5E Mythological Figures: Hayreddin Barbarossa

Mythological Figures is tackling a man of many, many names today—titles well earned and somehow less numerous than the seemingly countless battles he won on land and sea on behalf of the Ottoman Empire. Prepare yourself for Hayreddin Barbarossa!


Hayreddin Barbarossa 5e banner.jpg


First of all let’s make this clear: from here on out I’m mostly going to be referring to this fellow by his birth name Khizr. You might ask, “Mike that seems silly why would you do that?

Wikipedia with my formatting for emphasis said:
Hayreddin Barbarossa (Arabic: خير الدين بربروس‎, romanized: Khayr ad-Din Barbarus), or Barbaros Kheireddin Pasha (Turkish: Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa or Hızır Hayrettin Paşa; also Hızır Reis before being promoted to the rank of Pasha and becoming the Kapudan Pasha), born Khizr or Khidr (c. 1478 – 4 July 1546), was an Ottoman admiral of the fleet who was born on the island of Lesbos and died in Istanbul, the Ottoman capital. Barbarossa's naval victories secured Ottoman dominance over the Mediterranean during the mid 16th century, from the Battle of Preveza in 1538 until the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

Hayreddin (from Arabic Khayr ad-Din, "goodness of the faith" or "best of the faith") was an honorary name given to him by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. He became known as "Barbarossa" ("Redbeard" in Italian) in Europe, a name he inherited from his elder brother Oruç Reis after he was killed in a battle with the Spanish in Algeria. Oruç was also known as "Baba Oruç" ("Father Oruç"), which sounded like "Barbarossa" to the Europeans, and since Oruç did have a red beard, the nickname stuck. In a process of linguistic reborrowing, the nickname then stuck back to Hayreddin's native Ottoman name, in the form Barbaros.
I think that this is the most involved etymology in the series thus far. He’s damn interesting though so let’s get to it!

As a youth Khizr helped the family pottery business by working clay but eventually he and his 3 brothers (Ilyas, Ishak, and Oruç) become seafarers, and then privateers not long after (to counteract the Knights of St. John privateering in the Meditteranean). Oruç was the first on the waves and pretty good at it, although eventually he and their father’s ship are captured, Ilyas dying in the attack by the Knights Hospitaller. Khizr figures out where his older brother is being kept (Bodrum) and helps effect an escape. Oruç goes on to Antalya where an Ottoman prince gives him a fleet of 18 galleys that more than doubles over the years of assaulting the coasts of Italy, eventually establishing a new base on the island of Djerba where Khizr joins him in 1503. They ally themselves with the Sultan of Tunisia (Abu Abdullah Mohammed Hamis) and over the course of the next decade they’re joined by their remaining brother Ishak (and also other famous Muslim corsairs) and raid: many ships on the Meditteranean Sea, the coasts of Calabria, Liguria, Sicily, Italy, Spain, Valencia, Algiers, Sardinia, and the Balearic Islands. In the meanwhile they also help transport Mudejars from Christian Pain to North Africa, Oruç loses an arm which he replaced with a silver prosthetic, they capture a ton of ships, and they build a gunpowder production facility at La Goulette (the island of the Sultan of Tunisia they call their own).

At the end of it in 1516 Oruç declares himself the Sultan of Algiers for a year before relinquishing the title to join the Ottoman Empire (the best protection against Spain), handing over the territory to Ottoman Sultan Selim I who in turn names him Governor of Algiers and Chief Sea Governor of the West Mediterranean. He outmaneuvers Spanish rival Abu Zayan, capturing the city of Tlemcen, but the Spaniards return in force with Emperor Charles V and 10,000 men that over the course of a 20 day battle (assisted by thousands of local Bedouins) take it back, killing Oruç and Ishak leaving Khizr without any living brothers. Sultan Selim I names Khizr the Beylerbey and he inherits his older brother’s support from the Ottoman Empire, his directives, and his name: Barbarossa.

Freshly reinforced by plenty of Turkish soldiers, at the end of 1518 Khizr retakes Tlemcen and resumes an aggressive stance with the capture of a Spanish-Italian army that attempted to take Algiers, took Spaniard ships, raided France, the Balearic Islands, Rhodes, Sardinia, and Calabria. For a decade and a half Khizr leads offensives all over the region, kicking ass and taking names the entire time. During that time he’s called back to Istanbul where at Topkapı Palace Sultan Suleiman names him Kapudan-i Derya ("Grand Admiral") of the Ottoman Navy, Beylerbey ("Chief Governor") of North Africa, and gives him the governments of the Sanjaks ("provinces") of Rhodes, Euboea, and Chios in the Aegean Sea.

