Posting over in Twitter about 4e, I happened to recall that 4e genasi had a lot more varieties than 5e genasi do. Their metagame position is also quite different; 4e genasi have unique offensive powers, while 5e genasi have spells that might be offense or utility, and are substantially varied in usefulness. In this post, I’m offering genasi subrace features for storm genasi and corrupted fire, air, water, and earth genasi, which 4e calls cindersoul, voidsoul, causticsoul, and plaguesoul genasi. And, um, causticsoul doesn’t really roll off the tongue, so I’m going with venomsoul. Best subrace name, or best subrace name of all time?
“Storm” or “tempest” – because it readily includes so many elements – is treated as a fully separate element in 4e, including tempest elementals and so on. 5e hasn’t embraced that, but I don’t super care about matching the default 5e cosmology in this blog. Mike Mearls is running Nentir Vale 5e these days, so why shouldn’t you?
- Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 1.
- Lightning Resistance. You have resistance to lightning damage.
- Coruscating Power. As a bonus action, you conjure lightning energy into your hand, a metal melee weapon that you wield, or a ranged weapon that you wield. The next time you deal damage with that weapon, or a lightning or thunder spell, before the beginning of your next turn, you deal 1d8 additional lightning damage. At 11th level, the additional damage increases to 2d8. At 20th level, the additional damage increases to 3d8. You can use this feature once, and regain use of it when you finish a short rest.
It’s… definitely possible that Coruscating Power is too much. I’m going with it for now.
I’m far from the first person to think of converting these, as a casual Google search reveals, so I’m pointedly not reading any of those versions. With only a tiny number of features to use to distinguish my ideas, well, I’m only too likely to come to the same conclusions as those creators, all the more if I read their work.
The 4e concept, in a Dragon Magazine article, is that they’re Abyssal genasi. I’m okay with that, but I’m not sure it speaks to me as much as I’d like. Let’s lean into the Elemental Evils: their spread across the land (or, for non-FR settings, prefiguring their rise someday, maybe a thousand years from now, I don’t know your life) corrupted some existing genasi, as well as whatever secret lineage creates new genasi. (I don’t have a copy of Princes of the Apocalypse… do they do anything with corrupted geniekind, and if not, why?)
What does this origin mean for them as a people? Some of them hope to purify or cut out the corruption that changed them, just as some tieflings reject their diabolic countenances. Others recognize that it is, indeed, nothing more than appearance. With precious little social acceptance in pure or corrupted form, well, what’s the harm? (Possibly your PC is the only member of this subrace in the whole world, or one of a tiny number.)
But I don’t actually want to pawn this off as a strictly cosmetic change. This post would be an awfully long way to go for that, don’t you think? The corruption needs to mean something. Let’s see if I can do something with Hit Dice to represent physical corruption.
Let’s try this: A corrupted Hit Die restores half of (die result + your Constitution modifier) when you expend it during a short rest. You can purify up to one corrupted Hit Die when you finish a long rest. Greater restoration and more powerful spells purify a number of Hit Dice of your choosing, up to your full number of Hit Dice.
When you would expend a corrupted Hit Die, you can instead corrupt and expend a normal Hit Die.
As more of your Hit Dice are corrupted, the more obvious your corrupted nature is.
Cindersoul genasi have a fundamental link to Imix, the evil archomental of Fire. This corruption weaves necrotic power into their flesh – and their fire magic. As you corrupt more of your Hit Dice, fiery cracks appear in your skin. First your irises, and then the whole of your eyes, looks like fire.
- Ability Score Increase. Your Intelligence score increases by 1.
- Cindersoul Resistance. You have resistance to fire damage. As a bonus action, you can expend one corrupted Hit Die to gain resistance to necrotic damage for 1 minute.
