Kobold Press Granting Wishes With Genies Great And Small
Genies – those outsiders that spring forth from legends as far back as mankind can remember. Often portrayed as mischievous and playful by Hollywood, they are in fact far more complex than even the legendary Robin Williams could portray. For one reason or another they have been noted to twist the desires and wishes of mortals to darker ends. This could be attributed to a need for amusement or simply “they are Evil, that is why.”
But Dillon has come up with another reason as to why they may do this, and it is with great pleasure that I got to speak to him about it. I personally can’t wait to work them into a campaign, especially since this brings all the old types back to the forefront. From the fiery efreet to the classic djinn. This supplement gets to the nit and grit, the motivations and drives of each of these elementally empowered reality benders.
Now in my opinion, this genie supplement is fairly balanced and well written as is. Though playtesting, as even Wizards of the Coast can attest, will likely refine this blade to a razor’s edge. To this end it appears Dan is open to the idea of revisions and updates. This alone is the mark of a great developer, as the ability to stand by your work is a sign of character and dedication. Beyond this, you are given tools to put the content here into any campaign.
From imprisoned genies to be found within a lost bottle, to a genie that has been tasked to accomplish a specific role, this product covers every level of genie. It even has rules for the smallest of genies to be made into Pact of the Chain familiars! I, as a huge fan of the warlock in recent months (yeah, it took me a while to come around), love the idea of this to my very core. Dan, if you are reading this, I would adore a Genie themed patron for the Warlock. [NERDITOR’S NOTE: Your wish is granted.]
Anywhovian, you can find encounters from Challenge Rating 1 to 13. As such, you can bring them into the mix at any level. Even a high level campaign could see them as a foot soldier or other peon.
With the lore and descriptions provided, they could even be used to a degree as a setting or plot line. Perhaps your good character is tasked with freeing a genie, or the group needs one to open a portal? The options are truly endless if you take the time to build upon them. I find the best content inspires you to take it a step further and personalize it. Dillon definitely does this, as every page got my mind working on ways to work it into various campaigns. I don’t want to give away too much but the varied nature of this supplement is pretty much guaranteed to please.
I want to take a moment to thank Karl Waller for his artwork on this product. I have always loved the 2nd edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons art style, and his work here is right along those veins. The inner child within me, that kid with single digit years on this earth that had opened his first roleplaying book thanks you. You did our genre proud.
Nubz interviews Dan Dillon
Groovy. So the first thing I know people would be curious about is, what inspired you to create this product?
I’m a huge fan of the Al-Qadim campaign setting, have been since high school. So when the DM’s Guild opened up all the Toril settings to community content, that put the idea in my head. It pinged around for a while until I chatted it over with Wolfgang at Kobold Press, and we came up with the idea of updating all the tasked genies and gen familiars, and adding some new genies as well.
Groovy. I know I have been itching to get Sandstorm from 3rd converted over. Your genie product has rekindled that fire. Wolfgang is good people. I thoroughly enjoyed writing an article about the decks he made. So is your playtesting as intensive as his?
The genies didn’t receive as thorough a playtest as something like the Tome of Beasts, that’s for sure. One of the realities of using the DM’s Guild vs. a Kickstarter product, is much less money to work with, especially up front. In general DM’s Guild products aren’t going to get the full range of treatments that a fully funded project will get. Not my favorite answer to give, but, reality. The genies were all created with the rules in the DMG, compared to existing 5E creatures, and were thoroughly edited, revised, and did get playtest, just not hundreds of playtesters worth.
I could understand that all too well as I am starting to dabble into both myself. I find DM’s Guild tends to be passion projects. Though if one is truly passionate about a setting, it will always be revisited. Would it be safe to assume you would be up for updates and/or errata if something is found along the way?
Oh most definitely! I love hearing about peoples’ experience using my work in play, and I’m just as eager for negative feedback/problems that were exposed so I can revise my process and thinking going forward, and if possible to fix an existing product. At the very least I can suggest fixes directly, but updating a product with an errata is great when possible.
That is the mark of excellence if you ask me. So what was the muse to inspire each creation? I assume you didn’t watch I Dream of Jeannie and be done with it. In other words, what myths, legends, and stories did you draw from?
Ha! No, for the most part it was taking existing creatures from 2nd edition, and updating them to 5E mechanics and design. The tasked genies and gen were all existing creatures. For the three new “true” genies and the bottled genie template, that drew on the basic aesthetic of Al-Qadim, which draws from the 1001 Tales, and the pulp Hollywood depictions of Arabia in films like the Thief of Baghdad and the Sinbad movies.