In 1533 after some communiques are sent between them, King Francis the I of France hires out Khizr and his fleet to subjugate the Corsicans and Genoans (striking up an alliance that will become more important a decade later). At this point we’re getting long-winded in the post, so if anyone is interested in reading more about this guy basically winning all the time or knowing when to cut and run, check out the Wikipedia page linked below. In 1545 Khizr retires and dictates his memoirs, dying only a year later in his seaside palace in Istanbul. His mausoleum still stands today, a memorial for him (built in 1944) beside it—and rightly so, as few naval commanders anywhere in the world have a legacy like his.


Design Notes: We’re going to go ahead and give Khizr here a little bit of bard, some fighter, and a little bit of ranger—he was obviously inspiring to his troops, a solid commander in battle, and must have had a feel for being on the water to win so many fights. That leaves him with a statblock as long as his naval career, but for a multiclassing 20th level character that’s what you’re going to get. Speaking of numbers, let’s do them! The DMG gives Hayreddin a 10.8, the Blog of Holding lands on 11.166667, and while that averages to juuuust under 11 (at 10.9833333) I’m inclined to round up, particularly because he’s meant to be commanding other NPCs.


Hayreddin Barbarossa
Medium humanoid (human), lawful good fighter (warmaster) 11/bard (valorous) 5/ranger (hunter) 4
Armor Class 19 (half plate, fighting styles [defense, sealegs])
Hit Points 145 (15d10+5d8+40)
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft., swim 30 ft.
STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
12 (+1)​
14 (+2)​
14 (+2)​
20 (+5)​
14 (+2)​
16 (+3)​
Saving Throws Str +8, Con +8
Skills Athletics +8, History +11, Insight +8, Nature +11, Persuasion +9, Survival +8
Senses passive Investigation 20, passive Perception 17
Languages Arabic, French, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Turkish
Challenge 11 (7,200 XP)

Background: Noble - Lordship. Due to his position, Hayreddin is treated with a measure of respect wherever he goes. He is treated as royalty (or as closely as possible) by most peasants and traders, and as an equal when meeting other authority figures (who make time in their schedule to see him if requested to do so).

Action Surge (1/Short Rest). Once on his turn, Hayreddin can take an additional action on top of his regular action and a possible bonus action.

Bardic Inspiration 1d8 (3/Short Rest). As a bonus action on his turn, Hayreddin can choose one other creature within 60 feet who can hear him. That creature gains one Bardic Inspiration die, a d8. Once within the next 10 minutes, the creature can roll the die and add the number rolled to one ability check, attack roll, saving throw, or weapon damage roll it makes. The creature can wait until after it rolls before deciding to use the Bardic Inspiration die, but must decide before the GM says whether a roll succeeds or fails. In addition, a creature can use its reaction when attacked to use the Bardic Inspiration die, adding the result to its AC and possibly causing the attack to miss.

Favored Enemy: Beasts. Hayreddin has advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks to track beasts, as well as on Intelligence checks to recall information about them.

Feat: Brilliant. Hayreddin always knows how long it will be before the next sunset or sunrise, the northerly direction, and can perfectly remember anything he’s experienced within the last 31 days.

Feat: Perceptive. Hayreddin is able to read lips.

Fighting Style: Sealegs. As long as he is not wearing heavy armor or using a shield, Hayreddin gains a +1 bonus to AC, and he gains both climbing and swimming speeds equal to his speed.

Indomitable (1/Long Rest). Hayreddin can reroll a saving throw that he fails but must use the new roll.

Jack of All Trades. Hayreddin adds +3 to any ability check he makes that doesn’t already include his proficiency bonus.

Natural Explorer: Forests. When Hayreddin makes an Intelligence or Wisdom check related to coasts, his proficiency bonus (+6) is doubled if he is using History, Insight, Nature, or Survival. While traveling for an hour or more on the coast, he gains the following benefits: difficult terrain doesn’t slow his group’s travel, his group can’t become lost except by magical means, even when he engages in another activity while traveling he remains alert to danger, if he is traveling alone he can move stealthily at a normal pace, he finds twice as much food as he normally would when he forages, and while tracking other creatures he also learns their exact number, their sizes, and how long ago they passed through the area.

