A Player's Guide to Water Genasi in 5e, Water Genasi woman underwater with seals

A Player’s Guide to the Water Genasi in 5e

The Water Genasi in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition are an interesting class in they have ties to the Elemental Plane of Water in some way. This sets them apart from others as they become fairly useful in nautical campaigns but often come up short elsewhere.
This guide to the Water Genasi in 5e gives you everything beginner players need to know about playing one of these characters.

Let’s start with going over some basic elements to playing a Water Genasi in 5e.

Basic Info on the Water Genasi in 5e

Water Genasi in 5e, Person floating upside down in water

Water genasi is a playable race available to players. These characters are essentially part-humanoid, part-water elemental, tracing their lineage to an entity from the Elemental Plane of Water. It’s one of the subrace options for the base genasi 5e character race.

Basically, Water Genasi are half-water elementals; they have some sort of mortal parentage but with an influence from either the Elemental Plane of Water or a water elemental itself.

These characters often have carefree spirits and a sense of adventure to them akin to the calling of the open sea. Above all, many Water Genasi value their own personal freedom and pride themselves on it.

Thanks to their elemental ancestry, Water Genasi have abilities which make them naturally suited for water-based adventures. They’re naturally adapted to the water, meaning they’re better able to maneuver in it. Additionally, they have the ability to breathe underwater.

All this means is Water Genasi work best in aquatic D&D games or adventures. A lot of their racial traits heavily rely on interacting with or within water. So, if there’s no water nearby, many of their traits lose a lot of there usefulness.

Water Genasi Traits

Woman water genasi underwater

The Water Genasi’s traits emphasize their connection to water. This includes racial traits for moving faster in, being able to breathe, and having the ability to manipulate water.

Everything the Water Genasi gets through their racial traits plays into their natural ties to water. This includes gaining a swimming speed and having the ability to breathe underwater.

All this means is Water Genasi work really well in aquatic adventures. But, if there’s no water nearby or no hazards using water, their racial traits aren’t really going to help your character.

Bear in mind, these are the default Water Genasi traits including their Ability Score Increases. If you’re playing with the optional Customizing Your Origin rules from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, you may alter which Ability Scores you improve.

With that out of the way and first and foremost, Water Genasi is a subrace of the Genasi character race. So, you get traits from the base race first.

Genasi Base Traits

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 Constitution score increases by 2.
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.
Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Source: DnD Beyond | Basic Rules – Genasi

After that, you get your Water Genasi specific traits which lean more into the aquatic nature of your character.

Water Genasi Subrace Traits

Ability Score Increase
Your Wisdom score increases by 1.
Acid Resistance
You have resistance to acid damage.
You can breathe air and water.
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.
Source: DnD Beyond | Basic Rules – Genasi

Now, going over these, the biggest benefit you get from playing a Water Genasi is the innate spellcasting. Resistance to acid damage is fine, but is actually a fairly uncommon damage type in 5e so it’s only so useful. Likewise, having the ability to breathe underwater and a swim speed is situationally helpful, but that’s the problem. They’re situational abilities.

That said, the spells Water Genasi get are situational on their own. So, everything these characters get from their racial pick is better suited for aquatic adventures.

Water Genasi Names

Water genasi man swimming along a water's surface

Water Genasi names usually follow their mortal parents’ naming conventions. However, they may also take on a nickname indicative of their natural connection to their water elemental heritage.

Typically, a Water Genasi’s mortal parent or parents raise them. As such, Water Genasi typically follow the general naming conventions of their parents heritage and region.

For example, if your Water Genasi is of otherwise elven descent but with an essence blessed by the Elemental Plane of Water, they’d most likely have an elven name, both first and last. Likewise, a Water Genasi of Orcish descent would have an Orcish name. And so on and so forth.

Now, something fun concerning Genasi as a whole, not just the Water variety, is they like to take nicknames to indicate their ties to their elemental heritage.

With that in mind, Water Genasi may give themselves a nickname to demonstrate their natural affinity for water.

Example Water Genasi nicknames include:

  • Wave
  • Brine
  • Pool
  • Undertow
  • River
  • Rain
  • Splash
  • Bay
  • Flood
  • Cascade

Physical Appearance of Water Genasi

Water genasi woman swimming further down underwater

Water Genasi resemble their mortal parent(s) in shape and size but have unique quirks to their physicality which betray their otherworldly lineage. Their skin, hair, and eyes all may have atypical hues or qualities and their voice may resound as if they were underwater.

