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DnD 5e - The Genasi Handbook

Last Updated: May 29, 2020

Disclaimer

I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances.
  • Green: Good options.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.

I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can't assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won't cover Unearthed Arcana content because it's not finalized, and I can't guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

Introduction

Genasi have existed for several editions, and they're a fun race which adds an elemental theme to your character. They're descenants 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.

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. Air genasi work for Dexterity-based builds, but their innate spellcasting is extremeley limited. Earth genasi only work for Strength-based melee builds. Fire Genasi only work for Intelligence-based casters. Water genasi only work for Wisdom-based casters (and arguably for monks). Genasi have no decision points beyond their subrace, which means that they have very little flexibility.

Classes

Artificer

The Fire Genasi is your best choice. Consitution and Intelligence are great for any artificer build, and Fire Bolt 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 Fire Bolt 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 Fire Bolt 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 Fire Bolt to remain reliable.