Tyranny of Dragons
Genasi were human-derived planetouched infused with the power of the Elemental Chaos, most often as the result of crossbreeding between humans and the powerful genie races or other elementals that dwell in such planes. Physically powerful and cunning, genasi were a varied race with abilities that varied depending on their lineage and individual experience.
Genasi were physically similar to humans in many ways, standing between 5’7" and 6’2" on average, just slightly taller than the average human. Weighing between 130 and 225 lbs on average, genasi were often also a fair bit heavier, though not significantly so. In all other ways, genasi were very distinctive from their human cousins. Genasi were in a constant state of elemental energy, having no “neutral” state they could fall back on. Each genasi had a native elemental state, known as a “manifestation,” which was passed down to them through their ancestry. A few learned to master more than one manifestation. Unlike many planetouched races, genasi generally took pride in their unusual features.
Regardless of their elemental manifestation, each genasi’s body was etched with strange lines of energy that glowed in a color associated with the element that the genasi was currently manifesting. These lines, called szuldar in Primordial, appeared in a pattern that was passed along family lines, sometimes extending into small communities as well. Though the patterns could be similar between relatives in a general sense, the specific configurations were unique to each individual and served much the same purpose that fingerprints do amongst humans; the pattern of these lines remained unchanged even when a genasi changed his manifestation.
Because of their roots in the powers of the Elemental Chaos genasi are by nature changeable and contradictory, meaning most generalizations of the race are hard to justify. However, it is probably fair to say that the psychology of a genasi often depends vastly on what elemental manifestation is manifested by the individual in question and many genasi who can manifest in more than one way think of themselves as possessing multiple personalities.
One of the traits found commonly amongst all genasi is a strong sense of ambition. All genasi have a desire to better themselves and advance their status, either through pursuit of power, the acquisition of friends, or other means. Nearly all genasi have dreams and aspirations and will pursue these goals throughout their life and though few genasi are truly patient so strong are their passions for these goals that they will often continue to follow them even long after individuals of other races would have given up and moved on.
Genasi have a strong ability to adapt, perhaps only superseded by humans in this regard, and embrace change as an inevitability or even something to be relished. Even lawful genasi embrace this change, and genasi of all kinds value the possibilities the future may bring, such as new allies or new opportunities. In many ways, genasi are the most flexible of races, less stubborn and more willing to accept new ideas for better or worse.
Though genasi can be extremely passionate in a way that might seem violent the race as a whole has a love for family and friends, to the point that few genasi marriages end in divorce. Most genasi families are immensely large and the genasi as a whole look upon every genasi as a potential relative to the point of referring to those they meet as “brother,” “sister,” or “cousin.”
Just as manifestations are important physically to genasi, so are they important psychologically. Genasi of one elemental manifestation usually have different personality traits than those of another, to the extent that those who manifest in more than one way have what some might see as multiple personalities, each associated with a different manifestation. However, to most genasi the primary manifestation, that which defines their subrace, is the most important and the true “core” of their psyche, upon which they can rely for consistency and personal integrity.
The multiple personalities expressed by those who manifest more than one element are not completely different, in the way that personalities developed by the mentally ill are. Each personality shares the same knowledge and has core traits that remain the same. Rather, each personality is more like a different aspect of the same individual, representing perhaps a particular emotion or mood of the genasi in question. Particular emotions might be stronger in one manifestation, for instance, and secondary manifestations are usually less nuanced than the primary one is.
The exception to this rule are elemental tempests, sometimes known as genasi tempests, who manifest two elements simultaneously. Because of this constant state of balance between two manifestations elemental tempest personalities are generally limited to two, both very strong aspects of the same individual. Such genasi might be called mercurial or bipolar and switch between strong emotions on the fly. However, at the core an elemental tempest is typically as sane and well-balanced as any other genasi, with the main difference being that they have no dominant personality but rather two that work in perfect synchronization.
ORDER AND CHAOS
One of the fundamental conflicts that belies all genasi is the battle between order and chaos. Regardless of the race’s origins most genasi philosophers believe the genasi are meant to serve one force or the other. By nature, genasi are inherently chaotic and passionate creatures who lack the ability to be stoic or truly hide their emotions. Even the most disciplined of the race are extremely passionate by the standards of other races and rage with more anger and cry with more sorrow than those of other races. Even so, genasi are not necessarily chaotic and the race as a whole is balanced between those who serve order and those who serve chaos.
Some genasi strive to conquer their strong passions and believe they were meant by the gods to convert chaos into law. These genasi are among the most lawful beings of the world, first conquering their own emotions and then seek out other sources of chaos to stamp out and replace with order. These genasi seek only to fit in with those around them and to prevent their passions from controlling their actions. Many of these genasi are good and benevolent individuals but these genasi are also sometimes led astray by their obsessive taste for order, imposing law through force rather than example or argument.
