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Caravans (2e)

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Journey through a perilous realm of searing sands and burning passions!

Pit of the Ghuls, Genies' Anvil, Vishap's Teeth... the mere mention of these mystical sites fills men's hearts with fear and apprehension. Now the mysteries of the High Desert are revealed!

Caravans takes player characters into Zakhara's greatest sea of sand to face its most treacherous denizens. Heroes match wits with djinn and ins alike--and fulfill a lover's obligation more than a half-century old.

This sourcebox includes:

- A 32-page Campaign Book with notes from famed travelers of the High Desert, plus details on a wondrous magical carpet

- A 64-page Adventure Book featuring tales of honor, riches, and unrequited love

- An 8-page book of player aids

- A magnificent full-color poster depicting Ala'i the Hungry, a fortune-telling carpet whose profound wisdom and wondrous powers will guide heroes on their epic adventure

Recommended for use with the Arabian Adventures Campaign Setting Rulebook.

Product History

Caravans (1994), by Rick Swan, is the eighth and final boxed supplement for Al-Qadim. It was published in October 1994.

Origins (I): One More Box. Like its predecessors in the "ALQ" series, Carvans comes in a thin box with a 64-page adventure book, a 32-page campaign book, and a few smaller pieces. Caravans is the only boxed Al-Qadim supplement not to come with a map; instead, there's a poster of a flying carpet.

Origins (II): Sources. Though most of the year three supplements for Al-Qadim felt like they departed from its Arabic core, Caravans takes the line back to its origins with tales of weird, strange, and magical happenings such as a talking tent, scheming genies, and fiery palaces.

Origins (III): The End of Al-Qadim. When Andria Hayday and Jeff Grubb proposed the Al-Qadim line, they purposefully laid it out as a limited run. It would go for two years with an option for a third year, then another option for a fourth.

Caravans marked the end of the third year of Al-Qadim, so TSR asked for a product list for year four. These supplements would have continued to expand the map of Zakara. One of them was called "Terror of the Yak-Men". Grubb no longer remembers the rest of the list, but notes that undeveloped areas included "the Cities of the Pantheon … (plus a number of islands between the Sea of Foreigners and the Crowded Sea)", suggesting that they were ripe for expansion.

Sometime after receiving the list, TSR decided not to renew Al-Qadim for a fourth year. Caravans would be the end of the line, other than some assorted (and minor) returns over the years.

Adventure Tropes. Caravans were a popular adventure trope in the '90s, particularly in the Dark Sun line, perhaps because they allowed designers to create event-driven adventures without them feeling like railroads … because the players are implicitly on a tightly constrained track because of the caravan itself.

With that said, the caravans in Caravans aren't all that important, perhaps because of the shortness of these anthologized adventures. Some of the adventures are about journeys, while others are more picaresque vignettes or encounters in the desert. In any case, they're definitely all event-driven.

Expanding D&D. Caravans contains some "lore" on caravans, camels, water, and hazards. There's a tiny bit of crunch for GMs wanting information on this sort of travel, but it's pretty minimal.

Exploring Al-Qadim. Caravans is set in the High Desert, one of the locales detailed fairly extensively in Land of Fate (1992). This supplement provides even more information, including an extensive tour of its most notable sites.

Future History. This was the end of the Al-Qadim line, though there have been three notable returns.

  • DMGR7: The Complete Books of Necromancers (1995) contains extensive Al-Qadim lore.
  • Reunion (1998) would return to the setting four years later with an RPGA tournament.
  • Dragon #315 (January 2004) featured Al-Qadim as one of many "campaign classics" in an article that detailed the Sha'ir for D&D 3.5e.

Though the sub-continent of Zakhara hasn't received any major supplements since the '90s, it still is a part of the Forgotten Realms. It's been referenced in recent supplements such as the 4e Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (2008) and even the 5e Elemental Evil Player's Companion (2015).

About the Creators. Swan did extensive work for TSR from 1988-1995. Caravans was one of his last books, done the same year that he authored The Complete Paladin's Handbook (1994) and contributed to Elminster's Ecologies (1994).

About the Product Historian

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

 
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File Last Updated:
December 12, 2016
This title was added to our catalog on December 13, 2016.