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Sinbad the Sailor

Sinbad the Sailor
Simorgh and Zal 18th century Scanned from the original Persian manuscript Farschi

Sinbad is from Basrah, during his voyages throughout the seas east of Africa and south of Asia, he has fantastic adventures going to magical places, meeting monsters, and encountering supernatural phenomena.

The First Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor

After dissipating the wealth left to him by his father, Sinbad goes to sea to repair his fortune. He sets ashore on what appears to be an island, but this island proves to be a sleeping Aspidochelone on which trees have taken root. Awakened by a fire kindled by the sailors, the Aspidochelone dives into the depths, the ship departs without Sinbad, and Sinbad is saved by the chance of a passing wooden log. He is washed ashore on a densely wooded island. While exploring he comes across one of the king’s grooms. When Sinbad helps save the King’s mare from being drowned by a ghawwas the groom brings Sinbad to the king. The king befriends Sinbad and so he rises in the king’s favour becoming a trusted courtier. One day, the very ship on which Sinbad set sail docks at the island, and he reclaims his goods (still in the ship’s hold). Sinbad gives the king his goods and in return the king gives him rich presents. Sindbad sells these presents for a great profit. Sinbad returns to Baghdad where he resumes a life of ease and pleasure.

The Second Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor

Grows restless of his life of leisure, and sets to sea again, “possessed with the thought of traveling about the world of men and seeing their cities and islands.” Accidentally abandoned by his shipmates again, he finds himself stranded in an inaccessible valley of Dire Snakes which can swallow elephants, and a gigantic bird called the roc, which prey upon them. The floor of the valley is carpeted with diamonds, and merchants harvest these by throwing huge chunks of meat into the valley which the birds then carry back to their nests, where the men drive them away and collect the diamonds stuck to the meat. The wily Sinbad straps one of the pieces of meat to his back and is carried back to the nest along with a large sack full of precious gems. Rescued from the nest by the merchants, he returns to Baghdad with a fortune in diamonds, seeing many marvels along the way.

The Third Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor

Lateen Rig; fig 6 from article on rigging, 1911 enc. brit.
Lateen Rig; fig 6 from article on rigging, 1911 enc. brit.

Restless for travel and adventure, Sinbad sets sail again from Basra. But by ill chance he and his companions are cast up on an island where they are captured by a Cyclops, “a huge creature in the likeness of a man, black of colour, … with eyes like coals of fire and eye-teeth like boar’s tusks and a vast big gape like the mouth of a well. Moreover, he had long loose lips like camels’, hanging down upon his breast and ears like two Jarms falling over his shoulder-blades and the nails of his hands were like the claws of a lion.” This monster begins eating the crew, beginning with the Reis (captain), who is the fattest.

Sinbad hatches a plan to blind the Cyclops, with the red-hot iron spits with which the monster has been kebabing and roasting the ship’s company. He and the remaining men escape. After further adventures (including a gigantic python from which Sinbad escapes thanks to his quick wits), he returns to Baghdad, wealthier than ever.

The Fourth Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor

Sindbad and the Old Man of the Sea. Illustration by Virginia Frances Sterret (1900-1931) from “Arabian Nights” (1928).

Impelled by restlessness Sinbad takes to the seas again, and, as usual, is shipwrecked. The naked savages amongst whom he finds himself feed his companions Lotus Fruits which robs them of their reason, prior to fattening them for the table. Sinbad realises what is happening, and refuses to eat the madness-inducing plant. When the cannibals have lost interest in him, he escapes. A party of itinerant pepper-gatherers transports him to their own island, where their king befriends him and gives him a beautiful and wealthy wife. Too late Sinbad learns of a peculiar custom of the land: on the death of one marriage partner, the other is buried alive with his or her spouse, both in their finest clothes and most costly jewels. Sinbad’s wife falls ill and dies soon after, leaving Sinbad trapped in an underground cavern, a communal tomb, with a jug of water and seven pieces of bread. Just as these meagre supplies are almost exhausted, another couple—the husband dead, the wife alive—are dropped into the cavern. Sinbad bludgeons the wife to death and takes her rations. Such episodes continue; soon he has a sizable store of bread and water, as well as the gold and gems from the corpses, but is still unable to escape, until one day a wild animal shows him a passage to the outside, high above the sea. From here a passing ship rescues him and carries him back to Baghdad, where he gives alms to the poor and resumes his life of pleasure.

