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Fates of the Free Cities: An Al-Qadim Campaign (Read 6695 times)
Broadmoor DM

Posts: 60
New Orleans, LA
Gender: male
Fates of the Free Cities: An Al-Qadim Campaign
Dec 21st, 2008 at 10:02pm
This first post will provide an overview of the game world and campaign.

The World:
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The Al-Qadim (Land of Fate) setting is based in the sub-continent of Zakhara, separated from the rest of Faerun by great seas and high mountains. To the Northeast lies Kara-Tur; to the Northwest, a scattering of fractured Barbarian Kingdoms. Between to two lie the endless steppe of the Hordelands.

Zakhara is a world of extremes: mountains, deserts, jungles, and seas. Zakhara is a true melting pot, populated by men and women from a myriad of races. Generally speaking, Zakhara lacks the racial prejudices of less civilized realms. Lifestyle, not race, defines and divides Zakharans.

Races and Culures:
In the Land of Fate, people fall into one of two broad groups: nomadic or settled. The nomads, or Al-Badia (ahl-BAH-dee-ya), are those who dwell in the hostile deserts of Zakhara. They are tough, loyal to their blood-relatives, and constantly in search of basic necessities: water, food, and grazing land for their herds. The need for trade brings the Al-Badia into contact with the "other half" of Zakhara's culture: the Al-Hadhar (ahl-HAH-dar), whose lifestyles are based in and around settled communities. Those who are permanently settled -- the people of the towns and villages who never move from their dwellings, are not Al-Badia. Artisans, merchants, craftsmen -- all are Al-Hadhar.

Al-Badia and Al-Hadar are different, but like two branches of a tree. They share a common culture, language, and code of ethics. They prefer to judge a person on his or her merit as measured against the basic beliefs of honor, family, hospitality, purity, and piety. Al-Badia and Al-Hadhar coexist peacefully because both groups understand and respect these same beliefs.

Religion is a way of life among people in the Land of Fate. Honor is a matter of piety, of behaving in the manner deemed good and right by those who rule the heavens, those who will determine whether you are worthy of finding paradise in the afterlife. A dishonorable man, it is said, is never worthy of this great reward. Most Zakharans accept people whose religions are different. To believe in other gods may seem strange, but it is not a sin. The sin is believing in nothing.

Major gods, recognized throughout Zakhara, include Old Kor, Learned Zann, Brave Hajama, Najm the Adventurous, Selan the Beautiful Moon, Jisan of the Floods, Haku of the Desert Winds, and Hakiyah of the Sea Breezes. None of these gods has a precise portfolio. Instead, each shows strength in a particular ideal or element, wisdom, knowledge, bravery, courage, beauty, bounty, freedom, and honesty.

Zakharan deities also include a plethora of lesser gods, local gods and demigods. Such minor deities may be venerated in one small area, while they are unknown just ten miles away.

The Campaign:

The campaign will take place (at least initially) in the Free Cities - A collection of six independent city-states lining the north coast of Zakhara, 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, a mamluk-run city that is a bastion against incursion into the heartland by northern barbarians.

With savage tribes to the south, wild pirates to the north and west, and western foreigners filling their streets, the somewhat uncivilized bent of the Free Cities is not surprising. Main products of the Free Cities include clothing, rice, agates, semiprecious stones, pottery, coffee, indigo dye, purple cloth and clothing, and trade in northern goods.

Character Goals:
Each character should have a good reason to want to get out of town, heading south from a northerly free city towards the heartland of Zakhara. It's late summer, so few caravans are traveling, and with the southern winds along the coast, few ships are traveling south this time of year. You hear of one ship that is planning to head further out to sea to catch the northern winds. They're hiring guards, as they'll be heading outside the reach of the Grand Caliph's mamluk slave-warriors. Characters unable to display combat-worthiness may be able to buy passage.
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