Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Character Background #4

Alīm ibn Bārí

Quote: “Now that is interesting, if I lean over this ledge, I may get a better view.”

Description: You are a slender man in his early thirties, somewhat bookish but still weathered by years spent traveling. Like most citizens of the Caliphate, you have olive skin and dark eyes. For comfort in the heat you shave your head and face, and dress in a loose white cotton dishdasha (long robe-shirt) over silk undergarments. In the desert you wear a cotton shimagh (head scarf) and sandals. At your side is your trusty kopesh, a sword you found in an ancient pre-conquest tomb, as well as a notebook and writing set.

Shabu University in Buhtan is the greatest center of learning in the world. Here knowledge from all corners of the globe is brought, cataloged, and analyzed. Most of the scholars there are bookish types who spend their days reading ancient text beneath oil lamps or debating the meaning of this find or that with their fellows. A few have even been known to teach a class or two. You are not one of these, though you have spent your time amongst the thousands of books and scrolls in the library. Instead you prefer to spend your life searching for new discoveries, cataloging new finds, and exploring the barbarous lands beyond the Caliphate.
Your family is an important one, but not of the nobility, and as such considered little different in status than any other freemen. Of course the wealth your father and brothers have accumulated through trade (and the many foreign contacts) has benefited you greatly. It is this wealth that enabled them to send you to the University, and it’s those contacts that first thrilled your heart with thoughts of the exotic and foreign. You grew up in a household where tales of far off lands, strange peoples, and bizarre events were commonplace. At every opportunity you slipped away to the Caravan Square to marvel at the weird and exciting things brought there. Seeing your interest, and knowing that your five elder brothers would divide the family business amongst themselves, your father provided the best education one not of noble birth could have, and in many ways far better.
After three years in the lands north of the Great Erg, you are at last journeying to the ancient libraries of Tibuk in Far Shonga. With you are two camel loads of casks, boxes, and other items to be used in collecting and preserving specimens. Also, you have a load of excavation tools and a sextant for surveying. Accompanying you, as always, is the gift your father bestowed upon you when you graduated from the University, a bound D’Kala warrior named Mumīt. At great expense your father paid a D’Kala breeder for the right to have you present at the hatching, and thus your bodyguard first opened his eyes and saw your face, thus imprinting him on you. You two have been together for five years, and in that time he has grown from the size of a two year old human to larger than a full grown man. A friendship has also grown, as you find his mind alien, yet fascinating, and his loyalty unquestionable.
The caravan you are traveling in is one owned by your father’s trading house, and thus one you do not have to pay for out of your travel funds. It has been twelve long and boring days on the back of a camel crossing the sands of the Great Erg, and you still have at least thirty days ahead before you reach the first oasis at Mem-Kabur. As you prepared to mount your camel for another day of watching the endless sands, a scout ran into camp announcing that he has spotted something in the sands, a city uncovered by last night’s sandstorm. Perhaps you can convince some fellow travelers to go with you and inspect i
About the Setting
The Caliphate is a vast empire stretching from the Great Escarpment in the north to the Great Erg in the south. It is the center of trade for the continent of Alateff. The empire is rules by a hereditary monarch, currently Kahfir XI, of the house of Amara. The climate is warm with cool nights and little rain. Social structure is based around class, and the various classes (slave, freedman, freeman, noble) are forbidden to marry. Most citizens are human, though the D’Kala (lizardmen) and Sha’ir (Halflings) are often found in their own quarters of the cities. Outside the cities, the terrain ranges from tropical savanna in the north to arid plains and hills in the south. Tribes of nomads wander these areas, most notably the Hatari (wild elves).
Magic is rare and usually used for evil, thus most people fear any who use it. That said, most nobles employ a wizard or two for various purposes. People are also wary of any non-humans, especially hatari. Magic rarely can be bought or sold, but alchemy is very common, for the right price.

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