Jinn as Characters

This article was written in 2007 and originally appeared in Sub Rosa #2. As Sub Rosa reverts allows the original author to republish the content after 9 months, I have decided to repost this article here so that it can be readily accessible and used with the rest of the unpublished material contained on this site.

It is now superceded by the official material in ArM5 The Cradle and the Crescent.

Jinn as Characters in ArM5 (apocrypha)

As noted in HoH: Societas, page 134, within the ranks of the tribes of Jinn, individual Jinn vary in their attitude towards mankind and revealed religion. Heathen Jinn, those pagan spirits of the Magic realm are the Islamic folklore equivalent of genii loci and prefer to have little to do with mankind but may be the target of summoning by sahir and other Levantine summoners. So called Pious Jinn, their Faerie aligned counterparts mentioned in RoP: The Divine page 103, profess to have accepted the message of Islam and live their lives alongside mundane human society, often interacting with it and demonstrating a role similar to that of faeries in northern European culture. Finally there are Corrupt Jinn, those who have given themselves over to the Infernal and become true demons – indeed Iblis, the Islamic Devil, is believed to have been a former Jinni.

This article details ideas and mechanics on playing either Faerie Janni Scions (female Janniya Scions), younger members of the weakest tribe of Jinn, the Jann. At the Troupe’s option, Infernal Ghul Whelps, younger members of the depraved and demonic Ghul tribe may also be created using these rules but may be more appropriate when used as opponents in a Saga or as subjects of a sahir or Hermetic magus’ summoning attempts rather than as player characters. Ghul Whelps are aligned to the Infernal realm and except where specifically noted below, use the same rules as for Janni Scions

I’ve detailed these characters as Mythic Companions similar to the Blood of Heroes, Nephilim and Devil Children characters presented in various Ars Magica Fifth Edition supplements. Although not intended as a direct descendent of the Faerie Companions of Fourth Edition, these characters are similar thematically but with the more integrated and robust mechanics of the latest edition. To use this article to its full extent requires both the following sourcebooks in addition to the Ars Magica Fifth Edition corebook: Realms of Power: The Infernal and Houses of Hermes: Societas. A copy Realms of Power: The Divine and in particular, the fourth edition supplement, Blood & Sand, is recommended to get the most out of this article due to their coverage of Mythic Islam and the further background information on Jinn.

I hope these rules provide an interesting alternative to playing a Hermetic magus in Iberia, the Levant or North Africa that the current roster of Fifth Edition Mythic Companions does not yet cover (at least until the advent of the final two Realms of Power supplements). Players of sahir, summoners or Hermetic magi with a strong interest in spirit mastery may also find these rules useful to help create interesting and unique entities to enlist or enslave as their magical allies.

I’d particularly like to thank Niall Christie and Mark Shirley for their previous work, which I’ve drawn on, as well as their encouragement and helpful comments on earlier versions of this piece.

Mythic Companion: Janni Scions

Although they are young members of the weakest of Orders of the Faerie jinn, Janni Scions, like other Mythic Companions, are very powerful and are recommended for high powered sagas or sagas with elder magi. The Janni Scion Virtue is taken in place of The Gift, so these characters cannot be magi, but like other Mythic Companion characters, they take the place of a player’s magus in the saga. The Janni Scion Virtue is a Free Virtue (like The Gift) which, like the other Mythic Companion Virtues found in various Fifth edition Ars Magica sources, grants the player two points to spend on Virtues for every point he spends on Flaws. It also grants a free Minor Virtue, Second Sight, allowing a maximum of 21 points of Virtues for 10 points of Flaws. However, the Janni Scion Mythic Companion has a few other compulsory choices for Virtues and Flaws.

The Bismi Allah Invocation

Bismi Allah arrahman arrahim…” (Arabic: “In the Name of God: the most Gracious, the Merciful…”) begins al-Fatiha, “the Opening”, the first sura of the Qu’ran – a verse proclaimed before many everyday activities by pious Muslims to invoke God’s blessing and ward off the attentions of evil intentioned Jinn and other spirits.

