Thursday, August 14, 2014

Al-Qadim 5th Edition Patch: Sha'ir

Still a bit frustrated with adapting things for 5th edition. While in my Hakima musings, I said that the ha'ir and warlock were an obvious match, on closer inspection this isn't really true.

Thematically, the Sha'ir had lots of powers related to genies: identifying their works, calling upon them for aid, imprisoning them, and traveling to their realms. The warlock, however, tends to have powers that curse, blast, and befuddle their enemies and expand their senses. The Sha'ir had no powers of his own except for dealing with genies: he gained power from his minor genie servant. The Warlock is granted lots of these curse, blast, and befuddlement powers that might not be the most potent, but are easier to regain than wizard or sorcerer slots.

So, on the surface, it looks like the warlock is a great match for the Sha'ir: reflavor the Fiend to the Efreet, add in the three other elemental genies (Djinn, Marid, and Dao) and you're set! But does it really make sense for a Sha'ir to be hexing people or calling up his pact weapon? So its not just their spell list, but also the invocations, patron, and pact boons that are a bit iffy. I'm now less sure they're such a great match. Which isn't to say considering an Efreet to be a the Fiend a warlock makes a pact with isn't a great option, just that it doesn't seem to do the Sha'ir idea well.

Other options then... The wizard is exactly what the Sha'ir was not in 2nd edition. A Sha'ir tradition just doesn't seem like a great option, particularly since unlike a Sorcerer's origin feature, the wizard's tradition isn't selected right away. So it can't be used to make the sort of small but radical change to the class that I'm considering for the Hakima.

Clerics, Druids, Paladins, and Rangers just seem like a no-go right from the beginning. The bard has inspiration, song of rest, jack of all trades, and the like and this is before they choose a college at 3rd level. So meh. Likewise it's hard to imagine building a Sha'ir out of the fighter or rogue (despite Eldritch Knight and Arcane Trickster), to say nothing of the barbarian or the monk.

This, oddly, brings us back to the Sorcerer. Could there be a Sha'ir origin for the sorcerer? The third edition adaptation for the Sha'ir used the sorcerer as a frame and tacked the Gen servant onto it. Why do I keep coming back to this class that I don't like? I guess it has the fewest backed-in assumptions. Plus a first-level choice point that will let me really mess with the class without being too athematic.

So a Sha'ir is born, not made. He is a charisma-based caster who uses his sorcery points and spell slots to cast spells fetched by his gen servant. I might be able to dig it. It still leaves open the similar yet slightly more sinister genie pacts for the warlock. I guess it would look something like this:

First level...
 - Know Find Familiar, but it only summons a Gen familiar. Can cast Find Familiar as a ritual as well.
 - Reduce your spells known by 1/2 (Round up, Find Familiar doesn't count for this purpose).
 - You can send your gen to temporarily add a spell to your list of spells known. You lose it when you take a short or long rest, send the gen for another spell, or your gen is incapacitated (do familiars get incapacitated?). Give the gen an appropriate chance to find spells. Spend a sorcery point for advantage on that check and/or to have it happen sooner.
 - You gain double proficiency bonus when doing social checks with genies or identifying their works.

At later levels...
 - Consider giving an ability to summon the Jann for aide, bind genies, travel to their realms, be lent another spell from a genie, etc. These powers are actually kinda wonky and long-winded in the 2nd edition stuff, but maybe they could be simplified. Alternately, a few bonus spells, perhaps limited to affecting genies might do (Banishment, Contact Other Plane, Dispel Evil and Good, Legend Lore, Plannar Binding, Plannar Ally, Plane Shift, Glibness, Imprisonment).

Makes total sense now.

So the Sha'ir would basically be a sorcerer with even fewer spells known, but one really flexible spell known. They could gain spells from other class lists though maybe arcane classes would be easier than divine ones. I'm digging the idea so far. This also puts some of the really thematic options into the Sorcerer. I think Ghul Lord is the next clear contender for a sorcerous origin (hopefully clearer than warlock = sha'ir). Hopefully I won't spot some crap that makes this a poor match. 

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