Other genasi embrace their wild and unpredictable nature, seeing themselves as chaos incarnate. Just as many genasi of the opposite viewpoint see themselves as agents of divine order these genasi believe they were created by the primordials to spread liberty. Genasi of this mindset most often give free reign to their passions and can be best described as excitable and wildly emotional. But while these genasi can easily give into selfish desire and evil just as many are servants of good, freeing others from oppressive tyranny or weakening the foundations upon which the corrupt stand.
Genasi as a culture, likely due to the inherently chaotic nature of their psyche and bodies alike, have a strong affinity for change and chaos. Many genasi philosophers, recognizing now with the arrival of Abeiran genasi that all of the race have the same origin in crossbreeding, believe that their race was originally created as a compromise between the chaos of the primordials and the divinely crafted world of the gods. A few genasi take this to heart and try to eliminate one or the other aspect of their nature, either becoming agents of chaos or disciples of order, but these individuals are considered the exception rather than the rule. Most genasi are simply grateful for the innate connection to the elemental forces that shaped the world they all share.
Genasi culture is shaped in many ways by ambition and pride amongst the race. Genasi everywhere strive constantly to improve their lot in life and the race is inherently competitive within both itself and with other races. As a result, genasi nations tend to be extremely meritocratic by other races’ standards but lack stability as a consequence. A genasi might be a revered leader one week, only to fall into ruin the next.
This has its advantages though and few, if any, genasi look down upon members of another class since any pauper could, in theory, be king the next time the genasi meets them. Genasi culture likewise has no real concept of nobility or royalty. From a genasi political perspective there are only genasi on the rise and those on the decline. This constantly changing nature means genasi have a very different view of their current situation than most races. Unfortunate genasi find it difficult to feel pessimistic, since they truly believe things will change for the better. Likewise, genasi in positions of prestige and power never forget that all their success could be undone at any moment.
ART & LEISUre
Genasi art is wild and exciting, similar to the race itself. Genasi prefer elaborate and bold designs, using bright and vibrant colors to express the wide range of emotions they feel. Sculptures are often explosive in appearance, resembling surges of power more than anything else. Even for relatively simple or functional items the genasi pour care into giving it a flamboyant appearance, marking it with swirling patterns, gemstones, or elaborate carvings.
Due to the meritocratic nature of genasi society it should come as little surprise that genasi artisans often see their craft as a means of obtaining prestige. These individuals desire nothing more than to be in high demand and so work hard to please their customer base. For this reason many genasi often substitute actual excellence for customization and individuality and while the average genasi swordsmith might not compare with his dwarven counterpart in terms of quality the genasi will work much harder to tailor the blade to his or her customer’s specific needs and wants. This can go so far as to make genasi-crafted items seem uncomfortable or unwieldy in the hands of those they were not intended for.
Genasi love most forms of recreation, particularly competitive ones that allow them to improve their standing amongst other races further. Most genasi prefer recreational activities that are active and physical, allowing them to release their impulses and wilder urges. Physical competitions, particularly those of strength, are common in genasi society and frequently practiced during festivals or other celebrations.
Because of their chaotic and spontaneous nature genasi are not predisposed towards team athletics and prefer sports that favor the individual. Genasi are particularly fond of gladiatorial sports, which allow them to bask in the attention of others while simultaneously releasing pent-up passions. Games that feature genasi are often wild spectacles, loved by crowds.
FAMILY AND MANIFESTATIONS
In genasi culture family plays an important role, likely in part due to the fact that genasi find it difficult to form new friendships and bonds. To most genasi, family bonds are the only ones that are truly reliable and it is far rarer for genasi to become alienated or estranged from members of their family. This is not to say that internal feuds and disputes do not happen, but the vast majority lead to only temporary divides and family members spread over the world will eventually come looking for a reunion.
Most genasi are primarily raised by members of their family that share their primary manifestation. This means that most genasi are raised by their parents, but since some genasi differ in their subrace from their parents they are sometimes raised by others instead or primarily by one parent and the other. However, genasi parents go out of their way to ensure that their children have a chance to interact with genasi of other manifestations, thereby increasing their appreciation for the race as a whole. This is particularly true for families that are made of several manifestations rather than just one or two.
For most genasi, manifestations and the diversity inherent in them are a source of pride and of strength in diversity, though the diversity lies in body and mind rather than culture. Although some manifestations are more common in various regions and hence exhibit cultural differences there are no qualities which could be considered culturally unique to any one manifestation. In spite of this, the genasi consider their manifestation as important an identifier as religion or profession, if not more so.
