"Genasi are elementals, and all of us are potential sorcerers." -Garel-Kai
Those who think of other planes at all consider them remote, distant realms, but planar influence can be felt throughout the world. It sometimes manifests in beings who, through an accident of birth, carry the power of the planes in their blood. The genasi are one such people, the offspring of genies and mortals. The Elemental Planes are often inhospitable to natives of the Mortal Realm: crushing earth, searing flames, boundless skies, and endless seas make visiting these places dangerous for even a short time.
The powerful genies, however, don’t face such troubles when venturing into the Mortal Realm. They adapt well to the mingled elements of the Mortal Realm, and they sometimes visit - whether of their own volition or compelled by magic. Some genies can adopt mortal guise and travel incognito. During these visits, a mortal might catch a genie’s eye. Friendship forms, romance blooms, and sometimes children result. These children are genasi: individuals with ties to two worlds, yet belonging to neither. Some genasi are born of mortal-genie unions, others have two genasi as parents, and a rare few have a genie further up their family tree, manifesting an elemental heritage that’s lain dormant for generations. Occasionally, genasi result from exposure to a surge of elemental power, through phenomena such as a planar convergence. Elemental energy saturates any creatures in the area and might alter their nature enough that their offspring with other mortals are born as genasi.
Genasi inherit something from both sides of their dual nature. They resemble humans but have unusual skin color (red, green, blue, or gray), and there is something odd about them. The elemental blood flowing through their veins manifests differently in each genasi, often as magical power. Seen in silhouette, a genasi can usually pass for human. Those of earth or water descent tend to be heavier, while those of air or fire tend to be lighter. A given genasi might have some features reminiscent of the mortal parent (pointed ears from an elf, a stockier frame and thick hair from a dwarf, small hands and feet from a halfling, exceedingly large eyes from a gnome, and so on).
Genasi almost never have contact with their elemental parents. Genies seldom have interest in their mortal offspring, seeing them as accidents. Many feel nothing for their genasi children at all. Some genasi live as outcasts, driven into exile for their unsettling appearance and strange magic, or assuming leadership of savage humanoids and weird cults in untamed lands. Others gain positions of great influence, especially where elemental beings are revered. A few genasi leave the Mortal Realm to find refuge in the households of their genie parents.
Genasi rarely lack confidence, seeing themselves as equal to almost any challenge in their path. This certainty might manifest as graceful self-assurance in one genasi and as arrogance in another. Such self-confidence can sometimes blind genasi to risk, and their great plans often get them and others into trouble. Too much failure can chip away at even a genasi’s sense of self, so they constantly push themselves to improve, honing their talents and perfecting their craft.
As rare beings, genasi might go their entire lives without encountering another one of their kind. There are no great genasi cities or empires. Genasi seldom have communities of their own and typically adopt the cultures and societies into which they are born. The more strange their appearance, the harder time they have. Many genasi lose themselves in teeming cities, where their distinctiveness hardly raises an eyebrow in places accustomed to a variety of different people.
Those living on the frontier, though, have a much harder time. People there tend to be less accepting of differences. Sometimes a cold shoulder and a suspicious glare are the best genasi can hope for; in more backward places, they face ostracism and even violence from people who mistake them for fiends. Facing a hard life, these genasi seek isolation in the wilds, making their homes in mountains or forests, near lakes, or underground.
Air genasi are descended from the djinn. As changeable as the weather, their moods shift from calm to wild and violent with little warning, but these storms rarely last long. Air genasi typically have light blue skin, hair, and eyes. A faint but constant breeze accompanies them, tousling the hair and stirring the clothing. Some air genasi speak with breathy voices, marked by a faint echo. A few display odd patterns in their flesh or grow crystals from their scalps. Air genasi are proud of their heritage, sometimes to the point of haughtiness. They can be flamboyant, and are keen to have an audience. They rarely stay in one place for long, always looking for a new sky to see and breathe. Air genasi who don’t live in cities favor open lands such as plains, deserts, and high mountains.
Earth genasi are descended from the cruel and greedy dao, though they aren’t necessarily evil. They have inherited some measure of control over earth, reveling in superior strength and solid power. They tend to avoid rash decisions, pausing long enough to consider their options before taking action. Elemental earth manifests differently from one individual to the next. Some earth genasi always have bits of dust falling from their bodies and mud clinging to their clothes, never getting clean no matter how often they bathe. Others are as shiny and polished as gemstones, with skin tones of deep brown or black, eyes sparkling like agates. Earth genasi can also have smooth metallic flesh, dull iron skin spotted with rust, a pebbled and rough hide, or even a coating of tiny embedded crystals. The most arresting have fissures in their flesh, from which faint light shines. Earth genasi are more withdrawn, and their connection to the earth keeps them from being comfortable in most cities. Their uncommon size and strength makes them natural soldiers, though, and with their stoic demeanor, they can encourage others and become great leaders. Many earth genasi live underground, where they can be in their favored element. When they emerge from their caves, they might roam the hills and mountains or lay claim to old ruins.
Fire genasi have inherited the volatile mood and keen mind of the efreet. They tend toward impatience and making snap judgments. Rather than hide their distinctive appearance, they exult in it. Nearly all fire genasi are feverishly hot as if burning inside, an impression reinforced by flaming red, coalblack, or ash-gray skin tones. The more human-looking have fiery red hair that writhes under extreme emotion, while more exotic specimens sport actual flames dancing on their heads. Fire genasi voices might sound like crackling flames, and their eyes flare when angered. Some are accompanied by the faint scent of brimstone. Fire genasi often get themselves into difficulty with their fiery tempers. Like their air genasi cousins, they sometimes flaunt their perceived superiority over common folk. But they also want others to share their high opinion of themselves, so they constantly seek to enhance their reputations.
The lapping of waves, the spray of sea foam on the wind, the ocean depths - all of these things call to the water genasi’s heart. They wander freely and take pride in their independence, though others might consider them selfish. Most water genasi look as if they just finished bathing, with beads of moisture collecting on their skin and hair. They smell of fresh rain and clean water. Blue or green skin is common, and most have somewhat overly large eyes, blue-black in color. A water genasi’s hair might float freely, swaying and waving as if underwater. Some have voices with undertones reminiscent of whale song or trickling streams. Water genasi almost all have some experience aboard or around sea vessels. They make excellent mariners and fishers. Like earth genasi, though, water genasi prefer quiet and solitude; the wide shores are their natural homes. They go where they want, do what they want, and rarely feel bound to anything.