Primeval Awareness. Hayreddin can use his action and expend one spell slot to focus his awareness on the region around him. For 1 minute per level of the spell slot he expends, Hayreddin can sense whether the following types of creatures are present within 1 mile of him (or within up to 6 miles if he is near a coast): aberrations, celestials, dragons, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead. This feature doesn’t reveal the creatures’ location or number.

Second Wind (1/Short Rest). On his turn, Hayreddin can use a bonus action to regain 1d10+11 hit points.

Spellcasting. Hayreddin is a 7th level spellcaster that uses Charisma as his spellcasting ability for bard spells (spell save DC 17; +9 to hit with spell attacks) and Wisdom as his spellcasting ability for ranger spells (spell save DC 16, +8 to hit with spell attacks). He has the following spells prepared from the bard and ranger spell lists:
Cantrips: mending, true strike, vicious mockery
1st level (4 slots): longstrider, thunderwave; alarm, fog cloud, hunter’s mark
2nd level (3 slots): enhance ability, hold person, zone of truth
3rd level (3 slots): clairvoyance, fear, sending
4th level (1 slot): none​

Song of Rest. After a short rest, if Hayreddin or any friendly creatures who can hear his performance regain hit points by spending one or more Hit Dice, each of those creatures regains an extra 1d6 hit points.

Tactical Focal Point. Hayreddin selects a 10-foot square to be his tactical focal point as a bonus action or as part of the attack action, choosing one of the following benefits to apply to it. This lasts until he cannot take actions or uses this feature again. Each time Hayreddin completes a long rest, he can swap one of these benefits for a different one.
  • Area Clear. When an ally inside Hayreddin’s focal point hits a creature with an attack, the ally can move that creature 5 feet.
  • Cover the Flank. As many as three target creatures of Hayreddin’s choice can use a reaction to move up to their speed when an enemy that he can see enters his focal point, so long as that movement does not end in the focal point. If a target creature is ending their movement adjacent to the enemy that triggered this feature, they do not have to use their reaction.
  • Phalanx Sidestep. An ally inside of Hayreddin’s tactical focal point doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks as long as they move from a square adjacent to an ally and into another square adjacent to an ally. In addition, Hayreddin and his allies can end their movement in space occupied by an ally. The ally immediately moves 5 feet away from the direction they came in and must end movement inside of his tactical focal point.
  • Run Away! When an ally inside of Hayreddin’s tactical focal point is forced to make a Dexterity saving throw, they move up to their speed by using their reaction and are no longer subjected to the triggering effect if their movement takes them outside of the area or range.
Tactical Mastery (9/Long Rest). Hayreddin uses part of his Attack action or a bonus action to take mastery of the battlefield, granting it to himself and allies within his focal point by expending uses of this feature. A creature that is granted a use of Hayreddin’s Tactical Mastery can either regain 2d10 hit points when it is granted (any hit points greater than its maximum are temporary hit points) or use it to deal an extra 2d10 damage with an attack.


ACTIONS
Extra Attack. Hayreddin attacks three times.

Hordebreaker (1/Turn). When Hayreddin makes a weapon attack, he can make another attack with the same weapon against a different creature that is within 5 feet of the original target and within range of his weapon.

Dagger. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4+2) piercing damage.

Scimitar. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6+2) slashing damage.

Pistol (2). Ranged Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, range 30/90 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d10+2) piercing damage.

Musket. Ranged Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, range 40/120 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d12+2) piercing damage.

Tactical Maneuver (4/Long Rest). Each time Hayreddin completes a long rest, he can swap one of these benefits for a different one.
  • Confounding Maneuvering. Enemy creatures that are inside of Hayreddin’s Focal Point make a DC 19 Intelligence saving throw or can’t leave that area until the end of his next turn. In addition, Hayreddin can take the Attack action.
  • Coordinated Blows. Hayreddin takes the Attack action and uses deft commands to coordinate his companions to attack enemies and set them off-guard, knocking them down. Until the end of Hayreddin’s turn, enemies inside of his tactical focal point make a DC 19 Strength saving throw whenever they are hit by an attack or are they are knocked prone.
  • Move to Flank. Hayreddin takes the Attack action and calls out to as many as 2 allies that can see or hear him. They can use their reactions to move up to their speed. A creature makes a DC 19 Strength saving throw if it is adjacent to these allies or Hayreddin and one of these allies at the end of their movement. On a failure, it is restrained until the end of Hayreddin’s next turn.

