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Mythological Figures: Aladdin (5E)

What a fantastic subject for Mythological Figures! Aladdin is our first entry from the Middle East and an interesting example of what makes a myth just that—for starters, despite being the most popular character from 1,001 Arabian Nights, he’s a late addition to the book by a Frenchman translator (who heard it from a Syrian storyteller from Aleppo, a Maronite scholar named Youhenna Diab). Incidentally as well despite what we’re all likely to think, the character was originally Chinese. This amalgamation of misconceptions and changes (from storyteller to translator to now) are one of the defining traits of a myth and what makes it a wonderful cultural artifact. Mythology is win.

Aladdin banner.jpg


That said you can use the standard Spy NPC in lieu of the class build below for a more authentic version of the original character, upping his Intelligence to a 15.

GMs that are keen to something a little more exciting (and durable) should use the House-of-Maus version of Aladdin below—complete with a feat for the gimmicky and sneaky throwing of things and skill bonuses to support plenty of fun rogue action. Regardless of which version of the character you use, be very wary of giving him a proper magic lamp (ie a ring of wishes) because nothing gets adventurers to instantly lose their valor like the prospect of wishes only one quick thief’s death away.

As ever we’re keen to add onto the list of characters to design for this column so comment with who you want to see!

Design Notes: At the end of the day Aladdin’s a proper thief and that’s the build I went with, although picking out feats was a little bit of a struggle. Eventually I landed on “Fortune” and “Stealther” to represent his narrative power—when using him as an NPC, utilize his high skill bonuses and lucky nature to play politic or bait the party into a chase (or dungeon, or cave hidden beneath the desert sands, or the plans of a corrupt vizier in a nearby city).

Aladdin
Medium humanoid (human), neutral good rogue (thief) 8

Armor Class 14 (padded)
Hit Points 52 (8d8+16)
Speed 30 ft.

STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
11 (+0)16 (+3)14 (+2)12 (+1)12 (+1)14 (+2)

Saving Throws Dex +6, Int +5
Skills Acrobatics +9, Athletics +6, Deception +5, Perception +4, Sleight of Hand +9, Stealth +9; thieves’ tools +6
Senses passive Perception 14
Languages Common, Thieves’ Cant
Challenge 3 (700 XP)

Cunning Action (1/turn). Aladdin can take a bonus action to take the Dash, Disengage, Hide, Use Object action, Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) check, or to use thieves’ tools to disarm a trap or open a lock.

Evasion. When Aladdin is subjected to an effect that allows him to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, he instead takes no damage if he succeeds on the saving throw, and only half damage if he fails.

Feat: Fortune Points (3/long rest). Aladdin can spend 1 fortune point to reroll an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, or to force an attacker to reroll an attack made against him.

Feat: Stealther. Aladdin can attempt to hide even when he is only lightly obscured from a creature he’s trying to hide from. In addition, Aladdin’s position isn’t revealed when he misses with a ranged weapon attack against a creature he’s hidden from, and he does not have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks in dim light.

Second-Story Work. Climbing does not cost Aladdin extra movement. When he makes a running jump, the distance he covers increases by 3 feet.

Sneak Attack (1/turn). Aladdin deals an extra 14 (4d6) damage when he hits a target with a weapon attack and has advantage on the attack roll, or when the target is within 5 feet of an ally of Aladdin that isn’t incapacitated and Aladdin doesn’t have disadvantage on the attack roll.

ACTIONS

Dagger. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft. or thrown 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d4+3) piercing damage.

Stone. Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 20/40 ft., one target. Hit: 4 bludgeoning damage.

REACTIONS

Uncanny Dodge. When an attacker Aladdin can see hits him with an attack, Aladdin can use his reaction to halve the attack’s damage against him.
 
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Mike Myler

Mike Myler

dave2008

Legend
Thank you for another entry! I would be curious to know how you came up with the CR. Cunning action and Evasion have precedents in the DMG guidelines, but I was wondering how you handled sneak attack and uncanny dodge

To be clear, I am just curious on your method as I have found it hard to quantify a CR based on these abilities.
 

Rhineglade

Explorer
A rub on this lamp will bring riches & fame
This lamp is well guarded by torrents & flame
But one dare secure it, Aladdin's his name
He liveth on the corner of Chow and Main
- Popeye's "Aladdin"

 

Mike Myler

www.epic5e.com/ KS ends April 22nd!
A rub on this lamp will bring riches & fame
This lamp is well guarded by torrents & flame
But one dare secure it, Aladdin's his name
He liveth on the corner of Chow and Main
- Popeye's "Aladdin"

Can't stop hearing that in Robin Williams' voice.

