Hello and welcome to the Eye of the Beholder. In this new weekly column, I will take a two part approach to a topic, first dissecting the lore and storyline of the weekly topic, as well as any general DM advice about the topic. Secondly, I will provide specific rules examples (usually tuned for 5e, but I may have material referenced from 3.5) based on the topic. My topics will include monsters, treasures, dungeons, factions and all the different tools a Dungeon Master will use when constructing campaigns and adventures. With no further ado, I present the inaugural article of Eye of the Beholder!
A genie is a planar being resulting from the infusion of a human soul with elemental energy. The resulting creature has no recollection of the soul, however it will have similar personality traits and the same gender as the soul. This week, I am going to put evil genies in the Eye of the Beholder and see how we can use them in our campaigns!
The Efreet, denizens and self-proclaimed rulers of the Elemental Plane of Fire, are lawful evil genies. They represent fire among genie-kind, and their cruelty and power have few equals. Efreet dwell in the City of Brass, a great dome-shaped planar city which is habitable to mortals. Their grand sultan leads the entire race, in an ordered, structured society built on the backs of others. Being lawful evil in alignment, they are likely to build alliances with other lawful evil creatures, including Devils, Hell hounds and fire giants. Furthermore, the Efreet are slavers through and through, enjoying the domination of their lessers far more than grudging alliances with their peers. Aside from the Salamander race, they favor Azer slaves if they are lucky enough to secure the rebellious fire dwarves. Failing to obtain such prime slaves, they will raid into the prime material plane, always looking for more laborers to work in their ever expanding trade empire. Efreet also have been known to form pacts with red dragons and even their mutual allies, the Githyanki. However, trust between such creatures, however similar they are in alignment, runs scarce. The Efreet are often more comfortable with infernal allies. After all, the Efreet cannot lose their souls to devils, but running afoul of a silver sword would pose danger even to them. The Efreet achnowledge no master, save for their Grand Sultan, even refusing to worship gods. However, they show grudging respect towards the evil Imix, and they are wary of powerful beings such as Kossuth.
A Dungeon Master seeking to use the Efreet in an adventure might run one of the following scenarios:
- (Low Level) Efreet make exceptional masterminds to an early campaign arc, and can serve as an otherworldly patron to a faction like the Black Flame Zealots in Faerun.
- (Middle Level) Players exploring an underground ruin find a magical lamp. When it is lit, the Efreet imprisoned within is freed (or enslaved, if you prefer) and proceeds to attack the players, simply to let off some steam, as it were.
- (High Level) An artifact the players require is locked away in one of the most secure places in the multiverse- the Sultan’s vaults in the City of Brass. A truly epic adventure, in which the party battles fiendish guards, efreet squadrons and red dragons, all while dodging traps of Imprisonment, ensues as the players attempt a raid upon the vaults.
The Dao are the earth-based variety of genie, a being native to the elemental plane of earth. Their mortal scions are known as earth genasi. The Dao are similar in temperament to their lawful cousins, the Efreet, in that they are evil slave masters. However, each Dao is arrogant, seeing to be their own master, as well as the master of as many slaves as they can control. This means their society lacks the lawful trait of the Efreet, but their rigid control of their slaves and their canny greed also make them unlikely to be chaotic. An individual Dao is greatly enamored of themselves, believing themselves masters of the earth, all the riches under it, and all of the creatures who walk upon it. They bequeath titles upon themselves, favoring grandiosity and pomp. The more impressive the title, the more the Dao believes the title truly fits them. But even overpowering their arrogance and self-aggrandizement is the inherent greed of a Dao. Much like their frequent ally and sometimes overlord, Ogremach, the Dao are greedy misers. They demand fine gems and rich minerals, and have whole armies of slaves who mine for such. Not that the Dao are willing to spend wealth to acquire what they want, why trade when you can take by force?
The Dao occupy many different corners of the Elemental Plane of Earth, but tend to favor a region of the plane known as the Great Dismal Delve. Here, the various Khans and Pashas of the Dao vie for dominance of the vast mining operation, seeking to claim as many slaves and precious minerals as they can. Their favored servants include gargoyles, earth elementals and enslaved Dwarves. (All species, but Duergar in particular make excellent servants to a Dao Khan) The Dao, for all their failings, are excellent smiths, and are often enslaved by wizards to provide magical weapons and armor. The Dao never forget one who enslaved them, and go to great lengths to punish such impudence from lesser mortals.
A Dungeon Master seeking to use the Dao in an adventure might run one of the following scenarios:
- (Low Level) Cultist of Evil Elemental Earth seek to serve Ogremach by finding and freeing one of his Dao servants from an iron flask. The PCs must defeat the cultists before they can unbind the evil genie.
- (Middle Level) A Dao slaver and her Duergar miners prowl an underground ruin, hoping to find a legendary gem of some mystical value.
- (Higher Levels) A Galeb Duhr, native to the Elemental Plane of Earth, knows a secret that the party must have, but will only divulge it if the PCs travel to the Elemental Plane of Earth and free its favorite piece of earth from a great Dao khan’s control.
If you were seeking to use a powerful Dao lord as an enemy in a 5e campaign, consider the following sample Dao.
Khan Fazad Il-fatir, Overseer of the Bottomless Pit, Master of Ten Thousand Slaves, the Iron Fist of Ogremach
“Know this mortals: The arrogant foolishness you have shown in seeking me out has not gone unnoticed. Your punishment for disturbing me in my own home will be an imprisonment that shall last through your family for a dozen generations and beyond!”
Large Elemental, Neutral Evil
Armor Class 18 (Natural)
Hit Points 243 (18d10+144)
Speed 30 ft. Burrow 30 ft. Fly 30 ft.
Str 26 (+8) Dex 12 (+1) Con 26 (+8) Int 12 (+1) Wis 13 (+1) Cha 16 (+3)
Saving Throws Int +6, Wis +6, Cha +8
Condition Immunities Petrified
Senses Darkvision 120, Passive Perception 11
Languages Terran, Common
Earth Glide. Fazad can burrow through nonmagical, unworked earth and stone. While doing so, he doesn’t disturb the material he moves through.
Elemental Demise. If Fazad dies, his body disintegrates into crystalline powder, leaving behind only equipment he was carrying.
Innate Spellcasting. Fazad’s innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 16, +8 to hit with spell attacks). It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:
At will: Detect Evil and Good, Detect Magic, Stone Shape, Mold Earth*, Earth Tremor*
3/day each: Passwall, Move earth, Tongues, Earth Bind*, Erupting Earth*, Transmute Rock*
1/day each: Conjure Elemental (earth elemental only), Gaseous Form, Invisibility, Phantasmal killer, Plane Shift, Wall of Stone, Wall of Stone, Investiture of Stone*
*Spell found in the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion.
Sure-Footed. Fazad has advantage on Strength and Dexterity saving throws made against effects that would knock him prone.
Multiattack Fazad makes 2 fist attacks or 2 attacks with Earthmaw.
Fist Melee weapon attack: +13 to hit, reach 5 feet, one target.
Hit: 2d8 + 8 Bludgeoning damage.
Earthmaw* Melee Weapon attack: +15 to hit, reach 5 feet, one target.
Hit: 4d6 +10 Bludgeoning damage. Any huge or smaller creature must make a DC 18 strength save or be knocked prone.
*Earthmaw is a magical maul that gives a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls.