Introduction

Genasi have existed for several editions, and they’re a fun race which adds an elemental theme to your character. They’re descendants of genies, but that part of the race’s description is easily overlooked if you just want to play a person with fire for hair. Published in the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion (a free PDF from Wizards of the Coast), the Genasi was the first non-core race published in 5th edition.

Mechanically, the Genasi are defined almost entirely by their subrace. While they still share a few core traits like a Constitution increase, all of the interesting parts come from your choice of subrace. Each subrace gets a couple traits, and they all get some innate spellcasting, but the specifics vary wildly. Notably, all genasi use Constitution as their spellcasting ability for their innate spellcasting.

Taken as a whole, the Genasi is a diverse race which can fill a variety of classes. Taken as individual subraces, genasi are limited, niche races with significant limitations. Genasi have no decision points beyond their subrace, which means that they have very little flexibility. The custom origin rules open up your options somewhat, but there are still challenges.

Air genasi work for Dexterity-based builds, but their innate spellcasting is extremeley limited. The custom origin rules open up your options, but unless you really want Levitate for some reason there’s basically no reason to play an air genasi.

Earth genasi only work for Strength-based melee builds unless you use the custom origin rules, and even then their only selling point is ignoring difficult terrain, and unless your whole party is building around difficult terrain, that’s not enough of a selling point.

Fire Genasi work for Intelligence-based spellcasters, but their innate spellcasting is Constitution-based so either you focus on that and you’re bad at everything else, or you focus on your class features and you’re getting nothing from your racial traits. At that point, play literally anything else. If you use the custom origin rules, the Constitution-based spellcasting may be helpful for a handful of builds, but the investment to make the innate spellcasting work will rarely be worth the effort.

Water genasi only work for Wisdom-based casters (and arguably for monks) unless you use the custom origin rules, at which point you’re getting a few useful things that work on any character, but none of it is remarkably exciting. You do get shape water and acid resistance, but unless you’re going to spend a lot of time underwater the water genasi will never exceed what a variant human with Magic Initiate can do.

Table of Contents

Classes (Customizable Origins)

This section assumes that you’re using the option “Customizing Your Origin” rules presented in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. If you’re not using those rules, scroll down to the next section.

Allowing you to customize your ability score increases will at least allow you to put the Genasi’s +2 Constitution increase somewhere else, and even if you just switch your primary ability score and Constitution, that can still be an improvement over the default Genasi. But even then, the Genasi’s traits are very weak compared to other races with similar traits.

Artificer

The innate spellcasting is all Constitution-based, so there’s little synergy here. Defaulting to water genasi is likely your best choice.

Barbarian

The only appealing genasi option for the Barbarian is the Earth Genasi due to Earth Walk, but that’s really not enough to make the Earth Genasi effective.

A fire genasi with a 1-level dip into barbarian could go all-in on Dexterity and Constitution, and build around using Produce Flame offensively. It’s not a good build, but it’s technically an option. Maybe if you combine it with Eldritch Knight to get War Magic? Even then, focusing on Strength or Dexterity and putting ability score improvements into feats will be much more effecive.

Bard

None of the genasi subraces have traits which complement the Bard’s capabilities, and none of the innate spellcasting is Charisma-based so it won’t be effective.

Cleric

None of the genasi subraces have traits which complement the Cleric’s capabilities, and none of the innate spellcasting is Wisdom-based so it won’t be improved by Wisdom increases.

Druid

Some of the Genasi’s traits, such as the innate spellcasting and the Earth Genasi’s Earth Walk might be able to work in Wild Shape, but that’s really the only thing that the Genasi can offer.

Fighter

The Air Genasi might be able to use Levitate offensively on a high-Constitution build, but it only works once per day and that isn’t enough. More likely, you’ll go for a fire genasi eldritch knight, but even that isn’t a great build.

Monk

Few of the Genasi’s traits are useful for the Monk beyond very basic stuff like Darkvision. The Earth Genasi’s ability to ignore difficult terrain may be helpful for a highly mobile monk, but you also get a ton of extra move speed from the Monk so there’s little reason to worry about difficult terrain.

Paladin

None of the Genasi’s traits are useful for the Paladin beyond very basic stuff like Darkvision.

Ranger

Very little about the Genasi is useful for the Ranger. The Earth Genasi’s ability to cast Pass Without Trace is nice, but it’s not enough. The Water Genasi has some utility options, but you would do much better as a high elf or a variant human with Magic Initiate.

Rogue

The innate spellcasting might work for an arcane trickster, but it’s really not enough, and you can’t deal Sneak Attack with spells.

Sorcerer

The innate spellcasting is all Constitution-based.

Warlock

The innate spellcasting is all Constitution-based.

Wizard

The innate spellcasting is all Constitution-based.

Classes (Default Rules)

This section assumes that you’re not using the option “Customizing Your Origin” rules presented in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. If you are using those rules, scroll up to the previous section.

Artificer

The Fire Genasi is your best choice. Constitution and Intelligence are great for any artificer build, and Produce Flame for free means that you can spend your limited number of cantrips elsewhere. But keep in mind that Consitution is your spellcasting ability for your innate spellcasting, so you’ll need to increase it if you want Produce Flame to remain reliable.

Barbarian

The Earth Genasi is your best choice. Strength and Constitution are perfect, the ability to ignore some difficult terrain is great for a class so heavily locked into melee combat, and the innate spellcasting can replace the need for a decent Stealth bonus.

Bard

No Charisma increase.

Cleric

The Water Genasi is your best choice. Wisdom is all that you really need, but access to Shape Water is absolutely fantastic, and damage resistance of any kind is always welcome.

Druid

The Water Genasi is your best choice. Wisdom is all that you really need, but Shape Water for free opens up a cantrip slot, and the extra damage resistance is always nice (though it likely doesn’t apply while using Wild Shape).

Fighter

The Earth Genasi is your best choice. Strength and Constitution are perfect, the ability to ignore some difficult terrain is great for melee builds. The innate spellcasting will mathematically offset disadvantage from heavy armor when you need to be sneaky.

Monk

The Air Genasi is your best choice because it’s the only option which gets a Dexterity increase. Unfortunately, the innate spellcasting is garbage. Levitate is neat, but monks thrive in melee, and Levitate doesn’t let you move horizontally unless there’s something to pull yourself along like a wall, so it’s nearly useless in combat.

The Water Genasi gets a Wisdom bonus and better racial traits in general, but Dexterity is more important for the Monk. If you don’t mind lagging offensively, the Water Genasi can still do fine, and the Water Genasi’s innate spellcasting is better than the Air Genasi’s, and you get resistance to acid damage.

Paladin

The Earth Genasi is your best choice. Strength and Constitution are great, and not getting a Charisma increase isn’t a deal breaker. The ability to ignore some difficult terrain is great for melee builds. The innate spellcasting will mathematically offset disadvantage from heavy armor when you need to be sneaky.

Ranger

The Air Genasi is your best choice because it’s the only option which gets a Dexterity increase. Levitate is helpful for ranged builds, especially at low level, but be careful about turning yourself into a low-flying target for everything around which can make a ranged attack.

Rogue

The Air Genasi is your best choice because it’s the only option which gets a Dexterity increase. Levitate is helpful occasionally, but generally you’ll forget about it if you can either fly or climb to wherever you need to go.

Sorcerer

No Charisma increase.

Warlock

No Charisma increase.

Wizard

The Fire Genasi is your best choice. Consitution and Intelligence are great for any wizard build, and Produce Flame for free means that you can spend your limited number of cantrips elsewhere. But keep in mind that Consitution is your spellcasting ability for your innate spellcasting, so you’ll need to increase it if you want Produce Flame to remain reliable.