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Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Mahbub Ali "The Red Beard"


"When a colt is born to be a polo pony, I think it would be a crime to bind him to a heavy cart."

Mahbub Ali is a famous Ghilzai Pashtun horse trader from Afghanistan, known for the quality of the horses he purchases and sells in the British Raj. He is quite wealthy and his nickname is "The Red Beard". In his travels he becomes a father figure and mentor to a young boy of the streets whose name is Kim; but his real name is Kimball O'Hara, an Irish orphan so immersed in the local culture that few realize he is a white child, although he carries a packet of documents from his father entrusted to him by an Indian woman who cared for him.

The young Kim lives a vagabond existence in India under British rule in the late 19th century, and he earns his living by begging and running small errands on the streets of Lahore. He occasionally works for Mahbub Ali, who is secretly one of the native operatives of the British secret service and his official registration number as a spy is C.25.  Mahbub Ali, one of the best, reports directly to the head of the British Secret Service in India, Colonel Creighton – British Army officer, ethnologist, and one who is not afraid to do field work.

Mahbub Ali and Colonel Creighton

I have based my figure of Mahbub Ali both on the novel Kim (Paid Link), by Rudyard Kipling and the 1950 movie (Paid Link) of the same name starring Errol Flynn as Mahbub Ali and a young Dean Stockwell as Kim. 

The figure was a pretty easy conversion as 97% of it consists of parts from the Perry Miniatures hard plastic box Afghan Tribesmen (Paid Link). After putting the basic figure together I added a kulla (the pointed hat sticking through the top of the turban) that I trimmed and shaped from the plastic sprue and then just glued it to the top. There were no hands/arms in the box that would hold a tulwar (sword) so I cut off the hand from a left arm and added a hand from the Gripping Beast Viking Hirdmen box. (Paid Link) I then added a hard plastic cape from an old GW plastic Pistoliers Box and once that dried, added a loose turban wrap from the Afghan box (Paid Link). The lesson? SAVE THOSE BITS!

"Son of 10,000 maggots. Mudhead, thy mother was born under a basket."
Here are some recommended rules for using Mahbub Ali (not play tested yet!) for The Men Who Would be Kings (Paid Link):

1. Mahbub Ali can be added to any British Indian Army Regular Infantry, Irregular Infantry, Regular Cavalry  (yep, going to make one of those too!) and Irregular Cavalry unit and if so, the following upgrades are available: 

a. Fierce (Infantry only): +1 point
b. He knows the Way! (Infantry only): Not slowed by Difficult Ground; +1 point.
c. Sharpshooters (Infantry only): +1 point
d. He knows where they are! (Infantry and Cavalry): All Hidden Units are no longer hidden; +1 point.

Mahbub Ali becomes an extra figure added to the unit; it does not count toward morale purposes, shooting or fighting. If the unit takes casualties, first roll for the unit leader and if he survives, roll for Mahbub Ali. If he is a casualty, all bonuses are lost except Hidden Units. If the unit is reduced to just the leader and Mahbub Ali, if the officer is killed, Mahbub sneaks away and lives to fight another day. If the leader is killed and it is an Indian Native unit, Mahbub takes over with a leadership of 6+ and no Leader Traits.

Russian spies that are very conspicuous along the frontier (yep, some more conversions coming!).

Here is a recommended Profile for Mahbub Ali for In Her Majesty's Name (US Link and UK and Europe Link):

Name: Mahbub Ali
Pluck: 3+
Move: 6 inches
Run: 3 inches
Fighting Value: +4
Shooting Value: +4
Speed: +1
Talents: Fearless, Hero +2 HP, Leadership +2, Marksman, Skirmisher, Stealth Attack, Stealthy, Tough
Basic Equipment: Muzzle-loading Rifle (Jezail, a precision weapon and has a range of 24"), Sword (Tulwar), Large Knife
Armor: 9 (Brigadine)
Points: 100

Mahbub Ali may also choose the following talents: Cavalry and Trick Riding. If he has these talents he can also (duh) have a horse. He may join any British Army, British Indian Army, British Spy Organization, British Affiliated Adventuring Company, and British Affiliated Pashtun Adventuring Company.

"Mahbub Ali does not die tonight!"


  1. A nice addition to your Great Game characters Neil

    1. Thanks! It was a really fun project and figure to do.

  2. Excellent, I love the character elements and how you plan to use them in the game.

    1. Thank you. If you are going to use Errol Flynn, he better be Errol Flynn!