Thank you for another entry! I would be curious to know how you came up with the CR. Cunning action and Evasion have precedents in the DMG guidelines, but I was wondering how you handled sneak attack and uncanny dodge

To be clear, I am just curious on your method as I have found it hard to quantify a CR based on these abilities.

You are most welcome! Some hotly requested characters are on deck! :D

Sneak Attack is pretty straightforward--you should assume the GM is using an NPC/monster correctly and add it to the total damage per round.
Uncanny dodge is a little more abstract. It certainly isn't as useful as common resistances (IE weapons) but it should account for *roughly* CR x 10 hp or so because you can figure at least one attack each round (which might be the opening booming blade smite combo or a fireball spell) is getting nixed down to pennies.
 


Xavian Starsider

First Post
As for being the "most popular" character from 1,001 Arabian Nights, I disagree and put him at third on the list. He is certainly well known to the modern audience but that is largely due to the Disney movie, which is a lot of fun and a great movie, but we all know Disney has a tenuous attachment to source material. He is as mulch a construct of Arabian Nights as Dopey and Sneezy are created by the brothers Grimm, or Sebastian the Crab was penned by Hans Christian Andersen.

I would offer that Sinbad has had a far greater impact than Aladdin has, including the cinematic impact. Aladdin has been in the minds of children for a few decades but Sinbad was delighting them for most of the 20th century.

But if you want to count the awareness of the story that Disney has brought to us as being attributed to 1,001 Arabian Nights, then the most popular character, hands down, is the genie.
 

Mike Myler

www.epic5e.com/ KS ends April 22nd!
Padded armor?

latest


Is this the male version of the chainmail bikini?

:)

Ya street rat!

As for being the "most popular" character from 1,001 Arabian Nights, I disagree and put him at third on the list. He is certainly well known to the modern audience but that is largely due to the Disney movie, which is a lot of fun and a great movie, but we all know Disney has a tenuous attachment to source material. He is as mulch a construct of Arabian Nights as Dopey and Sneezy are created by the brothers Grimm, or Sebastian the Crab was penned by Hans Christian Andersen.

I would offer that Sinbad has had a far greater impact than Aladdin has, including the cinematic impact. Aladdin has been in the minds of children for a few decades but Sinbad was delighting them for most of the 20th century.

But if you want to count the awareness of the story that Disney has brought to us as being attributed to 1,001 Arabian Nights, then the most popular character, hands down, is the genie.

There is no genie without Aladdin, is there? Also this is a bit of a request thread--a lot of folks wanted Aladdin, so he's up there. Next week's entry is also one of the more requested ones and a great example of a myth but way older and sort of on the other end of the spectrum. That said Sinbad wasn't on the list yet and now he is! :D
 


Jay Verkuilen

Grand Master of Artificial Flowers
Thank you for another entry! I would be curious to know how you came up with the CR. Cunning action and Evasion have precedents in the DMG guidelines, but I was wondering how you handled sneak attack and uncanny dodge

To be clear, I am just curious on your method as I have found it hard to quantify a CR based on these abilities.

Usually you can figure a CR from comparison to various NPCs built to approximate a PC listed in the MM and Volo's. I don't have it in front of me but a rough guide is 2*Hit Dice/3, so I think Alladin's CR is probably too low by that logic. Of course, I tend to think that the CR math is wonky but even so, it looks too low. Of course this build is pretty far from optimized for a combat challenge, so... eh. In the right kind of game, this would be a fun PC.
 

Jay Verkuilen

Grand Master of Artificial Flowers
As for being the "most popular" character from 1,001 Arabian Nights, I disagree and put him at third on the list. <snip>

I would offer that Sinbad has had a far greater impact than Aladdin has, including the cinematic impact. Aladdin has been in the minds of children for a few decades but Sinbad was delighting them for most of the 20th century.

View attachment 97076

You are SO right, my friend! I'm way more popular than some street rat from Bukhara!


But if you want to count the awareness of the story that Disney has brought to us as being attributed to 1,001 Arabian Nights, then the most popular character, hands down, is the genie.

Definitely.
 

dave2008

Legend
Usually you can figure a CR from comparison to various NPCs built to approximate a PC listed in the MM and Volo's. I don't have it in front of me but a rough guide is 2*Hit Dice/3, so I think Alladin's CR is probably too low by that logic. Of course, I tend to think that the CR math is wonky but even so, it looks too low. Of course this build is pretty far from optimized for a combat challenge, so... eh. In the right kind of game, this would be a fun PC.

