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Thread: Genasi Rework

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    Default Genasi Rework

    I am a huge fan of the genasi (and planetouched in general) and was very excited that they were included in the very first supplementary material for 5th editions. However, their implementation suffered from a lack of experience and a lack of playtesting, leaving them underwhelming in my eyes. The easiest comparison to make is with the fire genasi, the poor man's tiefling. Arguably the best of the options is the earth genasi, because pass without trace is such a powerhouse, but they are incredibly bland.

    The main draw for the original implementation of these races seemed to be the strong spellcasting, so my redesign focusses on keeping that as the core of each subrace. To that end, every genasi is now able to cast their main spell on a short rest, and will have an expanded set of options. In addition each subrace has one or two small traits which allude to their elemental origins. Changes marked in red.

    Genasi


    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.
    Subraces. Four major subraces of genasi are found among the worlds of D&D: air genasi, earth genasi, fire genasi, and water genasi. Choose one of these subraces.

    Air Genasi
    Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 1.
    Air Dancer. You add 10 feet to your long jump distance and 5 feet to your high jump distance.
    Lightning Resistance. You have resistance to lightning damage.

    Mingle with the Wind. You can cast levitate once with this trait and regain the ability to cast it this way when you finish a short or long rest. Constitution is your spellcasting ability for this spell, and it doesn't require material components when you cast it with this trait.
    Unending Breath. You can hold your breath indefinitely while youíre not incapacitated.
    Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Auran.
    Spoiler: Notes
    Show
    With the official air genasi, once you cast levitate you essentially have no racial traits. I add air dancer to provide some enhanced maneuverabilty, and lightning resistance to round them out.

    Earth Genasi
    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 earth tremor as a 2nd-level spell once with this trait and regain the ability to cast it this way when you finish a short or long rest. Constitution is your spellcasting ability for this spell, and it doesn't require material components when you cast it with this trait.
    Poison Resistance. You have resistance to poison damage.
    Sure-Footed. You have advantage on Strength and Dexterity saving throws made against effects that would knock you prone.

    Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Terran.
    Spoiler: Notes
    Show
    While pass without trace is powerful, I don't really get how it supports the "rock person" theme. I change it out for earth tremor at 2nd-level, which has a very satisfying "built like a brick house" vibe to it. I also give them sure-footed to model after their Dao ancestor, and poison resistance to round them out.

    Fire Genasi
    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 and can cast pyrotechnics once with this trait and you regain the ability to cast it this way when you finish a short or long rest. Constitution is your spellcasting ability for this spell, and it doesn't require material components when you cast it with this trait.
    Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Ignan.
    Spoiler: Notes
    Show
    In order to free up design space, I had to sacrifice the darkvision. I definitely wanted to take the race away from the boring "pyro blaster" idea, so I gave them a spell with more battlefield control uses. They are supposed to be clever, after all.

    Water Genasi
    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 can cast blur once with this trait and you regain the ability to cast it this way when you finish a short or long rest. Constitution is your spellcasting ability for this spell, and it doesn't require material components when you cast it with this trait.
    Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Aquan.
    Spoiler: Notes
    Show
    Official water genasi have the worst set of spells, hands-down. I struggled to find a 2nd-level spell which held to the water theme, so I had to stretch it a little and go for blur (think "making your image ripple in the air").
    Last edited by thoroughlyS; 2021-04-22 at 06:59 PM.
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    Default Re: Genasi Rework

    I removed the fire genasi's darkvision and re-added produce flame. It makes them the most innately magical of the bunch and enables better use of pyrotechnics, while still keeping them in line with the other options. I envision this version of the fire genasi to be like a fire bender from the Avatar universe, able to generate and manipulate fire but with no special resistance to it.
    Last edited by thoroughlyS; 2021-04-15 at 04:10 PM.
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    Default Re: Genasi Rework

    I changed the earth genasi's spell to earth tremor at 2nd-level. I'm not exactly happy that this breaks the pattern, but it is the most thematically cohesive spell.
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    Default Re: Genasi Rework

    Overall I think this is great! My only gripe is that air and fire genasi get very versatile spells that work in and out of combat, while earth and water genasi get strictly combat spells.