- Firedeath. You learn the fire bolt cantrip. You can choose either Constitution or Intelligence as your spellcasting ability for this spell. Further, when you deal fire damage to a creature, you can expend one corrupted Hit Die to deal 1d4 necrotic damage + your current number of corrupted Hit Dice to that creature. You can use this feature up to once per turn.
Plaguesoul genasi have a spiritual connection to Ogrémoch, the evil archomental of Earth. This connection allows them to carry diseases without suffering their effects, and exude toxic vapors to harm nearby enemies. As you corrupt more of your Hit Dice, your complexion comes to look like gray, blighted earth, and your hair and fingernails might fall out.
- Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 1.
- Plaguesoul Resistance. You have resistance to poison damage and advantage on saving throws against the poisoned condition. You can spend one corrupted Hit Die to ignore the effects of a disease for 24 hours.
- Plague Herald. As a bonus action, you can expend one corrupted Hit Die to deal 1d6 poison damage + your current number of corrupted Hit Dice to each creature within 5 feet of you. While you have a disease, add your Constitution modifier to the damage dealt. You can use this feature once, and regain the use of it when you finish a short or long rest.
Venomsoul genasi carry the poison of Olhydra, the evil archomental of Water, in their blood. This toxin also washes away acid and allows them to spit poison. As you corrupt more of your Hit Dice, your lips and tongue blacken, and veins of pulsating green energy appear on your neck, chest, and the backs of your hands.
- Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.
- Venomsoul Resistance. You have resistance to poison damage and advantage on saving throws against the poisoned condition. As a bonus action, you can expend one corrupted Hit Die to gain resistance to acid damage for 1 minute.
- Amphibious. You can breathe air and water.
- Swim. You have a swimming speed of 30 feet.
- Venom Spit. You learn the poison spray cantrip. You can choose Constitution or Wisdom as your spellcasting ability for this spell. When you deal damage with poison spray, you can expend one corrupted Hit Die to deal 1d12 + your current number of corrupted Hit Dice to a creature within 5 feet of the target of your spell.
Voidsoul genasi are connected to Yan-C-Bin, the evil archomental of Air. Yan-C-Bin leaves no breath in these children of his foes, the djinn; the void within these genasi is not just breathlessness but unbeing. As you corrupt more of your Hit Dice, your eyes turn solid black, and your hair changes color (perhaps to white or black – whatever color it normally isn’t). Cracks appear in your skin, such that it seems nothing is holding you together at all.
- Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 1.
- Voidsoul Resistance. You have resistance to psychic damage. As a bonus action, you can expend one corrupted Hit Die to gain resistance to necrotic damage for 1 minute.
- Breathless. You do not need to breathe, and you can survive in hard vacuum.
- The Void Beckons. As a bonus action, you can teleport up to 30 feet to an unoccupied space that you can see. You can expend one corrupted Hit Die to deal thunder damage equal to your Constitution modifier + your current number of corrupted Hit Dice to all creatures within 5 feet of you when you vanish or when you reappear. You can use this feature once, and regain use of it when you finish a short or long rest.
- Nonbeing. When you teleport, you can choose to delay your arrival. You can expend one corrupted Hit Die to delay your arrival by up to 1 minute. You can expend additional Hit Dice to further delay your arrival.
Racial features are hard, y’all, especially with the giant question mark of the cost for corrupted Hit Dice. Maybe they’re a big cost (because your campaign relies heavily on Hit Die healing during short rests), maybe they’re a minor but meaningful cost because you only recover half of your expended HD when you finish a long rest. I could be way, way off here. By comparison, I think the EEPC genasi subraces are uneven – earth and fire the most reliably useful, air and water more corner-case.
Ultimately what I want out of this is for genasi as a whole to enjoy the same surge of popularity that tieflings have had for the last several years, because their look and powers have a lot of appeal.
I don’t know a lot about the archomentals and casual Google searching is not especially helpful, so I’m not making a concerted effort to match their lore. If they can have full careers in Greyhawk before suddenly showing up in FR, then… this’ll have to do.