In part 1 we gave a definition of a tattoo, examined how different classes might use tattoos, looked at monster markings and tattoos, as w ell as  tattoo power levels. In part 2 we talked about how magic tattoos and other items might interact, magic tattoo removal, how religion and different sects of society might react to the tattoos, activating & advancing magic tattoos, creating new tattoos, and cursed tattoos. This time we’ll discuss tattoo rarity, spell level, & character levels, tattoo suggestions, and tattoos & PC races.

Tattoo Rarity, Spell Level, & Character Levels

Giving out tattoos is not an exact science. You need to know what your characters are capable of and what types of powers are inappropriate for your world. However, some general guidelines are as follows:

  • [Common] tattoos are cantrips or 1st level spells, racial abilities, such as the dwarf’s “stonework” ability or or single use abilities. These are appropriate for characters level 2+
  • [Uncommon] tattoos may contain 2nd – 3rd level spells, or limited uses of 5th level class abilities. These tattoos are appropriate for characters level 6+.
  • [Rare] tattoos may contain 4rd or 5th level spells or limited uses of 9th level class abilities. These tattoos are appropriate for characters level 10+.
  • [Very rare] tattoos may contain 6th or 7th level spells or limited uses of 13th level class abilities. These tattoos are appropriate for characters level 14+
  • [Legendary] tattoos may contain 8th or 9th level spells or use of class abilities up to 15th level. They are appropriate for characters level 18+.

Tattoo Suggestions

Even though tattoos don’t necessarily have to be obvious for the magic they represent, some thematically appropriate tattoos might be as follows:

  • For tattoos that give elemental powers, you might want to have the tattoo look like the element in question, e.g.
    • Fire magic might look like a fireball or an explosion, or maybe a fiery comet. Conversely, if it’s an ability like “heat metal,” an anvil might be shown. When activated the character might dimly glow a red color. The more powerful the magic the more visible the glow.
    • Ice magic could look like a snowflake or icicles. Water magic would appear as a wave or a drop of water. In either of these cases, the person activating the tattoo might be cold, wet, or both.
    • Earth magic might appear as a stylized mountain or boulder. They might activate the power with a stance of immovability
    • Conceivably, Air based magic could appear as a cloud, lighting bolt or a swirling lines representing the wind
    • Conversely, any of these might be exchanged by the symbol of a dragon or dragonhead of the appropriate color.
  • For tattoos that represent more obscure powers
    • Holy powers (e.g. radiant) might be represented by the sun or a tattooed holy symbol of their faith with an aura around it. When activated, the  character could glow a holy light. The aforementioned light would do nothing mechanically, however.
    • Evil powers (e.g. necrotic) could be represented by a black splotch, black cat, a “yin” symbol, a skull, or other symbol thought of as evil in your world. The character exhibiting such power might have a purply-black aura.
    • Plant based powers powers might show up as a thorns or a shambling mound.
    • Dimension door might look like a portal
    • Perhaps the ‘Knock’ spell might show up as an open padlock.
  • Instead of pictograms, the tattoo might be made of Draconic, Infernal, in the case of a warlock’s pact. On the other hand they might be complex patterns from a lost language. Finally, they might be written in a common tongue like Dwarven, Elven, or celestial.

Tattoos & Player Races

Classes aren’t the only consideration when it comes to tattoos. First, when choosing their character’s race, it’s useful to think about how they might choose tattoos. Next, keep in mind, when looking at the possible spell lists below, keep in mind the level of the characters, as well as the power increase to the character(s). An additional issue to note is the rarity or commonness of the tattoo. Finally, the game’s plot needs to be considered. A political game set mainly in wealthy nobles will need drastically different skills and abilities than a game that has vampires or Cthulhu as its final boss.

In addition to discussing races, we’ll also be looking at classes that might be thematically appropriate (whether based in having tattoos or not) for the races. One such class might be the Rune scarred barbarian

Note: on the spell & ability list, if not listed otherwise, the spells listed are from the sorcerer, bard, and wizard spell lists.

