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Friday, March 9, 2018

Dungeons & Dragons - Genies Great & Small: 21 New Genies of Zakhara

You can buy this right here.

Al Qadim is a D&D campaign setting that was released in the early 90's. Based on Arabian folk lore and mythology, it hit right at the same time that Disney released Aladdin, which was mega-popular around where I lived.

Arabian Adventures: I ran a ton of Al Qadim stuff and I loved it. I think that, in general, people liked the idea of Arabian adventures, but it was usually their 3rd or 4th choice as far as D&D settings go. I think a lot of people would say, "I'll run some Al Qadim after I run campaigns in Ravenloft and Planescape." Most people never get that far!

So Al Qadim has always been this untouched jewel of a setting, a product line loaded with fantastic adventures and concepts that a lot of people are unaware of.

This is partly why I was so pleased to see Genies Great and Small released on the DM's Guild from Kobold Press. Kobold Press is run by Wolfgang Baur, the guy who wrote one of my absolute favorite Al Qadim products: Secrets of the Lamp.

This book details and stats out a bunch of different types of genies, many of which are 5e conversions of genie variants found in 2e products.

Art: They actually got Karl Waller to do the art. He's the guy who did virtually all of the interior art for every single Al Qadim product. That makes this feel very "official".

The Cover: The one thing that sticks out to me as a negative has to do with the look of the book. The cover has black and white art, but also utilizes blue text and a blue border.

It feels odd to have a color cover with black and white art on it. I guess you could pull it off if you did it Sin City style, but that's not really Al Qadim at all.

The font is very, very 90's. It's the "Image comics Youngblood issue 3 is coming soon!" font. I would have preferred it if they went with a font more in keeping with the tone of an Arabian setting.

The blue border bugs me, too. Why is it there? The old Al Qadim books have these very intricate patterns for borders, I'd have preferred something like that.

The Genies: So, what's in the book? Here's a quick overview.

Gen: We start off with gens, who have always been mega-popular in my games.

A gen is a little servant that "fetches spells" for a spellcaster (called a sha'ir). In some products, gens are described as elemental animals, but in my campaigns they were always one-foot tall genie people. They were always mega-popular NPCs.

I am very happy to say that they are depicted in this book as little genie people. We get art, stats and everything. That's actually a fire gen on the cover.

Each of them has a description of how they die in their stat block. Earth gens disintegrate into crystalline powder, stuff like that.

Bottled Genie: We get a special description and template of bottled genies. These bottled genies are insane and have mind-affecting powers.

I would use this, but I definitely wouldn't declare that all genies that are trapped in a bottle go insane, as that cuts down on the fun things you can do with a bottled genie.

New Genies: We get some new genie types:
  • Alnnakhi: Lone genies who dwell in lonely, isolated places.
  • Khamsir: Genies made of shifting sand.
  • Nafurzi: Water genies who have been banished from their home plane. They are bound to a single body of water, such as a lake or river. I really like this one.

Tasked Genies: There are tons of these, all pulled from 2e. Some are a bit dull - an architect genie? A miner genie?

Others are really cool. Oathbinder genies create and enforce contracts between two parties. Guardian genie have two faces on their heads and.. guard stuff.

It's a short book. 20 pages! But nothing wrong with that. It's very well done and has a lot of very useful things in it.

Print Version: The print version of this book is great! It has a nice sturdy cover and smooth interior pages with gold color used generously.

Overall: I would say that any campaign can benefit from the inclusion of a gen sidekick, a genie in a bottle, or a harem guarded by a tasked genie. The pdf is only five bucks!

Good stuff!

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