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Sha'irs were unique Zakharan wizards who communicated with the spirits of the elements—the genies.[4][3] In fact, some genies forced to deal with mankind would only interact with a sha'ir.[3][note 1] Some Zakharans even believed traces of genie blood were spread across all races populating the Land of Fate and that this genie ancestry manifested itself the most within a sha'ir.[5]

Requirements[edit | edit source]

Sha'irs had no special requirements, though it took a certain level of bravery and confidence to willingly deal with genies. Even members of races normally forbidden to practice magic could become sha'irs. Races with a degree of innate resistance to magic, such as dwarves and drow, would have their fetched spells fail some of the time. This chance of spell failure was directly linked to the degree of magic resistance inherent in the sha'ir.[4]

Role[edit | edit source]

These wizards were mysterious and powerful figures in Zakhara.[3][4] Since it was widely known that sha'irs associated with genies, most would-be attackers thought twice before threatening them,[4] viewing the sha'ir with a healthy mix of fear and awe.[3]

Many genies who were forced to work with mortals would not cooperate unless working directly with a sha'ir.[3] Sha'irs who were particularly abusive with the genies they associated with might find themselves summoned against their will by a vengeful genie to answer for their actions.[6][7]

Female sha'irs were sometimes called sha'ira.[4]

Possessions[edit | edit source]

Sha'irs often only carried a staff or dagger, and they never wore armor, though they did use magical items that protected them from harm as other wizards did.[4]

Skills[edit | edit source]

Sha'irs could not memorize spells, which was the norm for most wizards; instead, they acquired all of their magic and enchantments through genies. Nor could these wizards create magical items or use spells in the conventional manner like other magic-users. They did not even have their own spellbooks.[4]

Even so, they had an awesome variety of magical powers, each revolving around genies, as explained below.[4][3]

Summoning a Familiar[edit | edit source]

Sha'irs were able to summon a small elemental familiar called a gen. Gen could be summoned from each of the four elemental planes. No matter which plane the gen came from, it happily became the sha'ir's servant and worked in all of the elemental planes to find magic for its master, including planes opposed to its native element.[8] Most gen were fanatically loyal to their sha'ir.[9]

The ritual required to summon and bind a gen lasted many hours. A sha'ir could spend time fasting and communing with the nature of the elemental plane from which the gen would emerge to ensure success. A sha'ir could not be interrupted during this time.[8]

A sha'ir could hear and see whatever their gen experienced. The two could also communicate at will with each other through a mental link. Though useful in the right situation, this mental link had a short range.[10]

A sha'ir and gen—a match made in heaven, or hell, depending on your perspective.

Requesting a Spell[edit | edit source]

Once summoned, gen were able to find information for the sha'ir by accessing a special network used by all genie-kind, allowing the gen to retrieve spells for their master. Once a sha'ir stated which spell they required, the gen would travel to the appropriate plane and fetch it for their master.[8][3]

In order to request a spell, a sha'ir needed to know of the spell's existence. Basic spells were considered common knowledge, but the sha'ir needed to have actually seen more advanced spells cast in order to request them. Sha'irs could even request the strange spells cast by ajamis, or outland wizards. In rare instances, sha'irs were even known to request priest or cleric spells.[8][3]

Gen required time to find a requested spell, and stronger spells took longer to find than weaker ones. Extremely powerful spells sometimes caught the attention of gods or god-like beings. Once a gen was sent off to find a spell, it was not guaranteed that they would return safely.[8]

Once a spell was requested, the sha'ir could not cancel the request or recall the gen. They were forced to wait for the gen to return with or without the requested spell. When a gen returned with a spell, the sha'ir could only cast it once before the knowledge was lost. Also, sha'irs could not send their gen to retrieve another spell until their current spell was used or expired, preventing them from hoarding magic. Sha'irs still needed physical spell components for applicable spells. All verbal and somatic components were imparted telepathically between the gen and their masters.[8]

Divine Magic[edit | edit source]

Especially brave sha'irs could send their gen off in search of clerical or priest spells.[3] Unlike arcane spells, divine spells were granted by gods and goddesses, so there was a good chance that a gen would bring back more than just a simple spell. Nothing happened to a sha'ir requesting a priest spell until they attempted to cast the spell, at which point they risked divine retribution. Stronger spells had a greater chance of attracting a god's attention. Punishment could be quite severe, depending on which god was offended by the sha'ir's brazen activity.[11]

Consequences of divine retribution could include:[11]

  • suffering a case of the evil eye,
  • having the hand of Fate turned against the sha'ir,
  • dealing with a messenger sent by the offended god to teach the sha'ir a lesson, or
  • being transported to face the offended god directly on his or her home plane.