Despite their elemental ties, Water Genasi generally resemble the mortal side of their ancestry with some unusual features which betray their more mystical heritage. As such, they have the same general shape of a regular humanoid depending on their mortal parents.

Beyond that, Water Genasi have aquatic features to differentiate themselves from regular humanoids. This includes possibly having small fin-like protrusions along their limbs, an unnatural skin tone, or hair which gently floats on its own.

Let’s cover some different aspects of a Water Genasi’s appearance you can consider when making your character.

Water Genasi Skin

Some Water Genasi have unusual skin tones often in greens and blues. They also often have a thin layer of moisture on their skin, almost as if they just finished bathing.

Despite their general, mortal shape, Water Genasi usually have unusual skin qualities which differentiate themselves from their humanoid kin. Often times, these qualities take the form of atypical skin tones for a Water Genasi’s parents. But, those aren’t the only ways a Water Genasi character’s skin tone can indicate their elemental ancestry.

Your ears may take on a more aquatic shape or maybe you don’t have ears at all. Maybe you have small, scale-like markings along the backs of your calves. Or, perhaps you have webbed fingers and toes.

Basically, take features suitable for aquatic creatures and use them as inspiration for your Water Genasi character’s skin.

Examples of unique skin appearances for Water Genasi:

  • Small beads of moisture perpetually cling to your skin
  • Your ears resemble fins
  • You have a green-blue skin tone
  • You always smell a little bit like the ocean
  • Light subtly dances across your face as if it were shining through water

Water Genasi Hair

Water Genasi characters sometimes have hair which appears to float on its own as if it were suspended in water. It also often comes in atypical shades for your mortal heritage, growing green or blue.

Much like with skin features, Water Genasi have a wide variety of hair appearances to demonstrate their ties to their elemental heritage.

A Water Genasi’s hair may be ordinarily mundane but have a natural color that would ordinarily be unnatural for their mortal ancestry. Alternatively, you have the freedom to give your character more fantastical hairstyles in-line with their aquatic nature.

Examples of unique hair feature for Water Genasi:

  • Your hair clumps togethers to appear like tentacles
  • Even when standing still, your hair slightly floats and sways as if suspended in water
  • Your hair is always wet no matter how much you try to dry it
  • Your hair appears more like the spines of an urchin than actual hair
  • You have no hair, instead you have small, fin-like ridges running back along your scalp

Water Genasi Eyes

Water Genasi often have slightly larger than normal (for their mortal heritage’s) eyes. Additionally, their eyes are usually very dark.

The default description for a Water Genasi’s eyes describes them as "somewhat overlarge." So, they basically have an almost fish-like appearance.

Aside from that as inspiration, you can add mystical effects to your Water Genasi character’s eyes like the shimmering of light on water or they reflect light back.

Examples of eye appearances for Water Genasi:

  • They appear as normal but with a slight shimmer like a gently running creek
  • Your eyes are a little bulbous, almost sticking out of your head
  • Your irises are bright golden-yellow
  • The entirety of your pupil- and iris-less eye is a shimmering silver color
  • You have no irises, just small, black pupils

Water Genasi Voice

When some Water Genasi speak, their words sound as if resounding underwater or maybe underlaid with with the sounds of a trickling of water.

Vocal qualities are an often underused feature when creating a character. Yes, people may do accents or speak at a certain cadence, but when it comes to the more mystically-inclined character races, you can add more unnatural aspects to your character’s speech.

With Water Genasi, you can give them aquatic vocal qualities like resounding as if underwater or perhaps underlaid with whale tones.

Example vocal qualities for Water Genasi:

  • Your words have a deep, droning sound beneath them
  • When you speak, the distant sound of a burbling creek accompanies you softly
  • Every now and then, you sound as if you have water in your throat
  • Your voice has a slight echo to it as if you were in a seaside cave
  • When you speak words with "sh" or "ch", there’s a slight sound of a crashing wave with those sounds

Best Classes for Water Genasi in 5e

Water genasi woman running along the bottom of a clear lake

The best classes for Water Genasi in 5e utilize their natural Ability Score Increase and make use of their additional spells. This often means the Wisdom-based spellcasting classes benefit the most when playing a character of this race.

