The Caliph is the fourth of fifteen icons I created for my 13th Age Parsantium campaign. These movers and shakers should also prove useful for GMs running Parsantium games using the 13th Age icon relationship rules with other incarnations of the world’s bestselling fantasy RPG – or indeed anyone using the setting.
The Great Caliph, Faisal al-Aqil, Most Blessed Disciple of the One True God, Supreme Potentate of the Desert Realms, Grand Sultan of the Sparkling Sea, Conqueror of Khemit and Protector of Parsantium, rules the Caliphate of Aqhran, the vast desert kingdom to the southwest of Parsantium.
“Though the scimitar and the bow have their uses, it is through wisdom and learning that we will achieve true greatness.”
In his golden palace, the Medina Azhara (“City of Flowers”), in Qadisa, capital of Aqhran.
Caliph Faisal al-Aqil has only sat on the golden throne of Aqhran for four years, but to date the young monarch has ruled the kingdom well. The Caliph readily takes counsel from the leading imams of Amur (the Aqhrani god) and has demonstrated both piety and wisdom. Handsome and charming, he has a calm temperament, given to reason over passion.
Faisal al-Aqil is a scholar and an astronomer who sees himself as the spiritual heir to Hulieman, Parsantium’s great sultan and an enlightened ruler with a passionate interest in the stars. He has invited sages and philosophers from all over the world to visit the House of Wisdom, Qadisa’s great university, and share their knowledge with Aqhrani scholars. The Caliph dreams of ushering in a new “golden age”, but first he must deal with several major threats to Aqhran’s stability.
Since the Water Lords of Loranto won “most favoured trading partner” status in Parsantium following their support for Corandias’s Great Crusade, the city state’s growth in power shows no sign of slowing, while the Caliphate’s wealth and influence declines. To the south, the nomadic ifrit tribes of the desert have come under the leadership of an efreeti warlord named Saleem al-Nuri, who is carving out a new emirate amidst the shifting sands, conducting frequent border raids into Caliphate territory. And to the northeast, in the lost kingdom of Khemit, the Mummy begins to stir.
Faisal al-Aqil would love to bring Parsantium back under the Caliphate’s aegis, but knows that this is unlikely to happen. The next best thing is to become the Free City’s preferred trading partner once again, making conflict with the Water Lords inevitable. The Caliph has been discreetly issuing pirates on the Corsairs’ Sea with letters of marque encouraging them to attack merchant vessels from Loranto. He is playing a dangerous game, since the scurvy dogs are not known for their loyalty or discretion, but he is willing to take a calculated risk if it means trouble for the Water Lords.
ADVENTURERS & THE ICON
Aqhrani adventurers from Parsantium’s Old Quarter are often happy to serve the Caliph. Such missions could include protecting the interests of the Aqhrani House Qasim from the machinations of the Bathuran nobility, or venturing into trap-filled tombs in the Hidden Quarter at the behest of Imam Efrat of the Golden Mosque. The Caliph is keen to obtain the secret alchemical recipe for Parsantine Fire and it is rumoured that the crime lord Sheikh Babak al-Hasid has secured the services of the notorious Juma Gang to obtain the formula from the vaults beneath the city garrison.
CHAMPIONS & FOLLOWERS
The Caliph has the support of his affable ambassador to Parsantium Hani al-Bahir, the imams of Amur, and the wealthy nobles of House Qasim. If strong-arm tactics are needed, he can call upon the gnoll mercenaries who defend the Caliphate’s borders and fight on board its merchant dhows.
The Caliph is on good terms with the Maharani, and merchants from Aqhran’s east coast cities are frequent visitors to the Sampuran port of Surivata; the Emperor of the Jade Throne is another key trading partner. Faisal al-Aqil is, of course, at pains to maintain a strong, positive relationship with the Basileus to protect Aqhrani trade with Parsantium, but he has also had at least one discreet conversation with the Boss of All Bosses – through intermediaries, naturally.
The Water Lords offer a serious challenge to the Caliphate’s traditional dominance over maritime trade on the Corsairs’ Sea and Faisal al-Aqil seeks to contain their power. There is no love lost between the Caliphate and the Archbishop, an ally of Loranto. The Mummy is another foe: Queen Merytnofru has sworn revenge on the Caliph for her downfall 1,500 years ago at the hands of Aqhran’s armies.
The Caliphate of Aqhran began life nearly 2,000 years ago when the First Caliph was chosen by his peers as the wisest among them and thus fit to rule them in the newly founded city of Qadisa. Since that time the empire’s territory has expanded through exploration, pacts with genie lords, war and, above all, trade. The current Caliph was the youngest son of the previous ruler and not expected to inherit the throne: Faisal al-Aqil was a student at the House of Wisdom, while his two older brothers were skilled warriors. However, four years ago Faisal’s father and both siblings were killed in a fierce border skirmish with the ifrits, and the young scholar became the Caliph.
THE TRUE DANGER
If the Caliph’s secret plotting against Parsantium and Loranto comes to light, Aqhran could find itself at war with both city states, as well as with the Mummy and the efreeti warlord.
Main image by Matt Morrow
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