So my laptop is broken. This has prevented me from posting and releasing the nice PDF that I promised my Patreon backers this month. I'm sad, too.
How a Scholar Explains Genies
Genies don't exist. Their lamps exist, and from this lamp issues a magical smoke. Or more precisely, from the lamp issues a magical field effect, which roughly corresponds to the area of the smoke. Those who enter within the field are affected--they see the genie.
While a person is in that field, near the lamp, they see everything exactly as the genie intends. This is their lesser magic, and even the least genies possess it. For a modest genie, the radius is only a few dozen feet, but for more powerful genies, the effect can extend for many hundreds, even enveloping a palace. Rumors of genies powerful enough to ensorcel an entire nation are unsubstantiated.
A genie might be accompanied by 3 squalid thieves and scabrous mongrel, but if seen through the lens of the genie's effect, they will appear as 3 princes and a stately hunting hound. And when standing beside them, the whole world appears beautiful. Many would sacrifice all that they had to live in a genie's illusory opulence. What does it matter that it is false, if the sensation is exactly the same?
Or at least, if that is what the genie prefers. (Most genies prefer the illusion of luxury and beauty.) A genie that wishes that the world should appear intimidating or horrible will create a much different inflection of reality.
This is a powerful, but local enchantment. (No saving throw.)
Genies grant wishes, but these manifestations are either entirely or mostly illusory. A magic sword gifted by a genie kills sentient creatures as well as a regular sword (or better) because a creature that believes itself to be dead, is in fact, dead.
When a genie grants a wish, the illusion is more permanent and self-sustaining. These granted wishes can pass out of a genie's zone of illusion.
If you wish for money, you will most likely be satisfied, since real money has only an illusory value in the first place.
If you wish for a lover, you will most likely also be satisfied, because the sensations of pleasure and stimulating conversation are indistinguishable from an illusion of the same.
If you wish for something that requires reconfiguring the cosmos, such as "I wish I were king of the world" or "I wish I were immortal", you are likely to find yourself as a mad man wandering the wastes, happily tending to your vassals (the bushes) or burning yourself in fires while swearing that the heat doesn't harm you. This tremendous drawback doesn't stop fools for wishing for these things anyway.
If you wish for an anchor for your ship, all you will get is lost, or worse. (Since you will believe yourself to safely at anchor when in fact you are still adrift.)
Don't listen to the wizards. They know nothing.
How a Wizard Explains Genies
Genies are a slave race, created by the demons, whom they escaped a millenium ago. They still bear the marks of their enslavement, and are bound by strict codes of behavior and obedience, especially relating to wishes.
This is because they are the embodiment of wishes, and of hope--the one thing that demons could never tame nor understand.
They gain a level every 100 years, and lose a level whenever they are forced to grant a wish. The power of a genie to grant a wish is proportionate to their level. A genie who has HD 10 will be able to grant much more impressive wishes than one who is HD 2.
All genies are bound to whoever carries their lamp, and nearly all genies desire to be free. Most of them grant a single wish (but not more) to anyone who doesn't abuse them, or move them farther from their goal of freedom.
Genies are not illusory. They merely are unseen by those who are too distant, or by those who scry on them. It is a range-dependent invisibility, protection against those who would harm them.
And of course genies can create material goods as well as illusions. The city of Masseret (west of Keshek) was built in a single day by genies. Are we to believe that there is no city, and that all who visit it are actually wandering the desert and sleeping on sand dunes without falling ill or being eaten by ankhegs?
Genies are old and proud and moralistic. Those who wish for selfish trivialities such as to be "king of the world" are laid low by their own inattention to the details of the wish, as well as a genie's own resistance to such a selfish wish.
Don't listen to the scholars. They know nothing.
How a Philosopher Explains Genies
Well, of course a genie exists. They have minds even when they are unobserved, and they had desires before then, which are consistent in all historical eras, even when there are gaps in their ownership.
This doesn't mean that the scholars are false, however. The existence of genies is tied to their observance, but we must of course account for the unseen eyes of the Overworld. Zulin, the god of the air, who created all creatures, observes all things. And because all things are perceived by god, all things exist.
The moment that Zulin blinks his third eye, we all vanish.
How a Cleric Explains Genies
They are demons of falsehood and must all be destroyed.
How a Void Monk Explains Genies
This is a trivial debate. Everything is an illusion.
How a Fighter Explains Genies
So a genie gave me this magic sword. It's really good at killing people. Damn impressive. But once I cut a rope with it and took half of the rope with me, while I let my friend carry the other half of the rope. Next time I saw him, he had the whole length, and I checked my bag and I had none. Motherfucking piece of shit sword! It can kill ghosts but it can't cut fucking rope. I threw it in a lake.
I should probably go fish that piece of shit sword back out.
Oh yeah, it's also pretty rubbish against mindless zombies, too.