Recognizing Genie Work[edit | edit source]

Through their constant exposure to genies and genie-kind, sha'irs eventually gained the ability to recognize items that were crafted by genies, spells cast by genies, or even spells provided for other sha'irs by their gen. Sha'irs could also detect invisible genies and genies masquerading under an illusion or polymorph ability.[12][3]

Calling Jann[edit | edit source]

Once per day a sha'ir could call upon a janni for assistance. Though they were lesser genies, jann could provide valuable aid to the sha'ir and were readily available in Zakhara. To call a janni, the sha'ir would literally yell out loudly to grab their attention. The call of more powerful sha'irs ranged farther than weaker sha'irs. If a janni was within range of the call he or she would come to the sha'ir's aid.[13][3]

Jann called in this manner offered their assistance freely. They were not charmed or under any compulsion to help the sha'ir. Thus, if a sha'ir, or his or her companions, showed hostility toward the janni, it would abandon them. Sha'irs who deliberately attacked a called janni lost the ability to call future jann unless some kind of restitution was made.[13]

Jann who aided sha'irs sometimes sought the sha'ir at a later time, seeking assistance in some manner or another. If the sha'ir refused to aid the janni, then the sha'ir's reputation in the eyes of all jann was greatly diminished.[13]

Elemental Protection[edit | edit source]

Due to their close relationships with genies, who were elemental creatures, sha'irs gained protection from all elements. Spells or attacks from the elements did not harm them as much, and they were able to resist their effects more. These abilities were increased for the sha'ir when dealing with the element of his or her gen's native plane.[14][3]

Additionally, sha'irs were able to survive on any of the elemental planes without additional protection for a period of time based on the power of the sha'ir.[14]

A genie answers.

Calling a Genie[edit | edit source]

Once a sha'ir gained a moderate amount of power they were able to call upon true genies—djinn, dao, efreet, or marids. Most sha'irs typically called a genie native to the same elemental plane as their gen. This power could only be used once per week.[15][3]

Successfully calling a genie did not mean that the arriving genie was friendly. Genies who were attacked by anything upon their arrival instantly lashed out at their attacker and the sha'ir, regardless of whether or not the sha'ir had anything to do with the attack in the first place. A genie would not perform services for the sha'ir unless it was bribed, threatened, or otherwise convinced to help. Genies aligned with the same elemental plane as a sha'ir's gen were more likely to offer their services. The opposite was true for sha'irs whose gen were from a different elemental plane than that of the genie.[15]

Genie services included manual labor, transportation, protection, or using the genies' inherent abilities. Wishes could also be granted but only if the genie was able to figure out a way to twist them to its own advantage.[15]

Sha'irs who called upon genies too often had a greater chance of randomly being visited by genies who tasked them with a small quest. Refusing these quests harmed the sha'ir's reputation within the genie circles. If a sha'ir refused enough genies in this manner, then that specific type of genie would refuse to answer calls for a full year.[15]

Binding a Genie[edit | edit source]

Part of the reason for a genie's existence was servitude to mortals or greater beings. This is one aspect of genie culture that sha'irs were able to take practical advantage of by entering into contracts with the elemental creatures. Sha'irs were able to increase their standing in the entire genie community if they had a bound genie serving them. Genies entered into such contracts willingly; they were not slaves to the sha'ir, though they were under obligation to remain with their new master for the duration of the contract and perform all of the sha'ir's orders. Such contracts were considered carefully by a genie before it agreed to the terms of service. Sha'irs were able to bind dao, djinn, efreet, and marids.[16]

To bind a genie, the sha'ir first needed to call the genie in the regular manner. At this point the sha'ir and genie would discuss the terms of service. Genies were free to add or remove details from the contract. Any number of factors could influence the genie's willingness to accept the contract, including:[16]

  • the sha'ir's natural charisma,
  • how powerful or weak the genie considered the sha'ir to be,
  • whether or not the sha'ir had bound previous genies, (sha'irs were more likely to bind genies if they had bound genies in the past,)
  • the sha'ir's acceptance or denial of the genie's specific contract demands, or
  • if the sha'ir ever used a genie prison.

A genie considers serving a sha'ir.

Once the genie agreed to the contract, he or she became the sha'ir's bound servant for 101 days.[16]

Common contract demands from genies included:[16]

  • the sha'ir would immediately release the genie from servitude if any other contract demand was broken;
  • the sha'ir agreed to disdain from asking for wishes;
  • the sha'ir agreed never to use a genie prison on the genie;
  • the sha'ir provided for the genie a lifestlye to which it was accustomed;
  • the sha'ir allowed the genie a one day break every ten days;
  • the sha'ir shared treasure with the genie, (sharing large amounts of treasure with genies was an easy way to make bound genies happy and eager to serve);
  • the genie would be allowed to flee (and return later) if it was critically injured during combat; or
  • the genie would be free from the contract upon the sha'ir's death.