For Pious Jinn, those Faerie beings of the Islamic world who profess to follow Islam, the utterance of the phrase by a believer invokes an effect the same as that listed under the Vulnerable to Folk Tradition Minor Hermetic Flaw (HoH: Societas, page 107) – the target of the Jinn’s magic is granted a Magic Resistance equal to (5 x the target’s Magic Lore) or 0 if the target does not have this Ability. Both Faerie Janni Scions and Infernal Ghul Whelps are affected by this effect, as are their elder Pious Jinn and Corrupt Jinn cousins, but Heathen Jinn aligned to the Magic realm are immune to this effect.

Virtues and Flaws

Required Virtues: All Janni Scion Mythic Companion characters must take the following Virtues:

  • Janni Scion (Free – Mythic Companion Virtue)
  • Blood of the Jinn (Major Supernatural)
  • Strong Jinni Heritage (Minor, Supernatural)
  • Second Sight (Free – Minor, Supernatural)
  • Mortal Veil (Major, Supernatural)
  • one Major Supernatural Virtue (see list below)

Required Flaws: All Janni Scion Mythic Companion characters must take the following Flaws:

  • Offensive to Animals (Minor, Supernatural)
  • Susceptibility to the Divine (Minor, Supernatural) OR Short-Lived Magic: Mu’addhin’s Call (Minor, Supernatural
  • Vow (keep any bargain made) (Minor, General)
  • Vulnerable to Folk Tradition: Bismi Allah (Minor, Supernatural)
  • one Minor Personality Flaw (any)

Janni Scions may therefore take an additional 5 points of Flaws, each point granting two Virtue points for a maximum of up to 10 further Virtue points for a total of 21 Virtue points, including the free Second Sight Virtue, for a total cost of 10 Flaw points just like other Mythic Companions. Given their background as spirits of smokeless flame and liking for desolate stretches of the Levantine wilderness, many jann have the Ways of the Desert Major General Virtue, an affinity with fire-based magic reflected in their choice of Supernatural Abilities or Faerie powers and/or possess the Greater Immunity: Fire General Virtue. Janni who dwell outside of the Levant are eligible for the Outsider (Muslim) Major Social Flaw.

New Virtues & Flaws

Janni Scion Special Virtue, Free

This Virtue has no cost, and can only be taken for a Mythic Companion born as a young janni. A similar Virtue, Ghul Whelp, designates you as a fledgling of the corrupt Ghul tribe. See above for details.

Blood of the Jinn Major Virtue, Supernatural

You are a young scion of the tribe of Jann, the least tribe of elemental creatures known throughout Islamic lands collectively as Jinni. You are much weaker than an elder of your race, being only perhaps a century or so in age, although your magical power may still be significant when compared to mortal humans. As a magical creature with Faerie Might, all your magical powers and Supernatural Virtues are aligned to the Faerie realm and use the corresponding column of the Realm Interaction Table (Ars Magica Fifth edition corebook, page 183).

You can see normally in darkness or semi-darkness, such as at night. Your eyes look mostly normal but are an unusual and vivid colour. You may learn Faerie Lore (jinni) and Penetration during character creation without needing to take the Arcane Lore Minor Virtue.

You age incredibly slowly, and may live for thousands of years. You need make an aging roll only once every ten years after the age of 150, and receive a -5 to Aging Rolls. You gain no benefit from Longevity Potions or any magic or supernatural power that slows or relieves Aging or Decrepitude. Once you gain your first Decrepitude Point, it becomes increasingly difficult for you to learn new things: subtract your age / 10 from all Advancement Totals, although the Advancement Total for a season cannot drop below 1.

You may not take the Gift or True Faith, Hermetic Virtues or Flaws, Methods or Powers, Virtues such as Giant, Mythic, or Faerie Blood, or Flaws such as Age Quickly or Lycanthrope. Given your background as a member of a magical race rather than being born to mundane human society, some Social Virtues and Flaws may be inappropriate depending on Troupe consultation. You may take Heroic Virtues and Flaws. Magi and Grogs may not take this Virtue.

Close (Elemental Form) Ties Major Flaw, Supernatural

As a creature strongly aligned with one of the four elemental forms (Auram, Aquam, Ignem or Terram), you may be affected by Hermetic and non-Hermetic magic that targets that specific Form in addition to Corpus, Mentem and Vim effects. For example, if you possess the Strong Ignem Ties Flaw, you may be affected by Muto, Rego and Perdo Ignem spells in both physical and spiritual form. When slain, you leave behind vis of the appropriate Form rather than the usual Vim vis.

