I spent some time last night trying to reconcile my affection for the Al Qadim setting with my mixed review of Arabian Adventures. In part I feel like AA delivered just the right amount of background to get me launched and just the right number of special rules required to simulate the region. I also recalled one of the first exposures I had had with Al Qadim, the free sourcebooks available from Wizards of the Coast.
Some time ago I downloaded these books and flipped through them. There's a lot of material to get through, one of the hallmarks of Al Qadim seems to be profuse background material. I stumbled across a mini adventure set at the Burning Pool of Natifa. The pool is an oasis inhabited by a ghost named Natifa.
"Near the southern edge of the pool stands a stone oven, along with a collection of gleaming copper pots, pans, kettles, forks, knives, and plates.
A ghost named Natifa, who appears as an elderly woman with rich brown skin and shoulder-length hair as white as a chicken egg, lives on the bottom of the pool. Natifa occasionally surfaces to perch atop the fountain. When a stranger approaches, Natifa may ask him to prepare her a meal. If the stranger declines, Natifa politely but firmly asks him to leave. If she is in a playful mood, she may toss a handful of flaming arafaj in his direction.
If the stranger agrees, Natifa asks him to name the dish he intends to prepare (the more exotic the dish, the more intrigued she will be). If the dish requires special ingredients, she will fetch them. The dish must be prepared on her stone oven, using her cookware and utensils.
When the stranger completes the dish, Natifa descends from the fountain to sample it. If the food displeases her, she casts it into the pool, throwing the stranger in after it, then disappears. The stranger will have to navigate the flaming arafaj to return to shore. If Natifa enjoys the dish, she shows her appreciation by aiding the stranger, usually by offering information..."
What an awesome encounter! There's drama, a reward, supernatural mystery, and humor. This spirit seems to permeate Al Qadim and make it a very entertaining setting.