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Golden Voyages (1992)

Al-Qadim this week! As the name implies, Golden Voyages (1992) is as inspired by the Sinbad stories as it is Hollywood’s adaptations of them (particularly Ray Harryhausen’s). This slim box set details the Crowded Sea, its islands, rules for nautical adventuring and a lengthy campaign. There’s a screen jammed in there too. Its a lot of stuff!

The ship rules are interesting. Most TSR-era ship rules (none of which are compatible) consist of ship attributes and rules for knocking them into each other until one sinks. Here, the ship is characterized less like a weapon and more as a combination of NPC and base of operations and even a tool. It’s an interesting, adventure- and roleplaying-focused approach and I like it quite a bit. There’s no combat rules at all — the campaign doesn’t need them, but I still would have liked them.

The campaign structure is interesting. It is very modular, defined by a loose framework of departure/journey/return. Where the players decide to journey determines their adventures. The plot centers on the retrieval of a great treasure for…reasons. Both the treasure and the reason, though, are customizable, with suggestions keyed for a variety of play styles. Thus, the treasures for power gamers clearly increase the power of their characters, and thus the lure of the adventure, and puzzle-focused players will get puzzle-focused prizes. This is one of the earliest examples of an adventure explicitly catering to play style that I am aware of!

There are some cool monsters, too — coral people and giant crab people. As with just about every Al-Qadim product, Karl Waller provides gorgeous interior art that suits the setting well. I’m less sold on the Easley cover, though.

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