Alternate Class - Sha'ir

by Dean Poisson - Dragon #316

AL-QADIM, the legendary Land of Fate, rises like an ancient flower from the southern oceans of Toril. Although few travelers from Faerûn ever reach this fabled land, tales abound of its exotic inhabitants. The strange, new wares offered by the Durparian traders who speak of this place serve to confirm at least some of their wild claims, but others are too fantastic to be believed. The traders speak of genies that walk the streets, of princes who fly upon carpets, and of desert winds singing promises of earthly delights. Even the most skeptical adventurer realizes that a nation of vast power lies somewhere across the seas, and that its civilization was old before recorded history began. This quixotic land, where fate determines the fortunes of the most tyrannical desert princes and the humblest of beggars, calls out to those who would learn its secrets.

The new character class presented is adapted from the AL-QADIM campaign. It works just like the eleven core classes in the Player's Handbook. It has a complete, twenty-level advancement table and features a full range of special abilities. More importantly, it represents an entirely different mechanic for spellcasting - one not seen before the AL-QADIM setting or since.


The enigmatic sha'irs are the sages of AL-QADIM - the primary arbiters between the immensely powerful genie-kind and the people of the Land of Fate. Feared for their mysterious ways, the sha'irs are also revered by the people. Some of AL-QADIM's most powerful caliphs employ these respected spellcasters as advisors.

Steeped in ancient lore, the sha'irs enjoy a cultural acceptance of their sorcerous power that is found nowhere else in the world. The chief reason for this appreciation of sha'irs is that their exquisite finesse allows them to parley with the ancient, powerful forces of the desert. In fact, genies that are forced to deal with mortals often refuse to interact with anyone other than a sha'ir.

Game Rule Information

Sha'irs have the following game statistics.

Abilities: Charisma determines how powerful a spell a sha'ir can cast, how many spells she can cast per day, and how hard those spells are to resist (see Spells, below). Like a wizard, a sha'ir benefits from high Dexterity and Constitution scores.

Alignment: Any.

Class Skills

The sha'ir's class skills are Bluff, Concentration, Craft, Decipher Script, Diplomacy, Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (the planes), Listen, Profession, Sense Motive, and Spellcraft.

Skill Points at 1st Level: (2 + Int modifier) x 4.

Skill Points at each additional level: 2 + Int modifier.

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the sha'ir:

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Sha'ir are proficient with all simple weapons, but not with any type of armor or shield. Armor of any type interferes with a sha'ir's arcane gestures, which can cause her spells with somatic components to fail.

Spells: A sha'ir's spells must be retrieved from the elemental planes by her familiar, an outsider called a gen. Once retrieved, a spell remains set in the sha'ir's memory, like a wizard's prepared spell, until cast or until a number of hours pass equal to the sha'ir's class level. A sha'ir is capable of extraordinarily versatile spellcasting because she can use arcane spells as well as a limited selection of divine spells. A sha'ir's familiar can retrieve any spell on the sorcerer/wizard list, plus any spell from the Air, Chaos, Earth, Fire, Knowledge, Law, Luck, Sun, and Water domain lists. But even though the sha'ir has access to certain domain spells, she gains no other benefit of the cleric class, including the granted powers of those domains. To learn or cast a spell, a sha'ir must have a Charisma score equal to at least 10 + the spell level (Cha 10 for 0-level spells, Cha 11 for 1st-level spells, and so forth). The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a sha'ir's spell is 10 + the spell level + the sha'ir's Charisma modifier.

Like other spellcasters, a sha'ir can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. Her base daily spell allotment is given on the Sha'ir Advancement table. In addition, she receives bonus spells per day if she has a high Charisma score (see Ability Modifiers and Bonus Spells).

A sha'ir begins play knowing five 0-level spells and three 1st-level spells of her choice. At each new sha'ir level, she gains one or more new spells, as given on the Sha'ir Spells Known table. (Unlike spells per day, the number of spells a sha'ir knows is not affected by her Charisma score.) These new spells may be common spells chosen from the sorcerer/wizard or appropriate domain spell list.

A sha'ir decides what spell might be useful and sends out her familiar to retrieve it from the elemental planes. To do this, the sha'ir must summon her gen and tell it the name of the spell she seeks. The gen immediately planeshifts to seek the spell in the elemental planes.

The gen's success in finding the desired spell depends on the following parameters.

Once a gen is sent out to fetch a spell, it cannot be recalled; it is gone for the duration of the search. To determine its success, the sha'ir must succeed at a DC 20 Diplomacy check, since the gen is acting as a proxy to the elemental powers on behalf of the sha'ir. The following modifications apply to this check:

If the Diplomacy check is successful the gen reappears within 5 feet of its master and imparts to her the power to cast the spell. If the check fails, the gen reappears with no results. A failure by 5 or more results in the gen being detained for an additional 1d4 minutes.

Spells retrieved by the gen remain available to the sha'ir to cast for hour per sha'ir level. If a spell is not used within that time, the power to cast the spell dissipates harmlessly.

