Arabian Nights:Fundamentals

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As you would expect, this page is under construction. It will change substantially.


In Arabian Nights, characters are represented by six characteristics. They are Strength, Skill, Grace, Wisdom, Bearing, and Sorcery. Each characteristic is assigned a number and a description.

1 - Pitiful 2 - Humble 3 - Modest 4 – Great 5 – Amazing 6 – Heroic 7 – Fantastic

Why are they not solely described by a number? I feel that assigning a word as well as a number lets players get a good sense of what the various numbers represent. Also, this makes it easily for GMs to quickly design NPCs. If they can come up with a mental picture of a character, they can easily write down stats. I like words; you don’t have to use them.

Fantastic means, well, fantastic. A character with fantastic strength is most likely a giant, a roc, or some other creature of legend. Ordinary people can never have fantastic characteristics. Heroic generally represents the highest attainable human level.

A typical person (though not a typical villain or hero) has mostly humble characteristics, but may excel in one or more areas. For example, a typical soldier would have modest strength.

Also, there are no classes, levels, hit points, armor classes, initiative modifiers, or anything of the sort. Everything is contained within these attributes. (sort of; see skill below) (also, monsters have another stat, but I’ll get to that later)


Strength represents a character’s physical might, health and fortitude. A character with Heroic strength can fight off a deadly poison, wrestle a tiger, kill a man in a single blow, and run for many miles without tiring.


Skill represents a character’s skill with his hands. A character with amazing skill might be a master swordfighter, a consummate thief, or an expert bronzeworker. Skill is a funny characteristic. It represents all sort of things, from lockpicking to sailing, and so has a few rules to go with it.

Not everyone can use their skill characteristic to the same level on every task. Any particular character will generally only know a few of the following skills:

Craftsman Horseman Sailor Warrior Thief

If a character does not possess a particular skill, he is treated as having no more than humble skill (regardless of what his true attribute is). If a character does possess a certain skill, he uses his full attribute.


Grace represents reflexes, agility, and stealth.


Wisdom represents knowledge and insight.


Bearing represents charisma, luck, and dramatic relevance.


Sorcery represents a character’s command over elemental forces and arcane texts.

Al-Qadim has forever married the concepts of Arabian nights and Vancian magic in my mind. Unfortunately, that means sha’irs memorize whimsical spells from ancient tomes, and unleash powerful effects that cause the magic to be wiped from their minds.

If it is any consolation, the spells I will use owe much more to Vance’s original Dying Earth than to Dungeons & Dragons.

But even if you don’t like the magic I use, I would encourage you to look into my game if you have an interest in action-oriented Arabian RPG.

Feats and Contests[edit]

These characteristics let characters do all sorts of neat things. A feat might be something as difficult as haggling with a stubborn merchant in the bazaar, or as easy as steering a ship around terrible whirlpool that rips through the very fabric of the world.

There is no fundamental difference between struggling against another character, or simply against nature. All feats have difficulties ranging from 1 to 7 (they can also be assigned descriptive adjectives; see above). If two characters are facing off in a contest of strength, they each roll two six-sided dice, pick the lowest number, add it to their strength scores, and compare the results. If a character is trying to pick a lock, he will do the same thing (using his skill instead) and the GM will roll as well, adding his result to the lock’s difficulty.