Tasked genies may once have been genies of one of the four elemental realms. However, tasked genies have performed a single type of labor for so long that their forms have been permanently sculpted to suit their work. Their profession defines them and rules them; a tasked genie taken away from its work grows weak and sickly. Unlike most genies, tasked genies are not always uneasy or hostile in the presence of humans. They are still very proud of their superior skills, but their sense of worth is based on achievements, not birth. As long as they share an interest and aptitude for their craft and a willingness to defer to the genies. greater knowledge, humans can consort with tasked genies with no ill effect.
Just as faerie creatures are more than mortal but less than divine, so are tasked genies among the most powerful spirits of the Land of Fate. Specifically, genies are elemental spirits which serve the unsympathetic forces of nature. They are free-willed, civilized, and highly intelligent. They eat, drink and reproduce just like humans, and they can die just as humans die. Their powers, however, inspire such fear and awe in the minds of primitive tribesmen that they are still worshipped and offered sacrifices as gods in remote and savage areas of the Burning Land. They can raise buildings overnight, their armies can appear and disappear from the field of battle, and their magic can whisk a person hundreds of miles in moments.
Most genies prefer to dwell apart from humans, but tasked genies are equally at home in the wilderness and in the cities. Genies that live on the elemental planes rarely come to the Land of Fate unless called, but elemental genies and some tasked genies who live in the Burning World prefer uninhabited wildernesses, ruins, deserted houses, cemetaries, rivers, and abandoned wells. Those who trespass on the home of a genie are usually warned off by an attempt to frighten; stones are thrown at the intruders by invisible genies or sudden sandstorms spring up to blind, confuse, and misdirect. If the trespassing continues, the travelers are attacked and shown no mercy.
The genies of Zakhara are noma ds of a sort; their camps among the desert and ruins and their lodgings in the cities may disappear in an instant (usually at dawn or dusk), whenever a genie tribe decides to move on. But their camps don't resemble the camps of nomads. They are often huge mansions or fortresses, yet they may vanish into the sands when discovered, like a dream fading in the morning light. At other times, however, genies in the wilderness take their discovery by others rather badly, and, instead of moving on, they try to force their discoverers away by throwing stones at them or by carrying them on the wind for many miles. For this reason, travelers through the desert often call out to the genies when approaching desolate lands and ask them for permission to pass through.
Unlike the genies of the four elements, tasked genies have very little regard for the castes, classes, and social distinctions of humans, as their lives and their status among their kind are almost entirely dependant on merit. Tasked genies have no nobility, only masters of their craft. They will as soon work for a pauper as for a sultan, as long as there is work to be done.
This lack of elitism does not mean that genies do not understand the nuances of politeness and proper etiquette. They may not think much of their master, but they will be unstintingly polite. Of course, genies can and do turn social conventions .topsy-turvy. when they are free to harass someone who has offended them or even just when the mood strikes them.
Tasked genies fall into two main categories: those bound by their profession to a certain location and those kept inactive in some way for long periods between bouts of servitude. The first group comprises the helpful tasked genies, those who create fantastic foods, art, and monuments. The second group has nothing to do when not called upon by genie nobles or powerful sha.irs. They are slowly driven insane by their magical isolation, and for this reason they delight in shedding blood when released from service. These include the warmonger, slayer, guardian, and deceiver genies.
Tasked genies must always be either paid or enslaved before they will render service to a nongenie. Architect, artist, guardian, herdsman, and winemaker tasked genies are almost always simply paid for their work, as enslaving them decreases the quality and length of their service. Slayers are almost always enslaved, as they are too dangerous to be allowed to roam free and they cannot be expected to uphold any bargain they make. Warmonger tasked genies may either be paid or enslaved, but in either case their true reward is the sight of victory on the battlefield. The sweeping events they set in motion often continue long after the warmonger genie has been imprisoned or sent away.
Binding a particular tasked genie is a difficult undertaking requiring great wealth, wisdom, and patience. The procedure is equivalent to spell research, with the same costs and chances of success. Only a sha'ir may successfully learn the rituals for binding a tasked genie. The determination of success is made with the level of the spell being researched treated as equal to the tasked genie hit dice divided in half (round up). Thus, learning to bind a herdsman tasked genie requires as much effort as learning a second-level spell, while the ritual for commanding a guardian tasked genie will be discovered as if it were a seventh-level spell. Once the initial research is done, the tasked genie may be bound or commanded as detailed for sha'ir abilities.
Though only a single genie may be bound by a spell, some tasked genies will request aid from their brethren when commanded to undertake a large, short-term project for their masters such as shearing a huge herd of sheep or building fortifications in time to hold off invaders. Herdsman and builder tasked genies are particularly prone to calling on their kinfolk when presented with a huge task. These genies serve without demanding pay from the sha'ir so as to free their cousin from service more quickly. A sha'ir may bind no more than one tasked genie per year or face the wrath of the genie princes when he asks for an audience.
All tasked genies are extremely long-lived. Guardians are the tasked genies with the greatest longevity; they can serve for 1,001 years, so their age is truly great. Others, such as winemaker and herdsman tasked genies, are more closely tied to the seasonal cycles of the Land of Fate, and this seems to have made them shorter-lived than most genies. Their lifetime is only twice that of a human. The other tasked genies fall somewhere in between, with a great deal of individual variation. Tasked genies kept from their tasks invariably live short lives.
Genies occasionally take human lovers, but the result is almost always tragic. Those who love the genies lose all sense of reason and judgement and are often destroyed by their love for such a powerful spirit. Occasionally, however, the pair makes its peace and lives happily, almost always after a stormy courtship and almost always only after leaving human society. These liasons rarely produce children, but when they do the offspring have the powers, strength, and abilities of markeen, though they do not have a human double.