You may only take this Flaw if you possess the Blood of Jinn Virtue and possess an appropriate Virtue tying you directly to a single element such as (Elemental Form) Control or an appropriate Greater Immunity Major Virtue against an aspect of that same element.

(Elemental Form) Control Major Virtue, Supernatural

This Virtue gives control over one aspect of nature, either Auram, Aquam, Ignem or Terram. The jinni may duplicate any non-Ritual Creo, Muto or Rego spell effect with the chosen form less than or equal to in level its Might score at a cost of 1 Might point per magnitude of the effect. This Virtue may not be taken more than once and is only available to characters with the Blood of the Jinn Virtue.

Jinni Might Minor Virtue, Supernatural

You may only take this Virtue if your character has the Strong Jinni Heritage or a similar Virtue that grants Faerie Might. Your Faerie Might increases by 2 points. Upon your death, your body contains a number of pawns of Vim vis equal to your (Faerie Might / 5), rounding up. You may take this Virtue more than once, though it can account for no more than half of the character’s total Virtues.

Mortal Veil Major Virtue, Supernatural (special)

As a janni, you are both naturally invisible and intangible, and cannot be influenced by the physical world unless you choose to manifest a physical body. In your incorporeal form you cannot interact with the physical world at all and can only be directly targeted by magic if the caster can sense your existence and have no physical characteristics or combat scores. Without taking physical form, your physical characteristics are only used when dealing with other incorporeal creatures.

You can form a unique physical body to house your spiritual form at will by expending 2 Might points; when doing so you acquire the physical characteristics, size, combat statistics and Wound levels generated as for a normal character. You may become fatigued as usual and the destruction of your physical body does kill you, unlike your elder jinni brethren, although learning a Jinni Mystery Virtue may allow you to overcome this weakness.

Your physical form is set and cannot be changed without additional shape-shifting magic – each time you assume physical form your appearance is the exactly the same. Although you can form a single unchanging set of basic clothes and minor effects as part of your physical form, you cannot form any arms, armour or other significant objects with this power. Your body lasts until you decide you no longer need it, but any items carried while in physical form are not rendered incorporeal when you disperse your physical veil unless acted upon by a separate magical power.

As a spiritual creature of smokeless fire with a physical body formed of pure spirit, you can be scoured, summoned and controlled by Sihr, the Goetic Arts and various Hermetic Rego Vim spells (and similar effects), even when in physical form. At the Troupe’s option, you have a True Name (see RoP: Infernal, page 34-35) that may be used to exert great power over you if discovered. As a spiritual creature in human form you remain susceptible Corpus effects while wearing your physical veil and since you possess a mind with reasoning and free will, can be affected by Mentem spells regardless of your current form.

You may only take this Virtue if you possess the Blood of the Jinn Virtue and begin play as a Janni Scion or Ghul Whelp Mythic Companion.

Short Lived Magic: Mu’addhin’s Call Minor Flaw, Supernatural

Regardless of how long they would normally last, all your magical powers and Supernatural Abilities are disrupted by the first light of dawn, typically announced in Islamic lands by the first cock crow or the mu’addhin’s morning call to first prayers. If you are a janni and in physical form at the time of dawn, your Mortal Veil dissipates and you must expend Might to reform it.

Strong Jinni Heritage Minor Virtue, Supernatural

Your jinni heritage is strong and you are a true Faerie creature, possessing Faerie Might score and supernatural powers. This Virtue may only be taken if you have the Major Virtue Blood of the Jinn.

Although you are only a janni, a member of the weakest order of jinn, you are a Faerie creature of smokeless fire with the same capacity for development and free will as a human. As a creature composed of pure spirit, you are affected by Rego Vim spells and are vulnerable to Summoning abilities that can affect spirits. Mentem spells affect you normally and you can be affected by Corpus spells when in physical humanoid form. You possess a Faerie Might (Vim) score equal to your age divided by 20, which increases as you grow older. This grants you a Magic Resistance score. You contain a number of pawns of Faerie tainted Vim vis equal to your Faerie Might divided by 5 (but always at least one pawn) that can only be extracted if you are dead. You are immune to Warping of any sort.