At 4th level and every even-numbered sha'ir level thereafter, a sha'ir may choose to learn a new spell in place of one she already knows. In effect, the sha'ir "loses" an old spell known in exchange for a new one. The new spell's level must be the same as that of the spell for which it is exchanged. A sha'ir may swap one spell at any given level and must make the decision at the same time as she gains new spells known for the level.

Metamagic Feats: A sha'ir may use metamagic feats she possesses to modify the spells her gen fetches. The gen simply fetches the spell with the metamagic feats applied. Unlike the sorcerer, the sha'ir does not need to take a full-round action to cast such spells.

Bonus Languages: A sha'ir may substitute Aquan, Auran, Ignan, or Terran for any of the bonus languages available to the character because of her race. Sha'irs are expected to have a great deal of contact with elemental entities, and apprentice sha'irs often study the languages that such creatures speak.

Summon Gen Familiar: A sha'ir must obtain a gen familiar (see Gen Familiars) at 1st level. A gen familiar is an intelligent outsider that resembles a small elemental. The creature serves as a companion and servant to the sha'ir. The sha'ir may choose the elemental type of the gen she summons, and its alignment matches her own. The summoning takes 12 hours and consumes raw materials that cost 100 gp.

A gen can retrieve spells for the sha'ir, as indicated above. As the sha'ir advances in level, the gen increases in power similar to the manner that a normal familiar gains power. A gen advances as a normal familiar, gaining all the normal benefits described in Familiars, except that its Intelligence does not increase and it can speak the languages noted in the gen's description (see below). It retains the outsider type.

If a gen familiar dies or is dismissed by the sha'ir, the sha'ir must attempt a DC 15 Fortitude saving throw. Failure means she loses 200 experience points per sha'ir level; success reduces the loss to one-half that amount. However, a sha'ir's experience point total can never go below 0 as the result of a gen's demise or dismissal. A slain or dismissed gen can be replaced the following day, but since it is an outsider, it cannot be raised from the dead.

A sha'ir with more than one class that grants a familiar may have only one familiar at a time.

Recognize Genie Works: At 3rd level, a sha'ir can recognize the craftsmanship of any item or magical effect created by geniekind. To use this ability, the sha'ir must make a successful DC 20 Knowledge (the planes) check. The sha'ir receives a bonus to this check equal to her sha'ir level.

Elemental Protection: At 5th level, a sha'ir gains resistance to acid 2, cold 2, electricity 2, and fire 2. She also gains damage reduction 2/- against attacks made by any creature with the air, earth, fire, or water subtype. The resistance increases to 4 against the energy type to which her gen is immune (see below), and the damage reduction increases to 4/- against attacks made by creatures of her gen's elemental subtype. She also gains a +2 bonus on all saves against acid-, cold-, electricity-, and fire-based attacks, and this bonus increases to +4 against attacks that deal the energy damage to which her gen is immune.

Call Janni (Sp): A 7th-level or higher sha'ir may call a janni to aid her once per day. This functions as the lesser planar ally spell except that the Sha'ir can only call a janni. The sha'ir must pay the spell's XP cost and bargain with the janni as normal. Caster level is equal to the sha'ir's class level.

Elemental Travel (Sp): At 9th level, a sha'ir can plane shift once per day, as the spell, to any of the Elemental Planes or from any elemental plane to the Material Plane. At 15th level, the sha'ir may use this ability twice per day, and at 18th level, the sha'ir may use this ability at will. Caster level is equal to the sha'ir's class level.

Call Genie (Sp): A 11th-level or higher sha'ir may call any type of genie to aid her once per day. This functions as the planar ally spell except that the Sha'ir can only call one djinni, efreeti, dao (see the Manual of the Planes), or marid (see the Manual of the Planes), or two jann. The sha'ir must pay the spell's XP cost and bargain with the genie or jann as normal. Caster level is equal to the sha'ir's class level.

Craft Genie Prison (Ex): At 13th level, a sha'ir gains the benefit of the Craft Wondrous Item feat, except that she can use it only to create genie prisons. A genie prison is created in the same way as an iron flask and functions identically to that device, except that it can hold only geniekind.

Sha'irHit Die: d4Spells per day
1st+0+0+0+2Summon familiar42--------
3rd+1+1+1+3Recognize genie works531-------
5th+2+1+1+4Elemental protection5431------
7th+3+2+2+5Call janni55431-----
9th+4+3+3+6Elemental travel (1/day)555431----
11th+5+3+3+7Call genie5555431---
13th+6/+1+4+4+8Craft genie prison55555431--
15th+7/+2+5+5+9-Elemental Travel (2/day)555555543-
18th+9/+4+6+6+11Elemental travel (at will)5555555443
Sha'ir Spells Known
 Spells Known

Gen Familiars

A gen is an outsider similar to a genie, but much smaller and far less powerful. Like genies, gens are native to the various elemental planes.

Source: Dragon #316

Alternate Character Classes
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