turning inward. They are now a gentle and philosophical people, connoisseurs of the melancholy they have sought all their lives to perfect. It is only by discovering the True Sorrow, the one chosen by the gods, that they can once more rejoin life. Unfortunately, they have not yet discovered the secret of the True Sorrow.
For Takabbar, sadness is not just an emotion – it is the course of life. Where the desert rider knows a hundred different forms of sand, from the sand that swirls into the soft-sided dune to old and hard-packed sand that hints at water beneath, so a Takabbari can distinguish the fine shades of sorrow. There is the sadness felt when the sun sets, declaring another day of failure, and the sorrow of a meal past and lost to the memory of the palate.
Were any to reach the city, they would find Takabbar a curious place – a lingering outpost of another age. The citizens speak in the stilted ways of Old Midani, the splendid buildings have not changed in four hundred years, and the people wear clothes out of fashion for centuries. Deprived of contact with the outside world, Takabbar has stagnated – a museum of what once was.
Even more curious, although perhaps not immediately noticeable, is Takabbar’s complete lack of religion. There are no priests, no temples, nor any understanding of these. It is knowledge that has been banished from their minds – and that is the True Sorrow – not to know the beauty of the Loregiver.

Teleport and other traveling spells do not function. Flying carpets lose power about 1 mile from shore and can barely glide back to the beach. Planar travel is possible, but the astral and ethereal realms surrounding this island are guarded by hideous monsters. No direct aid will be forthcoming from the gods. The Takabbari have no ships, shipwrights, or sailors. Even should the characters build a vessel, they will be caught within the waters of al-Gawwar and regurgitated once more onto the shore.

Tower of the Test: At the very centre of the city Takabbar stands a four-sided tower surrounded by a wall with four gates. The tower does not appear inhabited, and no one is ever seen coming or going from it. Beyond the walls, is a sweet-scented and cool garden surrounding the tower. Four doors, one on each side, open into the tower. Aside from the birds and insects, nothing is found in the garden.

A genie greets all and asks “What is the True Sorrow?”. The correct answer is “Not to know the beauty of the Loregiver and the Law.” Those who answer correctly will be teleported to anywhere they can picture. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

Djinni’s Claw: Barely explored and completely unsettled, this chain has few individually named islands. On most charts it is only divided into three sections – Yadd al-Djinni (Hand of the Djinni), al-Zira (the Arm), and Kalb Bahriy Sahr (Shark Reef). Sometimes a single island, Kaff (Palm), is separated from the others. All others remain unnamed if they appear at all on any charts.

South of the arid belt that shapes most of Zakhara, the Djinni’s Claws are islands of thick jungle and abundant wildlife. Exotic plants such as giant tree ferns, orchids of rampant bloom, ironwood, sealing wax palms, strangling fig vines, draping mosses, and charnel scented fungi thrive in the hot, constant wetness. The slopes of the mountainous islands are heavily forested.
Trees reach to heights of one hundred feet or more, forming a thick canopy overhead. The forest floor lies in perpetual shadow where little by little strange and sometimes gigantic fungi grow. Not all plant life here is benign. Some has adapted to prey on the animals of the islands. Animal life is no less diverse, with thousands of different species and sizes running free. Insects, lizards, and colourful birds proliferate. Larger animals exist, too, ranging from leopards to the dreaded su-monsters.

Kaff: Northernmost of the islands in the Djinni’s Claws, Kaff is considered the safest island of the group by mariners who ply these waters. Several breaks through the reef surrounding the island are charted, as are a few stream mouths that can be used as anchorages from storms. Ships in need of repair, provisions, fresh water, and shelter put in to Kaff from time to time.
The island, however, has an evil reputation that has nothing to do with the terrors associated with the rest of the chain. Those features that make it an attractive provisioning point, combined with its location at the edge of the southern trade route, have also made Kaff a haven for pirates. The pirates of Kaff are not like the established and semi-civilized corsairs of the north, for the Kaffia are ghouls, lacedons, and ghasts. In old and leaking ships, these grim pirates raid passing vessels, seeking not treasures but bodies for their carrion desires. Most often they strike by night, but these undead have no aversion to daylight. During the day they lurk in the dense forest along the sea’s edge, preying on sailors gathering supplies. When encountered during daylight hours, they conceal their awful visages beneath dark hoods.
Yadd al-Djinni: The tangled sweep of rocks and jungle that forms Yadd al-Djinni – so named for the finger-like islands that spread from the shores of Kaff – are unexplored and uninhabited, at least by ins. The slender isles that make up Yadd al-Djinni are inhabited by a host of grim and dread monsters. Rare elsewhere, su-monsters abound here. It is said that the unclean dead, perhaps an off-shoot of the pirates of Kaff, also lurk in the dark jungles of Yadd al-Djinni.
Al-Zira: The large islands of the Arm are the most feared of all the Djinni’s Claws chain, for they are believed to be the property of the marids. There are several legends to support this claim, the most popular being the Tale of Iftikhar.

Whether the tale is true or not, the islands of al-Zira are notorious for the genies found there. Marids dwell in the warm, colourful coral lagoons. Djinni soar with the brilliant birds of the forest. Dao survey the world from craggy mountain peaks. Only the efreet are absent from the islands, perhaps because it lacks the fiery pits needed for their comfort.
This is not to say that genies are common here; even at their most frequent, they are still rare. Rare or not, the genies still regard al-Zira as theirs. Ins who venture into the lagoons or ashore are subject to the whims of these powerful spirits. Courteously greeted and gifted, the genies may prove to be kind and generous hosts. Rudely offended, they become violent foes, and woe to the sha’ir who has imprisoned genies in the past, for he will find no forgiveness here!
Kalb Bahriy Sahr: The last notable feature of the Djinni’s Claws is the great reef that guards the south-eastern approach to the islands. Part reef and part a wild tangle of rocky islands, there are no accurate charts showing the passages and channels through the dangerous, submerged wall, nor are there any friendly natives to guide a ship through. Given that few sailors would dare the dangers of the Djinni’s Claws anyway, Shark Reef could easily be ignored were it not for the fierce storms that rise in the channel that lies off the reef. The surging waves and powerful winds swirl counter clockwise through the channel, breaking vessels against the jagged coral of Shark Reef.
The reef gains its name for reasons obvious to any who have sailed in sight of its surging breakers. Silvergray fins slice through the water near the islands and shoals – the waters are infested with sharks of all types and sizes. While they live on the thousands of fish that make their homes among the coral, the sharks of Kalb Bahriy Sahr will unhesitatingly attack any being foolish enough to swim in their water.

Steaming Isles: Unlike so many other islands throughout the Crowded Sea, with their romantic or prosaic names, their carefully charted coasts, and scattered settlements – all which give shape and form a place in man’s imagination – the Steaming Isles are void of any marker. To the outside world, the islands do not exist. They float unnamed and undescribed.
Still, the islands are not completely without epithet. They are known to those who live there. Farthest east is Nimr (Tiger). Moving west from there are Sunn (Swallow), Hayyat (Snake), Gazal (Gazelle), Baz (Hawk), and Jaqal (Jackal). Beyond these large islands are a number of small islands that have no names.
Southernmost of the four island chains, the Steaming Isles are not as hot or jungled as their neighbour, the Djinni’s Claws. Their slightly greater distance from the equator, combined with the cooling ocean current that flows along the southern rim of the islands, relieves the islands from the torrid heat of the sun. However, the islands are heavy with humidity. Thick fog settles over the land at night and persists through the morning, usually cleared by a mid-day rain.
The result is a sub-tropical rain forest. The islands are thickly covered with green; cedar, pine, teak, mahogany, walnut, coffee, and the like are found on the higher slopes, while the shores are covered with palms of betel, coconut, banana, and mangrove. Bamboo grows throughout. Were these islands settled, they would be an important supplier of wood for the nations of Zakhara.
Leaves and branches drip with moisture and moss. Mould, mildew, and fungi work to quickly spread rot. Characters quickly discover that their equipment needs constant attention. Wood, leather, paper, and food are particularly susceptible to mildew and rot, but even metal must be regularly oiled against the damaging effects of rust.
Of creatures, there are many, more varied than might be imagined. It seems as if every beast of the forest can be found here. Indeed this is true, for these islands are special, as explained below.
Another unique feature of the Steaming Isles is the complete lack of monsters. The only creatures that live here are natural animals, although these are exceptional enough. Any strange or fantastic creatures encountered are merely passing through.
In every tale there is some truth, and the stories told above are no exception – it is just that in some there is more truth than others. The tale of the jackal told how the animals gained a land for themselves and the knowledge to rule it. This was not fanciful imagining and the Steaming Isles are proof of that, for here nearly every animal is intelligent and can talk in clear and crisp Midani.
The Steaming Isles were given to the animals in some prehistoric age – theirs to rule. With it the animals were given the powers of speech and comprehension, although this capacity varies from creature to creature. Their kingdom models the finest of the Enlightened lands, and their society is organized according to the those actions encouraged and discouraged by the Law. As with ins society, there are those highly faithful to the law and those at its darker fringes.
At the same time, the animals are still animals. There is no change in their physical appearance or general habits. Tigers still pad about the jungle on all fours and hunt other animals for their food. The animals do not build palaces, wear clothes, or fashion weapons. There are no libraries filled with books written by monkeys. The history of their islands and the knowledge of the Law is passed by word from generation to generation. In addition, the sages of the City of the Faithful serve the animals as ulama and advisors in tricky matters of the Law.
As noted, the animals are organized along human lines, including castes and nobility. Each island is ruled by a shah of the same species as that island’s name. The five shahs are Shah Nimr (Tiger), Shah Sunn (Swallow), Shah Hayyat (Snake), Shah Gazal (Gazelle), and Shah Baz (Hawk). Ruling over all the animals is Padishah Jaqal (Jackal). (The jackals are held in great respect, for it was their ancestor who obtained the gifts of land and enlightenment.)
The animals of the Steaming Isles have modeled their society after that of gods, genies, and men – and yet they remain animals. They do not settle in towns, build houses, raise armies, or assess taxes. These are habits peculiar to the ins, foreign to the wild kingdom. What the animals have recreated are the trappings of majesty and the veneer of the Enlightened lands. Thus, the animals are ruled by shahs from feral diwans filled with savage courtiers and wiziers, harims fecund with orchids, and marqabs where beastly scholars debate fine points of the Law. Of course, without architecture, the diwan, harim, and marqab exist more as concepts than structures.
The diwan of each shah is a space outside his lair, den, or nest where the other animals congregate. By custom, no animal attacks another here, even if beyond the diwan they are hunter and prey. By equal custom, though, no animal may linger here unless invited by the shah. Breaking these customs is a Forbidden Action. In general, the animals are the very models of propriety at court.
At the diwan, the shah personally listens to the complaints and requests of his people according to the Law (which requires the leader be approachable by his people). To an outsider, the court business seems most fantastic. For example, a magpie may seek payment from the djinn for the damage her nest suffered in a wind storm, while Ra’is Monkey, speaking for his tribe, points out that the great baobab’s fruit is not yet ripe, so could the great shah speak with the tree and point out its error? Such requests are neither frivolous nor impossible for the shahs of the animals, however, for they possess insights to worlds beyond those of human sultans. Every complaint is heard with respect, and action is taken whenever possible.
Beyond the limits of the diwan, the animals are very much animals. Player characters may be stalked by a tiger or teased by monkeys in the branches. The beasts will not talk to the characters without reason, but once revealed, the PCs can converse freely. Ins of all types are viewed with great suspicion – only those of the City of the Faithful have gained any measure of trust from the animals.
Remarkable talking animals are not the only inhabitants of the Steaming Isles. One small settlement of ins can be found beyond the fog shrouded wall – the City of the Faithful. Herein can be found the core of truth to the Tale of Jamila the Virtuous, for this is the very city she and her alim husband founded.

Madinat al-Mumin: Ruler: Jaddat Jamila, Grandmother Jamila, (h/f/P/m/15) is a direct descendant of Jamila the Virtuous, co-founder of this colony. Perhaps seventy or eighty years old, Jaddat (as she is called by all) is a lean, withered woman with thin gray hair. She dresses in simple whites and blacks, spurning all adornment as vanity. Her only concession is a mahogany cane which she uses to get about. Although not a fighting-type priest, Jamila is far from incapable. Her wit is quick, her senses sharp, and her wisdom at its peak.
The Court: Madinat al-Mumin lacks an official court of any type. All citizens freely advise Jaddat. Her husband, Jadd Ala’i (h/m/W/sh/13), is her closest advisor. His advice is always cautious, for he fears rash action will imperil the purity of the citizens.
Population: Madinat al-Mumin has only 98 citizens of all ages.
Distinguishing Features of the Populace: By far and away, the most notable aspect of Madinat alMumin is their curious dialect. It is an ancient form of Midani, a language unchanged since the days of the First Caliph. Those first hearing this tongue must make a Wisdom check to recognize meaning, although repeated attempts can be made. (Clerics of the Faith gain a +1 to their check since the words are similar to the writings of ulama from the Time of Enlightenment.) Much of their conversation is laced with allusions and quotes from the Law. After a week characters become accustomed to the dialect and no longer need to make checks except, perhaps, for truly obscure topics.
The second noticeable feature of the populace is their dress. While simple, restrained, and not ostentatious, everyone seems to dress well in clean, crisp cotton. There are no ragged beggars, half-naked children, or richly attired merchants. No one, not even Jaddat Jamila, dresses above the rest.
Less immediately noticeable, but of greater impact, is the sincere piety of everyone living here. The people are not just respectful of the Law, they breathe the Law. The Loregiver’s words permeate every fibre of their existence. Fortunately, the citizens of Madinat al-Mumin do not demand the same piety of outsiders (since they have never had to deal with outsiders before). Instead, they look on those less devout with patronizing tolerance, flawed but trying the best they can. They seek to enlighten and correct error, but they will not enforce their will on others. The only exception is in the prevention of Forbidden Actions. Atheists, murderers, and the like are intolerable to the community.
Major Products: None, since the community neither imports nor exports goods. However, nearly everyone in the city is learned and many could put the greatest ulama to shame.
Armed Forces: None, although a simple militia of 28 men and women could be assembled. Should the community be hard pressed, the citizens can call upon Fate. Because of the unique nature of this community, their attempt automatically succeeds.
Other Important Individuals: Beyond Jadd and Jaddat, everyone in the city is treated as an equal. The only distinction of station exists between themselves and any outsiders (who are automatically of lower station). Great age confers more honour than youth, but this is a natural consequence. Other individuals include Samia (he/f/T/r/9), who knows the lineage of every person in town; Rashad (h/m/P/k/10), whom the animals trust; and Amsha bint Jamila (h/f/F/f/8), a master of the sword.
Noted Features of the Town: While city may seem too grand a name for the size of this settlement, Madinat al-Mumin is far from a simple rural backwater. Here there are no squalid shacks, rambling slums, or ill-tended outbuildings. Everything is gleaming white-washed walls and smooth, crisp lines. The few buildings here are works of marvellous architecture, the greatest being the palace that dominates the hill overlooking all. The workmanship is worthy of any palace artisan, far surpassing that of the standard village craftsman, and it would grace the grounds of any sultan’s domain.
As mentioned above, the few houses of the village are dominated by a vast palace, far larger than should ever be required for such a small community. It is the residence of Jadd and Jaddat, but even then only a small portion of it is in regular use. As the people are willing to explain, the palace was built when Madinat al-Mumin was founded by Jamila the Virtuous and her husband.
According to the tale, the djinni who brought them here, in order to gain revenge for the service he was forced to perform, arranged for the construction of the palace when commanded to raise a dwelling for the couple. While his mistress intended only a simple house (for that was all she needed), the djinni oversaw the building of the palace. The genie hoped to tempt the virtue of his masters and thus bring about their fall.
Jamila refused temptation, however, by only using the smallest portion of the great building, a tradition maintained to this day. The rest of the palace is empty – unfurnished and hollow – kept spotless by invisible genie servants. The animals of the isles can sometimes be found debating with hushed voices in the distant halls.
The History of Madinat al-Mumin: Characters familiar with the tale of Jamila the Virtuous and who suspect there is more to the story than just words are quite correct, for Madinat al-Mumin was founded by Jamila the Virtuous and her husband. However, two people do not a city make, nor even a small village like al-Mumin.
The islands were not deserted when the pair arrived, and that is where the rest of the people came from. Living here for untold eons before Jamila arrived were the descendants of settlers from Nog and Kadar. Were these the faithful followers of the god sent among mortals or merely settlers blown far off course? No one knows, for the records have been long lost.
Nonetheless, Jamila and her husband guided them to the true understanding of Enlightenment and the villagers have been faithful to the Law ever since. The reason for this great faith, according to the townspeople, is to protect the Law of the Loregiver from destruction. It is their sincere belief that so long as they faithfully adhere to the Law, it can never be forgotten in the Land of Fate. Should this village fail in its duty or be destroyed, the safety of the Law throughout all Zakhara is imperilled. It is a great burden that the villagers approach with great seriousness.
Although this may sound like a fanciful tale, it is not. Everything the citizens have explained is quite true – Madinat al-Mumin is the cosmological linchpin of the Law. Through reasons only sensed but not comprehended by mortals, the Law of the Loregiver is guaranteed to survive for as long as these villagers carefully uphold it. However, if the villagers fail or disappear from the face of the world, the Law does not instantly collapse. It will continue on, perhaps forever, but there is no assurance. Heresies could spread like sand before the blowing wind, corrupting and perverting the Law. Conquering nations could sweep it from the land. Sin and evil could end it all.

Diwan of the Shah: The diwan of the shah is one that suits that particular animal. Shah Sunn holds court in a brilliant glade, her throne a nest in a flame-of-the-forest tree. Shah Nimr’s is a bamboo thicket where the tiger sprawls in the hot afternoon shade. Shah Hayyat rules from the edge of a swamp, his sinuous form curled around a moss-draped branch. Shah Gazal stands atop a small mound in the centre of a grassy plain, his harim clustered in the distance. Shah Baz surveys his kingdom from an eyrie at the top of a rocky crag where the wind howls continually. Padishah Jaqal rolls in the dust before his den, prowling as he speaks. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

Rilah: The city of Rilah sank beneath the waves centuries ago. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

Haunted Lands: The Haunted Lands are a harsh, rocky desert of a hundred shades of red and brown, with pillars of stone thrusting up through the sands here and there. It is deep enough inland that few come here, and close enough to the lands of the Yak-men and the World Pillars that few who come survive.

Assassin Mountain: Known as Jabal Sarahin. The fortress of Sarahin is also called the Rock of Courage, the Nest of Eagles, the Abode of Fortune, and the Emerald of the Haunted Lands. The land nearby is dry but not entirely desolate; when the rains are good, enough forage grows to keep small herds of goats or cattle. The stronghold itself is on top of a sprawling ridgetop plateau, at an altitude of 10,200 feet. Although it is the highest point for miles around, the fortress cannot be seen from the ground because the outer walls were quarried from the same stone as the plateau and its towers are not tall enough to be seen over the walls. One must take the path almost all the way to the upper gate before the castle is apparent. (Assassin Mountain)

Furrowed Mountains: The most recognizable landmark is the hill people’s town of Gurab Sakir.
These low mountains of weathered limestone and shale slowly bake under the hot equatorial sun. The mountains prevent the ocean winds from bringing water inland; within a few miles, the fertile mountain ground becomes parched soil where nothing grows.
Where nothing grows, the Haunted Lands begin. Few travel into the Furrowed Mountains, for beyond them lies only desert, though the southern mountain passes are valuable trade routes to Hiyal.
Despite the peaks, which range up to 10,000 feet high, the land is hot, tempered only by constant breezes. Few plants thrive, though grass and even thorny scrub sprout each year in the rainy season. Typical animals include small rodents, lizards, insects, hyenas, vultures, and snakes. Giant scorpions, bloodhawks, and even werehyenas are not uncommon
Caravans cross the mountains from time to time, generally from the Free Cities to Hiyal. They also skirt south around the mountains and thus arrive in Qudra. Mountain caravans often use a mix of mountain and desert camels, for the terrain varies widely along the route.
Walking movement covers three to twelve miles per day, depending on encumbrance, trails, and the steepness of the terrain. Mounts do not increase this speed appreciably, because they must often be walked over difficult footing. They do allow the traveller to carry more equipment, provisions, or treasure.

For decades, the blond savages of the Furrowed Mountains have had a healthy dislike for their lowland cousins. Their hatred is fully justified – they are frequent targets of recruiting raids by the mamluks of Qudra, and many of their young men and women never reach adulthood in the villages of their birth. As a result, all outsiders are considered hostile until someone proves otherwise.
Mamluks who do not disguise their tattoos, proclaim their hatred of Qudra, or offer some explanation for their presence in the mountains will be the targets of abuse, hostility, and (if they respond violently) lynching. (Assassin Mountain)

Zayid: A village of the hill tribes of the Furrowed Mountains.

Ganam: A village of 100 individuals in a dozen houses located in the desert of the Haunted Lands. The lands around Ganam are riddled with mirages (created by the genie Ibrahim) that lead travellers back to the mountains and away from the path to the headquarters of the Everlasting.

Great Anvil: These are inhospitable and deadly places, searing by day and often freezing by night. Neither anvil ever sees rain, and duststorms continually sweep across them. Even the boldest and most experienced desert riders think twice before venturing into these regions.

Sokkar: When the Haunted Lands still cloaked themselves in humid
jungle, the city Sokkar thrived, a metropolis at the heart of a
fertile valley. Today, the hills south of the Furrowed Mountains
are a haunted desert, and all that remains of Sokkar is a vast necropolis shielded
from the modern world by Al-Amzija, a Black Cloud of Vengeance generating a
titanic sandstorm that never falters, never dies. The tempest has raged around
the necropolis for centuries, scattering caravans and devouring those who
venture too close to the City of Eternity. Few survive its harsh embrace.
In the eye of the ruin created by this eternal tempest, a city of tombs and
mausoleums stretches for miles in all directions. At the center of the
necropolis, in a court flanked by forbidding temples and shrines, majestic
pyramids rise into the storm-filled sky. Explorers have escaped Sokkar with
tales of unbelievable treasures and unimaginable horrors awaiting in the
Perhaps the most disturbing rumor about the city pertains to a mysterious
woman claiming to be Ophidia, a legendary princess of Sokkar supposedly
buried beneath one of the pyramids. In some tales, Ophidia has saved lost
travelers and guided them out of the city safely through the tempest. In
others, she has driven explorers out of the city, where they were ravaged by
the fury of the Black Cloud. (The NPC booklet contains more details about
Princess Ophidia. The Black Cloud is further described in this chapter.)
City-dwelling skeptics argue that tales of the tempest and Ophidia are
fabrications, made to deter other adventurers from pillaging the unguarded,
treasure-laden tombs of Sokkar. Most desert dwellers, however-even the
reckless jannfear the Black Cloud of Vengeance, Al-Amzija. The true
identity of Ophidia, if she exists at all, remains a mystery.

At the dawn of time, giants ruled the jungles that
engulfed the now-desolate terrain of the Land of

Fate. These magnificent creatures founded the city of
Sokkar. The giants governed wisely, and the city’s
human citizens prospered. But all that is good must
pass, for the Destroyer of Delights and Sunderer of
Societies visits every giant, every man, every nation.
With time, the female giants began to produce only
male heirs, and the population of giants steadily
dwindled until only a few males remained. Renouncing
their rulership of Sokkar, the giants built massive
cairns for themselves far outside the walls of the city
and shut themselves up inside their necropolis.
Although many giants passed into eternity, the
three most powerful and principled members of their
race could not rest leaving their beloved city
unguarded. Noq the Inspired, Arun the Ever-Vigilant,
and Merodach the Deprived all ignored their own
deaths. Animated by their forces of will, these giants
became rom, the Undying. (See the rom entry in the
setting, MC13.)
After the giants’ exodus, humans continued to rule
in Sokkar according to their ancient laws. New kings
and queens deferred to the memory and traditions of
their forbears. Each year, the rulers visited the
necropolis to confer with the rom and hear their
undying wisdom.
Before long, the rom were praised as noble heroes
and worshiped as demigods in Sokkar. Citizens begged
to be buried near their sacred cairns. The rom welcomed
the expansion of their necropolis and encouraged a
reverence for the dead. As the centuries passed, a vast
city of tombs expanded around the giants’ funerary
complex, until even their towering mausoleums were
lost in the avenues of vaulted tombs and memorials.
More time passed, and the city of the living
dwindled. Wars came and devastated the population;
the jungles and fields dried up as the climate changed;
and the citizens neglected Sokkar’s fortifications,
pouring all their wealth and resources into extravagant
tombs. Eventually, the curse that had plagued the
giants resurfaced, and Sokkar’s women began to
produce only male heirs. Sokkar fell into ruin and was
devoured by the rapidly encroaching desert. The necropolis, built to last for all eternity, is now the only surviving legacy of Sokkar and its citizens.

Encouraged by their legendary rom, citizens of Sokkar
loved and worshiped their dead, believing their status
in the afterlife depended on their burial trappings.
Those interred in paupers’ crypts were doomed to
eternal poverty, or so they believed. Burials performed
according to the proper rituals ensured a comfortable
final rest. The Sokkaran nobility lived fairly obsessed
with death. Most nobles spent a fortune on the design
and construction of their tombs, choosing the
decorations and wardings for their houses of eternity
with great care. Regardless of the station of the
deceased, proper Sokkaran tombs contained two
elements: the spirit statue and the stele. These features
might be opulent and intricate in a king’s pyramid, but
humbler versions appear in even a pauper’s grave.
The spirit statue, also called a ka figure, is believed
to hold a dead person’s ka (soul) once the body of
the deceased was interred formally in the family’s
house of eternity. The magical and secret arts of
mummification, which preserved physical remains of
the deceased, ensured the soul’s transfer to the
incorruptible statue. In the tombs of the rich and
powerful, a household of faithful servants might be
sacrificed, mummified, and buried with their dead
masters, to continue their service in the afterlife.
The more elaborate tombs in Sokkar contain vaults
upon vaults of ka figures depicting wives,
concubines, guards, slaves, dancers, musicians,
porters-even pets.
While the spirit statue housed the ever-living ka,
the stele allowed this spirit to have a rewarding and
enjoyable afterlife. Each steleintricate carvings on
stone slabs lining the walls of a tomb-depicted the
deceased hunting, dining, sleeping, praying, or playing
favorite games and sporting activities. Properly
adorning the crypt walls with the steles ensured that
the spirit of the deceased could perform the illustrated
actions as often as desired throughout eternity.

W ithin the storm-swept prison of Al-Amzija,
the City of Eternity rises from the desolate
terrain, a quiet, seemingly chaotic jumble of
mausoleums, crypts, monuments, temples, and
pyramids that extends for miles in all directions. The
necropolis boasts no coffee shops, no bazaars, no
docks, and no caravanserais. The dead have no need
for these features in their city, as their ka figures and
steles provide them with ample means to enjoy the

Rulers: As the founders of the necropolis, the Undying are its
unquestioned rulers. In practice this means little, since
they have slight interest in anything that does not
enter their funerary complex or present a threat to the
city at large.

The Princess: Perhaps the most visible denizen of the necropolis is
cursed princess of legend: Ophidia. The princess, a
lamia (see the NPC booklet for complete stats and
description), emerges from her pyramid lair only at
night, to wander about the tombs and statues of the
necropolis in dark despair. She becomes a pivotal
character in any adventure in her city.

Population: At least 200,000 dead (humans and giants) lie buried
in the necropolis, though the number of tombs is
probably IO times smaller. The vast majority of the
deceased happily occupy themselves in the afterlife
and have no concern for what transpires outside their

Features of the City: Within the great necropolis, the wind does not rage, as
it does near the storm generated by the Black Cloud.
Air does not stir on the peaceful streets of Sokkar. The
city sleeps, entombed in silence.
Three vast boulevards-the Avenue of the Hama,
the Avenue of the Sphinxes, and the Avenue of the
Baboons-lead from Sokkar’s outskirts to the central
Plaza of Eternity, where huge pyramids lean into the
troubled sky. (See map on Card 5.) The main avenues
are lined with weather-beaten stone statues depicting
fierce eagles, winged lions, and somber monkeys, each
more than 10 feet tall. Myriad shrines and mausoleums
crowd up to the edge of the avenues, and smaller alleys
snake away from the main boulevards into an infinite
maze of smaller graves and catacombs.
The crypts of Sokkar appear remarkably well
preserved. Still visible on their stone surfaces are
eroded inscriptions in Chun, a long-dead language
shared by the once-fertile nations that withered into
desert. Despite their age, many inscriptions still legibly
proclaim the title, station, and name of each tomb’s
owner. A prince’s epitaph might cover the entire outer

surface of a mausoleum, while a porter’s grave might
bear only a few sentences to mark the poor citizen’s
Major Products
Sokkarans buried a wealth of antiquities and magical
items with their dead. Since the Black Cloud is
attuned to these items (as to everything within the
City of Eternity), practically no one stealing from
tombs ever escapes the city alive.
Armed Forces
Sokkar’s military is inactive-quite inactive, as most of
its citizens are dead and buried. But, although the
necropolis has no standing defenses, the storm of the
Black Cloud rages continually outside city borders. In
addition, the Undying remain perfectly capable of
calling up a legion of undead from the city’s plentiful
crypts if they so desire. Finally, the statues lining the
three main avenues can be animated into an army of
stone golems. Fortunately, no one ever has been
foolish enough to attack the necropolis.
Major Mosques and Tombs
Most of the city’s important temples line the three
wide avenues in or near the Plaza of Eternity. All
temples and shrines in Sokkar honor the local rom.
The largest such edifice stands in the center of the
city: the Great Temple of the Undying. Overlooking
the pyramids in the Plaza of Eternity, the Great
Temple was built on a titanic scale, its massive granite
portals open to all visitors. Giant steps lead to
cavernous, vaulted halls, whose ceilings rise more than
100 feet. The walls bear inscribed hymns of praise for
the faultless and eternal guidance of Noq, Arun, and
Merodach. Their grim idols, scattered throughout the
temple’s dark, echoing chambers, depict the three
Undying as somber, mortal giants.
The most impressive tombs in the necropolis await
adventurers in the Plaza of Eternity. The city’s six huge
pyramids range in size from the Great Pyramid of
Borsippa, which dwarfs even the Great Temple of the
Undying, to the much smaller Pyramid of Tammuz,
which measures only 100 feet on each side of its square
base. The four remaining pyramids-belonging to
Ophidia, Zerebet, Nectanebo, and Kagamemni
measure 100 to 500 feet to a side.

The pyramids with obvious entrances-those of
Tammuz and Nectanebohave been plundered and
stripped of any valuables. The tomb robbers perished
when their plunder attracted the Black Cloud outside
the city, but that seems like small consolation to the
restless and troubled spirits now haunting the
catacombs beneath these pyramids. The remaining
four pyramids in the Plaza of Eternity have no
apparent entrances and bear no inscriptions save the
epitaphs chiseled on their cornerstones. It is unclear
whether these four contain burial vaults or simply
stand as monuments to the most powerful human kings
and queens of Sokkar.
Far from the Plaza of Eternity and the city’s major
avenues, lost amid the labyrinth of humans’ crypts and
mausoleums, lies the funerary complex of the Undying.
Beneath a walled, fortresslike compound, guarded by
enchanted and unsleeping sentinels (actually stone
golems), the Three Who Are Undying rest in their
ancient catacombs. Each night, the rom’s songs of
lamentation drift out of the vaults to the surface.
Those who linger nearby to hear the macabre concert
risk madness or worse.

Rumours and Lore: Sokkar is infested with small pockets of undead and
scavenging monsters that have slowly desecrated
tombs throughout the city. Their unwelcome presence
appears minor considering Sokkar’s size, so they have
not yet managed to attract the attention of Ophidia or
the Undying. These dangerous creatures remain
concealed during the day, hiding and resting in looted
tombs and temples. By night, these monsters emerge
and scuttle among the alleys of the city searching for
food and booty

High Desert: Much of the High Desert is located atop a great plateau, which averages 2,500 feet in elevation. In addition, the desert is broken by rocky hogbacks; prominent ridges with steeply sloping sides, named for their resemblance to the back of a wild pig. (Land of Fate)

The High Desert is one of Zakhara’s two great deserts-the other being the Haunted Lands. Extending from the waters of the Suq Bay and the Golden Gulf to the Mountains of the Lizard’s Tongue near the Great Sea, the High Desert covers a vast range. Most dismiss it as a barren ocean of sand, of interest only to camels and nomads. But to those of us who feel a desert breeze is like a lover’s caress, it remains a place of exquisite beauty and endless surprise, whose secrets could not be divined in a thousand lifetimes.
The most common misconception about the High Desert involves its very form. Many believe it to be a flat wasteland, as featureless as a pane of glass. But the surface has an irregular texture, as if it had been chopped, scooped, and sliced by drunken giants. Powerful winds whip the sands to create a startling variety of dunes. Some tower high enough to block the sun. Others resemble deep troughs, swirling stars, immense crescents. Areas without mountains to break the wind are often blown free of sand, leaving plains of polished stone as smooth as a newborn’s belly. (Caravans)

Al-Adib River: Known also as the River of Courtesy, the Al-Adib snakes from the plains of the High Desert to the Golden Gulf, crossing more than 100 miles. With its rancid waters and dull-witted battan fish, the river is most certainly excluded when the gods tally their proudest achievement.
Slums line the shores of the western Al-Adib. For centuries, the peasants used the waters as a dump, a place to dispose of melon rinds, soiled dishdashahs – long robe like garments – and even donkey carcasses. Sheikh Ahi al-Hadd forbade the practice some years ago, but for the most part, the peasants ignored the decree. Portions of the river reek of garbage, filth so thick that a fish an inch below the surface cannot be seen. Better to roll in the mud than bathe in the western Al-Adib. And do not even consider drinking its waters; you are better off dipping your cup in a camel trough.
Farther east, where the river meets the gulf and the waters clear somewhat, ships of sea merchants and aristocrats jam the harbours. Wary of beggars and nosy peasants, the ship owners allow a stranger only a moment’s prayer before his head is separated from his neck. Unless you have contacts in the harbour, or have plenty of coin (a silver piece usually will sheath the blade of a grumpy mariner), stay away. Merchants who make peace with the locals, however, will find a rich market for fishing gear and fine wines.
The western Al-Adib dribbles off in a web of tributaries, many only a few inches deep. While not as contaminated as the river farther east, the waters here are no more drinkable, thanks to the salty minerals lining the river bottom. Resourceful nomads boil the water, then strain it through porous cloths to remove the minerals. But it is a tedious process, taking most of the day to purify a single gallon.
The deeper tributaries of the western Al-Adib teem with game fish, who seem to thrive in the salty waters. The plump golden battan are as delectable to eat as they are easy to catch. A handful of bread crumbs or ground corn sprinkled on the water lures them to the surface. After eating the crumbs, the fish wait for more, their blunt snouts poking expectantly into the air. The fish can be plucked from the water by hand.
Crimson battan, as long as a man’s arm, will leap from the water to snag tossed stones, which they mistake for small birds. A crimson battan that swallows enough stones will sink, wriggling helplessly on the river bottom until harvested by a fisherman.
To prepare fried battan, first dress them, then coat them with a mixture of goose egg, water, wheat flour, and the juice of a cucumber. Place the fish in a pan of camel fat and fry them until the flesh flakes at the touch of a knife. Delicious! (Caravans)

Burning Pool of Natifa: West of the Mountains of Forgotten Dreams, adjacent to a cluster of crescent -shaped barchan dunes, lies a pool of salty water 40 feet across and 20 feet deep. Aquatic arafaj, spindly plants resembling bundles of dry grass, cover the surface of the pool. The enchanted arafaj burn continuously, illuminating the pool with a glow that can be seen 10 miles away. The arafaj burn as long as they remain in contact with the pool; even a rainstorm will not extinguish the flames. A fountain surges from the centre of the pool, spraying water 20 feet into the air. The water emits a sweet aroma, a mixture of lemon and roses. Near the southern edge of the pool stands a stone oven, along with a collection of gleaming copper pots, pans, kettles, forks, knives, and plates.
A ghost named Natifa, who appears as an elderly woman with rich brown skin and shoulder-length hair as white as a chicken egg, lives on the bottom of the pool. Natifa occasionally surfaces to perch atop the fountain. When a stranger approaches, Natifa may ask him to prepare her a meal. If the stranger declines, Natifa politely but firmly asks him to leave. If she is in a playful mood, she may toss a handful of flaming arafaj in his direction.
If the stranger agrees, Natifa asks him to name the dish he intends to prepare (the more exotic the dish, the more intrigued she will be). If the dish requires special ingredients, she will fetch them. The dish must be prepared on her stone oven, using her cookware and utensils.
When the stranger completes the dish, Natifa descends from the fountain to sample it. If the food displeases her, she casts it into the pool, throwing the stranger in after it, then disappears. The stranger will have to navigate the flaming arafaj to return to shore. If Natifa enjoys the dish, she shows her appreciation by aiding the stranger, usually by offering information.
She knows the best route to virtually every location in the High Desert. She also predicts the weather with uncanny accuracy and tracks the movement of bandits. Indeed, by following her advice, I was able to avoid an encounter with the treacherous Sons of the Wolf at the Jamal Oasis.
Her favorite recipes? From personal experience, I can attest to her fondness for dolmat boiled onions stuffed with rice, almonds, and mutton and baked battan fish drenched in clarified goat butter. Both, it should be noted, take the better part of a day to prepare, but it is every bit worth the preparation. (Caravans)

Fabada: The primitive tribes of Fabada, who raise sheep in the pastures along the northern border of the Mountains of Forgotten Dreams, have established one of the High Desert’s most durable communities. The tribes, known collectively as the Numtanajd, consist of the descendants of three families: al-Shazzi, al-Waughiwan, and al-Zab. Though custom forbids marriage between members of different tribes, they intermingle at will, working and playing side by side. Every year at summer’s end, each family, comprising about 500 members, elects a male of at least 50 years as a representative, called the kharah. To indicate their status, the newly chosen kharahs cut all the hair from their heads, then burn it in a ceremonial fire. The kharahs make decisions for the entire community. No action will be taken by the Numtanajd unless the kharahs unanimously agree.
The Numtanajd have two types of homes, permanent structures they call haristas, and portable tents called gohtas. The haristas resemble cylindrical wooden frames laced with grass, fortified with mud and small stones. The thick walls keep the interior relatively cool, even during the blistering heat of summer. Pohtas, formed by stretching woollen blankets over a rectangular frame of thin sticks, can be tied in a bundle and easily carried. A woollen floor mat provides protection from the hot sand.
The tribesmen arrange the haristas and pohtas in tight circles. At night, they herd their flocks into the centre to keep them safe from wolves. Domesticated dogs, including white saluqi greyhounds native to the Mountains of Forgotten Dreams, patrol the perimeter of the circles, yelping at the first scent of an unfamiliar animal. As an additional precaution, the tribesmen refrain from shearing the wool around their sheep’s necks, allowing it grow in thick rings. Wolves typically slay sheep by tearing their throats, and the thick neck wool makes this more difficult.
The enlightened nomadic tribes of the High Desert, the House of Dhi’b in particular, consider the Numtanajd to be simple-minded heathens, filthy and repellent. This assessment, though harsh, is understandable. The average Numtanajd adult has fewer teeth than fingers, bathes only if he happens to be caught in a rainstorm, and considers carrion a delicacy.
But the Numtanajd are peace lovers, and they placate their intolerant neighbours with gifts of mutton, wool (for saddle blankets and tents), and a tangy beverage called rakiq made from sheep’s milk and garlic. Traders also can obtain these items from the Numtanajd by offering coffee, honey, and salt. Dealing with the Numtanajd can be both pleasant and rewarding, as they rarely haggle over prices and treat strangers as family. But they insist that visitors respect their taboos, which are as numerous as they are bizarre

For example, to prevent evil spirits from entering their bodies, the Numtanajd cover their noses and mouths with woollen veils. They will not eat mutton without first apologizing to a living sheep. They consume neither serpents nor lizards, fearing that these creatures will come alive in their stomachs and chew their way free. On rising in the morning, the first step of the day must be taken with the left foot. For good luck, they carry pouches made of dried sheep’s bladders filled with human hair. Visitors may be expected to contribute a lock from their own heads as a gesture of friendship. (Caravans)

Genies’ Anvil: These are inhospitable and deadly places, searing by day and often freezing by night. Neither anvil ever sees rain, and duststorms continually sweep across them. Even the boldest and most experienced desert riders think twice before venturing into these regions. (Land of Fate)
Caravans heading northwest from Tajar often are tempted to cross this gloomy anvil to reduce their travel time. Few survive to complete the trip. The obstacles here are numerous and daunting. Blinding dust storms prevent a camel rider from seeing the ears of his mount. Rain seldom falls, and natural sources of water are as rare as rose blossoms. A day of blistering heat may precede an evening so cold that a traveller may awaken with frost in his beard. Worse, the Anvil is home to the House of Sihr, a tribe of enlightened jann led by Amir Bouladin al-Mutajalli, a janni of legendary ruthlessness. The amir assumes the worst of strangers; be prepared to explain your business while dodging his scimitar. My advice: Ignore the tales of lost treasure cities buried beneath its sands and circumvent the Anvil by any means.


House Fajirik Military Camp: The armies of House Fajirik, stationed near a bleak expanse of desert west of the Jamal Oasis, have little to occupy their days and few opportunities to spend their money. It is a frustrating situation for the soldiers, but an ideal one for an enterprising trader.
Under the command of the distinguished Captain Ramad bin Yusif al-Kahn, the soldiers stand watch along the southern border of a qara’a, a barren field of weeds and scrub suitable for grazing but not much else. In the absence of a formal declaration of war and forbidden to enter the qara’a, the soldiers have nothing to do but wait.
On the opposite side of the qara’a, the opposing army of House Ashurim, commanded by the proud Captain Takaz al-Harounah, also waits. The waiting has gone on for nearly 200 years.
How did this unusual arrangement come to be? I quote Captain Ramad:
Centuries ago, the elders of House Fajirik and House Ashurim laid claim to their own dirahs, regions of rolling hills and rich soil where vegetables and grain grew in abundance. Because the qara’a was five times the size of the combined dirahs, both Houses shared it. Harmony prevailed, and the Houses prospered.
This arrangement endured until a year-long drought sapped the moisture from the dirahs. The vegetables and grain withered in the sun. The soil turned to dust. The Houses lost interest in sharing the qara’a, as its scraggly plants now seemed critical to survival.
A bloody war ensued. For four years, two of Zakhara’s strongest and best-trained armies fought over scrub brush and weeds. How many lives were lost? One for each worthless twig, maybe more. And to show her disapproval, Fate ensured that the powerful magic invoked by the Houses destroyed the qara’a, reducing it to dead sand.
Weary of war, the leaders at last negotiated an allag, a temporary truce. Under the terms of the allag, the qara’a would become a neutral area, forbidden to members of either House. To guarantee compliance, each side would maintain a permanent camp and patrol the border of the qara’a. Our camp was established to the south, House Ashurim to the north. Because of the legacy of distrust, the leaders decreed that the allag would last for a single century, at which time the terms would be renegotiated.
The allag expired ten years ago. It was I who renegotiated for House Fajirik. With the approval of Captain Takaz, the allag was renewed for another century under the same terms. Ninety years from now, the House leaders may again renew the allag, or opt for niga, a declaration of hostilities. Or they may choose hidna, a cessation of war, in which case all our people can take down their tents and leave this wretched place for good.

A strange story, to be sure. But as long as the allag persists, so shall the material needs of the armies. A trader will find on both sides of the qara’a customers for war camels, barding, and other military supplies, as well as blankets, candles, and soap. The soldiers of House Fajirik pride themselves on their refined palates and enjoy dried meats and exotic spices. The soldiers of House Ashurim, who lack the sewing skills of their adversaries, perpetually run short of abas, trousers, and stockings.
The commanders of both Houses expect top quality and are willing to pay premium prices, usually in gold, of which they have a seemingly inexhaustible supply stored in underground caches. Etiquette has prevented me from inquiring about the source of their riches. But word has it that each House is funded by wealthy patrons in distant cities – Tajar for House Fajirik, Qudra for House Ashurim.
Why such interest in this forsaken land? Quite simply, revenge! Ancestors of the patrons competed for the hand of the same woman, a fair-haired beauty named Safana whose bones now lie a thousand feet beneath the sands of the qara’a. Safana died by her own hand, the result of her inability to choose between her suitors. The patrons hold each other’s ancestors responsible for her death. (Caravans)

Hulm: A thousand curses upon this village of infidels! I have not once, not twice, but three times taken my wares to Hulm – by invitation, I might add – only to be ambushed, beaten, and left for dead in the desert. My naïve faith in humankind and, admittedly, the promise of a new market lured me back after my common sense told me to stay away. Would that someone bum the wretched place to the ground! (Caravans)

Jamal Oasis: The best-known and arguably most hospitable oasis in the High Desert, Jamal boasts a mud-brick caravanserai large enough to house a small army, with a pool so clear you can count the pebbles on the bottom.
Hungry travellers may feast on baitan-jan, a leafy eggplant that grows profusely on the eastern perimeter. Camels may graze in the primrose-covered hills to the north. Though the House of Asab, a wealthy and imperious desert tribe, claims the oasis as their own, they generally permit travellers to use it, so long as said travellers do not overstay their welcome.
The pious may address the enlightened gods in the Jamal temple, a cylindrical structure of wind-blasted granite topped by a minaret etched with dozens of religious aphorisms. Though the ravages of time have left most of the words indecipherable, an intact aphorism near the bottom of the minaret clearly reads: How can any man born of earth claim to divine the true purposes of the gods? Rumour has it that inquisitive djinn periodically return to the temple on the darkest nights of the summer to debate the meaning of this aphorism.
Humans bearing fresh apples, a favourite treat of the djinn, are allowed to join the debate. The djinn sometimes reward perception and sagacity with wishes, but punish trivial musings with face slaps and other physical reprimands. (Caravans)

Mountains of Forgotten Dreams: Southeast of the Genies’ Anvil, the Mountains of Forgotten Dreams claim peaks as high as 5,000 feet, many of them former volcanoes; you can still find sprinkles of chalky ash in the foothills along with chunks of porous lava rocks. Traversing the mountains poses few problems, thanks to the wide passes slicing the range every few miles. Travelers should be wary of falling boulders, many of which are large enough to squash camels.

Few animals live in the central peaks, but the lower slopes contain enough brush to support rabbits, jackals, and wild dogs. Of particular interest to traders are the white saluqi, a type of miniature greyhound popular with sportsmen and collectors. White saluqi grow no taller than a man’s knee, but are as fast as gazelles and as strong as mules. They have stubby tails, sharp teeth, and short fur. Excellent hunters, white saluqi pursue their quarry relentlessly, chasing rabbits until they fall from exhaustion. And I have never seen a dog so fearless. I once witnessed a saluqi slay a scorpion the size of a war horse. White saluqi make loyal, affectionate pets and bring up to 50 gp in the bazaars of Tajar. (caravans)

Pit of the Ghuls: Zakhara’s most famous alkaline lake is in the High Desert, at the bottom of a valley called the Pit of the Ghuls. The surface of this lake lies more than 1,000 feet below sea level. Though its edges are shallow, the bottom quickly drops toward the centre, and the ultimate depth of the lake is unknown. The lake is a source of valuable minerals, including bromides and table salt, but its resources are still untapped. Let the name be a warning to all who might wander here: this valley is teeming with ghuls and restless spirits. (Land of Fate)

Afoul and dreadful place, the Pit of the Ghuls is a deep valley surrounded by a ring of granite hills, many of them laced with labyrinthine passages that wind deep inside the earth. Winds blowing across its cold sand carry the stench of decay, like that of a fish left too long in the sun. Vicious creatures lurk here, many engaged in territorial conflicts marked by an abhorrent level of brutality. A renegade djinni, for instance, has constructed a palace from the skulls of his foes, while a hyena-headed giant impales his enemies on the thorns of immense cacti.

A talkative nomad told me that the pit once contained an ocean, ruled by an arrogant giant who demanded that the gods recognize him as an equal. The gods responded by hurling a moon-sized boulder into the ocean, splashing the water into the surrounding desert and crushing the giant and his army of minions. The pit swallowed the boulder. The Lake of the Ghuls, a salty pool in the northern section of the pit, holds what remains of the ocean. Spirits of the giant and his minions stalk the pit, preying on any traveller foolish enough to trespass.

