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Caravans (1994)

The more D&D stuff I read, the more I feel relief and maybe a little enthusiasm when I see Rick Swan’s name in the credits. He’s a reliable writer who almost always delivers solid material that lands squarely on the premise. Such is the case with Caravans (1994), the final box in the Al-Qadim line. The last handful of products strayed from the central theme of Arabian Nights-inspired adventure, but Caravans returns there for the curtain call.

There are multiple djinn, for instance — I might be forgetting some, but I think the last three boxes has one djinn appearance between them. One TOTAL. That’s not enough djinn! Further evidence that Caravans returns to the unusual source material: the first scenario is called “The Talking Tent” and another scenario involves a giant skeleton flying on the back of a giant skeletal roc. There is a fortune-telling carpet. It’s pretty great, even if it is still fairly events-based. It doesn’t really have an adventure frame, either, other than these all take place in caravan-friendly regions of the high desert. Which is a relief! Most of the latter box frames felt perfunctory anyway.

Karl Waller is on point as ever. His giant skeleton riding giant roc is one of the most ridiculous illustrations in the entire line but he somehow manages to give it the same weight as all his other work. Not feeling the Fred Fields cover though. Not entirely Fred’s fault — the banner and the djinn’s eye are just…I hate that overlap. It isn’t entirely NOT Fred’s fault either. That camel’s proportions seem…strange.

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