With their +1 in Wisdom from their Ability Score Increase, Water Genasi work best in the classes which use that stat; Cleric, Druid, Monk, and Ranger. Unfortunately, the other racial traits offered by this race aren’t terribly helpful for any class, really.

Additionally, the +2 Constitution from being a Genasi period is good for pretty much any class. It helps with frontline fighters for improving their survivability and increases the spellcasters’ ability to succeed on Concentration saving throws.

The biggest problem with playing pretty much any class as a Water Genasi is their racial traits are extremely situationally useful. They don’t really lend much to playing any class.

Acid damage resistance is nice to have it when you need it. But, it’s a fairly uncommon damage type, so you probably won’t get much use out of it.

Having a swim speed and the ability to breathe underwater is great for navigating aquatic adventures. Water makes for good obstacles to overcome as well. But, this all depends on your game and what your Game Master throws at you.

The spells Water Genasi get are pretty good. But, they rely on having access to a nearby water source.

Again, this all assumes the default Water Genasi racial traits. If you’re playing with the Customizing Your Origin rules from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, you might be able to work playing a Water Genasi in any class by switching around the Ability Score Increases. That said, the other racial traits still play better in certain classes than others.

So, the five best classes for Water Genasi, in no particular order, are:

  • Cleric
  • Paladin
  • Ranger
  • Sorcerer
  • Warlock

With this all in mind, lets go over each class and how well they work for the Water Genasi.

Water Genasi Artificer

Artificer isn’t a terribly good choice for default Water Genasi. Their lack of Intelligence Ability Score Increase means they’ll struggle more as an Artificer than other classes. Also, while the Water Genasi offers spells not included in the Artificer’s list, the class’ Infusions can cover what the racial traits do.

The biggest advantage Water Genasi bring as an Artificer is their extra spells. But, the class has a feature through their Infusions which cover much of what the Water Genasi can do.

On the other hand, having these innate spells frees up the Infusions for other options. So, that may be an argument worth making.

Water Genasi Barbarian

Barbarian isn’t a bad class option for Water Genasi. The Constitution Ability Score Increase and acid damage resistance both play well for this class, but the lack of Strength means you’ll work best on defense than on offense.

Assuming you aren’t playing with the rules in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, playing a Water Genasi Barbarian suffers from a lack of an increase in Strength. Due to this, your attacks would suffer. Your character would still have a decent amount of hit points thanks to the bonus to Constitution, though.

Aside from that, the Water Genasi’s racial traits don’t lend much to playing a Barbarian. The acid damage resistance is nice if you’re not playing a Path of the Totem Warrior Barbarian. But, you can’t cast spells while Raging, so the ones you get from this race lose a lot of use.

That said, having a swim speed means your attacks suffer less while fighting within the water. But, that situation needs to arise to benefit from this trait. So, it’s situationally useful.

Water Genasi Bard

Bard isn’t a great choice for Water Genasi. You don’t get any Charisma bonus from this race but the additional spells Water Genasi get supplement the Bard’s list.

Basically, the greatest benefit for playing a Bard as a Water Genasi is getting the extra spells from Call to the Wave trait. This frees up options for the Bard’s Magical Secrets feature. But, again, the spells you get are very situationally useful.

Water Genasi Cleric

Cleric is a good option for Water Genasi. Their default Wisdom stat increase aligns with the Cleric’s Spellcasting Ability and the Constitution increase and acid damage resistance lends to a more Tanky character despite acid damage being fairly uncommon.

If you’re playing with the default racial Ability Score Increases, the +1 Water Genasi get make them a good pick for playing a Cleric in 5e as it supports this class’ spellcasting.

Additionally, the acid damage resistance is good for playing a more Tank-focused Cleric. But, is only so useful as previously mentioned due to its relative uncommon use.

The same applies to the Water Genasi’s spells. They’re only situationally useful and aren’t really helpful for how you normally play a Cleric.

Water Genasi Druid

Druid isn’t a bad option for Water Genasi characters. The Wisdom Ability Score Increase aligns with the Druid’s Spellcasting Ability, but that’s about everything the race offers for these characters. The spells a Water Genasi brings to the Druid are mostly already available to the class, so it’s either redundant or it frees up some options for your character.

Like the Cleric, the Water Genasi is an decent racial pick for playing a Druid thanks to their default +1 to Wisdom which the class uses in its spellcasting.

Unfortunately, everything the Water Genasi does can get covered by the Druid’s Wild Shape feature.