And why would anyone trespass? The reason is as old as the desert itself: greed. The giant ordered the creation of seven life-size statues in his own image, one each of gold, silver, turquoise, onyx, emerald, amber, and ruby. The arm of the turquoise statue was recovered several years ago and now resides in a museum in Ajayib. The remaining statues, including the rest of the turquoise figure, lie buried somewhere in the pit. Treasure seekers must face not only the spirits of the giant and his aides, but a multitude of other horrors, including wolves that speak like men, vultures with claws like scimitars, and gargantuan scorpions made of fire. (Caravans)

Quahab: South of the Pit of the Ghuls lies Quabah, a small, forlorn village surrounded by clusters of star dunes. Its tormented inhabitants make for good customers. The village was originally founded as a religious retreat by nomads from the Mountains of the Lizard’s Tongue, devoted acolytes of Hajama the Courageous and Haku, Master of the Desert Wind. Strictly celibate and exclusively male, the Quabah brotherhood lived an ascetic existence of toil and self-denial, sleeping on beds of stones in the open air, storing their meagre possessions in pits concealed by leatherleaf branches.
Quabah culture changed forever when a revisionist leader, Yezeed, reinterpreted their doctrines to allow marriage. Under Yezeed’s direction, the brotherhood manufactured gaudy religious trinkets, which they traded to superstitious hill barbarians for brides.
Within a generation, it was no longer necessary for Quabah males to trade goods for wives, as women from across the High Desert began to show up in droves, offering themselves as mates. Who could blame them? Quabah husbands were obliged to treat their wives with the same reverence due the gods, serving them with deference and submission, fulfilling their every wish. Should a wife desire a steed, the husband would secure a herd and let her take her pick. Should her toes ache, he would offer his back as a foot rest. Should her nose run, he would offer the aba from his back as a handkerchief. It was an arrangement many women found difficult to resist.
Though most Quabah males accept the conditions of marriage, others wonder if Yezeed’s reinterpretation violated their forefathers’ original intent. They gather in small groups to analyse religious doctrine, often concluding that they have corrupted the will of the gods.
A stranger might ask, If you are convinced that marriage is wrong, why not renounce the concept and revert to the old ways? Too late, the reply would come. The damage has been done. And besides, perhaps the gods did indeed intend marriage. And if so, then our doubting is a blasphemy. The stranger might conclude that Quabah doctrine evokes guilt, no matter how it is interpreted.
Quabah husbands seek to purchase anklets, caftans, slippers, brooches, and any other items they can give to their wives as gifts. In most instances, they will accept the quoted price, as they lack the inclination to haggle. They have little to trade, aside from crude quartz pendants and dull marble rings, and often will plead for credit. But beware. Moving coins from a Quabah purse is like emptying Suq Bay with a spoon. Upon my retirement, I was still collecting on a 100 gp debt incurred for the purchase of a golden bracelet some 10 years earlier.
Interestingly, Quabah seers have predicted that storms of green fire will destroy their village in the not-too-distant future. In anticipation of this disaster, many have abandoned the village to settle along the southern border of the Pit of the Ghuls and in the hills to the east. (Caravans)

Raziz: If I were a fly or a rat, I can think of no better place to live than Raziz. Located between the Range of the Marching Camels and Mountains of Forgotten Dreams, Raziz appears to have been dropped from a height, pelted with refuse, and left to fester in the sun. Piles of garbage surround the village like a fetid bulwark. Streams of sewage run freely in the muddy streets. And animals flea-bitten dogs, scrawny goats, wheezing camels outnumber the citizens.
It is said that of peasants and princes, Fate plays no favourites. Raziz provides the evidence, as she has been blessed with an artesian well that produces more than enough water to satisfy her citizens. The well nourishes vast stretches of spear grass and primrose. The animals feed on the vegetation, and the villagers feed on the animals. Preoccupied with stuffing their bellies, the citizens of Raziz never developed a culture. They lack the will to do little but eat, sleep, and dance.
To say that Razizians are fond of dancing is like saying a parched field is fond of rain. Any occasion-a wedding, a full moon, even the birth of a goat-serves as an excuse to organize a dance. The villagers gather in a circle and, to the accompaniment of clapping hands and the tuneless plunking of single-stringed lutes called rababahs, they take turns running into the circle and hopping about like fleas on a griddle.
The dancing styles of men and women differ significantly. Women strip the shoes from their feet and make broad leaps from one side of the circle to the other, vigorously swinging their hair about their heads. The men keep their shoes on, tottering from foot to foot with their legs held rigid. They also carry blunted swords painted in bright shades of blue and red, which they strike at the ground in time to the music. When the clapping and plunking reaches a crescendo, the dancers embrace, kissing each other squarely on the mouth, as if the act of both sexes dancing together weren’t shocking enough!
Lazy but amiable, the citizens welcome visitors, traders included. They are ready customers for leather boots, stockings, and any type of musical instrument. But do not expect engaging conversation. Their interest in the outside world is limited to tales of war and bloodshed. The more lurid the story, the more they enjoy it. (Caravans)

Spire of Kor: A natural granite column, the Spire of Kor looms over the desert sands ten miles west of Raziz. It rises nearly 400 feet and is topped by a plateau of black quartz. About a century ago, nine mystics from Raziz claimed the column in honour of Kor, the Great God of Wisdom. With a djinni’s help, they carved a spiral path around the column leading to the quartz plateau. There they conducted religious ceremonies for worshipers from across the desert.
The ceremonies were discontinued when a Tajari caravan discovered the broken bodies of all nine mystics near the base of the column. Some believe that the mystics had offended Kor, and the enraged god hurled them from the plateau. Others, myself included, believe that they were engaging in a private ritual involving large amounts of wine; the revellers stumbled off the edge of the plateau and fell to the ground by accident.
On the High Holy Day of Ahad – the first day following the end of Qawafil (June)the skeletons of the nine mystics dig themselves from their sandy graves, scuttle up the side of the spire like spiders, then spend the night pleading with Kor to forgive them. At dawn, they return to their graves. The undead mystics are said to retain all of the magical abilities they had mastered in their former lives, which they use against anyone who interferes with their yearly nocturnal prayers.

Vahtov: By the look of its crumbling buildings and collapsing temples, it is hard to believe that Vahtov was once
considered one of the High Desert’s greatest cities. Four centuries ago, a group of human refugees from the House of Nasr united with a tribe of dwarf nomads from the Mountains of the Lizard’s Tongue to excavate the rumoured gem and gold deposits beneath the Pit of the Ghuls. They established a settlement named Vahtov, a dwarven term meaning fated fortune. The dwarves contributed their mining expertise, while the human askars and sorcerers kept the monsters of the pit at bay. In this way they worked together.
The rumours of treasure were not overstated. Within a few years, a mountain of emeralds and turquoise had been recovered, along with enough gold ore to fill a small ocean. The humans and dwarves spent lavishly to improve the city, constructing palatial homes of polished marble, streets of gleaming onyx, and silver watchtowers that brushed the clouds.
But in time, the relationship soured. The humans grew weary of risking their lives to defend the city; the dwarves resented the humans’ reluctance to dirty their hands in the mines. A civil war erupted after an emerald mine collapsed and the humans refused to assist in rescue operations. The dwarves responded by destroying all the remaining mines. Human sorcerers toppled dwarven temples with lightning bolts; the dwarves poisoned an artesian well favoured by the humans. The conflict continued to escalate, and within a year, the city was reduced to rubble.
A desperate human called on a djinni for help, begging for an end to the hostilities. The djinni caused all of the citizens of Vahtov to shrink to the size of insects. No longer able to lift their weapons, the diminutive combatants soon lost their taste for war. A week later, a flock of monstrous ravens from the Pit of the Ghuls swarmed into the city to feast on the tiny citizens, plucking them from the streets like berries from a bush. A handful of survivors retreated into the wilderness. They set aside their differences, entered a crack in the ground, and established a new settlement deep inside the earth. Their descendants, none of them larger than a man’s thumb, are said to still occupy this secret underground city. As for the treasure, it all has been appropriated by scavengers from the Pit of the Ghuls.
For about two hundred years after the end of the war, ruined Vahtov stood empty, as rumours persisted that it was a haunted, accursed place. It likely would have stood empty forever were it not for a group of refugees from the House of Tayif, cast from the tribe for refusing to participate in a raid against a band of docile shepherds.
The Tayif refugees, led by Ali al-Adid, were sent into the desert on foot, where they travelled aimlessly for weeks. Exhausted and near death, they at last arrived in Vahtov. Ali claimed the city on behalf of the dispossessed and the powerless. Let it be known that from this day forward, they will never be without a home.
Vahtov soon acquired a reputation as a haven for outcasts. Exiles of every race and creed sought refuge in the village, where they were welcomed regardless of their circumstance, appearance, or convictions. Today, Vahtov’s population exceeds 2,000, a remarkable mix of religious heretics and disgraced soldiers, the elderly and the infirm, the disfigured and the despised.
While little effort has gone into rebuilding, the citizens seem content. A grey-haired elf shares a hauz, a narrow garden, with her blind halfling neighbour. A three-legged centaur, assisted by an obese giant, carries firewood to homebound widows. A crippled dwarf offers mint tea to a young woman with a face scarred by fire.
The villagers proclaim their unity with small star-shaped tattoos on the ankle, the underside of the wrist, and between the toes. Every three years of residency makes a villager eligible for an additional tattoo. I have seen elven residents whose hands are sprinkled with a hundred stars.
A centaur named Akidya currently rules Vahtov, and she maintains order by strict enforcement of the law. Assault, theft, and debauchery are all punishable by death. Trials are non-existent, as Akidya serves as judge and jury. City militia, also centaurs, administer punishment on the spot. Since the villagers are reluctant to risk Akidya’s wrath, tranquillity prevails.
Vahtov citizens tend to regard strangers with suspicion, which is understandable, since many of them have had to endure years of scorn. But most respond favourably to kind words and friendly smiles. Traders should be able to interest the residents of Vahtov in a variety of goods, including herbs, robes, and lanterns. Because money is a luxury, they prefer bartering, offering goods of dubious quality: leaky waterskins, fragile crockery, sour wine. Instead of accepting their products, consider having them work off their debts by grooming your camels or repairing your abas.

Vishap’s Teeth: One of the High Desert’s most striking features, Vishap’s Teeth comprise a series of four immense pyramids made of dark granite, worn smooth by centuries of windblown sand. Though most believe the pyramids to be natural formations, some primitive tribes, including the Numtanajd of Fabada, swear they are the actual teeth of a sleeping vishap, a wingless evil dragon that preys on the weak and relishes human flesh. If the Numtanajd are correct, then woe to Zakhara should the beast awaken.

Yarrat: It is said that the leather-skinned dwarves of Yarrat must be cousins of the lizard, as they share the lizard’s knack for survival. The Yarrat dwarves possess an ability for finding water; they have as many as a hundred secret pools in and around the Genies’ Anvil. Their diet, which consists of orbi, a fat tuber growing on underground vines, provides all the nourishment they need. Desert tribes hire the dwarves as trackers and hunters. But for the most part, Yarrat has few ties with the rest of the world.
Nestled near the southern tip of the Genies’ Anvil, Yarrat can be considered a village only in a general sense. It consists of clusters of pits dug into the sand, shaded by ironwood trees. Each family claims a pit beside a tree and lines it with primrose leaves and grass. The family hangs, their possessions (waterskins, blankets, buckets) from the branches of their tree. As a family acquires more children, the eldest are encouraged to seek mates and dig their own pits.
Yarrat females practice a special type of spellcraft called sahar, using coloured stones gathered from the Genies’ Anvil. A suitable stone must have both a smooth side and a rough side. The colour of the stone symbolizes a location, person, or animal: black for land, blue for sea, white for a woman, red for a man, brown for a camel. Should the practitioner crush a white or red stone while speaking a person’s name, the person suffers the effects of an evil eye. If the practitioner covers a white and a red stone with sand while speaking the name of a man and a woman, the man will be enamoured of the woman the next time he sees her, as if he had consumed a philter of love.
If the practitioner casts, the stones like dice, she can foretell the future. A stone with its rough side up indicates illness or misfortune (for a man, his camel, and so on). Two stones touching may indicate travel. For example, if the blue and red stones touch, a man will be traveling by sea. If the white and red stones touch, however, they foretell a marriage. Experienced practitioners can divine surprisingly detailed fortunes. A Yarrat practitioner not only foretold the death of Atma Qaird, my long-time traveling companion, but she predicted the time of day (high noon), the location (five miles east of Tajar), and the circumstance (a serpent bite).
The villagers have few material needs, but a persistent trader may be able to sell them sandals, oil, and weapons (daggers in particular). Approach these dwarfs with openness and honesty, for they will never again deal with a person who takes advantage of them. While Yarrat villagers rarely have money, they will pay their debts in water, a commodity often more valuable than gold or gems.

The Desert Mosque: the Desert Mosque, located at an oasis midway between the city of Qudra and the Genies’ Anvil. The Desert Mosque is frequented by enlightened nomads, caravan drivers, and other travellers.

Afyal: Afyal, Hiyal, Huzuz, and Qudra are great cities-those of impressive size or importance. Each is represented by a large oval symbol. Other cities are represented by smaller ovals.

Hiyal: Afyal, Hiyal, Huzuz, and Qudra are great cities-those of impressive size or importance. Each is represented by a large oval symbol. Other cities are represented by smaller ovals.

Huzuz (City of Delight): Afyal, Hiyal, Huzuz, and Qudra are great cities-those of impressive size or importance. Each is represented by a large oval symbol. Other cities are represented by smaller ovals.

The Golden Mosque in Huzuz, which contains the House of the Loregiver. All enlightened Al-Hadhar (city-dwellers) strive to visit this mosque during their lifetimes, and so do many Al-Badia (nomads).

Qudra: Afyal, Hiyal, Huzuz, and Qudra are great cities-those of impressive size or importance. Each is represented by a large oval symbol. Other cities are represented by smaller ovals.

The Tumbling Mountains: The Tumbling Mountains of southern Zakhara reach heights between
5,000 and 6,000 feet; they’re medium mountains.

The World Pillars: The World Pillars have peaks exceeding 15,000 feet; they’re high mountains.

The Heartlands: By traveling from the northernmost waves of the Golden Gulf and onward across Suq Bay, adventurers may begin to know the fabled heartland of Zakhara. This is more than a geographical center it is also the land’s soul. To the south, the region is anchored by magnificent Huzuz, home of the Loregiver and the Grand Caliph. No other city shines brighter than this golden homage to enlightenment and civilization. To the north, the region is anchored by another great city, smoky and mysterious Hiyal, a study in contrasts. Between them is Wasat, a sleepy oasis for the weary traveller. Finally, to the east lies the last city of the heartland: bustling Halwa. Perched near the fiery rim of the Great Anvil, this city still bears the traces of Zakhara’s wilder, less civilized past.

Halwa, City of Solitude: Located about 200 miles east of Wasat and Suq Bay, Halwa is one of Zakhara’s few major inland settlements. The city is perched on a lonely bluff overlooking the dry bed of the Wadi Malih. With the onset of spring, melting snow from the Ghost Mountains combines with seasonal downpours, turning the wadi into a surging, muddy torrent that washes silt into the low, lands. Within a month, the rains subside and the arid waste quickly returns.
The Ruler: Caliph Hava al-Gatil (hmF/a/12) is a well-meaning but insulated ruler. His main concern appears to be writing his memoirs. Al-Gatil often cloisters himself with his favoured scribes, writing (and rewriting) his past exploits as a young warrior, dwelling on those blithe days before he took his father’s place as caliph. Al-Gatil delegates most of his responsibility to his chief vizier, whom he trusts above all. The caliph has three beautiful daughters-Sikayah, Rajiyah, and Mahabbiyah-triplets who are approaching the age of majority. While the caliph appears to care for them, the depth of his devotion has never been tested.
The Court: The court consists of Chief Vizier Zarad (hmW/sh/15) and his flunkies. Zarad has served Al-Gatil since the caliph was a child, and he continues to maintain a strangle hold on the caliph’s mindset. All of the caliph’s orders come through Zarad. And if Zarad happens to add his own orders, who would deny they’re the truth? Zarad has already made a great fortune through unfair taxation (which he imposed in the name of the caliph and removed two years later in the name of the caliph, without the caliph himself ever detecting it). Now, Zarad lusts after even greater power.
The chief vizier is served by a dao of maximum hit points, who is referred to solely as Zarad’s Pet (and then only in hushed voices). Zarad himself is easy to identify in court: he always wears black-and-white striped robes.
Population: 60,000.
Features of the City: Despite its isolation, Halwa is bustling little city, serving as a chief trading post between settled Zakharans and the desert-dwellers of the Haunted Lands. Both city and wilderness people mingle on the streets. Abas and keffiyehs are more common than caftans and dolmans, and many of Halwa’s merchants have relatives among the desert tribes.
Halwa’s caliph is permissive, allowing all activity that does not bring disgrace upon his wise and beneficent rule. An underground slave trade thrives here, and Halwa is a stopping place for caravans en-route to Hiyal. Similarly, adventurers and would-be heroes use the city as a starting place for expeditions into the Haunted Lands, where many a man and woman has perished in the search for legendary riches.
As a group, the people of Halwa are known for their haggling skill and sharp-witted dealing. Never give what can be sold is their motto, and that applies to favours and information as well as camels and figs.
Major Products: Trade, livestock, slaves, durable goods.
Armed Forces: 3,000-man city guard; 500-man palace guard; 1,000-man mercenary cavalry, hired from desert tribes on five-year contracts. In addition, Zarad has his own 200-man personal guard. In times of need, he apparently can call upon a tribe of 200 jann.
Major Mosques: Hajama, Haku, Jisan, Najm, and Selan. Haku has the largest and most opulent temple, which is a pilgrimage site for the desert tribesmen. A three-day religious festival in Jisan’s name is held on the first clear day after the spring rains.
Rumors and Lore: Zarad is said to be everywhere, running the city with a smooth but iron-willed determination. This chief vizier hates nothing more than disturbances of his pleasant and (to his mind) just rule, and any problems that arise are dealt with quickly and harshly. He is not above selling an enlightened man into slavery (sometimes by producing a previous owner who declares the accused escaped him). Of course, this violates the Law, but Zarad places himself above the Law. Only his marriage to the caliph’s eldest daughter will establish him fully as the city’s ruler. Sikayah is technically the eldest, for she was born just before her sisters.

Grand Vizier Zarad has three goals in life. First, he wishes to keep the caliph happy in his isolation, so he has a free hand to truly rule Halwa. Second, he desires the hand of Sikayah, the eldest of the three daughters, and also the most headstrong and independent. Third, he wishes to ascend the throne and rule in perpetuity. To that end he is seeking a secret of ever-lasting life. He has heard of liches, but prefers a solution that leaves him his looks and sanity.
Sikayah has no love in her heart for Zarad, but is a prisoner in her father’s court, and under the watchful eye of Zarad’s pet. Should she escape, Zarad spares no expense to recover her. If that is impossible, it is with great regret that he has her beautiful mortal form destroyed and wed one of the more malleable younger sisters.

Hiyal, City of Intrigue: About 360 miles northeast of golden Huzuz, at the rim of Suq Bay, lies the grey, industrious city of Hiyal. Set in the low valley of the river Al-Wahl, Hiyal is cloaked in the smoky stench of its foundries and kilns. The shroud seems to nurture the clandestine, for in the citys dark alleys and back rooms the deals of smugglers, thieves, and unscrupulous power brokers are made.
The Ruler: Sultana Alurah bint Asrah (hfF/a/18) established her rule five years ago, just after her husband died suddenly at a state dinner, collapsing unceremoniously upon a mound of mutton and rice. In the brief chaos that ensued, Alurah played one faction against another, while remaining in close communication with her allies in the Grand Caliph’s court. (Prince Tannous, who prefers a quiet north, is one such ally.) Alurah convinced the Grand Caliphate that she alone could quell her city’s rival factions, provide a sense of continuity to Hiyal’s rulership, and ensure the continued enlightened rule of her people.
She has accomplished all these things. Indeed, the sultana is a competent, industrious, and wise ruler. She is also a dark-hearted schemer, maintaining her family’s power through stealth and guile.
The sultana is now 60 and reportedly in ill health. Some attribute her illness to her lavish lifestyle coupled with the city’s pollution. Others claim this no more than a rumour-a subterfuge on her own part, designed to lure out those who covet her position.
The Court: The sultana’s court consists primarily of her immediate family. Everyone else is a servant, pawn, or enemy (or quite possibly all three). The sultana’s brood continually squabble among themselves, stopping only when some outside faction threatens them. Then they pull together to wipe out the threat, after which they resume their internal warfare. The prize over which they fight is their mother’s blessing and her throne (they hope to gain the latter after she passes on). Alurah has recognized three sons and two daughters. She has been careful to see that other claimants to the noble bloodline have been placated and (or) removed from the scene.
Prince Anjar bin Alurah (hmF/f/12) is the eldest son and the apple of his mother’s eye. Bright, strong, and respectful of his mother’s wishes, his one great fault is that he lacks subtlety, being far too direct in his actions. A courtier argues with him and is found the next day face down in the harbour. A coffee house is said to be a haven for malcontents, and it burns down soon after a visit by the prince. A village that hides a fugitive is exterminated to the last being. At best, Anjar is heavy-handed; at worst, he is cruel and tyrannical. However, his mother feels these rough edges can be smoothed and that he will eventually replace her. She has not yet declared Anjar her official heir, but she has appointed him Grand Commander of her armies.
Prince Omar bin Alurah (hmW/sh/14) is the second son, a sha’ir linked to the Brotherhood of the True Flame. Both the prince and the Brotherhood seek to use one another to further their own ends. When those ends have been achieved, each side intends to dispense with the other. Prince Omar is short, nearsighted, and exceedingly jealous of his elder brother. He regularly reports Prince Anjar’s mistakes and overreactions to his mother, hoping to replace him. Since he has few accomplishments of his own to boast, she usually pays him no mind. Omar is aided by his personal servant, a female efreeti named Jalas.
Imam Raman bin Alurah min-Najm (hmP/m/16) is the sultana’s youngest son. He is also the religious leader of the faith of Najm, and the official keeper of its mosque in the city. A staunch moralist, he has connections within the Pantheist League, who hope to introduce their firm beliefs to Hiyal. Gaunt and calm, Raman is regarded as the most dangerous of the sultana’s sons, a planner who launches byzantine plots.
Basically caring and considerate, Princess Hannah bint Alurah (hfPal/f/12) is the best of a bad lot, the white sheep of her family. There is no love lost between the princess and her siblings. In the past, Hannah’s relatives and others have used her in petty court intrigues, attempting to dupe her with spies and plants. As a result, she has developed a suspicious, almost hostile nature toward strangers. She speaks when she must, acts when she can. Her greatest concern is that her mother will die (or be killed) without formally selecting an heir, and that the resulting bloodbath will spread into the city.
Hannah’s current posting is Marshal of the City Guard, and she is dedicated to bringing a just rule to the people. The good citizens of Hiyal are devoted to Hannah, admiring her bravery and wisdom. The sultana knows that Hannah is an unofficial ambassador of good will from her court, helping to appease citizens who disapprove of the two princes.
Princess Alurah bint Alurah (hfW/sh/10) is the youngest of the ruling family, exemplifying its worst traits. Greedy, cruel, and conniving, she gets by on her family connections and her courtly graces. She is quick to turn one family member against another. Without hesitation, she will launch an attack on the innocent to cover her own wrongdoing and hide behind her mother’s robes when she is in trouble. A 10th-level sha’ir, Alurah is served by a mischievous djinnling (air gen) named Pin, who acts as her spy.
Tocka (gmT/hs/10) is the sultana’s personal servant, confidant, and hatchet-gnome. He was once a member of the Gilded Palm, a defunct group of assassins dedicated to Jisan. The Gilded Palm sought to right economic wrongs (sometimes by eliminating merchants). The sultana’s late husband wiped out the group, but the sultana managed to rescue Tocka.
Rumors abound that he was responsible for the sultan’s death, but nothing has been proved. It is true that even the beggars of Hiyal know Tocka. The populace stands aside in fear as the gnome strides through the city, usually on some mission assigned by his mistress.
Population: 600,000 permanent residents. If beggars and transients are included, the number may swell to 900,000.
Features of the City: Hiyal’s trademark is its smoky pallor and unpleasant odour, caused mainly by its foundries and kilns. Its valley setting creates a peculiar inversion, literally capping the city with pollution. Not even the breezes from Suq Bay can scrub the city clean. Its buildings are in muted shades of grey, covered by dirt and grime. Only the sultana’s palace is an exception, because it is continually and rigorously cleaned by slaves.
The people of Hiyal have a reputation for being untrustworthy, duplicitous, and sharp in their business dealings with each other and outsiders. For the most part, this is untrue, but the taint of such a brush acts as a magnet for less-than-honest individuals who are drawn to the city. In addition to legitimate business, Hiyal is often the site for grey dealings, covert transactions, smuggling, and illegal activities-most of which are carried out by transients with permanent connections in the city.
Newcomers to Hiyal might wish to visit these sites:
• Great suq. Much as the mighty bazaar of Huzuz is world-famous, so too is the suq of Hiyal, a maze of covered passageways and enclosed streets. In the main corridors of this labyrinth, all manner of legal goods can be found. In the shadows, all manner of illegal and forbidden goods can be found, too.
• Foundries. Located upstream on the sluggish river Al-Wahl, these foundries turn out some of the finest weapons in Zakhara. Each year, the mamluks of Qudra commission hundreds of high-quality swords and spearheads from the foundries. Hiyal pays taxes to the Grand Caliph with the proceeds. Many great weapon-smiths and armorers come to Hiyal to practice their craft. Their fires blaze through the night. Among the respected smiths include the House of Bulad (see Key Figures Outside the Court).
Major Products: Coal, iron, steel, weaponry, armour, metalwork, slaves (black market), information (black market), pottery.
Armed Forces: 8,000 footmen; 1,500 cavalry; 2,000-man palace guard; 2,000-man city guard; two mercenary barbarian units, 1,800 strong combined; five units of mamluk infantry, 5,000 strong combined; three units of mamluk cavalry, 900 strong combined.
Prince Anjar commands the regular troops. Princess Hannah commands the city guard, including some elite units who are personally dedicated to her. Hannah lacks a mamluk unit, but each of the sultana’s other children (and the sultana herself) has a unit personally dedicated to him or to her. Rivalries exist between these mamluk units; the soldiers take their leader’s arguments onto the streets.
The sultana has assumed personal control of the cavalry mamluks, using Tocka as her go-between. She also commands both mercenary barbarian units, the palace guard, and the navy. The navy is used primarily to protect personal cargos of the royal family, since the Golden Gulf is patrolled by Huzuz’s superior navy.
Major Mosques: The largest temple in the city is an open mosque, where all enlightened people may pray. Only slightly smaller in size and grandeur are mosques devoted to Najm, Hajama, and Zann:
Hajama: Imam Ramadayah bint Kolos min Hajama (hfP/e/14)
Najm: Imam Raman bin Alurah min Najm (hmP/m/16)
Zann: Imam Qonta bin Mala (hmP/e/12)
Each of the three structures has a large number of support buildings, including dormitories, schools, courtyards, and kitchens. The mosque of Najm is the newest of the three, and has seen extensive renovation since the son of the sultana took charge of it.
Key Figures Outside the Court: Harayah al Mabhum, also called Harayah the Unclear, (hfW/so/16), is a powerful, aged sorceress. She has served, at one time or another, on all sides of the numerous internal conflicts affecting the court. Her specialty is disappearances-making individuals and items vanish (voluntarily or not). In the past, she has removed political opponents, personal rivals, and those who threatened the sultana’s immediate family. Most recently, Harayah herself has disappeared, following a visit from Prince Anjar. Immediately after that meeting, Harayah’s servants bricked up the entrance to her home from the inside, and no word has been heard since.
Kasit al-Galaba (emB/r/14) is an elf and a bard. He is known throughout the city for both his dulcet voice and his gossiping tongue. Place a rumour upon his lips at dawn, and by evening it will be known from the docks to the palace and out into the wild. (Or so it seems.) Those seeking to disseminate information near and far could not find a better means than Kasit. He has one standing rule, however: He will not blaspheme the names of the sultana’s family directly. In thanks for that consideration, the sultana lets him live.

Obok al-Busaq is a man with two lives. In the broad light of day, he is a pottery dealer. Under cover of night, however, he becomes Obok the Slaver. Al-Busaq operates the heartless black market that deals in intelligent beasts, from children captured by darkspirited desert raiders to speciality items such as rare sentient creatures and foreigners who are destined to be displayed as curiosities. He operates this business with the unofficial sanction of the sultana’s court. As long as two promises are kept, she will not interfere. First, Obok must keep the sultana’s own roster of slaves filled (including the harim of her sons). And second, Obok must strive to keep his work as quiet as possible. If proof of his activities were to reach the wrong ears, the sultana would have no choice but to shut down his operation. Obok uses a number of methods to transport his product, including his own great vases.
Fuladayah bint Bulad (hfF/a/10) is the daughter of Bulad the Steelmaker, one of the finest weaponsmiths in the Land of Fate. The blood runs true, for she is as great a weaponsmith as her father, and the mark of the House of Bulad remains a guarantee of fine craftsmanship. Bulad makes long swords, broad swords, cutlasses, and scimitars of such high quality that wielders gain a +1 attack bonus (nonmagical, doesn’t enhance damage). Fuladayah was recently orphaned. Six months ago, her father was found dead, with a crudely-made dagger in his neck. Fuladayah has taken charge of the business, and has made it known to all that she wants revenge against those who killed her father. The magistrate declared it a death by accident, confirming Fuladayah’s belief that someone of power or rank-and their toady-is involved.
The Beggar Caliph (??T/bg/20) is one of Zakhara’s mysteries. No one knows for certain the gender and race of this legendary beggar-thief, though many assume he is a human male. It is said that all beggarthieves in Hiyal send what they hear to him, and he in turn issues orders and gives them information-such as when a particular caravan will arrive, or if the sultana will declare a day of feasting for the entire city. Rumours concerning this character abound, and many theories are espoused. Perhaps the Beggar Caliph is a genie or a disgruntled warrior prince. Or perhaps he is the surviving sultan himself! As long as the Beggar Caliph causes no harm to the sultana’s power-and perhaps as long as he eludes her-she allows him to survive.
Rumors and Lore: Hiyal is a city of rumours, buoyed by the constant sweep of this scandal or that secret. Two stories in particular are common coinage on the streets, one recent and one as old as the city itself. Here is the ancient tale: The maze work of the great suq is itself a gateway into an even greater marketplace, which exists under skies never seen in the Land of Fate. This greater suq exists beside, below, and beyond the covered market stalls that all citizens know. It is a shadow world where lives are traded as common coinage, and all manner of wonders can be purchased, including genies, magical items, and tokens of the gods. Explorers cannot enter this greater suq through any precise door. Instead, they must pass through a number of gateways to reach its strange halls. The noble genies may know of the secrets of the greater suq, but they keep them hidden.
Here is the more recent tale: Prince Omar has demanded (and received) a portion of the Bulad estates and foundries for private research. The seized property has been walled off, save for a single entrance, which is guarded by mamluks loyal to Omar. Efreet have been seen at the site. So too have members of the Brotherhood of the True Flame. The story on the streets is that Omar has involved himself with some form of barbarian magic, and is creating a beast of molten metal to do his bidding.

Hiyal bubbles with intrigue and mystery, and one is never sure who benefits or pays for particular actions. The sultana’s brood is continually engaged in one plot or another, if not against each other, then against other cities or neighbouring tribes. The rest of the city follows the custom, so everyone has a personal agenda and purpose.
Of the current news in Hiyal, it is common knowledge that someone in power was responsible for the death of Bulad the Steelmaker, most likely Prince Omar. But knowing and proving are two separate matters, and taking action against the powerful prince is something completely different. The reason that the prince has taken over part of the steel works is to create magical creatures of the savage North: iron golems. The first ones are almost complete, but it is unknown how to control or order them yet. It is also unknown if the Prince intends these beings as guardians or personal assassins.
The disappearance of Harayah al-Mabhum is the result of an extended vacation on her part, encouraged by Prince Anjar. She is currently at large under an assumed name, but has left part of her magical arsenal behind. She is willing to pay a group of adventurers to recover a handful of wands and staves and a crystal ball from her old quarters. Meanwhile, Anjar is considering leading a raid on the house himself, to make sure that the master of disappearances has truly disappeared

Huzuz, City of Delights: The City of Delights, nestled between the Golden Gulf and Suq Bay, is one of Zakhara’s most spectacular cities. Its shimmering spires can be seen for miles across the water, inviting sailors to approach. Here the first Grand Caliph received the vision of the Loregiver, which contained Fate’s wisdom and the Law. Today the city is still the seat of the Grand Caliph, the heart of the heart of the enlightened lands.
The Ruler: Grand Caliph Khalil al-Assad al-Zahir (Master of the Enlightened Throne, Most High Sovereign of the Land of Fate, the Worthy of the Gods, Scourge of the Unbeliever, Confidant of the Genies, hmF/f/20) is a middle-aged man whose hair is still black and whose body has not yet gone to fat. He is usually bored by matters or decisions that require Imam Renn min Zann (emP/p/19), Keeper of the Mosques, is the main representative of the assembled enlightened faiths of the Land of Fate. He is a respected, silver-haired fixture in court life, serving as the conduit by which religious questions and decisions are brought before the Grand Caliph.

Renn’s father was a broadminded barbarian elf from realms lying far to the north. His mother was the intelligent but headstrong daughter of a prominent Zakharan merchant. Perhaps because of this eclectic background, Renn became a pragmatic priest of Zann. He quickly gained a reputation for his wisdom and his ability to mediate among squabbling factions. Long a presence in the Grand Caliph’s court, Renn has served two previous Grand Caliphs (Khalil’s father and grandfather). All members of the present court have a healthy respect for Renn’s power, though he has sparred recently with the Grand Vizier, whose moralist philosophies are more conservative than his own.

Population: 800,000 permanent residents. During High Holy Days and on Ascension Day, the population swells to well over a million and a half.

Features of the City: Known far and wide for its beautiful architecture, this city is often called Huzuz the Golden. Its domes and minarets are clad in gold, tile, and inlaid glass, all reflecting* the sun. As dawn breaks the city seems to glow. In the midday heat, it shimmers And as the sun sinks toward the horizon, the light blazes a path across the Golden Gulf and seems to set the city aflame. Through centuries, the craftsmen and artisans of Zakhara have made the city their showcase. Their hand-painted tiles, intricate mosaics, gilded surfaces, and intricately carved plaster and stone are a tribute to the Loregiver, as well as to an enlightened civilization and the wonders of Huzuz itself.

The people of Huzuz are by nature as tolerant as they are diverse. Racial and religious differences do not present a problem. Even far-removed faiths and ideas are treated with more amusement than fear. Every style of fashion in the Land of Fate can be found on the city’s streets. Every type of product made in the enlightened world can be found here, too-along with a vast array from the lands beyond. The populace of Huzuz are confident in their good fortune, and cannot believe that anything evil would happen to the Enlightened Throne and their most puissant Grand Caliph.

A walking tour of this great city should include the following sites:

Palace of the Grand Caliph (also called the Lair of the Great Lion, Seat of the Enlightened Throne, and the place to which all eyes turn). Built and remodelled over the course of 500 years, this sprawling palace has become a maze of rooms, courts, and passageways. As the power and personal treasuries of the Grand Caliph expanded, so too did the palace. Old buildings and halls were tom down to provide space for new ones. The palace has maintained its present form for the past three generations of the Grand Caliphate.

Public Gardens. This wondrous expanse of greenery borders the eastern edge of the Grand Caliph’s palace. The gardens are filled with row upon tailored row of roses, hibiscus, and other flowers, as well as great orchards of pears and figs. Technically, the gardens lie upon the Grand Caliph’s private land. But according to a long tradition, they remain open to civilized men and women throughout the year, and are closed only when the Grand Caliph himself chooses to wander the grounds for meditation (about once a week).

The greatest wonder of the Public Gardens is the Floating Fountain. The fountain’s base is an enormous reflecting pool installed by the first Grand Caliph. Recently, Ambassador Jiraad enhanced the pool. The marid created golden bowls which float through the air above the reflecting pool, dancing a slow, graceful ballet. The bowls spout jets of clear, sparkling water, which arch into the air before spilling into the pool below. In times of celebration, the fountains spray coloured water instead-and sometimes even fire, steam, or rainbow-colored sand.

The Grand Bazaar. This huge, open-air court is located near the city’s harbour. It is one of Zakhara’s busiest markets, for Huzuz lies at the crossroads of all major trade routes. Exotic foods, silks, treasures, curios entertainers, letter-writers, mystics, barbers, individuals looking for employment, all can be found in the bustling court until curfew. After nightfall, lamps aglow with continual light spells provide general illumination. Licensed torchbearers appear, offering to escort members of the evening crowd to their sleeping quarters (for a fee). Huzuz lacks an official slave market, but unscrupulous characters are willing to procure that which is desired, as long as the correct price is paid.

Major Products: Trade, tourism (especially visits to the Grand Mosque and the Court of Enlightenment), bureaucracy (tax records and census for managing the empire), universities, sages, textiles.
Armed Forces: 10,000 footmen; 2,000 imperial cavalry; five 50-man wings of hippogriff cavalry; an imperial palace guard comprising 1,000; three mercenary units (2,100 strong combined); five units of mamluk infantry (5,000 strong combined, with one unit for each of these groups: the Dutiful, the Faithful, the Valiant, the Studious, the Honoured); three units of mamluk cavalry (900 strong combined, representing the Dutiful, the Valiant, and the Dauntless); naval base for 40 imperial ships with crews, who are charged with patrolling the Golden Gulf and Suq Bay; plus the Magical Legion, a unit of 75 wizards of varying level, each with a flying carpet. The city also boasts a reserve force of jann warriors, whose exact number is not common knowledge (see also page 27).
Footmen serve as patrols and the city guard. They are led by the chancellor of the city, Makin al Mutrattab (hmF/a/10). Cavalry, hippogriffs, and the palace guard are under the direct command of Prince Cheddah. Mercenaries are under the command of Thokkor. All mamluks answer to Preani Qin, including the Honoured, a detachment of eunuchs used as harem guards in the palace. The navy serves under the command of Grand Admiral Haroun ibn Abbak (hmF/c/15), though they may be led by Jiraad, ambassador from the Genie Courts. Jiraad is also responsible for the jann auxiliaries. The wizards serve under the command of the Grand Vizier, but in battle they are led by the White Agate (see Key Figures Outside the Court).
Major Mosques and Priests: Huzuz has nine great mosques. Eight are arranged in an arc facing east toward the ninth, like a half-moon whose points reach out to embrace a shining star. Each of the eight mosques of the arc is dedicated to a different enlightened god. The temples, their faith, and the imam in charge are listed below. The sequence follows the arc from north to south.
Kor:: Imam Gogol (hmP/e/19).
Hajama: Imam Jomhur (hmP/m/19.
Najm: Imam Effat (hfP/e/20),
Jisan: Imam Morol (hemp/m/18).
Hakiyah: Imam Kerim (hmP/p/17).
Selan: Imam Lelia (dfP/e/12).
Zann: Imam Renn (emP/p/19).

Haku: Imam Gholam (hmP/e/18).
With this arrangement, the great arc is bounded on one side by wisdom and on the other by learning. The ninth house of worship, the Golden Mosque, is considered open. Members of any faith recognized by the Loregiver may worship freely within it, including members of the Temple of Ten Thousand Gods and followers of local deities such as Jauhar and Bala.
The Golden Mosque is maintained by a large staff headed by the Keeper of the Mosques, who in turn is a member of the Grand Caliph’s court. Imam Renn, an elvish Zannite and pragmatist, is the current Keeper of the Mosques. His temple takes its name from the lavish gilt overlay which bedecks the pillars and the carved ceiling and wall ornaments. Even the intricate tilework is laced with gold.
The Golden Mosque is significant for three other reasons. First, it is a ham (holy site). It is built around the ruins of a house that is said to have belonged to the Loregiver herself. Further, it was here that the first Grand Caliph received the vision to search out the words of the Loregiver. Finally, the Golden Mosque opens to the east upon the Great Court of Enlightenment. The Grand Caliph appears above this court to his people on Ascension Day, and then pays homage to his gods in the Golden Mosque. In worshipping so, the Grand Caliph shows no preference to one faith over another.
Key Figures Outside the Court: White Agate (hmW/sem/20) is a sea mage whose travels to the utter ends of the earth have left his flesh bleached completely white. Some say it was caused by the inhospitable weather he encountered in the Crowded Sea, while others speak of his encounters with dark things far beneath the land of Nog. White Agate has retired as an adventurer and has made Huzuz his home. He now serves as the leader of the Magical Legion. Except for rare appearances in the Grand Caliph’s court and at the head of his troop, White Agate is never seen in public. Even those who seek his services and advice do not communicate with him directly. Instead, servants bring the sea mage written questions, and he responds in kind.

Qirmiz min Hudid (hfW/fm/14) is a member of the Brotherhood of the True Flame (and therefore a staunch believer in the superiority of fire magic over all other types). She occupies a large manor, which is frequently used by visiting flame mages as a base of operations. Rumours persist that worship of Kossuth is a common practice within her walls, but that has not been proved. Qirmiz is a sullen, easily-angered individual who is accustomed to getting what she seeks.
The House of R’maga was founded by seven ogre brothers, six of whom still remain in Huzuz. They pride themselves on their ability as porters and guides. Both they and their employees are well-versed in the history of the city, its layout, and how to get around. The R’maga brothers are in great demand during High Holy Days, when visiting dignitaries command their personal services. The seventh brother, Arkar bin R’maga, disappeared mysteriously a few years ago, and the surviving brothers do not speak of him.
A fixture in the Grand Bazaar for nearly 40 years is the popular barber Gorar al-Aksar (hmB/br/15). He has attended the sick, shaved the hairy, and provided great entertainment. Many people appreciate his talents. Harming Gorar in any way – and a number of strangers have been moved to such violence – is a sure way to incite a riot.
Gorar is a seemingly endless fount of information and chatter. He prefaces every other statement with a caveat, saying, This may not be true, but. . . Then he launches into a long and lively account. Merchants who frequent the bazaar claim that half the wild stories and most of the lost treasures of Huzuz and its surroundings have been planted by this man.
Gorar enjoys listening to a good tale almost as much as he enjoys telling one. He willingly compensates others for information-offering his services if not his silver. In time, he relates those stories to other customers, suitably embellished.
Rumors and Lore: The tale of Huzuz is closely tied to that of the Grand Caliph. Six hundred years ago, the land occupied by Huzuz was little more than a small village used for trade between desert tribes and merchants along Suq Bay. One fateful day, the young man who would be the first Grand Caliph visited the village. He wandered the streets and soon stood before a simple dwelling, which many claim was the house of the Loregiver. There-at the site of what is now the Golden Mosque he received a vision of Fate. Fate declared to him that a disaster lay ahead for his tribe, but if he would place himself in her hands, he would rise to greatness.
And so it happened that when the boy and his tribe returned to the desert, a great sandstorm arose, unlike any they had seen before. The young man’s tribe attempted to outrun the storm, but they were scattered and separated by the wind, seemingly lost forever. The young man himself did not flee. Instead, he placed himself in Fate’s hands, and let his horse take him wherever Fate determined.
After some time, the boy awoke to find himself in the Akara Mountains, resting in a cave. He had no knowledge of how he came there. Upon searching the cave, he discovered a set of ancient scrolls, which he placed into his carpet bag before leaving.
For a time, the boy searched the desert for signs of his tribe. When he found none, he returned to the village where he had received the vision of Fate. There, he deciphered the scrolls, which contained the wisdom that would be known as the Law of the Loregiver. The boy began to share his wisdom with others. They spread the word in turn, and soon, almost magically, Fate’s wisdom spread throughout the land like a wildfire. All recognized the wisdom of the youth.
When members of his tribe, scattered and separated, heard of this mystic youth, they came together at the village. All had survived, and they realized that Fate had been with them after all.
The desert people and villagers settled the land together and spread the word of the Law. The youth became the new sheikh of his tribe. More importantly, he was soon recognized as the first Grand Caliph. The youth founded the Golden Mosque on the site of his vision, and all who wished to pray to whichever enlightened god they chose were welcome there. And within sight of the mosque he made his home.
Upon his death, the Grand Caliph ruled a small collection of cities. The title of Grand Caliph passed to his son. Since that time, the power of the Grand Caliph has expanded to its present size. And Huzuz itself has grown in population and wonder.
The present Grand Caliph is the eighteenth man to sit upon the Enlightened Throne, and his rule has been, for the most part, good. The realm is better under his care than it would be without him. For the people of Zakhara, that is enough.

The greatest problem confronting the Enlightened Court, and all of the civilized Land of Fate, is the Grand Caliph’s heir, or lack thereof. Despite the opportunities apparent from his position, he has not produced a male or female heir. There are several possible reasons for this:
• The Grand Caliph can bear no children. Sad, but true, the Hand of Fate has turned from him and he is sterile. Either Prince Cheddah or Prince Tannous will succeed to the throne, or an individual of merit hand-picked by the Khalil.
• The Grand Caliph’s harim is under a curse, placed by an early more favoured courtesan who fell out of favour. She encouraged a djinn to place a gem within the ceiling of the harim quarters, which prevents conception in all within. Discovering and removing the gem removes the problem (though this may be a problem for male adventurers).

The Grand Caliph actually has a number of children, but when their mothers became expectant, they were spirited out of the palace by Alyana al-Azzazi and allies among the Soft Whisper. They are being raised in hiding, but documents in Alyana’s possession prove their true parentage.
• Fate has merely not been with the Grand Caliph, and he will conceive a son in good time. When this occurs, the expectant mother will be the centre of attention, and various power factions will seek to ally with, kidnap, or manipulate her to their own ends.
You, the DM, may choose one of the above, or construct your own reason for this troubling condition.
Of a more direct influence on the player characters is Prince Tannous, who has agents everywhere, and is not above employing adventurers (through third parties) as cat’s-paws to perform necessary tasks for the Enlightened Throne (even if they themselves do not realize it).
Finally, the barber of the Grand Bazaar, Gorar al-Askar, can provide a basis for adventurers heading out to the wildlands. As he often says, This may not be true, but. . . , and off they go toward a new adventure.

Wasat, the Middle City: Located at the narrows of Suq Bay, Wasat lies on the major trade route linking Huzuz and Hiyal.
Despite its key location, however, Wasat is a rather sleepy town, marked by none of the bustle of the great cities that flank it. The Middle City is but a quaint waystation for ships that travel along this golden trade route, and its residents are content with their position.
The Ruler: Caliph Haroun al-Raqqas, Blood of the First Caliph (hmT/br/12), is a bleary-eyed, bureaucratic courtier. He traded his independence for a soft, secure position, and has come to regret it. The blood of the First Caliph does run in his body, though it is very thin. That blood, coupled with Haroun’s quick wit, garnered him a posting in Wasat following the untimely (and apparently accidental) death of the previous caliph and his family.
The Court: The caliph has a modest number of courtiers, some of whom are out of favour in Huzuz or on the run from Hiyal. The caliph also maintains a reasonable harim, with a number of possible young heirs (ages 5 and under).
An important member of the court is a newcomer, the great sorcerer Azuah al-Jawwaf (hmW/so/20). Al-Jawwaf arrived two years ago and took up residence in an abandoned monastery overlooking the town. He is a gaunt man with sharp features and fiery eyes. To pay fealty to the caliph, Azuah declared that he came to Wasak to retire from the hustle of the great cities. He also claimed that he wished only to conduct his research in peace. Azuah has given Caliph Haroun a magical ring, by which the caliph can summon him for magical advice. Haroun uses the ring sparingly, and usually sends written word to the old monastery of an upcoming appearance. Azuah, for his part, usually travels to the caliph’s chambers using a teleport or dimension door spell, appearing in a puff of brilliant smoke.
Another frequent visitor to the palace is Prince Tannous, the uncle of the Grand Caliph. Tannous talks long into the night with Haroun. Of late, Azuah has joined them. The subjects of these discussions are not known, but the very fact that this most influential man regularly confers with the local caliph greatly enhances Haroun’s prestige.
Population: 90,000.
Features of the City: Most of Wasat’s money stems from its business as a waystation for merchants, who stop only briefly. The city produces little in its own right beyond what it needs to feed and clothe itself. A court rawun once called Wasat the Shining City because when the sun shines, the city’s white-washed buildings reflect its light. Such days are rare, however. Usually, the city is shrouded in fog or a grey haze. Given the many stunning settlements in Zakhara, Wasat’s beauty is seductive only when compared to the stinking cloud that surrounds Hiyal.
The people of Wasat are neither lazy nor diligent, fanatical nor unholy. Their most notable aspect is a refusal to be surprised-regardless of the situation. Located between two of Zakhara’s great cities, they seem to exist in a dreamlike and magical world. What does it matter if a flaming fountain should suddenly appear in the suq? As long as the goods (and the merchants) aren’t scorched, it matters little to the nonchalant people of Wasat.
Major Products: Trade.
Armed Forces: 800-man palace guard; two mamluk units of 300 men each, representing the Studious; 8000 man cavalry patrol, usually outside the city; a three-ship navy. In times of true danger, the city relies on Huzuz for protection, and, to a lesser extent, upon Hiyal.
Major Mosques: Haku, Jisan, Kor, Selan, Zann.
Rumors and Lore: Wasat’s sleepiness may be a veneer. Given its strategic position between Hiyal and Huzuz, this city is filled with agents of both the Enlightened Throne and Hiyal’s sultana. Prince Tannous’s regular visits indicate that Caliph Haroun is the humble servant of his puissant and mighty lord. But representatives of the sultana’s children have also been present recently, dealing with some of the more unreliable merchants.
Azuah is a source of rumor as well. The true nature of this wizard’s retirement and current research has yet to be revealed. Further, it is not known if even the caliph himself is partial to the wizard’s full confidence. Strange lights resembling ball lightning have appeared around Azuah’s abode, and the ground frequently shudders.

The Corsair Domains: The Corsair Domains are a collection of small islands connected by shallow coastal waters. They are riddled with hidden bays, small villages, and secret coves. They are also a hive of illegal activity. These domains have no caliph, nor do they recognize a formal hierarchy, though most of the inhabitants consider themselves loyal (in their own way) to the Grand Caliph in Huzuz. In fact, some corsairs have declared themselves true followers of the Grand Caliph and protectors of the Law of the Loregiver, They regard the natives of Qudra and the Free Cities as spiritually impoverished tyrants who are unfit for rulership.
Government, in corsair terms, is simply the rule of the strong over the weak. In the absence of a greater ruler, anarchy reigns. Strong and self-reliant, each of the small villages dotting these islands is a power unto itself, usually headed by a retired captain who runs the village with the same resolute iron hand that one would expect from a captain of brigands on the high sea.
The corsairs’ main sources of income are smuggling, ship-building, and piracy. The third activity primarily affects shipping along the coast of the Free Cities, but many corsairs also range northward into the barbarian seas, in search of adventure as well as plunder. The corsairs are nomads of the ocean, and they practice what they preach: independence, self-reliance, and willingness to fight. They find state-sanctioned slavery abhorrent, due perhaps in part to fact that their main foes at sea are mamluk patrol craft.
While most settlements in the Corsair Domains are too small to qualify as cities, there is one exception: Hawa, the City of Chaos. That city is described in this chapter.