Because genasi see their manifestations’ diversity as a source of strength the race has an extreme aversion to prejudice against members of one subrace or another. Genasi who are prejudiced on the basis of their manifestation may flare into a dangerous wrath without warning and it is best for members of other races to keep this in mind. Genasi are proud about their manifestation, but also very sensitive, disliking any broad generalizations made in regards to them based on that manifestation.
MAGIC AND RELIGION
Because of their elemental origins genasi usually favor elemental magic over other forms of the Art, which they have a particular skill for given their natural elemental abilities. Of those who practice arcane magic swordmages and wizards are the most common and such individuals usually focus their efforts on researching ways to tie their spells into their manifestations. Though genasi often lack the discipline typical of many wizards they make up for this self-control with a surprising amount of accuracy. For this reason, they also make excellent sorcerers.
Genasi generally favor godlike beings that tie into their natural abilities and portfolio, such as the primordials Akadi, Kossuth, Grumbar, or Istishia. Genasi from Returned Abeir or Akanûl, however, like most former denizens of Abeir, are not so open to the idea of religion, having seen less evidence of it in their former homelands than the natives of Toril have. But those genasi who are religious take comfort in the knowledge that a powerful being takes such strong interest in something that is so integral to the genasi’s very being as the essence of an element such as fire or water.
As a rule, genasi are not as dogmatic as other races and tend to worship less devoutly and more privately. Most religious genasi have small shrines in their homes and worship whenever they feel like it but never otherwise. As such, few genasi are truly attracted to the faiths of lawful gods with their rigid schedules and highly organized churches.
RELATIONS WITH OTHER RACES
Although most genasi are descended from the powerful genie races (most often the dao, djinn, efreet, and marid), most genasi have no contact with their elemental forbears. Usually, genies look down upon genasi as bastard half-breeds and rarely will respond positively to one they meet. However, when amongst the mortals, genasi take great pride in their distinctive features and abilities. By 1479 DR, this relationship has changed, with djinn looking down at Windsouled Genasi as children. The djinn guide them as vizars in ruling Calimport.
Genasi as a whole have no longstanding animosity towards other races, at least not intentionally. Humans of Calimshan however, are often oppressed slaves who must obey the whims of their genasi masters, meaning that though genasi do not necessarily see humans worldwide as an enemy, the antagonism between those within Calimshan is high. However, the genasi of Akanûl are not so cruel and in fact look down upon the slavery of humans. Likewise, though Akanûl shares a fair amount of distrust with the dragonborn land of Tymanther, Calimshan does not. Therefore, it is not accurate to say that the genasi race as a whole regard either dragonborn or humans as their enemies, nor vice versa. In fact, many genasi and humans get along extremely well due to the many psychological similarities between the two races and races that enjoy the company of humans are likely to befriend genasi as well.
Likewise, genasi do not have very many friends, even amongst their own race. Genasi are independent minded as a whole and can be fickle. Many genasi who possess more than one manifestation may even use one manifestation when dealing with one group of friends while using a different manifestation to interact with another set. Others are more picky and choose friends who can cope with their changing nature. Of all the races, probably the Tel-quessir view genasi with the least trust, viewing the genasi’s impulsive nature and strong passions with a little disdain.
The Genasi of Akanûl have a strong dislike for the Dragonborn of Tymanther. Meetings between the two races often end in combat.
Throughout most of Toril ’s history genasi have been extremely rare, similar to devas or tieflings. Genasi were sparsely populated throughout the world and mostly found as the result of a genie’s short dalliance with some mortal human and genasi were nearly as common in one place as they were in another. There were some exceptions, however, and the powerful influence of genies on the nation of Calimshan and the continent of Zakhara meant that genasi were more common in these regions. It was not until recently, however, that the full extent of these populations was truly known.
During the Spellplague and its aftermath the physical presence of the genasi race increased immensely. In Calimshan, populations of genasi that had gone hidden for millennia emerged as the souls of Memnon and Calim were released to war with one another once again. The genasi in Calimshan quickly flew to the sides of their favored leader, leaving Calimshan the barren, war-torn landscape it remains to this day and Calimshan is one of the strongest footholds of the genasi race.
Unlike Toril, Abeir was filled with genasi and when the Spellplague caused the two worlds to briefly exchange landmasses it was inevitable that many genasi would find themselves forcibly relocated to Toril. The largest exchanges of course were those of Returned Abeir and Akanûl. Akanûl in particular remains a genasi stronghold and besides Calimshan is the only nation in Faerûn ruled by the race and unlike the desert land is fairly peaceful in its relations with its neighbors.