Want a swim speed or the ability to breathe underwater? Reach 4th-level to gain access to 5e’s beasts with swim speeds.

Yes, your Ability Score Increase supports the Druid’s spellcasting. But, the Water Genasi’s racial traits aren’t really beneficial on a whole.

Water Genasi Fighter

Fighter is okay for Water Genasi due mostly to the base Genasi Constitution increase.

The biggest benefits to playing a Water Genasi Fighter are the acid damage resistance and the Constitution Ability Score Increase.

If you’re fighting in the water, the swim speed and ability to breathe underwater become very helpful. But, that depends on your game and the adventures your Game Master runs.

Unfortunately, Water Genasi doesn’t really offer much to supplement dealing damage as a Fighter. With the default Ability Score Increases, you don’t get a stat focused on attacking or dealing damage. But, at least you get a bonus to your hit points.

Water Genasi Monk

Monk is an okay class option for Water Genasi with their Wisdom stat increase. That said, nothing else really benefits the Monk class. The lack of Dexterity Ability Score Increase means a Water Genasi Monk suffers in combat and the spellcasting doesn’t offer much in how the class plays.

Nothing the Water Genasi offers really benefits playing the Monk.

Your greatest benefit is the default bonus to Wisdom as this boosts the Monk’s abilities. On the other hand, this doesn’t really help them that much. The Monk only has a few features which force saves based on your Wisdom score.

Aside from that, the acid damage resistance is nice when you need it. But, the other traits aren’t really helpful for playing a Monk.

Water Genasi Paladin

Paladin is a decent class choice for Water Genasi all things considered. The default Wisdom increase doesn’t really help, but the bonus to Constitution aids in how Paladins typically play. Also, the spells a Water Genasi gets helps supplement the Paladins few casting capabilities.

That said and once again, the spells you get from playing a Water Genasi are very situational and aren’t all that helpful for how you would typically play a Paladin.

Paladin is one of the classic Tank classes in D&D 5e. As such, the shape water cantrip and ability to cast create or destroy water don’t really benefit the Paladin. They don’t really offer any damage dealing or mitigation with maybe preventing future damage through extinguishing flames.

The biggest benefits the Water Genasi gives to playing a Paladin is the +2 to Constitution and acid damage resistance. If you find yourself fighting in water often, the swim speed and water breathing is also nice, but is very situational.

Water Genasi Ranger

Ranger plays well with the default Water Genasi Ability Score Increase in Wisdom. The race’s spells also help supplement the class’ few spellcasting capabilities but aren’t terribly helpful in most situations.

Since Rangers also suffer from having a low number of spells available to cast, supplementing the amount of spells you know with the Water Genasi can help. But, yet again, the spells you do get are situationally helpful.

Rangers also aren’t primarily casters. So, the default +1 to Wisdom only helps so much. The +2 Constitution increase and acid damage resistance is nice for melee focused Rangers, but the lack of Strength or Dexterity improvements means your attacks suffer slightly.

Again, if you find yourself fighting in or around water often, the swim speed and water breathing are nice to have.

Water Genasi Rogue

Rogue isn’t a great option for Water Genasi. The spells you get don’t really help Rogues in any way and the default Ability Score Increases don’t support the Rogue’s core stats.

Nothing the Water Genasi offers benefits the Rogue.

If you play a Rogue carefully, the default Constitution increase shouldn’t be that helpful as you avoid or reduce most damage dealt to you. And, the Wisdom increase does nothing for the class.

Honestly, the acid damage resistance probably comes in the most handy for Rogues. This class usually scouts ahead, checking for and disarming traps they come across. Traps are usually a good way for using acid damage in any given D&D game, so a Water Genasi Rogue might get the most use out of this trait.

Aside from that, the swim speed and water breathing are situationally useful. But, the spells you get do basically nothing for playing a Rogue.

Water Genasi Sorcerer

Sorcerer is an okay class for Water Genasi. Since Sorcerers have a strict number of spells known, the extras granted through racial traits basically supplement their limited spellcasting even if those spells are situationally helpful.

Since Sorcerers have an explicitly set number of spells known, the bonus spells from the Water Genasi’s Call to the Wave trait help supplement their capabilities. The biggest drawback is those spells are only so helpful.

The default +2 Constitution Ability Score Increase is nice for spellcasters in boosting their Concentration saving throws. Sorcerers also get proficiency in Constitution saves, so this stat improvement is even better. On the other hand, the +1 Wisdom doesn’t help Sorcerers so you’d need to use the Customizing Your Origin rules to change that to Charisma.

