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.

In addition to a double scimitar attack that does both slashing damage and bonus fire damage with a ferocious +10 bonus to hit, efreets can also Hurl Flame, doing 5d6 fire damage at a range of up to 120 feet. (You can bet that spellcasters, with their lower average armor classes and ability to circumvent the efreet’s high AC, will be primary targets of this ability.) Both the attack modifier and damage of this ranged attack are lower than those of the efreet’s melee attack, so an efreet will Hurl Flame only when a particular ranged opponent is giving it more trouble than any of its melee opponents are—and, moreover, that ranged opponent is more than 60 feet away, out of range of the efreet’s flying movement. Within 60 feet, the efreet will simply rush the opponent and attack with its scimitar.

The efreet’s repertoire of spells is similar to the jinni’s. Like jinn, efreets can innately cast gaseous form, invisibility and plane shift once per day each, giving them ways of escaping when seriously injured (reduced to 80 hp or fewer); plane shift can be used offensively against a single foe as well. Conjure elemental can summon an ally whose tactics we’ve looked at already, and major image can create a distraction.

But one thing efreets have that jinn don’t is a single daily use of wall of fire, which does 5d8 fire damage per turn to all opponents within it or within 10 feet of one side of it. Since the wall is opaque, an efreet can use wall of fire to cut itself off from enemy spellcasters and ranged attackers; even better, it can also create a ring-shaped wall with a 20-foot diameter around itself, forcing melee opponents to take damage both from its scimitar and from the wall. It’s a Large creature with 200 hit points and a flaming scimitar, and it’s immune to the fire damage. “I’m not trapped in here with you—you’re trapped in here with me!”

Efreets can also cast enlarge/reduce up to three times per day. For very brief interactions, efreets can reduce themselves to Medium size, making themselves appear as nonthreatening as red-skinned fire devils possibly can, but the spell’s duration of just 1 minute indicates that this spell is really meant for combat, not social interaction. An efreet can’t keep this spell going for long periods of time in order to blend in with society. More likely, they’ll cast enlarge on themselves during combat for the additional 1d4 damage they gain with each weapon strike. The question is, when? The effect takes a full action, and the opportunity cost of that action is much greater than 2d4. Becoming a Huge creature rather than a Large creature offers limited advantages, but I can think of one off the top of my head: The target of a grappling attack can be no more than one size Larger than the attacker. Thus, any Medium-size player character crazy enough to try to grapple an efreet will find the task simply impossible once the efreet grows from Large to Huge. In short, an efreet will enlarge itself when Huge size allows it to avoid an attack or an effect that Large size doesn’t.

Efreets are clever and patient fighters who can outlast more fragile opponents and know it. If melee opponents are giving them trouble, they’ll Disengage (action) and fly into the air out of their attackers’ reach, repositioning themselves so that they can face all those opponents at once without being flanked. From the air, they can Hurl Flame to eliminate or suppress spellcasters and other ranged attackers so that they can then proceed to clobber their melee opponents without distraction.

Efreets don’t parley as readily as jinn do, and when they do, they always try to gain an edge or negotiate a loophole that will give them the better end of the bargain. Helping them further their interests in no way guarantees that they’ll be inclined to help the PCs further theirs. Efreets readily accept offers of surrender, but surrendering to an efreet invariably means becoming its thrall—and servitude to an efreet may well mean an unplanned sojourn of indefinite duration on the Elemental Plane of Fire.

Next: marids.


* The Monster Manual uses the singular “efreeti” and plural “efreet,” apparently by analogy to singular “jinni” and plural “jinn,” but this is an error. It’s true that in Arabic, a single “genie” is called جنّي  jinnī, and “genies” as a class are called جنّ jinn, but the singular word for a malicious, wily supernatural being is عفريت ˁifrīt, and the plural is  عفاريت ˁafārīt. عفريتي ˁifrī is an adjective meaning “fiendish.” Instead of “afarit,” I use the anglicized plural “efreets.” ^

5 thoughts on “Efreet Tactics”

  1. I recently had an efreeti in combat and it conjured a fire elemental. It was only later that I realized that conjure elemental takes 1 minute to cast!

    So it’s not really a “mid-combat” kind of spell, unless there’s a rule I’m missing that innate spellcasting ignores casting times.

    You don’t suggest that they cast it in combat, but it might be good to mention that they need some lead time to use it.