Genies who loathed serving sha'irs were known to make outlandish requests in the hope that the sha'ir would utterly reject them.[16]

A man who trusts a genie should only ask for little things.
— Zakharan proverb[17]

Genies under contract with a sha'ir heeded their commands, but commands conflicting with the genie's nature could carry unwanted results. For example, if a sha'ir requested that a good-natured genie steal an item, the genie might perform the task and return with the item, but it would leave a letter with the victim of the theft explaining where the sha'ir might be found. The same guideline applied for evil-natured genies asked to perform an act of kindness.[16]

A sha'ir who allowed their bound genie to die while under contract could not call or bind another genie for 100 days. The next attempts to bind genies of the same kind that died were much more difficult.[18]

Creating a Genie Prison[edit | edit source]

A sha'ir traps a terrified genie.

This bold ability allowed the sha'ir to craft a specialized cell designed to ensnare a genie against its will. Genie prisons were used sparingly or in extreme situations when a sha'ir needed to remove a genie hindering their goals.[19][3]

Elemental Travel[edit | edit source]

After years of developing their craft, sha'irs could cross the Ethereal Plane and traverse any of the elemental planes they wished. When traveling in this manner, a sha'ir could spend many days upon an elemental plane.[18][3]

Sha'irs could even bring other travelers, both willing and unwilling, along with them during their inter-planar travels. Any traveler brought in this manner gained the same elemental immunity that the sha'ir enjoyed. Upon returning to the Prime Material Plane, the sha'ir would reappear in the same spot from which he or she had departed. If that spot was occupied, he or she would appear close by.[18]

Receiving an Audience with a Genie Lord[edit | edit source]

Truly powerful sha'irs were received by genie lords. This could occur only once per calendar month.[20]

In order to do this, the sha'ir needed to travel to the appropriate plane of existence for the type of genie lord desired to be contacted. Only one type of elemental genie could be contacted at a time. Several days would pass before the sha'ir was greeted by a procession of genie-kind, who would accompany the sha'ir to the genie lord.[20]

Sha'irs could also designate someone to take their place in requesting an audience. The petitioner needed to wait for several days in a remote area such as the deep desert. He or she would then be greeted by the same procession of genies.[20]

The Procession[edit | edit source]

The procession that greeted the sha'ir was comprised of noble genies, jann, and regular genies. They would not appear at the site of a battle. If the procession was attacked in any way, they would seek to destroy the attackers and then vanish without greeting the sha'ir.[20]

The Audience[edit | edit source]

Sha'irs who were granted an audience were able to get advice from noble genies who possessed truly vast intelligence and wisdom regarding a wide array of topics. Sha'irs could even report the crimes of lesser genies who were then immediately summoned and dealt with by the noble genie.[20]

In turn, sha'irs were also judged for any wrongdoings committed against genie-kind and punished accordingly.[20]

Rituals[edit | edit source]

As a sha'ir's powers grew, their gen also gained power as well as more confidence.[21] The gen also enjoyed a boost to their general health and hardiness.[10] Sha'irs who wished to enhance the powers of their gen even further could do so via special rituals once permission was granted from a genie native to the gen's element.[22]

Genies devised the rituals that would enhance the sha'ir's gen, so it was not uncommon for a sha'ir to curry favor with a genie by completing special tasks or quests beforehand.[22] Sha'irs would be required to leave their gen in the care of the genies for up to a month in preparation for the power ritual, during which time the sha'ir would be unable to work magic of any kind. However, sha'irs in particualy good standing with a genie race might be granted a "loaner gen" during this waiting period, allowing them to perform magic as they would normally.[23]

The actual power ritual was quite rigorous for the sha'ir, prompting many to enhance their fortitude with a ritual strength spell beforehand so they were able to forego sustenance and the need for sleep. Any interruption in the ritual risked disaster.[23]

History[edit | edit source]

The first sha'ir was Jafar the Incomparable, creator of an artifact known as the Seal.[24]

It seems that many sorcerers, elementalists, and yes, even sha'irs, have begun to band together in small cliques to further their own goals and ideals.
— An incomplete missive found among the burnt belongings of the Grand Caliphate's emissary.[25]

Society of the Sha'ir[edit | edit source]

