With Kat's summer Ravenloft game about to pick up, I figured that now would be a good time to debut my newest alter-ego: Ishmael Mallouk ben Hassib, a star-crossed mariner...
Name: Ishmael Mellouk ben Hassib
Location: Docks District, Marrakesh
Parents: Mahjoub (father) and Nahjet (mother)
Faith: Will pray to Talos, Lord of Storms, on occasion while on a
voyage. Not particularly religious.
Fav. Food: Ferakh Maamer—spring chicken stuffed with couscous, raisins, orange-flower water, and almonds, simmered in a honey-garlic sauce. Served with white table wine.
Pastimes: Dart-throwing, throwing dice, sailing his one-man catamaran.
Party Role: High-damage skirmish fighter; explorer and mariner.
Strengths: Movement-based abilities, high damage attacks, large amount of skills, ability to fight at range and in melee with equal ability.
Weaknesses: Middling defense and HP, lack of social skills (cha-based), stigma from being half-orc.
Ishmael Mellouk ben Hassib’s childhood was not one of great happiness. Ishmael’s father, Mahjoub, was a minor merchant who often led expeditions into the southern deserts to take the native tribesmen as slaves. Ishmael’s mother, Nahjet, was one such slave, which Mahjoub found attractive and took as a concubine. Ishmael’s birth was an entire accident, as few believed that a Marrakeshi man could even have a child with a Samburu tribeswoman.
Ishmael was raised primarily by his mother, who rarely was able to leave the ben Hassib homestead. Nahjet was kept essentially as a slave, used by Mahjoub for sexual purposes and to keep the house. Ishmael had little in the way of dealings with his father, and was kept “out of sight and out of mind.”
When Ishmael was 14, Nahjet died of malaria. Mahjoub, not wanting anything to do with his pseudo-son, cast Ishmael out of the house. By this point, Ishmael was spending most of his time on the Marrakesh docks anyway, and he brushed off his father’s banishment. Illiterate and without education, Ishmael volunteered for work where he could get it, eventually finding himself on The Fleur de Tempete, a Narbonne trade ship owned by the Marquis de Saint-Michele. Mahjoub, however, went bankrupt not two years later, then committed suicide out of shame. With no one left to object, Ishmael took back his full name.
On board the ship, Ishmael made the acquaintance of a seasoned Narbonne mariner—Yves d’Alban—who began to teach him basic necessities for ship-faring: knot-tying, weather-sense, fishing, and whaling. Yves was something of the father figure that Ishmael never had, so the young Ishmael was eager to learn all he could. To this day, Ishmael says that he learned to read and do basic mathematics from Yves’ shipping manifests.
The Marquis de Saint-Michele, however, was not interested in Marrakeshi spices alone. Rather, he was equally interested in enslaving the Samburu tribes and putting them to work. For many years, Ishmael kept his half-Samburu heritage a secret, ferrying slaves and spice through Marrakesh, bound for plantations and other ports.
Eventually, he was called on his odd, exotic appearance and he exposed his past, though most of his sailors—scum, themselves—only used the fact for good-natured ribbing and curses.
Aboard the Fleur de Tempete, Ishmael saw many sights that would blast the sanity from any less-hardened man. In addition to the cruelty perpetrated upon the Samburu, the trade routes used by the Marquis’ ships took them in ways that were plagued by horrors of the deep. On just such an expedition, Ishmael found himself thrown overboard, as the Fleur de Tempete was ripped downward by a hideous horror of the deep. Ishmael watched the ship go down, with 45 crewmen and 200 slaves aboard. Clinging to a piece of broken mast, Ishmael drifted along for hours before passing out.
By some strange twist of fate, Ishmael found himself washed ashore approximately fifty miles south of Marrakesh. Taking courtesy from some Vistani nomads, Ishmael managed to find his way back to port, only to find that the Fleur de Tempete had made dock there! Beyond flabbergasted, as he had literally watched the ship be pulled under by a tentacle horror, Ishmael sought to investigate. However, continual circumstances—along with both Narbonne guards and Marrakeshi assassins—have kept him from looking into it further.
Ishmael desperately wants to find out the truth behind the Fleur de Tempete, as it seems like there is more than meets the eye going on. He hopes to find Yves, but wonders if he could trust the old man even if he did manage to find him. Ishmael also feels a deep conflict, in how the Narbonne have treated the Samburu people, to say nothing of the Marrakeshi natives. While he has taken their money and worked for them for years, the continued cruelty and effeminate pomp of the Narbonne has worn on him. After staring death in the face on the high seas, morality has begun to set in.