Marid Tactics

The “four elements” of air, earth, fire and water originated with the Greeks, but somewhere along the line, some Dungeons and Dragons writer must have read that jinn, in Arab myth, were supernatural beings of air and that efreets were supernatural beings of fire; decided that there had to be corresponding water and earth spirits, too; and shoehorned marids into the genies-of-water role, maybe because of the syllable mar-, which means “sea” in Latin. In Arabic, however,  مارد mārid means “defiant” or “rebellious,” and it’s used to describe all sorts of troublemaking creatures, including not only certain genies but demons and giants as well.

The D&D marid, like its fiery cousin, the efreet, is a brute fighter with extraordinarily high Strength and Constitution but also extraordinarily high mental attributes. Like jinn, marids have proficiency in Dexterity, Wisdom and Charisma saving throws along with a Constitution high enough to make saving throws easily without proficiency, so they’ll have little to fear from spellcasters.

The marid’s equivalent of a jinni’s Create Whirlwind and an efreet’s Hurl Flame is Water Jet, a linear, guaranteed-damage attack that can push enemies away and knock them prone. Based on this feature’s 60-foot range, there’s not much reason to expect it to affect more than two creatures at once (based on the “Targets in Areas of Effect” table on page 249 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide), and since the marid can always position itself to line up any two opponents in its sights, is there any reason for it not to use this feature again and again? (more…)

Efreet Tactics

Efreets* are genies of fire, elemental beings akin to jinn, but more consistently wicked and malicious. They’re strong, cunning and ruthless, and they view mortal humanoids as lesser beings fit only for enslavement and other forms of exploitation.

With their extraordinarily high Strength and Constitution, they’re straight-up brute fighters. But not dumb ones: their Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma are all high as well. They have proficiency in Wisdom saving throws, along with Intelligence and Charisma, but not in Dexterity or Constitution. Their native Constitution is so high, they needn’t worry about making Con saves, but their Dexterity is barely above average for a humanoid, so they’ll be slightly warier of spellcasters than jinn are. (more…)

Jinni Tactics

A jinni (the fifth-edition Monster Manual uses the variant spelling “djinni”) is the product of a humanoid soul bound to the elemental essence of air. By default, jinn are chaotic good, but they’re also haughty and vengeful, and a party of players may find themselves fighting one if it’s trying to get payback against someone who once betrayed it. Jinn don’t reproduce naturally, so they don’t have the same kind of evolved behaviors as creatures that reproduce over generations have, but they are keen to preserve their own existence—not to mention slick hagglers—and will readily parley with anyone they recognize as a major threat.

Jinn have high Dexterity and extraordinarily high Strength and Constitution, an ability contour that suggests a brute fighter but really allows them to fight however they want. They also have high Intelligence and Wisdom and extraordinarily high Charisma, giving them a strong self-preservation impulse, shrewd target selection, the ability to strategize and, most of all, the ability and willingness to seek negotiated solutions to conflict. Their saving throws and damage immunities don’t have much bearing on their fighting style, except insofar as they aren’t afraid of most spellcasters. You’ve got to be at the top of your game to beat a jinni that way. (more…)

Elemental Tactics

Elementals are spirits of air, fire, water and earth, usually summoned to do a spellcaster’s bidding. Each is physically powerful in some way, not too bright, able to see in the dark, capable of two melee attacks in a turn, resistant to physical damage from nonmagical weapons, and immune to exhaustion, paralysis, petrifaction, poisoning and unconsciousness. Beyond that, the elements they’re generated from grant them additional powers and influence their manner of movement and fighting.

Elementals are summoned spirits, not evolved creatures. They have no particular survival instinct—on the contrary, they’re bound to the will of their summoners and peevish about it, and what they want more than anything is to get back to the plane they came from. If they’re destroyed, they get exactly what they want. Consequently, elementals will fight to the death with zero concern for damage to themselves. They’re also indiscriminate in their target selection and may or may not keep attacking the same opponent round after round. (more…)

Slaad Tactics

Slaadi are beings of pure chaos, native to the outer plane of Limbo, vaguely resembling humanoid salamanders. There’s no good reason for them to be hanging out on the prime material plane, but being beings of pure chaos, they don’t need a good reason to be doing anything.

Slaadi come in a variety of colors, tied to their bizarre reproductive cycle. Red slaadi deposit eggs that hatch into slaad tadpoles (I think the writers missed a great opportunity by not calling them “slaadpoles”), which grow up into blue or green slaadi. Blue slaadi, in turn, infect victims with a bacteriophage that transforms them into red or green slaadi. Green slaadi are more powerful and intelligent than red and blue slaadi, and they eventually metamorphose into gray slaadi, which in turn can metamorphose into death slaadi by eating the corpses of other death slaadi.

Being aberrations, slaadi should behave—and fight—in ways that reflect their origin on the plane of chaos, a factor that has to be considered alongside their abilities and features. Slaadi are high-challenge monsters, so as tempting as it may be to ramp up the chaos they create by having the player characters encounter many of them at once, it can be deadly to throw more than one slaad at a party of low- or even intermediate-level PCs. Moreover, their ability to reproduce by turning humanoids into slaadi and slaad hosts can have exponential effects, so even one slaad is a threat that needs to be squelched pronto. (more…)