Dragon 396 - Winning Races: Genasi of Athas

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Dragon 396
Winning Races: Genasi of Athas

by Robert J. Schwalb

After generations of isolation, genasi are once again being met in the Tyr Region.

Talk about this Article here.



Looks neat.

Kinda funny that a good deal of issues in both dark sun and the core setting are results of bad planning on before of both gods and primordials.

also, sandslide should probably say something like you can enter enemies' square and don't provoke OA for moving while in that from.
I really like this, I always wondered how Genasai would turn out in Athas.

A Sun/Ash genasai would be quite interesting with the extra manifestation feat and/or the PP. You'd be both the 'dark and the light'. Or i guess...a Dark Sun Tongue out.

Honestly though, more articles like this, the druid, and the Duergar article are what we need.
This is a really cool article. I like it lots Laughing

It seems odd (especially for the paragon path) that with 'elemental' as a viable keyword (see hierophant druid article) that all these apparently flavored elemental powers don't have it.

Anybody else think that's odd? (Or have I got the wrong end of the stick on the keyword?)

Cheers

Blinkey ;)

(On reflection it occurs to me that 'elemental' is quite probably reserved for stuff that directly links to the elemental chaos which makes sense I guess).
I'll post the same thing here that I posted on CharOp:

Ember-Soul
+1 Reflex is unnecessary and unoriginal. It should have been replaced by something interesting.
I've always had a problem with the wording of saving throw bonuses "against ___", when they should instead be "against effects that cause ___". Saving throws are made against effects. It sounds like a stupid nitpick, but there we go. Either way, only against ongoing fire? Lame. Why not just give them fire resistance?
Ashfall Evasion should allow for any ability score and shouldn't be restricted to only three stats. I thought that they learned their lesson about these in Dark Sun when they introduced themes. Then again, Thri-Kreen still mess this up.
As for the thematic effects of the racial power, meh.

Magma-Soul
+1 Fortitude is unnecessary and unoriginal. It should have been replaced by something interesting.
The other benefit is exclusively useful to melee characters, and that's not good. Genasi are a very special issue because may consider them to be a singular race, such that it's okay for some to be more specialized because those options don't need to be selected if they wouldn't be benefitial, and I can sort of understand that viewpoint, but it's still a shame.
As for Flowing Magma, I've generally been pretty against racial powers that include detriments to their user, and I wouldn't consider this to be one of the exceptions. This is only passable because of the aforementioned little Genasi dilemma, but it would still be better if the excuse didn't need to exist. Also, this still has the problem of being restricted to three ability scores.
And again, as far as thematics go, it's just too complicated for a racial power.

Sand-Soul
No complains here. I actually like this one. No defense bonus, features are reasonably unique and interesting, both mechanically and thematically, and the racial power doesn't try too hard. Great manifestation, definitely one of the better ones in general.

Sun-Soul
Repeat what I said about Ember-Soul with relation to the saving throw bonuses against ongoing damage.
This one does try to be more unique, though, with the cute little temperature and sun sickness things.
Sun Flare still has the three ability score problem, and also apparently missed the memo that accessory-less powers that target a NAD are now supposed to be scaling at a rate of +3 at heroic, +6 at paragon, and +9 at epic.
The racial power here is more thematically interesting than Ashfall Evasion and Flowing Magma, but it's still only so-so.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Pure awesome. Makes me want to immediately make a genasi for my DS campaign. Lots of crunch, lots of great fluff. This is what I expect from the magazines.

Diseases in the compendium and now this article. Feb is making me a happy ddi subscriber.

How about this kind of treatment for runepriests? Or artificers? Please?

Is there anyone else writing for Dragon these days, or has it become the Robert J Schwalb show?  It's not something I've a tremendous objection to, RJS's work is for the most part of good quality, and feels limited more by the WotC policies than his own skill as a writer/games designer.  But some variety in writers might help.

A hint to Wizards: there are plenty of people who'd write for Dragon for no money in exchange for the credit on their CV and the chance to enhance the hobby they love.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
Once again, Schwalb delivers.
Great fluff... not so sure about the mechanics. I always find it a bit of a shame when racial stuff is so dependend on just physical attributes, even more so when it is a racial paragon path. Sure, the PP also includes Intelligence (instead of Dex), but what about Wisdom for druids and shamans? Then again, I am currently playing a swordmage genasi in one non Dark Sun campaign, so I might be biased. At least the PP deals with the implement/weapon issue of the previous genasi racial PPs...
And here, at last, is an awesome article, full of flavour and useful crunch.  This is the sort of thing that should be covered in the digital magazines.

