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Mythological Figures: Saladin (5E)

Watch out for quicksand and be ready to weather the dunes because today Mythological Figures is headed to ancient Arabia (and northern Africa) for one of history’s greatest generals: Saladin!

Saladin banner.jpg

There’s an abundance of history surrounding Saladin that I’m only going to touch upon here—anyone interested in the details should hit up his Wikipedia page. A Sunni muslim of Kurdish ethnicity, this fellow led the war against the Crusader states in the Levant and rose to prominence thanks to military successes as his uncle Shirkuh and the reinstated Shawar vied for control of the Fatimid caliph al-Adid (the latter is ultimately assassinated, the former dying in 1169). Saladin is made vizier, something of a rarity for Sunni muslims in the Isma’ili Shia caliphate, and he starts undermining the establishment until al-Adid dies in 1171 when he abolishes the Fatimid Caliphate, committing the country to the Sunni and the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad. He goes on to beat back crusaders in Palestine, conquer Yemen, and quench insurrection in northern Egypt, then in 1174 he takes Damascus without violence.

Within a year he finishes taking the rest of most of the country of Syria (everywhere except Mosul), and is dubbed by the Abbasid caliph al-Mustadi as “Sultan of Egypt and Syria” (at the height of his power his sultanate included Egypt, Syria, Upper Mesopotamia, the Hejaz, Yemen, and other parts of North Africa.) In 1187 Saladin leads the Ayyubid army to victory over the crusaders at the Battle of Hattin, taking Palestine (and Jerusalem) as his prize. 6 years later he gives away his fortune to his subjects and dies, buried in a mausoleum beside the Umayyad Mosque and leaving behind over a dozen sons—some sources say 15, others 17 sons and a daughter.


Design Notes: Are you looking for a solid general able to hold their own in a court of intrigue as well as the field of battle? Saladin will fit the bill! He’s sneaky, he’s brilliant, he’s got great social skill bonuses, and most importantly he’s a solid commander able to direct companions into being far more formidable than they might normally be.

Saladin

Medium humanoid (human), rogue (genius) 6/fighter (warmaster) 11
Armor Class 17 (breastplate, defensive fighting style; 19 with a shield)
Hit Points 121 (6d8+11d10+34)
Speed 30 ft. (60 ft. on mount)


STR

DEX

CON

INT

WIS

CHA

14 (+2)​

10 (+0)​

14 (+2)​

19 (+4)​

14 (+2)​

14 (+2)​

Saving Throws Dex +6, Int +10
Skills Deception +8, History +16, Insight +14, Perception +14, Persuasion +14, Religion +10
Senses passive Perception 24
Languages Arabic, English, Kurdish
Challenge 10 (5,900 XP)

Background: Advisor - Master. Saladin is frequently overseeing things and has many servants, training them in the ways of the military arts and diplomacy. His subordinates obey his commands and believe what he tells them (within reason).

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

Cunning Action (1/Turn). Saladin can take a bonus action to take the Dash, Disengage, Help, or Hide action.

Fast Learner. After Saladin has heard a creature speak for 1 minute or longer, he can mimic its manner of speaking as long as he knows the same language as the creature (allowing him to seem like he is local to a given region).

Feat: Brilliant. Saladin 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: Mounted Combat. When Saladin’s mount is attacked, he can make himself the target of that attack. In addition, he has advantage on melee attack rolls when his target is an unmounted creature smaller than his mount (usually any unmounted target of Medium size or smaller). Finally, when Saladin’s mount is subjected to an effect that allows it to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, it instead takes no damage if it succeeds on the saving throw, and only half damage if it fails.

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

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

Sneak Attack (1/Turn). Saladin deals an extra 10 (3d6) 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 Saladin that isn’t incapacitated and Saladin doesn’t have disadvantage on the attack roll.

Tactical Focal Point. Saladin 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 Saladin completes a long rest, he can swap one of these benefits for a different one.

  • Area Clear. When an ally inside Saladin’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 Saladin’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 Saladin’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, Saladin 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 Saladin’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). Saladin 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 Saladin’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.

Tactician. Saladin is able to use the Help action to aid an ally attacking a creature as long as the target of the attack is able to see and hear Saladin and is within 30 feet of him.


ACTIONS
Extra Attack. Saladin attacks three times.

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.

Longbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 150/600 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d8) piercing damage.

Tactical Maneuver (4/Long Rest). Each time Saladin completes a long rest, he can swap one of these benefits for a different one.

