You can’t talk about Genasi without talking about the source of this unique race, genies. Most of us know genies as beings trapped in lamps, with three wishes ready to go.
We also might know of them as tricksters, taking the most literal form of a wish and using it to bring great suffering upon the wishmaker.
In the worlds of D&D, these tropes exist, but by no means represent all genies. Rather, genies are beings from the elemental planes, formed by the combination of a sentient creature’s soul and the primordial matter. Such a combination creates immensely powerful beings with deep ties to their element.
While the elemental planes are treacherous grounds for any mortal to traverse, the material plane is no threat to genies, and so they often travel to the home of mortals for fun. It is here where some genies may be trapped, but others go on to make meaningful connections.
The Genasi are formed from the more romantic of these meaningful connections, being half-mortal and half-genie. The offspring develop the characteristics of both their parents, culminating in an unusual appearance and a powerful being.
Genasi belong to one of the four elements; air, earth, fire, or water.
Genasi can find themselves in the same place as other creatures with interplanar heritage, like the Aasimar or the Tieflings. Not quite fitting in with the homes of their mortal parents, and often being abandoned by their genie parents, they live in exile or in communities of outcasts.
Other Genasi are viewed as great gifts to the world. Genasi in the Athas setting are seen as prophets, seers, or chosen ones. Their connection to the elemental plane and the abilities that come with it are revered with great respect.
No matter how a Genasi fits into the society they were born in, it’s a sure thing that they will have the confidence to persevere.
Taking after the boisterous attitudes of their elemental heritage, Genasi believe they can conquer any obstacle in their path.
- Air Genasi – Descended from the djinn, air genasis emotions are like that of a storm. Their tempers rise and fall with the breeze.
- Earth Genasi – Descended from the dao, earth genasi are slow to change and make decisions.
- Water Genasi – Descended from the marids, water genasi are free thinkers. They value their independence
- Fire Genasi – Descended from efreet, fire genasi have extremely volatile moods. They tend to have a burning temper that can lead to impatience and quick judgements.
Genasi Abilities and Traits: What Characterizes the Genasi Race
Below are the traits for the Genasi race as a whole, followed by any benefits given by each subclass.
- 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 30 feet.
- Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Primordial. Primordial is a guttural language, filled with harsh syllables and hard consonants.
- 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.
The air Genasi’s ability to hold their breath is interesting. Literally, this is different from not having to breath, but mechanically works about the same way.
You can probably think of a lot of fun ways to incorporate this into your strategy. You can hide in a bag of holding, lurk underwater, or survive going up to extremely high altitudes.
Mingle with the wind is a subpar ability. While levitate can be a perfectly wonderful spell with some fun applications, it is a concentration spell. It would’ve been a lot more fitting to see a flying speed, instead, we get the poor man’s fly spell and we have to focus on it.
That being said, in the classes that favor dexterity and constitution as their top abilities, this is a decent set of abilities. It’s access to a free spell that puts you or an ally potentially out of harm’s way, and lets you avoid any breathing related setbacks.
Here are my homebrew options to make your air Genasi feel more ethereal and less like some dude with really good breath control.
Replace mingle with the wind with the following abilities:
- Fly. You have a flying speed of 35 feet. To use this speed, you can’t be wearing medium or heavy armor.
- One with the Breeze. You know the Gust cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the Call Lightning spell as 3rd-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.
This echoes the format of the other Genasi subraces, and makes the air Genasi viable, in my opinion, without being overpowered. I chose call lighting because it reflects the stormy nature these Genasi inherit from their djinn parents.
- 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.
Buckle up buttercup. I have a bone to pick with the earth Genasi, namely the ability titled merge with stone. Pass without trace is an excellent spell, perfect for subterfuge. It allows you and your allies to be veiled in “shadows and silence” in order to give you a ridiculous boost to stealth checks.
It’s a great spell for a race to pick up, but not the earth Genasi. Do you want to know how I can say that confidently? The title of the &$#@ing ability is “merge with stone.” Gee, that sounds awfully familiar… oh, that’s right!
Meld into Stone, a third level spell available to clerics and druids, allows you to literally step into stone and conceal yourself, becoming completely undetectable to non-magical sources. The text for the spell even uses the phrase “…merged with the stone…” and “…merged in the stone…” to describe your condition during this spell.
I’m not saying that giving them access meld into stone is the choice for this subrace either. Honestly, I don’t understand the need to give strength-based rocky half-genies a stealth spell.
If you want my opinion, give them this homebrew trait to replace merge with stone:
- Speak with the Earth. You know the Mold Earth cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the Erupting Earth spell as 3rd-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.
This gives us something that feels a lot more fitting to the nature of the earth Genasi. It also feels similar to the abilities granted by water and fire Genasi. Not to mention, erupting earth creates difficult terrain made of earth or stone which you can comfortably ignore.
- 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.
This is great. Everything about this says exactly what I am and who I am as a person. After dealing with my comments on air and earth, I could understand if you were worried but fear not.
This improves vastly by giving you a damage resistance fitting to your race. Why the earth Genasi isn’t resistant to piercing and slashing damage, the world may never know. Then, we get a swimming speed, a huge benefit in water combat, trust me.
