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Genies and Deus Ex Machina

Discussion in 'World Building' started by D. Gray Warrior, Jan 29, 2018.

  1. D. Gray Warrior

    D. Gray Warrior Troubadour

    I have an idea for a conworld where genies (called Djinn) exist. In this world, the Djinn are confined to various objects like lamps, bottles, rings, etc. because the humans feared their power and thought that restraining the djinn were the only way to be safe, so the Djinn were trapped by powerful sorcerers. I figured it could also be a form of punishment as there was a war that involved the Djinn nearly destroying all life, and it made people realize how dangerous they can be.

    The only real problem I see with genies is that I think they would be an easy trap for deus ex machinas. I have read up on some of their powers and rules, and in general, a genie cannot directly kill someone in the sense that the master cannot wish someone dead, although they can wish to be sent to a parallel universe where the said person is dead or never existed. The owner also cannot wish to be a god or anything that outranks a genie (I think genies are considered as higher than a human but lower than an angel), and there is three wish rule, though I may tweak and play around with that.

    As for the three wish rule, I think it will be more of a contractual thing with some djinn adhering to it, and others being more generous, so it is an individual thing rather than something all genies do. It may also depend on how much the djinn likes their master, in which case, they will be more likely to grant more than three wishes unless they had already agreed to the three wish rule before hand.

    Even a genie trapped inside an object can still be very dangerous as a malevolent genie may attempt to persuade his naive or foolish master into doing his bidding instead of the normal "genie obeys master" thing."

    What can I do to prevent a person from wishing their way out of most situations or other easy outs?
  2. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

    What I've heard with Genies is that granting wishes came out of gratitude from being freed so the number of wishes, whether you get a wish or not or even whether they would try to kill you at their anger over being trapped would depend on the Genie. Also read that they didn't have an explicit wish granting power but granted wishes by using their own incredible riches, phyiscal power and magical knowledge. Well, that last part might not work out for what you have set up, but the first could make using a genie really, really dangerous.
  3. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

    Sorry, but when I read the above, I read a lot of rules that you are trying to adhere to when you really don't have to adhere to any. Common folk lore, such as we see with Aladdin have the 'rub the lamp and get three wishes' variety, but Djinn have a long tradition in Arabic culture as creatures of some power, similar to angels and even demons (depending...), or just some type of powerful unknown creature. The Name Jinn means a hidden creature, so perhaps they were thought of as invisible. So...if you are going to use Jinn and not Genies, I think you might want to have a little better understanding of Jinn's in the culture that created them.

    But, putting all that aside, the whole granting wishes thing has been portrayed with and without limits. Why, I have known a game master or two that would take great delight in trying to find the loopholes in the wordings of some wishes..., but typically, the not wishing for more wishes, not wishing someone dead, and not wishing someone in love tending to be along the lines of how the limitations went.

    I suppose I have to add, Genies are not a trap for a deus ex machina, if you are using them, then you really need a story that takes that into account. One does not have to use a deus ex machina when one is in control of their own story.

    How to limit their power? Well, when one has three wishes, they tend not to use them on trivial stuff. And its just human nature to want to hold on to them to make sure they are being put to maximum use. If the wishes come with severe consequences, such as in the monkey paw story, that might limit them. If they simply have unpleasant unintended consequences, that might also keep someone from making an ill considered wish. But if the wishes have no consequences, still the fact that they are limited would make one use them sparingly.
    TheCrystallineEntity likes this.
  4. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

    Yup, that was me. :sneaky:

    Phrasing a wish with no loopholes is extremely difficult. If you wish for all the money in the world, okay, you get all of the money that is currently inside the world, which happens to belong to a number of ancient dragons. The dragons can't stop the genie, but they manage to track where it went with their money, and they come to take it back.

    Try phrasing the wish in another way, and there's going to be some base you don't cover, even when you think you're being extremely specific....
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