    Whenever I (re)design a race, I try to remind myself that 99% of these people aren't adventurers. They're shoemakers, turnip farmers, roof shinglers and librarians. And even among the adventurers, there are spies, diplomats, and explorers. Earth and water genasi are at a disadvantage trying to play that way.

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    Default Re: Genasi Rework

    I can appreciate that viewpoint, but my specific design decision to rely on the spells of 5E has kind of tied my hands. There really weren't that many good choices for earth and water.
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    Default Re: Genasi Rework

    Quote Originally Posted by thoroughlyS View Post
    I can appreciate that viewpoint, but my specific design decision to rely on the spells of 5E has kind of tied my hands. There really weren't that many good choices for earth and water.
    You're willing to give 2nd level spells to new characters. How about some of the weaker 3rd level spells, or a 3rd level spell with a limiting clause?

    Earth genasi could get Meld Into Stone

    Water genasi could get Water Walk

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    Default Re: Genasi Rework

    You could probably still fit the damage resistances. Tieflings for example get their casting, resistance and darkvision plus standard ASIs and they aren't up there with some of the more packed races like say Dwarves, Elves and Halflings.
    Last edited by Kane0; 2021-04-19 at 11:41 PM.

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    Default Re: Genasi Rework

    Quote Originally Posted by GalacticAxekick View Post
    You're willing to give 2nd level spells to new characters. How about some of the weaker 3rd level spells, or a 3rd level spell with a limiting clause?

    Earth genasi could get Meld Into Stone

    Water genasi could get Water Walk
    I can agree that meld into stone is thematically appropriate, but what is it even good for? You can get a nice hiding space once a rest if you happen to be in a stone building or cave? And water walk is similarly situational. I think levitate and pyrotechnics are great because they can be used in a variety of ways. And even if earth tremor and blur are only useful in combat, at least that is an element of the game which is likely to come up often.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kane0 View Post
    You could probably still fit the damage resistances. Tieflings for example get their casting, resistance and darkvision plus standard ASIs and they aren't up there with some of the more packed races like say Dwarves, Elves and Halflings.
    I can see the argument for that. You could give them lightning, poison, fire, and acid resistance, respectively.
    Last edited by thoroughlyS; 2021-04-22 at 06:59 PM.
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    Default Re: Genasi Rework

    After tooling around with the races allowed at my table, I have come to the decision that getting the 2nd-level spells at 1st level (as opposed to later, like other races do) doesn't make the feature inherently worth more. As such, I now fully agree that genasi can get the damage resistances.
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    Default Re: Genasi Rework

    I have one minor idea: the "Sure-Footed" trait on the Earth Genasi might be more flavorful if it only applied while they were touching the ground. Up to you though!

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    Default Re: Genasi Rework

    I just copy-pasted it from the Dao. I can see the argument for it, but that's a pretty narrow corner case. How often are you making saves against being knocked prone in the air?
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    Default Re: Genasi Rework

    Any time you're flying or swimming, at least. Knocking a flying target prone is a pretty good counter to flight after all.

    But yeah, taking it from the Dao is fair. I think I'd be okay with either way. It makes sense for them to have the same trait as the Dao, but I could also see it making sense for them to have a slightly weaker one since they're only part genie. Up to you!

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    Default Re: Genasi Rework

    Quote Originally Posted by BenevolentEvil View Post
    Any time you're flying or swimming, at least. Knocking a flying target prone is a pretty good counter to flight after all.
    Yes, I'm aware. I mean, how often does that situation actually come up at your table? How often are enemies tripping your flying character? More than once a campaign?
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    Default Re: Genasi Rework

    Tripping is a silly suggestion, of course. Flying characters might be knocked prone by spells or monster abilities, though. If your players are flying around and you're never trying to knock them prone, you're letting them off easy and making flying stronger than it should be. It's a natural balancing factor: the more out of range from the ground the flier gets, the more fall damage they will take when knocked prone.