REACTIONS
Leading Example. When Hayreddin hits a creature with a weapon attack, until the end of his next turn the target of his attack has disadvantage on saving throws against his Tactical Maneuvers.
 
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Mike Myler

Comments

Quartz

Explorer
Are those spells correct? Sure the spellcasting levels from Ranger and Bard stack, but the maximum spell levels from each class don't. See PHB p.164. So he can cast 3rd level Bard spells and 2nd level Ranger spells. And while he has a 4th level spell slot, he can only use it for upcasting lower-level spells - he can't actually cast any 4th level spells.
 

LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
Lawful good? ¡Y UN JAMÓN! ( = and a ham! a typical colloquial Spanish expression to emphasize a denial, telling with irony you are going to give all you have been asked, and also a ham). After the American Civil War there was still slavery in the Ottoman empire. The Spanish expression "moors in the coast" as sign of menace it was because Muslims pirates attacked our towns to capture slaves. The women sent to the haren, and the males to be castrated (not everybody survived) and sold as eunuchs.

Barbarossa as nPC is to be an antagonist, an enemy, not a friend of the PCs. You should thank Spanish victory in the battle of Lepanto, where Cervantes's was paralyzed by an injured, against Ottomans.

----

I suggest as Historical character a true warlord, Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, "el gran capitán". Other character I suggest from Emilio Salgari's literature is the Captain Storm (really the countess of Eboli). Now Emilio Salgari's work is public domain and we shouldn't worry about copyright, and we rescue them from the oblivion. Haven't you read "The Lion of Damascus", or hasn't it be translated to your language?
 

Rafael Martin

Explorer
Yes this is a great write up of Hayreddin Barbarossa, but that made me think of another seafaring captain from literature. Are you allowed to do a write up of Captain Nemo? He is also known as Prince Dakkar, and he is a fictional character created by the French science fiction author Jules Verne (1828–1905). Nemo appears in two of Verne's novels, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870) and The Mysterious Island (1874), and makes a cameo appearance in Verne's play Journey Through the Impossible (1882).
1571676546774.png
 
Design Notes: We’re going to go ahead and give Khizr here a little bit of bard, some fighter, and a little bit of ranger— he was obviously inspiring to his troops, a solid commander in battle, and must have had a feel for being on the water to win so many fights.
And, obviously, you can't be all of those things in D&D without casting spells.

It's funny that, decades later we're /still/ seeing that need to give casting to historical figures, because the system is still just that stilted. (Though it's kinda cool seeing you use the MMHFT Figher sub-class, again, it's still sad it needs the other two classes to round it out.)

Spellcasting. Hayreddin is a 7th level spellcaster that uses Charisma as his spellcasting ability for bard spells (spell save DC 17; +9 to hit with spell attacks) and Wisdom as his spellcasting ability for ranger spells (spell save DC 16, +8 to hit with spell attacks). He has the following spells prepared from the bard and ranger spell lists:
Cantrips: mending, true strike, vicious mockery
1st level (4 slots): longstrider, thunderwave; alarm, fog cloud, hunter’s mark
2nd level (3 slots): enhance ability, hold person, zone of truth
3rd level (3 slots): clairvoyance, sending
4th level (1 slot): confusion
Other than thunderwave & fog cloud - and hold person - these could generally be re-skinned as some extraordinary skill/feat rather than magic. Other than, being explicitly magic, of course.
 

Mike Myler

Explorer
Are those spells correct? Sure the spellcasting levels from Ranger and Bard stack, but the maximum spell levels from each class don't. See PHB p.164. So he can cast 3rd level Bard spells and 2nd level Ranger spells. And while he has a 4th level spell slot, he can only use it for upcasting lower-level spells - he can't actually cast any 4th level spells.
Right you are! I think I might've had him at a higher bard level and dropped it somewhere before finalizing the build. Good catch. :D

Lawful good? ¡Y UN JAMÓN! ( = and a ham! a typical colloquial Spanish expression to emphasize a denial, telling with irony you are going to give all you have been asked, and also a ham). After the American Civil War there was still slavery in the Ottoman empire. The Spanish expression "moors in the coast" as sign of menace it was because Muslims pirates attacked our towns to capture slaves. The women sent to the haren, and the males to be castrated (not everybody survived) and sold as eunuchs.