On the subject of the Schwalb show – I love Schwalb's work, so I'm not upset, but I can't help but think that part of the reason the articles are so few and far between (the magazines are a lot smaller these past months) is because it's nearly all R.J. Schwalb. 

More writers could also mean more articles per month.

Before posting, why not ask yourself, What Would Wrecan Say?

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A great man once said "If WotC put out boxes full of free money there'd still be people complaining about how it's folded." – Boraxe

Thinking about it: I have to say I question the wisdom of releasing support material for a race that already has a huge amount of options.  It's cool and flavourful and mostly at least vaguely useful crunch-wise... 

But what about the Thri-kreen with their four (count 'em... FOUR) feats?  What about Changelings, Bladelings (ONE feat), Shardminds, Wilden, a writeup for one of the many MM races that could use PC support, any of the probably half of the total races which are basically un-supported?  Surely some of these (probably the Thri-kreen, since it seems to be Dark Sun month) would have been better to give this sort of space to...
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
I enjoyed the article, but thought the formatting errors with the stat blocks made it seem somewhat rushed.

I'm a fan of Genasi and love to see 'em get some love (and explain how they fit into Athas).  Hopefully more of the Athasian natives will get some love in the future. 
The mechanics, by themselves, weren't world shattering, but the flavor backing them up were fantastic. Plenty of this will be useful outside of dark sun. We've got so much mechanics, I see no issue with a little repetition as long as its backed up by something fun.
I liked this article a lot. The flavor was excellent and really sound. It can be hard to introduce something new to such an established setting. I think the options are mechanically largely sound and interesting.

My only bone to pick was around the wording with the Green Age. It too strongly suggests a diversion between the original AD&D history and current version. A strength of the 4E book is that it avoids saying yay or nay to things like halflings being the original race, Rajaat creating magic and creating the champions, etc. It completely allows for that to still be possible.

The article imposes a particular history on the Green Age that makes it very hard for halflings to have been the sole race during the Blue Age. It actually seems to write off the Blue Age entirely. I do think that the elementals fit best in the Green Age (it was their age of prominence), but it could have been explained as a time when the upheaval of the planet woke them and they fought against those supporting new gods. Athas having never had gods is a staple (though contradicted in some sources) and I liked having that possibility. This article crushes that (unless these are all incorrect rumors, but it wasn't written enough like that). The Green Age and the rise of religion and of elemental religion, both then lost shortly after that, is one of the cool mysteries of the setting and I think there was space to set it up a bit differently and without invalidating what has been done before.

That aside, I liked this. I was very resistant to add Genasi as a player race to the Ashes of Athas campaign because they lacked depth within the setting. I am sure the admins will be taking a close look at this article and seeing how we can best integrate this in the shared campaign...

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i would have liked to have seen teh genasi race get a "stat option" like the base races have received from the essentials line. They gave the option of str,int, or con for some of the racial powers i believe but they didn't give the genasi the stat option at the beginning of the article. (I really want and int/con race please!)
Thinking about it: I have to say I question the wisdom of releasing support material for a race that already has a huge amount of options.  It's cool and flavourful and mostly at least vaguely useful crunch-wise... 

But what about the Thri-kreen with their four (count 'em... FOUR) feats?  What about Changelings, Bladelings (ONE feat), Shardminds, Wilden, a writeup for one of the many MM races that could use PC support, any of the probably half of the total races which are basically un-supported?  Surely some of these (probably the Thri-kreen, since it seems to be Dark Sun month) would have been better to give this sort of space to...

It wouldn't surprise me if this was at one point part of the Dark Sun book, but cut due to space and than expanded for the magazine.

@Alphastream: I always considered it odd they never paid attention to genasi in the Dark Sun book, because as a race it is a natural fit to the setting. Note that the whole reference to the struggle between the gods and the primordials is also litterally stated in the Dark Sun campaign setting and I think I saw references to it in the monster book as well. The role of the genasi in that conflict and their origin is IMO clearly stated as the story told by the ganasi, and as such likely biased.

Thinking about it: I have to say I question the wisdom of releasing support material for a race that already has a huge amount of options.  It's cool and flavourful and mostly at least vaguely useful crunch-wise... 

But what about the Thri-kreen with their four (count 'em... FOUR) feats?  What about Changelings, Bladelings (ONE feat), Shardminds, Wilden, a writeup for one of the many MM races that could use PC support, any of the probably half of the total races which are basically un-supported?  Surely some of these (probably the Thri-kreen, since it seems to be Dark Sun month) would have been better to give this sort of space to...