Hawa, City of Chaos: Hawa is the only sizeable settlement among the Corsair Domains. Seamen who have never seen Hawa know its reputation for chaos, given the pirating bent of its inhabitants. The people of Hawa have also dubbed it the City of Stilts, for nearly half its buildings are built directly over the water.
The Ruler: Currently, no single man or woman rules Hawa. Occasionally, a self-proclaimed pirate king has achieved power, ruling for a handful of years-which is as long as he can bully or bribe the city’s council, the city’s only stable governing body. Years ago, Hawa was ruled by a pirate queen, whose reign outlasted that of those who have succeeded her. According to rumour, the council arranged her unlikely death: she drowned.
The Court: Hawa is ruled by a council of the most powerful corsair leaders, some of whom have retired from life at sea. Active corsairs with a seat on the council aid in policy decisions only when they are in port, and their concerns are primarily along the lines of protection rackets and treasure splits. Retired corsairs (who have sprouted land legs) run bars and inns on Hawa, or own ship-building and repair facilities. Some also manage protection rackets. The concern of these retirees is keeping Hawa afloat both financially and militarily. They have been very successful against the slave-troops to the south, chiefly because the land-bound slaves have no love of water.
Important members of the council include the following:
• Jayani al-Jasir (hfF/c/14) is one of the legendary figures of the islands. She controls much of the tavern-trade in Hawa, and any shops which she herself does not own must pay a small gratuity for permission to exist. Jayani is allegedly in her nineties, though except for a greying at the temples, she does not show her age. Most people assume she guards her looks with some form of magical enhancement.
During her years at sea, Jayani raided up and down the Free Coast. For a decade she worked out of a pirate base on the back of a great zaratan (a sea- turtle as big as an island). Then an attack by Qudra’s mamluks spooked the creature and dragged her base to the bottom. Her hatred for the slave-soldiers and their minions knows no bounds, and foes who seek to infiltrate Hawa had best know that every tavern has Jayani’s spies.
• Grima al-Auni min Kor (hill giant mP/e/8) is a priest of Kor, trained in the City of Delights and dispatched to the city of Liham. He never reached that city, however, for corsairs under the command of Jayani captured the hill giant en-route.
Grima soon found his true calling by bringing enlightenment to the corsair peoples. His main concern is protecting the children of the oft-violent corsair society. He hopes that these youngsters-the next generation of corsairs-will unite Hawa with the enlightened world, making it a respected city-state. (He encourages them to focus their efforts on the unenlightened.) Grima has been fairly successful and convincing in the past decade, owing primarily to his soft and resonant voice, calm and thoughtful manner, and a right hook that can smash through a ship’s hull,
• Akura al-Hiyali (hmW/sh/15) is an active corsair captain. His upbringing and abilities are not those of a warrior, yet he has become one of the most successful pirates on the coast by using his training as a sha’ir. A water gen serves as his familiar. He is said to have no genie under his control at present, but in his time, Akura has summoned more than a few of these elemental creatures to wreak havoc upon his enemies.
He is aggressive and bold-as likely to attack another corsair as any merchant vessel. He fancies himself the next pirate king, and claims his legend will exceed that of Jayani. The illustrious Jayani, of course, disagrees, and the two battle constantly, both in council and through their followers on the streets of Hawa.
Population: 50,000 (?). Bad weather as well as drives by the mamluks cause wide swings in Hawa’s population. Most inhabitants have outlying holdings to which they flee during emergencies.
Features of the City: Hawa is a sprawling city built out over small islets of Chaos Bay. Half the city is on stilts. The bay is littered with coral reefs, making navigation for outsiders nearly impossible. Even seasoned sailors have difficulty, for sea-elf magicians regularly move the razor-sharp tropical growths through their wizardry. The city proper is a hodgepodge of different buildings. Often one structure is built upon the rubble of the previous one, so rumours of sunken and flooded treasure chambers abound. Beyond the city walls are the retreats of many retired corsair captains, each controlling a small, well-fortified (and often well-concealed) refuge.
The people of Hawa are independent, self-reliant, and dangerous, much like those of the Free City of Utaqa, with whom they have good relations. In fact, many residents of Hawa have blood relatives in Utaqa, and vice versa. The people of Hawa welcome newcomers, but they are not so foolish as to trust them: Strangers who cross a man or woman of Hawa
have a price to pay, for once betrayed, Hawa’s citizens are as savage as any native of the Crowded Sea, doggedly seeking revenge.
Major Products: Trade, smuggling, piracy.
Armed Forces: 2,000-man city guard; 15-ship navy, comprising ships of retired captains sold to the city. Those numbers are misleading, however. Every landholder has his or her own personal guard, ranging from a few leg-breakers to a small army. During an invasion, half the city of Hawa will be up in arms (while the other half heads for the hills with the valuables). Further, each corsair crew is a fighting force unto itself, and nearly all would battle to protect the city. At any given time, 20 or more pirate and smuggling vessels lie in port. If a major armada is heading up from the south, that number doubles or triples.
Major Mosques: Hakiyah, Kor, Najm. Reportedly, there is a secret cult of Ishtishia in the city, venerating a living idol set in a flooded basement on the mainland. This has not been proved.
Rumours and Lore: In the narrow waters north of Chaos Bay, a new island is said to have risen an island that drifts with the tide. If the reports are true, it is probably a zaratan, and it could even be Jayani’s old base. That base sunk with great treasure aboard, and the riches may well have survived. Akura has brazenly staked his claim to the island, but only the one who locates it first will gain it.

The rise of Istishia cultists has been reflected in a number of disappearances, particularly among young people. Grima, the local priest of Kor, is incensed by this tragedy, and greatly rewards any who can solve the disappearances and remove this cult

The Free Coast: In the northern reaches of Zakhara, where the Great Sea crashes against the shore, are Qudra, the Corsair Domains, and the Free Cities. The great city of Qudra is ruled by mamluks who are fiercely devoted to the Grand
Caliph. Also dubbed the City of Power, Qudra is a model of duty and organization. The Corsair Domains, if they can be said to be ruled at all, are the holdings of Zakhara’s northern pirates. Typically devoid of central government, the Corsair Domains are a political antithesis to the staunch rank and file of Qudra. Between them philosophically are the Free Cities, a collection of six independent city-states lining the coast, each located at the mouth of a river. These cities – Hafaya, Liham, Muluk, Qadib, Umara, and Utaqa – have come to operate more independently than others who swear fealty to the Grand Caliph. In fact, the loyalty of the Free Cities (and their rulers) to the Grand Caliph is directly proportional to their distance from the armies of Qudra. With savage tribes to the south, wild pirates to the north, and foreigners filling their streets, the somewhat uncivilized bent of the Free Cities is not surprising.
The independence of the Free Cities is heightened by their own standing armies, which fend off attacks by corsairs and savage tribesmen. The cities also use the armies against each other with great regularity. In accordance with a treaty written in Qudra, each Free City’s caliph rules the river valley of his or her home. The caliphs, however, interpret this to mean from one river to the next, so the cities are continually raiding each other’s outposts. Qudra allows this uncivilized behaviour to a point, intervening only when trade is threatened. During the past 20 years, the emir of Qudra has launched four major armed incursions into territory of the Free Cities, as well as dozens of smaller operations.

Hafayah, City of Secrets: This Free City draws its water from the river Al-Kufr, upon whose banks it is built. No tourist’s paradise, Hafayah is a dark, sombre place whose residents favour black in their dress and their architecture. A recent bloody coup and the ongoing machinations of rival factions have left Hafaya’s citizens suspicious and seemingly joyless toward strangers.
The Ruler: Prince Saba is the legitimate ruler of Hafayah, soon to be its sultan. Since he is only 8, the gnome in power is the Most Holy Regent Uqban min Najm (gmP/e/9), who is the prince’s advisor as well as his guardian and protector. Prince Saba’s short life has been marked by tragedies in three’s. Three years ago, the boy became the sole surviving son of the former sultan, who was poisoned. A bloody and futile coup erupted upon his father’s death. The prince had three elder brothers and two elder sisters, all of whom perished during the factional bloodshed, which lasted three weeks. Fearing the worst, Father Uqban, a priest of Najm, had wisely spirited little Prince Saba away to safety. When the other heirs were dead, and word began circulating that a fleet from Qudra was approaching to restore order, the priest returned to Hafayah with his ward. Persuaded by the threat of a lopsided battle and a cry of public support for the prince, the surviving factional leaders recognized Prince Saba as heir to the throne, and recognized the gnomish priest as the boy’s regent and vizier.
Uqban has proved a cagey and wise ruler, though he spends most of his time turning one potential group of troublemakers against another. His information gathering service is first class, aided by the churches, who prefer that their followers refrain from killing each other over temporal power. Uqban is also aided by wealth, for the upper regions of the terrible Al-Haul River have provided a wealth of agates and other semiprecious stones.
Prince Saba is just eight years away from his majority and the throne. At the moment, he does not want to be sultan. He wants to be a desert rider, a hero of the old tales who blazes a legend across the wastelands, freeing people from tyranny and defeating great monsters. His guardian is distressed by this, but none of the prince’s tutors has been able to sway him from this idea. They have eight more years to work on it.
The Court: Favoured members of the regent’s court are few and far between. The turnover of courtiers, tutors, advisors, and others has almost become routine, for Uqban does not want anyone (aside from himself) to become firmly entrenched in the bureaucracy. Usually, those working closely with the regent do so only until the first mistake, at which point they find themselves demoted, exiled, or in extreme cases, arrested.
The exception to this general rule is the regent’s chief scribe, a female gnoll named Jamalia. A descendent of a tribe of desert gnolls, she has been loyal to Uqban since his days as a rector in the faith of Najm. Uqban grants her the run of the palace. Those seeking the ear of the regent or heir often try to cultivate Jamalia. While she appears simple, open, and honest, she is as cunning as her master, and often works with the gnome to set one party against another.
Population: 120,000.
Features of the City: Hafaya’s official colour is black, both in clothing, tilework, and architecture. The rich mud of the Al-Haul River bakes dark, and the granite stonework gives the city an oppressive, sinister feeling. That sinister feeling extends to the people as well. Not enough time has passed since the internal combat following the old sultan’s death, and all remember the Time when the Streets Bled. Intense loyalties are hidden beneath subterfuge, and no one is sure if a comrade would come to his or her aid in time of need.
Suspicious and sombre, the citizens of Hafaya give out information sparingly. The proximity of the rival city Qadib stuffed with genies, sha’irs, and members of the Brotherhood of the True Flame makes the people of Hafaya even more suspicious.
Hafaya is known for its wealth of semiprecious stones, which are harvested from the riverbanks. Most are exported for sale elsewhere. Allegedly, precious stones have also been found, and are in the possession of Uqban min Najm.
Major Products: Clothing, rice, agates and other semiprecious stones.
Armed Forces: 5,000 infantry; 1,200 cavalry; three units of mercenary barbarians, totalling 1,800 men; two units of mamluks of the Youthful, totalling 1,200 men; fleet of ten ships, small but extremely fast.
Major Mosques: Hajama, Najm, Selan.
Rumours and Lore: The facts behind the poisoning of the Old Sultan, at a dinner entertaining a delegation of ajami wizards from parts north, have never been established. The ajamis were among the first to perish in the bloodshed as the elder children gathered their private factions and forces and turned against each other. The person responsible for the sultan’s poisoning has never been identified.
Prince Saba is the surviving direct heir, but some of his brothers had children. Any of these cousins would be willing to take the reins should the prince perish as mysteriously as his father. Uqban is aware of this danger, and he has headed off a number of earlier attempts. In such matters, the priest prefers to work with adventurers who are not tied to the city, especially loners who have few loyalties. The priest can easily deny their actions, or, if need be, dispose of them.

The gnoll-scribe Jamalia is inadvertently responsible for the prince’s fixation on being a desert rider. She is devoted to the prince, and has often told him stories from her own childhood, which results in his fascination. If Uqban has realized that Jamalia is the one responsible, he has not taken any action. The prince, however, may take matters into his own hands and run off to join the desert nomads. The lad is unaware of the harshness of such a life, and must be rescued before it is too late.

Liham, City of Soldiers: Located where the Al-Sari River spills into the Great Sea, Liham is the southernmost point in the line-up of Free Cities. Following the coast, a sailor would journey about 200 miles to the southwest to reach Qudra. The Free City of Umara lies about the same distance to the northeast. Though Liham’s strong military force – which includes mamluks from Qudra – has earned it the title City of Soldiers, it is also called Liham the Red, because crimson is a prominent colour in the clothing of its residents.
The Ruler: Caliph Harm al-Hayif (hmF/a/10) is a timid soul who writes poetry of great quality. The caliph is rarely abroad, confined to his own court by his advisors.
The Court: The caliph’s chief advisor is Marshal Imar Abd al-Amin (hmF/mk/12), a mamluk of the Faithful. Al-Amin’s orders come directly from Qudra. Members of the Faithful serve as palace guards, insulating the caliph from external dangers.
Population: 120,000.
Features of the City: Red is the unofficial colour of Liham. Fashionable men wear red fezzes and, to a lesser extent, red turbans. Many also wear red sashes at the waist. The women of Qudra don a riot of red shades in their gowns, shirts, and pants, accented with black and white. As the residents mill through Liham’s Grand Bazaar, they form a wavering, flickering red mass, after which the bazaar has been dubbed Al-Mauqida, the Hearth.
Some folk have another name for this city: Liham the Lapdog. Because of its proximity to Qudra, Liham is closely scrutinized by the powerful mamluks. It is said that Liham’s caliph won’t even comment on the weather without first checking with Qudra’s emir.
Qudra’s mamluks maintain a strong presence in Liham; units of the Valiant, the Dutiful, and the Faithful regularly visit the city. While this adds to Liham’s protection, it also severely limits its autonomy.
Major Products: Trade, pottery, coffee.
Armed Forces: 6,000 foot soldiers; 600 cavalry; detachments of mamluk units from Qudra – typically three units of 200 mamluks each, more in times of crisis; mamluk palace guard, representing the Dutiful. (The city has no native mamluk or mercenary organizations.) Seafaring forces include a three-ship coastal navy.
Major Mosques: Hajama, Kor, Najm, Vataqatal.
Rumours and Lore: Two rumours are regularly afloat in the City of Soldiers. Both concern its relationship with Qudra. According to the first rumour, Qudra’s mamluks will soon drop all pretence and take full control, deposing Liham’s timid caliph and creating a rulership of slave-soldiers in his stead. Then Liham would serve as Qudra’s forward base in dealing with other Free Cities and the hill tribes. Only the combined might of the Free Cities, and, surprisingly, the popularity of Al-Hayif’s poetry in the court of the Grand Caliph, prevent this from occurring.
The second rumour that appears regularly is as follows: The people of Liham – with the support of Umara, Utaqa, and factions from other cities – will rise up and overthrow the present government and cast out the mamluks. Such an uprising is not likely, considering the profitable trade that Liham has with its larger neighbour to the south. But the rumour has gained new life with talk of a leader who claims to be the unrecognized son of Liham’s caliph. This mysterious son is allegedly hidden away, much as the father, waiting for the uprising. The mamluks in general, and Marshal al-Amin in particular, are interested in locating this missing prince before such an event might occur.

Despite the rumours of the marketplace, Liham is on the verge neither of a military overthrow nor a popular rebellion. However, the existence of an unrecognized heir is up to the DM. Such an heir may be leader of a hill tribe, or a monastic mystic, or even one of the player characters! As he is unrecognized, he has no official claim on the caliphate, but brave men and women commanding powerful armies have changed the rules of the Land of Fate before. (Land of Fate)

Liham the Red, the City of Soldiers, is a Free City entirely too close to the might of Qudra. Though it boasts magnificent mosques dedicated to Hajama the Brave, Najm the Adventurous, Vataqatal the Warrior Slave, and Old Kor, the city-folk rarely assert themselves. They fear reprisals from the rulers of Qudra, who always keep several detachments of Qudran mamluks in town, ostensibly for the protection of the caliph.
The city is built by the sea, on a small escarpment that varies from twenty to thirty feet high. Bluffs lead down to a rocky coastline of jagged rocks. The waterfront stretches along the end of the river gorge and the oceanside; both of these areas are built on stilts, to keep the city safe from the river water, the ocean’s tides, and the uneven rocks beneath the bluffs.
Terrible things are said to lurk beneath the planks of the docks and wharves, but these are most often tales told to frighten small children away from the rough sailors, corsairs, and longshoremen that frequent the low city. A gate at the top of the bluffs above the wharves, called the Water Gate, is shut every night.
On top of the bluffs, many parts of the city wall and the many buildings in the city itself are made of ancient stones – material collected from the rubble of an earlier city built on the same site. This old city is said to have given Liham its name as the City of Soldiers, for it is said that the ancient city fell sway to a warmonger genie and prepared to make war on its neighbours, and the genie leader swore to slaughter all who resisted him. Before the genie could carry out his threats, the city was razed by a Black Cloud of Vengeance (see the AL-QADIM™ MONSTROUS COMPENDIUM™ appendix), which punished the wicked but left the innocent unharmed. A much smaller Liham was rebuilt on the site after the Black Cloud departed.
The city’s walls and towers are given a coat of bright red stucco every year, and many of the town’s buildings are roofed with crimson. The city is divided by the Al-Sari River, which carries trade goods up the valley to the hinterlands and the hill tribes of the Furrowed Mountains. Two bridges cross the shallow valley, each supported by strong stone arches. Rumour has it that these bridges are built to be destroyed by the removal of a key stone, making the city difficult to storm from the south. Nevertheless, most caravanserais are on the southern bank of the river, and many Al-Badia pitch their tents there outside the city walls when they come to trade.
The city’s centre of power is the palace of Caliph Harin al-Hayif, the Palace of Sly Ravens. This bustling building of whitewashed stucco is adorned with a few modest murals and set with a brightly glazed red tile roof – otherwise, it is almost indistinguishable from the merchants’ houses and caravanserais that surround it.
The palace overlooks the sea and is flanked by three greying, drab buildings with ordinary red clay roofs: the treasury, the barracks of the mamluks, and the caliph’s stables.

Liham’s central market is called the Hearth, Al-Mauqida, named for the thousand shades of red that the people of the city display there while they barter and haggle. The market areas sprawl along the streets and alleys to lesser squares and courtyards. Caravans often clog the streets and the western bridge.
Liham survives and prospers on the spill-over trade from the great caravan routes connecting Qudra to the Free Cities; caravanserais crowd the lanes and suqs, and camel trains often clog the two main trade gates: the Gate of Roaring Camels in the south, and the Free Gate to the north.
The city also produces fine pottery and a hardy mountain coffee that grows on the seaward slopes of the Furrowed Mountains. The marketplace is full of silk spinners and sellers, butchers, weavers, moneychangers, corn chandlers, scavengers and ragmen, greengrocers, and other merchants. Craftsmen and fishmongers cry their wares, and porters, messengers, watchmen, and grooms seek patrons. A bathkeeper declaims the virtues of his oils, mineral waters, and unguents. Carts and mules bring more goods and haul away large purchases. In short, the market is a civilized place, if a turbulent and noisy one.
The Mosques of Liham: The Shrine of the Scimitar, a mosque dedicated to Vataqatal, overlooks the marketplace. The mosque’s white marble is stained red with rust, and the pillars of the shrine’s portico are inlaid with winding mosaic lines of red. The priests here are fiery and outspoken in their defence of the mamluk societies; they are all moralists. The Shrine of the Scimitar is widely believed to be the centre of spy activity furthering the interests of Qudra. The priests of Vataqatal view assassins as the vilest, most craven sort of creatures.
The Midnight Mosque is home to worship of Brave Hajama. This is a black granite building overlooking the river and approachable only along a narrow path over the escarpment. Its walls are thick enough that the interior is pleasantly cool, even during the hottest hours of the day. Its basalt statues are master works, and its floor is inlaid with black marble set with subtle patterns of onyx and black jade. Despite the richness of this building, the many silver candelabra holding white tapers are tarnished from long years of smoke and neglect. A great chandelier of black iron illuminates the centre of the mosque. It is said that its fearful appearance ensures that only the truly faithful worship there. The priests are almost entirely ethoists, though the pragmatic minority has recently gained the ear of the caliph. The priests here are indignant about the assassins of the Everlasting and deny any loyalty to or relationship with them. Sirhan min Hajama is the new imam of the Midnight Mosque
The Mosque of the Revealed is the centre of worship for Najm, Hajama’s brother, and one of the hot spots for the disaffected to air their grievances about Qudra, their own passive caliph, and everyday complaints and ills. This public dissension is tolerated as a way for the citizens to blow off steam peaceably, but it has also been the site of riots in the past. A grey, lustreless fire is kept magically burning on the altar of Najm, for use in sacrifices of incense or rare woods. The priests of Najm in Liham are evenly split between ethoists and pragmatists. The priests chortle whenever the subject of the holy slayers of Hajama comes up; they find it an amusing embarrassment with which to tease their brethren in the church of Hajama.
The Temple of the Small Axe with its golden dome lies across the street from the caliph’s palace. Its tall walls ensure that the worshipers of Kor the Venerable meditate and pray in relative isolation, though they are also often called upon in the palace. The altar is in the midst of a garden. The priests’ quarters surrounding the garden are stacked high with scrolls and parchments. The priests are all pragmatists, and, like the priests of Vataqatal, they despise assassins, though for different reasons. They consider them ill-informed and misguided, not cowardly. These priests act as sage counsellors for those who seek knowledge, accepting donations in exchange for their services. (Assassin Mountain)

The Bazaar: The cloth and colour of the suq is a dazzling mix of scarlet, saffron, pink, blood, ruby, crimson, and maroon, as shades of the Red City’s colour are everywhere from the robes of the preachers to the ground cloths of the small dealers and the awnings over the larger stands. In the bright sunlight, it seems as if the whole marketplace is awash with fire.

The bazaar is divided into sections by professions, though some are more strictly enforced than others/ There are tailors, moneychangers, weavers, vendors with scented water and ices, jewelers and grain merchants, camel traders and ironmongers, all in their separate streets and alleys and squares. Preachers and storytellers can be found on most corners or wherever a bit of shade can be found under a wall.

Informers, sympathizers, and other servants of the assassins do haunt the court and the bazaar. These spies and servants of the Everlasting include propagandists, barbers, teachers, and soldiers. Some are disguised as merchants, ascetics, holy men, or caravan guards.
Those who bellow about what they seek will find people drawing away and making signs to avert evil. Discretion is advised. Though everyone shares rumours about the attacks of the assassins and the schemers of Qudra, they do it quietly. No one wants to attract the attention of forces best left alone.
Rumours have run wild lately that an unrecognized son of the caliph exists and will soon step forward although others claim that he is a mere boy, a puppet, a tool of the holy slayers, of the mamluks, or even of the Pantheon. (Assassin Mountain)

Muluk, City of Kings: This Free City takes its name from the long, unbroken line of rulers whose history predates the Enlightened Throne. It is also known for its unusually regal purple dyes, produced from local indigo plants. Centrally located at the mouth of the river Al-Zalim, Muluk is flanked by Umara to the south and Qadib to the north.
The Ruler: At the helm of this city is Caliph Aswiyah al-Muftahir (hfF/a/15), eldest daughter of her father, from whom she inherited her position. Her family has ruled Muluk for nearly a millennium, or so they claim. Aswiyah (who prefers the title caliph to the more traditional and feminine calipha) has all the craft and canniness of her predecessors, male and female. She is a consummate politician. During her reign she has successfully allied alongside and against each of the other Free Cities in turn, always for the good of Muluk.
The Court: The caliph is grooming her daughter, Princess Hadra bint Aswiyah (hfW/sh/B), to ascend the throne in the event of her death. A sha’ir, the princess holds the rank of Sorcerer-General within Muluk’s army, and she has led attacks against both Qadib and Umara. Hadra’s generalship was in part the reason for the palace revolution in Umara.
Population: 90,000.
Features of the City: Indigo grows in abundance along the shores of the Zalim river. The purple dye produced by Muluk’s craftsmen is unmatched throughout Zakhara as well as the barbarian nations of the North. By fiat of the Grand Caliph of Huzuz, all citizens of Muluk may wear this shade freely; as such, purple is the official colour of the City of Kings
The people of Muluk are proud of their city’s history and noble tradition. They tend to look down their noses at the citizens of other cities, and always expect the finest wine, the best seats, and the most comfortable conveyance. To say that they are effete snobs would be an insult to their long tradition of civilization and enlightened rule, but it would not be far off the mark. Truly it may be said that Muluk has better leaders than it deserves.
Major Products: Trade, indigo dye, purple cloth and clothing

Armed Forces: 2,000 regular footmen, 5,000 militia, 1,000 cavalry (all under the command of Princess Hadra, the Sorcerer-General). Also, 1,500 mamluks of the Respected (including 500 cavalry), under the command of General Oman abid-Hazim (hmF/mk/10). Finally, a 20-ship navy (including four large dhows purchased from Umara), used primarily to escort the fabric fleet of indigo cloth to Qudra for the trip south.
Major Mosques: Hakiyah, Haku, Jisan, and Kor. In addition, a monument of Aswar al-Mutiq attracts the attention of kahins and mystics as a holy site.
Rumors and Lore: Muluk was a well-developed trading city long before the coming of the Law of the Loregiver and the creation of the Enlightened Throne. As city after city fell before the wave of faith and understanding, many of the older emirs and sultans were toppled by their people. Caliph Aswar al-Mutiq heard the tales and was troubled, and when the first mystics and warriors brought enlightenment to his city, he asked for a private audience. For five days and five nights the messengers met with the caliph in his private quarters, telling him of the Law of the Loregiver. Then the caliph deliberated by himself for five more days. At the end of this time, he welcomed the Law into his city, recognized the Grand Caliph for his puissant wisdom, and stepped down, joining the messengers to spread the Law still further. His eldest child succeeded him as was custom, and since then, Muluk has remained the oldest continual dynasty in the Free Cities.

According to legend, Aswar al-Mutiq (the city’s ruler 500 years ago, at the time of the Loregiver) disappeared with the messengers of enlightenment and was not seen again, and that his daughter, the new caliph who ascended the throne, gave him great treasures and wonders of the city’s unenlightened past to carry with him. Most say that Aswar’s final resting place is somewhere in the Furrowed Mountains, and great magics reside with him there. As it stands, none has found his final resting place, but kahins and mystics come to a monument erected by his grandson to pray and receive miracles.

Qadib, City of Wands: A visit to this northerly city on the river Al-Haul can be magical, for Qadib is home to more sorcerers, elemental mages, and sha’irs than any other locale in northern Zakhara. In the entire Land of Fate, only Huzuz and Rog’osto boast more residents of a magical bent.
The Ruler: Sultan Kamal al-Hadi (hemW/sh/15) is an ancient, skeletal half-elf who has outlived several wives, his children and grandchildren, and is likely to outlive his great-grandchildren as well. His slowness in movement and speech conceals a mind that is still among the greatest in the Free Cities, and he is usually two steps ahead of everyone else as a master planner and conspirer. The Hand of Fate strikes all, he wrote in his biography, but most fortunate are those who can help direct its touch. He has shown a preference for human wives, and as a result all of his offspring have been human.
The Court: The sultan’s court is expansive, comprising representatives of all the magical universities and colleges. Two individuals of importance are the leader of the University of Flame Mages, Badiyah al-Sa’id al-Sahim (efW/fm/10), who is reportedly a secret member of the Brotherhood of the True Flame, and Prince Anir al-Walad al-Hadi (hmF/f/12), the current heir apparent to the sultan’s court. The prince is decidedly nonmagical in attitude, preferring to hunt and hawk rather than attending affairs of magic. The court believes that Sultan Kamal will (or must) live long enough to bring a more suitable heir into the picture.
The sultan’s court also hosts a large number of genies, in particular jann, who are owned or hired by the sultan’s family. These jann often serve as the sultan’s eyes and ears in the outside world.
Population: 50,000.
Features of the City: As noted, Qadib is a city of sorcerers, elemental mages, and sha’irs. It is also a city known for its universities, for which it is often called the City of Sages. Qadib’s universities are dedicated not only to each of the elemental-provinces but also to legends, alchemy, astrology, divination, optics, algebra, and all the arts of civilized people.
This city has a third distinction as well: its dyemakers produce and export a fiery yellow-orange pigment called Uther, which residents use to dye fabric, especially felt. In the city streets, natives can be identified by their yellow fezzes and golden robes.
In general, the natives of Qadib are intelligent, conversational, and well-informed, as one would expect in a centre of learning. They may be too much so, however, for a Qadibi rarely uses one word when seven are possible. Quite often, even simple questions spur great debates in the streets. The people of Qadib are also noted for presenting their own opinions as stated facts. There is a saying on the northern coast: If you want answers, seek them in Qadib. If you want
truth, seek it elsewhere.

Major Products: Sages, information, scrolls, trade, magicians, dye (uther), fabric (especially yelloworange).
Armed Forces: 2,000-man city guard, 100-jann sultan’s personal guard, 500 Hman cavalry outriders under the command of Prince Anir, five-ship navy. 700 mamluks of the Studious military society. In addition, each university is expected to contribute about 100 members who become part of a defence force. While schools of optics and algebra might provide 100 pikemen, the magical schools will provide about 100 low-level mages led by a tutor of 5th to 9th level, making it a very potent force.
Major Mosques: Kor, Zann.
Rumours and Lore: Legends of forgotten magics and mysterious artifacts are common trade in the City of Wands. Reportedly, catacombs and caverns snake through the ground beneath the city, and it was in these passages that the first mages met to teach their students before the Enlightenment. The catacombs are said to run for miles, to connect with every major building (including the sultan’s palace), to have gateways and wells leading to far places beyond the Land of Fate, and to be inhabited by savage monsters.

Qadib is a magical city, infested with mages, sorcerers, genies, and the like. Its main attraction for the adventurer is two-fold: as a source of information, and as a source of enrichment (of the material sort). For the former, the universities overflow with experts: too much so, since answers may be conflicting. However, these individuals always are interested in tales from afar, or strange and new wonders.
For the latter, the under-city of Qadib is riddled with passages and small enclaves used by various sorcerers and creatures over the years. There is no ultimate super-dungeon here, but rather a collection of small areas. Most of the known ones have been explored by previous heroes, but there are a large number still undiscovered, and rumours continually surface of a mother lode beneath the foundations of the city

Qudra, City of Power: Overlooking the Great Sea about 300 miles northwest of Hiyal, Qudra is Zakhara’s bastion against the uncivilized realms beyond. The city’s defences have been built over the course of centuries in response to pirate raids and barbarian incursions. Today Qudra is the best-fortified city in enlightened Zakhara, presenting a stem grey face to the north.

The Ruler: Emir Hatit Abd al-Wajib (dmF/mk/20). Long ago, in the time of the eighth Grand Caliph, an evil and dissolute man was appointed emir of the City of Power. He oppressed his own people and overran Zakhara’s northern cities, taxing them unjustly until they rebelled. He forwarded only a pittance of the moneys he gathered to the Grand Caliph, sending instead honeyed words of loyalty and trust. At last he planned to march south and take control of Huzuz and the entire Land of Fate.
It was at this time that the mamluks in his charge, who had sworn loyalty to the Grand Caliph, rebelled against the evil emir. Though they were outnumbered by the emir’s troops and his mercenary barbarians, the mamluks prevailed through discipline, and they overthrew the evil ruler. When word of the victory reached the eighth Grand Caliph, he was humbled by the valiant nature of his slave-soldiers. He asked them to chose among themselves the next emir who would rule them. They selected one of their bravest leaders, a man who ruled Qudra until his death. A tradition was born, and so it continues today.
Each of Qudra’s emirs has been chosen by the generals of the city’s mamluk units. Hatit, slave to duty, is the most recent of these mamluk-emirs. The term of the office is life or 20 years, whichever comes first. Hatit has ruled 13 years thus far.
A clean-shaven dwarf, Hatit wears the tattoos of his mamluk organization, the Dutiful, on his cheeks and forehead. He is a master of fortification and redoubts, a rarity in a land that boasts little in the way of siege machinery. He has spent much of his tenure examining and shoring up the walls of Qudra, looking for holes in her armour. He is particularly interested in the warfare of other lands, especially lands to the north, from which any major barbarian attack would probably come.
The Court: The court of Qudra is a military council comprising all the major mamluk organizations. Each organization sends its own representative to the council. Emir Hatit is expected to confer with them on all matters of importance, and inform them of all military matters. All mamluk organizations of greater than 200 men are represented here, some 40 in all. Only mamluks may serve on the counsel, though each of the chamber members has his or her own advisors.
Emir Hatit presides over the council. Other members include the following:
• General Ekuriyah Abd al-Wajid (hfF/mk/14) represents the Dutiful in chambers. Hatit’s protege and a capable officer, Ekuriyah is viewed as the most likely choice as the next emir. However, she herself doubts the wisdom of such a choice, concerned that she lacks her dwarven mentor’s eye for detail. (She has not yet seen anyone else who she feels is worthy to replace Hatit, though.) In purely social situations, Ekuriyah is shy and reserved. As a leader, she has exceeded all of Hatit’s expectations. She personally heads recruiting drives into the Furrowed Mountains.
• General Adun Abd al-Amin (hmF/mk/18) represents the Faithful in chambers. An older, more experienced soldier, General Adun sought the personal glory of the emirate 13 years ago, even to the point of canvasing other members and reminding them of his military triumphs against the corsairs, the hill tribes, and the rebellious Free City of Utaqa. Such bragging not only gained him the effects of the evil eye, but also caused the council to pass over him for Hatit. The anger in his heart from the slight has never died, and he is continually looking for flaws in both the emir’s and General Ekuriyah’s behaviour.
• General Okin Abd al-Talib’ilm (emF/mk/16) represents the Studious in chambers. This venerable elf was crippled in battle almost a century ago. Though his wounds eventually healed, the spirit went out of him as a warrior. He soon found his place among the researchers and battle tacticians of Qudra. He has become among the best of his profession, able to combine textbook tactics with hands-on experience. Okin speaks slowly, pausing oddly in the middle of his sentences, but when he speaks, all (including Hatib) stop to listen. A staunch Zannite, General Okin is the only member of the chambers who does not worship Vataqatal.
• General Kalin Abd al-Bas (hfF/mk/14) represents the Valiant in chambers. Kalin is the youngest member of the council, and she engenders great support from the younger members of all the mamluk societies. Many years ago, one of the Valiant’s greatest warriors, Abyad Abd al-Bas, was marked by a natural streak of white in his hair. Kalin’s hair has a similar streak, just as she shares that famous warrior’s natural power. Her attempts to cultivate her position as heir to a legend, however, are undercut by her excitable nature and fiery temper. Many of the battles in which she carried the day were needless, inspired only by her own poor planning.
• Admiral Dus Abd al-Dawwar (gbmF/mk/5) represents the Wanderers in chambers. This goblin is the only naval representative in the council. He feels hamstrung and frustrated, for although Qudra’s fleet is the largest of any Zakharan city’s, it is only powerful on paper. Most of the ships have been badly maintained, and only about half would be suitable for fleet action against the corsairs. Of course, current military thinking is defensive for the most part, with the fleets to be used only to transport warriors to battle along the Free Coast. While he is in port, Admiral Dus spends many sullen hours in tobacco houses and cafes. When the anchor is weighed, he regains his true nature: quick, alert, and crafty in naval combat. Unfortunately, he spends only one month a year at sea, when his fleet escorts Zakharan craft past the Corsair Domains.
• Colonel Akir Abd al-Himaya (hmF/mk/10) represents the Defenders in chambers. Al-Himaya is in charge of defending the city against attack whenever the mamluk armies are abroad. In reality, his organizations act as a city guard as well as mediators, settling arguments between members of the other military societies. The colonel’s position is slightly weaker than that of other mamluk leaders, so he must often trade favours (such as valiant assignments or secret information) in return for action on their part.
Population: 500,000.
Features of the City: Qudra is the greatest fortification in the land of Fate-a mass of grey, heavy, brooding, stone overlooking a deep-water harbour. The harbour itself is protected by a great chain pulled across its mouth. With few exceptions, the city lacks the graceful spires and domes typifying Zakharan architecture, as well as the ornate gilt and tilework. Instead, the city’s builders borrowed techniques of other lands to produce the massive battlements that ring the city. Within the stalwart outer wall, smaller interior walls divide Qudra into defensive quarters. These interior walls have never been tested, since the great outer wall has never been breached.
The people of Qudra are by and large obedient, hard-working, and honest. Surprisingly, they are not warlike, for that role is taken up entirely by the mamluks. The mamluks are both slaves (owned ultimately by the Grand Caliph) and rulers of Qudra, and they form their own elite rank within the city population. The remainder of the population works hard to support its military organization.
Visitors to this great city should make note of the following sites:
• City Walls. A marvel of engineering, the walls of Qudra are carved out of granite from the Furrowed Mountains. The foundation was laid by order of the first enlightened emir. The walls have been improved and strengthened by the mamluk rulers who followed him.
Today, the city’s outer wall measures 40 feet high and 40 feet thick. The wall is not solid, however. Twenty feet from the exterior, a 15-foot-wide tunnel snakes through the centre. The wall is breached by three gates, each leading south toward the mountains. Otherwise, the only gap in the wall occurs at the waterfront. The outer wall curves around to embrace and protect the harbour, ending on both sides with a 50-foot-high tower. The twin towers hold the great chains that seal the harbour from invasion.
Atop the wall, members of the mamluk guard patrol the battlements. A different unit is assigned this duty each month. Great cauldrons are positioned along the walls and over the gates. During an assault, the cauldrons hold burning oil of stars (Greek fire), which the guards can pour upon assailants below.
• Slave Market. Qudra’s ruling mamluks enforce high standards in the authorized slave market. As a result, its slaves are of the highest quality, are not mistreated, and are usually capable and talented. Members of hill tribes are sold here along with northern barbarians, as are criminals who have been enslaved for breaking the Law of the Loregiver. An elvish wizard and two hakimas (see Key Figures Outside the Court) have been appointed to oversee the market, ensuring that it operates in a reasonable, enlightened fashion.
• Mosque of Blood. Qudra is home to the greatest temple erected in the name of Vataqatal, a warrior-god venerated by many mamluks. The temple takes its name from its outward appearance; its rough-hewn sandstone walls are stained red with regular applications of henna, honouring the good men and women whose blood has been spilled in battle.
• Open Mosque. As a reward for the city’s valiant mamluks, the eighth Grand Caliph sent many of Huzuz’s finest architects and tileworkers to Qudra, where they erected a graceful mosque in the Zakharan tradition. This blue jewel stands in stark contrast to the brooding grey stone of the city’s walls and other buildings. It is frequented by natives who do not venerate Vataqatal with the same fervour as the mamluks.

Major Products: Slaves, mamluks, armour, trade (Northern goods), Greek fire (oil of stars).
Armed Forces: 25,000 mamluk infantry; 6,000 mamluk cavalry; 400 special air troops, broken down among 20 major mamluk military societies; navy of 50 ships (effectively 25; see below). A major mamluk society consists of 200 or more men, answering to one commander. Most units are purely infantry, while others are a combination of infantry, cavalry, and air. Spellcasters are either hired under long-term contracts or recruited from the priesthood of Vataqatal. In either case, they serve as support units for larger infantry formations. The idea of wizards amassed against enemy forces using magic has proved to be a military blunder. Formally, all of Qudra’s mamluks belong to the Grand Caliph, for they are slaves. They may not serve another ruler without the express permission of the Grand Caliph. Having received that permission in the past, Qudra’s mamluks have entered into long-term service with a number of local rulers, who in turn serve the Grand Caliph.
Qudra’s navy consists of 50 ships, but half of those are rotting at the docks, their sails and usable wood stripped for the other half. Morale is poor among the mamluk navy, as it has been since an aborted attempt to conquer the Corsair Domains a decade ago. The fleet attempted a direct assault against Hawa, City of Chaos, without sufficient magical support. Qudra’s mamluk force was repelled with great losses. That display of weakness has not been forgotten by the members of the council, because it encouraged the city of Utaqa to rebel.
Major Mosques: The largest temple in the city is the Mosque of Blood, carved of red sandstone and coated regularly with henna. It is dedicated to Vataqatal, a local god. His church is approved by the Grand Caliph, and his worshippers venerate him much as followers of other gods venerate their own. (They have no unusual rituals or ceremonies.) Qudra also has an open mosque, described above.
Key Figures Outside the Court: Qazim al-Satir (hmW/wm/14) is the one wizard of whom it can be said, He is good enough to be a slave and have it meant as a compliment. Members of the council hold Qazim in high regard. While he is not a member himself, his advice is often sought in matters of magic. It was Qazim who saved the remnants of the fleet ten years ago in the Battle of Hawa, and the generals remember. Qazim prefers to not leave his comfortable manor in Qudra’s suq district, but he will respond to any call from the council.
Shams al-Ezai (hemW/so/8) is a half-elven sorcerer who works in the Slave Bazaar as a qadi. He is assisted by two hakimas, Tau’am and Turn bint Nisr, who are twins (both hfP/hk/10). Together, this trio attends the public slave auctions, attempting to maintain the honest balance of trade-ensuring that would-be slaves are well-cared for, are not ensorcelled in any fashion, and are not free men or women captured against their will. (Obviously, the twins’ powers of true sight are invaluable.) Shams enjoys his work. He rarely has to exert his power, however, since Qudra imposes many other tight controls on slave-trading. For this reason, Shams and the hakimas are the last line of defence for someone captured by raiders and sold into slavery in the city. He is a member of the magical reserve for the Studious, and could be called into active service in times of need.
Mad Asham (hmW/sh/10) is a curious character who wanders the streets of Qudra. Old soldiers remember him as a magical advisor to the Dauntless (a mamluk group). Decades ago, he and a raiding party disappeared while conducting a recruiting mission on the borders of the Haunted Lands: Six years later, he stumbled back into the city alone, his robes tattered and his mind wiped clean. No magical aid would roust him from his babbling, and even the genies who agreed to examine him could not bring about a change.
Today, Mad Asham usually can be found in the suq district of Qudra, grabbing passers-by and warning them of some grim fortune to come. The natives are accustomed to him, and kind-hearted souls offer Asham food and a crude shelter when he needs it. Newcomers, however, may be surprised to find a ragged wizard grabbing them by the robes and speaking of the Whispering Doom that comes from the Desert. Asham’s madness appears permanent. Through the years, magical cures have proved useless against it, as have wish spells and all attempts at curse removal.
Another well-known figure, Bahramiyah al-Musafir hgfT/mr/15 oversees the great caravans that bring weapons from the great forges of Hiyal to Qudra. She has done so for 40 years. While Qudran steel is good, Hival’s is superior, and each mamluk unit seeks to arm its best forces with Hiyal’s weapons. Today, Bahramiyah is a grumbling old woman. The day-to-day business of selling steel has been taken over by her sons and daughters, but she still makes the annual journey to Hiyal and back, traveling by camel and sambuq.

Rumors and Lore: Mad Asham (see above) has been babbling about his journey through the desert for decades. Most of Qudra’s residents are immune to his cries about the Whispering Doom even though this is the only aspect of his ranting that has remained consistent over the years. Some, however, believe that a kernel of truth lies beneath Asham’s madness.

Further, rumours persist that over the past few years, increasingly fewer youths have been recruited from the Furrowed Mountains and the mountains bordering the High Desert. Qudra’s mamluk rulers now must either go farther afield for their next generation of warriors or consider recruiting townspeople. The third choice, diminishing the size of the army, is considered to be no option at all.

Qudra is one of the more honest cities in the Land of fate. There are no local princelings planning to overthrow the government, no evil uncles with their eyes on the throne, and no holy slayer fellowships. The walled city is run with a clean, military efficiency which makes law-breakers think twice before committing any major crimes. A ruling elite of armed slave-soldiers tends to discourage such actions.

There are some politics in court. General Adun Abd al-Amin is still resentful that he was passed over as emir, and would love to embarrass General Ekuriyah. A military disaster against the corsairs or hill tribes would be ideal, particularly one which involved a massacre for the Dutiful.
On the other hand, there is the Whispering Doom that Mad Asham cries about in the market. This may be an actual, powerful creature, but may also just be a figment of Asham’s disturbed mind. It is up to the DM to decide.

Umara, City of Knights: Situated on the mouth of the river Al-Yatir, about 170 miles northeast of Liham, Umara is a jewel of a coastal city, noted for its distinctive blue textiles and tilework. Though it appears peaceful today, its recent past is marked by the bloodshed of a barbarian incursion an incursion which still lingers on the minds of those who dream of revenge.
The Ruler: Caliph Ubar khel Muhif, Khan of the Astok people (hmF/mb/12), is the former leader of a barbarian hill tribe. He was recently enlightened and enlisted in the service of Umara’s former caliph. After a disastrous series of battles with the city of Muluk, Khel Muhif staged a palace revolution, deposed the old caliph, married the caliph’s daughter, and re-established order before Qudra’s troops arrived. Faced with the choice between a long siege and recognizing the coup, the mamluks hailed Khel Muhif as the new leader of Umara. To the surprise of many, Khel Muhif has proved himself a capable ruler, though his court is still stocked with other barbarians. His only wife, Princess Maran ber Ubar, is his confidant and advisor.
The Court: Khel Muhif relies heavily on the advice of his wife, Princess Maran ber Ubar (hfF/a/8), daughter of the former caliph. Though he married Muran to claim the throne, he has come to admire her wisdom, and considers her the beloved jewel of an enlightened land. She, in turn, uses her position of power to integrate the Astok people into the population and to preserve the rights of the former nobles and merchants in the city. She loves the Khan as he does her. Though her rights are in some ways diminished, she likes his people’s customs of having a single wife and no permissible divorce.

Opposing the princess is ur-Khan Mostok (hmF/mb/10), a faithful follower of Khan Ubar. (He never refers to his old friend as caliph.) Mostok feels his leader has become soft, decadent, and perhaps even bewitched by the love of his wife. When the revolution came, Mostok expected a quick bit of looting and debauchery before fleeing back to the hills. Instead, his leader remained in Umara, and, out of loyalty, he stayed too. Mostok is as uncomfortable with the city people as they are with him. He distrusts them, and awaits the day Umara’s citizens will turn on his kind. He suspects that the princess is part of some larger plot along these lines. If Mostok is to save his friend, he may have to remove her from the scene.
Population: 100,000.
Features of the City: Umara is noted for its blue dyes. Distinctive shades of cobalt and turquoise have become the unofficial city colours, bedecking tilework clothing, and particularly the city’s world-renowned carpets and textiles.
The native people of Umara are fairly typical of the coastal regions. The men are clean-shaven but keep their moustaches. The women, while unveiled, are modest in their dress and wear their hair in long, single braids that hang down their backs.

Today, mingling among these natives are the newly enlightened people of Astok – for the tribesmen who successfully conquered the city later brought their families to the verdant coast. The barbarians are slightly larger and hairier than the coastal natives, and the men like to keep their full beards. Otherwise, it would be difficult to distinguish the Astoks by their appearance alone. The Astoks do have their own language, however, and speak Midani with a harsh, almost threatening accent. Most natives have grown accustomed to these invaders. But former political heavyweights-holy leaders, courtiers, wealthy merchants, and military personnel-are irritated that these sweating barbarians are not only among them, but are adapting quite well.
Major Products: Carpets, trade, clothing, tapestries, goats, goat cheese, dye.
Armed Forces: 3,000-man elite palace guard, all members of age of the Astok tribe; 2,000-man mercenary force, comprising other tribesmen, no unit larger than 400 men; four separate mamluk military societies of 500 men each; a 2,000-man local militia; a 600-man cavalry, officially disbanded; a six-ship navy, officially disbanded (formerly had ten ships, but four have been sold to the city of Muluk).
Major Mosques: Botu’Astok, Jisan, Kor, and Selan. Botu’Astok is a legendary figure worshipped by the Astoks, who claim he is the primogenitor of their people. The caliph has decreed that Botu’Astok must be worshipped in the mosque as other deities; as such, Botu’Astok is considered a common god. Apparently, Botu’Astok does not object to his new surroundings, for his priests continue to receive their spells. In fact, many Umaran natives have taken to Botu’Astok as a god representing change and rebirth, and they hope the installation of a new ruling family will bring about a favourable change in the city’s fortunes.
Rumours and Lore: Officially, the former caliph was slain when Ubar took the throne. However, a local legend says that Princess Maran pleaded for her father’s life. Touched by her sorrow, Ubar sent the man into exile in the far south by way of magic. Now the former caliph is said to be gathering his own force to challenge the man who captured his daughter and usurped his power.
Closer, to home, the forces of the entrenched bureaucracy (headed by Princess Maran) and the new invaders (championed by Ur-Khan Mostok) continue to vie over petty issues. While no blood has flowed since the coup (except that which is shed during tavern brawls), it is only a matter of time before one of the two must go.

The old caliph is dead, killed by Ubar upon taking the throne. However, he told his bride that he spared the old man’s life and exiled him, since she was desolate at the idea of her husband murdering her sire. None knows that Ubar committed the crime, and Ubar does not speak of it. In the meantime, Caliph Ubar is seeking to integrate his savage people with the townsfolk, with limited success, and may need outsiders who are of neither camp to perform special missions (which include searching out rumours of a surviving old caliph, which he knows to be false, in order to satisfy his wife).

Utaqa, City of Free Men: Located at the mouth of the river Al-Zulma, Utaqa is the northernmost point in the line of Free Cities stretching along the coast of the Great Sea. Its closest neighbour, Hafayah, lies nearly 200 miles to the southwest. Every citizen feels Utaqa’s distance from civilization, for the city has a decidedly independent spirit.
The Ruler: Caliph Agara al-Gandar (hmT/mr/13) was a merchant with a thriving business and diluted blood-ties to the throne of Utaqa. During the most recent insurrection in the city, the previous caliph and his family were put to the sword by Qudran mamluks. The people of Qudra installed Agara the Dandy as their puppet, exerting their influence in Huzuz to receive the Grand Caliph’s confirmation of their choice. Qudra had one goal: to provide a safe and fully compliant fortification at the opposite end of the Free Coast, bracketing the cities.
It has not worked out exactly as they planned. Al-Gandar quickly discovered that in order to get anything done in the city, he had to return to the citizens and merchants a measure of the autonomy they had previously known. As long as the people of Utaqa are allowed to do as they see fit, they are content. Huzuz has not interfered; as long as Utaqa continues to pay its respect and its taxes to the Grand Caliph, the Grand Caliphate is also content. Nor has Qudra interfered to date, for as long as Utaqa’s caliph assures Qudra’s emir that the northern tip of the empire is secure, the emir is also content. The only unhappy man in the entire situation seems to be Agara al-Gandar, who must balance the desires of these factions to retain his position. The lines on the caliph’s face deepen with each passing month.
The Court: Caliph Agara al-Gandar is blessed with an overabundance of advisors and aides, most of whom have their own interests in keeping Agara on the throne. As a result, they will gladly bend the truth, lose paperwork, and deliver bribes and favours to keep the status quo. Here are three of those people:
Chawus al-Rark (hmF/c/10) is a prominent merchant. He made his fortune among the wilds of the north, and he maintains it by dealing with the Corsair Domains. His arrangement with the corsairs is as follows: he helps them smuggle goods, and in turn they leave the ships that fly Utaqa’s colours alone for the most part.
• On-Basi al-Garn (hmT/mr/12) is the court’s chief scribe. He is responsible for the glowing descriptions of Caliph Agara that are sent to the courts of Qudra and Huzuz. His descriptions are often too glowing, however, because they result in additional demands being placed on Utaqa. On-Basi does try to control his tendency to embellish, but he is at heart a boaster and a tale-spinner. His most recent error: he reported Caliph Agara’s victory over an incursion of yak-men. Eventually, this tale reached the ears of those evil creatures in the World Pillar Mountains. In response, the yak-men sent several angry dao to Agara’s bedroom.
• Allena al-Ajami (hfW/aj/14) is the court’s chief vizier. A foreigner from the distant North, she is apparently on the run from one or more powerful individuals in that region. Allena relates well to other outlanders, and problems concerning outsiders and mercenary barbarians usually fall into her lap. She supervises the coordination (and more importantly, the payment) of mercenary barbarians in Utaqa.
Population: 70,000.
Features of the City: More than any other city in the north, and perhaps even throughout the Land of Fate, Utaqa is a place on the edge of civilization. The combination of barbarian and enlightened views have produced a very independent attitude toward the world that is neither of Zakhara nor of the world outside. The city’s people are basically honest and blunt, often to the point of seeming rude. They are pragmatic in that they recognize the need for some sort of government, so they feel they might as well make the most of it. All of the clergy in the major mosques are pragmatists, a rarity in the Land of Fate.
The Utaqans are also stridently opposed to slavery, in all its forms. In particular, they oppose the mamluks, whom Utaqans describe as the tattooed attack dogs of oppression. Slaves brought into the city will be rescued (whether they want to be or not). Mamluks are rarely found in the streets except as an occupying force. Visiting merchants who own slaves grant them temporary freedom while in Utaqa, paying them as employees until both leave the city, when they resume their relationship as master and slaves.
Utaqans see themselves as good and decent folk confronted with decadent authority and tyrannical rule. The city’s official colour is white, symbolizing their purity (to their detractors, it also symbolizes the colour of surrender). Smuggling and similar acts are illegal only by declaration of a far-off power. A man should be ruled by his own internal Law is the unofficial Utaqan motto.
Major Products: Trade, smuggling, mercenaries.
Armed Forces: 4,000-man city guard; 30-ship navy; ten units (10,000 men) of mercenary barbarians who make Utaqa their home base, of which about half are present at any time. The city has a large mamluk fortification upstream on the Al-Kufr River, which houses three units of 900 trained men (2,600 total), representing the Studious, the Valiant, and the Dutiful. Ostensibly, these units are strategically positioned to aid the caliph in times of need. The real reason for their proximity: to capture the city if the Utaqans get out of hand.
Major Mosques: Hajama, Hakiyah, Haku, Najm. The city also boasts a number of temples devoted to savage (unenlightened) gods, and such temples are a rarity in the civilized world.
Rumours and Lore: Intrigue abounds in Utaqa, on a level which even rivals that of Hiyal. A regular crisis involves rumours from Hafayah, claiming that an inspector from Qudra is traveling incognito, looking for corruption and excess. From the viewpoint of mamluk-ruled Qudra, all of Utaqa is corrupt and excessive. But perhaps that’s the only way the city can function. Top-heavy with outlanders and barbarians, a normal system of government would crumble here, as it has done in the past. The inspector on his or her way to Utaqa may not agree, however, and the sagacious heads of court are looking for him, hoping to shut his mouth with either gold or steel.

