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I was running a session a few days ago for some high-level characters and in the palace vault they found themselves an Efreeti Bottle. I rolled for the efreeti's response to being released per the DMG, and wouldn't you know it, they got the result:

91-00: The efreeti can cast the wish spell three times for you. It disappears when it grants the final wish or after 1 hour, and the bottle loses its magic.

The efreeti pops out and reluctantly greets them and spells out what they've found. After the excitement subsides, the predictable line of thinking comes about and they discuss wishing for more wishes, which I shoot down as cosmic law dictates this and that, and we all understandingly nod our heads and move on.

But as I reread the section on the Efreeti Bottle and skimmed through the Efreeti in the Monster Manual, there's really nothing per RAW that would prevent a character from making a wish like "I wish you would grant me 10 more wishes" immediately followed by something like "I wish you would disappear after 1 year instead of 1 hour".

So if a character gets a hold of an Efreeti Bottle and essentially wishes for more wishes, per RAW, does it work?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Penn and Teller discuss this in their book "How to Play in Traffic" and conclude that wishing for more wishes is a bad idea; instead, first wish that the genie is 100% on your side and will always look out for your best interests, and then let the genie figure out how to safely get you more wishes if possible. \$\endgroup\$ – Eric Lippert Feb 21 at 15:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ "first wish that the genie is 100% on your side and will always look out for your best interests" - Even that wish is fraught with peril, because it doesn't stipulate that the genie's interpretation of your best interests must match your own. That has been known to cause problems. \$\endgroup\$ – aroth Aug 23 at 0:40
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Per RAW the DM decides about wishes.

You did the right thing. The PHB treatment of wish is pretty clear about - beyond the duplication of other spells - wish being finally adjudicated by the DM. The DMG does not counter that with any further guidance on the results of wishes. This makes it simplest to treat any wish as an iteration of the wish spell.

State your wish to the DM as precisely as possible. The DM has great latitude in ruling what occurs in such an instance; the greater the wish, the greater the likelihood that something goes wrong. (PHB, p. 289)

It is often simpler for the DM to advise the player "it doesn't work that way, try another approach" than to spend the effort to dream up whatever goes wrong. On the other hand, sometimes dreaming up what goes wrong can result in hilarity and fun at the table.

As a DM, go with what works best for your table.

For a darker feel, consider the trope that has grown up around the 1902 short story The Monkey's Paw - each wish granted comes with a hellish price. (Thank you to @ChrisFernandez)


As @guildsbounty points out, older editions encouraged the DM to gleefully corrupt any loopholes in a wish phrased by a player. An Efreeti that knew you were trying to manipulate it would find a loophole in your phrasing.
"I wish you would grant me 100 wishes" could easily be corrupted into "Here, let me pick the 100 most demented, destructive wishes I have ever granted for anyone, and grant them for you...all at once."
The Efreeti has technically lived up to the bargain - he granted you 100 wishes, just not 100 wishes of your choice.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I highly recommend googling for "Best Genie Jokes" or anything of that sort. It's pretty hilarious what you can do... "The husband wished he had a female companion who was 30 years younger. Shazam! Instantly he turned 93 years old." \$\endgroup\$ – Nelson Feb 21 at 5:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ See also: The Monkey's Paw. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monkey%27s_Paw \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Fernandez Feb 21 at 17:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisFernandez Ah yes, thanks for the suggestion. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 21 at 17:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ "OK, I'll grant you 100 wishes. Wish 1: I wish on your behalf that all creatures bound to your service be freed. Wish two... Actually, nah, I'm off to get drunk. Seeya!" \$\endgroup\$ – Joe Bloggs Feb 22 at 11:40
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That's not a stated power of wish.

The wish spell description states:

You might be able to achieve something beyond the scope of the above examples. State your wish to the DM as precisely as possible. The DM has great latitude in ruling what occurs in such an instance, the greater the wish, the greater the likelihood that something goes wrong. This spell might simply fail, the effect you desire might only be partly achieved, or you might suffer some unforeseen consequence as a result of how you worded the wish. For example, wishing that a villain were dead might propel you forward in time to a period when that villain is no longer alive, effectively removing you from the game. Similarly, wishing for a legendary magic item or artifact might instantly transport you to the presence of the item's current owner.

