Earth! Fire! Wind! Water! D&D!
Born of the union between mighty elemental genies and mortals of the material plane, Genasi are the elemental-themed marvels of the D&D world. Utterly unique, but essentially human, genasi are misunderstood loners or brilliant stars. With genasi you can make characters powered by the 4 elements (and it’s about as close to playing a straight-up elemental as you’re going to get without home brew). So, pick your favorite primal force while we go through everything you need to know.
The short answer is there is no genasi culture. Genasi don’t have any cities or songs or much of anything really, they’re too rare. Playing a genasi is almost always going to mean playing one of a kind, a unique creation of your imagination with a strong elemental theme as a baseline. Every genasi is unique, and you can literally come from anywhere.
As a rule, genies aren’t the most dependable parents and don’t typically take any interest in their kid’s lives. Most genasi are born from a whirlwind romance (sometimes literally) and the material plane parent is left to care for the half-elemental kiddo. The elemental half usually has some sort of physical indicators (bright primary color skin for a start) and genasi typically face some hardships from ignorant locals.
How they take this adversity and how they deal with their unique isolation largely depends on their elemental type. Really, each distinct flavor of genasi is unique enough to be their own race.
Air genasi are descended from the Djinn, which are probably the most “archetypal genie” of the genies. Djinn love life, good food and music, and have a long history of getting trapped in lamps and being forced to grant wishes. Air genasi tend to get a lot of that wanderlust and urge to seek out new places, along with a big dollop of haughty arrogance and pride. Air genasi are often the best off among the genasi when it comes to prejudice, as they plunge straight through social barriers with carefree charm.Earth Genasi
Air genasi are descended from the Dao, which are probably the least used of the genie family tree within D&D. Dao are greedy miners and slavers, they’re self-centered and usually only work to line their own pockets. But they do have a sort of honor to them and will always try to repay a debt or those that show them kindness. Earth genasi usually retain a lot of that self-dependence and honor, if not also a pang of greed. Earth genasi tend to isolate themselves in one way or another, responding to persecution by building both figurative and literal barriers.Fire Genasi
Air genasi are descended from the Efreet, who are very commonly mistaken for devils. Efreet are intelligent, red-skinned, horned, hot-tempered, and typically pretty evil, so the comparison is fair. But they aren’t too interested in wealth, instead they’re all about “honor”, or at least their own strange version of it. Fire genasi usually take on a ton of that flamboyant arrogance and rage issues, so naturally they usually end up in prison cursing out the guards or running the place as boisterous nobles.
Water genasi are descended from the Marid, who are manipulative, arrogant to a fault, and believe that they are superior to literally everything else in the multiverse. Every single one of them claims to be noble, which has left their actual royal lineages a complete mess. At best they tend to be selfish and at worst they tend to be tyrannical. Water genasi usually takes on a bit of that selfishness, along with a life-long love of the sea.
Genasi have some of the most open-ended physical descriptions and you should feel free to take it wherever you’d like. Any theme or configuration of element + person is acceptable short of actually making them out of the stuff.
Air genasi tend to come in light blues, and they get all sorts of fun wind effects around them (you can have your clothes permanently fluttering in a superhero breeze). Also, they sometimes have crystal hair which could be very fun to play around with.
Earth genasi can range from dirty around the edges, to a polished gemstone look, to fully metal shining skin. You can have tiny crystals in your body, pebble-texture skin, or any other combination of rocky elements at play.
Fire genasi can have all sorts of fiery red and orange skin tones to ashen greys and blacks. They’re also almost always redheads and literally give off heat like a space heater. You can also make all sorts of little non-harmful fire effects to accentuate your look, so go nuts!
Water genasi usually have blue to green skin and are always wet (don’t be gross). You can have all sorts of little water effects going off and your hair can sort of float and flow around you as if you were underwater.
One of the most interesting aspects is how human they look. All the art you may have seen might suggest they’re all half-human, but that’s not actually the case. Genasi always look nearly human, but they can be born from any race. This means you can have a fire genasi born to a dwarven family, or an air genasi born to a lizardfolk. Imagine the roleplaying opportunities for a water genasi born to a gnome family, a great big blue baby that’ll tower over your folks.
Because genasi don’t have a real culture and can be born anywhere, they don’t have their own naming conventions. A genasi born to dwarves will have a dwarven name, another born to elves would have an elvish name. Some of them make their own and lean into their element though. So, going around with the name “ember” or “riptide” isn’t out of the question.
Your genasi character has the following racial traits.
Your genasi character has certain characteristics in common with all other genasi.
Ability Score Increase: Your Constitution score increases by 2.
Age: Genasi mature at about the same rate as humans and reach adulthood in their late teens. They live somewhat longer than humans do, up to 120 years.
Alignment: Independent and self-reliant, genasi tend toward a neutral alignment.
Size: Genasi are as varied as their mortal parents but are generally built like humans, standing anywhere from 5 feet to over 6 feet tall. Your size is Medium.
Speed: Your base walking speed is 35 feet.
Languages: You can speak, read, and write Common and Primordial. Primordial is a guttural language, filled with harsh syllables and hard consonants.
Four major subraces of genasi are found among the worlds of D&D: air genasi, earth genasi, fire genasi, and water genasi. Choose one of these subraces.
Air Genasi Traits
Ability Score Increase: Your Dexterity score increases by 1.
Unending Breath: You can hold your breath indefinitely while you’re not incapacitated.