You may have up to thirty levels of Faerie powers that may be invoked by spending Might points. Design the power’s effects using the Hermetic spell guidelines. The Might cost for each power is equal to its magnitude divided by two (but always at least 1 point). The initiative score of the power is your Quickness. Calculate Penetration as per the rules given in the Ars Magica Fifth edition corebook, page 191 – this can be modified by the jinni’s Penetration score and Sympathetic Connection bonuses as usual.

You may take this Virtue multiple times. Each additional time you take it increases by thirty the number of holy powers you may invoke, but has no other effect; in particular, it does not increase your Faerie Might. This Virtue is only available to characters with the Blood of the Jinn Virtue.

Jinni Mysteries and Common Supernatural Virtues

The secret ways of the jinn are strange to humans, not the least being the way they age slowly and gain power over time through their heroic or infamous deeds, unlike other Faeries who are unable to learn anything new or truly change. To reflect this capacity to grow and learn, a janni character can develop a score in Jinni Lore, an Ability that works like other Mystery Cult Lore Abilities to generate an Initiation Total for the learning of new Virtues (see The Mysteries Revised, pages 8-20).

Janni Scions can learn additional Jinni Might and Strong Jinni Heritage Virtues as Mystery Virtues this way, thereby increasing their powers and Might scores. Each initiation attempt requires the generation of a separate Initiation Script and for the most part, the janni must act as his own Mystagogue. Example quests include retrieving exotic plants from within the fabled Mountains of Qaf (believed to be a series of regios within the Caucasus), venturing into the lost realm of Jinnistan at the bequest of a tribal elder and battling evil summoners and sahir who repeatedly enslave or imprison other Pious Jinn.

Various other Heroic, Supernatural and Mystery Virtues appropriate to Janni Scions are included below. All Virtues are found in the Ars Magica Fifth Edition core rulebook unless otherwise noted:

  • Charmed Life (HoH: True Lineages page 104)
  • Dance that Heals (HoH: Mystery Cults, page 73)
  • Enchanting (Ability) (HoH: Mystery Cults, page 86)
  • Entrancement
  • Gift of Tongues (HoH: True Lineages, page 105)
  • Great Bearer (HoH: True Lineages, page 105)
  • Greater Immunity: Fire
  • Hex (RoP: Infernal, page 92)
  • Lesser Immunity: Starvation
  • Lesser Immunity: Thirst
  • Mythic (Characteristic) (HoH: True Lineages, page 107)
  • Mythic Herbalism (HoH: Societas, pages 125-126)
  • Nature Lore (Desert, HoH: Mystery Cults, page 103-104)
  • Persona (HoH: Societas, page 94)
  • Shapeshifter
  • Sihr (HoH: Societas, page 135-136)
  • Siren Song (HoH: Societas, page 139)
  • Skinchanger (commonly camel, hawk, jackal, snake)
  • Summon Animals (HoH: Societas, page 105)
  • Summoning (RoP: Infernal, page 114-115)
  • Supernatural Beauty (HoH: Societas, page 56)
  • Warding (HoH: Societas, page 112-113)
  • Whistle Up the Wind (HoH: Societas, page 105)

Jinn Powers

The Jinn are fabled for their magical powers and tales abound of them changing into animal shape, creating wealth, flying through the air and transporting themselves and others to far away places in the blink of an eye. As spirits closely associated with the elemental forces of nature, many have variable control over wind, fire, water and the stone – indeed, the great Temple of Solomon was built through the magical labour of Jinn ensorcelled by the fabled king. Some of these magical abilities are best represented by existing Supernatural Abilities as detailed above, but other more individual effects granted by the Strong Jinni Heritage Virtue mimic Hermetic spells and are similar to the powers granted by the Heroes’ Birthright Virtue or the powers of Divine and Infernal Mythic Companions such as Nephilim and Devil Children but are aligned to the Faerie realm.

All Jinn are individuals, and the following selection of powers is merely a sample of the more commonly encountered Jinni magics – the Troupe is encouraged to design unique effects for Janni Scion characters that fit their personalities and background using the guidelines above (see Najib the Guide below for further ideas).

