A little while back, I talked about djinn. Specifically summoning them with a magic ring. Today I want to talk about their fiery counterparts, the Efreet.
Right off the bat, I should mention a small thing that I can't help but speculate over: both the djinn and efreet listed in the BX monsters are labeled as "Lesser" varieties of their respective types. Were Greater versions ever presented in classic D&D? Perhaps in a module? If anyone knows, I'd love to hear! I assume, since they are both elemental types, this is a callback to the differences between "staff" and "conjured" fire/air/earth/water/elementals. Perhaps a topic for another day?
Moving on, specifically about our smoldering subject, let's look at the stats.
Efreet (Lesser) from Cook:
Move: 90' (30')
Fly: 240' (80')
Dmg: 2d8 (+1d8 fire)
No. App: 1 (1)
We can see that efreeti are a bit more powerful than their airy nemeses. Better AC & HD. Better saves and damage, too. In addition to their basic stats, they have an assortment of powers.
"Efreet can create objects, create illusions, and turn invisible
like djinn. They are also able to create a wall of fire up to 3 times
per day. An efreeti may transform its body into a pillar of flame that
will set fire to all flammable items within 5 feet. They can retain the
flame shape for 3 rounds maximum. The fire will also do an additional
1-8 points of damage to all creatures struck by the efreet.
They may fly and carry up to 10,000 en weight while flying."
So a bigger, scarier version of a djinn, right? The wall of fire and the pillar of flame thing are impressive in a fight, but not that much more dangerous, To me, the key part of this creature lies in its description's final paragraph:
"Efreet can be summoned by high level magic-users who
have researched the special spells required. Once summoned,
Efreet can be forced to serve for 101 days. They are reluctant and difficult
servants and will obey their instructions exactly, attempting to distort the
meaning of whatever they have been told to do in order to cause trouble for
their masters. Efreet hate Djinn and will attack them on sight."
Firstly, I really like spell research call-out. It expressly says "Sure this is possible, but it's not your run of the mill magic item or spell slot." Next, the built-in animosity of an efreet servant reminds me of spells like Contact other Plane or Spiritwrack and dealing with "allies" that are not squarely on your side. Following instructions exactly is reminiscent of wishes, too (X59).
What's interesting is that the description says that efreeti "hate" djinn and will attack on sight, but there is no mention in the djinnis' description of how they feel about efreeti. It's worth noting the alignment. Efreet are chaotic, whereas djinn are neutral. One can imagine a great deal of fodder for world-building in that. Perhaps there is some ancient hatred stemming from an interplanar war? Maybe a trip to the City of Brass would yield some answers?