D&D 5E Mythological Figures: Piri Reis

The Mythological Figures column is back and ready to go around the world once more, and who better to guide us than a man who may well be history’s most famous cartographer: Piri Reis!

Piri Reis DnD 5E BANNER.jpg

Ahmed Muhiddin Piri (known more widely as Piri Reis) was a genius mathematician, admiral of the Ottoman navy, and most famously the very skilled cartographer who made the Kitab-ı Bahriye. This book of maps was first published in 1521 and in addition to being filled with the most current chartings of the known world it was a sort of mastery book for seafaring in the Mediterranean—how best to navigate, what to expect of storms, where to take shelter, information about ports and harbors, and much more. Work on the Kitab-ı Bahriye continued even after his unfortunate passing with an updated third edition printed more than half a century after his death.

It’s not certain precisely when Piri was born, but in his younger years he fought alongside his uncle Kemal Reis (another admiral) in the Battle of Zonchio, the Battle of Modon, and for another decade until his elder died in a shipwreck in 1511. At that point Piri really dug into the study of navigation for five years before returning to the sea as a captain in the Ottoman navy, playing a part in the conquering of Egypt, the Siege of Rhodes, and more.

For three decades Piri rose in the ranks until by 1547 he became the Commander of the Ottoman Fleet in the Indian Ocean and Admiral of the Fleet in Egypt. His career continued with many other accomplishments—recapturing Aden, sacking Muscat, depriving the Portuguese of the Qatar peninsula in an attempt to take the Persian Gulf—until the Ottoman Vali of Basra (a governor), Kubad Pasha, had him beheaded for failing to support another foray against the Portuguese in the Persian Gulf.

Design Notes: Much to my surprise the only tools you can get Expertise with are thieves’ tools! Apologies for previous entries where I missed that little snaggly bit of RAW. As a keen military commander that lived all the way up into his 90th year (quite a feat today, never mind half a millennium ago) the banneret archetype—inspiring and commanding about troops—is a good fit for Piri, and with the ASIs offered by the fighter class we can up his Intelligence to the maximum for that critical bonus to cartographer’s tools and navigator’s tools. To round out his statistics, since so much of it is for amping up allies he’s got Maneuver Master to dish out an extra Command (which if you prefer to, by all means swap in Inspiring Words instead). Let’s do the numbers! Both the DMG and Blog of Holding came in solidly over 9 so no disagreement on that front, however it’s worth noting that in cases where Piri has more powerful allies around to amp up with Inspiring Action Surge that his Challenge Rating might be worth bumping up to 10.

Piri Reis

Medium humanoid (human), lawful good fighter (banneret) 17
Armor Class 19 (breastplate, shield, defensive fighting style)
Hit Points 127 (17d10+34)
Speed 30 ft.
10 (+0)​
14 (+2)​
14 (+2)​
20 (+5)​
14 (+2)​
12 (+1)​
Saving Throws Str +6, Con +8
Skills Athletics +6, History +11, Nature +17, Perception +7, Survival +7; cartographer’s tools +11, navigator’s tools +11, vehicles (water) +8
Senses passive Perception 17
Languages Coptic, Turkish
Challenge 9 (5,000 XP)

Background: Sailor. Piri is able to acquire passage on a sailing ship for him and his allies free of charge. He has no control over the ship’s route, departure, or return, and although no coin is required he and his companions do have to help crew the vessel.

Feat: Alertness. When rolling for initiative Piri gains a +5 bonus, while he is conscious he cannot be surprised, and creatures do not gain advantage on attack rolls against him when they are hidden from Piri.

Feat: Brilliant. Piri 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: Maneuver Master (1d6 Maneuver Die/Short Rest). Piri can expend a maneuver dice to perform a single maneuver with an attack.
  • Command. Piri uses his bonus action to forgo one of his attacks and direct a friendly creature who can see or hear him. The creature uses its reaction and makes a weapon attack, dealing 1d6 additional weapon damage on a successful hit.
  • Feint. Piri can use his bonus action to feint against one creature within 5 feet. He has advantage on his next attack roll against that creature as long as it before the end of his turn. On a hit he deals 1d6 additional damage.

Feat: Prodigal. Piri has Expertise with the Nature skill (included in his statistics).

Indomitable Presence (3/Long Rest). Piri can reroll a saving throw that he fails but must use the new roll. If he is using this feature to reroll an Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma saving throw, so long as he is not incapacitated he can choose a creature within 60 feet that can see or him him that has also failed its saving throw against the same effect. The creature can reroll the saving throw and must use the new roll.

Inspiring Action Surge (2/Short Rest). Once on his turn, Piri can take an additional action on top of his regular action and a possible bonus action. In addition, he chooses one allied creature within 60 feet that can see or hear him. The chosen creature can use its reaction to make a melee or ranged weapon attack.

Second Wind Rally (1/Short Rest). On his turn, Piri can use a bonus action to regain 1d10+17 hit points. In addition, he chooses 3 creatures within 60 feet that can see or hear him. Each target regains 17 hit points.

Extra Attack. Piri attacks three times when he takes the Attack action.

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

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

log in or register to remove this ad

Mike Myler

Mike Myler


Lord of the Hidden Layer
Piri Reis also had access to esoteric knowledge - one of his maps shows parts of the South American coasts that had not yet been sighted by any Old World sailor, and what appears to be a stretch of the Antarctic coast.

Piri could be a patron seeking a ship crew to go explore new lands, to be claimed by his Sovereign. If he is in bad odor with government officials he would come along for the trip, expecting to return in triumph.

Mike Myler

Have you been to LevelUp5E.com yet?
Whoa. Can you clarify how you discovered this? Because I need to correct that in every home game. I love Tools for what they tell you about your character.

I want Piri as an expert with Navigator's Tools, Cartopraphy, and Vehicles (water).
Aye! If you check the wording on Expertise, only the rogue gets a tools option and that's specifically thieves' tools. The feats that emulate it are also all skill specific. However now that I'm thinking about it again, there is a single way to get Expertise with other tool kits (by being an artificer of 6th level, which is when they get Expertise with all tool kits).


Languages: Egyptian ???
Arabic maybe?

He is also the first written source for the fascinating fact that Mediterranean water flows into the Black-sea in the depth of the Bosphorus and Dardanells, while flowing out on the surface.

Related Articles

Remove ads

Latest threads

Remove ads


Remove ads

Recent & Upcoming Releases