It wouldn't surprise me if this was at one point part of the Dark Sun book, but cut due to space and than expanded for the magazine.




schwalb says that exactly on his blog



I liked it a lot, now that is Tasty CRUNCHY full of nutriments !!!

I loved the new Elemental Manifestations and hope they won't be strickly accessible through Dark Sun Ruleset.

I didn't see any Prerequisits but this text:
"New elemental manifestations for genasi characters in Athas reflect the dying world’s hostile desert landscape"
Like the Arena fighter or Elemental Shaman it is free to use outside of Dark Sun. Just feel free to alter the text and think about em I guess as destructive genasi as opposed to elemental genasi and dark genasi.
"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move."-Douglas Adams
It wouldn't surprise me if this was at one point part of the Dark Sun book, but cut due to space and than expanded for the magazine.



schwalb says that exactly on his blog





From everything I've read and heard about the DS campaign setting, it seems they created a lot more material than they put in the book. This is great news for Dragon/Dungeon subscribers because we're getting lots of quality material.

I just wish they'd put in the book so it's all in one place. The DS campaign setting is 224 pages and the monster book is 144 pages (total = 368). The FR campaign setting is 288 pages and the FR players book is 160 pages (total = 448).

That shows that could easily have put all this bonus info into the DS books instead of putting it into Dragon/Dungeon.

Don't get me wrong, this is not a major problem for me. At the end of the day I'm happy to get the info either way, it just would have been nice to have it all in one place.
It wouldn't surprise me if this was at one point part of the Dark Sun book, but cut due to space and than expanded for the magazine.



schwalb says that exactly on his blog





From everything I've read and heard about the DS campaign setting, it seems they created a lot more material than they put in the book. This is great news for Dragon/Dungeon subscribers because we're getting lots of quality material.

I just wish they'd put in the book so it's all in one place. The DS campaign setting is 224 pages and the monster book is 144 pages (total = 368). The FR campaign setting is 288 pages and the FR players book is 160 pages (total = 448).

That shows that could easily have put all this bonus info into the DS books instead of putting it into Dragon/Dungeon.

Don't get me wrong, this is not a major problem for me. At the end of the day I'm happy to get the info either way, it just would have been nice to have it all in one place.




he said there is a toooon of psionic power stuff too, like at least one build per class
Gotta love the fact that DDI is now basically composed entirely of sweepings from the cutting room floor...
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
Gotta love the fact that DDI is now basically composed entirely of sweepings from the cutting room floor...


Isn't that what it should be? I mean, the books generally have great stuff. And since not everything gets put in due to size constraints, they might as well put the leftovers in the magazine so it doesn't go to waste.
It should.  It should also have quality original material purpose-written for it.  That's where I'm guessing they're saving right now.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
i would have liked to have seen teh genasi race get a "stat option" like the base races have received from the essentials line. They gave the option of str,int, or con for some of the racial powers i believe but they didn't give the genasi the stat option at the beginning of the article. (I really want and int/con race please!)



Yeah, I was just curious if there were any plans to give Genasi the "essentials treatment", i.e. lock one stat and give them a floater for the second.  Originally, I didn't think it was going to happen, since they were a Forgotten Realms race, but then Drow were in Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms, and they just came out with this article about Genasi in Dark Sun.

In addition, I noticed that the powers for the Desert's Voice Paragon Path (in this article) has powers that attack with Strength, Constitution, or Intelligence.  Is it possible we'll see Con as a swing stat for Genasi?  Int as the lock and Str/Con as the floater would allow them to be exceptional Swordmages, regardless of which spec they choose, and we'd finally have a Con/Int player option.

On that subject....wouldn't the final version of this article be a GREAT place to introduce this?

Uh....yeah.  Okay, so I was looking over Genasi stuff, and I just noticed something kinda stupid.  The level 16 passive for Desert's Voice (among other things) makes the Windwalker power at-will.  As a reminder, the Windwalker power is a move action, Fly 8, and if you don't end on the ground, you float down.  Okay, no problem so far.  Then you look at the feat from Dragon #391

Swift Winds
Prerequisite: Genasi, windwalker racial power
Benefit: When you use windwalker, your flying does not provoke opportunity attacks.

So now you're saying I get an at-will move action to fly 8 squares with no OAs?  Jebus.  Yes please?
So now you're saying I get an at-will move action to fly 8 squares with no OAs?  Jebus.  Yes please?



Definitely strong - but on the other hand, the Windwalker is probably one of the weaker genasi options (getting a racial utility power, essentially, instead of a racial attack power, as well as one less racial feature - just resistance, instead of resistance and a bonus to saves like some of the others get).