The Fifth Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor

An episode from the 5th voyage of Sinbad the Sailor in the "One Thousand and One Nights". Illustration from "Les Mille et une nuits", par Galland - Paris, 1865. Gustave Doré (1832-1883)
An episode from the 5th voyage of Sinbad the Sailor in the “One Thousand and One Nights”. Illustration from “Les Mille et une nuits”, par Galland – Paris, 1865. Gustave Doré (1832-1883)

“When I had been a while on shore after my fourth voyage; and when, in my comfort and pleasures and merry-makings and in my rejoicing over my large gains and profits, I had forgotten all I had endured of perils and sufferings, the carnal man was again seized with the longing to travel and to see foreign countries and islands.” Soon at sea once more, while passing a desert island Sinbad’s crew spots a gigantic egg that Sinbad recognizes as belonging to a roc. Out of curiosity the ship’s passengers disembark to view the egg, only to end up breaking it and having the chick inside as a meal. Sinbad immediately recognizes the folly of their behavior and orders all back aboard ship.

However, the infuriated parent rocs soon catch up with the vessel and destroy it by dropping giant boulders they have carried in their talons. Shipwrecked yet again, Sinbad is enslaved by the Old Man of the Sea, who rides on his shoulders with his legs twisted round Sinbad’s neck and will not let go, riding him both day and night until Sinbad would welcome death.

Eventually, Sinbad makes wine and tricks the Old Man into drinking some, then Sinbad kills him after he has fallen off and escapes. A ship carries him to the City of the Apes, a place whose inhabitants spend each night in boats off-shore, while their town is abandoned to man-eating apes. Yet through the apes Sinbad recoups his fortune, and so eventually finds a ship which takes him home once more to Baghdad.

The Sixth Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor

The Elephants of Raja of Travancore, May 1841.L.H. de Rudder (1807-1881),  based on original drawing of May 1841 by Prince Aleksandr Mikhailovich Saltuikov published in 1848 of a scene in the Sikh Empire.
The Elephants of Raja of Travancore, May 1841.L.H. de Rudder (1807-1881), based on original drawing of May 1841 by Prince Aleksandr Mikhailovich Saltuikov published in 1848 of a scene in the Sikh Empire.

“My soul yearned for travel and traffic”. Sinbad is shipwrecked yet again, this time quite violently as his ship is dashed to pieces on tall cliffs. There is no food to be had anywhere, and Sinbad’s companions die of starvation until only he is left. He builds a raft and discovers a river running out of a cavern beneath the cliffs. The stream proves to be filled with precious stones and becomes apparent that the island’s streams flow with ambergris. He falls asleep as he journeys through the darkness and awakens in the city of the king of Serendib (Ceylon, Sri Lanka), “diamonds are in its rivers and pearls are in its valleys”. The king marvels at what Sinbad tells him of the great Haroun al-Rashid, and asks that he take a present back to Baghdad on his behalf, a cup carved from a single ruby, with other gifts including a bed made from the skin of the serpent that swallowed the elephant (“and whoso sitteth upon it never sickeneth”), and “a hundred thousand miskals of Sindh lign-aloesa”, and a slave-girl “like a shining moon”. And so Sinbad returns to Baghdad, where the Caliph wonders greatly at the reports Sinbad gives of the land of Ceylon.