  • Coordinated Blows. Saladin 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 Saladin’s turn, enemies inside of his tactical focal point make a DC 18 Strength saving throw whenever they are hit by an attack or are they are knocked prone.
  • Group Assault. Saladin takes the Attack action and chooses a creature he can see within his tactical focal point. The creature makes a DC 18 Constitution saving throw at the start of his next turn provided that Saladin or an ally hits it with an attack after he activates this feature. The creature has disadvantage on the saving throw if it has been hit by 3 or more attacks this turn. On a failure, it is stunned until the end of Saladin’s next turn.
  • Move to Flank. Saladin 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 18 Strength saving throw if it is adjacent to these allies or Saladin and one of these allies at the end of their movement. On a failure, it is restrained until the end of Saladin’s next turn.


REACTIONS
Leading Example. When Saladin 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.

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

Comments

paladinn

Villager
So is the "warmaster" a mashup of the 4e warlord and 5e battlemaster or ?

I'd like to see a treatment of Saladin with 5e RAW. He's definitely one of the greatest generals in history. And he was Richard the Lionhearted's greatest opponent, in spite of offering Richard his sister's hand in marriage. Interesting guy.
 

andrewlichey

Villager
Not to be a jerk, but why does a "Mythological Figures" article routinely feature historical people?


A few other comments:
1. Why would Salah ad-Din speak English? Richard didn't even speak English!
2. No idea where the "Fast Learner" idea came from.
3. Sneak Attack/Rogue I don't get either. Salah ad-Din was a man of honor, through and through.
4. Tactical Mastery doesn't make sense. Salah ad-Din was not a lead from the front kind of guy, rather a true battlefield general. Richard on the otherhand would be good for this skill.
5. Salah ad-Din and his armies would not use a Longbow.
6. Probably an auto-correct, but RE: paladinn's comment... it's "Richard the Lionheart" not "Richard the Lionhearted". Richard Coeur de Lion.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
Way back when, when I first heard of Saladin I thought it was type of character name where people don't put in any effort. Like some kid named Salvador was playing a paladin.
 

dave2008

Adventurer
Mike,
Thank you for another interesting entry. I had never heard of Saladin, so I enjoyed the little history lesson too!
 

Mike Myler

Explorer
So is the "warmaster" a mashup of the 4e warlord and 5e battlemaster or ?
I could not tell you for sure. It's a re-naming of the warlord from Mike Mearls. If you click the word "warmaster" it should take you to the ThinkDM blog where someone more fastidious than myself collected all of his bits and pieces into an archetype.

Not to be a jerk, but why does a "Mythological Figures" article routinely feature historical people?
A few other comments:
1. Why would Salah ad-Din speak English? Richard didn't even speak English!
2. No idea where the "Fast Learner" idea came from.
3. Sneak Attack/Rogue I don't get either. Salah ad-Din was a man of honor, through and through.
4. Tactical Mastery doesn't make sense. Salah ad-Din was not a lead from the front kind of guy, rather a true battlefield general. Richard on the otherhand would be good for this skill.
5. Salah ad-Din and his armies would not use a Longbow.
6. Probably an auto-correct, but RE: paladinn's comment... it's "Richard the Lionheart" not "Richard the Lionhearted". Richard Coeur de Lion.


This is a request column. People asked to see Saladin (and every one/thing else that appears in the column) built RAW so
¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Also eventually everyone will be myths or forgotten entirely, so while he's historical now he won't be forever.

1) I'm not a linguist historian. Substitute whatever language would be most appropriate for dealing with the Crusaders at the time (...Latin?) :)
2) Fast Learner (and indeed everything from the 'Genius' rogue archetype) is from the Mastermind rogue archetype, which I think Saladin definitely fits.
3) I too would expect him not to stab anyone in the back. Doesn't mean he can't make the most out of an advantageous strike though. Moreover it's rogue baggage and less important for our purposes here than the other features granted by the mastermind archetype (which is not OGL btw, although the 'genius' is OGL, as are the re-worded mechanics of its mechanically-identical features).
4) Don't feel qualified to argue that aside from pointing out that it'd be awful weird for him not to have any experience commanding troops on the field, and while I'm not diverting my tasks today to confirm that, I'd be willing to wager that with some research we'll find that at times he probably did do that. Please refute if you have a source ready that says he never personally took part in any battles whatsoever (there certainly have been rulers that command armies after never having been in one
:confused:).
5) Not the English longbow, certainly not. There's a loooooooooooooot of stuff about the Turkish (composite) bow and while it's definitely mostly associated with the Ottoman Empire, the roots for it go way further back.
Are you meaning to say you think Saladin and his forces should have shortbows, or just that they don't have the longbows most Western readers are going to associate with the other side of the Crusades?
6) He's on the list and will be avoided for as long as possible. :D

Mike,
Thank you for another interesting entry. I had never heard of Saladin, so I enjoyed the little history lesson too!
As always you are welcome. ^__^ Glad to bring a bit of history onto EN World! Also glad to see this is getting more traction than Drona (who still has not a comment to his name).
 