Oh, let me clarify. I am quite proficient at calculating CR per the DMG and that is how I prefer to do it. I am only interested in comparative analysis as check after the CR has been calculated. However, the DMG doesn't have all possible features / traits listed that could affect CR. That is why I was asking another designer how they handled features that are not explicitly listed in the DMG or do not have obvious analogs. I was not so interested in the final CR, but how the author got there - does that make sense?
 

Wyvern

Explorer
I just discovered this series today, so I'm going to use this space to comment on the series as a whole. I love the idea, but there are a couple of improvements you could make:

First, it would be nice to see what backgrounds you chose for them. Based on the number of skills listed for each, it appears that they do *have* backgrounds, but I can't always figure what they are. Aladdin is obviously an Urchin, and Musashi appears to be a Soldier, but I don't know what to make of Joan of Arc. (I would've pegged her as a Folk Hero, but she doesn't have Survival proficiency listed, and "Divine Connection" isn't a feature of any background in the book. Also, she has one more skill listed than she'd normally get from bard + background, which could be accounted for by taking the feat + skill option at 1st level -- but that leads to me wonder why none of the others have that extra skill.) Lancelot is proficient in Deception, which means his background must be either Charlatan or Criminal, and Achilles' proficiency in Religion could only come from either Acolyte or Hermit.

(All of this assumes that you're going by-the-book, of course. But that seems to be the case in other respects, so...)

Secondly, I'm puzzled by the fact that you've consistently given the feats different names from the book. Since their descriptions are accurate in all other respects, I can only assume it's intentional, but I don't know why you'd do that.

As for suggestions for future people to cover, I'm pretty sure that all my ideas have already been mentioned, but I'll just echo the requests for Robin Hood, Beowulf, Merlin, Morgan le Fay, Daedalus, Odysseus and Sinbad. And if you're willing to entertain the inclusion of more recent literary figures, I'd love to see the Scarlet Pimpernel. Judge Dee, too, though I'm not sure how well he fits into any of the classic D&D archetypes (you could always write him up as an NPC, though).

Wyvern
 

Wyvern

Explorer
As for being the "most popular" character from 1,001 Arabian Nights, I disagree and put him at third on the list. He is certainly well known to the modern audience but that is largely due to the Disney movie... I would offer that Sinbad has had a far greater impact than Aladdin has, including the cinematic impact. Aladdin has been in the minds of children for a few decades but Sinbad was delighting them for most of the 20th century.

I think you're mistaken about which character is more popular. The Disney movie undoubtedly raised Aladdin's profile, but I'm certain the story was already well-known even before that. (And the same goes for the story of Ali Baba, whom I'd rate as second most well-known after Aladdin.) For one thing, it's a staple of British pantomime. And while it's probably true that the majority of people over a certain age have at least heard of Sinbad, I doubt that many of them could tell you anything about the actual stories. I've actually read (a version of) the Arabian Nights when I was younger, something that's not true of most people, and the only thing I remember is that there's a roc in them.

There may have been more movies made about Sinbad, but the most famous are the Harryhausen trilogy, the last one of which came out before I (or, I suspect, many of the other posters here) was even born. Then it was another 30 years before the Dreamworks animated version, which tanked. Not that any of them were particularly true to the original stories in any case.

Wyvern
 

Mike Myler

www.epic5e.com/ KS ends April 22nd!
I just discovered this series today, so I'm going to use this space to comment on the series as a whole. I love the idea, but there are a couple of improvements you could make:

<3!

First, it would be nice to see what backgrounds you chose for them. Based on the number of skills listed for each, it appears that they do *have* backgrounds, but I can't always figure what they are. Aladdin is obviously an Urchin, and Musashi appears to be a Soldier, but I don't know what to make of Joan of Arc. (I would've pegged her as a Folk Hero, but she doesn't have Survival proficiency listed, and "Divine Connection" isn't a feature of any background in the book. Also, she has one more skill listed than she'd normally get from bard + background, which could be accounted for by taking the feat + skill option at 1st level -- but that leads to me wonder why none of the others have that extra skill.) Lancelot is proficient in Deception, which means his background must be either Charlatan or Criminal, and Achilles' proficiency in Religion could only come from either Acolyte or Hermit.

(All of this assumes that you're going by-the-book, of course. But that seems to be the case in other respects, so...)

Part of this gets answered next. Achilles and Lancelot I wasn't quite sure what I was doing with this series yet (Morrus just emailed me with a request for 5E content and this was where we got from that). I don't have any notes otherwise so I think they got NPC-skill treatment (which is to say "pick two after class"). Joan is a Hermit! Her Divine Mandate is her Discovery feature. :D

Secondly, I'm puzzled by the fact that you've consistently given the feats different names from the book. Since their descriptions are accurate in all other respects, I can only assume it's intentional, but I don't know why you'd do that.