Utaqa survives at the borders of the civilized world, and ajami mages and outlander priests are more common here than elsewhere. Agents of the yak-men, evil savage humans from the far-off World Pillar Mountains, have been active in the vicinity. Individuals have reported that heavily-clothed barbarians with curved horns on their helms have been spotted stalking the street past curfew. These same individuals have mysteriously disappeared soon after.

The Pearl Coast: The Pearl Cities line a coast bordering the Crowded Sea and the western shores of the Golden Gulf, tucked between the cool, shimmering waves and the hot sands of the High Desert. These cities-Ajayib, Gana, Jumlat, Sikak, and Tajarare among the wealthiest in the Land of Fate. Only Jumlat and Gana actually produce pearls, but all maintain a rich trade in these objects of beauty, as well as in frankincense, coffee, valuable metals, spices, fine fish, woods, and exotic wares from faraway lands.
Trade, in fact, is the second law of the people of the Pearl. Frequently it gives the true Law, that of the Loregiver, strong competition. Lending institutions and speculative ventures are common. So are usurious loans and unseen charges. A traveller in the lands of the Pearl should remember that nothing is truly free and heed this rule of conduct: Ask questions first, haggle second, and buy last.
Some of the richest members of Zakharan society live in the Pearl Cities. Here too are some of the poorest. The wealth of the upper class would make a Free City’s ruler jealous; their luxurious pavilions and palatial manors dot the surrounding countryside. At their feet are the beggars and exploited workers, who far outnumber the rich. Slavery per se is not common in the Pearl Cities, but it has been replaced with a form of economic tyranny that keeps the lower classes firmly in their place. As long as a person is not poor, life holds great promise. The impoverished have little to look forward to but another day of erasing old debts while incurring new ones.
The minority with control over the money flaunt their wealth, both in their manner and their dress. Wonderful feasts are thrown for minor reasons, with the remains distributed to the poor. Bright and often conflicting colours are common, in stripes and rich brocades.
As a group, the people of the Pearl Cities are proud, almost haughty, and easily insulted. They do not tell the full truth at all times, and rate with the genies in their cunning. All of this endears them not in the least to their moralist brethren across the Golden Gulf. In the eyes of the Pantheists, the gaudy peacocks of the Pearl Cities are little more than decadent law-breakers who have forgotten the nature and spirit of the Loregiver’s Law.

Ajayib, City of Wonders: The westernmost of the Pearl Cities, Ajayib is situated at the base of rising hills. The steep slopes have been terraced and cultivated into great gardens. Higher up, there are coffee plantations, and their harvest is famed throughout the Land of Fate.

The Ruler: Caliph Halima al-Wahsi (hfF/a/16) is a tall warrior-queen with a face more perfect than the brightest moon, eyes darker than the deepest well, and in a smile that, when given to a faithful follower, may set fabric on fire at fifty paces. Her long, thick hair hangs to the small of her back, and she wears it loose in court. In combat, she coils it into a tight, whip-like braid. Yet it is not by her beauty that she rules Ajayib, for her mind and her sword are quick and sure. Halima is active in the day-to-day rule of her city, and she takes all decisions (and all comments) personally. But Halima is a warrior at heart, not a statesman. She enjoys nothing better than to ride out and do battle against the savages of the Al-Suqut Mountains, putting off courtly bureaucracy for another day.

The Court: The two most important individuals in the caliph’s court are a priest and a genie. The priest is Imam Mojos al-Yunqani min Selan (hemP/e/12). He is 40 years the caliph’s senior, and often balances her passion and sense of adventure with a voice of relative reason. He would prefer that the caliph address matters of state as opposed to western savages. Imam Mojos keeps a careful eye on ambassadors from the other Pearl Cities, whom he considers a greater threat.

The genie is a noble dao, Zaheb al-Zidq, the Righteous One, His Most Respected Majesty and Puissant Hetman of the Mighty Khan. The dao is apparently smitten by the caliph’s beauty. He is constantly at her side in court, composing bad doggerel and protecting her from the advances of other suitors. The caliph, in turn, treats the dao as a favorite pet. Given the natural tendency of dao toward humans, this is most unexpected, and it has been surmised that Zaheb is under some spell or charm. Whatever the true case, Zaheb is a combination of personal body guard, confidant, and enforcer. The caliph has no husbands, and Zaheb discourages all but the bravest of suitors.

Population: 70,000.

Features of the City: The coffee, or mocha, of Ajayib is renowned throughout Zakhara for its dark, rich, powerful flavour. To the north of the city, the land dries out and becomes dotted with frankincense trees, from which resin harvesters also bring in rich rewards.

Ajayib is known as the last stop for enlightened civilization. Beyond it to the west, the Al-Suqut Mountains plunge into the sea, creating a foreboding coastline-the hiding place of mad wizards, savage inhuman tribes, and sea-going brigands. It is the gathering spot of the bold and brazen: adventurers preparing voyages to the south and west, civilized men who are weary of civilization, sorcerers seeking solitude, and criminals on the run.

The people of Ajayib are proud of their frontier nature. They are independent, strong-willed, and opinionated. Rich colors are common in their dress, though herders, coffee growers, and resin-gatherers prefer a duller and more utilitarian costume. Women and men may be veiled or not; this is a matter of personal choice as opposed to a community standard.

Major Products: Coffee, fruits, frankincense and other aromatic gums, bright dyes, trade

Armed Forces: 8,000 city guards; 2,000 cavalry; an elite unit of 300 1st-level farisan under the command of the caliph herself; six-ship navy used against western raiders.

Major Mosques: Jisan, Hakiyah, Selan, Zann

Rumours and Lore: Ajayib is where adventures begin and old legends come to die. It is the youngest of the Pearl Cities, having officially set up an enlightened mosque only a decade ago. The caliph is the second enlightened ruler of the city; the first perished in combat against the savages. Halima was one of her predecessor’s best officers, and stepped in to replace him.

The local legends tell of another city which occupied this site in distant times, one built into the walls of cliffs overlooking Ajayib. This was said to be a dark and ruined place, looted and destroyed by civilized men generations ago. But, the legends say, the original survivors of this dark race still claw their way through the darkness, dreaming of revenge. The cliffs overlooking Ajayib are riddled with caverns and passages. No one has brought proof of the legends, though treasure-seekers still comb the cliffs for new discoveries.

Ajayib sits on the border of the Al-Suqut A Mountains and the wild lands to the west. It can be an outpost for heroes seeking adventure among these distant savage lands. In addition, the cliffs overlooking the city are riddled with caverns. Most of the nearby and easily-explored caves have been exhausted long ago by treasure hunters, but the more, remote caves still have passages leading farther into the darkness.
These passages lead to communities of unenlightened duergar and drow. These races are as described in Volume Two of the Monstrous Compendium, and have little improved through the passage of time in their isolation. The duergar are almost bone-white from their long time in the dark, while the drow are as dark as polished ebony. Both races hate each other, but waylay any travelers into their realms, killing them or reducing them to slaves. The drow worship the savage god Lolath, while the duergar venerate the cold elemental god Grome.

Gana, City Of Riches: Like Jumlat to the northeast, Gana is a true City of the Pearl, devoting five months each year to the pearl-fishing industry. Because this city also lies near the Realm of Bleeding Trees, its inhabitants can turn to the frankincense harvest when the pearling season has passed. Its people are generally wealthier than the residents of Jumlat. Even the lower classes of Gana are proud to call their home the City of Riches.

The Ruler: Sultan Yusef bin Ahmad al-Wadi (hmF/a/15) known as Yusef the Just for his wisdom in matters of the law. This venerable ruler encourages trade and industry in his city. He discourages power from concentrating in anyone else’s grasp for an extended period of time. As a result, talented individuals, adventurers, and merchants continually pass through his court, with few of them remaining there long.

The Court: The only permanent member of Al-Wadi’s court is his chief vizier, a human sea mage named Al’ia bint-Hazir (hfW/sem/16). She has served at the sultan’s side for several decades. According to a well-known rumour, the sultan once proposed marriage to her, but she responded that she would rather serve at his side than at his feet. The sultan has never married, nor has he officially recognized any of the sons and daughters from his harim (a matter which many find disgraceful). Rumour also says that Al’ia has secretly borne Al-Wadi several sons over the years, and that she has spirited them away for training in far lands. Now as old and wizened as the sultan himself Al’ia continues to rule at his side. She often advises compassion over harsh justice.

The position of chief judge has been held by a long series or people in short succession. Justice cannot be bought in Gana, but it can be rented for reasonable rates. As a result, when there is a scandal or outcry, the chief judge is quickly replaced (and banished). The smart judges serve about five years, then retire. The current chief judge is a dwarf named Ghaliyah bint Borga min Suq (dfP/h/10), Gala of the Marketplace. She has held her position for three years. While Ghaliyah can see the truth, she does not always speak it.

Finally, there is an honorary position within the court, awarded to those who complete the Great Task of the Pearl (see below). Such a position is usually temporary, lasting no more than a year, and may be surrendered voluntarily or upon the will of the sultan. A number of great heroes, male and female, have attached the sobriquet Warrior of the Great Task to their names, and served the sultan in this fashion.
Population: 100,000.
Features of the City: In addition to its successful pearl business, Gana is Zakhara’s trade centre for frankincense and other aromatic gums’- that are harvested from the Realm of Bleeding Trees to the west. The wasteland in which the shrub like trees grow is good for little else. It is inhabited by herdsmen who bring the gum into Gana for trade.
Gana has a looser control over its pearl trade than Jumlat; its captains are more independent and its merchant class is larger. The quality of captains ranges from fair to average (instead of harsh to horrid, as in Jumlat). Most of Gana’s captains practice the type of economic slavery that is common in Jumlat, but Gana also has a few progressive captains who practice more humane methods of pearl diving. There are even several cases in which Gana’s captains have retained a sea mage to cast airy water around the divers, allowing them to remain beneath the surface for prolonged periods without ill effect.
Such regular use of magic is not cheap. As a result, the independent captains often break (or at least severely bend) the vow that keeps them out of the pearl beds seven months a year. Gana’s ships and divers are sometimes caught by the sea elves and locathah that migrate into the pearl beds from the west. Such divers work at their own risk.
At the close of the pearl season, Gana holds a threeday celebration known as the Festival of the Pearl. This is the time when accounts are settled between the pearl divers and captains, and a great feast is distributed among the people by the sultan and the mosque officials. The celebration is marked by dancing in the street, skyrockets, and the occasional breaking of the Law (such as public insobriety or lewdness) giving Gana a reputation as a wild city. Once the pearl season is officially over, a number of ships and their crews become available for hire to adventurers and merchants.
Still poor, most divers join such crews or migrate to harvest frankincense. A handful will have saved enough money to support themselves until the next pearl season. Very few will have saved enough to afford a small boat and become a captain themselves.
The end of the Festival of the Pearl marks the official beginning of an annual challenge or contest conducted by the sultan: the Great Task of the Pearl. The task is to bring some wonder or marvel from abroad to the city and present it to the sultan. Those interested have seven months to complete the task before the inauguration of the new pearl season. During this period, a number of adventurers and other wonderworkers pass through the court, bringing all manner of strange beasts, fantastic treasures, and mighty and unique magics. The chief judge verifies that the items are safe and secured before presentation. Whoever produces the most wonderful item is awarded with great treasures, magics, positions in courts, or favours from the sultan. (For example, one noted pirate gained a full pardon upon delivering the head of a sahuagin queen.) All other items become the property of the sultan, regardless of their value. (That’s the price one pays for participating in the Great Task of the Pearl.)
Major Products: Pearls, trade, sea crafts (shells, buried treasure, and the like), aromatic gums, frankincense, myrrh.
Armed Forces: 5,000-man city guard; 2,000-man mercenary infantry; official navy of 30 ships, which protect the pearl-diving vessels in the banks; a supplemental rookery of five rocs with riders, which operate out of the mountains east of the city. The court of Gana has been accused of employing privateers and raiders to harass craft from Jumlat, but often such raids are the conducted by individual captains.
Major Mosques: Hajama, Hakiyah, Haku, Pantheon (a moralist faction), and Selan.
Rumours and Lore: Like Jumlat, Gana has recently been plagued by the sudden disappearances of divers and boats in the pearl banks – and these events have hampered the city’s trade. Most residents believe that the shark monster described by divers from Jumlat is no more than a ruse, designed to drive Gana’s ships from the area. The sultan of Gana has offered 50,000 gp and a ship to the adventurer who either destroys the creature or proves that it does not exist.

See the entry below on Jumlat for possibilities regarding the mysterious disappearances in the Pearl Beds. At your option, in addition to the creature(s), one or more Jumlati ships may be engaged in wholesale sinking of Gani vessels and killing divers: acts of war for which they blame the creatures.
The rumour of Al’ia bint Hazir bearing the sultan’s children are true. She has borne him three sons and a daughter (using illusionary magic to hide her condition in court each time). The children are being raised in a monastery in the Al-Yabki Mountains (Weeping Mountains). All may be identified by a butterfly-shaped mole beneath their right eyes. The children are:
Yusef (hmF/f/8) The eldest son is a headstrong individual who sees things in black and white.
Mulad (hmW/sh/6) The middle brother is rebellious and continually seeking to show his elder brother that magical ability outweighs physical prowess.
Alayna (hfP/h/5) The only daughter is uncomfortable with their eventual fate, once their true heritage is revealed, and wishes to remain in a simple, holy life of aiding others.
Gusard (hmB/r/5) The youngest child is the clown, the entertainer, and the lady-killer. He can’t wait for the day when their father decides that they can come out of hiding and they can live a little.
Two scrolls signed by the sultan tell of the children’s true parentage one is in Al’ia’s hands, the other in the personal library of the Grand Caliph. A third scroll was to be sent to Qudra, but its carrier disappeared in the desert and was never found. Should the secret of the children be revealed, they will be suddenly swept into court life, for good or ill, with their own partisans and courtiers… and potential assassins. The sultan will not take kindly to one who reveals their presence.

Previous winners of the Great Task of the Pearl have presented the following gifts; the embassy from the court of the marids, the bottled city of Ibn Mutamin, the performance of the great poet Khalid al-Zayir, and the most recent winner, who brought back the head of a sahaugin queen. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

Jumlat, City of Multitudes: Jumlat is one of the two true Pearl Cities, along with Gana, City of Riches. (Only these two actually have fleets that harvest the pearl beds, which are located between them.) While both cities thrive, Jumlat claims supremacy, for it has the greater population and gathers more pearls from the beds.

The Ruler: Jumlat is ruled by Sultan Kara al-Zalim, the Fierce Sword of the Sea (hmF/c/15). He is only the nephew of the previous sultan, yet he was chosen over the sultan’s own children as heir to the throne. This has proved to be a wise choice as far as the moneyed classes are concerned, for the current sultan has all the cunning and ruthlessness of his favourite uncle. Sultan al-Zalim cut his eye-teeth in raids against Gana’s fleets, and he has no love for the City of Riches. The sultan spends most of his time in his palace overlooking the harbour, and he is rarely found among his people.
The Court: There are two breeds of courtiers in the Sultan’s court: informers and merchants. The former is headed up by the sultan’s chief vizier, Agat amir-Doth (emW/so/15). This middle-aged elf has a taste for intrigue and a fondness for human maidens. Agat’s spies are everywhere, particularly among the poor. One of his favourite sports is to select a young woman and, through his power and ability, remove each member of her family in turn, at last taking her into the harim. Many merchant families know of his predilection, and give up their daughters rather than risk their own arrest and death. Veils are more common among women in Jumlat than in other Pearl Cities.
Of the merchants, the most powerful is Ragi alMakruh (hmT/mr/19), a hulking and ill-mannered brute who has surprised everyone by not destroying his family’s business upon taking its reins. He has more money than brains and more brains than charm. He spends most of his time paying homage to the sultan and chief vizier in return for favours. Al-Makruh, through a set of corrupt money-lenders, controls most of the pearl fleet ships.
Population: 300,000.
Features of the City: The pearl harvest that distinguishes Jumlat lasts only five months each year. By decree of the sultan, in accordance with the nomadic sea peoples who live in the Golden Gulf, the season begins as soon as the monsoons subside. During the next five months, pearl divers work daily to bring the pearls to the surface, often in dangerous conditions. While the risks are great and the rewards for the divers are few, it is through their lung-power and blood that the great City of Multitudes survives.
Jumlat is a large, rather unattractive city that depends on pearls for trade. It is only half as populous as smoky Hiyal, but it is equally crowded, for the city is compressed onto a smaller amount of ground. A small minority of wealthy nobles, merchants, and townsmen live comfortably off the wealth of the pearl trade. The majority of Jumlat is reduced to poverty and indebted heavily to the merchants who control the trade. When the pearl season has ended, Jumlat has the greatest number of beggars of any city in the Land of Fate.
Major Products: Pearls, trade, sea crafts (shells, buried treasure, bright dyes), beggars.
Armed Forces: 10,000 city guard; 1,000 mercenary cavalry, all desert riders from the High Desert; an official navy of 30 ships, patrolling the pearl banks. The unofficial navy typically includes 10 to 30 ships -all sailed by corsairs and privateers who are hired to protect Jumlat’s pearl diving ships or to destroy those of rival Gana.
Major Mosques: Hakiyah, Haku, Kor, Selan.
Rumors and Lore: Life in Jumlat revolves around the pearl banks, and that life has recently been threatened by some monstrous creature. The nature of the monster is not yet certain. What is certain, however, is that during the past three years nearly 10 boats and four times as many divers have been destroyed or lost to the sea. For some time, Jumlat’s pearl merchants assumed that Gana was responsible. Jumlat was on the brink of declaring war against its neighbour to the south when one survivor, missing his legs, washed up on the beach and told his tale. The man soon died, but not before he had described his attacker: a ghostly shark-creature, huge and savage, with tentacles around its gaping maw. This creature moved with intelligence and purpose, said the dying man, picking off divers and then hunting down the boat itself. The number of captains willing to go out to sea declined for a short time, but bravery returned after the sultan offered a reward of 100,000 gold dinars to the Jumlati captain who destroys the beast The reward, of course, has yet to be claimed.
Within the city walls, another danger threatens the established lords. A new bandit-leader has appeared among the poor, known only as Zulmat, The Darkness. Rumours of this bandit are conflicting. No one is sure whether The Darkness is a man or a woman, a human or a genie. Some say The Darkness is a secret society, and not a single individual. Whatever the truth, the bandit leaves no track other than his or her victims: money-lenders with broken hands and torn throats; cruel captains found on the shore like flotsam, their lungs filled with the sea; and city guards who have been stripped of their armour and weapons and dumped unceremoniously into the river. The chief vizier has yet to discover the identity of The Darkness. That failure creates another, more troubling possibility: The Darkness, perhaps, has powerful magical aid.

The murderous rogue known as The Darkness is in reality a young (14-year-old) thief named Kassa (hfT/bt/6), who is in reality a weretiger of the northern variety. Her lycanthropy remained hidden until now, when her elder sister Daria (hfT/bt/4) was taken for the sultan’s harim. Her weretiger form expresses all her hatred which, as Kassa, she dares not reveal. The Darkness has a number of followers already, and many are secret supporters of its actions. Kassa is not among these supporters, for she fears that the Darkness will bring greater danger to the poor. Kassa is unaware that she is a weretiger, and when she is not in that form, no divination will reveal her as such.
The creature which haunts the pearl beds is an aboleth (Monstrous Compendium Volume Two). There are four such creatures living in an underwater cavern on Durrar Island, one of which is incubating an egg. The divers taken from the Gani and Jumlati ships have been charmed and enslaved to expand the cavern as a home for these monstrous creatures. Slaying one creature is met with celebration and rewards (depending on the city it is taken to), to be followed by a month of peace. Then the attacks begin again, and the heroes are called upon to deal with the new menace.

Alternately, there is only one aboleth, but if slain, it returns in a ghostly form in one month’s time. The ghost has all the properties of the original plus advantages of the undead: immunity to charm/enchantment magics, cold, poisons, and paralysis, and may be turned only as a lich.

Sikak, City of Coins: This city takes its name not from any thriving trade in coinage, but for its most famous industry, fishing. The waters off the coast of Sikak and surrounding nearby Maribar Island are teaming with swordfish, turbot, grouper, drum, and croaker; and the shallows are alive with skates, mullets, and small blue octopi. The scales of the larger fish are often as big as silver coins, symbolizing the great wealth they bring to Sikak.
The Ruler: Sultan Magar al-Azim (gmT/mr/13) is the fifteenth gnome to sit on the Throne of Coins since his family first came to power during the First Caliph’s rule. Al-Azim spent his boyhood working with fishermen, as his ancestors did before him, and as his children do now. This training taught the sultan the value of work, honesty, and fellowship. He is a popular ruler, and when he appears in the streets, he is often swept up in crowds of well-wishers. Ten ogres serve as his bodyguards, protecting him at all times.
The Court: Sultan Magar al-Azim maintains a harim of the most beautiful women in Zakhara, all gnomes. His children number over 20. Indeed, Magar comes from a large family himself, and his uncles, cousins, and siblings handle most of the paperwork and bureaucracy in the city. In addition, Magar’s relatives hold high positions in the clergy and the armed forces.

The heir apparent to Magar’s throne is Prince Jeygar (gmF/c/10), a dashing young figure who heads up the fishing fleet on its voyages to Huzuz. He is said to be a favourite in the Grand Caliph’s court. Also of import is the sultan’s sister, Imam Reya al Affif (gfP/el/11), caretaker of the mosques and priestess of Hakiyah. She is known for both her impassioned speeches and her distrust of strangers to the land.

Population: 60,000.

Features of the City: Like Tajar to the north, Fate has blessed Sikak with a series of artesian wells, which provide most of the water for the city. These wells began to fail some 40 years ago, and only through careful negotiation with a group of dao and marids has the supply of fresh cool water been maintained.

The people of Sikak live from the sea. Dress is informal and suited to their occupation. Men usually go bare-chested and wear loose; lightweight pants. Even the female crew-members don little more than a light blouse and billowing pantaloons. This carries over into the city itself, where there is little cause for pretence or ostentation, save for great feasts.

The settlements to the north and south of Sikak are wealthier and more powerful, and Sikak’s residents feel somewhat threatened. They are thin-skinned about the notion that any way of life may be superior to their own. The outlanders scatter lies, say Sikak’s fishermen – lies claiming that Sikaki sailors smell of their catch, and that they send less-than-fresh fish to the Grand Caliph’s palace. To insult a native of Sikak is to insult his or her family, boat, and entire people, and the natives react accordingly.

Major Products: Fish, boats, nets, ropes.

Armed Forces: 2,000 infantry; 3,000 mercenary barbarians in three units; 500 cavalry; an imperial palace guard of 200 ogres, armed with halberds and long bows; a 20-ship navy, which includes mostly small boats for shore patrol; 400 marines trained in shipboard fighting.

Major Mosques: Hajama, Hakiyah, Jisan, Sedan.

Rumors and Lore: Two mysteries are currently troubling the City of Coins. First and foremost, a holy slayer of the Grey Fire has made a public attempt on the sultan’s life. This occurred when the sultan was among the people, and only the heroic action of an ogre guard spared the sultan’s life. The assassin was caught and killed, but further investigation-led by the sultan’s sister, Imam Reyahas proved fruitless. No one knows who hired the assassin or why.

Sikak’s second mystery concerns a shipwreck. Word has it that the remains of a single ship or multiple ships, whose origin and age are unknown, were recently discovered by adventurers on the far side of Maribar Island. The wreck allegedly holds the skeletons of many gnomes, along with great wonders. Prince Jeygar is overseeing the exploration and recovery of the wreck: Whether this is in any way connected with the attempted assassination is unknown.

Sikak is a city with an established, capable (if small) bureaucracy, and a well-loved ruler. Therefore the populace has reacted in shock and amazement at the recent attempted assassination, and are suspicious of any strangers who express a great interest in the matter.
One option for the assassination is as follows: The revered mother has become aware that the sultan is keeping much of the promised tribute to the Grand Caliph for himself. Upon such a discovery, the Grand Caliph may install a new sultan, and the gnomish rule will be ended. It is she who contacted the Grey Fire and arranged the attack. She is also the reason the investigation has failed to date.
Another option is that the Grey Fire feels that the sultan has fallen out of favour with Najm, and would be better represented by his more impressive son. The son knows nothing of the attempted coup on his behalf.
The wreck is unconnected with the assassination attempt. It is the remains of two ships that collided during a monsoon last year and were listed as missing (perhaps carrying gold, gems, or strange-looking furniture). Alternately, it could be the remains of a gnomish sky-going vessel, carrying some fell and ancient creatures when it crashed.

Tajar, City of Trade: The northernmost Pearl City, Tajar lies about 450 miles west of Pantheist Hilm, with the Golden Gulf’s glittering expanse between them. The title City of Trade is well deserved, for Tajar is awash in riches from throughout Zakhara and beyond. Rare spices, strange condiments, richly woven carpets, gleaming swords from Hiyal, wonders of the Crowded Sea-all- are gathered in one location to assault and delight the senses. In its sheer variety of goods, Tajar is the wealthiest city on the Gulf.

The Ruler: Tajar’s ruler is Sheikh Ali al-Hadd, House of Bakr (hmF/dr/16). He is the son of the former sheikh, Kori al-Zafiri, House of Bakr. Before the rule of Al-Zafiri, Tajar was governed by a dark-hearted sultan. That sultan despised the desert tribes and sought to enslave them through unfair trade. The leader of the Bakr tribe, Al-Zafiri, led a rebellion against the city, receiving the merchants and the poor whom the sultan had oppressed. With the rebellion underway, Al-Zafiri sent Ali, his most talented son, to gain an audience with the Grand Caliph. When the great fleet of Huzuz arrived in Tajar’s harbour, it did not carry reinforcements for the embattled sultan. Instead, it carried investigators, who quickly revealed the sultan’s true nature. The sultan was taken to Huzuz in chains, and Al-Zafiri became Tajar’s leader. Both he and his son, Ali al-Hadd, prefer the simple title sheikh.

When Al-Zafiri passed away, Ali al-Hadd succeeded his father. The son has proved himself to be equally valiant and wise, capable of dealing with Tajar’s many factions of merchants,. traders, nobles, and supplicants.

The Court: The bane of Sheikh Ali’s existence is his only son, Afzal (hmF/a/6). Afzal’s mother died in childbirth. The sheikh did not remarry, and he has not recognized any other heir. Afzal was born and raised in Tajar, in the lap of luxury, and he has turned his back on his desert heritage. He is foolish and pompous, and surrounds himself with men and women who speak of little other than his greatness. He has just reached his majority, and is honorary commander of the cavalry. Al-Hadd has assigned a dao and a djinni as his son’s personal servants and bodyguards. The sheikh hopes that direct contact with the people may teach his son wisdom. So far this has failed.
Sheera bint Tanar (hef/sh/10) serves Sheikh al-Hadd as a magical advisor. She is his unrecognized daughter, born to him by an elven courtesan in his court. Sheera is responsible for overseeing genie activities in the city, and for maintaining a good relationship with the jann.
Also prominent in the court is a rawun who is known only as Dulcet Riqqiyah (hfB/r/14). An adventurer who arrived in town four years ago, Riqqiyah charmed the sheikh with her knowledge and wit. In time, she became both a trusted advisor and a second daughter to him. Sheera is not jealous of the rawun, for the pair are close friends, and Riqqiyah acts as the young half-elf’s mentor. Afzal is taken with Riqqiyah, but she wants nothing to do with the young popinjay. Of the bard’s origin and background, nothing is known. She wears magical devices that fend off divination magics.
Population: 180,000.
Features of the City: Tajar is a major trading site in the Land of Fate. Here the caravan route from far-off Akota (an exotic place beyond Zakhara) meets the merchant armadas of the Golden Gulf. And here the tribes of the High Desert come down to trade their wares with agents of the Grand Caliph. Only the suqs of Huzuz, which bear the finest produce in all of Zakhara, can rival Tajar’s marketplace. The people of Tajar reflect this meeting of cultures. Abas and keffiyehs are as common as caftans and turbans, all the more so since the ascendency of Sheikh Ali. The impoverished residents dress in whatever rags and tatters they can manage, but even the poor of Tajar are better off than most. The riches are so abundant, and the need for labour so great, that anyone capable of work can find it if he or she looks.
Tajar is further blessed by having several natural artesian wells. The largest of these wells lies at the base of the sheikh’s palace. The wells supply most of the city’s drinking water with little strain on their capacity. Only the poor use water from the Al-Adib River, and the city quarter bordering that area is a slum of shoddy housing, dangerous beggars, and characters hoping to disappear behind the veil of dust and poverty.
The Tajari are proud, boisterous people, quick to take offense. Street music is common here, and volume outweighs proficiency for most minstrels. Merchant haggling often leads to drawn swords, and daggers are driven into the walls to underline a point. People of Tajar regard the colder, more cultured natives of other realms as repressed and unfeeling.
Major Products: Trade, spices, carpets, metalwork, swords, livestock, horses.
Armed Forces: 4,000-man city guard; 3,000-man cavalry patrol, which is built around a core of Bakr desert riders, an elite force of 800 men. In addition, Tajar has 300 jann of the High Desert on retainer.
Major Mosques: Hakiyah, Haku, Jisan, Selan.
Rumours and Lore: No one in Tajar misses the old sultan, a skinflint and tyrant who was last seen being dragged off to Huzuz. Some years later, the story of what became of him filtered back to Tajar. It is said that he (wisely) renounced his evil ways and became a priest in the hill country above Wasat. One of his children survived the revolution in Tajar, and eventually relocated with him to that city. It is therefore likely that heirs to the previous throne are still active. Most of the populace is quite happy with the present rulership, but a few are concerned about Afzal’s wisdom, and they would prefer that the sheikh either recognize Sheera officially or discover if any capable candidates exist among the original sultan’s descendants.
Outside the court, the greatest local news is the arrival of Suelasta the Magnificent (hmT/mr/12). This merchant-rogue has gained a grant from Sheikh Ali to establish a menagerie of fantastic creatures. Having secured a suitable location in a garbage-ridden area near the river, he has put out an announcement that he will pay money for wonders of all lands, safely contained and suitable for viewing by the enlightened.

Dulcet Riqqiyah is the granddaughter of the sultan, and knows it. She has infiltrated the court in order to rip it apart from within. Her friendship with Sheera is feigned, much as is her affection for the sheikh. The dao that guards Prince Afzal is in her employ, and will kill him upon her command. She is waiting for the correct moment, and the correct person to take the blame, before moving against Sheera and the sheikh.
Alternately, Dulcet Riqqiyah knows nothing of her true heritage, being a wandering adventuress who settled in Tajar for its beauty and the stories of her father, who came from the Wasat region. New in court is a sorcerer from I’tiraf across the gulf, named Hatar (hmW/so/7). Hatar knows Dulcet Riqqiyah’s secret, even if she does not, and will set up the bard as an apparent assassin. The dao is working for him, killing the prince, and leaving Sheera to choose between renouncing her friend and joining her as an apparent conspirator.
Meanwhile, down in the river district, Suelasta the Magnificent seeks to collect the widest variety of animals and monstrous creatures in the world. Unfortunately, his safety precautions are less than perfect, so for the first few months there is a rash of break-outs. Suelasta’s menagerie may serve as a method of introducing into the Land of Fate setting creatures from the Kara-Tur, FORGOTTEN REALMS®, and Maztica campaign settings. After the third or fourth serious escape, Suelasta will be looking for guards, and also for a few good men and women to hunt down a couple of escaped creatures that he does not want the sheikh to know about. Suelasta’s menagerie is a suitable location in which to place creatures that the PCs can defeat but may not wish to kill. (Land of Fate)

The northernmost of the Pearl Cities, the gateway to the Golden Gulf, Tajar is the seasoned trader’s paradise and the novice’s nightmare. The shops and bazaars burst with goods from all corners of Zakhara and beyond. Gem-encrusted scimitars, spices with strange names, flowing abas of crimson silk and silver thread are but a few of the treasures to be had here. If it is not available in Tajar, goes the saying, it is not available.
But merchandise of such quality also attracts merchants of the first rank, and they have little tolerance for amateurs. They may confiscate and destroy goods of poor craftsmanship. Blatant incompetence, such as clumsy haggling or inconsistent pricing, is met with derision, ostracism, and possibly imprisonment. The merchants welcome competition but also monitor the newcomer. Should a newcomer offer the same goods as an established merchant, but at a lower cost, he may be asked to boost his prices. If the newcomer ignores the request, his camel may mysteriously disappear. If he still ignores the request, the newcomer himself may disappear.
Merchants and customers often settle disagreements with swords. City officials generally avoid interfering in such disputes, so long as taxes are paid, permits are in order, and the occasional gold piece finds its way to the proper palm. Indeed, traders sometimes speak of Tajar tongue, an affliction associated with the Mahaskha brothers, dealers of garlic and salt. When a customer makes an offer in poor faith, the Mahaskha brothers respond by holding him to the ground and slicing out his tongue with a razor.
Newcomers, then, should avoid the bazaars and central marketplaces, concentrating instead on the side streets and back alleys where vendors of more modest means peddle their wares. Though the customers may not be as numerous, back street vendors can ply their trade with a minimum of interference. Sellers of goat’s milk, figs, parasols and honey are always welcome.
Novice traders should be scrupulously honest in their transactions, at least until they acquire the services of dependable bodyguards. Though expensive, off-duty security personnel of Sheikh Ali al-Hadd, Tajar’s ruler, make superb guards. Their sense of duty, however, may compel them to report blatant violations of the law.
The people of Tajar love music, and a mere lack of talent rarely prevents determined musicians from performing. A compliment, no matter how ill-suited to the quality of the performance, is sure to win the favour of a street musician. Because gossip sticks to these musicians like mud to a cow’s hoof, they can prove valuable allies in navigating the treacherous waters of commercial Tajar. They can tell you which shipments have been delayed in the Al-Adib harbour, which officials to bribe, and which Mahaskha brothers have the sharpest razors.

The Pantheon Coast: The League of the Pantheon, or Pantheist League, is a cluster of cities on the Crowded Sea and along the eastern side of the Golden Gulf, backed by the mountain ranges of Al-Akara and Al-Sayaj. These cities share a common outlook above and beyond that of other cities paying ultimate creed to the Grand Caliph.
Pantheists recognize only five gods: Hajama, Kor, Najm, Selan, and a local deity named Jauhar (whom Pantheists consider a major god). Within these cities, the worship of other gods is forbidden. According to the Pantheists, only the five deities of the Pantheon deserve the worship of civilized men and women. These are the gods whose priests first swore allegiance to the Law of the Loregiver. All other deities are latecomers, inferior at best. This conservative religious belief is the force that binds the Pantheist cities into a cohesive whole-into a refuge for those who know the truly enlightened gods.
Politics and religion are tightly interwoven in the Pantheist League. The church is powerful, and secular leaders are often religious leaders as well. Staunchly moralist, Pantheists are almost hidebound in their traditional values. The traditions of the past guide their actions in the future. That which is new is deemed dangerous, and that which is different is suspicious.
Both men and women cover their faces in public and conceal the shape of their bodies beneath billowing robes, lest the sight of the opposite sex cause anyone’s thoughts to stray from the moral path. (Women, in fact, usually don the traditional chador, behind which not even their eyes-a most tempting feminine feature-can be clearly seen.)
Apparently, this system works well for the Pantheist cities, for they are successful and prosperous. Unlike the Free Cities of northern Zakhara, the closely knit Pantheist communities are not hindered by continual efforts to conspire against each other in petty wars. And unlike the Pearl Cities, the cities of the Pantheon have fewer beggars and impoverished citizens on their streets. All citizens are guaranteed a satisfied stomach and a roof over their heads (provided those citizens adhere to Pantheist beliefs). Vanity, usury, pride, savagery these are alien concepts to the Pantheon. In the Pantheists’ own eyes, and by many other yardsticks, citizens of the Pantheist League are the most civilized people in the Land of Fate.
The Pantheist belief system segregates these cities from the rest of Zakhara just as it binds them together. Characters who wield political power strive to diminish other faiths and-should a rebellion against the Pantheon occur-to crush all unbelievers with force. This attitude does not make Pantheists popular in regions where enlightened gods such as Jisan, Haku, Hakiyah, and Zann are venerated (not to mention local enlightened deities). An uneasy balance exists between the League of the Pantheon and the more liberal areas of Zakhara.
The headquarters of the Pantheist League and home of the League Conclave is the city of I’tiraf, to which all other Pantheist cities send an ambassador and representatives. (Each Pantheist city also sends representatives to Huzuz.) According to many, the League’s greatest imam, Rimaq al-Nimar, Most Humble of the Pantheon’s Servants, is second only to the Grand Caliph in power (though even many Pantheists would rank him third or fourth, behind themselves or other members of the Pantheon).
Pantheist cities work in concert, setting common prices and seeking to even out crop shortages in one town with surpluses in others. Most importantly, they provide a common defence. From Hilm to Mahabba, each city is guarded by Pantheist troops, members of an army called the Sword of the True Gods. The Sword is culled from the best warriors throughout the League. Pantheist troops are always headquartered near a city’s main mosque, and they have posts throughout the community.
A Pantheist soldier is never allowed to serve in his or her home city. Instead, he or she will be stationed elsewhere in the League, serving all other cities in turn. This practice helps underscore the concept that the Sword of the True Gods is loyal to the League of the Pantheon as a whole, not to any one city. The practice also arouses many citizens to view Pantheist soldiers as guests-people to be treated well-in the hope that each city’s own fighters will be cared for equally well during their assignments elsewhere.
The people of the Pantheon are studious, solemn, respectful, polite, and industrious. As individuals, most are deeply shocked by the behaviour and decadence that occurs elsewhere in Zakhara even in the Grand Caliph’s palace itself. They are insulted by the idea that the gaudy revellers of the Pearl City could decry slavery, yet imprison their own people in economic shackles that deny the protection that slaves otherwise enjoy. Pantheists hope to bring about changes in the Land of Fate so that one day all may be enlightened to the same degree. Some hope to do it by example. Others realize that only force may decide the issue.

Fahhas, City of Searching: Located roughly 90 miles north of I’tiraf (as the rot flies), at the mouth of the river Al-Naqus, Fahhas is the most sombre city of the Pantheist League. Its people are searching for enlightenment and truth, and perhaps for the happiness both would bring.
The Ruler: Caliph Amel al-Yuhami (hmP/m/15), Humble Servant of the Enlightened Gods, is a moody, reclusive figure. Tall and broad-shouldered with well chiselled features and a thick black beard, he looks more like a warrior than a priest. Al-Yuhami is said to be among the strongest men in the Pantheist League.
The caliph’s strength is mainly physical, however, since he is given to fits of melancholy and deep depression, caused by both the sin in the world and by the death (five years ago) of his aged advisor and mentor, Jamila al-Muhib.
Caliph Amel is a man who sees matters of faith in ultimates: you are either saved or you are damned. Devotion to the Pantheon is supreme in his court. Would-be wrongdoers should beware, for those who defy the Law of the Loregiver must suffer the maximum penalty. In Fahhas, disfigurement and even torture are more common punishments than enslavement and banishment.
The Court: The court of Fahhas has no high-ranking or highly influential characters beyond the caliph himself. Caliph Amel spends most of the day in solitude and meditation, particularly since the death of his chief vizier, Jamila al-Muhib (hfW/sem/17). The lesser courtiers, scribes, and bureaucrats walk softly and speak in deferential tones when summoned before their caliph. And when they speak, they watch their words carefully, for no one knows when an ill-phrased remark will result in a tirade of abuse and possibly arrest.

Of these lesser bureaucrats, the city’s chief judge is most prominent. He is a harried dwarf named Mungu al-Ristat (dmF/a/12). Al-Ristat is overworked; he serves his caliph by carrying out each and every order to the letter. He would rather let half the city die at the executioner’s hand than be forced to fill out the paperwork for a pardon, or to approach his lord with a direct question.
Population: 110,000.
Features of the City: Fahhas reflects the mood of its caliph; its people are sullen, brooding, and joyless in their tasks. The city is prosperous, however, due to its natural gifts. The grasslands to the east are grazed by sheep and goats, and dotted with orchards of oranges, dates, apricots, and pears. The rich clays of the river Al-Naqus make some of the finest pottery and china on the Golden Gulf, and the location of the city makes it a convenient port for boats from Huzuz and the north.
Major Products: Fruit, livestock, trade, pottery, china.
Armed Forces: Pantheist troops include 2,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry. Other land forces: 2,000 city guards; a unit of 150 clerical reserves (priests of levels 1 to 6) from the Pantheon mosque and university; and 3 units of mamluks of the Devoted society, totalling 900 men. Seafaring forces include a navy of 5 large vessels, plus a shore patrol of 10 smaller
Major Mosques: Pantheon.
Rumours and Lore: The grief of this city’s caliph is understandable. He greatly loved and respected his chief vizier, Jamila al-Muhib, who brought Amel from the ranks of the clergy to a position of power and respect. Yet to many the length and the depth of his grief seem extreme, for it has been five years since Jamila’s passing. She died of a fever that not even the best healers of Talab could abate. In the years since then, Caliph Amel has banished his counsellors, disbanded his harim, and he now wears a brooch that prevents the approach of any genie within 10 feet.
Today there is a rising tide of fear for the caliph’s health. Many wish to see him restored to his previous strength and demeanour. An equal number wish to see him step down and be replaced by a more reasonable leader. However, because Caliph Amel commands the loyalty of both the mamluks and Pantheist troops and because the League Conclave of I’tiraf is unwilling to move against the Caliph of Fahhas – there seems to be no answer to the city’s woes but to appeal to Fate, and to accept that which is given.

Amil al-Yuhami, Caliph of Fahhas, has cause for his madness. His mentor and chief vizier, Jamali al-Muhib, did not die of her fever, but rather made the transformation from human to lich, and now lives in the catacombs beneath the caliph’s palace. The transformation was incomplete, such that only the head attained full undead status, the rest of the body is now immobile and rotting away. The caliph keeps the head in a room lined with great lead plates, all inscribed with the wisdom of the Pantheon’s teachings.
The lich-head that was Jamali is now a mad, evil thing, whispering darkness and despair into the caliph’s ear, and warning him of dangers that do not exist. Every new bit of advice brings him closer to complete madness, and has driven away all his advisors and allies. Amil visits the head at least once per week, more often in times of crisis. Jamali retains all of her original magical abilities, and uses charm and suggestion spells to underscore her demands.
As for Amil himself, he is just as strong as reported, having a Strength of 20 without magical enhancement. Whether this is the result of some strain of giant-blood or (more likely) some gift of the Pantheon gods is as yet unrevealed.

Hilm, City of Kindness: Hilm is the northernmost city of the Pantheist League, and perhaps the most liberal. Located nearest to Huzuz, it is a stopping point for many pilgrims traveling overland to the Court of Enlightenment. Its streets are spartan but spotless, lacking in colour and (for the most part) crime. It is a stark contrast to the lively city of Tajar across the Golden Gulf.
The Ruler: Caliph Abir al-Farhan (hmP/m/15), Humble Servant of the Enlightened Gods, represents the Pantheist League at its best. Considerate and concerned about the well-being of his people, the caliph is a diligent protector of the faith, and he sees to the needs of even the most poverty-stricken members of his flock. His wide belly and short stature belie a powerful and wise individual who will stop at nothing to protect his people.
The Court: Most important in the court is the caliph’s grand vizier, a sorcerer named Shoroz (hmW/so/13). Tall but stooped, Shoroz shares Abir’s vision for Hilm and works diligently at his lord’s side. Often, the pair don disguises (usually magical in nature) and go out to mingle among the people of Hilm. The disguises are designed to help them discover what the people are truly feeling, for a man may change his voice in the presence of one who can stop
it forever. The pair may at first appear to be two dwarves, or perhaps two traveling merchants or pilgrims. Nonetheless, they frequently give themselves away by their actions.
The apple of the caliph’s eye is his eldest daughter, Ola (hfP/m/5). She has been schooled in the ways of the church and, with the permission of church officials, would marry the next caliph of the city in order to continue the line and preserve her father’s interest in the people. Ola spends most of her time with her books of prayers and parables, segregated from the outside world. The people of Hilm share her father’s devotion to her. When she appears in public,
the multitudes applaud and throw flowers at her feet.
Population: 180,000.
Features of the City: The people of Hilm are even-tempered. Unlike the citizens of other Pantheist cities, they are relatively patient even with the unenlightened (which, to them, includes all who fail to recognize the gods of the Pantheon exclusively).
The hospices of Hilm are legendary within the Pantheist League for their cleanliness and hospitality. Because of their quality, many pilgrims journeying to Huzuz choose the overland route as opposed to the more expensive (but more direct) ships from Fahhas. While such pilgrims know they should not flaunt their adherence to any faith that contradicts the beliefs of the Pantheon, they also know the people of Hilm will not hunt them down like mad dogs for such beliefs.
Hilm is Pantheist moralism as it is meant to be. The city’s residents are well fed and well tended. There are no beggars in the streets or marketplace, and even the poorest members of society have clean robes and satisfied (if not full) bellies. Entertainments include mystery plays of common legends (all bearing serious moral lessons beneath their humour and jibes) and bards reciting great poems in the name of the Pantheon. Work is regular throughout the year. If people are not needed to harvest or plant, they can renovate and rebuild houses in the city itself. If the people of Hilm seem a bit smug, it is because they have something to be smug about.
The city is peaceful, though trouble often arises from those who bring it with them: thieves, barbarians, confidence artists, and misguided individuals. The chief job of the city guard and the Pantheist troops is to keep such troublemakers from disrupting the lives of the people of Hilm.
Those who come to the city intent on foul play or mischief are first cautioned, then arrested if warnings are ignored. A Pantheon priest (from levels 2 to 8) is attached to each patrol of the city guard, aiding in the capture of disruptive individuals. Trials are quick. If the individual shows true penitence, they are also just.
In Hilm, enlightened but misguided criminals who venerate a god outside the Pantheon are rarely put to death. Instead, they may be enslaved for a number of months, fulfilling their sentence by serving the church.
Major Products: Grain, livestock, horses, tourism (pilgrimage).
Armed Forces: Members of the Sword of the True Gods include 2,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry, most of which are concerned with the protection of the farmers and travellers through their area. Additional warriors: 1,000 city guards. From the Pantheon mosque and university: a unit of 120 clerical reserves (priests of levels 1 to 6). The caliph’s personal guard includes 3 units of mamluks (900 soldiers), all members of the Exalted society.
Major Mosques: Pantheon.
Rumours and Lore: According to legends told both in the Pantheist League and elsewhere, Hilm was the first city to receive the Law of the Loregiver after Huzuz. As such, Hilm has a special status for being so honoured by Fate. Indeed, the Pantheist creed notes that, at the time, the first gods who became enlightened were those of Hilm: Wise Kor, Brave Najm, Adventurous Hajama, Beautiful Selan, and Diligent Jauhar. It is from those gods that the faith of the Pantheon takes its direction.

The City of Kindness is boring. It is well-run, well tended, and well-patrolled, and its populace is well-behaved, devout, and friendly. If the player characters are used to raising a little ruckus in the towns they visit, they are likely to find themselves (at best) with an enforced six-month stretch of wall building ahead of them.
There are two things which may mar this perfect world. One is the daughter of the revered father, the beautiful Ola. Her beauty is as wondrous as that of the calipha of Ajayib, though she lacks that warrior woman’s ability with the sword. Should she be kidnapped, there would be pandemonium in the streets, and there would be no stopping her rescue, even if war with another city was the result.
More insidious, and just as dangerous, is the fact that the City of Questing lies upriver of Hilm. A sudden plague in that city would be carried down by the waters, which most of the people of Hilm rely upon.