The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor

The ever-restless Sinbad sets sail once more, with the usual result. Cast up on a desolate shore, Sinbad makes a raft and floats down a nearby river to a great city. Here the inhabitants are Garuda, and Sinbad has one of the bird-people carry him to the uppermost reaches of the sky, where he hears the angels glorifying God, “whereat I wondered and exclaimed, “Praised be Allah! Extolled be the perfection of Allah!” But no sooner are the words out than there comes fire from heaven which all but consumes the bird-men. The bird-people are angry with Sinbad and set him down on a mountain-top, where he meets two youths who are the servants of Allah and who give him a golden staff; returning to the city, Sinbad learns from his wife that the bird-men are devils, although she and her father are not of their number. And so, at his wife’s suggestion, Sinbad sells all his possessions and returns with her to Baghdad, where at last he resolves to live quietly in the enjoyment of his wealth, and to seek no more adventures.

Sinbad is asked by Haroun al-Rashid to carry a return gift to the king of Serendib. Sinbad replies, “By Allah the Omnipotent, O my lord, I have taken a loathing to wayfare, and when I hear the words ‘Voyage’ or ‘Travel,’ my limbs tremble”. He then tells the Caliph of his misfortunate voyages; Haroun agrees that with such a history “thou dost only right never even to talk of travel”. Nevertheless, a command of the Caliph is not to be gainsayed, and Sinbad sets forth on this, his uniquely diplomatic voyage. The king of Serendip is well pleased with the Caliph’s gifts and showers Sinbad with his favour. On the return voyage the usual catastrophe strikes: Sinbad is captured and sold into slavery. His master sets him to shooting elephants with a bow and arrow, which he does until the king of the elephants carries him off to the elephants’ graveyard. Sinbad’s master is so pleased with the huge quantities of ivory in the graveyard that he sets Sinbad free, and Sinbad returns to Baghdad, rich with ivory and gold. “Here I went in to the Caliph and, after saluting him and kissing hands, informed him of all that had befallen me; whereupon he rejoiced in my safety and thanked Almighty Allah; and he made my story be written in letters of gold. I then entered my house and met my family and brethren: and such is the end of the history that happened to me during my seven voyages. Praise be to Allah, the One, the Creator, the Maker of all things in Heaven and Earth!”).

Mythological Figures: Sinbad (5E)


Mythological Figures: Sinbad (5E) | EN World | Dungeons & Dragons | Tabletop Roleplaying Games

Sinbad has been used in a bunch of different stories that aren’t from his first (late) appearance in 1,001 Arabian Nights (where most of the original tales from his seven voyages involve him getting shipwrecked). He does a lot of interesting things during his journeys:

  • got married and entombed with his recently deceased wife (surviving by stealing and eating the rations of other unfortunate spouses doomed to the same fate)
  • made rafts and sailed them (sometimes pretty far) several times
  • hitches a ride from rocs and bird people
  • blinds a monstrous giant
  • carries around the Old Man of the Sea on his shoulders
  • gets rich over and over again
  • is enslaved more than once
  • kills so many elephants that he’s taken to the elephant’s graveyard by the king of the elephants

The guy gets around! In the typical fashion for 1,001 Arabian Nights all of these stories are told via a framing story from an older man named Sinbad to a younger, poorer fellow also named Sinbad.

Medium humanoid (human), lawful good rogue 2/ranger 1/fighter (archer) 7

Armor Class
 15 (studded leather)
Hit Points 73 (2d8+8d10+20)
Speed 30 ft.

11 (+0)16 (+3)14 (+2)14 (+2)14 (+2)14 (+2)

Saving Throws Dex +7, Int +6
Skills Animal Handling +6, Athletics +4, Insight +6, Investigation +6, Perception +6, Persuasion +10, Stealth +7, Survival +6; thieves’ tools +7, vehicles (water) +11
Senses passive Perception 16
Languages Common
Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)

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

Attentive Gaze. Sinbad can use a bonus action to take the Search action.

Background: Nautical. Sinbad is able to acquire passage on a sailing ship for him and his allies free of charge. He has no control over the ship’s route, departure, or return, and although no coin is required he and his companions do have to help crew the vessel.

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

Excellent Aim (3/Short Rest). Sinbad can spend a bonus action to aim a wielded ranged weapon at a target within his range. Until the end of his turn, ranged attacks that Sinbad makes against the target deal an extra 5 damage.

