Welcome, traveller, to the city of delights, the city of a thousand and one pleasures, the city of Baghdad. And yes, noble visitor, all the stories you have heard are true.
This is not the war-torn Baghdad of the present day but the Baghdad of the Arabian Nights, the Baghdad of stories. Under the reign of the wise and munificent Sultan Haroun al Rashief, the city is a haven of art, culture, science and learning. Genies, magic carpets, lamps, rings, 40 thieves, sailors… The tales immortalised in the Thousand Nights and One Night are almost as old as civilisation itself. And they are all here in the City in a Bottle.
Over *there*, the docks where Sindbad is preparing to set sail for another voyage. *There*, the tailor who was present at Aladdin’s wedding in far-off China. *There*, a barber who will tell you the most wonderful tale while trimming your beard – it’s not a problem that’s he’s completely blind, is it?
This is a land formed by stories, shaped by the tales told. The tale truly has grown in the telling… Play along with the story and things *will* work out – go against the tale and you may just attract the Evil Eye. [In game mechanics terms, any action that flows *against* the narrative logic of the story being told suffers a -1 penalty, with any roll ending up a 1 due to this counting as a natural 1 for the purposes of triggering a GM Intrusion].
In Baghdad, the stories will find you. When you translate in you may choose to take the form of an animal, cursed into this form by an evil Djinn. The quest you must undertake to return yourself to your human form will intermingle with those of your fellow travellers – after all, the tale-within-a-tale is a staple of the Thousand Nights and One Night.
The city itself is surrounded by desert on 3 sides, and an endless sea on the fourth. The islands in that sea are worthy of a thousand thousand stories! If, indeed, they are islands! My barber told me of a fish so large it is mistaken for an island, especially by the people living on it’s back – or was that a turtle. Another sailor returned half-mad, delirious, and raving of an island covered in gemstones, each stone having trapped within it a beautiful maiden. Alas, he failed to bring one back with him.
Venture into the desert and you may find the lost City of Brass, the wondrous city of Petra in it’s gorge, monasteries in the high mountains where you may be taught the wisdom of the monks dwelling there. Perhaps, even, a cave of wonders – touch only the lamp…
In the old quarter of the city lies the Bazaar. Here you may haggle over goods from throughout the City in a Bottle – and beyond, for certain stall-holders have the Spark and travel the Strange looking for interesting Cyphers and Oddities to sell. Caveat emptor has never been more important!
The Oasis of the Seven Palms
Two days’ journey into the desert towards the rising sun will bring you, if luck is with you, to this Oasis. Camp there for three days and you are guaranteed a visit from a Djinn prince and his retinue. Camp for four days and you will never return.
The carpet can carry as many passengers at it’s level, flies roughly 1m above ground level and is not affected by flying over water. It can travel faster than the Sultan’s fastest racehorse for it’s level in hours before it sinks gently to the ground and rests until the following sunrise.
This? Just a battered old lamp
Whoever owns the lamp, controls the Djinn imprisoned within. Some Djinn welcome their captivity as it takes them away from the endless politics and in-fighting of the Elemental Courts. Others despise their captivity and will twist the wishes of those who own their prison.