Hudid, City of Humility: A mong the more tolerant of the League’s cities, Hudid is located outside the Golden Gulf, on the shores of the Crowded Sea. (Only Mahabba, about 90 miles east, shares this location.) Outsiders know that the tariffs and laws of Hudid take into account their own misguided ignorance of the Pantheon’s ways, and that has made the city a prime trading area for exotic items.
The Ruler: Caliph and Most Revered Mother Sajah al-Munsif (hfP/m/15) is the only woman to guide the faith of a city in this generation. Within the League, she is known as the Quiet Caliph, for she rarely acts or speaks directly. Instead, she leads by example and talks in parables that may at first seem to wander from the point, but, in the end, reveal a basic truth that allows the listener to attain enlightenment. As a young woman, Sajah served as a representative to the Grand Caliph’s court, where she impressed His Enlightened Majesty with her wit and wisdom. He appointed her a caliph 10 years ago. The Conclave gave its unanimous approval. Sajah has proved herself to be a wise and capable ruler. Her firm yet open policies have prevented the spread of Balanite heresy up the coast. Her people are well fed and, on the average, better off than their cousins across the Golden Gulf in the Pearl Cities. The caliph will frequently don her chador and go out to mix with the people, hearing their needs and interests and using them to guide city policy.
The Court: Sajah bore twin daughters while she was in the court of the Grand Caliph. Although she maintains a selama (equivalent of a harim), she chooses to bear no other children. Of Sajah’s daughters, one chose to remain in the church. That daughter has risen steadily in rank; she now serves as her mother’s chief aide and advisor Sajah’s legs and mouth among the people. She is Inara (hfP/m/8), a woman very much like her mother: well educated, polite, and preferring to teach by illumination and example. Of the other daughter, Jinara, nothing is known. She left her family when she came of age, declaring herself independent. Effectively, Jinara vanished.
Population: 90,000.
Features of the City: Hudid has the greatest university in the Land of Fate. Prince Tannous, the uncle of the Grand Caliph, studied here as a lad, as have many notable viziers and learned figures throughout Zakhara. The university is for the most part moralist in nature, in keeping with the Pantheon. Compared to other organizations in the Pantheist League, however, it is quite open and will tolerate members of other faiths as well as pragmatists, ethoists, and even Free Priests. The sciences, particularly optics and alchemy, are the university’s strong points, followed by the subjects of magic and poetry. In fact, some excellent poets and rawuns have studied at Hudid’s university.
The people of Hudid have warmed to the caliph and her rule, though at first many were concerned and even offended by the non-traditional posting of a woman in the caliphate. When the walls failed to tumble in and the city prospered under her rulership, most changed their opinions. They look forward to her daughter Inara carrying on the tradition of a female caliph in Hudid.
Caliph Sajah has made the city of Hudid a safe haven for travellers of all walks of life (not a difficult task for one with such an enlightened populace). Hudid still has its perils, however, often around the docks or in the university, where differing ideas may clash with violent results.
Major Products: Students, trade, glass lenses and telescopes, writing, books.
Armed Forces: 1,000 Pantheist infantry; 500 Pantheist cavalry; 2,000 city guards; 200 clerical reserves (priests of levels 1 to 6) from the Pantheon university. In addition, the first three ships of an official navy have been built. Their mission: to deal with increased piracy on the Crowded Sea.
Major Mosques: Pantheon.
Rumours and Lore: Of late, the greatest concern in Hudid is the Balanite heresy in Mahabba, which lies directly east along the coast. Many refugees from that city have fled to Hudid, and the caliph of Mahabba, Ma’mum, believes that Balanite followers and holy slayers may have supporters in Hudid. Caliph Sajah has three times refused Ma’mum’s request to conduct investigations in Hudid regarding this matter, and if it can be proved that the followers of Bala are indeed active in Hudid, great turmoil will ensue. As a result, one of Inara’s chief tasks is to investigate these accusations herself. So far, she has turned up nothing official.

Hudid is noted for its libraries of optics, mathematics, and alchemy, but one collection that is not normally mentioned is the Black Library of Hudid, which carries books so foul, dangerous, and heretical that they are kept there as examples of the worst of savagery. It is said that priests of Zann, when confronted with books which they cannot bear to keep nor destroy in good faith, send them to the Black Library of Hudid. Here are histories of holy slayer fellowships, secret rituals of the Brotherhood of the True Flame, horrors of elemental worshippers, and translated obscenities from the Ruined Kingdoms. Admittance to the library is by the personal request of the caliph, and the library is guarded by two dao of maximum Hit Dice.
The heretical sect of Balanites does exist in Hudid, but secretly, for the armies of Mahabba are within easy marching distance. It grows slowly in the university, and one of its ringleaders, a rawun named Haji bin Marat (hmB/r/6), is clandestinely romancing the caliph’s daughter. The caliph knows nothing of this romance, which is conducted in the libraries as Inara researches old texts. Inara knows of the Balanites but says nothing. There are no holy slayer fellowships of the Balanites in Hudid, and those Balanites in the university (including Haji) look to Revered Mother Inara for protection.
The caliph’s other daughter is a merchant-rogue in the Pearl Cities, having shortened her name to Jina (hfT/mr/13). She maintains a small trading firra out of Tajar and has dealt extensively with the tribes of the High Desert. However, she has considered paying her old family a visit, if nothing else to create havoc. Mischievous and adventurous, Jina hates the Pantheon and all it stands for. Jina is very unlike her mother and sister, for she is direct and gladly lies or commits fraud to get what she wants.

I’tiraf, City of Confessions: I’tiraf is the site of the League Conclave, the governing body to which every Pantheist city sends representatives. Located at the mouth of the river AlHadi, I’tiraf lies almost directly east of Jumlat, a wild and uncivilized Pearl City for which I’tiraf has little respect. I’tiraf’s people take pride in living in one of Zakhara’s most moral and upright settlements. This is not to say that evil or misguided men and women are not found here. However, once such dastards have been revealed, they are quickly punished, reformed, or (as is likely) both. Ferreting out such undesirables is one reason I’tiraf is known as the City of Confessions.
The Ruler: Emir and Most Revered Father Rimaq al-Nimar (hmP/m/20), Most Humble Servant of the Enlightened Gods, is the ruler of I’tiraf. He is also the head of the League Conclave. Without question, Rimaq is the most powerful man in the League of the Pantheon. He is the fourth of his line to serve as Most Revered Father of the League-the son of Ali, grandson of Kura, and great-grandson of Exanaroth the Unifier. The emir is the dominating religious and secular force in the lands of the League. His word is law.
The most powerful man in the Pantheist League lives simply in a small manor adjoining the Conclave buildings. He rarely appears in public, and when he does grant audiences, the only priests who may be present are moralists of the Pantheon (One of the few benefits of rank, he is quoted as saying, is refusing to meet with fools). Outland priests and Free Priests such as hakimas, kahins, and mystics are forbidden to enter his court. Moreover, even ethoists and pragmatists of the Pantheon are banished from his presence.
The emir has a great dream: that, in time, Pantheist teachings will prevail in Zakhara, dominating life in every comer of the land. To that end, the emir is a regular correspondent with the Grand Caliph’s chief vizier, Alyana al-Azzazi. Alyana shares the Most Revered Father’s moralist attitude, but flatly rejects his Pantheist dogma. Still, the chief vizier is Rimaq’s best means of making the needs and complaints of the Pantheon known. The Grand Caliph is currently heirless. If he dies in that state, the resulting confusion may allow Rimaq to expand the control of the Pantheon and perhaps even dominate the Land of Fate.
In the Pearl Cities, rumour has it that the Most Revered Father Rimaq al-Nimar is responsible for many intrigues and disasters that occur there, from the great Tentacled Shark of the pearl beds to the assassination attempt on the sultan of Sikak. In truth, Rimaq is not a malevolent force scheming to destroy the Pearl Cities. Their troubles are to the advantage of the Pantheon, however, and anyone who creates difficulties for the Pearl Cities may be welcomed (or at least used by) Rimaq and the Conclave.
The Court: The League Conclave is the court of I’tiraf. Delegates from each of the Pantheist cities are present at all times. Each delegation consists of 1 to 6 midlevel priests of the Pantheon (levels 3 to 6) and 3 to 18 low-level priests (levels 1 to 2). The Conclave building is one of the largest structures in the League, exceeded only in wonder and size by the Great Mosque of the Pantheon.
Current delegation leaders from other cities are Ahmad al-Rahib of Hilm (hmP/m/12), Aksonkor al-Daris of Talab (hmP/m/9), Reisah al-Bakir of Fahhas (hfP/m/10), Yazid al-Walid of Hudid (hmP/m/12), and Hisham bin Ziyad of Mahabba (hmP/m/10). I’tiraf’s own representative to the Conclave is Osham al-Budan (hmP/m/12). He and most delegates look to the Most Revered Father Rimaq for leadership.
Population: 250,000.
Features of the City: I’tiraf’s residents are staunchly moralist, extremely lawful, and exceedingly gracious – at least to one another. Veiled men and women conduct their business with little fear of beggars, thieves, or rogues. They believe that all people who come from outside Pantheist territories are no better than savages. It is folly to argue about this point, for I’tiraf’s citizens are confident in their beliefs, and argument only confirms their opinions on the rudeness and quarrelsome nature of misguided people.

The people of I’tiraf look to their religious leaders and the emir for guidance. To find success here, as elsewhere in the League, even warriors, wizards, and rogues must take on the mantle and the creed of the Pantheon. Traders, craftsmen, and merchants within the city all prefer to deal with other moralists. Caravans and ships from far-off lands experience (at best) a cold reception and (more likely) a large amount of duties and taxes. Merchants from the Pearl Cities often use captains of convenience when dealing with I’tiraf: moralist (though not necessarily Pantheon-worshipping) individuals.
Life in I’tiraf revolves around the Great Mosque of the Pantheon. This mosque is one of the largest structures outside Huzuz. One of the most beautiful structures as well, it is made of polished blue stone excavated from the Al-Sayaj Mountains, inlaid with gold, and set with precious and semiprecious gems. Mamluks guard the mosque. This is a haram (holy site) in its own right, and is a gathering point for pilgrims from the south who are journeying north to Huzuz.
Major Products: Glassware, crystal, sages (religion), priests (moralists of the Pantheon).
Armed Forces: Pantheist troops include 8,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry. Other land forces: 2,000 city guards; a unit of 300 clerical reserves (priests of levels 1 to 6); and 6 units of mamluks, totalling 1,800, with 3 units each representing the Exalted and Devoted societies. Seafaring forces: navy of 16 ships, with more baghlahs (large dhows) under construction.
Major Mosques: Pantheon.
Rumours and Lore: The veneration of Most Revered Father Rimaq al-Nimar and his ancestors stops just short of personal deification. Most of that which is good in the city (and in the League) is attributed to Rimaq. Most of that which is bad is attributed to the work of slackers, fools, and the miscreants who seek to topple him.
Every few months, a rumour sweeps through I’tiraf, creating a war fever. The rumour is always the same: a fleet has been spotted advancing toward I’tiraf, hailing from the Pearl Cities, or from Afyal, or from some sorcerous trough in the Ruined Kingdoms. Street riots ensue, during which a few foreigners always perish and the ranks of the city guard and Pantheist forces always swell. In particular, more ships are added to the official navy of the Pantheon (which is based in I’tiraf). Then the scare subsides, and life returns to normal (though the surviving foreigners are more cautious from then on).

Revered Father Rimaq al-Nimar, the most powerful and venerated member of the Pantheon leadership, fourth in the line of distinguished and capable amirs, is not the son of his father. He is lowborn, the child of a simple baker. The previous amir was unable to produce an heir, and was greatly distraught that the advances that his family had wrought in the Pantheon would end with him. His wife deceived a local baker as to her identity and conceived Rimaq, telling the amir that the child was his. Revered Father Rimaq is unaware of his true parentage, though someone with the ability to perceive such a truth could do so after an extended period of time with him. The established manners of the I’tiraf court prevent such contact normally.
Should the truth be revealed, the DM has two options as to how to proceed. In the tales of the Arabian Nights, the one who is so revealed is at first dismayed by the revelation, then enlightened by the truth. The revered father would step down from his position for a more suitable candidate (including possibly the one who revealed his true heritage) and take up the life of a holy wanderer, learning the trade of his true father, and attaining personal happiness. In his wake he would leave a power struggle among the delegations as to who controls the League Conclave (each representative would be considered a candidate, majority rules). Note that most of the Conclave members have contacts with
holy slayer fellowships, and that the Storm Which Destroys has been involved in Pantheon politics before.
The second option lies in the politics of the real world: the revered father would deny such a charge, though his heart knows it is true. This would make him irrational and angry at all foreigners, and lead to purges of all who are not members of the Pantheon. Perhaps he would have the one who revealed his heritage slain, and perhaps even launch an attack against that one’s home city. As news of the deception and purges spreads, some cities of the League (such as Hilm and Mahabba) will attempt to pull away, leading to a holy war in the League. After much death and bloodshed a new League would form (likely in Hilm or Fahhas) with a new set of moralist leaders in three to four years.
A final note on the Conclave: The representative from Talab is a wererat, one of the number that has infected that city

Mahabba, City of Charity: Like Hudid, about 90 miles to the west, Mahabba lies well outside the Golden Gulf, on the shores of the Crowded Sea. There the similarity ends, however. While Hudid is relatively accepting of outsiders,
Mahabba has become a closed society under occupation by its own military forces. Most of the city’s people are ashamed of a non-Pantheist history that they cannot seem to forget. Mahabba’s secondary title, City of Charity, has lost its meaning. Of late, more people call it the City of Silence.
The Ruler: Caliph and Revered Father Ma’mum al-Sahnan (hemP/m/14-F/f/16), Humble Servant of the Enlightened Gods, is a fatherly half-elf with a gray, closely cropped beard. Ma’mum first established himself as a warrior in battles against the savage tribes of the Ruined Kingdoms; only later did he enter the priestly orders. First and foremost a strict disciplinarian, he was judged by Rimaq al-Nimar as the best man for his current position, and Rimaq’s voice carried in the court of Huzuz.
Ma’mum is kind and fatherly to the devout, but merciless to the misguided and the unenlightened. In the latter group he places the Balanites, followers of the cult-god Bala of Ill Tidings (see Chapter 5). The caliph’s operatives are everywhere, seeking to crush not only the cult, but also the fanatical brotherhoods of holy slayers that the Balanites engender.
The Court: Ma’mum favours fighters in his court: warriors, as well as mages and priests who have had front-line battle experience. To Ma’mum, a man and a woman (of any race) have not reached their potential until they have been bloodied in holy warfare against the heathen foe. The city’s position as the last civilized outpost in the League territory reaffirms the need to be ever-vigilant and watchful.
Ma’mum’s chief vizier is a warrior, Tanatha of the Glittering Blades (hfF/f/13). She has served at his side through a number of campaigns. For a brief time they were married, and she bore him three sons. Two have fallen in combat, and the third is undergoing clerical training in I’tiraf. Tanatha and Ma’mum were divorced when it became clear that both wished to remain in the field as warriors. They are still close emotionally, and Ma’mum maintains no harim. Tanatha is a cavalry soldier. She prefers clear-cut battles to the twisted and myriad skirmishes of the streets, but she serves where Fate and the Pantheon think she will do best.
Ma’mum’s chief judge is also his chief informant and master spy. His name is Othmar bin Jaqal (hmW/sh/16), the son of the jackal. An oily, evil sha’ir with an efreeti servitor and suspected ties to the Brotherhood of the True Flame, Othmar is a devout Pantheist who believes in burning out the taint of heresy.
Tanatha and Ma’mum are both accompanied at all times by detachments of 20 mamluks of the Exalted society, all 3rd level. Othmar has only his efreeti, Zet, as his bodyguard, but is said to carry more than enough magical protection to ward off any attack.
Population: 100,000.
Features of the City: As noted above, Mahabba is a city under military occupation by its own forces. The Balanite heresy fought by the caliph is so great as to make frequent patrols and checkpoints common. The city’s strict curfew begins at nightfall. The Balanite threat is real: these heretics have set fires, destroyed supplies, and assassinated prominent merchants and officials. Even the Enlightened Throne, so far distant, is concerned with the damage. The Grand Caliph has urged that this uprising be put to an end, whether through negotiation or the sword.
Mahabbans are fearful of strangers and, to some degree, their own rulers. While Ma’mum remains popular with his people, the presence of Othmar ferreting out the guilty makes many nervous, and most feel that Othmar mixes personal feelings (and enjoyments) with his persecutions. To speak out, however, is to attract Othmar’s unwanted attention.
Mahabba has recently been dubbed the City of Silence. Since the heresy began, music (except for martial bands) is rare. It is by music that the shadowy Balanites are said to spread their evil. Bards in particular are unwelcome in Mahabba; rawuns and other singers who visit the city may wish to report to the local guard and acquire a personal moralist bodyguard for the duration of their stay.
Major Products: Wood, trade, rebellion.
Armed Forces: 4,000 Pantheist infantry; 1,000 Pantheist cavalry; 2,000 city guards; 50 clerical reserves (priests of levels 1 to 4); and no navy. Wideranging patrols, which formerly ventured into the hinterland as far as the Gray Jungle, have been discontinued in light of increased rebellion.
Major Mosques: Pantheon.
Rumours and Lore: The most important story out of Mahabba is that of the Balanite heresy. In the early days of the First Caliph, the cities of the eastern coast formed the League of the Pantheon and pledged their fealty as a group to the First Caliph and to the Law of the Loregiver. The gods worshipped in these cities became the five enlightened gods known as the Pantheon. Mahabba joined the League shortly thereafter and declared their god, Bala of the Tidings, a musical spirit-idol, enlightened as well. The clergy of the Pantheon protested, and their armies invaded Mahabba, crushing the initial heresy.
As a result of this conflict, the First Caliph sought knowledge in the Law on what constituted an enlightened god. Eventually, many local (common) gods came to be recognized as enlightened, standing apart from the savage gods. However, for Mahabba the damage had already been done. The faith had been driven underground.
Over the next five centuries, the Balanites rose in rebellion and were crushed several times, with each suppression more bloody than the last. The followers of Bala formed their own groups of holy slayers, committed to the ousting of Pantheist rule. Some of these groups attempted to bring down the entire League of the Pantheon. Of course they failed, but the assassinations of several Pantheist leaders have been attributed to Balanite slayers.
The most recent rebellion began seven years ago with the assassination of Mogan bin Ahmed, the previous ruler of Mahabba. The Conclave appointed Ma’mum as an interim commander to impose martial law. Two years ago, he was confirmed by Grand Caliph Khalil as the official ruler of the city.

There are a huge number of worshippers of Bala in the city, all of whom live in fear of being discovered and killed as terrorists. The oppression has driven the followers into secret, such that they identify themselves with secret gestures and code words.
There are those who fight against the yoke of this oppression and persecution. These individuals regularly conduct raids against Pantheon troops and loyal individuals. A trader who apparently sides with the Pantheon or attends Ma’mum’s court is in danger of being kidnapped and/or murdered in the name of the rebellion.
These Balanite resistance groups are usually cells of three to five individuals, usually fighters, mystics, or bards, and of levels 1 to 8. If a cell is broken, only those connected with it are lost.
The old temple of Bala was destroyed and a market erected on its location. There are secret chambers still intact beneath this market, containing relics which can be used by the followers of Bala as a rallying point for their rebellion or by Ma’mum and Uthmar as tools to crush the heresy.

Talab, City of Questing: Travellers who follow the river Al-Muti east from Hilm, heading nearly 100 miles into the scorched wilderness, will reach the river’s source. This is also the site of Talab. Dubbed the City of Questing, Talab is the
most common starting point for adventurers entering the Ruined Kingdoms and Haunted Lands from a Pantheist city.
The Ruler: Caliph Kia al-Sadid (hmP/m/13), Humble Servant of the Enlightened Gods, is a mousy, stoop-shouldered bureaucrat whose appearance does not suggest the great power he wields within the city. His voice is soft, yet his words convey his wisdom. He was installed as an interim caliph by the Pantheist League following the assassination of his predecessor. (The murder was allegedly performed by the Storm Which Destroys, a group of holy slayers based in the Al-Sayaj Mountains.) Caliph Kia has proved to be a capable administrator, and he does not interfere with the traders and merchants. Though he is rarely seen in public, the force of his pronouncements are felt throughout the city.
The Court: The caliph’s chief assistant is a priestess of the Pantheon, Aranah al-Mursal (hfP/m/10). Aranah serves as scribe, librarian, and record-keeper. She oversees the official documentation of all trade, including slaves. Bookish and quiet, Aranah is often sent to Hilm as a representative of Talab. She also visits the outpost forts in the role of an inspector.
A remarkable addition to the court is Hanyar al-Muhif (hmF/mb/12), an enlightened Pantheist who hails from the unenlightened tribes of the Al-Sayaj Mountains. Hanyar serves as the caliph’s emissary to the mountain tribes. His people, sweating in their furs, are often seen in the nearby countryside. Hanyar is a sly, secretive individual who prefers to remain in the background, from which he can carefully observe life in the court.
Population: 70,000.
Features of the City: Without the work of men, Talab could not survive. The city’s water is brought from wells in the Al-Sayaj Mountains to the south through underground conduits. The impressive manmade conduits lead to Talab’s reservoir, which is the source of the river Al-Muti. This water is the lifeblood of Talab. A mamluk organization known as the Parched is charged with protecting the reservoir and its conduits. They have no other duty but this, yet they are fiercely proud of its importance.
Like Halwa to the north, Talab is a meeting place of cultures. Tribes of the Ruined Kingdoms come here, though most are unwelcome. A healthy slave-trade has sprung up in the city, and if enlightened men are locked in shackles, Kia’s men look the other way. Caliph Kia’s predecessor rigorously persecuted illegal slaving, and this may have led to his demise at the obsidian blade of the holy slayers.
Talab is the site of a major university staffed by moralist barbers and Pantheist priests. The university is devoted to theology, priestly magic (Pantheist, of course), and healing. Many of Zakhara’s most knowledgeable minds on these subjects were schooled at Talab’s university.
The natives of Talab are insular and secretive. They keep private matters private and show a public face of reserved concern. Of late, outlying areas have suffered numerous raids, and Talab’s citizens are particularly suspicious of desert tribes and their riders.
Major Products: General trade, slaves, fabric, sages (medicine), healers, barbers.
Armed Forces: 3,000 Pantheist infantry and 2,000 Pantheist cavalry, most of which are concerned with the protection of trade and patrolling the pass into the Ruined Kingdoms. Additional forces: 1,000 city guards; a unit of 100 clerical reserves (priests of levels 1 to 6); 900 mamluks of the Parched society, charged with protecting the water supply.
Major Mosques: Pantheon.
Rumours and Lore: At any time, 100 merchants catering to transient adventurers roam the streets of Talab, selling true maps to great treasure in the wilderness. A visitor can usually find about 50 tribe members here, all eager to share a tale of wonder and amazement-about mountains of pure iron, dreadful cities ruled by the dead, and ancient but still-living idols worshipped by debased peoples.
Caliph Kia pays little heed to these stories. He does, however, have a keen interest in health and disease. He has ordered the mamluk guard to regularly check the reservoir and pipes for dangerous contagions and creatures known to cause or carry maladies. And he insists that all slave-traders guarantee that their slaves from the Ruined Kingdoms are clean and without taint. People with information regarding new diseases-excluding those who actually display symptoms, of course-are expected to report their knowledge to Aranah (the caliph’s assistant). Of particular interest to the caliph are diseases, curses, and pseudo-diseases that defy magical cures. Caliph Kia has promised to share any discoveries based on his research to the leaders of other Pantheist cities, especially those of Hilm.

Talab has two secrets, one great, one small. The great secret is that the caliph and his court are infected by lycanthropy. Almost all, including the revered father and Arana, are wererats. It was Arana who brought the curse back from the forts along the pass, and it quickly spread throughout the community. For this reason most of the court stays apart from the general populace. They wish to carefully spread the curse through the entire populace, and elsewhere through the League. In particular, they wish to dominate the city of Hilm by tainting their water supply. For that reason, the ranking mamluks of the Parched military society have been infected as well.

The lesser secret is the true identity of Hanyar alMufih. At the DM’s option, he can be exactly what he appears to be: a sweating mountain barbarian who acts as a link between his people and the people of Talab, supplying information and slaves in exchange for gold and protection. Alternately, he is a member of the Storm Which Destroys, a holy slayer fellowship, (hmT/hs/15) who is the revered father’s link with that group. The previous caliph did not perish for his interference in trade, but rather because the Kia wished to take the throne. The small caliph is more cunning than he appears, and is more so now that he is infected with lycanthropy

The Ruined Kingdoms: Long, long ago, when the giants ruled and the Haunted Lands were said to be verdant, the lands now called the Ruined Kingdoms held mighty human empires. These were powerful river-empires, of which, say the sages, there were two (though some suggest there were at times as many as a seven). Zakharans know these two kingdoms as Nog and Kadar. Yet a third great empire, which once dominated the isle of Afyal, is now also remembered by its ruins. Its relation to the first two, if any, is unclear. Why these kingdoms fell is a matter of conjecture. It could be that their people exhausted their resources, or that the land became wet and drove the folk to drier ground. It could be that the people battled themselves to oblivion, or fell to savages or great monsters. The truth is unrevealed.
Of the original inhabitants little is known. Their descendants may walk among today’s tribes of the Ruined Kingdoms, the Haunted Lands, and even among the people of Afyal and Sahu. All that the original inhabitants of these empires have left behind are their works: huge structures which have fallen into disrepair. On the islands, there are great temples dominated by hippopotamus- and crocodile-headed gods. Throughout the valleys of Nog and Kadar, monolithic monuments are common, canted at odd angles like teetering headstones, their inscriptions mostly eroded away.
Once well tended, the land of the great river valleys is now overgrown with low underbrush and dense scrub. The soil has become dry and hard in the absence of irrigation. Consequently, the Mighty Nogaro, the Kadan, and even the Al-Iltifat regularly leap their banks and flood the surrounding countryside.
Officially, the kingdoms of Nog and Kadar extend from the southernmost land under Pantheist control to the forest bordering the Foreigners’ Sea. Inland, the kingdoms extend as far as the highlands of the Haunted Lands. Of this territory, most is wild and unexplored. A scattering of small towns and encampments lie among the ruins, but only three major cities are found, all in the south-eastern quarter. Two of these cities – Rog’osto and Kadarasto are built on the ruins of old capitols. The third city, Dihliz, is relatively new, closer to a modem city than the others. Of the rest of the land, few can say what riches the weeds, vines, and undergrowth conceal.

The inhabitants of the Ruined Kingdoms came to enlightenment late (and often unwillingly). Other Zakharans view them as a moody, sullen, and untrustworthy group who have not left their savage gods and heritage fully behind them. Living in the shadow of their ancestors’ palaces and tombs, it is easy to see why they are impressed with ancient powers. Most believe that their ancestors still thrive somewhere in the hidden lands and underground chambers of the dead empires, planning for their return. Slavery is a common practice here, particularly in the hinterland. Travelers are warned that savage slavers, who sell their wares at Halwa and Dihliz, are not choosey about the nature of their prey.

Dihliz, The Gateway City: Located on a broad plateau about 50 miles up the Nogaro River, Dihliz is the only major city in the Ruined Kingdoms that has not been built on the wreckage of an older metropolis. Dubbed the Gateway City, it is a popular debarkation point for those seeking fortune and high adventure in the Ruined Kingdoms of the continent. It also serves as a major trading centre between the inland towns and the civilized world.
The Ruler: Emira Hassana Alim al-Gaib (hfT/sl/18) was recently a merchant from Afyal. Upon the recommendation of the padishah of Afyal, she was appointed emira by the Grand Caliph for a provisional period of five years. It is now year four, and Hassana is busy hiding away her riches for her inevitable retirement. The emira operates a wide-open town, the sort favoured by adventurers (especially foreigners). Interpretation of the Law is loose, and usually to the advantage of the emira and her cronies.
The Court: The Ministry of Secrets registers and catalogues all ruins and treasure sites between the borders of the Pantheon and the Sempadan Forest. It is headed up by the emira’s long-time associate, an unenlightened native of the Haunted Land named Amin Nur (hmF/mb/12). By insisting upon continual reorganization and review, Amin guarantees that the Ministry of Secrets is always in a shambles. Scrolls and reports are frequently misfiled, stolen, or lost, but suitable amount of gold always seems to bring the needed document or information to light. Individuals who visit the ministry in hopes of obtaining a map or a license to plunder often bring dinars instead of scribes.
The Ministry of Riches is responsible for detailing and applying a minor tax to all treasure extracted from the ruins. The ministry is run (and fairly responsibly run at that) by another of the emira’s companions, Jel al-Galiz (hfW/sh/13), who holds the title Minister of Riches. Conscientious and dependable, Jel realizes that most of the treasure hauled from the river valley alone disappears overland, or is smuggled out of the area, with no reports made whatsoever. She focuses her attention on ancient magics, striving to control (or at least regulate) their flow. In particular, she watches for useful or dangerous magical items. Her bureau imposes only a 1 percent tax on monetary treasure, and the ministry pays full price (5 times XP value) for most of the rare magical treasures that are brought to it. Further, individuals who work with the system-and with Jel al-Galiz often receive grants to explore newly discovered ruins (or to investigate other, non-paying tomb-raiders).
In keeping with Afyal’s tradition, the emira has four husbands (see Medina al-Afyal below for details). One husband serves in the court of Afyal. The second serves in the court of Huzuz. The third maintains the family’s trading route between Afyal and Jumlat. The fourth and youngest, Ebu min Hassana, commands the cavalry forces of Dihliz. Min Hassana is a former desert rider from the Haunted Lands. The cavalrymen he leads are charged with protecting the city and seeking out those who clandestinely rob the ruins (as opposed to those who work with the Ministry of Secret’s knowledge). About three times a year, Min Hassana takes a band of his riders up past Kadarasto for several weeks of patrolling.
Population: 80,000.
Features of the City: Given its physical position as well as its politics, Dihliz is a frontier city, uncivilized when compared to other Zakharan settlements. It is the clearing house for goods looted from the ruins of Nog and Kadar. In theory, each ruin or site of treasure is registered with the Ministry of Secrets, and the treasure removed from those sites is registered with the Ministry of Riches. In reality, however, plunder flows as freely from the Ruined Kingdoms as the Nogaro River itself. Those who register with the ministries do so to create a thin veneer of legality (obtaining some protection) and to avoid arousing the suspicion of city patrols, who might then discover the most valuable (and truly secret) treasure vaults.
The buildings of Dihliz are a collection of baked brick and distinctive stone. The stone was hauled from a distant temple, or so it is claimed, for the city radiates a low level of magic, sufficient to scramble most detect magic spells. The palace and ministries, made of stone from Afyal, are exempt from this effect. Other divination spells, including identify and legend lore, are not affected by the temple stone.
The Gateway City is a melting pot, home to natives of the Ruined Kingdoms, people who have emigrated from Afyal, and treasure-seekers from around the Land of Fate. They are energetic, curious, progressive, and, above all, acquisitive. Those who visit Dihliz should heed the following recommendations: keep your eye on your equipment, your hands on your valuables, and a short leash on members of your household.
The Gateway City was established 100 years ago at the will of the padishah of Afyal, Alonka al-Aqil, for two reasons: (1) regulating the flow of magical antiquities out of this land, and (2) providing an interim base for trade to and around the Pantheon cities. Since then, the Grand Caliph has regularly assigned a new caliph to Dihliz about every five years-or as soon as the corruption becomes obvious yet again. Part of the problem: the Grand Caliph appoints each new emir upon the recommendation of the padishah of Afyal. The past two generations of rulers from that island nation have been more interested in appealing to courtiers-and in continuing to receive their share of the treasure haul than in exerting the force of civilization.
Major Products: Trade, antiquities, rice.
Armed Forces: 1,000 city guards; 1,000 cavalrymen under the command of Ebu min Hassana; navy (term used loosely) of 8 river barges with rowers.
Major Mosques: Kor, Pantheon, Selan, Zann.
Rumors and Lore: Dihliz is said to be built on some sort of holy or taboo site of the lost civilizations of the Ruined Kingdoms. The site is unusual because it lacks the ruins found elsewhere throughout the region. All cut stone in the city was imported.

Dihliz is the only truly civilized location in the Ruined Empires, and that is giving it some leeway. It is ruled by trade and corruption, more so than any other city in the Land of Fate. Stout hearts and strong wills prevail in Dehliz, but a sack of gold dinars does much to aid the situation.

Dehliz’s great mystery is the subtle, pervasive magical aura which permeates all its buildings except for the palace (made of stone from Afyal). The original name of the area, the Plateau of the Gate, is a red herring for the magically-inclined: there are no inherent space-shifting gateways here. The name merely designated the entrance to old Nog territory. The former inhabitants had a guardian, a huge earth monolith of double Hit Dice and damage. This was the guardian of the river, until she was destroyed by enemy heroes in the last days of the empire. The monolith fell, her body mixing with the dust of the region, until all the surrounding lands had a portion of her nature.
The Ministry of Secrets maintains a secret library where the real information is kept. The masses of rotting scrolls and decaying, unsorted books are a front for visitors. The Ministry’s main job is to keep secrets, not distribute them.

Kadarasto, City Most Sinister: By following the Nogaro River about 100 miles inland from Dihliz, a traveller reaches the sinister city of Kadarasto. It is an ancient, alien-looking place, perched upon the bluff overlooking the river. The city’s architecture – heavy, angular, and depressing – is unique in the Land of Fate. Some sages believe Kadarasto was once the capital of ancient Kadar, which may or may not have existed at the same time as Nog, and may or may not have been its enemy.
The Ruler: Khedive Aman al-Qasi abu Nari (hmF/a/15) is a sly and snakelike man. Around many a campfire in the wilderness, tales are told of an evil caliph whose mouth intones the prayers but whose heart is as black as ebony. Abu Nari lives up to his own legend. His father was one of the Grand Caliph’s lesser viziers, and his mother was a native of noble descent.
The khedive gained only the worst possible traits from both: the Byzantine politics of the court and the savage heritage of his mother. It has been said that his mother was secretly a priestess of Shajar, and that his father belonged to the Brotherhood of the True Flame. The khedive was born in Kadarasto, a fact which, in the eyes of natives, places him above many other rulers who are imported from far-off courts. Powerful and harsh, the khedive has put down rebellions with little more than a word (and the help of a few elite mamluk units). The poor of Kadarasto fear him, but they also see him as a force who can oppose the foreign, moneyed classes. The wealthy, on the other hand, despise him, yet they tolerate the khedive, for they desperately need his army and his ability to command the common people.
The Court: Nari ibn Aman (hmF/a/10) is the leading (and it has seemed for some time, the only)
supporter of his father, the khedive. Hot-tempered and intense, Nari commands the city’s armed forces. His popularity among the poorer members of the city far surpasses that of the khedive himself (not a difficult feat). In fact, Nari is viewed as a local hero-a hero who cuts down illegal tomb-robbers, strikes out against the sanctioned thieves of the emira of Dihliz, and strives to exterminate all those who plunder the heritage of the Ruined Kingdoms. Nari applauds the aid that Ebu min Hassana provides with his raids, but wishes that the emira and all foreigners would leave his country in peace, allowing it to develop into a power in its own right.
Population: 120,000 (estimated).
Features of the City: Kadarasto is a base for individuals seeking to explore the valley of the Nogaro River. All ruins within two days’ ride have been mostly revealed and gutted, and the landscape and fields are littered with defaced and toppled statues and monuments to forgotten gods. Beyond that, the brush and scrub conceals a great deal. There, discoveries are yet to be made-from simple ruins such as baths and watchtowers to greater finds such as tombs or temples.
The most recent version of Kadarasto proper is built upon the ruins of at least 12 other cities, all situated upon the bluffs above the Nogaro. Despite its newer construction, today’s Kadarasto has the same haunting nature of its ruined predecessors: windowless architecture; hulking and oppressive city walls (broken only by a pair of gates); and odd, five-sided towers and rooms.

Kadarasto is overrun with its heritage. The ruins of many buildings remain. Most of the graven icons of the ancient ways have been destroyed, their statues crushed to rubble. Nonetheless, the city has a savage, idolatrous atmosphere, for a number of these icons survive in the back alleys and as part of existing buildings.
The city’s people, mainly natives from the surrounding wilderness, have received enlightenment only in the past few generations. Kadarasto’s lord still takes the ancient title khedive (unique to the Ruined Kingdoms), though he professes his allegiance to Huzuz and the superiority of the enlightened gods.
Most of the city’s money lies in the hands of interlopers-a few adventurers who were lucky at tomb-robbing, a handful of merchants who exported (and smuggled) rare items from this region to Talab, and courtiers who have offended the padishah of Afyal. (The people of Afyal have a saying: Better to live without a hand than to be posted to Kadarasto.)
The native classes, distinctly poorer, harbour a deep resentment toward these prosperous outsiders. Were it not for the swords of the mamluks and the hired mercenaries, a rebellion would occur and blood would flow in the streets.
The split between Kadarasto’s natives is represented in the opinion that other Zakharans have of Kadarasto. To the rest of the world, this city’s native people are savage and secretive, still worshipping their old icons when they can. Kadarasto’s leaders, on other hand, are viewed as tricky, suspect, and greedy. Only from a position of strength can more civilized Zakharans hope to control both groups and maintain the fragile balance between them.
Major Products: Trade, antiquities, rice.
Armed Forces: 2,000 city guards; 1,000 cavalry; 3 mamluk units of the Devout, totalling 900 men, all under the command of young Nan.
Major Mosques: Hajama, Pantheon, Najm, Selan. Also secret cults of Kiga, Raggara, and Shajar.
Rumours and Lore: Legends persist that the ancient passages and catacombs of the city’s past have survived. Followers of the old cult-gods are said to use these places in the secret worship of their savage idols. Such idolatry does not officially exist in Kadarasto, so the khedive does not go looking for it.

The evil of Khedive Amin is real, but not the cause of any crimes of his parents. His father was of the court of the Grand Caliph, his mother was a local noblewoman. The khedive’s evil is purely individual; he is an opportunistic, foul creature whose interests involve only himself. Only his apparent ability to keep the moneyed classes and poor from open conflict maintains his job. The khedive knows this, and his own agents keep the people restive, so the nobles will cry for his aid.

The khedive’s eldest son is the reverse: dashing, handsome, loyal, and devoted to the people. He believes that the Ruined Kingdoms are being robbed of their history and power by foreigners from Huzuz and Afyal, and wishes to cast out the emira and set up his own petty, enlightened empire in the north. To that end he has made contacts among the Storm Which Destroys holy slayer fellowship, the Brotherhood of the True Flame, and a number of secret cults of the Forgotten Gods. An individual tempts the wrath of young Nari at his own peril.

The third major figure of the city of Kadarasto is not mentioned in the general description, since few outside the city know of his existence. He is Cholk min Kado, one of the more prosperous merchants in the city (hmT/mr/18). Cholk is a buyer and dealer of antiquities, a smuggler, and the head of a criminal network of operatives. He puts on airs as nothing more than a simple dealer in carpets and fine woods, but can lay his hands on anything, if the price is right. Unlike the khedive and his puppyish son, Cholk wants the foreign presence in the city to continue, since he makes a great deal of his money both from the foreigners and from selling important pieces out of the valley. Cholk commands the loyalty of about 200 beggar-thieves of various levels, and can reach anyone, anywhere in the city.

Medina al-Afyal: Afyal, the island kingdom dominated by this city, is one of the Enlightened Throne’s most distant outposts. It is also among the most prosperous. Located north of Sahu Island, the Isle of the Elephant is a convenient stop for traders from the distant East. This island is also blessed with great natural resources including precious metals and exotic hardwoods. As a result, its capital, the City of the Elephant, enjoys a richness that rivals that of Huzuz itself.
The Ruler: The island of Afyal has been blessed by Fate with its riches, so perhaps it is only fair that it suffer a dearth where its rulers are concerned. The House of Alon founded the kingdom and its capital city soon after the Law of the Loregiver spread throughout the continent of Zakhara. That house took great pride in the fact that the blood of the First
Caliph also flowed in Afyal’s first padishah, just as the blood of the current Grand Caliph flows through the veins of today’s padishah of Afyal. The mix is thin, however, and so is the genetic link. Afyal’s padishahs have always been erratic, perhaps because it takes the will of a madman to create a new city in the wilderness. The present ruler exceeds his predecessors in madness, however.

Alad bin Alaq bin Alonka of Alon, His Most Enlightened and Resplendent Majesty, Servant of the Grand Caliph, Blood of the Conquerors, Padishah of Afyal, Father of the Multitudes, Wise and Sage Master of His Own Destiny (hmF/f/13)is a certifiable loon.
Some say it is the blood of the ruling class running thin after 500 years. Others say that Bin Alonka was born with a sound mind, but he encountered some great horror in the Ruined Kingdoms as a youth. His father (perhaps lacking in faculties himself), failed to recognize the extent of the damage, and named Bin Alonka his heir.
Whatever the cause, the padishah of Afyal is known for his eccentricities and whims. He has appointed peasants and wandering adventurers to be his ambassadors to far-off lands, simply because he liked his beneficiaries’ looks. He has thrown long standing and loyal courtiers into exile (or worse, to a posting in Kadarasto) as punishment for a remark that he overheard by chance (and perhaps even misunderstood). The padishah has ordered buildings destroyed only to order them rebuilt within a week. He has approved expeditions to the Ruined Kingdoms and for the settlement of Sahu, then forgotten to approve any moneys for these actions. And when the holders of such grants asked for the gold, the padishah had them thrown into prison for their troubles.
Despite these flaws, the padishah of Afyal is a sweet, endearing, and friendly man, particularly with his own people. When he rides through the city in a procession, they cheer. Their ardour may not be for him personally, however. He rides on a floating palanquin complete with great magical pots, which shoot forth streams of silver and copper pieces.
One of the padishah’s many titles is Father of the Multitudes. He lives up to the reputation. The padishah has no wife (much to the chagrin of the Grand Caliph), having divorced or failed to marry every woman to whom he was attracted. But he maintains a large harim and has a huge brood of children from age 22 on down. He has recognized all of these children as his own-a practice which will inevitably lead to bloody conflicts in the event of his death.
The padishah’s first-born son, Alakbar bin Alad bin Alaq, disappeared on a voyage south into the Crowded Sea four years ago. No word has come from (or about) him since. Given the tendencies of his father, this may be for the best.
The Court: The Mad Padishah has a relatively stable, contented court and bureaucracy. (Otherwise, the petty nobles and merchants would have turned him out long ago, heir to 500 years or no.) Many of
these personages pass through phases like the waning moon, sometimes being in the padishah’s favour, and sometimes not. Members of the court have a saying: If you do not like the padishah’s ruling, wait five minutes and ask again. By that time he may have forgotten.
The most important person in the court is the padishah’s trusted chief vizier, Anwar al-Makruh (hemW/sh/13). Al-Makruh served as the padishah’s tutor as a youth. The chief vizier is an acid-tongued half-elf who marvels aloud at the fact that men, meaning humans, have managed to accomplish so much-especially given his liege as an example. Such
bouts of honesty result in the chief vizier being banished from the city on a regular basis. The chief vizier retreats to his own palatial estate in the wilderness for a month or two of uninterrupted research, after which the padishah inevitably cools down and reinstates him. A 13th-level sha’ir, Anwar al-Makruh has an air gen as a familiar. Al-Makruh is partial to djinn when he works. Many islanders assume that djinn act as the sha’ir’s spies while he is in exile.
Also important in the padishah’s everyday life is his aunt (his father’s sister), the Empress Alia Jamal, or Umm Jamal (hfP/m/12). Though he would prefer she played no role in his life whatsoever, the padishah cannot banish her. Once, it is said, a witty courtier noted aloud that the lean, vulturelike woman tried to join the Pantheon, but she was too conservative even for them. Now the empress allegedly has that courtier’s tongue as a keepsake.
Empress Alia’s current mission in life is to present her son Jamal bin Alia (hmT/sl/4) as the next candidate to ascend the Elephant Throne. The padishah has been resistant to this idea, if only because his own first son is missing. But Empress Alia is a hard woman to thwart. She presses her son into adventuring so that he can establish a name and reputation for himself. Jamal, a slight and impressionable young man, is unsure about his mother’s chosen role for himself, but he realizes it is easier to agree with her than to fight her.

Should the padishah’s son Alakbar never return, and Jamal fail to be recognized, the throne would fall to the padishah’s eldest daughter, Alina bint Alad (hfW/so/6). Alina is an intense young woman. She is also a serious student of magic, and often uses the chief vizier’s manor (provided he is not out of favour at the time). Alma does not want the life of a ruler, so she hopes to see her elder brother return.
Finally, persons of note include the representative of the Merchant Houses, Najiba al-Aqi1 (hfT/mr/15). Al-Aqil is one of the few sane and reasonable people in the court, a calm voice in an otherwise chaotic place. She is the spokeswoman for Afyal’s many and varied merchant houses, which provide the lifeblood of the kingdom by bringing in supplies and civilization from western Zakhara. As is typical for the ruler of a merchant house, Najiba has four husbands-the maximum according to local tradition. All are busy with trade or exploration. One is currently assigned to finding the Crown Prince.
Population: 130,000.
Features of the City: The island of Afyal is verdant and wild, with rolling hills and thick jungles, which are untamed outside the capital city. Wild creatures lurk in the wilderness, virtually at the City of the Elephant’s door. The capital is the only settlement of significant size on the island. Because the jungles yield the rich woods that are the island’s main export, a few small villages dot the wilderness, all of them stockaded. A few craftsmen dwell in these villages, but most of their inhabitants are harvesters who bring the wood to the City of the Elephant. There, the finest woodcrafters of Afyal do their work, creating furniture and objects of art in which the wood appears to be almost liquid, flowing in elegant, graceful curves.
No other city in Zakhara is quite like Afyal’s capital. For the most part, it lacks the blue tilework of many cities to the west. Yet it is no less impressive, for the city’s architects and craftsmen made liberal use of polished marble and gleaming hardwoods. Its greatest structures the Great Mosque of Selan and the Palace of Alon flank the city.
The mosque, which boasts an attached university, is the largest temple devoted to Selan in the Land of Fate. The priests operating this mosque are strict moralists, but pragmatists and ethoists may study here, and it is the centre of worship for Selan’s followers.
The padishah’s palace is a sprawling collection of small buildings, many of them linked by causeways, dotted with a half-dozen spires and domes. It is one of the greatest architectural wonders of the Land of Fate, combining magical and conventional methods of construction. It is said that five dao work continually to maintain the walls and bridges of the palace.
The people of Afyal range from the richest merchants to the poorest beggars. The concept of station that each person has one chosen place in the universe, which is decreed by Fate is extremely strong on this island. A caste system reigns. A person may never rise above his or her original station, regardless of action. In Afyal, even the most successful adventurer from a beggarly background is expected to defer to a less talented or less worthy individual of a higher station. Marriage outside one’s station is strongly (and often violently) discouraged.
Major Products: Trade, wood, gold, precious metals, jewellery, elephants. The elephants of Afyal are particularly intelligent and docile, able to learn and perform tasks willingly and with ease. By decree of the island’s first padishah, Alon, no one may kill an elephant of Afyal without sacrificing his or her own life in turn.
Armed Forces: 2,000 city guard; 500 cavalry; 500 elephant Calvary; 4 mamluk units; totalling 1,200 men, all of whom represent the Wondrous and serve as the palace guard.
Major Mosques: Selan. (While other faiths are tolerated, in keeping with the Enlightened Way, the only major mosque on the island is to the goddess of the Beautiful Moon.)
Rumours and Lore: Afyal suffers little save for its mad ruler, and his madness seems less dangerous the farther one is distant from him. The daily ritual of life goes on, for everyone has his or her place in society, and the merchant houses continue to bring in new wonders from across the seas.
The island does have one mystery, however. Ruined images of an elephant-headed idol still turn up in great numbers, ranging from small charms and statuettes to large monoliths that are discovered as the jungle is cleared. They are all that remain of the Lost One, a forgotten god who ruled Afyal before its days of enlightenment. The Lost One, it is said, was driven off the isle completely, and now lives among the wild islands of the Crowded Sea.

The greatest danger in Afyal revolves around the fact that the padisha is mad, but that can be remedied merely by putting a healthy distance between the PCs and the city. The city is controlled by the merchant houses and their respect for station, or one’s place in the universe. (See Station in Chapter 2 of Arabian Adventures.) Many of a visitor’s problems may revolve around not showing proper respect for those of higher station. General grovelling (particularly in court) is a survival trait in Afyal.
The padisha is very interested in restoring Crown Prince Alakbar to the Court, ere he dies and various factions pull the city apart. He is not alone, for both the speaker of the merchant houses and the crown princess wish to see his return. The padisha may charge an individual with finding his eldest son, promising great rewards if he succeeds (and punishment if he fails).
The fate of Crown Prince Alakbar is left to the DM, but here are some options: He is alive and marooned on some island of the Crowded Sea; He is alive and enslaved by raiders from Nog, and is toiling in Talab; He is dead and his body has become an undead creature haunting the Ruined Cities for his murderer; He is dead, slain by his genie double, who wishes to take the Crown Prince’s place in the court of the padisha; Lastly, he is alive but in hiding from a group of holy slayers. The slayers were hired by the empress, the crown princess (who desires the crown truly for herself, despite her act), or the padisha in a moment of folly.
One last mystery of the Isle of the Elephant revolves around the Lost One, an unenlightened (if kindly) god from long ago. The Lost One never left, but instead merged his life force into the elephants of the island. For this reason the elephants of Afyal seem more intelligent and capable than their brethren on the mainland. In a gathering of ten or more such elephants, the force of the god may be such that he can charm others for an evening to perform his will, which usually involves carving more small idols of himself. He is otherwise not hostile. A hakima can tell that the elephants are more than they seem, but will be unable to determine the presence of the god.

Rog’osto, City of Spires: From the mouth of the Nogaro River, a 300-mile trip north along the shores of the Crowded Sea leads travellers to Rog’osto, the City of Spires. The reason for its name is immediately evident: the city’s unique metal towers soar toward the sky, gleaming in the sun. Some visitors have likened the towers to exotic mushrooms, giving Rog’osto a secondary title: City of Fungus. The bizarre towers are found nowhere else in the Land of Fate. They are the legacy of whatever inhabitants ruled the city long ago, in a forgotten time.

The Ruler: The elven khedive Samia al-Sa’id (efW/sh/15) has ruled for the past 100 years in an enlightened, progressive manner that has endeared her to both the common people of the city and to those who dwell in the towers. A powerful wizard in her own right, Khedive Samia has gained wisdom over the years and acquired mighty magical items. The khedive helps settle the squabbling between the tower-lords (amir al-burj). She also helps fend off the acquisitive tendencies of both the Pantheon and Afyal.

The Court: The khedive of Rog’osto is aided in all things by Sherif Akyar al-Awasif, a female noble djinni. The khedive herself freed Akyar from imprisonment, and the djinni serves by choice. Akyar is fanatically loyal to Samia. If the djinni perceives a threat, she will stop at nothing to aid her liege. The sherif (pronounced share EEF) is on good terms with the other genies who live in Rog’osto’s towers. Though (as might be expected) her relationships with dao and efreet are somewhat strained, Akyar speaks for all the genie peoples in court.

The court is large and varied. Each power group delegates one representative: sha’irs; sorcerers; elemental mages of flame, sea, wind, and sand; clergy; craftsmen; traders; and foreigners. There are many other groups and subgroups represented in the court, as well as ambassadors from other cities. Major influences include Sherif Akyar al-Awasif, representing the genie peoples; Bojo al-Ami (hmT/mr/10), representing the craftsmen; and Bahij a of Selan (hff /p/14), representing all clergy. Here are other characters of note:

Fayiz al-Wazir (hmW/so/19) represents the sorcerers. He is the most powerful human member of the court. He is prone to the effects of his venerable age, however. Fayiz tires easily, and while his mind is as quick as ever, he cannot converse for extended periods without becoming exhausted. He spends most of his time sequestered within his private tower, communicating with the court through messages carried by invisible stalkers

Kharj al-Talqa (hmW/fm/13) represents the flame mages, and he has openly declared himself a member of the Brotherhood of the True Flame. Kharj claims that the foul reputation of the group can be attributed to a minority of overzealous members as well as dark lies that are spread by other elemental mages. Considering his background, Kharj is a polite, almost whimsical mage.

Revered Mother Farida bint Thuriya (hfP/m/10), humble servant of the Pantheon, is the Pantheist League’s ambassador to Rog’osto. She is also a firebrand and a holy crusader. Farida does not trust the city’s dilettante mages and soft-sided priests, and she does not believe the inherent power of the city should rest in their hands. This moralist priest has been known to pay adventurers for whatever treasures they recover from the hinterlands, after which she has arranged for the treasures to be smuggled out of the city.