Mingle with the Wind: You can cast the levitate spell once with this trait, requiring no material components, and you regain the ability to cast it this way when you finish a long rest. Constitution is your spellcasting ability for this spell.
Earth Genasi Traits
Ability Score Increase: Your Strength score increases by 1.
Earth Walk: You can move across difficult terrain made of earth or stone without expending extra movement.
Merge with Stone: You can cast the pass without trace spell once with this trait, requiring no material components, and you regain the ability to cast it this way when you finish a long rest. Constitution is your spellcasting ability for this spell.
Fire Genasi Traits
Ability Score Increase: Your Intelligence score increases by 1.
Darkvision: You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. Your ties to the Elemental Plane of Fire make your darkvision unusual: everything you see in darkness is in a shade of red.
Fire Resistance: You have resistance to fire damage.
Reach to the Blaze: You know the produce flame cantrip. Once you reach 3rd level, you can cast the burning hands spell once with this trait as a 1st-level spell, and you regain the ability to cast it this way when you finish a long rest. Constitution is your spellcasting ability for these spells.
Water Genasi Traits
Ability Score Increase: Your Wisdom score increases by 1.
Acid Resistance: You have resistance to acid damage.
Amphibious: You can breathe air and water.
Swim: You have a swimming speed of 30 feet.
Call to the Wave: You know the shape water cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the create or destroy water spell as a 2nd-level spell once with this trait, and you regain the ability to cast it this way when you finish a long rest. Constitution is your spellcasting ability for these spells.
Let’s go through these one by one and see what they mean for your new character:
Core Genasi (All Genasi Have These Traits)
Ability Score Increase: +2 to Constitution is useful for every class (hit points) but isn’t the focus of any class except for some home brews like blood hunter.
Age: Not particularly long but a good stretch, shouldn’t come up one way or the other.
Alignment: True neutral bent is essentially a blank slate, genasi can come up from any upbringing and don’t really have much of a leaning at all.
Size: Medium-sized (even if you were born to gnomes), can make for some fun backstories.
Speed: Extremely normal 30-foot movement speed, always better than a penalty.
Ability Score Increase: +1 to Dexterity is universally useful but combined with the Constitution bonus it leans you towards some form of Dexterity-based martial class, like rogues or anything using a bow.
Unending Breath: This ability is deceptively good, you can remain underwater indefinitely, stroll through magical airless environments, and remain inside secret compartments for a really long time. It might potentially never come up, but there are some situations where this ability will get you somewhere that your DM never thought you could get to.
Mingle with the Wind: A free levitate is nothing to sneeze at and can be game breaking at early levels where you normally wouldn’t have access to it. Grab a longbow and rain death down on your puny early level foes!
Ability Score Increase: The +1 Strength on top of the Constitution bonus should push you strongly into a Strength-based martial class like barbarians, paladins, or any sort of fighter swinging big weapons around.
Earth Walk: This ability is bad, sadly I can FEEL the rule balancing arguments around this feature and the weak but boring ability won out. Actual earth walk (moving through solid stone) is way too powerful for a racial feature, and they were right to cut it. I just wish they replaced it with something more useful or flavorful.
Merge with Stone: Pass without Trace is a good spell, but it feels very off-flavor for an earth-man doesn’t it? I don’t think of sneaking while constructing my big guy made of gravel. It is what it is, which is a useful but strangely positioned spell.
Ability Score Increase: Intelligence means wizards, and with the Constitution bonus that leans you strongly towards a war mage or similar combat-oriented wizard.
Darkvision: Darkvision is always appreciated, and this version even gets a bit of flavor with the “red-sight”.
Fire Resistance: While it’s probably the most commonly resisted damage for players, it sure does come up a lot, you’ll be glad you have it.
Reach to the Blaze: Pretty close to the tiefling racial spells but without the darkness, you’ll forget about these at later levels but early on they can be a huge boost.
Ability Score Increase: +1 Wisdom alongside the Constitution buff makes a pretty good argument for druid, ranger, or cleric.
Acid Resistance: I have never understood why they gave water genasi acid resistance instead of cold resistance. It may have been a balancing issue, since acid is an underused damage type. Whatever the reason, it’ll rarely come up but it’s nice to have.
Amphibious: No holding breath, no limits, just straight water breathing. And just like all other forms of water breathing, there are some campaigns where this will be worth its weight in gold and others where it never comes up once.
Swim: Extremely nice to have but keep the same issues in mind. The value to you is very dependent on the campaign.
Call to the Wave: Shape water is a very useful and underused cantrip, and in some situations control/destroy water can be invaluable. It’s not the greatest racial spell lineup but you’ll get real use out of them.
Genasi are particularly flexible and there are no right answers. But if you’re looking for a strong build that uses your stats effectively, here are some starting points for you to sue for inspiration.
Stealth Rock Paladin
It’s strange that earth genasi gain “pass without trace” as a racial spell, but you can take advantage of it. Earth genasi already work well stat-wise as paladins and the idea of a fully armored stealth rock is terrifying and hilarious to me.
Muscle-Wizard… OF FIRE
Constitution and Intelligence is a rare combination, and they’re both stats that the “muscle-wizard” builds are looking for. You’re looking to wade into combat as a wizard with powerful buffs and melee-focused abilities. It can be a scary build when done correctly and fire genasi is one of the better picks for it.
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Last updated: January 27, 2019
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