This is the second in a series - a completely new concept in gaming aids for the DUNGEON & DRAGONS Game System. Within these covers is a complete historical, economical, geographical, and sociological overview of the Emirates of Ylaruam. The village of Kirkuk is presented in great detail (with both descriptions and a map of the area) as a typical village in the Emirates. An extended section on campaigning in the Emirates will also aid the DM in preparing his own adventures as well as enrich the playing of published adventures.
In addition, there is a full-size, color map of the Emirates, the cities of Surra-Man-Raa and Tameronikas, a typical Emirates Village, and a caravan village. This map is fully compatible with all Gazetteers in this series, so that DMs and players can put them side by side for comparison and/or play.
This series of Gazetteers provides a rich tapestry of background material for player and DM alike and is sure to benefit the gamer immeasurably.
GAZ2: “The Emirates of Ylaruam” (1987), by Ken Rolston, is the second book in the "GAZ" series of Gazetteers for the Known World. It was published in April 1987.
Continuing the “GAZ” Sourcebooks. Like its predecessor, GAZ1: "The Grand Duchy of Karameikos" (1987), this is a 64-page sourcebook detailing a large region of the Known World. Also like its predecessor, it was written by a well-known freelancer from the ‘80s: Ken Rolston.
“The Emirates of Ylaruam” confirms that the “GAZ” books are largely intended for GMs. However, it also continues to provide some player information: the middle eight pages of the book are designed as a pull-out that can be given to players. This pull-out describes basic information about the setting and provides specific rules for Ylari characters.
The basic player information is titled “What Everyone Knows about the Emirates” and it’s composed of first person narratives. This format likely originated from Ken Rolston’s previous work with RuneQuest (1978), which uses a similar format to describe cultures.
Otherwise, “The Emirates of Ylaruam” continues to offer much of the same cultural information as “The Grand Duchy of Karameikos” — including sections on history, geography, people, economics, and society. The book also contains the bright, colorful maps that would become the trademark of the Known World.
A History of D&D Deserts. Deserts were a surprisingly popular locale for adventures in D&D’s early days. Notable desert adventures prior to “The Emirates of Ylaruam” included Tracy Hickman’s I3-5 “Desert of Desolation” adventures (1982-1983), Zeb Cook’s X4-5 “Desert Nomads” adventures (1983), and Allen Hammack’s I9: “The Day of Al’Akbar” (1986).
Expanding the Known World. Where “The Grand Duchy of Karameikos” detailed a well-known area of the Known World, “The Emirates of Ylaruam” described an area of the Known World that was almost unknown previously. Ylaruam lies to the northeast of Karameikos, and can be found on early maps. It was also the setting of B4: “The Lost City” (1982) — though that early module describes nothing of Ylaruam, instead focusing on what lies beneath the desert sands. That was all that was known of Ylaruam prior to 1987.
“The Emirates of Ylaruam” thus provides details on Ylaruam for the first time. It includes lots of general information on the region and heavily details one specific locale: the village of Kirkuk. The village isn’t a particularly important place within the Emirates, but it’s a great example of what life is like in the region, across many similar villages.
Ylaruam have been widely described as an “Arabian Nights” setting. It’s certainly an Arabic (like) society with an an Islamic (like) religion. By purposefully adapting a real-world society, “The Emirates of Ylaruam” set the model for the continued growth of the Known World, where new countries would often be based on Earth civilizations, transformed into fantasy realms.
“The Emirates of Ylaruam” also contains some additional details on the ancient Nithian people of the Known World.
Future History. “The Jade Hare” (1992), a limited-edition 8-page adventure given away by the Mail Order Hobby Shop, was lightly set in Ylaruam, but that’s the only later focus the area received. In the ‘90s, folks interested in Arabian adventures would instead have to seek out Jeff Grubb’s Al-Qadim (1992).
About the Creators. Though Rolston is best known for his work on the RuneQuest and Paranoia lines, he started freelancing for the D&D games with C3: “The Lost Island of Castanamir” (1984). In 1987, Rolston also authored IM3: “The Best of Intentions” (1987) for the Known World. He’d later write one more Gazetteer: GAZ7: “The Northern Reaches” (1988).
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.