A secretive society of some 70 sha'irs, called the Hands of Badiat abd Ala'i, was spread throughout the Land of Fate. The Hands served the various genie races, improving their relationship with the enlightened races of Zakhara. The genies often granted enhancements to the sha'ir's already impressive magical powers in exchange for their services.[26]

Known Sha'irs[edit | edit source]

Listed below are sha'irs who traveled the Land of Fate:

Appendix[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Sha'ir was a wizard class kit for the Al-Qadim setting, and later adapted into a base class for v.3.5.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Main: Category:Images of sha'irs

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Adventures
A Dozen and One AdventuresAssassin MountainCaravansGolden VoyagesRuined KingdomsSecrets of the Lamp
Referenced only
Cities of BoneCorsairs of the Great Sea
Video Games
Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Richard Baker and Robert J. Schwalb (February, 2012). Heroes of the Elemental Chaos. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 107. ISBN 0786959819.
  2. Richard Baker and Robert J. Schwalb (February, 2012). Heroes of the Elemental Chaos. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 105. ISBN 0786959819.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 Dean Poisso (January 2004). “The Return of the Sha'ir”. In Chris Thomasson ed. Dragon #315 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 78–83.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Jeff Grubb and Andria Hayday (April 1992). Arabian Adventures. (TSR, Inc), pp. 42–43. ISBN 978-1560763581.
  5. Sam Witt (January 1994). The Complete Sha'ir's Handbook. (TSR, Inc), p. 20. ISBN 978-1560768289.
  6. Wolfgang Baur (November 1993). Secrets of the Lamp. Genie Lore. (TSR, Inc.), p. 57. ISBN 978-1560766476.
  7. Mark Middleton et al (September 1998). Wizard's Spell Compendium Volume Four. (TSR, Inc), p. 897. ISBN 978-0786912094.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Jeff Grubb and Andria Hayday (April 1992). Arabian Adventures. (TSR, Inc), pp. 97–98. ISBN 978-1560763581.
  9. Wolfgang Baur, Steve Kurtz (1992). Monstrous Compendium Al-Qadim Appendix. (TSR, Inc). ISBN l-56076-370-1.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Sam Witt (January 1994). The Complete Sha'ir's Handbook. (TSR, Inc), p. 25. ISBN 978-1560768289.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Jeff Grubb and Andria Hayday (April 1992). Arabian Adventures. (TSR, Inc), pp. 99–100. ISBN 978-1560763581.
  12. Jeff Grubb and Andria Hayday (April 1992). Arabian Adventures. (TSR, Inc), p. 102. ISBN 978-1560763581.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Jeff Grubb and Andria Hayday (April 1992). Arabian Adventures. (TSR, Inc), pp. 102–103. ISBN 978-1560763581.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Jeff Grubb and Andria Hayday (April 1992). Arabian Adventures. (TSR, Inc), p. 103. ISBN 978-1560763581.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Jeff Grubb and Andria Hayday (April 1992). Arabian Adventures. (TSR, Inc), pp. 103–105. ISBN 978-1560763581.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 Jeff Grubb and Andria Hayday (April 1992). Arabian Adventures. (TSR, Inc), pp. 105–108. ISBN 978-1560763581.
  17. David Cook (October 1992). “Home Port: Wherein the Tale Begins”. In Bill Slavicsek ed. Golden Voyages (TSR, Inc.), p. 21. ISBN 978-1560763314.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Jeff Grubb and Andria Hayday (April 1992). Arabian Adventures. (TSR, Inc), p. 109. ISBN 978-1560763581.
  19. Jeff Grubb and Andria Hayday (April 1992). Arabian Adventures. (TSR, Inc), pp. 108–109. ISBN 978-1560763581.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 20.5 Jeff Grubb and Andria Hayday (April 1992). Arabian Adventures. (TSR, Inc), pp. 109–110. ISBN 978-1560763581.
  21. Wolfgang Baur (November 1993). Secrets of the Lamp. Genie Lore. (TSR, Inc.), p. 52. ISBN 978-1560766476.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Sam Witt (January 1994). The Complete Sha'ir's Handbook. (TSR, Inc), pp. 25–26. ISBN 978-1560768289.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Sam Witt (January 1994). The Complete Sha'ir's Handbook. (TSR, Inc), pp. 26–28. ISBN 978-1560768289.
  24. David "Zeb" Cook (December 1993). Book of Artifacts. (TSR, Inc), p. 97. ISBN 978-1560766728.
  25. Sam Witt (January 1994). The Complete Sha'ir's Handbook. (TSR, Inc), p. 72. ISBN 978-1560768289.
  26. Sam Witt (January 1994). The Complete Sha'ir's Handbook. (TSR, Inc), pp. 82–85. ISBN 978-1560768289.
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