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    Default Re: Genasi Rework

    Quote Originally Posted by thoroughlyS View Post
    Yes, I'm aware. I mean, how often does that situation actually come up at your table? How often are enemies tripping your flying character? More than once a campaign?
    Every time a player picks Aarakocra at my table, and every time a player learns Fly, this becomes every enemy's go-to strategy. Enemies will attempt it two or three times in one encounter, let alone once a campaign.

    That said, having a race feature that only matters IF you gain access to a certain spell is a waste of design space.

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    Default Re: Genasi Rework

    Quote Originally Posted by BenevolentEvil View Post
    Tripping is a silly suggestion, of course. Flying characters might be knocked prone by spells or monster abilities, though. If your players are flying around and you're never trying to knock them prone, you're letting them off easy and making flying stronger than it should be. It's a natural balancing factor: the more out of range from the ground the flier gets, the more fall damage they will take when knocked prone.
    I'm not meaning to be silly. If a flying character gets tripped, they fall out of the air. I was just asking how often do your flying characters come into contact with other creatures that can get in range to knock them prone?
    Quote Originally Posted by GalacticAxekick View Post
    Every time a player picks Aarakocra at my table, and every time a player learns Fly, this becomes every enemy's go-to strategy. Enemies will attempt it two or three times in one encounter, let alone once a campaign.

    That said, having a race feature that only matters IF you gain access to a certain spell is a waste of design space.
    How are the majority of enemies accomplishing that? Most statblocks barely have a ranged attack, so I'm unsure how they are managing to knock a flying creature prone, unless they are also flying? And yeah, the feature is advantage on check and saves to be knocked prone or moved. The suggestion was to only make it work on the ground (for thematic reasons). So it would technically be a racial ability that only applies when not using a certain spell.
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    Quote Originally Posted by thoroughlyS View Post
    How are the majority of enemies accomplishing that? Most statblocks barely have a ranged attack, so I'm unsure how they are managing to knock a flying creature prone, unless they are also flying? And yeah, the feature is advantage on check and saves to be knocked prone or moved. The suggestion was to only make it work on the ground (for thematic reasons). So it would technically be a racial ability that only applies when not using a certain spell.
    I've literally never taken a statblock from the sourcebooks and dropped in my games unchanged. 80% of the official monster stats are almost featureless, and it's the DM's job to colour them with features.

    One campaign, I gave all the goblin raiders lassos and bolas (homebrewed weapons) to kidnap slaves. Those bolas were perfect to restrain the sorcerer as soon as he chose to cast Fly.

    One campaign, I decided that every time you were hit by a giant, you had to make a Strength saving throw. On a failed save, you were pushed 10 feet away and knocked prone. Wizard got swatted like a bug.

    One campaign, I gave an assassin a feature called Maim: whenever he scored a critical hit, he could choose not to deal additional damage, and instead inflict a status condition (Blinded, Deafened, Prone or unable to speak) that lasts until his attack's damage was healed. Knocked a flying Aarakocra player prone with a blowdart.

    One campaign, I pitted the players against a time-travelling monk named Loophole (long story). Loophole's signature move was going back in time to be his own backup, and in one particularly heated encounter, a whole gang of Loopholes appeared to form a 60 ft tall human ladder, allowing the Loophole on top to punch the warlock and deliver a Stunning Strike.
    Last edited by GalacticAxekick; 2021-04-25 at 02:18 AM.

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    Default Re: Genasi Rework

    Oh, gotcha. I respect that philosophy of encounter design, but I also recognize that the minority of DMs use it.
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    Default Re: Genasi Rework

    Quote Originally Posted by GalacticAxekick View Post
    One campaign, I pitted the players against a time-travelling monk named Loophole (long story). Loophole's signature move was going back in time to be his own backup, and in one particularly heated encounter, a whole gang of Loopholes appeared to form a 60 ft tall human ladder, allowing the Loophole on top to punch the warlock and deliver a Stunning Strike.
    So you could only defeat your players with Loophole abuse?
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    Default Re: Genasi Rework

    Quote Originally Posted by thoroughlyS View Post
    I am a huge fan of the genasi (and planetouched in general) and was very excited that they were included in the very first supplementary material for 5th editions.
    I like 'em a lot too, was greatly dismayed by what we got. So this subject interests me.