All classics, and as a fan of the golden age of cinema I thank you.
I drew on some mythological tropes, particularly genie servitude, and how they rankle against it. What happens when you stuff a djinn into a lamp against its will, and it’s trapped there for thousands of years before some adventurers run across it? Well, it might have gone mad in the interim, and become an insane bottled djinn.
I noticed that particular part, and was surprised by it. As a DM I have thought about the motives of such, and often figured that genies would go completely insane given time.
Similar tropes of imprisonment and bitterness for the nafurzi, a water genie trapped in a well or other body of water, who takes out its rage on mortals who come to drink. The alnnakhi live in desert oases or gardens, tending and defending the plants that live there. The oasis is such a staple of desert adventure, it’s fun to have a genie bound to it. And the khamsiri are creatures from where the planes of air and earth meet, they ride the desert wind and revel in the hearts of sandstorms.
Japan has similar myths for a few of their spirits.
Groovy. So what are your thoughts on creative ways gamers could fit your genie content into a campaign set in other worlds? Such as Curse of Strahd, Eberron, Forgotten Realms, and such?
The simplest way to encounter them is conjured and bound as a servant to an NPC or antagonist. There’s a section on rituals allowing the conjuration of tasked genies if you want to make the option available to your PCs as research or treasure. Other than that, they can make interesting encounters on their own. Consider a wandering group of herdsman genies tending to the herds of horses the characters have been sent to retrieve. Or offer the services of a djinnling familiar to a spellcaster who treats it well, perhaps after defeating its cruel former master.
Very interesting. I was thinking after I asked that, “how cool would it be to have a djinn bound to an air ship in Eberron?”
Eberron is great for that! Usually they use more standard elementals, but subbing out genies of appropriate types can add a lot of flavor, and even some roleplay encounters that have some more potential depth. The sandstorm (khamsir) genies would be great in the wastelands of Athas. And an alnnakhi would have some strong words to anyone using defiling magic.
I don’t know if you have played Dungeons & Dragons Online but they have a quest that culminates in releasing the fire elemental that was imprisoned in a pirate air ship ring. Needless to say it wrecks the ship as you watch. Would be a blast, pun intended, to see that with a djinn or efreeti.
Yeah, exactly! Could be cool to have a subversive creature bound to the crystals that might give you hints or inside information on how to free it, or how to thwart its captors.
Like an all powerful Dobby.
Those encounters always set up cool things to happen in the future. That’s a great candidate for a planar ally spell down the road.
Would be fun to have a genie player race. Like these are to genie as the aasimar are to celestials.
I’ll have to check out Unlikely Heroes. Was not terribly impressed with genasi this edition. So what is next in your creative line up?
Right now I’m finishing up a round of monsters for Tome of Beasts 2, doing a development pass on the next Creature Components 5E supplement from Playground Adventures, and a development pass for the next “In the Company of Monsters” installment from Rite Publishing.
That sounds like a lot of goodies the players of the world can look forward to! So, is there any product you would like to do but want to see how much interest there would be for it first? Nerdarchy is a great platform to do so.
Well I’m sure our readers will toss their two copper in favor of it.
I will keep that in mind!
Well with your permission I can add this interview to my article (with spelling corrections) and achieve just that
Certainly! I appreciate the signal boost.
Of course! Any website we should plug for you?
I don’t have a personal website. I have stuff on the Kobold Press store, I’m on twitter @Dan_Dillon_1, and there’s the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Facebook group.
Groovy. I’ll add it Well, my lunch is over. So I have to go. Thank you for your time though!
My pleasure, Nigel! Thanks!
There is a quick run down on a product inspired by the Al-Qadim setting. Genies have ties to the very first editions of Dungeons & Dragons. I am sure more than a few of you will be excited to bring them into your games. Perhaps mix in the genasi of the Elemental Evil’s Player’s Companion and the Unlikely Heroes’ Jinnborn? I know that the flood gates can be opened of such. Perhaps a trip to the elemental planes? I know the City of Brass is calling my name.
Play on PS4 or PS3? How about Destiny 2? Did you know Nerdarchy has a community and clan that plays together often? Go ahead and search in the community section for Nerdarchy and for the player Nubz_The_Zombie!
Did I miss something? Have any Questions or Comments? Feel free to message me at www.facebook.com/NubzTheZombie or at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am now on Twitter too: @nubzthezombie