Genasi in D&D 5e, Photo Sketch of a Man Standing in Front of the Four Elements

Genasi in 5e: A Beginner’s Guide to D&D’s Genasi Player Race

The Genasi in D&D are a fun, thematic race for players.

An elemental-based player race, each of the Genasi sub-races represent one of the four Elemental Planes. And, they’re as close as you can get to playing an elemental in 5e.

This article outlines what the Genasi are, their sub-races, their traits, and which classes are good for them.

What is a Genasi in D&D 5e?

Photo Sketch of a Man With Fire Around His Outstretched Arm
The Genasi in D&D 5e are a playable character race from the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion

Genasi in D&D 5e are a playable race. They’re descended from elementals, specifically genies, so they come with elemental themes.

Basically, Genasi are a racial choice when you’re making your player character. As such, they have their own racial traits (which I’ll get into in a bit) and sub-races.

Some players call Genasi half-elementals. Usually, Genasi result when a human and elemental (typically a genie) have a child together. The elemental heritage passes on to a Genasi but the child usually appears more humanoid.

What Book Are Genasi In In 5e?

In D&D 5e, Genasi come from the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion. This free resource released in preparation for the Princes of the Apocalypse (PotA) adventure module.

No books or other resources since then include the Genasi race as an option. Since PotA focused on the four Elemental Planes, it makes sense that Genasi haven’t appeared in other sourcebooks…I guess.

The problem I have with this is that Wizards of the Coast included Goliath in Volo’s Guide to Monsters as a playable race. Goliaths also debuted in the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion. So, why not the Genasi?

But, Aarakocra and Deep Gnomes also haven’t reappeared like the Genasi. It’s clear who the favorite race was from that group.

The Genasi Sub-Races

Genasi in D&D 5e Subraces; Earth Genasi, Water Genasi, Fire Genasi, and Air Genasi
From left to right: Earth Genasi, Water Genasi, Fire Genasi, Air Genasi
Image Credit: Forgotten Realms Fandom Wiki: Genasi

There are four sub-races for Genasi in D&D 5e; Air Genasi, Earth Genasi, Fire Genasi, and Water Genasi. One for each of the Elemental Planes found in the Forgotten Realms.

Each Genasi sub-race represents some aspect of the four main Elemental Planes. So, they each come with their own flavor and traits.

While they have variances in appearance based on their lineage, all Genasi share the same vaguely-humanoid features. If it weren’t for their more outstanding physical features (unusual skin, eye, and hair colors) and ambient effects like a persistent breeze or smelling of brimstone, they would pass as any other human or other humanoid race.

That said, any Genasi, no matter the sub-race, may look more humanoid than otherwise with only subtle hints to their elemental lineage.

Also, usually a genasi results from a humanoid having a child with one of the elemental genies; djinn, dao, efreet, or marid. But, they may trace their elemental lineage further up their family tree. Or, they may come from being exposed to strong elemental forces such as having their birth occur near a portal to one of the Elemental Planes.

Air Genasi

Air Genasi represent the Elemental Plane of Air. They usually trace their lineage back to air genies called the djinn.

Like the wind itself, Air Genasi usually have carefree attitudes that may turn angry as fast as the changing weather.

Air Genasi may have skin, hair, and eye colors along the shades of sky blue. And, they’re usually accompanied by a soft breeze that lightly pushes their hair and clothing.

Earth Genasi

Earth Genasi represent the Elemental Plane of Earth. They’re born when a humanoid has a child with an earth elemental creature. This usually means mating with the earth-based genie: the dao.

Since they trace their lineage to elemental earth, Earth Genasi tend towards patient and deliberate personalities. And, they enjoy enhanced strength and some control over stone and earth.

An Earth Genasi’s appearance varies as much as the natural stone found in the world. They usually have earth-toned skin colors like black, gray, or brown. But, the quality of their skin varies from rough and gravel-like, smooth and metallic, or even shiny like a gemstone.

Fire Genasi

Fire Genasi represent the Elemental Plane of Fire. They are the result of a humanoid and fire elemental creature, usually an efreet, bearing a child together.

