Sahl al-Pasha Character in Spirit of the Age | World Anvil

Sahl al-Pasha

Commodore Sahl al-Pasha (a.k.a. Mad Dog, Butcher of Carora, Ironprow)

"Sahl al-Pasha was one of the most talented captains I have ever seen. May we never see his like again.
— Adham el-Can, Uqaikhi admiral.

Sahl al-Pasha was a career naval officer, first in the Uqaikhi navy and then in the Red Sails. One of the most decorated officers in the Red Sails until his death, Sahl was an uncommonly brutal Runberi commander, feared by his subordinates and enemies alike wherever he went.



Infamous for his many atrocities such as the wholesale slaughter of the entire Carora clan, Sahl al-Pasha was considered a dangerous figure even at home in Uqaikh, and those who knew of him were glad that he was pointed elsewhere. Both the Runberi and Tescarana viewed him as a mad dog and butcher, but to the Runberi he was at least a useful butcher. In the later years of his posting as commodore, merely the apperance of Commodore al-Pasha could be enough to bring a rebellious Tescarana chief to heel.


He gathered many monikers in his career, such as "Mad Dog" and the "Butcher of Carora", given to him mainly by his Tescarana enemies. His fellow officers sometimes referred to him as "Ironprow" in reference to his tenacity and ability to emerge victorious from even the most difficult postings.



Sahl was typically seen dressed in his beige and red highlighted navy coat, with a white tricorne hat. He brought his pet eagle Shuruq everywhere, the bird often perched on his shoulders despite being nearly as large as the halfling commodore. He was under a meter tall, typical of most halflings, and in his 60s his hair was already greying. His physical condition was as good as ever, and despite his stature was known to be adept in personal combat as well.

Mental characteristics

Personal history

"Something just went wrong with that boy."
— Siraaj al-Pasha

Born in Uqaikh a scion of one of the lesser houses, the Pashas were moderately successful craftsmen in the city. A second son, Sahl's parents planned for him to remain in the house, learn the trade, and continue to grow the family wealth. Sahl however quickly turned out to be a problem child. Getting into fights and terrorizing his peers on the street the Pashas lived on, the master of the al-Pashas received numerous complaints of his son's behavior, yet was unable to correct it. There was even a rumor that he had caught someone's pet cat and killed it.


Eventually, his parents had had enough and sent him to admiralty school. The emirati navies recruited primarily from the upper-middle classes of the Runberi cities, as the powerful magnates generally considered war and fighting to be a base activity that was largely beneath them. They were fortunate that Sahl was even accepted, as rumours of the boy's reputation had not reached the training academy.


Though having some disciplinary issues in his first year, Sahl did graduate from the academy in 470. He started out in the Uqaikhi navy as a petty officer commanding a small group of regular sailors on a patrol ship charged with protecting trade routes on the coast of the Hak. Even then he was developing a reputation as a tough disciplinarian and unforgiving commander. The patrol however did not do much fighting, as Hak piracy mostly avoided Runberi ships due to the reputations of their navies. Sahl's career was stalled, and he narrowly avoided court martial over a messy incident in a local port bar that he was allegedly involved in.


In 477, piracy had started increasing, and the navies had more to do. It was the first time Sahl saw real battle, as the ship he served on clashed with a known pirate ship off the coast. Sahl was commended for his bravery in that battle, and soon after promoted. When he returned to Uqaikh on leave, his own family found his presence difficult. He had become cold and rough, perhaps still the boy who beat up the other kids, but transformed by discipline. He went back to the navy, and was given command of a small ship.


Sahl's new posting put him on the officer track, and promised him the traditional navy man's retirement package. The sailors viewed the posting with dread, but the navy soon found that Sahl was one of their most effective captains. And they still had a pirate problem throughout the 480s.


A few years and another promotion later, Sahl was once again home in Uqaikh. He had not yet finished his 15 year tour as an officer, but action in the Hak had begun to die down. The Red Sails were recruiting, seeking navy officers to join their ranks and lead their mercenaries. Sahl, for his part, had begun to grow bored. He knew that the Tescaries were a constant quagmire of minor clans hidden within the archipelago, and was unlikely to be pacified in the near future. In 488, he declined to renew his posting with Uqaikh, and instead joined the Red Sails.


Such an act earned him the opprobrium of the navy, as well as the great confusion of his fellow officers. He had not been many years away from securing his pension from the city, yet he simply threw it away. The Red Sails gave him another command as a captain of a patrol ship, and set him to strong-arm local clan leaders.


Sahl was well suited for the work, becoming the stick to the merchants' carrot. When a clan did not wish to deal with the condominium on their terms, he would be there with his crew to convince them otherwise. When pirates menaced their shipments, he would find them and he would raze their home bases to the ground. He was quickly developing a reputation as a brutally effective commander, as well as one that could make the motley crew of Runberi sailors and local mercenaries work together simply through fear of angering him.


In 494, he became a Commodore, the second highest rank in the naval hierarchy, and was soon tested in his new command as the Fahrig war broke out. The war served Sahl one of his few defeats on the open ocean, as the Kilthian navy defeated a detachment of Red Sails ships off the coast of Grand Tescary. Sahl was able to retreat with his crew, and when the home cities came to the Condominium's rescue, he was back on the front, fighting the dwarves of Kilth until their eventual surrender.