If they wish for something that isn't a stated power of wish (the closest is an eighth-level spell, and this is 10 ninth-level spells) then you can mess with them as you wish.

As a suggestion, perhaps they could be transported to the City of Brass, and given a chance to ask efreeti there for 10 more wishes or be slaughtered by angry efreeti.

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No you can't because the Genie is bound by cosmic laws

There is actually a cosmic law limiting each Genie that can grant wishes to only grant three to a given creature. This is detailed in the Monster Manual entry on genies (under the VARIANT: GENIE POWERS sidebar on p. 144):

Wishes. [...] A particular genie that has this power can grant one to three wishes to a creature that isn’t a genie. Once a genie has granted its limit of wishes, it can’t grant wishes again for some amount of time (usually 1 year), and cosmic law dictates that the same genie can expend its limit of wishes on a specific creature only once in that creature’s existence.

For clarity, regular genies (as set out in their stat block) don't have the power to grant wishes, and the Monster Manual lore section on genies makes this clear:

All genies command the power of their native element, but a rare few also possess the power to grant wishes.

Thus the genie in the bottle is one of the rare genies that possesses this power and is covered by the rules in the variant sidebar mentioned above.

(Unless otherwise stated all emphasis is mine)


One thing you should be aware of as the DM is that in the same variant sidebar about wishes it states:

Depending on the genie’s nature, the genie might try to pervert the intent of the wish by exploiting the wish’s poor wording. The perversion of the wording is usually crafted to be to the genie’s benefit.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It's in the answer, but you may want to emphasize that this is a variant rule and not always on. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Feb 21 at 18:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch that better? \$\endgroup\$ – illustro Feb 21 at 18:50
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There is actually something that limits the ability to do this - the rules of casting such a wish itself.

The stress of casting this spell to produce any effect other than duplicating another spell weakens you. After enduring that stress, each time you cast a spell until you finish a long rest, you take 1d10 necrotic damage per level of that spell. This damage can't be reduced or prevented in any way. In addition, your Strength drops to 3, if it isn't 3 or lower already, for 2d4 days. For each of those days that you spend Resting and doing nothing more than light activity, your remaining recovery time decreases by 2 days. Finally, there is a 33 percent chance that you are unable to cast wish ever again if you suffer this stress.

So the limiting factors listed here, for the Efreeti, include the following:

  • Making two wish spells in a row like this would cause the Efreeti to take 9d10 Necrotic damage. This won't kill the Efreeti, but it could seriously damage it, and more castings like this could kill it.
  • Every time they cast Wish outside of the duplication of 8th level spells or the listed possible effects, there's a 33% chance they can never cast it again.

So if you're going by RAW, these are the limits of what the PCs can get out of their 3 wishes.

Mind, you don't have to go by RAW, and it might be more fun to ignore this caveat for the Efreeti's wishes. That is up to you as the DM to decide - but if you're following the rules as written, then you need to take this into account.

There is also the argument that "granting a wish" is different than "casting the wish spell" - though this isn't explicit in the description of the bottle, the Efreeti, or the spell "Wish", it's a reasonable interpretation of the rules - as well, limitations of that Wish would also be an appropriate extrapolation, such as being completely incapable of wishing for more wishes.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I doubt that the spell descriptions from the PHB are addressed to anyone but players having a PC. So I wouldn't necessarily assume that an Efreeti which by his item description is going to cast 3 wish spells for you, would face the same limitations while doing so, as a PC would. \$\endgroup\$ – Zaibis Feb 22 at 7:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ Granting wishes is different to casting the wish spell (per the MM variant listed in my answer) \$\endgroup\$ – illustro Feb 22 at 12:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't see anything in the rules, other than the variant rules, that explicitly say the Efreeti isn't subject to these limitations - but it's a reasonable extrapolation. I'm adding that to my answer as a note, since it's important information (and also a much more reasonable interpretation). \$\endgroup\$ – Zibbobz Feb 22 at 14:36

protected by Oblivious Sage Mar 12 at 18:59

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