Usually bold and volatile in nature, the Fire Genasi tend towards more boisterous personalities.

The appearance of any given Fire Genasi usually reflects their flame-like lineage. Their skin tones range from ash gray to shades of red to even charcoal black. An interesting point about Fire Genasi is almost all of them feel as if they have a fever. Their hair might simply look red or may be actually made of flames.

Water Genasi

Water Genasi represent the Elemental Plane of Water. When a marid or other water elemental creature rears a child with a humanoid creature, that child may inherit some of their elemental features.

Freedom and wanderlust usually tug at Water Genasi, making them natural adventurers.

A Water Genasi’s appearance follows, of course, aquatic themes. Their skin may be blue or green with a perpetual dampness to it. Their eyes may be blue-black in color and slightly larger than a normal humans. And, their hair may float as if it’s underwater.

Genasi 5e Traits

Photo Sketch of a Woman Wreathed in Flames
Each Genasi’s racial traits demonstrate their connection to a particular Elemental Plane

The base Genasi traits…aren’t really anything special.

Of course, they get the usual Ability Score bonus, a base movement speed, and a couple languages. But, that’s about it.

From the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion, the basic Genasi traits are:

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 2.
  • Size. Your size is Medium.
  • Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
  • Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Primordial.

DnD Beyond’s Genasi race page also has all the traits for free.

Of course, if you’re playing with Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, you may choose to ignore the Ability Score Increase traits. But, I’m keeping them in just in case your table isn’t playing with that optional rule.

Now, since the Genasi race has several sub-race options, each one comes with their own traits as per usual. This is where the Genasi racial traits start shining. So, let’s go over each one’s unique traits.

Air Genasi Traits

Air Genasi traits naturally reflect their affinity for the wind and open sky.

These are the more dexterous Genasi sub-race. Unfortunately, that’s about as useful as they get.

See, the Air Genasi traits fall into what some players call "ribbon abilities." Basically, they’re traits that are mostly for flavor and might never come up in your game.

Before I get too far into it, let’s look at the Air Genasi traits.

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 1.
  • Unending Breath. If you’re not incapacitated, you can hold your breath forever.
  • Mingle with the Wind. You can cast the levitate spell once per long rest.

Unending Breath is the trait I was referring to. Granted, I actually managed to use it to avoid becoming poisoned with my Air Genasi Ranger, Gustav, in one of the adventures in Tales from the Yawning Portal. But, I don’t see it coming up that often. Maybe if you’re affected by spells like stinking cloud, but that’s still a pretty specific circumstance.

Air Genasi make for halfway decent Rogues, Monks, dex-based Rangers, and dex-based Fighters.

Earth Genasi Traits

Earth Genasi traits demonstrate their connection to stone.

This Genasi sub-race is the physical powerhouse of their kin since they get an increase to their Strength Ability Score. But, they’re also fairly mobile while on-land.

Here are the Earth Genasi traits:

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 1.
  • Earth Walk. You ignore difficult terrain made of earth or stone.
  • Merge with Stone. You can cast the pass without trace spell once per long rest.

Pass Without Trace is an amazing spell. So, even for your less sneak-inclined characters, you have a great Stealth trait.

Also, ignoring difficult terrain is great for playing a front line fighter.

Earth Genasi play well with classes that fill the tank role in 5e. These include Barbarians, Fighters, and Paladins. But, any Strength-based characters or frontline fighting classes are viable choices.

Fire Genasi Traits

Fire Genasi traits follow flame-like and light themes.

Honestly, it seems a little unfair what the Fire Genasi get compared to their Air and Earth cousins. But,

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Intelligence score increases by 1.
  • Darkvision. Your can see in dim light as if it were bright light out to 60 feet, and in darkness as if it were dim light.
  • Fire Resistance. You resist fire damage.
  • Reach to the Blaze. You know the produce flame cantrip and can cast the burning hands spell once per long rest when you reach 3rd level.

The Fire Resistance trait is great since fire usually makes an appearance at some point in many adventures. And, Darkvision is always welcome for any player character.