The aftermath of Tinia's Wrath and the Fahrig war kicked the Red Sails' counterpiracy operations into overdrive, and Sahl found himself at sea more often than not. He spent the next 14 years fighting intermittently. It was during this time that he became a household name among the Tescarana, known for dismantling many Eterti clans with his crews. To the Condominium, he was their most effective pirate hunter. To the Tescarana, he was a butcher who lit up the cannons whenever he had the slightest excuse.


In 494, he was gifted the eagle Shuruq by a captain who had been working in the main island of Grand Tescary and had obtained the creature from a highland clan. Sahl was initially confused by the gift, but soon found falconry a pleasurable pursuit, and also found that he enjoyed the bird's company more than that of any of his peers. The large eagle would be his constant companion for 18 years.


In the spring of 512, he was ordered to go to Ravna to escort the Condominum negotiator Saheer, and to ensure that the Eterti who were present in the neutral city did not do anything to disturb the new trading post. Sahl expected a boring mission, as most Tescarana folded merely to his reputation, and in any case he had been given strict instructions to not unnecessarily antagonize the founder clans of Ravna, who the Condominium believed could be good business partners. He had resigned himself to most likely kicking rocks and drinking in Ravna until his presence was no longer needed.


Instead, he found that an itinerant crew sailing the lost Condominium merchant ship Ruyat Aleayn was present in the city, and began scheming to take the ship back to his masters. Given orders to not start an incident in Ravna, he planned to follow the pirates out of town and then seize the ship. Instead, the crew of the Ruyat Aleayn had managed to bait one of his Beirhamin subordinates, Karan, into a bar fight which ultimately escalated into a hostage situation with the Red Sails threatening the innkeeper. The crew of the Raz Almaeiz were kicked out of town, and Sahl was seething.


He had the fool Beirhamin whipped, and resolved to lie in wait and catch the Ruyat Aleayn and its captain on the open sea. He had been humiliated by a local barbarian, and made a fool, and he would not stand for it. When he found the ship, he gave chase, and when the Ruyat Aleayn sailed straight into Tinia's Wrath, he ordered the crew to keep going. A Tescarana had not defeated him in 15 years, and he would not allow one to do so now, divine wrath or not.

"It was his pride that ended him."
— Ruwaid, a survivor of his fateful battle on Spur Ani.

The Ruyat Aleayn outmaneuvered him once again, clubhauling against an island in the storm as the winds pushed him past. Taking a shot at the Eterti Lars as he sailed past, the winds of Tinia would not permit him to turn. His crew was becoming doubtful at this point, and a few hours later he caught wind that his chaplain Fayyaad was planning to imprison him and lead the ship out of the storm. He threw the chaplain overboard, and pressed on, knowing that the Ruyat Aleayn would also aim for the eye for the storm. He would sail there and wait, and then defeat the Eterti and claim the Ruyat Aleayn.


The Eterti invoked Tinia's Wrath yet again upon him and his crew. With the sky god's wind at their backs, they laid waste to his crew. They slew his eagle. They captured his flagship. And they killed Sahl al-Pasha.


He would be buried in the waters around Spur Ani by the surviving members of his crew. Few mourned him.

Intellectual Characteristics

"Some men care not for what they fight, but only that they fight."

Sahl al-Pasha was always a violent man, what changed was how he channeled it. A born warlord, Sahl was to his great misfortune born a Runberi, who had little use for warlords. He spent his life seeking war, and growing bored whenever he failed to find it. His pride was great, fed by his long and successful career. In his later years, he saw the Tescaries as his own personal playground where he might do as he wished.


Despite his temper, Sahl was also an effective, if straightforward tactician. Though rarely tested by an equal force, when such a thing happened he performed admirably except for the very end. Though one-note, Sahl's deployment of blunt force in both naval tactics and running his crews was remarkable in that it never failed him.

449 512 63 years old
Circumstances of Death
Slain in battle.
Place of Death
Aligned Organization
Known Languages

Sahl al-Pasha was a fluent speaker of Runberi and Tescarana. He also had a working understanding of Kilthish, as well as some knowledge of Hak.

Character Portrait image: by Artbreeder


Please Login in order to comment!
Jul 9, 2023 20:52 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Well, he sounds kind of terrifying. The line 'few mourned him' is quite cold, though unsurprising. XD

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Jul 12, 2023 08:07

He reaped as he sowed in the end.   The last few paragraphs of his personal history are in fact a recounting of about 10 sessions of gameplay in a campaign I ran. Part of the reason I wrote him was because I wanted to try to make a credible halfling big bad.   Thanks for the comment. :D

Aug 12, 2023 19:39

What a ruthless man. He seems to have been the kind of brutal pragmatist for whom the only thing that mattered were results.   Great article!

The Eternal Hymn sounds into perpetuity on Nascindor
Aug 19, 2023 04:09 by Paul

Those who look for trouble always find it and Ironprow most certainly did. Cool to see a halfling villain!

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