    1. My personal take on this: first you need to answer a question yourself. What are you accomplishing by creating this homebrew monster? What, in other words, makes this new version of the efreet “noble”?

      If you just want a bigger, badder, “elite” efreet (I personally wouldn’t refer to such a variant as a “noble”), then yes, you’ll mostly just be turning up the numbers. Maybe remove enlarge/reduce from their spell pool and make them Huge by default. Remember: doing so means they deal 3 dice of damage with their weapons instead of 2! (You may also want to slightly increase the bonus fire damage and will definitely want to give them a stronger Hurl Fire variant.) Huge creatures also use a bigger hit die, so increase their hit points accordingly and consider increasing how many hit dice they have. Check these increased numbers against your target CR (as AngryDM suggests, be sure to pick a target CR or small range of CR -first-), then fine-tune.

      That said? IMO that’s kinda boring. I like throwing in “elite” monsters on occasion, like a “goblin lieutenant” in the midst of a batch of MM-standard goblins, but let’s try and branch out. An efreet “noble”. What makes them noble? You could take the literal text, which says (among other things) that the noble genies can cast Wish, but I’d be leery of actually making a monster that can use -that- spell of all things unless you’re running a campaign for tier IV characters. Instead, let’s focus on the other main theme of the genie flavor block: their decadence and above all else their lust for slaves and worship. That says to me that we want a creature that can compel your players to carry out its will.

      Among other things, this suggests additions or replacements for the spell list. Command as an at-will, for example, or a 1/day geas spell. One or more Dominate-type spells would also fit right in, and I’d bump tongues from 3/day to at-will. Above all else though, a noble efreet is a -tyrant-. It will most likely want nothing less than absolute servitude from the characters. It might be interesting to incorporate this overarching desire into a feature, perhaps something modeled after a glamour bard’s Mantle of Majesty, which could augment the efreet’s lacking action economy by allowing it to burn bonus actions on ordering the characters around.

      It’s worth noting that you’ll almost certainly never encounter a noble genie of any of the four types outside of their palace – which you might even want to model as a lair, come to think of it! Be sure to craft regional effects and lair actions around the magical wards and defenses that the efreet has built into their sanctum – a noble has surely had millenia to spend and hundreds of mortal slaves on lining every brick and line of mortar with teeming spells.

      What this means, among other things, is that your characters will absolutely NOT fight the genie alone. Screw elementals, the noble will likely be backed up by powerful devils, or even an ensorcelled (probably red or gold) dragon. And the angrier the characters make the noble, the more of their slaves will be called in to punish the wretched mortals who dare disrupt the pleasant decadence of their majestic lives. You may even want to incorporate a Summoning feature like demons and devils can have (but likely without the failure chance, potentially with delay instead). Some form of command ability like a battlemaster fighter’s, that exchanges the noble’s action to allow one or more allies to use their reactions to attack, could be frightening too; in fact, I’d go so far as to say that a noble with such an action would use it exclusively to begin with, unless and until the characters manage to do the noble itself significant harm (say, 1/4 of its HP?) or else they kill (or free) a particularly valuable slave.

      That said, on reflection I don’t think the noble would have features like a hobgoblin’s Leadership to bolster their allies. While some species of genies value their slaves, the afarit absolutely do not care. To an efreet, an enslaved dragon is an exotic pet that just so happens to be able to scorch its enemies to a cinder, not an equal to be granted the honor of bolstering magicks. And genies do -not- work together or in any sort of command hierarchy, so the idea of a noble backed up by multiple lesser afarit is absolutely no good.

      1. The drow house captain/matron mother features involving attacking an underling to give it advantage could work here. *whips slave* “Stop letting these weak mortals kill you, fool!”

  2. So I know the efreet’s conjure elemental and enlarge can seem cumbersome, but there is a combo here if the efreeti has had time to prepare for intruders.

    The efreet has a fly speed. The elemental does not. It is also immune to all of the elemental’s damage. So the efreet is not terribly threatened by the elemental becoming hostile to all combatants.

    Seems to me like this could be a good time to cast enlarge, targeting the fire elemental, to take advantage of the elemental’s Fire Form ability. Could be a good early-mid fight tactic, before switching up to wall of fire for a last stand when the enlarged elemental goes down.

    Anyhow, you’re amazing Keith, just an idea to expand (haha) on the use of enlarge!

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