Barbarossa as nPC is to be an antagonist, an enemy, not a friend of the PCs. You should thank Spanish victory in the battle of Lepanto, where Cervantes's was paralyzed by an injured, against Ottomans.

----

I suggest as Historical character a true warlord, Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, "el gran capitán". Other character I suggest from Emilio Salgari's literature is the Captain Storm (really the countess of Eboli). Now Emilio Salgari's work is public domain and we shouldn't worry about copyright, and we rescue them from the oblivion. Haven't you read "The Lion of Damascus", or hasn't it be translated to your language?
I read a ton about this guy. He was definitely lawful and as far as the Ottomans are concerned he was definitely good--I agree that it matters what side of the fence someone is on for whether or not he's LG or what, but I'm feeling okay about his alignment (didn't run into any acts of cruelty on his part either). Added Gonzalo to the list!

Yes this is a great write up of Hayreddin Barbarossa, but that made me think of another seafaring captain from literature. Are you allowed to do a write up of Captain Nemo? He is also known as Prince Dakkar, and he is a fictional character created by the French science fiction author Jules Verne (1828–1905). Nemo appears in two of Verne's novels, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870) and The Mysterious Island (1874), and makes a cameo appearance in Verne's play Journey Through the Impossible (1882). View attachment 115061
Onto the list he goes!

And, obviously, you can't be all of those things in D&D without casting spells.

It's funny that, decades later we're /still/ seeing that need to give casting to historical figures, because the system is still just that stilted. (Though it's kinda cool seeing you use the MMHFT Figher sub-class, again, it's still sad it needs the other two classes to round it out.)

Other than thunderwave & fog cloud - and hold person - these could generally be re-skinned as some extraordinary skill/feat rather than magic. Other than, being explicitly magic, of course.
Yeah watchagonnado ¯\(ツ)
 

Rafael Martin

Explorer
Ir amazes me that people have a problem with a historical figure being able to cast spells. There are some things that have been done by real people that can only be explained by magic.
 
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Rafael Martin

Explorer
There are some (even many) things done by real people that D&D can only model with magic - very different. The latter a recognition that D&D is bad at modeling historical people, because it over-emphasizes magic. The former is an assertion that magic is real.
Based on my own life experience there are things I have seen that have no rational, scientific explanation. Once you remove all other explanations, then the only explanation you have left is something beyond science. That leaves you with faith or magic.
 

dave2008

Hero
Based on my own life experience there are things I have seen that have no rational, scientific explanation. Once you remove all other explanations, then the only explanation you have left is something beyond science. That leaves you with faith or magic.
It probably only seems like magic because you (or we) don’t know the science.
 
Based on my own life experience there are things I have seen that have no rational, scientific explanation. Once you remove all other explanations, then the only explanation you have left is something beyond science. That leaves you with faith or magic.
So, yes, that's an assertion that magic is real.

I can respect that. Human beings have had internally consistent belief systems including magic in one sense or another, or based in faith, for far longer than we've had science (even if you take the origins of science back to ancient Greece).

But, seriously, is it /D&D magic/ - prepped fireballs and fog clouds and whatnot, repeatable on-demand, n/day, day-in & day-out, always working the same way?

And, while you may have had such experiences, did Mr Myler find any source material pointing to Barbarosa, like, using material, verbal & somatic components to n/day conjure sound so powerful it pushed people around? Or clouds of fog?

Mike: I'm guessing those spells actually were inspired by some extraordinary feat or coincidence?
 

Mike Myler

Explorer
Not that I can recall. Pretty sure I was shooting for spells with the idea of them being explainable in a realistic context and also useful for the rest of the build.
 
Not that I can recall. Pretty sure I was shooting for spells with the idea of them being explainable in a realistic context and also useful for the rest of the build.
Mostly pretty good picks for re-skinning.
In retrospect, Thunderwave could vaguely resemble something like the fighter exploit Scattering Swing.

Fog Cloud still has me wondering. ;) ("Lay in a broadside and board them in the smoke!" ?)
 

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