Othmar bin Kaloth (hmW/sh/12) represents the sha’irs of Rog’osto. He is aided by his bound efreeti, Xamus. As the khedive’s leading opponent, Othmar believes she is too open and easy-going to be placed in charge of such magical power. He and Kharj, the representative of the flame mages, are old adventuring companions. Xamus, the efreeti, despises Sherif Akyar, and she, in turn, loathes this genie who might dare to threaten her khedive.

Olla al-Funun (hfW/so/17) is the ambassador from Afyal. She is an open, cheery woman who actively seeks to serve the khedive by reconciling various factions. With her facile mind and exceptional tact, Olla is often both a negotiator and an advisor to several sides of the same discussion. With each passing year, the khedive relies upon Olla more and more. Olla is one of the few individuals in court who have more than a passing interest in whatever race created the towers of Rog’osto. If a pristine tower is found in the hinterlands, she will reward the finders for its contents and the story.
Population: 80,000.
Features of the City: Rog’osto is actually two cities, one built ages ago by unknown, seemingly inhuman hands, the other having grown up around its base during the modern, enlightened age. The Old City comprises metal spires that tower over the area.
The towers are constructed from a unique steel alloy. About 50 of these towers are in evidence, though fully half of them are shattered or toppled. The surviving towers stand almost 100 feet tall. The tops and bottoms of the towers are slightly flared, with a long stem in between. The interior of each is an open stairway, spiralling up the inside without a rail, to a great single floor perched at the tower’s summit.
Three of the intact towers, arranged like the points in a triangle, have been claimed by the khedive for a palace. All three towers have recently been connected by a fortified wall, which adjoins and links their fluted bases.
In the name of the Grand Caliph, the khedive provides grants for the use of the remaining intact towers. Wizards and priests inhabit them, using the towers as research laboratories or sanctuaries. A number of wizards have blocked or removed the interior stairs and provided their own methods of egress. There are only 22 towers (not counting the palace), and they always full, though turnover is regular.
Rog’osto is considered by many to be the most magical city in the Land of Fate. The city’s strange towers attract sha’irs, sorcerers, and elemental mages, as well as pragmatists, kahins, mystics, scholars, and researchers seeking the advantages of both privacy and city living. The khedive has set down rules governing the behaviour within the spires (e.g., no inter-spire warfare, no experiments that affect the towers or the city), and violating those rules may be cause for expulsion. Rog’osto has lost three towers to such activities.

The New City of Rog’osto is clustered at the base of the towers, a collection of white-washed, mud-brick houses, much like those found elsewhere in Zakhara. This the home of the poor and of the middle class, consisting of traders and artisans. Rog’osto has a thriving business of craft and art, catering to the wizards, who often require the finest materials for their research.
The New City also produces excellent weapons and armour, using metal from the city’s fallen towers. As noted, this metal is an unusual alloy of steel. It tarnishes instead of rusts, melts at a lower temperature, and may be drawn thin to make durable metal cords. Otherwise, it is just as strong and light as steel, and can be used in the same fashion. (Weapons produced with this steel function as normal weapons of their type.) The metalsmiths of the city pay 2 gp a pound for this material. A single fallen tower produces several tons. The existing stock has already been claimed by the city’s metalsmithing houses, however.
Major Products: Information, sages, art, crystal, fine metal craftsmanship.
Armed Forces: 1,000 city guards. Each tower holder may have a personal guard of 200 sentient beings. The khedive’s palace (with three towers) has a personal guard of 400 2nd-level fighters, plus 200 jann who answer to Sherif Akyar al-Awasif. The armed forces are weak, even by Zakharan standards, but no one has seriously considered fighting an entire city of wizards.
Major Mosques: Kor, Selan, Zann.
Rumours and Lore: Rog’osto’s great mystery is its towers. It is assumed that they were created by some magical, possibly divine race from the heavens. A few surviving inscriptions from this race are in an archaic tongue seen nowhere else in the Land of Fate. They speak of a war, say the sages, between the city dwellers and those above. The natives evidently lost and abandoned their city. The nature of these original inhabitants is unknown, except that they were humanoid. All humanoid races have been suggested, but common thinking leans toward the burned elves (drow).

The inhabitants of the City of Spires assume that their city was always on the surface. In reality, the great towers dominating the surface were built by an undersea race, locathah, long before humans came to this part of the world, when the land was underwater. What is translated as the War with Those Above could be better explained as the War between Air and Water, as seen by the water-born race. The locathah fought with some air-breathing race, and in the course of the battle the air-breathers summoned a great elemental power. The entity raised the locathah civilization to the surface, creating the Island of Disasters (Al-Dawihi). The island is littered with destroyed towers, but there are some complete outposts still on Sahu to the south. The locathah survived and retreated to the depths between Dawihi and Afyal, where their civilization flourishes beyond the sight of men.

Important Organisations

Mamluks: Mamluk societies are found throughout the Land of Fate, being most powerful in the north around Qudra and the Free Cities, but having large forces throughout Hiyal and Huzuz, the Pantheon, the Ruined Kingdoms, and Afyal. They are weakest in the area of the Pearl Cities, which, while not abolitionist in the manner of the Corsair Domains, do not trust the slave-soldiers in their position of authority.
The largest and most powerful mamluk societies are allied with the armed forces of a particular city state, but each city also has smaller mamluk forces. These are entrusted to lesser tasks, such as guarding mosques or granaries, or acting as bodyguards for powerful individuals.
Mamluks are organized into 10-man platoons, with a sergeant (approximately 4th level) in command. Three platoons make a company, five companies a wing, and two wings a full strength army unit of 300 men. In addition, large mamluk organizations may have clerical support (Vataqatal priests in the north, local deities in the south), and magical assistance. These are considered advisory positions answering to the unit commander.
Each mamluk organization is committed to an ideal or situation. In Qudra, for example, a leading mamluk society is the Dutiful: Wajib. All slaves of this organization take the sobriquet Abd al-Wajib, meaning Slave of the Dutiful, to show their allegiance.

All mamluks are in theory ultimately owned by the Grand Caliph, and swear their allegiance to him as the descendent of the First Caliph who received the Law of the Loregiver. Therefore, for them to take actions against the Grand Caliph would be treason and heresy. Units have rebelled against their masters rather than strike against Huzuz. A mamluk commander must receive approval from the Enlightened Court before entering into a new contract with a local ruler, but this is almost always granted, since the presence of mamluks exerts more long-range court control on the local leaders.
Each mamluk organization has its own facial tattoos and/or facial scars which it uses to identify its members. Higher ranks require more elaborate tattoos. It is considered a crime against mamluks for anyone not of the group to imitate these markings, and the justice of the mamluks is usually swifter and more deadly than that of the qadis.
The major mamluk organizations of the Land of Fate are as follows.
The Dauntless: A Qudran organization with units in Huzuz supporting the Grand Caliph. The Dauntless specializes in exploration and recovery of powerful magics. Its ultimate commander is General Kemil Abd al-Jasir (hmF/mk/12), a minor member of the military council.
The Defenders: Members of this unit are rarely found beyond the walls of Qudra, for its organization is empowered with the defence and management of the city itself. Its commander is Akir Abd al-Himaya (hmF/mk/10).
The Devoted: Based in I’tiraf with units throughout the Pantheon (and particularly in Fahhas), the Devoted are the rivals of the Exalted as the finest (and largest) mamluk organization in the League of the Pantheon. This rivalry often leads to conflict between units of the two. Its ultimate commander is Most Respected Warrior Amahl Abd al-Muhlis (hmF/mk/17).
The Devout: A splinter group of the Devoted who pledged their allegiance to the city of Kadarasto and its young prince, Nari ibn Aman. The Devoted had sent a unit to Kadarasto to expand the base of religious mamluks, only to discover that the new units had greater concern with protecting the heritage of the Ruined Kingdoms, and was recognized by the Grand Caliph as a separate unit. Its commander is Mustah Abd al-Nasik (emF/mk/12).
The Dutiful: Headquartered in Qudra, with units in Huzuz and Utaqa, this organization’s commander is the dwarven emir of Qudra, Hatit Abd al-Wajib (dmF/mk/20). It is the most powerful mamluk organization in the Land of Fate, and has members at large in all the major cities.
The Exalted: A moralist group of mamluks based in the Pantheon lands (primarily Hilm and I’tiraf), this group has a deep, abiding loyalty toward the Pantheists and their aims to make all of Zakhara a more civilized, law-abiding world. Its ultimate commander is Most Respected Warrior Jamala Abd al-Raffa (hfF/mk/18).
The Faithful: One of the more powerful mamluk organizations in Qudra, this unit also serves the Grand Caliph in Huzuz. Its ultimate commander is General Adun Abd al-Amin (hmF/mk/18).
The Honoured: This is a special unit of eunuchs and independent women entrusted as personal bodyguards and harim guards for the Grand Caliph in Huzuz. They are rarely found beyond the palace grounds unless delivering messages from their master. Their commander is General Ahmahd Abd al-Iffa (hmF/mk/15).
The Parched: A group based in Talab, entrusted with protecting that city’s water supply (brought by ancient aqueducts from the mountains). It is an example of a typical small-unit mamluk organization dedicated to a specific task. Its ultimate commander is Most Respected Warrior Akbara Abd al-Yahruq (hfF/mk/13).
The Respected: A large organization based in Muluk, with a long and proud history in service of that city, the Respected is under the command of General Oman Abd al-Hazim (hmF/mk/10). Its members are found throughout the Free Cities, and are rivals with the various Qudran mamluks, in particular the Dutiful.
The Studious: Also based in Qudra, this organization has a reputation for communication and espionage. It has known outposts in Wasat, Huzuz, and Utaqa. Its ultimate commander in Qudra is General Okin Abd al-Talib’ilm (emF/mk./16).
The Valiant: A Qudran-based organization under the ultimate command of General Klin Abd al-Bas (hfF/mk/14), this mamluk unit is known for its lightninglike strikes. It has units in Huzuz and Utaqas.
The Wanderers: This is one of the few naval-based mamluk organizations, and has few supporters in Qudra. Its commander is Admiral Dus Abd al-Dawwar gbmF/mk/5).
The Wondrous: The official mamluk organization of the Padisha of Afyal, this organization is wealthy, but used primarily as palace guards and for parades. The padisha does not wish to risk his best troops (or rather his best-dressed troops) in battle, and this does not sit well with some of the members, recruited from the savage island of the south. The ultimate commander of the Wondrous is Akima Abd al-Garib (hfF/mk/16) who shares the padisha’s views, at least in public.

Holy Slayer Fellowships: In the Land of Fate, there are a number of holy slayer organizations, known as fellowships. These fellowships are groups of lay people who support their faith by eliminating or neutralizing those who are considered to be dangerous opponents to that faith.
The relationship between these secret societies and the organized faiths is tenuous at best. Most priests are unaware of the existence of holy slayers in their own towns, and would be shocked and appalled by the idea that followers of other enlightened gods may be targeted for death by these groups. The gods themselves have not expressed an opinion on this matter one way or another, and their silence implies their consent.
The keys to the success of a fellowship of holy slayers are secrecy, mystery, and misinformation. It cannot be said that a particular organization is headquartered in any one location; though some fellowships maintain fortified headquarters deep in the mountains or desert, it is not as if this fact is advertised. The Storm Which Destroys operates from somewhere in the Al-Sayaj Mountains, but the precise location is unknown save to but a few.
Several major holy slayer groups active in the Land of Fate are listed below. These are especially notorious or successful fellowships, which have over the years established legendary reputations for themselves and their leaders.
The Everlasting: This group of fanatical followers of Hajama are the typical assassin group of the Land of Fate. They have a secret citadel somewhere in the Haunted Lands from which their grandfather reviews the actions of all the rulers and important individuals within the land. Should any of these individuals act against followers of Hajama, he directs his minions to kill them. The Everlasting has operatives in every major city in the Land of Fate, some placed very closely to powerful figures. Sometimes called The Caliph of Shadows, the Everlasting’s grandfather influences many decisions of others in Zakhara, whether they realize it or not. Their symbol is a golden scimitar. (Land of Fate)

The assassins will say anything to gain their freedom if captured, as their doctrine of taqiyya allows. If questioned, the slayers will ask not to be forced to speak. If they are magically or physically compelled to discuss the affairs of the Everlasting with anyone not bound by the vow of secrecy, an oathbinder genie appears to kill the informers. A genie arrives to enforce the word of the contract between the fedayeen and the genies. (Assassin Mountain)
The Final Chord: Not all assassin groups venerate enlightened gods. The followers of the Final Chord are fanatics in the cause of Bala, a common god whose followers have been persecuted by the Pantheon for hundreds of years It is the most recent of a long line of holy slayer fellowships devoted to destroying the Pantheon and its leadership, and returning Bala to supreme worship in the city of Mahabba. The Final Chord are found throughout the Pantheon and the Ruined Kingdoms, but keep a very low profile. Their chief enemies are the Pantheon priests and the Storm Which Destroys. Their symbol is a silver jambiya with silver bells tied to its hilt. There are rumours that a great training operation exists in the Grey Jungle for the Final Chord.
The Flamedeath Fellowship: This group of assassins has strong ties to the Brotherhood of the True Flame (see below). Its flowers claim to venerate Adventurous Najm, and at the low levels this is likely true. However, the highest levels are said to seek the favours of the inhuman elemental god of fire, Kossuth, with the Brotherhood leaders. The Flamedeath is a deadly part of the Brotherhood of the True Flame, though its members are not wizards. They have their own supply of oil of liquid stars (Greek fire), and use it to bum their victims and their homes as their symbol. One of the most infamous members of the Flamedeath Fellowship is Matruda al-Muhif (hfT/hs/13).
The Friendly Word: This holy slayer organization has the reputation of never slaying anyone. Instead this group of radical Zannites, based somewhere in the Ghost Mountains, destroys reputation and station as opposed to life and limb. They learn as much about the target as possible, then quickly and quietly rid him of his worldly possessions, friends, and good name. They are masters at the whispering campaign and ugly rumour, with just enough fact and proof to stand up before the qadi. A standard tactic of the Word is to float some accusation against a target, who in turn must reveal some other damning fact to deny it (I could not have been dallying with the merchant’s wife that morning, for I was still unconscious from drinking the night before). The Friendly Word uses no special weapons, but leaves a dagger shaped like a pen on the pillow of its victims to show they are in disfavour.
The Gilded Palm: A faction of fanatics dedicated to Jisan the Bountiful, the Gilded Palm is the closest thing in the Land of Fate to an organization of assassins-for hire. They often undertake assignments for merchants and bureaucrats, rationalizing that anything that interferes with bounty should be rooted out and destroyed. The fact that the leaders of the Gilded Palm are paid for these actions has no effect on their passion. The Gilded Palm is known for using its members as pawns, often sending two or three against the same target in a waste of life. The Gilded Palm is best known for one of its former members, Tocka, the personal dwarf-servant of the Sultana of Hiyal. While Tocka is said to have retired, individuals taking their problems to him soon find their problems solved by the Gilded Palm. The Palm’s special weapon is a dagger with gold coins wedged into the hilt.
The Grey Fire: This group of assassins is dedicated to the spirit of Najm, and in addition to killing the foe they show a keen talent for exploration, research, and discovery. The Grey Fire is found primarily in the Pearl City area, and it was here that their most recent assassination, against the Sultan of Sikak, was attempted. Most often the Grey Fire is expert at recovering lost or misplaced items and returning them to the church (often with fingers still attached). Their symbol is a javelin with a grey shaft and red feathers.
The Moon-spinners: It is hard to imagine followers of Beautiful Selan with an order of holy slayers, but on the Isle of the Elephant, the Moon-spinners are such a group, devoted to the supremacy of Selan on the island. In particular, their foe is the heathen following of the elephant-headed god known as the Lost One. The Moon-spinners tend to be imaginative in performing their craft, such that they raise their holy slaying to an art. Their symbol is a long white scarf, which they use both as a whip and a garrote.
The Soft Whisper: Almost all holy slayer fellowships admit both men and women, the two exceptions being the Wind of Fate and the Soft Whisper. The Soft Whisper allows female members only, and they venerate Hakiyah of the Sea Breezes. Members of the Soft Whisper – or at least reports of their activities – are found throughout the Land of Fate. The Soft Whisper is said to have several members among the Grand Caliph’s harim, and on those occasions when a particular death seemed to be in the best interest of the Grand Caliph, the Soft Whisper was involved. Whether this means the Soft Whisper answers to the Grand Caliph, or to one of his court, is unknown. The symbol of the Soft Whisper is a jade jambiya.
The Storm Which Destroys: This is a group of extremely moralistic fanatics operating out of the Al-Sayaj mountains overlooking the Pantheon Lands. It may be said that the Storm is the shadow army of the Pantheon, and its members are used both to advance the cause of the Pantheon, and to settle internal disputes. Rumour has it that the Storm is too radical for most of the Pantheon leadership, but rumour also has it that the Storm answers ultimately to Revered Father Rimaq al-Nimar of I’tiraf. The Storm Which Destroys has recently been involved in the dismissal of the former Caliph of Talab. The Storm’s symbol is the obsidian blade.
The Wind of Fate: This group of holy slayers is dedicated to Haku, and can be found in both the High Desert and the Haunted Lands. Its members are well-versed in desert lore, and are exclusively male, making it the only major fellowship to exclude women. It is said to have members among every major desert tribe, and keep its citadel in the mountains overlooking the Genies’ Anvil. The symbol of the Wind is the blowgun, a most un-desert like weapon, but one easily concealed and carried and effective when using poison-tipped darts.
The Wrath of the Old: This is a group of fanatical Korrites found primarily in the Furrowed Mountains south of the Free Cities. They tend to be reclusive, and refuse to accept entreaties from any of the Free Cities, mamluk organizations, or hill tribes for their petty squabbles. However, if they determine that an individual stands in the way of knowledge or learning, they spare no expense of manpower and effort to destroy that individual. It is assumed that the Wrath has agents in all the Free Cities and in the Corsair Domains, and their influence reaches as far south as Huzuz. Their symbol is a dagger with the sunburst of Kor scratched into it.

Mystic Groups: Mystic organizations are varied and for the most part small in the Land of Fate, initially comprising no more than about two dozen priests of the mystic kit and a hundred or so devout followers of the sect. All pay an ultimate tribute to a particular faith, but their worship is often at odds with that of the enlightened hierarchy. Still, it is from mystic groups that revelations from gods often come, for the channel to their worshippers is unimpeded by bureaucracy and dogma.

A mystic faction within any church may remain small for years, then suddenly explode out on the face of the burning world of Zakhara, gathering up followers by the fury of its new ideas and the faith of its proponents. As it grows, the hierarchy priests begin to accept the beliefs of the new sect, and the mystic ideas become mainstream. Alternatively, there may be a backlash from the established church, rejecting the mystics’ ideas as unenlightened, and bringing about repression in reaction to their new ideas (this has been the fate of many mystics in the Pantheon Lands).
There are no major mystic movements currently operating in the Land of Fate. Those organized mystic factions are generally small, and are treated as sidelights to organized faiths, or keepers of harams (holy sites) and relics. However, any one of these may come under the sway of a charismatic leader with a message from the gods, and sweep across the desert.
The known mystical groups of the Land of Fate are:

The Dancing Dwarves: A group of dervishes based in a monastery in the Al-Akara Mountains. Membership is not restricted exclusively to dwarves, but the group’s leaders and best priests are all dwarves; hence the name. The Dancing Dwarves worship Kor, and carry battle-axes as his symbol. Theologically, the Dancing Dwarves are extremely conservative. There are about 200 Dancing Dwarf mystics in the central Land of Fate, and they are common in Huzuz. Their current leader is an ancient dwarf named Doth (dmP/my/13).

The Dome Dancers: Another group of dervishes and desert peoples who operate out of the desert mosque in the northern reaches of the high desert. The Dome Dancers are worshippers of Haku and swear allegiance to the Desert mosque and its keeper, Angaloran. Like the Dancing Dwarves, they receive their enlightenment from long periods of dancing and spinning. Unlike the dwarves, they are extremely radical in their pressing for the freedom of the desert and the superiority and romance of the nomadic tribes over their civilized neighbours. The Dome Dancers use scimitars both in their dances and in combat, and often join desert tribes in raids and retribution against savage people. There are about 500 Dome Dancers in the Land of Fate.

The Readers: A group of Zannite fanatics who receive their enlightenment from reading prodigiously. These mystics are based in Huzuz, but are found throughout the Land of Fate wherever there are universities. Comprehension and retention are not important for the Readers, only the act of reading, exposure to all the information possible. The Readers have been in existence for over 400 years, and in that time several holy crusades and internal conflicts have been created by Readers coming upon a revelation in their texts. The leader of the Readers in Huzuz is Gina bint Kemala (hfP/my/12). They gain the +1 to their Intelligence scores as priests of Zann.

The Chant Masters: A group of mystics numbering about 400, located primarily in the hills throughout the Pearl Cities. They receive their inspiration through song and verse, and have excellent relationships with rawun. The Chant Masters are a holy faction of Jisan. They have no preferred weapons beyond those suitable to priests.
The Court of Rhythm: A group of followers of Hajama the Courageous, found primarily among the Ruined Kingdoms, Afyal, and the Crowded Sea. They gain their inspiration through rhythmic pounding of drums in great conclaves of drummers. They are popular with dancing sects, which they are aligned to, but have poor relationships with singing or chanting mystics, whom they tend to drown out. The members of the Court of Rhythm may use short swords, as mystics of Hajama.
The Quiet Multitude: A reflective and meditative mystic order which worships Selan. Members receive their enlightenment by meditating in the moonlight. This particular sect spread like wildfire through the entire civilized world a hundred years ago, reconnecting Selan with her identity in the moon. Since then the sect has broken into a hundred small factions, each with its own interpretation of the Selan/moon controversy. Being a member of the Quiet Multitude from Huzuz usually means one can get into an argument with a Quiet Multitude member from Afyal. All mystics of Selan add 1 point to their Charisma (maximum 18).

Elemental Brotherhoods: Of the elemental mages there is only one true organization, and this is the evil Brotherhood of
the True Flame. Smaller organizations have been established over the years for sea mages, sand mages, and wind mages, but the individual nature of the wizards involved precluded any long-term organizations. The evil flame mages have managed to hold together for generations of mortals, and to grow in power and danger. This brotherhood of evil flame mages is led by a mysterious figure known as Nar-Aidiya: The Bonfire (assumed abilities hmW/fm/20). Nar-Aidiya operates from a fortress deep within the Haunted Lands protected from both genies and other elemental wizards. While his face and true name are unknown, his actions and commandments are not; settlements and oases are put to the torch, and rival wizards are slain by holy slayers in his employ.
It is unknown how many members of the Brotherhood are present in the Haunted Lands, or in the Land of Fate at large. The assumption that every flame mage is one of their kind is wrong, although one of every three is not a bad estimate. They have eyes and ears throughout the tribes of the Haunted Lands, and in many of the major cities as well. Agents of the Brotherhood are not necessarily flame mages, though they are not any other kind of wizard.

Given the fact that devoted and obvious members of the Brotherhood are soon unwelcome in most cities, such members tend to be wanderers by nature. A few of the Brotherhood’s more legendary members include:
Ali al-Lazan (hmW/fm/15), wanted in the city of Hiyal for the attempted arson of the sultana’s palace, with a 500,000 gp reward. He is wanted alive or with his body in a condition from which he may be raised.

Golgol al-Misal (hmW/fm/14), a lean, hawk like man known to pose as a trader or slaver in order to get close to his targets. He is an excellent recruiter of new members of the Brotherhood.
Kerima al-Zahir (hfW/fm/16), a hot-tempered, powerful wizard known to challenge lesser wizards to personal combat, usually to the death. She has been forced to flee from such combats twice, and the individuals she escaped from perished soon afterwards of holy slayer attacks.
Matruda al-Muhif (hfT/hs/13), one of the holy slayers in the Flamedeath fellowship, a group of holy slayers allied with the Brotherhood of the True Flame. She is an ally of Kerima and a master of disguise.

The Brotherhood of the True Flame Admits: The nefarious Brotherhood of the True Flame is open to all fire mages. (It is not, however, suited to PCs.) Non-mages may be admitted on an auxiliary status, but are held in lesser esteem than their more powerful magical brethren. Wizards who are not flame elemental mages are not welcome, and the Brotherhood refuses, and often slays, Sorcerers of the Flame (as they are not considered sufficiently pure).
Members: The Brotherhood of the True Flame has the largest assemblage of wizards with similar alignments and intent in all the Land of Fate, with members (or reputed members) in every city. In addition, legends regularly circulate regarding mighty and powerful fortresses in the Weeping Desert and the Great Anvil, from which the Brotherhood’s most powerful members rule with an iron grip.
Initiation: Entry into the Brotherhood of the True Flame is limited to elemental mages of flame. The manner of initiation is said to be both gruesome and mind-wrenching, as all hope, kindness, and goodness is burned out by the fires of a true flame. The exact nature of the initiation is best left to whispers and warning glances, but it is true that those who join the Brotherhood are never again as they once were.
Description: The largest and most sinister secret society of wizards, the Brotherhood both benefits and suffers from its size and relative autonomy. Small factions are continually shearing off, led by one charismatic leader or another. Members of the Brotherhood follow their path of destruction in different ways – some as rebels, some as treacherous advisers, and some as self-serving mercenaries. As a result, there are a variety of plots afoot in the Land of Fate at any time which may be tracked back to the Brotherhood of the True Flame.
Further information on the leaders and notables of the Brotherhood may be found in the AL-QADIM Land of Fate boxed set. A typical desert citadel is described in the Weeping Desert (in A Dozen and One Adventures).
Goals: The Brotherhood’s chief goal is establishing the superiority of fire-based magic over all others, with themselves as the masters of fire-based magic. All other magics are impure and debased and must be eliminated, as must be any knowledge, artifact, or individual that disagrees with the Brotherhood’s goals. (Sha’ir Handbook)

The Constellation: Admits: The Constellation is a society devoted to the study of astrology, and its membership is comprised entirely of astrologers.
Members: All members are human. The mix of men to women is almost equal, with slightly more women than men. All of the current members are at least 10th-level in experience. There are currently 15 members of the Constellation.
Initiation: The Constellation is a strict society that devotes little effort to recruiting new members. As the older members age and die, replacements are sought, keeping the number of members consistent at all times.
Description: The Constellation is devoted to the study of the stars. They spend the majority of their time sequestered within a remote observatory, taking turns scouring the night skies for any new clues to the deeper mysteries of the universe. Important astrological events, including the tracking of constellations, shooting stars, or the appearance of planets at certain times are all noted on the great star charts of the observatory.

The Constellation is ruled by a single woman, who is said to be the founder of this group. If this is true, then the Matriarch is well over 300 years old. This isn’t entirely impossible, considering the magics at her disposal.
The Matriarch rules with an iron fist, assigning tasks to her underlings with little care for how they feel or their personal desires. She believes that, as the most powerful astrologer in Zakhara, all others must bow to her will. For as long as the Constellation has existed, the other members have obeyed her edicts as disobedience could easily result in expulsion from the society. No astrologer is willing to risk losing access to the great star charts that are the property of the Constellation, and they stay in line.
There are two other individuals that have a sort of power within the Constellation; the first of these, the Keeper, is the most powerful. The Keeper is custodian of the star charts and is responsible for their safekeeping. The side benefit of this position is that the Keeper gets to decide who is allowed access to the charts. This gives the Keeper quite a bit of pull with the other members of the Constellation – currying favour for a look at the charts is a time-honoured tradition among members. Though frowned upon by the Matriarch as unprofessional, the practice still continues.
Below the Matriarch and the Keeper is the Scribe. It is the Scribe’s task to update the star charts from time to time. As knowledge of the heavens increases, it is necessary to add new notations to the charts. The Scribe has access to the charts once a month for three days. During this time any changes necessary are made.
Most of the time, the Keeper oversees the process, but the Scribe is left alone for a few hours each day. This is the source of much of the Scribe’s power. Those that can’t get past the Keeper can often manage to convince the Scribe to give them access to the charts, if only for a little while.
The Scribe is also favoured by the Matriarch. She knows enough to keep the Scribe happy; an unhappy Scribe could do a great deal of damage to the charts in a short amount of time. It is even possible that such a person could destroy the charts altogether, destroying years of work in the process. Though there are copies of the charts, many of these are quite old and would require a good deal of updating before they would serve their function again. Because of this, the Matriarch takes care not to offend the Scribe and regularly gifts the astrologer who holds this post with extravagant items to keep him or her happy.
The charts are important because they allow an expansion of the astrologers’ magical abilities. By studying the star chart for a solid eight hours, an astrologer can raise his level by one for a period of one lunar month. All spellcasting abilities increase, including the memorization of spells and the number of spells a wizard can learn per level. This can only be performed once a year, and the Matriarch is very restrictive about who gets to use the charts. As noted above, those that are refused access by the Matriarch may be able to convince the Keeper to let them use the charts. The Matriarch doesn’t charge for the use of her charts, but the Keeper requires a bribe equal to the briber’s level times 1,000 gp. Only astrologers may benefit from the charts; other wizards will only confuse themselves if they study them.
Besides their ability to increase the level of a wizard, the charts also allow the prediction of probable events as dictated by the positions of various stars. This ability allows an astrologer who spends at least two hours with the charts to predict the outcome of a single event with complete accuracy. For every hour spent studying the charts, the event to be predicted may occur up ‘to a week distant. Thus, if an astrologer would like to know if a quest that will be completed in three weeks will succeed, he or she will need to study the charts for three hours. The event to be predicted must be at least two weeks distant, which limits the power of the charts somewhat. Despite this, many are the military leaders and other strategists who would like to find out if the stars favour them at a particular time in the future.
The Matriarch is very strict about using the charts to predict the future. She knows too well what will happen if various leaders were able to know when and where to strike in order to succeed and will not be responsible for that sort of bloodshed.

Other societies regard the Constellation as a mysterious power that is too far away from the centre of things to be much of a threat. The Constellation is based near the Great Anvil, where nothing of importance generally occurs. (The Red Eyes know better but haven’t come up with a good way to get out to the Anvil and see what the astrologers are doing. It is possible to send an invisible stalker out there, but such a creature may run afoul of genie-kind and bring down all sorts of enemies on the Red Eyes. For now, the Red Eyes keep their eyes to the desert and their ear to the sand, hoping to find some way to get close to the Constellation without drawing undue attention to themselves.)
A few independent astrologers know of the Constellation and have made use of the charts in the past. These independents are all incredibly powerful (15th level or better) and have the complete trust of the Matriarch. They, in turn, respect the Matriarch, knowing full well that only this woman would be able to hold the Constellation together for as long as she has. A few of them claim to know the identity of the Matriarch, but they have so far kept the secret to themselves. It is highly doubtful that they really know. The spies of the Red Eyes have been unable to discover this secret, so it is unlikely that anyone else has either.
The Constellation has contact with the Shifting Sands when their paths occasionally overlap. The interests of the Shifting Sands are sometimes aided by the Constellation, as both seek out artifacts from the ancient past. An agreement has arisen between these two societies. The Constellation receives any texts or items relating to the stars or the magic of astrology, and the Shifting Sands are free to take whatever they will. For their part, the Constellation provides the Shifting Sands with detailed navigational aid, as well as the ability to predict the success or failure of most missions before they are undertaken. Though the Constellation does not give this aid every time the Shifting Sands take on an exploration, if there is any reason to believe that artifacts or texts of astrological significance will be found, the Constellation will provide its expertise. If it turns out that the expedition was unable to recover anything of astrological import, the Shifting Sands will recompense the Constellation with some portion of the booty that is found. This arrangement has saved both groups countless manhours and gold pieces and is mutually beneficial.
The Mechanicians’ League is another sorcerous society that has benefited from the special abilities of the astrologers from time to time, and is perhaps the closest ally to the Constellation (other than the Shifting Sands). The mechanicians are able to build complex orreries that are given to members of the Constellation in exchange for services rendered. The Constellation, in turn, gives the mechanicians invaluable predictions on the likely outcome of the most dangerous mechanical experiments. Like the arrangement with the Shifting Sands, this beneficial relationship has done much to save lives and gold. Unlike the Shifting Sands, though, the Mechanicians’ League is likely to go against the predictions of the astrologers if they feel the Constellation is being too cautious. This has backfired in the past, much to the amusement and/or dismay of the Constellation.
Viziers seek out the Constellation from time to time, though the astrologers are careful to insure that any knowledge these advisers gain cannot be used for military advantage. In cases where the Matriarch is not absolutely positive that the predictions will not be used for ill, the vizier is sent back to his caliph emptyhanded. The Constellation will not take the chance of igniting a war and having one side or the other come to them for retribution.
Where most sorcerous societies go out of their way to create intricate spy networks to keep tabs on their allies and enemies, the Constellation doesn’t waste the effort. They rely heavily on their predictions to influence the course that they will take in a given situation, removing the need for human informants. This is the official stance taken by the Matriarch, which doesn’t sit well with some of the Constellation’s members. This isn’t because these disgruntled astrologers do not have faith in their own predictions, but rather because it is very difficult to make long term predictions based on very little information. These men and women would like to have a few agents abroad to report on goings on that otherwise might not reach the Constellation for weeks or months. This issue is one of hot debate within the ranks of the Constellation, but debate is probably as far as it will go. The Matriarch doesn’t want spies in her employ, and until she is deposed or steps down (a highly unlikely event), her word is still law. Some members of the Constellation might try to go behind her back, but this is extremely risky and only the most daring would risk expulsion from the society to gain a little more information.

In a campaign, the Constellation should be used as an inscrutable source of information. They can provide very accurate predictions, but they will ask a very high price in return. The Constellation will not attack characters that offend them, but they’ll never help such characters again. The Constellation will never seek out characters, though characters may find themselves in the employ of this group through another agency, such as the Shifting Sands.
Characters will likely never have the chance to join this group, unless a vacancy comes up and the character has somehow proven himself a powerful astrologer. It is best to leave the Constellation as a mysterious organization, the finding of which could be a massive quest all on its own.
Goals: The Constellation is bent on discovering the inner workings of the universe through the stars. This quest for knowledge is all-consuming and occupies the majority of their time. They will only aid those who can bring them vital information or considerable wealth, and they do not deign to waste time on efforts that will not reveal to them the secrets they so desire. As noted above, they are aiding the Shifting Sands in order to discover ancient artifacts that may aid their cause, and this is their longest standing alliance. To a lesser extent, the Mechanicians’ League is used in this way as well, but as more and more members gain the orreries that the mechanicians can build, this group will receive less and less aid. Once a group has been mined of its usefulness, it is time to move on to another alliance. While not a popular stance, the Constellation firmly believes in this philosophy (though they don’t publicize it). (Sha’ir Handbook)

The Cult of Sand Admits: The Cult of Sand admits only elementalists of the province of sand, though all races and both sexes are welcome within their organization.
Members: The Cult of Sand is not overly large, composed of no more than 30 members, half of which are male, the other half female. Humans easily dominate this organization, with only one elf counted among their current number. Most members are of good alignments, with a few leaning toward neutral. No evil-aligned elementalists are allowed to join this organization.
Initiation: The Cult of Sand watches for signs of powerful elementalists that study their province. They possess the great Sand Mirror, which constantly monitors the use of magics from the sand province. When a disturbance arises (caused by any 7th-level spell or higher that taps into the elemental province of sand), the Sand Mirror will reveal the location of the magic’s wielder. Members of the cult are dispatched at once to contact the elementalist responsible for casting such a spell. The fact that the Sand Mirror recognized the character is enough proof of ability.
The cultists will then approach the caster of the spell, usually in a private place, and escort him to their private meeting area. The cult will have one very secluded room rented in a city where they are making contact and a number of farisan standing guard to prevent anyone from interfering in their business. If the contacted character makes a fuss, the cultists will quickly depart, using their powers and the confusion to make good their escape.
If the character agrees to sign on with the group, he must be ready to make his first contribution to the society. In the case of the cult, this involves the finding of unusual rock and sand formations in the deep deserts of Zakhara. Such locations are ideal places in which to study the nature of earth magic. After all, these things don’t just occur naturally; most are so bizarre that there must be a magical explanation. This is one of the underpinnings of the cult: sand is innately magical, and in some areas this magic is activated. It is vital to the cult that these areas be discovered and closely examined to discover how this occurs.

Characters may take whatever supplies they need and are given a grant of up to 2,000 gp to outfit themselves and hire any assistants or guides that may be necessary. These searches for magically active pockets of sand can be quite lengthy. Many take as long as a year; in at least one case, the process consumed nearly a decade. A large reason for this is that most initiates to the cult aren’t happy with finding small areas with vaguely unusual sand and rock formations. Instead, they scour the desert for the largest and most impressive finds, as this will increase their status within the cult. When sent out on this quest, characters are always given a small stone that will identify areas that have already been discovered and marked by previous members of the cult. This circumvents unnecessary delays caused by the need to continually check with the cult to see if an area has already been discovered.
DMs are encouraged to make the whole process an involved adventure. Elementalists should spend a long time tracking down myths and rumours concerning unusual areas in an attempt to make their contribution to the cult. Fellow characters can be drawn in as well. Other wizards may also find themselves involved, helping the character in order to discover magical lore that they may use to their advantage. The quest should be time-consuming and should lead the characters through a number of interesting encounters. It should culminate with a battle or dealings with some sort of magical creature. After all, dragons and geniekind may have already found these spots and chosen them for themselves. This adventure should challenge the abilities of the elementalist (and the rest of the party) and be suitable for a long series of adventures.
The finding of a special formation will also be considered the character’s test. This is because the contribution that is made is so long and involved that it serves admirably as a test of the character’s conviction, dedication to the society, and ability to carry out missions in a competent manner. If the character manages to complete the search in a short time and/or uses magical aid that nearly does the job for him, the society will often assign another test. This will be something that the cult has been meaning to get to but just hasn’t had the time to accomplish. For instance, the cult may have wanted to earn the favour of a certain dao but hadn’t had the time or resources to undertake such a mission. The character would be told to go out and accomplish this endeavour, success indicating his worthiness to be a member of the group.
Description: The cult is a small but growing sorcerous society, established to protect its members from the predations of the Brotherhood of the True Flame. It was also formed as a means to enable its members access to more learning about the nature of their elemental province. So far, it has served both purposes admirably.
The cult is loosely organized, with a small council of three elementalists to keep records, collate data, and generally look over the work of the rest of the members. They are not, however, simple clerks. This council often manages to pull together several hypotheses into a strong theory, thereby directing the studies of other elementalists. They are all keenly intelligent and able to make grand extrapolations from meagre data. This is why they are given access to virtually every bit of information that is found.
The council is not all for the good, however, as they have become somewhat greedy of knowledge. They control what information is disseminated to the other members and what is kept for themselves. They rationalize their actions as being best for everyone who knows what some of these lesser wizards might do with the knowledge they are given? Information is spread through the group in measured doses and only after careful review by the council. This has served to increase the power of the cult’s leaders and gives them a powerful bargaining chip with other members of the cult who might try to usurp their position. Information is passed to other members in carefully scribed scrolls, penned through magical means by the council itself. These scrolls are distributed by farisan local to the cult, who would die before failing to deliver them. Members of the cult are expected to keep these scrolls safe and in a secret location to
prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.

Though the cult is very loosely organized, without a standard hierarchy outside of the council, there is a definite pecking order. High-level elementalists will treat their less knowledgeable brethren with some disrespect. This is little different from the way wizards are all over Zakhara, but within the confines of the cult it has definite repercussions.
The high-level members of the cult have a tendency to monopolize cult funds and other resources. Low-level members are forced to defer to their more talented brothers, even if the high-level members aren’t doing their job. There is much talk among some members of misspent funds and wasted research time. Some believe that the grants are given to obscure true knowledge by smothering it with fallacious information researched by members of the cult. This has produced some bickering, and the stranglehold the council maintains on information makes these accusations difficult to prove.
This is mostly based in the near-religious teachings of the cult. Members are instilled with a devotion to their element that borders on the fanatical. They are taught to meditate upon the land and feel the currents of magic that flow through it. These teachings reinforce the power of the council, as they are believed to be the only truly enlightened members of the cult.
So strong is this indoctrination that members can have a very difficult time breaking their training to question the council. Player character members will often be regarded as rebels, as they will surely speak out against the injustices that they encounter. It may even be possible for them to right the wrongs they perceive, though this may put them in a difficult position. The council members are in no way ready to relinquish the power that they hold and will put up a very strong fight to retain their positions and the status quo.
Characters will have to be very resourceful and persuasive to gain support, and will find themselves outcast if they aren’t able to do this. Despite its injustices and the inequities among some of the members, the cult is the best place for most elementalists of the province of sand. They are afforded access to knowledge that, while not as in-depth as they might like, is still not found elsewhere. They are also protected from the Brotherhood of the True Flame, the shadowy organization that is a threat to elementalists everywhere. On this last, the cult is very well prepared. They have teamed up with a number of farisan, all of which are dedicated to Grumbar of the Earth, a cold god of the elements. These farisan are very rare, and their numbers are only just beginning to grow. They are fanatically loyal, having decided that the elementalists of the Cult of the Sand are the closest they are going to find to a sizable congregation devoted to their god. This is believed to be one of the primary reasons that this sorcerous society is known as a cult: to attract these particular farisan.
There are perhaps 500 farisan of Grumbar in service to the cult. There are close to twice that many that are not directly connected to the cult but which would come to the cult’s aid if necessary. These men and women are the strong-arm of the cult, ready to fight and die for the sorcerers they work for and with. The fact that these farisan exist is not at all secret, though the cult itself is. Though the Brotherhood may be able to discover the cult’s existence by the presence of so many farisan of Grumbar, they will also think twice about attacking the group. Even holy slayers cannot defeat an entire army on their own, and the Brotherhood isn’t interested in starting such a conflict (at least not yet).
The cult’s council is safely ensconced in the deeps of the High Desert, where they maintain a smallish fortress within a massive rock formation. This fortress is unnamed and is referred to simply as the Home by members of the cult. The Home is a massive mound of reddish stone. Wind and sand have eroded scalloped grooves around it. The sound of the wind whispering through these grooves is a low murmuring. Until one gets very close to the Home, it is impossible to detect signs of life, as there are only three men and their servants living here. Their quarters are very deep within the stone. The farisa that are quartered here stay in a deep concave hollow in the top of the stone, which is not visible unless one is high in the air.
Members of the cult are encouraged to stay on the move, preferably in small groups. These groups are afforded protection by a number of farisan, though these warriors may be called back to the Home in times of trouble. Members are also encouraged to return to the Home if they find themselves in trouble. While this may attract attention from dangerous elements outside of the cult, the protection of its members is a higher priority.
If anyone dreamed of attacking the fortress, they would find themselves in a hopeless situation. The Home is solid rock, and its only entrances are labyrinths carved by dao. These entrance tunnels can easily be guarded by less than a hundred men, who could fend off thousands. The Home is also well supplied, and a freshwater spring is located deep within the living quarters. There is added difficulty as well in that the attacking force would be far from most oases and would have a near-to-impossible task before them in regards to supplies. The cost of maintaining the caravans to supply a force of men large enough to take the Home would force even a prosperous nation into poverty very quickly. For the time being, the Home is virtually impregnable.
Like most elementalists, the members of the cult avoid attracting too much attention to themselves. Many are masters of disguise and masquerade as warriors of one sort or another. Those that do reveal their true nature are the ones most often seen trying to help out in any way that they can. They may serve as defenders of villages and are generally dedicated (or devoted,) elementalists (see Chapter 1).
The cult is the most understanding of all the elementalist sorcerous societies. While they believe that the element of sand is the most powerful and the most useful, they can also see the benefits of other types of elemental study. They have a keen interest in all knowledge and are more than happy to discuss the nature of their own school in exchange for information about another. They aren’t disparaging to those that study other elemental provinces, though they do try to impart the wisdom of their position to those with whom they discuss such things.
The cult’s members aren’t quick to fight, but they stand by their convictions and their fellow members. While they don’t look for trouble, they will do what they can to defend themselves. And they never, ever, forget a malicious insult or violent action against one of their own.
Goals: The cultists simply want to study the sand and discover its magical properties. This is their primary, motivating goal. What most individuals in the cult do not know, however, is that the council wishes to use this power for itself. The council knows full well that mastering the art of sand magic would elevate them immensely in terms of power. All other elements are found in some parts of Zakhara, but the sand (and hence the power of the sand) is everywhere.
This doesn’t mean that the council of the cult is bent on world domination. Rather, they wish to be the reigning magical power in order to rectify the current squabbling among wizards and their societies. They believe if they can amass enough magical power, the council would be able to settle disputes with an authoritative voice and prevent societies like the Brotherhood from killing other wizards. This goal of achieving a sort of unity throughout wizard society is a lofty one, if somewhat misguided. It is doubtful that the council would be able to maintain an impartial stance if they ever achieved the position they desired and would most likely become as ruthless in the enforcing of their ideals as the Brotherhood of the True Flame. The council thinks differently, however, and busily seeks to increase its power through better understanding of the sand and its magic, as evidenced by the nature of the contributions and tests demanded of initiates by the cult.
Its second goal is the protection of its members from outside violence and defamation. The cult is currently trying to increase the number of their farisan. A larger military would be able to protect the current members more easily and would allow expansion of the cult without the fear of being unable to protect large numbers of new initiates. The primary difficulty in this is centered around the low level of acceptance of Grumbar among most enlightened peoples. The cold gods don’t really encourage worship and do nothing for those that do worship them. To increase the popularity of Grumbar, and thus the number of farisan available to the cult, the council is seeking out the few priests that venerate the god. These priests are then supplied with men and money and sent out to spread the good word of Grumbar. Such priests have been discouraged from building temples just yet, as the cult feels that their efforts are better spent on missionary activities. Once Grumbar has achieved sufficient status to satisfy the cult (perhaps 2,000 worshippers), the first temples will be built. For now, priests of Grumbar are noted as curiosities and are not taken seriously at all.
The worship of Grumbar is not encouraged within the Pantheist League, and the cult’s priests and farisan have stayed clear of this religiously intolerant land. (Sha’ir Handbook)

Important NPCs

Old Kerim: A pock-marked ancient in Gana whose eyes are so swollen he can barely see. He always talks in a rambling, indirect manner in the mythical third person. He is enchanted in some way and may be an illusory disguise for someone else (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages).

Husam Ibn Aasim al-Zalim: An elemental mage of the Brotherhood of Fire in Gana . Seeks to use others as pawns to win the Great Task of the Pearl (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages).

Fayiz: A heavy set, well dressed merchant in Gana with a ship to sell. He is indebt to Diyab the money lender and has already put his ship up as collateral on the loan. Fayiz intends to flee as soon as his ship is sold (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages).

Diyab al-Jaradi: A money lender in Gana who has lent money to Fayiz with the promise of his ship as collateral (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages).

Mauj: An aloof but friendly reef giant from the reef near Gana. Works for Diyab as a slave overseer, may also be a slave of Diyab along with his entire reef giant community. Wears a ring of recall that can whisk him back to Gana at a moments notice (with one passenger).