    Air Genasi
    Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 1.
    Air Dancer. You add 10 feet to your long jump distance and 5 feet to your high jump distance.
    Lightning Resistance. You have resistance to lightning damage.

    Mingle with the Wind. You can cast levitate once with this trait and regain the ability to cast it this way when you finish a short or long rest. Constitution is your spellcasting ability for this spell, and it doesn't require material components when you cast it with this trait.
    Unending Breath. You can hold your breath indefinitely while youíre not incapacitated.
    Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Auran.
    Spoiler: Notes
    Show
    With the official air genasi, once you cast levitate you essentially have no racial traits. I add air dancer to provide some enhanced maneuverabilty, and lightning resistance to round them out.
    The fact that the spell is save-based, and that your save is Constitution based, is a real setback here. Lightning is also a less valuable resistance than some of the others on offer (Fire/Poison are much more common damage types from monsters).

    Seems pretty weak.

    Earth Genasi
    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 earth tremor as a 2nd-level spell once with this trait and regain the ability to cast it this way when you finish a short or long rest. Constitution is your spellcasting ability for this spell, and it doesn't require material components when you cast it with this trait.
    Poison Resistance. You have resistance to poison damage.
    Sure-Footed. You have advantage on Strength and Dexterity saving throws made against effects that would knock you prone.

    Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Terran.
    Spoiler: Notes
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    While pass without trace is powerful, I don't really get how it supports the "rock person" theme. I change it out for earth tremor at 2nd-level, which has a very satisfying "built like a brick house" vibe to it. I also give them sure-footed to model after their Dao ancestor, and poison resistance to round them out.
    Not only is this save-based (bad since Constitution is never your primary stat), but it's a non-scaling direct damage spell that takes an Action. Remember, a Dragonborn's breath weapon is on a short rest too, doesn't mean that optimizers are going to take 'em any time soon for that feature.

    Fire Genasi
    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 and can cast pyrotechnics once with this trait and you regain the ability to cast it this way when you finish a short or long rest. Constitution is your spellcasting ability for this spell, and it doesn't require material components when you cast it with this trait.
    Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Ignan.
    Spoiler: Notes
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    In order to free up design space, I had to sacrifice the darkvision. I definitely wanted to take the race away from the boring "pyro blaster" idea, so I gave them a spell with more battlefield control uses. They are supposed to be clever, after all.
    This one is considerably stronger than the first two because Pyrotechnics is a good spell that doesn't care about how high your Constitution is, and remains relevant at all levels of play (e.g. I still cast Pyrotechnics when I'm level 20).

    Water Genasi
    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 can cast blur once with this trait and you regain the ability to cast it this way when you finish a short or long rest. Constitution is your spellcasting ability for this spell, and it doesn't require material components when you cast it with this trait.
    Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Aquan.
    Spoiler: Notes
    Show
    Official water genasi have the worst set of spells, hands-down. I struggled to find a 2nd-level spell which held to the water theme, so I had to stretch it a little and go for blur (think "making your image ripple in the air").
    This is also considerably stronger than the first two, because Blur is a very nice thing to get on some non-casters, and scales to all levels, and doesn't care about your casting stat.

    Disappointing not to have Shape Water, since that cantrip's a lot of fun.




    Altogether it doesn't seem like these are balanced against each other. Those spells might all be 2nd level but they have very different practical value because of their context. With few exceptions, low level direct damage spells that take an Action tend to lose relevance at higher levels (unlike things like say, Darkness/Hellish Rebuke, which is why Tieflings get those and are fine), and anything save-based is going to have diminishing value if it's attached to a secondary/tertiary stat. Whereas things like Pyrotechnics and Blur are valuable cross-class picks that remain relevant forever and don't care (much) about your casting stat. Likewise, Poison and Fire Resistance are (usually) more valuable than the other Resistances offered.
    Last edited by LudicSavant; 2021-04-27 at 10:31 PM.
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