Derren

Adventurer
So is the "warmaster" a mashup of the 4e warlord and 5e battlemaster or ?

I'd like to see a treatment of Saladin with 5e RAW. He's definitely one of the greatest generals in history. And he was Richard the Lionhearted's greatest opponent, in spite of offering Richard his sister's hand in marriage. Interesting guy.
While he was certainly successful I don't think he is among the greatest generals in history. Saladin suffered quite a lot of defeats including every battle in the 3rd crusade and the disastrous defeat at Montgisard and also several close calls with his lines collapsing. Imo while certainly competent and having a few very good battles, his success had more to do with his diplomatic abilities than with his abilities as general.
 
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Hurin88

Explorer
The Turkish bow was not a longbow is what Andrewlichey is saying (and he's right). It was short enough to be used on horseback... so, not a longbow. DnD doesn't really have any equivalent to that in the core rules (someone correct me if I am wrong). You need something with better range than a shortbow and almost as much damage as a longbow.

In regards to languages, the best ones for dealing with the crusaders would be French (for trade and the spoken word) or Latin (for diplomacy). Italian wouldn't be too bad either. But I'm not sure that Saladin ever learned any of these. More useful would be languages spoken in the regions he ruled: in addition to Arabic and Kurdish, which he is said to have spoken, he would have found Syriac, Turkish, Coptic, Greek, etc. all more useful than English.

I also see no reason why Saladin has any Rogue powers.
 

Draegn

Explorer
I recommend the historical fiction The Talisman by Sir Walter Scott if you desire any additional reading.
 

bedir than

Registered User
I'm confused as to why people think the Rogue: Mastermind (an intellectual) doesn't make sense for Saladin. Sneak Attack has much more fiction than just backstabs. It's about finding an opening to strike most effectively. Saladin being an expert at skills is obvious, so what about the Fifth Edition rogue isn't applicable?
 

Hurin88

Explorer
I'm confused as to why people think the Rogue: Mastermind (an intellectual) doesn't make sense for Saladin. Sneak Attack has much more fiction than just backstabs. It's about finding an opening to strike most effectively. Saladin being an expert at skills is obvious, so what about the Fifth Edition rogue isn't applicable?
The man came from an aristocratic military family, ruled as the equivalent of a king or emperor (sultan), and was a professional cavalry soldier (the equivalent of a knight) for his entire adult life. Sneaking, hiding, stealing, picking locks, picking pockets... none of this applies to him at all; in fact it is kind of insulting to make him one. The basic description of a rogue comes nowhere near to describing him; the Mastermind is hardly any better. He wasn't a spy or a thief; he was a general and king.

The fighter makes much more sense. The Warlord fits him to a 'T'.
 

Derren

Adventurer
Not to mention that he was described as pious and honorable, both traits that don't mix well with the rogue class.

Imo I would lower some of his Str and Int in favor of Dex (riding+archery), Cha (diplomacy) and maybe also Wis (being pious).
 

bedir than

Registered User
The man came from an aristocratic military family, ruled as the equivalent of a king or emperor (sultan), and was a professional cavalry soldier (the equivalent of a knight) for his entire adult life. Sneaking, hiding, stealing, picking locks, picking pockets... none of this applies to him at all; in fact it is kind of insulting to make him one. The basic description of a rogue comes nowhere near to describing him; the Mastermind is hardly any better. He wasn't a spy or a thief; he was a general and king.

The fighter makes much more sense. The Warlord fits him to a 'T'.
None of the things you mention are core to the modern Rogue.
 

Hurin88

Explorer
None of the things you mention are core to the modern Rogue.
The core class description says that they use stealth to get the upper hand on their enemies, has a section on their 'Shady Living', and says that most of them are burglars, assassins and cutpurses. They get Thieves Cant as a core class feature. They get Sneak Attack as a core class feature. They get the ability to Hide as a bonus action as a core class feature.

By all reliable accounts, Saladin was pious, aristocratic, and honorable; so honorable in fact that many of his Christian enemies, who had no respect for his religion and suffered great losses at his hands, nevertheless held him in great esteem and even liked him personally. Dante even placed him in the castle of virtuous pagans in Limbo-- the highest honor he could give a non-Christian. Thus even his greatest enemies considered him a paragon of chivalry.

Unless one sees all Muslims as inherently sneaky thieves and rogues, I have no idea why you would give Saladin any Rogue features. None of them fit.
 
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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I think Rogue vs Warlord flavors of trickery can be relatively ambiguous at times however I think the game could keep them distinct by making one more personal and the other group oriented not really certain any such thinking is currently in their design since by that thinking mastermind and some of its effects might be a flavor of group oriented deceptions.
 

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