Flight, 3 points, Init +0, Auram: this power allows the Jinni to soar into the air on a gust of wind, traveling in either physical or spiritual form. As Wings of the Soaring Wind, with R: Personal.

Travel, 3 points, Init +3, Corpus; this power instantly transports the jinn and a single other person from one location to another it has been before or has an Arcane Connection to, regardless of distance. As Leap of Homecoming, with R: Touch, T: Group.

Jinn and alternate Spell Parameters and Guidelines

The mystical ways of the Jinn tribes do not integrate well with Hermetic magic and defy explanation by Hermetic theory. To help reflect this, Troupes should consider the use of alternate spell parameters when designing Jinn powers granted by the Strong Jinni Heritage Virtue or using their Supernatural Abilities, particularly for Pious Janni who profess to accept the Islamic faith.

The Islamic Ranges, Durations and Targets presented in the fourth edition supplement, Blood & Sand, pages 62-65 are highly appropriate, in particular the Durations Shahada, Adhan, Quir’ra, Sura and Salat which integrate recitations and times of prayer into the spell effect. For versions of these parameters updated to Fifth Edition, see Niall Christie’s note on Sanctum Hermeticum Revisited.

The Holy Parameters Recitation, Office, Devotion, Grace and Faith detailed in RoP: Divine page 68, may be appropriate additions or used as substitutes with slight modification.

Infernal Ghul Whelps may make use of the Infernal parameters presented in Realms of Power: The Infernal, page103 and use the Maleficia guidelines in the same chapter when designing their Infernal powers.

Janni aligned to Other Realms

Although most Janni Scions are Pious Jinn and thus Faerie creatures, not all are aligned to the Faerie realm, as jann are capable of human aspirations and failings – both Magic and Infernal tainted janni are known to exist. There are no jann aligned to the Divine realm however.

Heathen janni, those aligned to the Magic realm, are rare, but similar to the genii loci style Jinn described in the Hermetic Sahir section in the Ex Miscellanea chapter of HoH: Societas  (pages 134-135) and not suitable as player characters. Players wishing to have magus level characters aligned to the Magic realm that have been touched by the Jinn should play either magi with the Mythic Blood Major Hermetic Virtue or play a Mythic Companion with the Blood of Heroes Special Virtue instead of a Janni Scion. The Faerie Upbringing Minor Flaw is appropriate for either style of character and the character would best belong in either House Merinitia or Ex-Miscellanea. Such rare individuals are not true descendants of the Jinn tribes, but mortals exposed to the elemental forces of these Magical creatures in their youth either by design or circumstance, becoming marked as beholden to this mystical race.

Infernal Ghul Whelps  are similar to Devil Children (Realms of Power: the Infernal, pages 99-101) although more closely resemble their untainted Janni brethren. At the Troupe’s discretion, such a character may represent a younger member of the depraved Ghul. Use the same template and Virtues above but note that these Infernal tainted creatures have Infernal Might scores and leave Infernal tainted Vim vis (vis infesta, RoP: Infernal, page 18) when they are slain. Such individuals may have the Repellent (RoP: Infernal, page 89) Major General Flaw instead of the first three Minor Flaws of the template, can take Tainted Virtues and Flaws including various Supernatural Virtues aligned with the Infernal realm and even learn Unholy Methods and Powers.

Some Infernal Ghul become so evil that they join the ranks of true demons, having gained a place in Hell’s hierarchy and the accompanying powers. These spirits are no longer jinn but are true demons and as such not suitable as player characters, being created using the rules for demons (RoP: Infernal, Chapter Four: The Infernal Legions). All these truly Infernal creatures have a common demonic Weakness in addition to the usual Weakness of the – they cannot harm a protected group consisting of individuals that have invoked the Bismi Allah in their presence (see Bismi Allah Invocation sidebar above). Like other demons, these creatures leave Infernal Vim vis behind when slain, the smokeless fire of their original bodies having been replaced with the spirit of pure evil.

This article originally ended in a sample character, Najib the Guide, whom I later revised and reused for The Cradle and the Crescent, appearing therein as the sample janni, Jumayl, so I can’t reproduce the statistics block here.

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