After 4 weeks of scheduling problems, we finally managed to play last Thursday. I ran my ongoing Al-Qadim campaign. This week’s session started with the PCs in the City of Brass, in the middle of an adventure in the Secrets of the Lamp box.
For this campaign, I only run published adventures. These have the same problem as most of the Type II adventures TSR published at the time: They are not that good, and often unplayable as written. It’s often as if the designer wrote the adventure in a vacuum, and it’s obvious these adventures weren’t written for an ongoing campaign, or even playtested. The modules make assumptions about player actions and situations that will never happen in actual play.
For example, this was the second adventure in which the PCs were supposed to be captured. I’ve been playing this game in one form of the other for more than 25 years, and I’ve never had a player character allowing himself to be captured. PCs fight to the dead, or escape. But surrender? Never.
In this adventure, an efreeti noble falls in love with the female PC and tries to seduce her. When she doesn’t respond to his advances, he enslaves the PCs and takes away their equipment. At least, that how it’s written. My players, however, were able to put some salt in the food, thereby establishing the salt bond. The efreet was unable to take them as his slaves, and had to treat them as his honored guests. It was a lot of fun, and a real accomplishment on part of the players, probably worth a lot more XP than I awarded them for it. But the adventure as written didn’t help me here at all.
So what else happened? My favorite bit was when the PCs bought a magical palace, had the bill send to the efreeti noble, and had one of their fire salamander escorts sign for it. And after they had stolen the efreeti’s albino nightmare, instead of riding it in the horserace (as was written in the module, of course) they went back to the efreeti palace and looted it, among other things stealing his other nightmares and geldings. Good fun!