Fire Genasi work well as Artificers and Wizards with their Intelligence bonus. Or, if you’re more martially inclined, Eldritch Knight Fighters, Psy Warrior Fighters (TCoE), and Arcane Trickster Rogues are all great choices since they use Intelligence in some way.

Water Genasi Traits

Water Genasi traits of course give them some control over and survivability within water.

They get the most sub-race traits of all the Genasi.

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.
  • Acid Resistance. You resist 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 and can cast the create or destroy water spell once per long rest when you reach 3rd level.

Now, are these as useful as the other Genasi sub-races?

Situationally, yes. They get a damage resistance, can breathe underwater, get an alternative movement speed, and some innate spellcasting. Along with the usual Ability Score bonus.

The only downside is all of these traits deal with water in some way. So, you’re only gonna find a use for them if you’re playing in a water-heavy campaign or if your adventure take you close to a water source.

Water Genasi work well in any class that uses Wisdom as a core Ability Score. So, they make great Clerics, Druids, Monks, and Rangers.

Which Classes Are Good for Genasi?

Photo Sketch of Two Boys Fighting in Water
With so many sub-race options, quite a few D&D classes are good for Genasi

Now that you have the basic information of the Genasi in 5e, let’s take a look at their class options.

Like any playable race in D&D, some classes work better for Genasi over others. Usually, this means aligning their Ability Score bonus with the core stat of any given class. But, the more specific racial traits also play a part in determining which classes work best for Genasi.

If you’re playing with the optional Ability Score rules in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, Genasi work as any character class.

I’m looking mostly at their Ability Score bonuses here with a little bit of influence from the other traits. But, TCoE has an optional rule where you can switch out a race’s Ability Score bonus for another. So, just remember that the best classes for Genasi don’t take TCoE into account.

That said, let’s get into the best classes for a Genasi in D&D 5e.

Good Classes for Genasi in D&D 5e

The best classes for Genasi in 5e take their Ability Score Increases into account. Since there are four sub-races for the Genasi, you have a wide variety of good class choices.

Now, the other sub-race traits for the Genasi don’t really tend towards any particular classes. Because of this, you have quite a bit of freedom in which class or party role you want to fill.

Here’s a breakdown of the best D&D classes for Genasi:

Artificer
With their Intelligence bonus, Fire Genasi make good picks for the Artificer. The extra spells from the Genasi also help build out an Artificer’s spell list with Earth, Fire, and Water Genasi being the best options. But remember; you use your Constitution modifier for the Genasi’s innate spells.
Barbarian
Earth Genasi make a good racial choice for Barbarians with their Strength and Constitution bonuses. Also, ignoring stone-based difficult terrain means you might run into circumstances where engaging in melee combat becomes easier.
Cleric
Of course, the Water sub-race is your best option for playing a Genasi Cleric. Their Wisdom bonus helps in the Cleric’s spellcasting and their damage resistance gives you a bit more situational survivability. That said, Earth Genasi are also a good option for more martial Clerics and for having that extra bit for stealth capability with pass without trace.
Druid
Water Genasi are a good choice for playing a Druid in 5e. Getting a boost to your Wisdom is great for the Druid’s spellcasting and resisting Acid damage is good for niche situations. That said, your damage resistance probably won’t work with your Wild Shape since you take on the physical attributes of your beast form.
Fighter
Being a martial class, Earth Genasi make great Fighters. Their Strength and Constitution bonuses are perfect for playing a frontline Fighter. But, for a more Dexterity-based Fighter, Air Genasi are a good option (especially for using levitate to rise above the battlefield). Also, Fire Genasi work well for the Eldrith Knight and Psy Warrior (TCoE) classes since they use Intelligence for their spells and features.
Monk
Monk is okay for Genasi. The Air Genasi is a good pick with the Dexterity increase, but they’re innate spellcasting (ie, levitate) isn’t really conducive for a melee focused class. Water Genasi work well also with their Wisdom bonus and their other racial traits offer a bit more over Air Genasi.
Paladin
Earth Genasi make good Paladins since they get that Strength and Constitution bonuses. Like other martial classes, ignoring stone-based difficult terrain is great for entering melee with hostile creatures. And, pass without trace offsets a lower Dexterity score. That said, Air Genasi can work as well if you’re playing a Dexterity Paladin.
Ranger
Air Genasi work well for Rangers because of their Dexterity bonus. But, if you’re playing a ranged Ranger, levitate is good for escaping from melee enemies. Earth Genasi work well for more melee-focused Rangers, especially with that free pass without trace to offset the Ranger’s less-than-stellar spellcasting. And, Water Genasi work if you want to boost your Ranger’s spellcasting.
Rogue
Air Genasi are probably your best be for playing a Rogue. Their Dexterity bonus is good for Rogues and levitate is situationally helpful. Fire Genasi are also a halfway decent pick for Arcane Tricksters with their Intelligence bonus.
Wizard
Fire Genasi are really your best pick for Wizard. Their Intelligence bonus is great for boosting your spellcasting. And, their innate spells free up some space for your Wizard spells. Remember; Constitution is your spellcasting Ability Score for your Genasi spells.