The only feat on the Systems Reference Document is Grappler. I can ape the mechanics of other feats but can't call them the same thing and absolutely cannot use the same wording because they are not part of the Open Game License (so the language of almost all 5E feats can only be printed by WotC). Whether or not this column counts as a publication or not (yes? I think it does?), to be on the safe side (and in the event that EN World publishes these in a collection or something) anything that isn't on the OGL but appearing here is altered as such so it's all kosher. It's not just feats either, it's class archetypes as well.
I'm glad they're coming across the bow!

As for suggestions for future people to cover, I'm pretty sure that all my ideas have already been mentioned, but I'll just echo the requests for Robin Hood, Beowulf, Merlin, Morgan le Fay, Daedalus, Odysseus and Sinbad. And if you're willing to entertain the inclusion of more recent literary figures, I'd love to see the Scarlet Pimpernel. Judge Dee, too, though I'm not sure how well he fits into any of the classic D&D archetypes (you could always write him up as an NPC, though).

Indeed these are all in the queue but I'll tack on Scarlet Pimpernel and Judge Dee (eventually I'm going to be hurting for subjects).

Thank you for reading the column! ^_^
 

Wyvern

Explorer
Part of this gets answered next.
By "next" do you mean the next article in the series? Do you plan to retroactively add background information to the ones you've already done?

Joan is a Hermit! Her Divine Mandate is her Discovery feature. :D
Ah, I see. I had to check the description of the hermit to see what the Discovery feature was, and I can see how it would apply. (I also note that if she's a Hermit, she should have proficiency with herbalism kits.) I still think Folk Hero fits her better, though; she came from a peasant background, and I don't see anything in her Wikipedia bio to suggest that she had a sheltered upbringing. In fact, looking at the list of choices for a Folk Hero's "defining event", I see several that could be interpreted in a way that applies to her (#1, #5 and #9, if you're interested).

The only feat on the Systems Reference Document is Grappler. I can ape the mechanics of other feats but can't call them the same thing and absolutely cannot use the same wording because they are not part of the Open Game License
Hadn't even thought of that, but it makes sense.

Wyvern
 

While the story about Aladdin and the Genie in the Lamp is described as taking place in "China", the original story clearly takes place in an Arabic and not Chinese cultural context. "China" is here merely a stand in for the generic "kingdom far far away".
 

Yaarel

Legend
This looks a solid entry. Depicting a modestly powerful rogue, seems plausible.

I am unfamiliar with the ‘mythologically accurate’ Aladdin.

One thing puzzles me.

If the origin of the story is about a Chinese antihero, how does he get the Arabian name Aladdin − presumably meaning Allah din, God of judgment. (I get how God judges the true intent of a person, so this ‘thief’ is in some sense innocent.) But how does a Chinese figure get an Arabian name?

What is the original Chinese name of this man?

Then again, what is a Chinese person doing with an Arabian djinn?
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Please try BLUEBEARD as figure.
Yaarel you will be surprise how the names and locations of heroes/villains change from their actual first origin.
 

Von Ether

Adventurer
As for being the "most popular" character from 1,001 Arabian Nights, I disagree and put him at third on the list. He is certainly well known to the modern audience but that is largely due to the Disney movie, which is a lot of fun and a great movie, but we all know Disney has a tenuous attachment to source material. He is as mulch a construct of Arabian Nights as Dopey and Sneezy are created by the brothers Grimm, or Sebastian the Crab was penned by Hans Christian Andersen.

I would offer that Sinbad has had a far greater impact than Aladdin has, including the cinematic impact. Aladdin has been in the minds of children for a few decades but Sinbad was delighting them for most of the 20th century.

But if you want to count the awareness of the story that Disney has brought to us as being attributed to 1,001 Arabian Nights, then the most popular character, hands down, is the genie.

Seeing as how every kid in the 70s and 80s "knew" that phrase "Open Sesame" was what Aladdin said to open his cave of 40 thieves. Quite a few of us probably knew that from other cartoons (Looney Toons), I'll agree to disagree that he was much less known Sinbad. On that note, I think they were pretty close tie back then.
 

Xavian Starsider

First Post
Seeing as how every kid in the 70s and 80s "knew" that phrase "Open Sesame" was what Aladdin said to open his cave of 40 thieves. Quite a few of us probably knew that from other cartoons (Looney Toons), I'll agree to disagree that he was much less known Sinbad. On that note, I think they were pretty close tie back then.

Since Open Sesame comes from Ali Baba, not Aladdin, you may have unwittingly helped prove my point.
 

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