Having the ability to breathe underwater is situationally nice, but the swim speed is less helpful for spellcasters. Spells are generally less affected by water than weapons, so you won’t have as much need for good maneuverability in the water.

Water Genasi Warlock

Warlock is an alright option for Water Genasi in that the race gives you spells the class normally doesn’t have access to. That said, those spells are only helpful in specific situations.

Like the Sorcerer but in a different way, Warlocks have a limited ability to cast spells. So, supplementing that with the Water Genasi’s natural spellcasting is good to have if you can make use of those situational spells.

The default Constitution increase, again, is good for Concentration saves. But, the Warlock uses Charisma as its Spellcasting Ability, so the base Water Genasi Ability Score Increases are only so helpful.

Unless you’re playing the Hexblade Warlock Patron, the acid damage resistance shouldn’t come up too often as you want to avoid damage as much as possible as a spellcaster.

Finally, the swim speed wouldn’t really benefit a Warlock as their spells normally won’t get hindered by the limited movement. The exception here is, again, the Hexblade Warlock as its a more martially-focused subclass.

Water Genasi Wizard

Wizard isn’t a great class for Water Genasi as the class can do anything the racial traits offer through their enhanced spellcasting. Also, the default Ability Score Increases offered by Water Genasi don’t help the Wizard in any way short of boosting their concentration saves.

Being the most magically capable class, the Wizard already has the ability to do pretty much everything the Water Genasi offers a character.

D&D 5e Water Genasi FAQ

Two water genasi holding hands underwater

How Tall Are Water Genasi?

Water Genasi are roughly as tall as their mortal parents but most often resemble humans. As such, they’re usually anywhere from under five to over six feet tall and count as Medium for their Size.

When it comes to their Size category in 5e, Water Genasi count as Medium-sized creatures. They take after their mortal parents, so their height ranges accordingly. That said, most Water Genasi have human heritage, so they typically fall anywhere between five and six feet tall.

How Long Do Water Genasi Live?

Water Genasi age at the same rate but a bit longer than humans up to 120 years old.

Easy as that. Water Genasi may live up to 120 years old but they age at the same rate as humans. So, they reach maturity at roughly 20 years old, experience middle age somwhere between 40 and 50, and become elderly in their 70s or 80s.

What Language Do Water Genasi Speak?

Water Genasi can speak Common and Primordial.

Plain and simple. Water Genasi get proficiency in both the Common and Primordial languages thanks to their default racial traits. Of course, if you’re using Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything Customizing Your Origin rules, you may switch out what languages your Water Genasi character knows.

Can Water Genasi Breathe Underwater?

Yes, Water Genasi can breathe underwater thanks to their Amphibious trait.

The Water Genasi’s Amphibious trait explicitly states "You can breathe air and water." So, these characters have no problem breathing underwater.

Are Water Genasi Made of Water?

No. Water Genasi are not made of water. They are made of flesh and bone like other living beings.

Water Genasi are made of solid matter due to their mortal parentage. While they have physical elements tied to water elementals, they themselves are not made of water.


Summary of the Water Genasi Character Race in D&D 5e

That about covers everything you need to know about playing a Water Genasi in 5e.

They are a subrace of the Genasi with ties to water elementals or influenced by the Elemental Plane of Water at birth. Despite this connection, they are the usually the children of at least one mortal parent and resemble the other humanoids of this heritage. That said, they often have atypical and often magical physical traits which betray their connection to the water element including the ability to breathe underwater, having an unusual skin tone, and being able to cast low-level spells which manipulate water. Unfortunately, the Water Genasi doesn’t mesh well with the typical playstyle or any particular class with your best options being a few spellcasting classes.

Have you played a Water Genasi before? What class do you think works best for the Water Genasi? Leave a comment below with your thoughts!

Be sure to follow Role Player’s Respite for more character breakdowns, rules clarifications, and inspiration for your game!

1 thought on “A Player’s Guide to the Water Genasi in 5e”

  1. I love playing my water genasi. As a ranger she covers mostly coastal terrain but has been on a desert run too. She just complains a lot about the heat and lack of water which is comical. She has a sailor back ground and has navigation training as well as other mundain nautical skills that the party enjoys because she can get passage on ships during the adventures.

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