It seems an effective option for a paragon path as you close in on epic, but I don't think it is broken by any means.
Any at-will move that doesn't provoke is powerful in the right hands.  An at-will FLY that doesn't provoke is even more so.

Basically, no-one can stop a Genasi Windsoul charging without at least immobilising them.  Prone wouldn't work, because of Agile Recovery - though prone doesn't work on a well-prepared PC anyway, because agile recovery+spring step lets you shift as a minor.

It's not much on some overpowered options, but I wouldn't like to oppose a Genasi charger build with it.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
@Alphastream: I always considered it odd they never paid attention to genasi in the Dark Sun book, because as a race it is a natural fit to the setting. Note that the whole reference to the struggle between the gods and the primordials is also litterally stated in the Dark Sun campaign setting and I think I saw references to it in the monster book as well. The role of the genasi in that conflict and their origin is IMO clearly stated as the story told by the ganasi, and as such likely biased.


It looks to me like early on they made the decision to try to not contradict canon. Wherever they found a link they put it in, wherever it was a stretch, they left it as optional. The exception is really Tieflings, and that may be because timing-wise the Tiefling book was coming out.

The campaign setting does mention the primal-god war, but it does so as "Long ago when the planet was green". That didn't have to mean the Green age. It could have been before the Blue age, for example. It also says, "In the absence of divine influence, other powers have come to prominence". This is suggestive of the primal war being early, then the nature-mastery of the Blue age, then psionics and magic, etc. It all could of worked.

Yeah, I understand it is all under "Genasi Legends" as a header, but it is actually about as defined an Athasian history as we have in 4E. I really liked how the 4E set allows for the old reality to work but doesn't bring it forth. I mean, many of us read that part in the Pentad books and our jaws dropped... this is really the history? It is ok to allow for other realities and I thought they did a nice job with that.

Gods on Athas was always a contradictory bit. You had ancient temples created to gods, but little detail as to why and what they once meant. For players, that mystery was golden. You had some AD&D statements in DM material that both suggested having had gods and then some planar DM info that said you never had gods. I don't think the setting needed to bring in the Dawn War concept (which the 4E book does do, sadly), but at least the 4E book could coexist with the available history.

Anyway, I'm grognarding and will stop. In my day, the sand dunes were uphill, both ways.

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Gotta love the fact that DDI is now basically composed entirely of sweepings from the cutting room floor...



"Fact", really? Really?

Speaking for myself, Craig Campbell, author of Creature Incarnations: Duergar this month, I say, phbbbbbbbt.

There's plenty of original material (not from WoTC's cutting room floor) in the magazines nowadays. And it is my understanding and expectation, from a freelancer's standpoint, that this trend will continue.

By my count, there are a good 10-12 articles since the beginning of the year that are NOT leftovers from WoTC's in-house people. Maybe a few of these contain content that was cut from WoTC books. Even if this is the case, there's PLENTY that is authored by people outside of the WoTC in-house umbrella.

Hyperbole is no one's friend. Please refrain from making blanket statements about the content of the magazines that leave us freelancers in the dirt.

Craig Campbell

I knew that Mr. Campbell. I knew, and I appreciate that you and other freelancers are working so hard. Thank you.

And I'm not just brown-nosing. 
Very well.  Dragon magazine then ;)  And yes, hyperbole for sarcastic effect.  Perhaps mostly would have been a better choice of words than entirely.  For that, I do apologise.

But when the magazine seems to be the avenue of choice for delivery of cancelled or cut book material, what else am I supposed to think?  And this is looking more forward than back.  It seems an open secret that the material from Mordenkainen, Sword & Spell etc is to be released in Dragon.

I feel for the freelancers.  I want to see more of their work.  That's why I'm a bit miffed that there are so few of them apparently working for DDI at the moment.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
I like the use of cut material. According to RJS, he took what he had and rewrote it. In a big project you will often have a lot of unused ideas. For example, from my last authoring bit I have two monsters I made (both spiders) that were once envisioned as monsters but I changed it to a skill challenge to keep it flowing quickly. Those monsters are still cool and worth sharing (which I need to do).

This is a really quality article. It isn't trash being thrown up to fill a hole. It is a legitimate use of something that didn't fit a book. There is a big difference between:

A) Remember that awesome idea we had for Genasi but couldn't fit it in?
B) Need to fill this space. Man, just throw in that bad xyz idea we had.

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It matters not whether they come from stuff that couldn't fit in a book that was put out or not.