Then the spells are really on target. Both allow you to do some impressive things, and are limited only by the water around you and your creativity.
- 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.
The red tinted darkvision is such a cool little add-in. I often feel that fun flavor pieces like this get missed, so I want to make sure you notice it, instead of just skimming past darkvision as usual.
Fire resistance is, and I’ll say it every time it comes up, one of the best resistances to have in the game. Period.
Produce flame is a great cantrip. Primarily, you’ll use it for utility, as a great light source or whatever is fitting.
But you can also attack with it if you so choose, making it a really consistent damage dealer, even if it’s not as strong as other cantrips like fire bolt.
Burning hands is one of those 1st level spells that feels almost too powerful, so you should have no complaints. Even in a class that can take this spell, you’re basically getting an extra spell-slot each day.
What Classes are well suited to Genasi
Since Genasi see a +2 boost to their constitution regardless of subrace, they can go really well in just about any class. Everyone wants to be healthy! The individual subraces benefit classes that are looking for the extra modifier they bring to the table.
As for the rest, none of the abilities offered by racial traits really fit outstandingly well with any specific class. Being able to cast a spell here and there is something that can be beneficial for any class, and none of the spells offered are so specific that they are specifically targeted towards one class or another.
Rather than list the best classes, like we do in our other race guides, I’m going to list the subraces and talk about how they fit into different classes individually.
Air – CON +2, DEX+1. We’re looking at rogues, monks, rangers, and some fighters as viable options for this class because of the dexterity. The RAW is just giving you the ability to cast one spell a day, which is a lot for someone who can’t cast any spells, and a nice bonus for a half-caster.
Earth – CON +2, STR +1. Fighters, barbarians, and some rangers. Getting access to pass without trace is pretty outstanding, if you’re going to be sneaking around. There are plenty of other race options providing this ability score set, making this the least impressive option in RAW.
Realistically, this attempts to be a balanced character but actually just takes away from the feel of the subrace and makes it vastly underpowered. Any number of stone or earth-themed spells would’ve fit drastically better with this subrace that should favor martial combatants.
Water – CON +2, WIS+1. I mean, this is a druid, right? Sure, you could go for a ranger or a cleric, but the spells are druid spells and the theme of being at home in the water makes this a perfect setup for a druidic character.
Fire – CON +2, INT+1. A bonus to intelligence is rare enough, so let’s thank our lucky stars that this subrace comes with some good traits. Wizards and Artificers are both going to enjoy such a useful damage resistance. The spells aren’t half bad either, a great way to create some damage or utility as needed. An artificer that uses the produce flame cantrip to weld his creations together is just peak roleplay potential, I’d love to see it.
Genasi Appearance and Names
Genasi come in all shapes and sizes, and quite a few colors to boot. Generally speaking, their appearance is some form of a mix between their two parents. So obviously, one parent is going to be a genie, but the other only has to be a mortal of any kind.
This gives us some fun opportunities to think of who our parents are, and what characteristics we want to take from them. Would we want to have a goliath parent with a dao parent so that our earth genasi is tall and burly?
Maybe we want an elvish parent for our air genasi, keeping the slender build, pointed ears, and other features of our fey ancestry.
The unique ability to pick certain qualities of a race and incorporate it into your elemental character gives us a lot of different options to choose from. It also means that one half-dwarf water genasi may look entirely different from another half-dwarf water genasi. One might keep the beard, one might’ve just been looking for a stout character.
No matter what our mortal parentage is, our most stunning looks are going to come from the elements themselves. Each genasi subrace has its own unique appearance, as described below.
Air – Air genasi have light features, including light blue colored skin, hair, and eyes. Their hair is very wispy, and they are often followed by a very real breeze. They might even appear to be ethereal as if you could just quite see through them in the right light.
Earth – Their connection to the elemental plane of earth gives them a rocky or crystalline appearance. Just as there are many different types of earth, there are many different types of earth genasi. Their skin can be anything from a dull gray to a vibrant crystalline green. The one consistent factor is that an earth genasi only ever displays characteristics of one type of earth, be it sandy, rocky, crystalline, or what have you.
Water – Water genasi typically have blue or green skin, and features that are strikingly similar to that of tritons or merfolk. Their affinity for the open sea and water of any kind is reflected in their appearance, and they constantly look as if they just got finished going for a swim.
Fire – A fire genasi can represent the full range of a fire’s heat, from white-hot to searing-red; even ashen-gray fire genasi are not unheard of. If their hair is not fire itself (Zeus from Hercules) then they definitely have hair that billows as if it were. Their eyes will often flare with intensity whenever they get angry.
As for names, genasi typically use the naming traditions of their mortal parents. They might later choose to take a name that fits their elemental heritage though, and opt to call themselves something like Spark, Gust, Boulder, or River.
While I think the mechanics of most of the genasi subraces could use some reworking, they are without a doubt an exciting class with a deep lore. If you choose to play a genasi, see how willing your DM is to discuss different abilities, or maybe adapt the custom lineages presented in TCoE.
No matter how you move forward with this character, I wish you the best of luck. And as always, happy adventuring.