Now that you know some of the best classes for Genasi in 5e, let’s look at some of bad class options.

Bad Classes for Genasi in D&D 5e

The three classes that aren’t great for Genasi all focus on the Charisma Ability Score; Bard, Sorcerer, and Warlock. Since Genasi don’t get a Charisma bonus at all, these classes suffer in their spellcasting.

That said, each one of these has their own specific pros and cons for playing as a Genasi.

Bard
A Genasi Bard could work if you focus more on the more martial subclasses. The College of Valor and College of Swords (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything) could work with an Air or Earth Genasi.
Sorcerer
There really aren’t any good options for Genasi Sorcerers. The lack of Charisma bonus and any sort of martial Sorcerer subclass doesn’t give you many options.
Warlock
The Hexblade Warlock in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything is an alright option for Air and Earth Genasi. But, your spellcasting and class features suffer because of the lower Charisma.

D&D 5e Genasi FAQs

How Do You Pronounce Genasi?

According to DnD Beyond’s Genasi page, Genasi is pronounced "jeh-NAH-see."

What Language Do Genasi Speak?

In D&D 5e, Genasi speak Common and Primordial. If you’re playing with the optional player character rules in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, you may switch them out for any other language your DM allows.

How Tall Are Genasi?

Genasi in 5e are roughly the same height as humans. So, they usually stand anywhere from five to six feet tall.

How Long Do Genasi Live?

The Genasi in D&D 5e age at roughly the same rate as humans. But, they live longer up to 120 years old.

Can Genasi Look Human?

Genasi in 5e often look vaguely human with some extreme features like unusual skin tones or minor mystical effects surrounding them. That said, a Genasi may look more human with only subtle hints to their elemental lineage.

Are Genasi Elementals?

The Genasi in D&D 5e are humanoids only. So, they are not elementals.

 

Final Thoughts On D&D 5e Genasi

Overall, I like the Genasi in D&D. But, they do feel a little underpowered, especially the Air Genasi. That said, a playable race only has so much sway over how good a character is.

Genasi in 5e are the closest thing we have to elemental player characters (but they aren’t elementals). Each of the sub-races come with thematic traits even if a couple seem like more thought went into them. With their variety of sub-races, Genasi work well in a majority of D&D 5e’s classes.

I always like to end these posts with a reminder: play the character you want to play.

If you want to play a Fire Genasi Bard, go for it. If you want to play a Genasi Warlock with a Genie Patron because their patron is one of their parents, do it. That sounds awesome.

Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t play those characters because they’re "unoptimized."

One of my favorite (and longest running characters) was an Air Genasi Ranger named Gustav, or Gust for short. Let me tell you, Levitate doesn’t seem like a great spell until it comes in handy. And, holding your breath forever to avoid a dungeon filled with poison gas feels good.

Have you played a Genasi before or are you playing one in your current game? Leave a comment below and we’ll swap adventure stories.

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