Good articles are good articles.
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So now you're saying I get an at-will move action to fly 8 squares with no OAs?  Jebus.  Yes please?


Definitely strong - but on the other hand, the Windwalker is probably one of the weaker genasi options (getting a racial utility power, essentially, instead of a racial attack power, as well as one less racial feature - just resistance, instead of resistance and a bonus to saves like some of the others get).

It seems an effective option for a paragon path as you close in on epic, but I don't think it is broken by any means.

still missing something here, oh yeah, an at-will racial with these 2 feats :

  from dragon 367


 

Primordial
Surge [Genasi]




Whenever
you successfully use a genasi racial power, you gain temporary hit
points equal to 5 + your Strength, Constitution, or Dexterity
modifier


and from primal power :




Manifest Healing [Genasi]




When you use a genasi racial power. you gain 5 temporary hit points. the
temporary hit points increase to 10 at 11th level and 15 at 21th
level. if you have you have 2 or more elemental manifestations the
temporary hit points increase by 5


okay so you get this EVERY turn that you move right? thats a bit unbalanced in my
mind.....



 




So now you're saying I get an at-will move action to fly 8 squares with no OAs?  Jebus.  Yes please?


Definitely strong - but on the other hand, the Windwalker is probably one of the weaker genasi options (getting a racial utility power, essentially, instead of a racial attack power, as well as one less racial feature - just resistance, instead of resistance and a bonus to saves like some of the others get).


It seems an effective option for a paragon path as you close in on epic, but I don't think it is broken by any means.



still missing something here, oh yeah, an at-will racial with these 2 feats :


  from dragon 367



Primordial Surge [Genasi]



 


Whenever you successfully use a genasi racial power, you gain temporary hit points equal to 5 + your Strength, Constitution, or Dexterity modifier

and from primal power :

MANIFEST HEALJNG

When you use a genasi racial power. you gain 5 temporary hit points. the temporary hit points increase to 10 at 11th level and 15 at 21th level. if you have you have 2 or more elemental manifestations the temporary hit points increase by 5



okay so you get this EVERY turn that you move right?  thats a bit unbalanced in my mind..... 







Those feats are going to errataed, you just know it.
 


  from dragon 367



Primordial Surge [Genasi]



 


Whenever you successfully use a genasi racial power, you gain temporary hit points equal to 5 + your Strength, Constitution, or Dexterity modifier

and from primal power :

MANIFEST HEALJNG

When you use a genasi racial power. you gain 5 temporary hit points. the temporary hit points increase to 10 at 11th level and 15 at 21th level. if you have you have 2 or more elemental manifestations the temporary hit points increase by 5





Those feats are going to errataed, you just know it.


Unlikely. It's always been a red flag when something at encounter frequency (such as a half-elf's Dilettante power, or an eladrin's fey step) gets turned into at-will.  Sometimes, that's ok. The Dilettante power began as at-will, so it only gets broken when enhanced with other feats or powers. Other times, it is too much. For example, Fey Charge + Eladrin Swordmage Advance gave out a ton of extra MBAs before the errata.

The only way to keep those effects near the same level of power is to do the clunky "Once per encounter, when you x..." which is redundant without one of those feats, and can weaken effects that had ways of recharging without becoming at-will. For example, a few genasi paragon paths recharge your racial power, which previously allowed those feats to trigger twice. If you make them explicitly once per encounter, those effects no longer help.


Primordial Surge [Genasi]
Manifest Healing [Genasi]



Well, the two wouldn't stack - but yeah, I admit that Manifest Healing granting you 15-20 temps a turn is very, very powerful. I doubt the feats will get erratad, but given this interaction, it may be correct that the article might.

The racial powers use Str, Con, or Dex. This is an inconvenient mechanic and devoid of flavor.

All racial powers everywhere should use "your highest ability score" so any character of that race can enjoy them regardless of the class they choose.

If not that, then the racial powers should use the racial ability scores to preserve racial flavor. In this case, the Genasi racial powers should use the Genasi racial abilities: Strength or Intelligence. This encourages strong andor intelligent Genasi flavor.

But really, except when it is vital to not do so, just make racial powers use "your highest" as the default mechanic.

Some of the genasi racial features are pretty horrid.

+ to save against specific types of ongoing damage?  + to escape grapples?  Really?

Mechanically some of the new racial powers are underwhelming compared to some of the other genasi sub-races (although very cool thematically). 
It looks like this article was updated too.  I noticed that the saving throw bonus for the embersoul and sunsoul genasi increased to +4 and the Flow Like Sand feat was changed.
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