Dao Tactics

Today I wrap up my look at genies with the dao, which I include only for completeness’ sake, because—let’s be frank—it’s not all that interesting a monster, unless you’re running a thematic campaign on the Elemental Plane of Earth. Like the marid, it seems to exist only because someone thought the existence in myth of air and fire genies meant there had to be water and earth genies too. It doesn’t even appear to have a source in Arabic folklore. And its afterthought nature shows in its abilities.

Dao are straight-up brutes, lacking the cleverness of their cousins, although they still have above-average Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma by humanoid standards. They do have proficiency in Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma saving throws, and their Constitution is extraordinarily high, but they’re susceptible to spells that require Dexterity saves, which spellcasters can exploit.

Dao can attack unarmed or with a maul; the latter does greater damage and allows them to knock targets prone, so it’s clearly the preferred option. They have no special attack related to their element, only the Sure-Footed feature, which gives them advantage on saving throws against being knocked prone themselves. (more…)

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…)