Favored Enemy. Sinbad has advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks to track beasts, as well as on Intelligence checks to recall information about them.

Feat: Superb Aim. Sinbad ignores half cover and three-quarters cover when making a ranged weapon attack, and he doesn’t have disadvantage when attacking at long range. When Sinbad makes his first ranged weapon attack in a turn, he can choose to take a -5 penalty to his ranged weapon attack rolls in exchange for a +10 bonus to ranged weapon damage.

Natural Explorer: Coasts. When Sinbad makes an Intelligence or Wisdom check related to the coast, his proficiency bonus (+4) is doubled if he is using a skill that he’s proficient in. While traveling for an hour or more in his favored terrain, Sinbad gains the following benefits:

  • Difficult terrain doesn’t slow his group’s travel.
  • Sinbad’s group can’t become lost except by magical means.
  • Even when he is engaged in another activity while traveling (such as foraging, navigating, or tracking), Sinbad remains alert to danger.
  • If Sinbad is traveling alone, he can move stealthily at a normal pace.
  • When he forages, Sinbad finds twice as much food as he normally would.
  • While tracking other creatures, Sinbad also learns their exact number, their sizes, and how long ago they passed through the area.

Second Wind (1/Short Rest). On his turn, Sinbad can use a bonus action to regain 1d10+7 hit points.

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


Extra Attack. Sinbad attack twice, instead of once, whenever he takes the Attack action on his turn.

Dagger. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d4+3) piercing damage.

Dagger. Ranged Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d4+3) piercing damage.

Longbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, range 150/600 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8+3) piercing damage.

Sinbad the Sailor

Name Sinbad the Sailor
Human CR 15
XP 51200
Rogue level 8 (skill points 80) Pickpocket
(Pirate )
Rogue level 12 (skill points 120) Rogue
(Swashbuckler )
Any Medium Humanoid
Init +5; Senses ; Perception +22


AC 22, touch 18, flat-footed 16 (+5 Dex, +4 armor, +1 feats, +2 deflection)
hp 101 (0d8+8d8+12d8+8);
Fort +6, Ref +19, Will +5


Speed 40ft.
Melee +1 Elysian Bronze Scimitar +18/+13/+8 (1d6+2/18-20), MWK Dagger +11 (1d4/19-20)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks
Sneak Attack Sneak attack at an extra (D6) 6


Str 13, Dex 20, Con 11, Int 13, Wis 8, Cha 14
Base Atk +15; CMB +16; CMD 34
Feats Assault Leader (Ex), Fast Stealth, Improved Steal, Another Day (Ex), Charmer (Ex), Coax Information (Ex), Survivalist, Armor Proficiency Light, Deft Hands, Dodge, Evasion, Fleet, Fleet 2, Leadership, Martial Weapon Proficiency, Sea Legs, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Skill Focus (Profession Sailor), Skill Focus (Sleight of Hand), Skill Focus (Stealth), Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus
Skills Acrobatics +31, Appraise +19, Bluff +19, Climb +33, Diplomacy +2, Disable Device +16, Disguise +14, Escape Artist +27, Intimidate +2, Know Dungeon +1, Know Local +18, Linguistics +11, Open Lock +9, Perception +22, Profession Sailor +15, Sense Motive +15, Sleight of Hand +31, Stealth +29, Swim +8, Use Magic Device +19, Use Rope +7
Languages Common

SQ Armor Proficiency Buckler, Daring (Ex) 4, Evasion, Improved Uncanny Dodge, Reduce Class Feats 1, Sea Legs (Ex), Swinging Reposition (Ex), Uncanny Dodge, Unflinching (Ex) 2

Gear +1 Leather armor, +1 Scimitar Elysian Bronze Weapon, Masterwork Dagger, Bracers of armor (+4), Gloves of swimming and climbing, Bag of holding (Type I), Potion of Cure moderate wounds, Ring of Protection (+2), Ring of Swimming (5), Vest of escape


Environment Any
Organization Company 10-20, Band 30-100, Squad 4-8
Treasure Standard

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