Firuz/Zumurrud the Accursed or the Clever (Thief 10): Firuz of Bandar al-Sa’adat is a master thief and a quick thinker with a silver tongue. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

Karbuqa (Half elf Fighter Thief): Karbuqa is Firuz’s most trusted follower who typically aids the master thief on his escapades, mostly by doing legwork and providing muscle. Karbuqa is engagingly dim – slow on the uptake as it were. He is a born follower, eager to please and easy to anger. Less of a thief and more a fighter, Karbuqa is most cheerful (and bloodthirsty) in a fight. His final endearing quality is a certain dull-witted stubbornness. Once Karbuqa seizes upon an idea, it is virtually impossible to change his mind.
Karbuqa is a short, burly man, bald and clean shaven. His wide pop-eyes and heavy jowls make his sweaty face unforgettably distinctive.
For several days, Karbuqa has been in Bandar al-Sa’adat, awaiting the arrival of Firuz. Following orders sent ahead, the burly assistant has been casing the Ben Ayyub caravansary, learning the layout, number of guards, and general routine of the place. In addition, messages from Firuz have instructed him to collect a strange assortment of items – two perfect white doves, a jelibah of outlandish colours, a basket of snakes, and two blown-out eggshells. Karbuqa has no idea what Firuz intends to do with these items and is understandably curious. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

Kilij and Maneira (halfm Thief 6): Kilij and Maneira are members of the Gilded Palm, a matched team of assassins. They have currently been lent to Umm Ayyub, head of the Ben Ayyub merchant house. Unknown to the rest of the world, the caravansary of Ben Ayyub currently houses a unique holy relic of Jisan the Bountiful – a golden coin was bestowed by the deity. Kilij and Maneira have learned that the master thief Firuz (whom they have never seen) plans to steal this coin, and it is their task to find him and prevent the theft.
The halfling slayers have two obstacles. First, neither knows Firuz. Second, the pair was cursed with the Evil Eye during their last job, which is something they have not yet realized. Although Kilij and Maneira are as efficient and cold-blooded as they come, the curse foils all their perfect plans. Their hearts are stone, their plans cruel, but they have all the success of bumbling killers. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

Jawali (Dwarfm Fighter 8): Once Jawali was responsible for the security of the temple treasure in Jumlat. Alas, but the Temple of Najm in Jumlat was robbed during Jawali’s watch. The faris got a good look at the thief and eventually matched a name to the face – Firuz. Since then, Jawali has been tracking the thief from city to city and crime to crime, determined to seize Firuz and drag him back to Jumlat for justice. Jawali is a fierce, barely social dwarf. He never smiles and never forgets the stain on his honour. Every day, from morning to night, he is obsessed by the thought of catching Firuz. At the coffee house and baths he always has the table or pool to himself, muttering his dire plans. On sighting Firuz, all Jawali’s careful schemes of revenge vanish as the faris leaps up, brandishing his weapon, and tries to knock the thief unconscious, all the while shrieking about justice for Najm. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

Alix (Ajami merchant): Alix, blond hair going grey, is a small merchant and one of the few ajami in Bandar al-Sa’adat. She has heard rumors (like everyone but the player characters) that Firuz is in the port. Armed with only a general description, she wants to contact the thief for a commissioned job – to steal the coin of Jisan from Ben Ayyub. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

Alim Baybars (Ajami Elf Male Fighter 12 Necromancer 14): This hateful ancient is an oddity among Zakharans, for he has purposefully travelled to other lands in search of magical training. Consumed by the desire for power over the dead, Baybars in his youth voyaged to heathen lands and learned the secrets of the necromancers. Now, centuries later, he practices his craft in isolation, drawing upon unfortunate sailors for the living material he needs. Baybars is the creator of the ghoul pirates that haunt Kaff’s shores, although he has no direct power over them now.
It is at Baybars’s direction that the player characters are trapped on Kaff, for he intends to use the group for upcoming experiments. He is striving to speed and improve the process of becoming a lich, and he needs living subjects for some of the deadly experiments he intends to perform. Confident that they will be unable to escape or breach his hideout, the wizard allows them to roam the island. The task of watching over the PCs has been assigned to his cruel-hearted daughter, Melisende, while he prepares for the experiments to come.
Years on this forsaken jungle isle, combined with his diabolic researches, have been cruel to Baybars. Humid air mingled with the exotic fumes of sinister compounds and leering orchids have ruined his face and health, leaving only a thin, wracked frame, consumed by and filled with the evil it has been subjected to. Yet, in a perverse way, he is still a Zakharan. Honour, particularly the bond of salt, means much to him. It is a weakness the characters may turn to their advantage. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

Melisende (Half Elf female Fighter 8 Wizard 6): The child of Baybars’ liaison among the westerners, Melisende (named by her non-Zakharan mother) could have been an unearthly beauty if circumstances had been different. Unfortunately, her perfection is flawed, for though she is physically stunning, Melisende’s heart beats cold and her thoughts run cruel.
The half-elf maiden lacks the inner light of compassion and love that would bring radiance to her being. It is a not a lack that Melisende notices. She is what she is and will never change. She is vicious, self indulgent, manipulative, and emotionally diabolical.
She conceals her black heart behind a cunning mask of courtesy. Self-confident to the point of arrogance, Melisende has always been fiercely independent, refusing to heed anyone save her father. The daughter hates her father and would gladly kill him – if she thought she could gain his power. At the same time, she is in fear of that power. Her fear of his anger is all the keeps her under his control. Should he weaken, she will readily defy him. Baybars knows her feelings and she knows he knows; neither finds the sentiments of the other unusual. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

Shajar (Human Female Cleric 4): Shajar, slave of the Ben Baybars, is the antithesis of every wicked quality of her masters. She is beautiful, kind, resourceful, and moral where they are wicked and degenerate. Although Melisende may have greater physical beauty, Shajar possesses the inner light the cruel half-elf lacks. Perhaps because of this, she has been subjected to Melisende’s continual wrath and contempt.
Shajar is not a weak, shrinking violet, however. The daughter of a desert chieftain, she learned a few martial skills at his side. While wisdom and insight made her destined for leadership of the tribe, Fate cursed her to fall into the hands of slavers, who then sold her to a sultan of the Pearl Coast. For years she dwelled in his harim, artfully preserving her honour and dignity all the time. Finally the sultan, perhaps vexed at her pride, loaded her on a ship as a gift to one of the petty princelings of Harab. Somewhere off Nada al-Hazan, the ship fell prey to corsairs, who were in turn the prey of the ghoul-pirates of Kaff. Baybars, not immune to physical charm, claimed her from that hideous crew and installed Shajar as his household slave. Then he seemed to forget about her. For months the situation has remained unchanged. Shajar has desperate plans though, should Baybars turn his gaze on her
Melisende has no love of Shajar. The slave’s goodness, clearly higher station, and beauty infuriate her. Unable to cruelly kill the princess (since Shajar is under the gaze of Baybars), the half-elf delights in inflicting cruel torments on Shajar. All these the slave bears in stoic silence, secretly planning for the day when she can rid the world of her wicked masters. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

Old Riyas (Zakharan Great Roc): Lording on the mountain top of Kaff, high over all the petty concerns of the little creatures, is the aged and weakening roc known as Old Riyas. Time has weakened the majestic roc. His wings do not beat as strong, his talons are not as sharp, nor are his eyes as keen as they were in his youth. Where once he soared over the waves, plucking whales from the ocean for a meal, Old Riyas now spends most of his days sleeping in his nest, satisfied with the smaller morsels found near the shores of Kaff.
As a great roc, Riyas is not unintelligent. If approached carefully and respectfully, he will converse with the player characters. He is interested in food, the sensation of soaring through the air, and the safety of his nest. During conversations, the roc eyes the PCs hungrily, constantly alluding to tasty morsels he might eat.
Riyas knows a little of Baybars, and the necromancer has harmed the roc in the past. Indeed, the great roc has a fearful respect for Baybars’ power. (He will not attack the necromancer directly.) Still, if appropriately bribed (with an ox or similar large quantity of meat), Riyas can be persuaded to aid the player characters indirectly. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

Al-Mazagdani: Al-Mazdaghani, atabeg of al-Zira, a noble marid that lives in a palace in one of the lagoons of Al-Zira. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

Bey Gumushtekin: A noble efreet, swaggering, arrogant, fiery-tempered, and bloodthirsty, for he is Bey Gumushtekin. Is served by a number of enslaved air elementals. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

Ataman al-Hajar: Ataman al-Hajar, a short yet massive noble dao served by a horde of Xorn, lives in the deepest pit of one of the caves in Al-Zira (Al Qadim Golden VOyages)

Malik al-Samawat: A noble djinn that lives at the summit of the tallest mountain on Al-Zira. (Al Qadim GOlden Voyages)

Halfana al-Yamini (oathbinder genie): Halfana al-Yamini does not wish to interfere in the affairs of others; she must simply kill any holy slayer who has failed to keep the vow of secrecy of the Everlasting. (Assassin Mountain)

Ramas, Harun, and Beyab al-Rashid (Human male Thief 5): Members of the Everlasting (Holy Slayer organisation). Sent to rob the payroll of the mamluks of the Dauntless. (Assassin Mountain)

Captain Zamanyeh bint Salman al-Kahn (Human female Fighter 4): Captain of the Dauntless order of mamluks stationed in Liham. (Assassin Mountain)

Essafah al-Qadibi: A cowardly sorcerer loyal to the Everlasting (Assassin Mountain)

Rashad al-Din (Human male Thief 7): Member of the loyalist faction of the Everlasting. (assassin Mountain)

Bani Matruj al-Haddar (goblin male): Bani works in Liham as a barber and is a ceaseless and talented gossip, tale-teller, and information broker who is physically unable to keep quiet unless gagged. He expounds on his talents in astrology, phlebotomy, grooming, etiquette, and games of chance while also praising his own shy, quiet nature to anyone who will listen. If he considers a customer a good listener, he may stop halfway through a shave or a haircut in order to keep the customer around a little longer and do a quick astrological chart for him.
Bani (gbT/br/4) rarely stops to breathe – he calls himself the Silent Sheikh and refers to himself as a man of few words, generally in the middle of a constant stream of gossip, monologues, and tall tales (Assassin Mountain)

Anwar al-Sifr, Cipher of Liham 9th-level elven male thief (holy slayer): Agent of the Everlasting in Liham (Assassin Mountain)

Zinjir al-Muqi: Zinjir al-Muqi, the Twelvefold Master, the Shackle-breaker a mage of Hiyal able to magically release people from oaths. (Assassin Mountain)

Fadiya and Omar Al-Farid: Some people are born sheltered under the hand of Fate, but others never seem to avoid the evil eye. Fadiya and Omar al-Farid are a brother and sister team that once served as spies in Liham for the Grandfather of the Everlasting, but they were cast out of the fellowship for cowardice twelve years ago; while travelling through the Furrowed Mountains, they failed to stand firm in the face of raiding debbi at a watering hole. Though their fear and flight were the product of magic, it was reported as cowardice by an enemy. They were marked for punishment by their comrades in the Everlasting, though a friend warned them before the first attack could catch up with them.
They fled south to the Pearl Cities, where they hid from the retribution they knew to expect. They hid in vain. The Al-Farids were repeatedly attacked by agents of their former fellowship. Though they felt betrayed, Fadiya swallowed her bitterness and kept her pledge not to reveal any of the secrets of the order, and so she was never judged by the oathbinder genie. The attacks stopped within a year, for the Grandfather had always had a soft spot for Fadiya and soon felt she had suffered enough. The Al-Farids took the respite as an opportunity to consult Zinjir al-Muqi, the Twelvefold Master, the Shackle-breaker, a mage of Hiyal, and gained magical release from the strictures of the oath.
Now Fadiya can speak of the Everlasting without fear of the genie, though she must still beware of saying anything where it might be overheard by sympathizers who might pass on word to the rafiqs.
Fadiya and Omar knew no trade other than death, so in time they found and joined the Grey Fire, the holy slayers of Najm. With their help, and by beggaring themselves to pay for information and potions of dreaming, they have been plotting a trip to visit the mysterious Grandfather and (so they say) regain their standing or take their revenge.

Fadiya is dark-haired and green-eyed, with a rare but bright smile. She has skin the colour of coffee with cream, the daughter of a southern archipelago warrior and an ajami mother. She is a dangerous woman when angered, willing to hold a grudge for years. However, she is also clever enough to put on a smile for those who might help her, and even to go to some trouble to assist others who might not be immediately useful.
Though she has the fire of belief, it doesn’t burn nearly as brightly as her anger at having been cast out of the Everlasting. Fadiya is the elder sibling, and she bullies Omar into helping her with all her schemes.
Omar is a follower, a chubby and genial-looking fellow with a round, moonlike face. His dark hair and dark eyes match his preferred dark blue or black robes. His skin is slightly darker than his sister’s. He tends to defer to Fadiya, although his practical skill at theft has allowed them both to survive on a day-to-day level. He has a much more relaxed attitude towards the Everlasting, but agrees to Fadiya’s plans out of fear and a sense of family duty. (Assassin Mountain)

Safsaf (adult female vishap): Safsaf is a vishap dragon in the Furrowed Mountains. She has a deal with the Everlasting to allow them passage through her territory unmolested, and to replenish their waterskins at her well. She even spies for them and passes on information of travellers. Safsaf is a cowardly and willow dragon. (assassin mountain)

Samia al-Giss (human female thief 6: An agent of the Everlasting of the Dervish faction, living in Zayid in the Furrowed Mountains, watching travellers entering the Haunted Lands. She has an amulet of dreams – a gift from Farouk Abd al-Bazan – whih is tied to two sandmen allies. (assassin mountain)

Salman bin Salman (human male priest 3): The head priest of the village of Ganam and the only source of protection against the playful but cruel tricks of Ibrihim, Akim al-Kalaas’ tasked deceiver genie. Salman is a protective and skeptical man with no love for strangers. His mistrust is so strong that he will outsiders unless he is bribed with gifts (donations to the villagers in his care are especially effective) or flattered skilfully. In conversation he is gruff, curt, and blunt. (assassin mountain)

Al-Amzija, the Black Cloud of Vengeance: With the death of Sokkar’s last citizen, the three
UndyingNoq, Merodach, and Arunsummoned a
great tempest to encircle their city, shielding it from

view by the outside world. This maelstrom is
generated by Al-Amzija, a Black Cloud of Vengeance
(see MC13) bound to the city by the mysterious
powers of the Undying. Al-Amzija cannot enter the
necropolis, nor can it stray more than a few miles
from its border. Enraged at its everlasting
imprisonment, the malignant tempest fills the sky
with a fury of sand and wind as it storms about its
prison, searching for a means of escape.
The City of Eternity does not welcome visitors, but,
having arrived, newcomers cannot safely depart
without the express permission of the Undying. While
the perimeter of the city is far too large for Al-Amzija
to notice every being entering Sokkar, leaving is
another matter. The sound of its own name attracts
the cloud; it also senses when beings or objects that
have spent a day and a night in the necropolis attempt
to pass through the maelstrom. Countless adventurers,
fleeing through the stormy border with their plunder,
have been intercepted and destroyed by the Black
Cloud. Once alerted, Al-Amzija arrives in 2 to 20
(2d10) rounds to exact retribution for theft of
Sokkaran artifacts or to chase its quarry back into the
city. Only the Undying can call the Black Cloud away
from its prey, and they never bother to intercede on
behalf of tomb robbers.

Important Items

The Blade of Mastery. This treasure is a small jambiyah with a most unique blade, ethereal and cloaked in blue flame. The weapon cannot be used in combat, since the phantom blade causes no damage, though it leaves a fading tracery of blue fire like a slash or cut. However, any character cut by the blade gains 1 point to his prime requisite (or one of his prime requisites if his class has multiple requirements, or an extra Hit Die for monsters), even in excess of racial maximums. This works only once per character (or creature).
Examining the blade does not reveal its power; however, anyone who tests the sharpness of its edge will cut themselves, thereby gaining the benefit. A player will be aware his character has improved become stronger, smarter, etc, when this occurs. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)
The Seal of Fate. This treasure appears to be nothing more than a small seal with deeply carved letters. When pressed against one’s palm, the seal magically marks the character with its imprint. This mark is invisible, though it radiates magic and can be seen by detect invisibility and the hakima’s truth-seeing powers. The mark can be placed on each character only once.
The imprinted Seal of Fate mark allows a character to attempt to alter his fate – the player can reroll any
attack, damage caused or suffered, saving throw,
proficiency check, chance to learn a spell, system
shock, or resurrection survival roll. The decision to
reroll must be made immediately, before any other
results are known. Each time this power is used, there
is a 60% chance the mark will vanish forever. Once it
has vanished, the character can never profit from the
seal again.

The Voice of the Great Lion. This treasure is
nothing more than a crinkled and ancient scroll,
tattered at the edges and bound with a faded golden
cord. The scroll must be unrolled carefully to prevent
its destruction. The surface is covered with intricate
and highly artistic script, written in an old dialect of
Midani. The first few lines are nonmagical and can be
easily read. It reads:
Let be known to all the decision of the Great Lion,
Worthy of the Gods, Confidant of Genies, He who sits on
the Enlightened Throne, for he decrees Krak al- and the
lands accorded it by custom be awarded to the bearer. Let he
of the court who contests this judgment read and hear the
proof of the Great Lion from our master’s own lips.
The remainder of the scroll is a magical script. A
read magic spell does not identify the scroll but the
caster knows the text will disappear forever once read.
When the magical script is read aloud, a glowing figure
of the First Caliph appears before the caster. It repeats
the judgment given above and then remains for one
hour, conversing and answering questions with those
present, just as if the First Caliph was still alive. This
would be a great wonder to bring back to the Sultan’s
court, indeed.
The fortress mentioned, Krak al- , is a small
stronghold at the headwaters of Al-Sabaya, the river
that eventually flows to Gana. Its size and the lands
which surround it (no more than a few miles) are left
vague. It should be no bigger than you can manage
while large enough to make the players feel like their
characters have found a permanent home. The Sultan
of Gana, marvelled and amazed by the appearance of
the First Caliph, will gladly honor the mysterious
bequest, provided the characters swear fealty to him.
The Spear of the Wandering Legion. The ancient
tale of the Wandering Legion dates back to the time of
the First Caliph, and it goes something like this:
It has come to me, O virtuous ones, that in those days,
when the Wise and Exalted One was spreading the Word of
the Loregiver, there rose a company of apostate warriors
against his rule, but the Beloved of the Desert was
strengthened and restored by the Word of the Law, and
their treachery was laid low. Then the Master of the Great
Throne, infinite as his wisdom truly was, showed great
mercy and spared their lives. Blessed be the Word and the
Law for truly it is greater than we. None shall we follow
who does not cleave to the Law, proclaimed the
vanquished warriors. This they swore upon a spear of
silver, saying, Let he who is just carry this spear as the
sign; then we will come to serve. Then each man
wandered by a different track into the desert and was never
seen by man again.
The Spear is an intricately etched shaft of slim
silver that radiates magic. If struck upon the ground
three times by a servant of the Grand Caliph (any
properly recognized official of him or his appointed
caliphs and sultans), 100 to 300 (1d3•100) 3rd-level
farisan arrive to serve the wielder. They do not simply
appear, but must reach the summoner by normal
means. (Once summoned, the Spear need not be
kept.) These men (and a few women) are all
descendants of the original soldiers, the legacy secretly
passed on from father to child. The warriors are
fanatically loyal, but only to those who recognize and
uphold the Law. Otherwise they instantly leave. The
soldiers can only be summoned once.

The Earring of Prince Mamoon. This is a hoop of
jet coral, pierced with intricate calligraphy. These
earrings were fashioned by Mamoon, a prince of the
marids, who created them for the students of his
marqab, a school of mystic learning in Gana. Over the
centuries the sha’ir of this small and elite school have
achieved renown for their skill and learning.
Presenting one of these earrings allows characters to
join the marqab. Members (of any class or race) can
reside at the marqab without charge. The sha’ir of the
school will assist with spells, seeking answers to
questions, and other non-adventuring activities. The
sha’ir will not research new spells or create magical
items for the characters, but he will sell potions and
scrolls at discounted prices (a mere five times the xp
cost of the item). After one month of study, player
character sha’irs gain +5 to their chances of locating
The Judgment of Abd Hikmat. This treasure is a
simple scroll covered with nonmagical script. It is the
judgment of a long-dead but still greatly respected
qadi, Abd Hikmat (literally slave of wisdom, a name
of honor) concerning rights to the pearl banks of
Jumlat and Gana. In it, the qadi rules Jumlat has
abused the Law and awards the greater portion of the
pearl beds to Gana.

As treasures go, the judgment is completely useless
to the player characters. For the court of Gana the

judgment is a treasure, indeed, since it would do much
to bolster their claim to the pearl banks. (Jumlah, too,
would pay dearly for this worthless scrap of paper,
since they would love to see it disappear.) If the
characters return with the scroll, Vizier Al’ia bintHazir will provide an appropriately handsome (but not
extensive) reward. A warrior might receive a sword +2,
a sha’ir a ring of spell-storing. Characters can also claim
a great favor from the Sultan sometime in the future,
provided the request is judiciously exercised.

The Crab God’s Shell. This treasure is deceptively
simpleall the characters need do is find and bring
back a huge, red-brown bowl that was once the
armored shell of the great crab god, Kar’r’rga. With
such a wonder, the Sultan would build a marvelous
fountain for his garden. (What the players may not
realize is that they do not have to kill the hideous and
powerful crab-god of Jazayir Al-Sartan, since this is a
near impossible task. Unknown to them, Kar’r’rga
periodically molts its shell as it grows.)
The Book of Lore. This fabled tome is said to
contain all knowledge within its slim pages. Bound in

red leather unlike any known creature, the book
contains a deceptively small number of pages.
However, no matter how many pages are turned, one
more remains. Each page is covered with crimped
calligraphy of great beauty. If a week is spent studying
this volume, the reader can thereafter attempt the
equivalent of a legend lore spell once per week, based
on what he has read in the Book of Lore. (In addition,
characters able to use legend lore treat all casting times
as one less when using their memorized spellsknown
objects are treated as if they were in hand, etc.) Should
multiple party members attempt gain information on
the same subject, those beyond the first add 2% to the
chance of success. Once read, it is not necessary to
retain the book; it gives no further benefit.
The Book of Lore would add greatly to the prestige
of any court that possessed it, for scholars from all
lands would come to consult it.

Umar al-Rubban’s Suwar. This ragged looking
bundle of sheets is the long-lost collection of charts and
daftar of Umar al-Rubban (the captain), perhaps the
finest sailor of the Crowded Sea in recent memory. He
disappeared many years ago, taking his secrets with
him. These charts reveal much about his exploration of
the Crowded Sea, provided the characters can figure
out what they are. Umar protected the charts with a
secret page spell. (Note: Since this is the Great Treasure,
dispel magic will not damage the contents of the page.)
Once deciphered, player characters using his charts or
copies thereof gain a +3 bonus to all navigation checks.
More importantly, Umar carefully recorded the currents
of the Crowded Sea (as noted on the Current Map).
Those sailing these currents increase their ship’s base
speed per hour by 1. Following the currents and winds
does not have any effect on running from pirates or sea
battles. In these cases, use the ship’s normal (or
emergency) movement rate.
Any character able to write can copy Umar’s charts
in a single week. Once copied, the original charts need
not be kept. Indeed, the Sultan of Gana would
welcome these charts, for they would surely draw
sailors and add luster to the Sultan’s small university.
(Likewise, several waterfront merchants would
welcome these charts for purely economic reasons.)
The Oracle of the Hakima. This treasure is
particularly unique for it has no apparent value. Upon
reaching their goal, the player characters find a single
sheet written with a script that glows like fire: He who
is least among the greatest, foolish among the learned, waits
where others would leadthis one shall Fate proclaim.
The script has nothing to do with the player characters
or their adventures; rather, it is the answer to a
question the Sultan of Gana posed of a great oracle.
He has grown concerned about his increasing age and
so seeks to know which of his children he should name
as his successor. If the scroll is brought to him, he
instantly comprehends its significance, though not
necessarily its answer. For him the sheet (and its
bearers) represents a great treasure. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

All Knowing Eye of Yasmin Sira: The All-Knowing Eye of Yasmin Sira is a large, opalescent strip of fabric decorated with signs of truth, vision, and prophecy. It is always cool and silky to the touch. It is a veil when worn by a woman, a keffiyah when worn by a man. It is found only in Zakhara, the Land of Fate.
Legends of the jann and Al-Badia say that the Eye was made by Sahin Sira, the Sheikh of the Great Ghuls, as a gift for his stolen bride, a mortal hakima named Yasmin. He hoped that by having her survey all the desert and peaks he ruled, he would win her heart.
In fact, Yasmin hated her husband and her duties. Eager to hide herself from him, she imbued the veil with all the power she could, binding the spirits of dying ghuls to it to protect her. But as is the way of ghul magic, the veil did its job too well. In time, the Eye hid her from her husband’s sight perfectly, but it also altered her true sight, showing her only what she wished to see.
Characters can be allowed to use the item for a short time, but it will unbalance a campaign. Any adventure built around it should require that the PCs uncover some great secret. It may be necessary to find a caliph’s kidnapped son, thus averting a war, or to properly interpret mysterious omens that warn of some coming doom. The item’s curse will complicate these tasks. The ghuls will do all they can to recover the Eye. This will lead to constant attacks and intrigues against the PCs.
Constant. The veil provides the wearer the benefits of the avert evil eye, non-detection, and true seeing spells at will. The last of these is subject to the curse (explained below).
Invoked. The owner gains the use of the shapechange (I/day) and alter self (2/day) spells.
The owner also benefits from the effects of the invisibility spell, but only to ghuls.
Random. 4 from Table 16: Divination, 4 from Table 15: Detection
Curse. The veil gradually responds to the owner by providing visions that match that creature’s temperament, desires, and fears. The process takes 1d3 months, starting with small changes or additions and gradually building to a world of complete unreality. Once the halfway point of the process is reached, the owner refuses to remove the veil, even wearing it while eating and sleeping. The words of friends and relatives are no longer heard unless these match the character’s dream world. When the owner dies, the ghuls arrive to claim their treasure once more. Methods of destruction include.
The Eye must be worn by a blind god.
It must be carried to the heart of a black cloud of vengeance by a willing hakima.
It must be cast into the Negative Material plane while wrapped in a cloak of shadows. (Book of Artifacts)

Coin of Jisan the Bountiful: Prized by merchants and feared by caliphs, the Coin of Jisan the Bountiful is a simple gold coin the size of a dinar, bearing the symbol of Jisan on both faces. It is found only in Zakhara, the Land of Fate.
The Coin of Jisan is as old as the goddess and has most frequently been found among her worshippers. It is said to be bestowed upon the worthy by Jisan or by Fate herself, giving them riches and wisdom, fertility and long life. The coin is a gift that is meant to be shared. Those who try to hold it longer than their appointed span suffer for their greed; no one is known to have held the Coin of Jisan for more than seven years.
Caliphs fear the Coin’s bounty because they cannot control it, and some owners of the Coin have grown so popular that they have led revolts against oppressive caliphs. Wiser caliphs have married their daughters to those blessed by the Coin, thus gaining its wealth.
The Coin of Jisan is sometimes given by Fate to those who act for noble purposes, and to this end it may come into the possession of the PCs, perhaps as a reward for a mission that produced or restored bounty—ending a magical drought, reopening a major trade route, or lifting repressive taxes. Although it can be used without fear by the good of heart, it always attracts jealousy and greed in others. The dao, in particular, have long coveted the Coin of Jisan, and they and others will seek to steal it at every opportunity. If the holy slayers of the Gilded Palm ever decide it belongs to someone more worthy (such as themselves), they will act to threaten, extort, or even kill the owner to acquire it. Thus, mere possession of the Coin will create a web of adventures for the player characters.
Constant. The owner gains the appraisal, haggling, and debate non-weapon proficiencies, or a +4 bonus to already-existing skills. None of the owner’s businesses ever suffer misfortune, fields and palms always yield richly, and all livestock gives birth to twins.
Invoked. The owner can use the plant growth and suggestion spells (both at will) and the weather control spell (1/month).
Random. 4 from Table 22: Fate and Fortune, 1 from Table 31: Personal Enhancement
Curse. Those who use the Coin to help others are unaffected by any curse, but help must be given without expectation of any reward or gain. Those who use the Coin to gain palaces, treasures, and power are stricken with unquenchable hunger that grows in proportion to their greed. Eventually the character must spend every waking hour devouring barrels of tea and coffee, bushels of grain, and whole oxen. To be rid of the curse, the Coin must be given to a stranger. Methods of destruction.
The coin must be crushed under the heel of a tanar’ri lord in a land stricken by famine.
A thief who truly desires nothing must bite the coin in half.
The coin must be dissolved in the waters of the river Styx (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

Seal of Jafar al-Samal: The Seal is a 3-foot-tall golden jar containing four gen that correspond to the four elements. The vessel is sealed with lead and inscribed with a silver talisman bearing Jafar’s name. This item is found only in Zakhara.
Jafar the Incomparable, first sha’ir, made the Seal in a distant age, when the four genie lords grew jealous of his power and sent an army to harass the people of Zakhara. While the Seal was in his hands, the genies obeyed all men perforce, much as the dao now serve all yak-men, and Zakhara enjoyed a golden age. After his death, Jafar’s foolish students quarrelled over the Seal. While they squabbled, their own gen united against them, stole the jar, and it has remained hidden ever since.
The Seal has been hidden by the genies and is almost impossible to find—it is protected by guardian and slayer genies somewhere on the rim of the world. The PCs should find the Seal only if the DM wants them to have unprecedented power over the four genie lords (to make them cooperate, for instance). And they should not be allowed to keep it, but destroying the Seal has terrible consequences as well. All sha’irs will become the enemy of the owner, as they covet the Seal and fear any other who has its power.
As soon as any of its powers are invoked, all genies are aware that it has a new owner, though they do not know where it is. Characters should soon have their hands full just trying to hang onto the Seal. Therefore, once the need for the Seal has passed, it is best removed from the campaign. The easiest method to accomplish this is to allow the genies to recover the Seal. If the characters covet it, the task of getting the Seal away from them becomes an adventure in itself. And when the genies regain the Seal, it will be hidden far from mortal eyes.
Constant. The Seal’s owner gains the abilities of a sha’ir at a level equal to his own in any other class, and sha’ir gain an additional four levels.
The Seal functions as a protection from genies scroll; no genie can ever destroy the Seal or harm the owner of the Seal.
Invoked. The owner can demand three services (not wishes) of a number of genies not to exceed the owner’s Wisdom score.
Random. The Seal has one power each from Tables 17-20: Elemental Air, Earth, Fire, and Water.
Curse. Whenever the owner demands a service from a genie, he must roll a successful Charisma check or the genie is unmoved. Furthermore, successfully commanded genies loathe their masters, and although they cannot harm them, they will work indirectly against the mortal. Misfortune and woe follow the owner of the Seal—strange accidents and coincidences caused by vengeful genies. Methods of destruction include
The Seal must be carried by a tortoise to every shrine in Zakhara and blessed by a Moralist priest at each one.
The Seal must be cleansed with the breath of a soul, softened in the water of life, heated with a spark of the sun, and opened with a mountain’s heart.
The Seal must be placed on the brow of the Forgotten God. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

The Phylactery of Hasan: This small leather box contains the writings of Hasan, the founder of the Everlasting. It is a religious relic and offers some protection against illusions. (Assassin Mountain)

The Heart of the Lion:

The holy relic known as the Heart of the Lion lies
on the altar. It is a bright red carnelian said to have
been torn from the body of the Lion of Suja by the
bare hands of the founder of the Everlasting. Fading
flowers and vials of aromatic oils are often left here as
offerings in his memory.
The stone itself is huge, fully a foot across and
surely priceless. Flaws and inclusions give the interior a
darkened look in spots, but the whole still shines. It
shows strong necromantic magic if detect magic is used
on it because Akim al-Kalaas has cast a lifeproof spell,
using this gem as the receptacle. Usually, Akim counts
on the reverence the holy slayers have for the gem to
keep it safe, but the PCs are an unknown quantity.
Consequently, he has warded it well, assigning his
personal genie servant to watch over it night and day.
This dao defends the gem from destruction by striking
first at anyone who attempts to destroy the gem, and
he attempts to kill anyone who lifts it from its resting
place. The dao is currently lurking out of sight
invisibly, but he never shows his true form while in the
stronghold, to avoid implicating Akim al-Kalaas in his
sentry work. To further prevent others from associating
him with Akim and the Unclean, he has taken the
form of a black panther. However, he has no flesh or
blood in this form, only claws of steel, a body of black
basalt, and eyes that sparkle like black opals.
Three smaller fragments of the stone are also on the
altar; these radiate a weaker necromantic aura. Each of
these fragments is capable of casting the following.
spells once per day in the hands of a devout worshiper
of Hajama: bless, cloak of bravery, cure disease, dispel evil,
and heal. Together, these spells can cure the plague
caused by the arrows of the marrash. (Assassin Mountain)

Local Lore

The Maiden of Beauty: This is the story of why the world is as it is, the story of Fate and the gods and the genies. It was in this fashion that the tale was told to me, so it is in the same fashion that I shall tell it to you now.

In the time before the Land of Fate became known as the Land of Fate, the world was young and very different. The great beings whom we call the gods sailed their mighty ships over the endless sea as freely as our corsairs and merchants do today. The great tribes of geniekind made their tents in the endless desert even more widely than the nomads do now. The world belonged to the gods and the genies, but they knew not how to share it. They were as fire and water, battling without end.
Mortals – and by mortals I mean men and women, children and elders, humans and other intelligent races-were caught in this violent clashing of powers. They did not hold sway in the land as they do today. Rather, the mortals were pathetic creatures trapped between the warring gods and genies, confined to a narrow sliver of coast between the desert and the ocean. The ocean storms of the furious gods shattered the mortals’ boats, while the desert winds of the wrathful genies scattered and destroyed their herds. The mortals were miserable, but they knew no other life, and who were they to question their fortune?
Then one day among the mortal tribes there was born a girl of exceeding beauty. Her first smile was like the moon breaking free of clouds, and her first laugh was more melodious than the call of a songbird. All who saw this girl loved her deeply. When she grew older and became a maiden of marriageable age, so widespread was the word of her beauty that at last fell it upon the ears of the gods.
At first, not even such news could capture the interest of the quarrelsome deities. But soon three great gods (who were
perhaps wiser than the rest) spied this maiden from afar. Those gods were Old Kor and Brave Hajama and Adventurous Najm. Each was immediately mesmerized by the maiden’s beauty, and each immediately decided that she must devote herself to him alone-to become a follower or an acolyte, a companion or a consort, to become as much a prisoner to him as he had become a prisoner to her beauty.
And so the three gods sailed their great boats to the docks of the city where the maiden dwelled. There, each in turn demanded of the mortals that she be brought forth and given over to him as a bride is given to a husband. Old Kor said, One of such beauty must be taught wisdom to use her traits. As the eldest and therefore wisest god, I am the most suitable match for the maiden. Give her to me, else your people will become old and blow away on the ocean breeze. Brave Hajama said, One of such beauty must be protected from other jealous suitors. I am the most valiant of my brethren, and therefore the most suitable match for the maiden. Give her to me, else your people will be conquered by others, and scattered throughout the burning world. Adventurous Najm said, One of such beauty must be cloaked in rich attire and laden with great treasures. As the most industrious of my brothers, I am best able to meet her needs and therefore the most suitable match for the maiden. Give her to me, else your people will become craven, and never amount to anything.
And so the gods began to quarrel among themselves very loudly, such that the sky became dark and bolts of lightning crashed against the ground. Their quarrel captured the attention of the genie tribes of the desert.
Now, it is true that the cold elemental gods of the genies care nothing for mortal beauty, but the genies themselves know the pleasures of the senses and of the flesh, and they appreciate them as much as mortals do. They came to learn the cause of the gods’ argument. Upon seeing the maiden, they too were smitten by her beauty. Such radiance! cried the Great Caliph of the Djinn. We must bring her great treasures to rival those of the gods! Then she will choose me as her consort. Such sweetness! cried the Grand Khan of the Dao, We must steal her away from these others! Then she will choose me as her consort! Such light! cried the Most Respected Sultan of the Efreet. We must gather the other genies in an army, and drive the gods away. Then she will choose me as her consort! Such magnificence! cried the Imperial Padishah of the Marids. We must threaten these humans with all manner of plagues and disasters, so that they turn her over to us. Then she will choose me as her consort!
And with that the genies began to quarrel among themselves, like the gods. Then the skies fully opened and let fall the rain, and the ground erupted with great gouts of fire. The people of the city feared for their lives, but they were too frightened to give the maiden to any one god or any one genie, lest they offend all the others.

The maiden herself, afraid for her people, fled from the city into the jungles of the south. She hoped that she would starve there, but such was her beauty that animals brought her food. She hoped that some great beast would devour her, but such was her beauty that no creature would harm her. She hoped that she could find a cliff high enough from which to throw herself, but such was her beauty that the ground smoothed and softened itself beneath her. And so at last she fell to the ground and despaired.
Now Fate, that heavenly force who was like a goddess, yet not a goddess, was also in the jungle. She kept herself apart from the gods and the genies, and she knew nothing of their petty arguments. Fate came upon the melancholy maiden, and like her powerful brethren, Fate was smitten with the maiden’s beauty. She too desired the maiden’s devotion, and wished to capture the maiden’s heart and win her companionship. But unlike her brethren, Fate did not want to possess the maiden as a trophy, nor did Fate entertain even a glimmer of lascivious thought. And Fate said to herself, It is the willing hand which best crafts, and the willing heart which is most easily led. Perhaps if I discern her problem and aid her, she will find me worthy of her devotion.
And so it was that Fate asked the maiden about the cause of her sorrows. The maiden told Fate her troubles in the same manner as I have described them. Fate became angry, for the gods and genies had behaved horridly. Fate wished to teach them a lesson. She hatched a plan and told it to the maiden, and the maiden smiled a smile like the moon breaking through the clouds, and agreed.
They set to work changing the maiden’s features through skill and craft. Fate wove the maiden’s hair with hanging moss, making it appear grey and stringy, and then she gave her a long beard of the same material. Fate rubbed mud across the maiden’s face. The mud cracked upon drying, making her appear haggard and old. Then Fate cloaked the maiden’s womanly form in voluminous robes, which were constructed to make her appear mannish and hunched. Thus the maiden, now disguised as an old man, returned to the city. Fate lingered behind her, several steps away, becoming one with the shadows. The gods and genies were still arguing in the central court. The buildings quaked. The ground shook. And the heavens roared. The people of the city were sorely afraid. Some had even fled by this time, traveling as far as they could. It was from these craven people that the barbarians of the north and east arose (for this is the heart of the world). The brave people who stayed trusting in Fate who is all-knowing-became our native peoples. But that is another story.
The old man who was neither old nor a man strode up to the combatants in the city square. The stooped and ugly figure then tapped a stout staff against the shoulder of the largest god, Hajama. Why are you arguing so? rasped the old man.
Ah, respected elder replied the god, who was amazed by the old man’s audacity and assumed him to be wise and powerful. I have the right to take the beautiful maiden as my own, which these others deny me. That is why we argue. No, said the Great Caliph of the Djinn, I have the right to take the beautiful maiden as my own, which others deny
me. That is why we argue. And so they began to squabble again, until the old man who was really a maiden struck the ground thrice with his staff. Fate, of course, was with the maiden, and the force of the blow knocked all the gods and genies from their feet.
I am old and wise, said the old man. I have no need for young maidens. Show this girl to me and I will decide who among you is the best match. And the gods and genies agreed, though each of them made great threats as to what would happen to the mortals if he alone was not chosen. Then the gods and genies set out to look for the maiden as the old man had asked, and found she was gone from the city.
How can I decide who is to have her, when she is not to be had? said the old man.
And the gods and genies ran about the city, looking into every apartment, every court, and every quarter, seeking some trace of the maiden. They found nothing, for Fate was with the maiden, and none could penetrate her disguise.
Then the gods and genies ran three times around the world, scouring the mountain highlands and the ocean depths to discover the object of their desires. But they found no trace, for Fate was with the maiden, and none could penetrate her
Finally, the gods and genies returned to the courtyard of the city, where a great lamentation went up, for they had failed to discover maiden. They cried and rent their garments, and they cast themselves upon the ground in despair. Then the old man spoke.
I will do you a service, he said. I will wait here until the maiden returns, for she is a shy and timid creature, and will certainly reappear soon after you leave. Then I will make a decision, and all will abide by it. Until that time, you must move your homes far from the city and the lands of the mortal people, so that she might be impressed with your kindness and understanding.
The gods grumbled and the genies whined, but in the end they agreed with the old man, for until the maiden appeared, there was no point in remaining among the mortals (who seemed quite ugly and tedious compared to the maiden). So they prepared to leave, the gods boarding their ships to return to the sea and the genies mounting their great camels to return to the desert.
Before the gods left, however, Kor the Wise turned to the old man and said, We will go, but first we will choose among your people those who are worthy to act in our stead, those who can show that we are worthy of the maiden. The old man replied, We have no Fate but the Fate which is given us, and shrugged his shoulders.
Each god then picked ten men and ten women to be his first servants, and so it was that the first Clerics of the Faith came into being. And then the gods mounted their great ships and sailed far away from the lands of the mortals. Before the genies left, the Great Caliph of the Djinn said, We will go, but only far enough away to avoid offending the maiden’s people. We will send our servants and warriors to aid you, to show that we are worthy of the maiden. The old man replied, We have no Fate but the Fate which is given us, and shrugged his shoulders.
And so the genies rode into the desert on their great white camels, but to this day they come regularly to the mortals’
land as servants and warriors.
At last only the old man remained in the court. Fate stepped from the shadows and removed the false face and hair from the maiden, who said, Surely the gods and genies will be angry once they realize they have been deceived. Will they not return to punish us with their righteous wrath?
You have wisdom in true proportion to your beauty, replied Fate, Yet for them to return and attack, they must first admit that they were deceived by a maiden, and no god would wish to appear so foolish in front of the genies, and no genie would wish to appear so foolish in front of the gods.
Before you is a most difficult task, for should you choose genie or mortal or god, the others will know, and they will return to make good their great threats and dire warnings. You must never make that choice. We have no Fate but the Fate which is given us, said the maiden, and she nodded.
Fate remained with the maiden for some time. The maiden gained much in wisdom, learning how to deal with gods and genies and how to guide mortals to the correct path, the path to which they are destined. Even after Fate left the maiden’s side, Fate remained with her. With Fate’s guidance, as the maiden she inspired great crafts and beautiful art and mighty spells. In the guise of the old man, she inspired careful thought and hard work and learning.
Still, her words and her acts touched only a few of the many mortals of Zakhara. Fate instructed the maiden to record the wisdom she had gained. This she did. So it was that one day, long thereafter, the boy who would be the First Caliph discovered the maiden’s scrolls and spread the word of the Loregiver throughout the land, which became known as the Land of Fate.
If the gods and genies have ever found out Fate’s trick, they have said nothing (and no mortal has inquired, for only a fool would broach the subject and risk their wrath). The maiden-who came to be called the Beautiful One, the Old One, and the Loregiver-has yet to make her decision. Even to this day, she remains at the side of Fate. She has been greatly tested by mortals, gods, and genies. But that is another set of tales, for another evening.

The Boy and the Genies: This is the story of why the world is as it is, the story of the genies and how they caused the seasons to be, and why the genies serve the sha’irs. It was in this fashion that the tale was told to me, so it is in the same fashion that I shall tell it to you now.
Once, there was a boy whose parents died when he was quite young. The orphan had only one relative: an uncle whom he had never seen and who lived very far away. When word of his brother’s death reached him, the uncle came to care for his nephew and to run the family business until the boy reached his majority.
Now, the family business was very productive, trading in rich velvets, fresh spices, and camels. It required very little time and energy, yet it brought great wealth. The uncle was fat and lazy. As his nephew grew older, the uncle came to loathe the idea that one day he would be forced to relinquish the business and its rewards. So the uncle schemed to have the youth slain. His own hands, the uncle knew, had to remain clean, so he devised a plan ensuring that the blame would not fall upon him.
The uncle hired a bandit who was reputedly very skilled in his craft. The bandit kidnapped the youth and took him into the desert, where the scoundrel abandoned him without food or water. When word of the boy’s disappearance reached the uncle, he feigned despair. The corpulent man cried and rent his fine garments, proclaiming, I have lost one who is like my own son! But in his secret heart he was glad.

A boy from the city who is abandoned in the wastes of the desert will soon weaken and die – indeed, that was the uncle’s intention. But Fortune smiled upon the youth, and Fate was with him (for we have no Fate but the Fate which is given us). The boy wandered, looking for shelter from the sun. Soon he found an outcropping of rocks. He crawled into the shade of the outcropping and saw that the shade concealed a narrow crevice, too small for a normal man, but large enough for a boy such as he to pass through. The sound of running water issued from the crevice, beckoning like a gentle song, and the boy followed it into the darkness.
The crevice soon widened. A light appeared ahead. The youth made for the light, then tripped over an obstacle in the shadows at his feet. Exploring with his hands, he touched the skeleton of an elven warrior. The ancient warrior held a great straight sword which glinted faintly, reflecting the light from ahead. The youth took the weapon and pressed on.
The crevice quickly became broader and the youth entered a cavern. The light emanated from the ceiling, which was ringed with luminous moss and mushrooms. A stream ran across the entire length of the cavern, collecting in a great pool at the centre.
On the far side of the pool slumbered a great ghul. She had her true form, which was hideous. Her head was resting on an enormous ruby, larger in girth than the boy’s own body. The youth was sorely afraid. Yet his thirst was stronger than his fear, so he decided to drink quietly from the pool before taking his leave. As he knelt beside the water, the ghul awakened. Leaping over the pool, she seized the startled youth with her clawed hands. The boy dangled in the ghul’s grasp. He fixed his gaze upon a deep scar that marked her cheek, just beneath a milky right eye.
Another robber, hissed the ghul with her foul breath. One came this way before. He sought to steal the great ruby of Yalsur, which I have hidden from the genie lords. He found he could not leave with it. I found he could not leave at all. Now you, too, will die, and I will feast on your marrow! With that, the ghul carried the boy back to her side of the pool, where, in addition to the great gem, there lay a cauldron, a chopping block, and a great cleaver.
The youth still held the dead warrior’s sword, and Fate was with him. As the ghul loosened her grasp, he swung the blade and, cut her squarely in the left eye. The great ghul screamed and dropped her quarry, who at once scrambled over to the great gem and seized it in both arms. Then he leapt across the pool and charged with all his might for the crevice from whence he had come.
The ghul screamed and followed. The boy soon found why the elven warrior could not escape. Just beyond the cavern, the crevice became too narrow for the gem. Half a loaf is better than starving, said the youth to himself. He swung his shining sword at the ruby. It broke into two perfectly cut stones, each half as large as the gem had been before. One part he rolled toward the blinded ghul. The other, he gathered in his arms, and he fled. The ghul found the broken gem and began to scream, and she screams to this day. When deep underground, one can hear her screams issuing forth like a keening wind in the darkness.
The youth reached the outcropping of rocks at the surface just as the sun was setting over the desert. Feeling chill, and fearing that the ghul might somehow follow him to the surface, he set out into the desert once more, traveling by the thin light of the waning moon.
After he had travelled a few miles, the youth saw in the distance a new light. It was bright, and at first he thought it a city, yet it moved closer to him as he watched. The youth came to realize that he was witnessing a procession of the genie-kind. Jann held aloft brass torches to light the way. Djinn and efreet outriders protected the flanks of the procession, while marids led the way and dao guarded the rear.
The youth then saw that this was no mere collection of genies; it was the procession of the great genie lords, who had returned to this land to see if the most beautiful maiden of the mortals had decided who among them would be her suitor. The Great Caliph of the Djinn was mounted on a camel of shining white, dripping with gems. The Most Respected Sultan of the Efreet rode in a great iron wain, pulled by a hundred of his lesser servants. The Grand Khan of the Dao rode a clattering elephant of darkest ebony. The Imperial Padishah of the Marids walked on foot-his people spread orange blossoms before him and gathered them up after he passed, not missing a single petal.
The youth thought to avoid the procession, but there was no avoiding it, no place to hide. And so it was that he flung himself prostrate and face down on the ground, arms outstretched, the great gem on one side, the miraculous sword on the other.
The procession came to him and stopped. As the jann prepared an encampment, the youth was brought to the genie lords.
Who are you, lad, wandering in the desert at this late hour? asked the Great Caliph and the Djinn. How is it you are blocking our path? added the Most Respected Sultan of the Efreet. Where did you find that intriguing sword, which shines in the moonlight like a living thing? added the Imperial Padishah of the Marids. And where did you find that wondrous gem, so much like one we ourselves once had? finished the Grand Khan of the Dao.

The youth related his story to the genie lords, telling them of his kidnapping, how he had wandered across the parched desert in searing heat, how he found the crevice and the sparkling pool, and how he fought the great ghul. He did not, however, mention that he had split the gem to escape, because the Khan of the Dao had expressed such an interest in it, and he had claimed it was once a thing of the genies.
When the boy finished his story, the Great Caliph of the Djinn said, Fate walks with you in your life. Fate is most kind, added the Most Respected Sultan of the Efreet. You have no Fate but the Fate which you are given, added the Imperial Padishah of the Marids. Yet this gem you have looks much like one we ourselves once had, finished the Grand Khan of the Dao, and with that he summoned the Rawun of the Jann to recount the tale of the gem of Yalsur.
The storyteller came forward and told his tale, and the youth learned (as all learn) that the genie lords were a quarrelsome group when they were young, and they fought over most things. Most of all they fought over a great gem, larger than the boy himself, which was the ruby of Yalsur. While the genie lords argued, a bandit stole into their tents and made off with the great gem. The genies despaired of the loss, but they soon realized they had no Fate but the Fate they were given, and were soon content again, though they always hoped that one day the gem would be returned.
After the rawun’s tale was complete, the Grand Khan of the Dao once more addressed the boy. The ruby that was taken from us resembled the great jewel you now keep at your side. And if it is that same ruby, we ask for its return, said the
Most Respected Sultan of the Efreet. With sweetness and goodness in your heart, said the Great Caliph of the Djinn. The Imperial Padishah of the Marids looked at the gem, his forehead furrowed, but he said nothing.
With sweetness and goodness, said the youth, and offered the gem to the genie lords. I believe it is your gem, and theft from a thief is no virtue unless it aids Fate. Let me offer it to you, in exchange for returning to my home.
Now the Imperial Padishah of the Marids did speak. I may be wrong, but was not the blood-red gem of Yalsur once larger than it now appears? The other genie lords thought for a moment and nodded. Yes, it was larger, they said.
The youth replied, Ah, like most things of our world, surely it has been reduced by being apart from the true majesty of yourselves and your peoples.
The jann in the camp scoffed silently at the idea. And the ordinary dao and djinn had to stiffen their faces to keep from laughing. But the genie lords nodded sagely at the suggestion, each not wishing to appear to the others as if the boy’s statement was not true, each not wishing to offend his fellow lords.
Your gift is appreciated, said the Great Caliph of the Djinn, but before it is accepted, we must decide who will hold the gem. Otherwise, we will fall to arguing, and another thief may take the ruby. I venture to say that I would keep it best, behind a wall of wind. I would keep it cloaked in fire, replied the efreeti sultan. I would keep it deep beneath the sea, said the marid padishah. I would keep it secure in the bosom of the earth, added the dao khan.
It seemed that the genie lords would once more begin to argue. The jann retreated, and the humble dao and djinn and efreet and marids in the procession were afraid.
Then the youth said wisely, Could not each of you keep the ruby for three great moons apiece, and give it to another thereafter? The genie lords looked at the youth and looked at each other. Not wishing to appear foolish, each nodded in agreement.
The marid padishah should take it for the next three great moons, declared the djinni caliph. And the djinn caliph the following three, replied the efreeti sultan. And the efreeti sultan the three following that, said the dao khan. And the dao khan the final three, finished the marid padishah.
And so they agreed. This is why the winter months are now the wettest, why the spring months bear the sweetest breezes, why the summer months bring the hottest days, and why the autumn months are the best time to reap the earth’s bounty. Such things were neither here nor there for the youth, however, who desired nothing more than to return home and to be away from the powerful but capricious lords of the genies.
The lords hailed the youth’s wisdom and set forth a great feast, offering him riches and treasure in exchange for the ruby and his sagacious advice. But the youth politely and humbly refused all, hoping not to offend his hosts, for he had heard tales of genie-made gold that faded in the sun. The genie lords became more insistent, suggesting that the youth take something of theirs in trade, but each suggestion brought another polite refusal. As the night waned, the genie lords began to see their offers as a kind of game. They consumed great amounts of wine and were at last quite drunk.
Finally the youth made his wishes clear: All I desire is to return to my home, to find who is responsible for my kidnapping, and to be as happy as Fate allows a man to be in the fullness of time. The genie lords rejoiced. Each in turn pledged his fealty to help the boy, to his descendants, and to his followers, to whom he would teach great things. And the genie lords then showed him how to call upon the jann, summon the djinn, and bind the dao to his will. They taught him how to visit the tents of the genies and not be harmed. And so the youth became the first of the sha’irs the summoners of genies and his followers remain to this day. If the genies regretted their promise, they have made no sign, for they have lived by their words from that day to this.
As a sign of their great favour, the genie lords appointed four female genies to forever aid the boy-a djinni, a marid, a dao, and an efreeti. They were of exceptional beauty and power. The boy (who was now barely a young man) wished to make them his wives, and as the genies respected his wisdom and wished truly to serve him, this was done. Then the rest of the genies packed up the camp, and left into the west, disappearing below the horizon just as the first rays of dawn appeared in the east.
Do you have a command? asked the djinni of her husband, her flesh as pale as bone. I wish to return home, said the youth. Hearing and obeying, with sweetness and goodness, the djinni replied, and she summoned a whirlwind, which carried the youth and his four wives unerringly back to his city, landing him in the courtyard of his own home. The servants in the court saw the youth and were glad, but they also saw the unearthly beauty of his genies and were afraid. But none was so afraid as the uncle, who saw the youth from his counting house and made to escape, packing as much treasure as one man could carry.
Do you have a command?,’ asked the dao, her flesh as grey and dusky as polished granite. I wish to find the man who kidnapped me and left me in the desert to die, said the youth. Hearing and obeying, with sweetness and goodness, the dao replied. She went into the city and returned with the thief, who struggled in her powerful arms. When the bandit saw the boy, he threw himself upon the ground, begging for mercy and kindness. He confessed fully to his crime and agreed to place himself in the hands of the city guards. Greed, he explained, had driven him, for he had been offered much gold in exchange for abandoning the boy in the desert. The bandit declared that he would surrender all his riches to the poor if only the boy would spare his life. The youth demanded to know who had paid for such an awful deed, for he could not imagine any enemies. The bandit replied truthfully. The youth, who had loved his uncle, did not at first believe what he had heard. But when he called for his uncle, the boy discovered that the culprit had fled, using part of his ill-gotten treasure to hire a boat and sail from the city. So the uncle had implicated himself in his crime. Saddened, the youth instructed the bandit to begin leading life in an honourable manner. And the bandit did so, abandoning his former life and eventually becoming a virtuous mystic who would go on to lead others by his example.
Do you have a command?,, asked the marid, her turquoise flesh as shining as the sea. I wish my uncle to be brought to me, said the youth. Hearing and obeying, with sweetness and goodness, the marid responded, and she sought out the ship, altering its course and returning it to the city against the wishes of its captain. When the uncle saw what was happening, he jumped overboard. The marid grabbed him by his robes and dragged him, soaking wet, to his nephew. The youth asked his uncle to explain himself. The uncle, black-hearted wretch that he was, cursed the boy and admitted proudly to everything, for he saw his life was forfeit for his obvious crimes. The uncle also ridiculed the youth for his new-found power among the genies. I say to you, said the uncle, that the power you wield will turn against you as surely as your wealth turned against me. I was so afraid of losing what I had gained from you that I shut myself up in my counting house, fearful of losing a drachma. So too you will be walled up, afraid to give others your powers. The genie lords have made a fool of you! And he spat at the youths feet.
Do you have a command? asked the efreeti, her skin as dark as coal. Punish this man according to his crimes, said the youth. Then send out word to the cities that those who wish to learn the craft of genie-work may come to me. Hearing and obeying, with sweetness and goodness, the efreeti responded. She drew a great black blade and cut the uncle’s head from his shoulders, then his arms and legs from his body, and she blew the pieces into the desert, where no one has ever found them. She and her three cousins sent word throughout the city that those who wished to learn the craft of genie-work should come to the house of the youth, where he would teach those who were able to understand.
So it has remained from that day to this, that the seasons pass in their richness, each with their own nature, and the sha’irs can summon the genies and work magic through them. If the genie lords ever noted that the ruby of Yalsur had been sliced in twain (and they might have, for they are not fools), they have said nothing. Its mated half has never been found.
Of the youth, it is said that he attained his maturity and became an honoured vizier of his ruler. With his four elemental wives, he came to aid the genie lords on another occasion. But that is another tale for another evening. . . .
The City of Peace: This is the story of why the world is as it is, the story of the Haunted Lands and the dangers of getting what one desires. It was in this fashion that the tale was told to me, so it is in the same fashion that I shall tell it to you now.
This story comes from long ago-not in the memory of an elven grandfather, but perhaps in the memory of an elven grandfather’s grandfather – when the area now called the Haunted Lands was a rich and verdant plain, crossed by rivers which swelled with the rains in winter and with the mountains’ melting snow in the spring, and which were otherwise fed by small streams and springs. Trading cities and animal-herding tribes arose in these lands, and as they grew more powerful, they grew prouder, and soon they began to war against each other unceasingly. One city would contest another. One tribe would battle its own kin. Tribe and city would fight, and clans within each tribe and city would fight, and so it proceeded until even between brothers there was great contention.
Now, the sultan of one of the cities could see that discord was strong in his land, and he wished for nothing more than peace, because peace helped keep the stalls full and the fields rich and the flocks healthy. The sultan consulted his most ancient vizier for advice. The vizier was very wise. He had once been a simple barber in the market, but his wisdom had brought him great wealth and power. The sultan asked the vizier how peace might be found.
The vizier said to him, Such a question is not a simple one. I must consider it well, and confer with others who are
After a time, the vizier returned with an answer. I have talked to my comrades, both magical and mundane, he said to the sultan. And I have come to understand that among the riders of the grey grass there exists a mystic who is capable of bringing what you seek. The mystic can show you the way to the City of Peace. I have heard that others do not seek it, for they do not wish to pay the price. I know not the price, and in any event I am old. Seek out the riders of the grey grass, and they may tell you what you need to know.
The sultan set out from his city with a dozen camels that were loaded with goods and riches. He sought out the oasis of the grey grass where the riders were said to encamp. The sultan’s own scouts rode ahead to announce his coming, and to seek out the proper directions.
When the sultan arrived at the oasis, he found that his enemies from the other cities, who did not desire peace, had arrived first. The tents were burned, the livestock scattered, and the waters of the pool were fouled and useless. Bodies of many riders lay scattered on the ground. The sultan was sick at heart, and he swore upon Fate and the gods that those responsible would die by his hand ere he himself lay down to die. He offered solace and treasure to the survivors, though they were more interested in the food and common goods the camels had also brought.
The sultan discovered that the mystic who knew of the City of Peace was slain in the raid. The sultan staggered as if stricken, but a small voice from the group spoke up. I know where the City of Peace is, said the voice. The sultan looked up and saw a small child no more than seven years of age, yet in the child’s eyes were the depth and understanding of a mystic. And the child said that he would lead the sultan to the city, but would not enter it, if the sultan would give away all things except a single camel and follow him.
The sultan did as the boy asked. They journeyed for two weeks and then some. At last, they came to a great dune rising from the desert floor. The city you seek is on the far side of the dune. said the child. Are you sure this is what you seek? I seek to end the conflict among our peoples. I seek to punish those responsible for slaying your tribesman. I am sure.
Then I will leave you here to Fate, said the child, and he led the camel back into the desert. The boy called back to the Sultan, Remember this: I will wait for you at the gates of your own city. And he was gone.
The sultan climbed the dune. Behind its great mass was a verdant valley, filled with sweet grass and great trees that were heavy with fruit. At the centre of the valley lay a city. And at the heart of the city was a great palace which bore an uncountable number of silver domes and a great mosque with an uncountable number of silver minarets. The sultan scrambled down the face of the dune.
The sultan was met at the gate to the city by two mamluks, who barred his path. What do you seek, wanderer? said one. I seek a way to bring peace to my warring peoples, and I wish to gain vengeance against those who have hurt others. The mamluks looked at each other, then nodded and said, Go straight to the fountain at the palace.

And so sultan went to the palace and found a great fountain in the central court. At the edge of the fountain sat a beautiful woman, glancing at the water. Her eyes were luminous, and her hair was black. The sultan was so enthralled that all thoughts of his homeland suddenly fled from him.
Greetings, noble wanderer, she said, a gentle smile upon her lips. How may I aid thee? You may consent to sit with me by the fountain, he replied, and dine and dally with me for a short time. The woman laughed with a laugh that was like the tinkling of bells. She clapped her hands and twice-twenty servants appeared, each of them brawny and bare to the waist. Some carried sumptuous cushions and great urns of fine wine, which they laid before the pair. Others brought all manner of foods, both common and rare.
When the pair had finished their refreshment, the woman said to the sultan, And how may I aid thee now? The sultan recalled his true purpose in seeking out the city. I wish to end the wars between city and city, between tribe and tribe, and between city and tribe. I wish to find peace for my people and the peoples that they know.
The woman laughed with a laugh that was like the tinkling of bells. She clapped her hands and a scribe dressed in velvet entered the court. He carried a great scroll and waved a quill that was made from the feather of a peacock. The sultan listed for the scribe all the names of the tribes and cities that he knew, which were many in those days, and when he had finished, the names filled the entire scroll. The scribe then bowed low and departed.
The woman and the sultan returned to their leisure. Another sumptuous meal was laid before them, and when the pair was again satisfied, the woman said, For the third and last time, how may I aid thee?
I seek vengeance against those who hurt my people and against those who struck the riders of the grey grass. I wish for those who are responsible to be punished until they draw not a breath more.
This time, the woman did not laugh. She rose solemnly. It is as you wish, she said softly, and then she departed. The doors through which she left the court closed behind her of their own accord. The sultan was stunned. He raced down the halls and through the adjacent courtyards, but could not find the woman. Nor could he find the servants, the mamluks, or any other living creature. The sultan was alone.
A wind arose. Sand and dust began to blow through the halls and courtyards, intensifying until the sultan could not see his hand before his face. Clutching his robe tightly to his face, he sought shelter from the wind, but there was none to
be found.
The sultan had no idea how long he strode against the storm, but at last its intensity faded, and the sky cleared with the sunset. He found that the city was gone, and all around him was nothing but the arid wasteland. The stars remained, and he used them to find his way west, toward his own lands. He did not know how long he had travelled, but at last he came to a ruined city, its minarets snapped and its wall crumbling in a dozen places. At first he thought it was the City of Peace, and he despaired. Then he realized that it was his own city, and his despair darkened into the deepest night.
At the gates of the city, now wrecked and hanging open, the sultan discovered an old man. The man’s flesh was little more than tatters on his bones, and his eyes were deeply sunken. The old man looked at the sultan and spoke. I told you I would meet you here, he rasped. The sultan realized with a shock that this was the child mystic who had led him to the City of Peace-only a single day before.
The old man regarded the sultan and nodded. You have gained the City of Peace and courted Fate,,, said he. And Fate has granted your wishes. You wished to find pleasure with Fate and that occurred. You wished for the tribes and cities to stop warring, and Fate scattered them far across the world so that they not meet each other again until such a time that none could remember their strife. You wished for all those responsible for this hurt to die. And are we not all responsible for our actions, regardless of Fate? So all-those who offended you and your people have perished, to the last one. You think that only a day has passed, yet you have been gone more than two hundred years. I have waited here, for Fate has been with me, and that is how I know the tale. . . .
And with that the old man perished. The sultan sat by the dead man for a day, then two, then five, but no one else came to him, nor did anyone trouble the ruined city. Then the sultan returned to the desert, hoping to find the City of Peace. He was not seen again in the lands of the living. So it has remained, from then until now, that the Haunted Lands remain empty, save for the ruins of great mosques and cities which once thrived there. And so it is that legend reaches your ears of other lands, far removed, where men and women who seem similar to us walk among the unenlightened, and even become mighty in their own petty empires. But that is another tale for another evening.

The Voice of History: Excerpted from a sermon by Abba min Hiyal, kahin to the forces of Truth, as he addressed the people of the distant land of Halruua and told them of the Land of Fate.
I understand. I understand. I have been enlightened and I understand.
I have been asked by your spellcasters to tell of my lands, but when I begin to speak of the wonders of Fate and the magic of genies and the wars of gods, the supposedly wise men interrupt and say, Please, noble lord, tell us the facts, not just a story. What are the facts but a story which happens to be true? Yet I will pare down all that I know, to aid you in understanding. It is like boiling the flesh off a duck for soup; eventually one reaches the bare bones, but it is not a pleasant experience for the duck.
Man has always lived in the burning world of Zakhara, most noble of lands, as far as we know. The great empires of the past litter the land with their fallen towers, their buried tombs, and their monuments to forgotten gods. Who they were we cannot say, only that they once occupied great river empires. We call those empires Nog and Kadar. They embraced their river, and then, like freshwater fish who could neither leave the water nor pass into the sea, they died. Or perhaps something else happened. We know only that they are gone.
Also long ago, there existed the Loregiver. Our rawuns and sages say that the Loregiver was a maiden who, guided by Fate, chose not to make a choice, and in doing so, she gained great wisdom. She collected that wisdom as law and spread it to the desert peoples, and she wrote it down and hid it away for the time when men and women were ready to receive enlightenment.
Or perhaps not. I cannot prove any of it, just as I cannot prove the first sha’ir was married to four genies. Yet today we see the sha’irs calling upon the genies and commanding them, we can see the ruins of Nog and Kadar, and the Law of the Loregiver influences the lives of all enlightened people.
Other old empires came and went. Small cities became large and then were abandoned. Wars were fought. People died in them, or they did not and died later. Tribes and cities disappeared, for they displeased the gods. Graven images were worshipped and abandoned. At last, the time came for enlightenment.
So a young boy of a desert tribe found the writings of the Loregiver. Guided by the hand of Fate, he found the scroll that contained the Law and spread the word. The people saw the wisdom of the youth’s words and flocked to his banner. The great emirs and pashas and khans bent down on one knee to receive the boy’s wisdom. Zakhara became the Land of Fate. The youth became the first of the Grand Caliphs, the First Caliph. He made Huzuz his home, for it was there he had received the vision which eventually led him to the scroll, and it was there he had first begun to spread the word, and it was there, the sages say, that the Loregiver herself had lived.
So it was that the word of the Loregiver spread from one great sea to another, from the Free Cities that look toward your own shores to distant Afyal, the Isle of the Elephant, and all those enlightened by the word came to be ruled by a single Grand Caliph. They were unified in their language, knowledge, and understanding, and so it remains today. Can any of your petty empires claim such wonders?
That is my tale. It is not as lively as some I have told, nor as romantic, nor even as interesting. It is merely, as you have requested, a statement of one fact upon another. And if this is your way of thinking in the Northern territories, I have greater pity for you than I had before. Your thoughts are like one foot placed before another, a relentless repetition of fact upon fact. You may get where you are going, but how can you ever dance?
The Dragon and the Genies: This is a tale of the great, lizard-like dragons that haunt the northern climes, and why they are seldom seen in the Land of Fate. It is not the only explanation you may hear. Some claim that it is the climate that drives these creatures away, while others point to the lack of ready food, and a few may even tell you it is because the sand wears away the dragons’ scales. Those who know the truth of the matter know this tale, however, and you shall know it, too. It was in this fashion that the tale was told to me, so it is in the same fashion that I shall tell it to you now.
Long ago, when Nog and Kadar were not yet in existence, the great lizard-beasts of the distant North held a conclave of their tribes. Piggish creatures, these dragons had eaten all the available cattle and destroyed all the nearby towns, and now they would go hungry unless they found new pickings. So one of their number, a great reddish creature, volunteered to scout out a new home. He flew south many days until he reached the shores of burning Zakhara. As he approached the beach, he saw a maiden frolicking in the surf. As it had been a long trip, he decided this skinny creature would sate his hunger until more meaty prey presented itself. He swooped down low to spear the maiden with his claws. Yet when he dove down upon the maiden, she vanished without a trace, and in her stead a huge wave rose out of the surf, knocking the dragon from the sky. He crashed upon the beach. When he had recovered his senses, the dragon said to himself, How is it that I could miss the maiden? And from whence came the wave like a fist? Am I so famished that I cannot trust my eyes? And with that he headed inland.
At length, the dragon found a small herd of goats tended on a hillside. A shepherdess had planted her staff nearby. The dragon chased the goats around the field, looking for the meatiest to eat first. The shepherdess ran up to the dragon and tapped him on the foot with her staff. The dragon was accustomed to humans fleeing from his greatness, not being so brazen as this, and he turned to regard the woman with curiosity.
Who are you to disturb my sheep? asked the shepherdess I am one of great power, said the dragon, and I do as I see fit.
What is your great power? demanded the shepherdess. I breathe fire, the dragon replied, and with that he spat out a ball of flame that engulfed the shepherdess. The dragon expected to dine on her charred form, but when the smoke had cleared, she stood there untouched, staff in hand. Pitiful, said the shepherdess. Try this instead.
And with that she became a great pillar of fire whose heat was so intense that the dragon had to fall back for fear of being scorched. The fire’s heat grew stronger, and the dragon took to the air to evade it. The pillar roared after him, but eventually the dragon escaped the lapping flames.
This is a frightening land, said the dragon to himself, where even the peasants are magical. I must find a cave and rest before I go farther. And so the creature found a likely mountain and within that mountain found a likely cave, and he settled down for a short nap. At length, however, his sleep was disturbed by a tap on his snout. He opened his eyes to see a withered and grey-haired man scowling at him. This is my home, the codger snapped. You’ll have to sleep somewhere else, for you are an uninvited guest. The dragon snarled. I will not leave for any crippled old man. I claim this cave. Begone! And he showed his teeth. The old man showed his teeth as if to mock the dragon. If you desire the earth so much, shouted the man, you shall have it! And he disappeared. Immediately the mountain shook and the cavern began to collapse. The dragon escaped only with the tiniest sliver of his life.
Hungry, tired, and hurt, the dragon cursed this strange land and its strange people. At length he heard a piping. Investigating, the dragon found a small boy who was seated upon a rock, playing a flute. This time the dragon did not attack, for who could tell what powers this weak-looking creature possessed? Instead, the dragon approached in a gentle manner, and begged the child to listen to his story. The child heard the dragon tell of the maiden, of the shepherdess, and of the old man. And the child learned how the dragon was afraid to eat and even to sleep in a land that held such powerful creatures. At length the child said, I know those of whom you speak, for the maiden of the shores is my cousin, the shepherdess of the valley is my aunt, and the old man of the mountain is my uncle. Do not snivel so. They have shown you great kindness, for any of them could have killed you, and they have spared your life only because you are not enlightened and know no better. Tell me, child, sputtered the dragon, growing more fearful by the minute. Are all the natives of this land as powerful as your family? Oh no, replied the child. Most are much more powerful. There are men and women who tell my aunt and uncle and cousin what to do, and my aunt and uncle and cousin do whatever is asked, almost without question.
The dragon sent out a pitiable wail. Curse me for coming to this horrid land! I wish I had never arrived! I wish that I could return to my home! Hearing and obeying, with sweetness and joy, said the child, and he summoned a great wind, which blew the dragon back to the North.
Those who know our land know that the boy was really a djinni, the maiden was a marid, the old man was a dao, and the shepherdess was an efreeti. The men and women whose commands they heed are mere mortals who hold great wisdom. But the dragon did not know this. We can only assume that the dragon told his tale to other dragons, and if
they were still hungry, they have made other arrangements, for to this day few dragons are spotted in the Land of Fate. From time to time, a lone dragon has appeared, seeking to test the power of the genies and the patience of the enlightened. But that is another tale for another evening. . .

Marids lie: There is an old Zakharan saying that, A man who
trusts a genie should only ask for little things. Now,
there is no certainty that a marid or any other of the
geniekind would deceive a storm-tossed sailor. There
are tales of seamen rescued from certain drowning by
ancient marids, or even being lavishly entertained in
undersea palaces. There are many, many more tales of
capricious marids raising deadly tempests, sinking
ships, or conjuring deceits to lure unwary sailors.
Dealing with geniekind is just plain dangerous. If it is
necessary to call upon a marid, characters should be
well-prepared to bestow generous and wondrous gifts
upon any marid who deigns answer their call. A
pleased genie is likely to provide simple aid, an
insulted one most certainly will not.
The dangers of dealing with marids are
particularly demonstrated in open water far from
land. Like the jann of the deepest desert, the marids
view the great expanses of ocean as their realm.
Sailors and their boats are at best brief visitors, at
worst trespassers. Invaders of the marid homeland
may be dealt with harshly or completely ignored.
Since it is impossible for a captain to be certain of his
reception, the wise rubban sticks to coastal waters
wherever possible.
A sha’ir may have the brilliant idea to use his gen
to provide directions, sending the little genie off to
seek out instructions from the more powerful spirits.
This is no guarantee of success. Gens are not the
brightest creatures among geniekind, the maridans
being particularly flighty on such matters as precise
directions. Secondly, the gens do not seek out their
answers in this world but travel to their elemental
plane. Thus, they cannot see the actual route but
must rely on accounts of other genies. Finally, marids,
the source of most sea-going directions, do not
navigate like ships. Landmarks cited are more
frequently far beneath the waves and therefore of little
use to the average navigator. Sail three days until you
find the city of Rilah does not help when Rilah sank
beneath the waves centuries ago. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages).

Tale of Iftikhar: In the days of the First Caliph (honor be upon him),
the Word of the Loregiver (blessed is the Word) spread
across the sands from brilliant Huzuz to Makabba, and
this was good. But when the great mamluk Iftikhar alDawla, Pride of the State, Bearer of the Law, reached the
shores of the Golden Gulf, the blue waves laughed at him.
Searching along the coast, Iftikhar finally spied an old
fisherman tending his boat. Loudly did lftikhar hail the
fisherman, O worthy ancient, grant me passage across
the sea so that the wisdom of the Loregiver may be known
to all men.
The old fisherman answered, Courteous is your
greeting as the wise man should be, and across the madwaved sea I will guide you. But the word of the gods
interests me not. By what means will you reward this
humble servant?
So great was Iftikhar’s need that he did not strike down
the man. My service and my life are bound already. I
have naught to give but what my lord has given me, the
great general cried out. Speak and say what you would
have of him.
Then the fisherman pointed across the waves. See
across the waters those islands of green? These my
children and their children after them shall have as
granted from your lord. Then shall I carry you across the
And Iftikhar knew the heart of his lord, the First
Caliph, and said, As it is said, so shall it be, my lord will
grant those islands unto your children and your children’s
Then before the eyes of the Pride of the State, the old
fisherman rose up to become a giant. Taller than the palm
was he; blacker than the Cave of al-Kamil was he. See, O
mortal man of flesh, that I am a lord of the Fourth
Quarter, and these islands shall be held by my children
when your children are dust. With that he swept Iftikhar
across the waves in a single breath. And so have these
islands belonged to the marids ever since. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

The Truth of the Law:

n the time of the First Caliph, blessed be his memory, there came to our
master’s diwan an ancient alim. What is the truth of the Law, O learned
sages? he cried. When the word of the Loregiver is spread throughout
her children, who will say that this word is true or that false? Who shall be
the lion of faith? And his cry was heard throughout the halls of our most
wise master. Each of the assembled ulama declared himself unworthy of the
task, though each would not refuse the wishes of Fate, for each secretly in his
heart believed he alone understood the Law. At last, despairing that the
great synod would ever reach harmony, the Great Lion, showing the wisdom
of his line, proclaimed, Unto me did the winds reveal the secret of the Law,
and into my hands were placed the words of the Law. Although I am only
the poorest of Fate’s children, we have no fate but what Fate has granted us. I
shall be the lion of the faith, and from my hand shall flow the Law of the
But not all the ulama were pleased by their lord’s judgment. Generous was
the Great Lion with his children, but when they refused to yield their
heresies, he could no longer abide them. Confronted by his righteous wrath,
each faced the choice of repentance or exile. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

The Children of Nog
Let the man who knows his fate call me a liar;
otherwise, listen to the tale I have for you. In the long
ago and in the far away, before men knew what we
know now, there were the great lands of Nog and
Kadar. They were mighty, but they were also evil, for
they had heard and rejected the Law. The gods were
sorrowed when they saw this, for the people of these
lands were once their children.
We must punish these wicked folk who have
turned their backs upon us, argued some of the gods,
for their anger was great.
These are our children, for did we not plant their
seed here? spoke the others. Since when does the
Law allow the father to slay his child? Let us send to
them a warning so that they can return once more to
our household.
Thus it was agreed, and a minor power assumed the
disguise of mortal flesh. In this way he traveled from
city to city, warning the foolish of Nog and Kadar that
the gods were angry with them, but the people
ridiculed him and cast stones his way.
With this, the gods could abide no more. The
greater powers again debated. How can we slay our
blood? Is this not against the Law? Finally, the wisest
of them said, Let us appoint the Lords of the Four
Quarters to be our generals that they may carry out our
will. The other powers heard this with favor and so it
was agreed.
So did the gods say unto their kin, the genies, Go
you now into the land of ins and punish them for
forgetting us. Thus were genies released into the
world and great Nog and Kadar humbled.
But not everyone perished, for one of their own
walked among the unbelievers. Take your followers
and flee, the power warned, for this land must be
cleansed. So heeding the warning of his brothers, the
minor power took his followers (for Fate had not been
unkind to him) and boarded ships to cross the sea,
loading their holds with marvelous treasures. Never
again were these ships seen, but it is said that the
children of their children still reign, supported in great
luxury, somewhere in the Crowded Sea on an isle hid
by the gods from the eyes of ins. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

How the Jackal Gained His Freedom
In the islands of the Crowded Sea (it is said, and
shame to the one who claims that I lie) there float a
group of islands not owned by ins, where the order of
the world is inverted. Here ins live mute and animals
rule. Why this is so happened a long time ago.
When the world was created from the Great Ocean,
Fate, which rules all things, summoned her children
and cast lots for each division of beinggod, genie,
ins, and animal. First to come forward was the pasha of
the gods. For him Fate drew the expanses beyond
mortal ken, and it pleased that pasha greatly.
Brothers, they have taken the greatest, said the
jackal, lord of the animals, to his cousins.
Next rose the four wiziers of the genies, and it was
their lot to inhabit the elemental realms.
No warmth, no water for us, bemoaned the jackal
loudly so all could hear.
Third was called fourth the sultan of the ins. Of
that which remained, Fate’s lot decreed the ins masters
of the mortal realm.
Now the jackal turned to the other animals and
said, Brothers, there are no more lots to be cast and
only the worst remains for us. And indeed Fate
assigned to the animals the lowest lot of all, to serve
the ins in all things.
So the jackal said to his brothers, Do not despair,
for I will gain us a proper birthright. Then, to the
sultan of the ins, he said, Uncle, though you are
wise, your children are few. Still, Fate has generously
given you the whole of the land to rule. We, who are
to be your servants, are many and have no land.
Should it be said that the master treats his slaves
thusly? Grant us a little land that others will know
you are virtuous.
And the sultan of the ins thought about this and
finally agreed. There are some islands in the ocean my
children can never see. These you may have for your
And the jackal went back and told his brothers and
they were pleased, but the jackal promised more.
Returning once again to the diwan of the ins, he made
as in mourning, entering the court wailing and
Why grieve you so? asked the sultan of the ins.
Uncle, may virtue shine upon you, the jackal
answered. I showed my brothers your generous lands
and they were greatly pleased to run freely through the
forests. But quickly they fell squabbling as to who
would rule what island. Uncle, your servants are
foolish, without speech or learning. You have given
them a great gift, but they have not the mind to
understand it. How much greater would you be if your
servants could defend and nourish the gift you have
given them. Grant them wisdom so that they may
understand your true generosity.
And again the sultan of the ins pondered this until
finally he reached a decision. Truly jackal, you are
right. Greater will I be if the animals govern
themselves. Let my servants have the wisdom they
Then the jackal rose up with a great smile. Foolish
ins, you have given away the greatest of your gifts and
never need we serve you again! By the sultan’s own
words, the animals were freed of their servitude. Thus
have they roamed wild, and man has had to work hard
ever since.
And on one set of distant isles, the animals are
more than wild, for over these lands they rule and men
must serve their whims (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

The Tale of Jamila the Virtuous
In the days after the Lion of Faithwhose blessing
should fall on us allfirst received the law, his mind
was unsettled and sorely afraid. Emirs and maliks bent
their knee to him and touched their foreheads to the
stone, yet still he was worried. Unto his harim were
given the most beautiful of consorts, each one whom
he wed, yet still his thoughts found no peace.
Of these women was one, Jamila bint-Susan, whose
eyes were limned with ocher’s beauty, whose voice was
as gentle as the moon’s silver, and whose wisdom was
greater than the highest wizier in all the Great Lion’s
diwan. Sensing the disarray in her lord’s mind, she
asked, What is this thing that troubles you, gentle
sovereign of my heart? Do not the great and wise yield
to your will? Is not the Law of the Loregiver honored
from martial Qudra to distant Afyal? Is not your name
uttered with respect by all Enlightened men? What
troubles you, O my husband?

My power is only what Fate has given me, my
honor only what the gods decree, yet for these I care
nothing. I fear that the Loregiver’s words, may her
blessing be on us all, will be blown away like the dune
before the wind, once I am gone. No one among my
wiziers can I trust to maintain the words of the
Loregiver. You, whose wisdom reaches beyond the
walls of my harim, whose body knows no treachery or
guile; tell me, Jamila of my heart, how shall the law be
sustained once I am dust?
Jamila thought no more than the beat of a
hummingbird’s wing before she gave her answer.
First grant unto me an island in the farthest sea that
I may hold for all time. Then, O husband, find three
ulama, the wisest of your wise who do not know
corruption, and bring them before me dressed in
white robes for a wedding. Then shall I give you an
Though he did not understand her plan, the
Righteous One did as she requested and sent for his
three greatest teachers of the law, ordering that each
be dressed to wed.
When the teachers were assembled, Jamila said, O
my love, now you must divorce me so that I will bring
no shame on your line. Though it saddened the
Venerated One’s heart and he did not understand her
plan, the First Caliph did as she bid.
When the time for the audience came, all the evil
gossips of the caliph’s diwan could scarcely contain
themselves, for Jamila came among them in the finery
of a bride. Prostrating herself before the First Caliph,
she said, Noble lord, I beseech you one last time, let
me choose one of these teachers as my husband and
your troubled mind will be at ease. The Great Lion
gave his consent with reluctance, for it meant Jamila
would no longer grace his harim.
When the three were presented, the first wore robes
of white and gold and was cloaked in dignity. The First
Caliph could only marvel at the richness of the
scholar’s finery. Surely there can be no sage greater, he
thought, but Jamila turned him down. The second
alim was called forth, and he wore clothes of patches
and rags. Such humility and poverty must mark this
man as greater than the first, the First Caliph
reasoned, but Jamila did not choose this one either.
Finally the third alim came forward, dressed in
clothes of mourning. Why do you shame my court?
the First Caliph demanded, wroth that his commands
had been ignored.
The alim stood before his lord unafraid. O brilliant
master, my clothes express the sorrow that I should
take a temporal wife, for am I not already wedded to
the Law? answered the sage.
Then spoke Jamila, This man, noble caliph, shall
be my husband, for there is none so faithful as he.
Know that so long as we and our children live, the
words of the Loregiver shall be sustained in the land.
Should our line perish, then the word of Loregiver is in
peril. No sooner had she spoken than a great djinni

appeared at her command and swept the pair away.
Where they went is known only to the First Caliph,
blessed is his memory, and perhaps a capricious djinni.
Now my tale is done, so put the lights out and all go
home. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

Umar the Bold

There was or there was not, in the time of the Fifth
Caliph, a great ship commanded by the bold Umar alRubban. For many years he voyaged between the
islands of the Crowded Sea, risking his life against
hideous monsters, to find strange peoples and
wondrous cargos. Many a delight he brought back to
the marbled palaces of Huzuz and great was his fame
among the bahriyin.
But as the proverb says, ‘Fate is not kind forever,’
and so it was that Umar set out on one last voyage
from which his ship never returned. It was to have
been the greatest of all adventures, to find the most
fantastic of all wonders. He sailed southwest from
Huzuz toward a group of islands never charted, where
shrimps and great crabs were plentiful. Perhaps there
he met his doom, or perhaps he lives still. (Al-Qadim Golden Voyages)

The Iron Princess

The first of the great masters was no master but a mistress, the
Grandmother of the Everlasting, the Iron Princess, the horned viper,
the blazing. Even the lion would step out of her path.
In those days, holy slayers were often endangered by their kind, for a few
captured slayers might betray the secrets of many. And for this reason the Grandmother despaired of ever hiding herself and her initiates from her persecutors, for
her men constantly proved unfaithful and her women only marginally less so.
Now in this time there also lived an efreeti named Mulahid, who loved the
Grandmother so that he could barely speak, his head swam, and his magic no
longer came quickly to his fiery fingertips. In a word, he was smitten, and as she
was just a mortal and he a genie, he resolved he should have her. He came to her
swift as a whirlwind. The land heralded his arrival: a sirocco gathered, the sun
grew red, and dust rose into the sky.
The efreeti came and said, Come with me this night and I will spare your
followers. Though all protested mightily, the Grandmother agreed to go with
him until dawn. The efreeti promised that no harm would come to her, and
swept her into the night sky, to a dark cave beneath the Pillars of the World.
The genie and the Grandmother retreated into that cradle of blackness. And
there she bound the genie in chains of affection, and he asked how he and his
children might serve her.
O best of efreeti, my followers are unfaithful. Swear them to me and to the
silence I long for, and I shall be yours, and you need never awake to a morning
without me.
And so a genie became overseer of the silence of Hajama’s lions, and he lived
with his mistress in safety until the end of their days, when the destroyer of
delights and the sunderer of societies came upon them. (Assassin Mountain)

The Everlasting

Long before the time of the Loregiver, a pious youth called Hasan left his
home to spread the word of Hajama. He traveled far from his native
city and saw many wondrous things, but none more holy than the Lion
of Suja, the sacred lion of the temple where Hasan had said his daily prayers.
And though bandits waylaid him and the faithless reviled him, Hasan had the
courage of a dozen lions and the strength of forty oxen, and he feared nothing.
Everywhere he went he preached the word of Hajama.
But as he traveled, Hasan heard rumors of unfaithful priests in the city of his
birth, priests who claimed to know the truth but spoke lies. And this enraged
Hasan, for those who speak false prophecies are hateful in the eyes of Fate. But
they grew rich from their false teachings. Sadly, men call the dog that has
money, My Lord Dog.
In time, the false priests and pragmatists decided to chain the sacred lion,
for many people who would otherwise have brought offerings to Hajama feared
it, and gave no money to the priests. So the lion was chained, and its teeth and
claws were pulled, and the people said, It is better to be a live dog than a dead
lion. And they brought their offerings in peace.
When Hasan returned home, he went to the temple and saw the lion, tooth
less and impotent, though its mane was still huge and terrible. Hasan spoke, saying, O my old companion, I loved your strength, and I will avenge you. Then
he tore the heart of the Lion of Suja out with his bare hands, and it was not
flesh, but a blood-red stone streaked with black from the treachery of the priests.
And he toppled the pillars of the temple for the tomb of the Lion of Suja.
Hasan grieved, and he took the stone into the desert. Alone, he raised each
stone of the fortress that became the Lion’s Shrine, the home of the
Everlasting, and the truth, the courage of the lion, and the strength of the bull

The Sand of Truth

Not so very long ago, when the Word of the Loregiver had been
spread among the tribes and nations of the civilized world, some
chose to obey the outward forms of piety and yet their hearts rotted
within them. The worst of these false children of Zakhara was named Ayesha
al-Aziz, a beauty with eyes that held a dark spark, like the light in an eagle’s
eye when it surveys its prey. So great was her talent at deception that soon
she ruled from just behind the Palace of the Enlightened Throne in the City
of Delights, and she plotted to replace the Grand Caliph.
But one man, an old mystic who came down from the Ghost Mountains
to advise the Grand Caliph, saw through her outward seeming and shuddered
at her black and baleful soul. Try as he might, none would believe ill of her,
and all his counsel against her came to naught.
So the old man sought the sand of truth and found it in a place where all
might see it but few looked. He took the sand back to Golden Huzuz, and
there he went to the diwan. Before all the assembled people, he sprinkled the
dust upon foul Ayesha, and her fair form vanished, and the Grand Caliph
returned to his senses and banished her. She was never heard from again.
The mystic was a hero, but he let the city people toast him in his absence,
for he returned to the mountains. When he died, the birds lamented and tore
feathers from their breasts in grief.
It is written that the sand of truth is found in dreamers’ eyes, for are not
dreams visions of the truth? Others have said that truth is found in the dust
of time, for all things meet death, the destroyer of delights, only dust remains,
and this dust is truth as well. And yet others say that the sand is none of
these things. (Assassin Mountain)

The Wise and Foolish Sultan
May the gods give you the courage of a stallion, for the
world is full of both the terrors made at the hands of
men and the terrors of the genies and the seas. In
courage lies the way of both the victor and the fool,
and who shall reckon which is which?
It is written that there once lived a brave sultan,
who gathered his hosts and went forth to do battle
with enemy mamluks under bright, snapping banners.
Fate was not with him, his hosts were destroyed, and
his body was carried back to his city, for the mamluks
were wise in the art of war. They installed a court of
traitors to advise the new sultan.
The sultan’s nephew and heir was a foolish,
dissolute poet, but the clever mamluk ministers
acclaimed him, and they forced the priests to anoint
him and give him the robes of office. The foolish
sultan spent his days in idleness and drink, and his
judgements echoed his ministers. The ministers were
pleased that they had a malleable pawn. When the
mamluks came to him demanding tribute, he offered
them all his greatest riches in exchange for the right to
appoint his own ministers, and the mamluks cheerfully
accepted, for the sultan agreed to render his tribute to
them in forty days. The sultan proceeded to spend
those days in wild debauchery and abandon, and even
his people frowned, for he seemed to care nothing for
them and the dishonor he heaped upon himself and
the city.
When forty days had come and gone, the Grand
Caliph arrived to oversee the transfer of riches. The
grim and pious mamluks surrounded the sultan as he
called for his treasures. And his servants brought forth
a richly illuminated scroll, and the sultan began to
declaim his poetry before the assembled notables. He
praised the wisdom of the Loregiver, and the majesty of
the Grand Caliph, and the passage of time and the
doings of Fate. The Grand Caliph applauded and asked
for more, but the mamluks were silent, for their barren
hearts were unmoved. The grand marshal of the
mamluks came forward stiffly and demanded the sultan’s riches, but the sultan made it clear that his poetry was all he had, for he had spent the rest in idleness and drink, but he would gladly share his verses, which he assured the grand marshal were indeed sublime. The Grand Caliph laughed and agreed—the sultan’s Words were pearls beyond price. He decreed that the bargain must be enforced: the court of mamluk ministers was dismissed and returned, court of mamluk ministers was dismissed and returned,
angered, to their fortresses.
Tell me now, is it braver to raise the sword or to
throw oneself in its path?

The Serpent
It is written that across the sands and the rivers, where
the Al-Badia roam, there are wanderers who speak of
the purity of that which has been burnt and tempered
by the sun.
The Al-Sadib were such wanderers, herding goats
among the Furrowed Mountains. A youth tended his
flock among them, but the work was dull and the goats
never obeyed him and he wished for company, so he
went to his wise and beautiful aunt, who gave him a
small figurine that could transform into a lion. The
youth often called his lion and wrestled with it, and
the stench of lion on his clothes made the goats fear
him and all was well—until one day, when two vishap
came to the valley where the Al-Sadib had settled for
the season. The vishap are cowardly snakes with lying
tongues, and they wanted to eat the men and the
women and the children and the goats, even the
smallest of them. The younger vishap came upon the
youth as he lay beneath a cedar, and it crept closer and
closer, higher and higher up the slope, thinking that if
it killed the youth it would then get all his goats as
But the birds in the cedars were alarmed and cried
warnings, and the youth woke and saw the vishap
hiding in the grasses below. He quickly grabbed up a
stone and threw it, killing the dragon. His mother and
all the tribe praised him and gave thanks to Fate that
he had survived.

The elder vishap was angered when it found the body and determined to wait there and see what creature had done this. The next day when the youth returned to tend his flocks, the elder vishap hid among the rocks and grasses and spoke in the voice of a man: “O fair youth, why are you here? Did you kill that

terrible serpent?”
“I am here to tend the goats, and I killed that
creature for their sake.”
“Oh, your friends must have helped you slay it.
Where are they now?” said the vishap.
“No, I slew it all by myself. My friends are all in the
camp, tired from our feasting,” said the youth.
“Did you slay it with a sword? Surely your hands are
not big enough.”
“No sword? Then I think I will eat you, for it is my
brother you slew.” And with that the vishap leapt out
from among the rocks and prepared to rend the youth
“Oh, no, I have no sword yet. I slew it with a
into portions fit only for salting, But the youth called
upon his lion figurine, and the lion roared and fought
the vishap, pinning it to the ground so that the youth
could take another stone, and slay this beast as well.
Thus did the Al-Sadib conquer the serpents, and to
this day they dwell in the Furrowed Mountains. If you
do not believe me, go among them yourself, and may
the vishap find you as well (Assassin Mountain)

The Everlasting

In his lectures to his students in Hilm, the City of Kindness, the great
elven alim and theologian Mehmet al-Nassar made a special point of
refuting and reviling the Everlasting. Hearing of this, the Old Man of the
Mountain decided to put a stop to it and sent a fidai to Hilm. There he
enrolled as a student and attended Mehmet’s lectures daily for many months,
until he found an opportunity to see his teacher alone in his room, on the
pretext of discussing a knotty problem. The fidai at once drew a knife and
threatened the alim with it.
Al-Nassar jumped aside and said, What do you want?
The fidai replied, I want to slit your belly from the breast to the navel,
because you have cursed the Everlasting from the pulpit. After a tussle, the
student threw the alim to the ground and sat on his chest. The terrified
theologian blubbered, wept, and pleaded with the fidai to spare him. The elf
promised to repent and to refrain from such attacks in the future.
The slayer knew the value of spreading the word, and so he allowed
himself to be persuaded. He accepted a solemn oath from Mehmet to mend
his ways, and to insure his cooperation, produced a bag containing 365
dinars. This sum, he said, would be paid to the theologian yearly if the elf
spoke well of them. In addition, each year he refrained from cursing the
fellowship, his life would be spared.
Thereafter, in his lectures on the various gods and their followers,
Mehmet took great care to avoid offending the Everlasting. Always known as
a coward himself, Mehmet began praising the courage of Hajama and his
followers. One of his students, noting this change, asked the reason for it.
The professor replied, It is not advisable to curse the Everlasting, for they
have sharp, weighty, and trenchant arguments, and a pointed theology.
This is my tale, I’ve told it, and in your hands I leave it. (Assassin Mountain)

The Fortress of Sarafin:

The fortress of Sarahin was built by one of the lords of the jann, the
Amir Heidar Qan. While out hunting one day in the Haunted
Lands, he loosed a golden eagle, which settled on the rock. The
amir saw the strength and beauty of the site, and at once he commanded his
hosts to build a castle upon it. He called it Sarahin, which means the wolves’
den, for he intended it to be his winter hunting grounds.
It was not to be, for Amir Qan vanished from the sight of men and stopped
paying fealty to the Grand Caliph. At the same time, the fortress of the
everlasting was overrun by the Dauntless and other mamluks of Qudra, and
the holy slayers scattered among the Free Cities. While searching for a new
headquarters, a young holy slayer learned of the castle. After much scheming,
it was decided that the new site was found; it needed only to be taken.
The seizure of Sarahin was carefully prepared. From Hiyal, Grandfather
Hasan had sent devotees to work in the village nearby. From the village,
teachers were sent to the castle to convert the jann, some of whom became
worshippers of Hajama and who attempted to convert their sheikh. He
pretended to be won over, but afterward ambushed the missionaries, and the
blood of the Everlasting washed the stone ramparts. The jann of the castle
sent the Grandfather the heads of his followers and a letter saying that the
fortress belonged to the sheikh.
At this, the Caliph of Shadows left Hiyal to visit the fortress of Sarahin,
where he was welcomed as a guest. After the evening meal, Grandfather
Hasan said he would forgive the sheikh the slaughter of his followers if the
sheikh would give him, for 3,000 dinars, as much land as an ox’s hide would
contain. The sheikh agreed before his court. Hasan split the hide into strips,
and with them surrounded the castle. The sheikh at first refused to honor his
word, but the jann rose against him and forced him to keep it. Grandfather
Hasan remained in the castle not for three days, but for the rest of his life.


n the distant past, when Fate passed her knowledge to the Loregiver, AlAnwahr was a rich and proud city ruled by King Azaltin, an intelligent man
well versed in poetry, astrology, and the ways of magic. As the Loregiver
wandered Zakhara, teaching the laws of the divine to man and genie alike, she is
said to have stopped in Al-Anwahr and been a guest of Azaltin for 11 days.
Azaltin honored his guest daily with lavish celebrations and exquisite gifts of
silks, gold, and perfumes. After each night of entertainment, the king would ask
his guest the same question: “How can a man live forever?”
The Loregiver warned Azaltin about the danger of such knowledge, but in the
end could hardly insult her gracious host by refusing to answer. Each night she
told the king about the obstacles that prevent man from achieving immortality.
Azaltin’s scribes labored furiously to capture the Loregiver’s parables and cryptic
riddles, which were set down in a legendary scroll titled The Eleven Baneful
Gates. According to legend, the Loregiver departed Al-Anwahr, leaving the
equivocal scroll in Azaltin’s care. Azaltin pondered the scroll for a decade,
ignoring his people while trying to unravel its secret.
After months of fasting and meditation, he abandoned the kingdom to his
brother Amakim and left to ponder the scroll in the solitude of the wilderness.
Ancient legends say he returned a dozen years later, an undead creature of
hideous appearance, to reclaim his kingdom. Before long, Amakim led a revolt to
topple his monstrous brother. Some members of court remained loyal to their
undead king, however, and a bloody battle ensued throughout the city.
Ultimately, Amakim’s forces triumphed, but when they reached the king’s palace,
they found that Azaltin had vanished. Amakim and his forces departed AlAnwahr and eventually founded the city of In’aash. Centuries past, the city was
renamed Muluk, while Al-Anwahr and Azaltin passed into folklore (A Dozen and One Adventures)

Kingdom of Lions:

The recent discovery of The Kingdom of Lions, an ancient historical text,
has touched off a wave of controversy among the historians of the city.
All records of Muluk portray the city’s founder, Amakim Ibn Issad, as a
courageous hero who defeated his monstrous brother Azaltin to capture the
throne before leading his people to found Muluk. The Kingdom of Lions, written
by his brother Azaltin, tells an entirely different story, portraying Amakim as a
weak man, easily manipulated by his evil vizier, Zeenab. (A Dozen and One Adventures)

Ala’i the Hungry
Jamilia found her uncle asleep in the shade of a towering palm. Wake up, Uncle,
she said excitedly. See what I bought! Is it not exquisite?
Husar rose and wiped the sleep from his eyes. Before him, his niece proudly displayed
a violet tapestry embroidered with an intricate pattern of stars and sunflowers.
It is for Mother’s birthday, she said. I spent the money I earned grooming camels
for Ahmad the herdsman. It cost only two silver pieces.
Husar ran his hand along the edge of the tapestry, a few of the fibers working loose
in his hand. It was worth no more than two silver pieces, if that. But the thought would
mean more to Jamilia’s mother than the craftsmanship. It is a fine piece, he said,
You struck a good bargain.
Jamilia rolled her treasure into a bundle, then sat beside her uncle in the cool shade.
The merchant said the tapestry would not be out of place hanging beside Ala’i the
Hungry, said Jamilia. ‘What a strange idea, a tapestry hanging next to a person.
Husar,laughed. No, my child. Ala’i is not a person. It is the name of a carpet. A
most famous and most magical carpet. Listen!
Ages ago, there a lived a sha’ir named Ala’i ibn Dissafah, a man with eyes as
brown as almonds and a thick mane of ebony hair. A man blessed by the gods, Ala’i
had distinguished himself in not one but three fields of endeavor. First, he excelled as a
seer, a prophet so skilled that he could predict the number of drops that would fall in a
rainstorm. Second, he was a weaver of consummate artistry, producing caftans so
splendid that maidens swooned at the sight. And third, he was a brilliant scholar,
proficient in poetry, philosophy, and literature.
But though Ala’i was an exceptional man, he was a man nonetheless. And like all
men, his days on this world were limited. Ala’i mourned his old age, not because he
feared death, but because of all he wanted to do. ‘I regret having not spent more time in
study, ’ he’ lamented to a genie. ‘Would that I had spent less time spinning cloth and
telling’ fortunes, and more in the company of great poets and writers .’
‘I cannot give you back your youth,’ said the genie. ‘But I can offer you a second
life of sorts, one drawn from your three great skills. If, that is, you are willing to
abandon this life for one quite different.

Without hesitation, Ala’i agreed.
With a wave of his hand, the genie caused a loom of light
to rise from the sand. ‘Spin,’ he instructed Ala’i. ‘Use your
hair for the yarn.’ Ala’i grasped a lock of his hair and pulled.
To his amazement, the hair stretched to many times its normal
length. Guided by the genie, Ala’i began to spin, using his hair
to produce a multicolored cloth. But, the more hair Ala’i
pulled, the smaller his body became, until at last there was
nothing left but his head. The genie finished the job, pulling
more of Ala’i’s hair until the head, too, had disappeared, and
there was nothing left of Ala’i but a pile of cloth.
From this cloth, the genie fashioned a carpet emblazoned
with all manner of symbols and decorations. Centered in the
carpet was an image of Ala‘i’s head. Said the genie: ‘Let it be
known that the reborn Ala’i hungers for the written words of
great thinkers. In return for these words, he will share his gift
of prophecy. So shall it be for a thousand and one years.’ With
that, the genie disappeared.
Jamilia was wide-eyed. Does Ala’i still exist?
Oh yes, replied her uncle. Ala’i the Hungry is now
owned by Fahad al-Zakir. It is said that Fahad has used Ala’i
to help him accumulate his great wealth.
Has Fahad used Ala’i selfishly?
In a sense, he has. But Fahad is a good man. His
businesses provide many jobs, and his investments have
enriched our community.
Is Ala’i bad? The carpet, I mean.
Husar stroked his niece’s long black hair. No, my child.
The carpet is neither good nor bad. It merely is. (Caravans)

The Genies’ Terror:

Though you may find it hard to believe, the genies of Zakhara – mild though
we may be in these enlightened times-were quite arrogant when the
world was young. It was only their right, after all.
And in those long-ago days, mankind actually presumed to question the actions
of the genies! The four most powerful elemental mages from the Al-Badia tribes of
the High Desert gathered to forge a weapon against these marauding genies.
(Indeed, you are right to be appalled at the audacity of these humans, O wise
adventurers!) Binding together fire, wind, sea, and air, these wizards enchanted a
scimitar, Cyclone of the Four Quarters, with the power to harm genies from any
elemental province. The four entrusted the wicked blade to an unworthy sheikh
known as Shaddad and departed to a distant land.
Armed with this enchanted scimitar, Shaddad sought out the noble genies in the
lonely places of the desert: the djinn on the mountaintops, the dao in the dark caves, the
marids in the secluded oaseseven the efreet in the heat of the anvils! Brandishing his
blade, in a voice foolishly devoid of fear, the human ruler ordered the mighty genies to
cease their. . .excursions against the Al-Badia. He even dared challenge them to single
combat if they refused! The noble genies were rightfully amused by this mortal’s
impertinence. As their response, the djinn enveloped him in a whirlwind; the dao
enclosed him in a block of stone; the marids engulfed him in a waterspout; and the efreet
enfolded him grandly in a pillar of flame. But Cyclone of the Four Quarters protected
Shaddad from the genies’ attacks. To their amazement, the Al-Badia champion stepped
through their obstacles utterly unharmed. (I, too, fail to comprehend such a thing.)
Shaddad’s continued resistance only enflamed the genies further. The noble genies
drew their towering blades of steel and launched attack after attack at the human.
But, as the sheikh parried all their blows with Cyclone of the Four Quarters and
riposted with painful accuracy, their arrogance turned to fear, I am ashamed to say.
Surrendering to this Terror, they promised the miserable human countless wishes
if only he would spare their lives. Shaddad accepted, demanding that the genies restrict
themselwes and their kin to the uninhabited wilderness, away from the migration paths
of the Al-Badia. The genies too hastily agreed, and the sheikh returned to his
peopleunharmed! He lived out his puny days in peace, until the Sunderer of
Societies, the Destroyer of Delights, came upon him, none too soon. Why my former
master felt compelled to include this story in his collection, I cannot fathom.

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