Aarakocra & Kenku

Because of their feathered nature, both Aarakocra and Kenku have a difficult time being tattooed. The only way of doing so would be to  pluck their plumage first. They could be pierced, scarred, or have different feather patterns instead. Maybe the markings they get enhance their avian nature.

Because Aarakocra enjoy open skies, and feels claustrophobic in underground areas, the specific type they favor would have entail freedom and movement. The effects of such markings and the like might be:

  • Freedom of movement (4th Level)
  • Ghost form: subject becomes insubstantial and passes through solid objects [legendary]
  • Shadow walk (subject can travel through shadows) (14th level ability)
  • Etherealness (4th level)
  • Dimension door (4th level)

Kenku, on the other hand, would want markings that would help them to fly (3rd level for the spell,  5 or 6 for the tattoo) or break the curse of mimicry (5th or 6th, as it’s a racial curse). If used as a “always on” type of a marking, without the need for concentration it, the two combined might be legendary.

Aasimar, Tieflings, Genasi, & Dragonborn


Aasimar are half-celestial, and as such they often are good natured. The tattoos they choose will often enhance their divine birthright. Such tattoos might replicate the following spells:

  • Blinding Smite [Paladin] (3rd level)
  • Crusader’s Mantle [Paladin] (3rd level)
  • Eagle’s Splendor: Increase Charisma of 1d4+1  (3rd level)
  • Guiding Bolt (1st level)
  • Light (2nd Level)
  • Moonbeam (2nd level)
  • Sacred Flame [Cleric] (cantrip)
  • Spirit Guardians (level 3)
  • Spirit Weapon (level 2)
  • Sunbeam (level 6)
  • Sunburst (level 8)

If you’re an Aasimar and a barbarian, you might find this primal path appropriate.

Tieflings & Fallen Aasimar

Tieflings, and fallen Aasimar on the other hand, even if they are good are seen as evil due to their quasi-demonic herritage. If they want to double down on necrotic damage, the following tattoos that replicate the following spells are appropriate:

  • Abi-Dalzim’s Horrid Wilting (8th level)
  • Arms of Hadar (1st level)
  • Blight (4th level)
  • Chill Touch (cantrip)
  • Circle of Death (6th level)
  • Darkness (2nd level)
  • Hex (1st level)
  • Inflict Wounds [Cleric] (1st level)
  • Sickening Radiance (4th level)
  • Vampiric Touch (3rd level)

Genasi & Dragonborn

Genasi are half elementals.  The types of tattoos they would choose to be marked with or seek out would be based on a combination of their heritage, location, and class. If however, they wish to harmonize with their existing powers, there are a several spell-like abilities that would be useful. Similarly, dragonborn of the same powers can do likewise.

Fire Genasi, & Red, Bronze, Gold Dragonborn

Fire Genasi have an affinity for fire. Tattoos that replicate the following spells may be appropriate for them:

  • Absorb Elements [Fire only] (1st level)
  • Aganazzar’s Scorcher (2nd level)
  • Burning Hands (1st level)
  • Chromatic Orb [Fire only] (1st level)
  • Conjure Elemental (5th level)
  • Create Bonfire (cantrip)
  • Delayed Blast Fireball (7th level)
  • Elemental Bane [Fire only] (4th level)
  • Elemental Weapon (Fire only) (3rd level)
  • Fire Bolt (cantrip)
  • Fire Shield (1st level)
  • Fire Storm (7th level)
  • Fireball (3rd level)
  • Flame Arrows (3rd level)
  • Flame Blade (2nd level)
  • Flame Strike (5th level)
  • Flaming Sphere (2nd level)
  • Heat Metal (2nd level)
  • Hellish Rebuke [warlock only] (1st level)
  • Immolation (5th level)
  • Incendiary Cloud (8th level)
  • Investiture of Flame [6th level]
  • Melf’s Minute Meteors (3rd level)
  • Meteor Swarm (9th level)
  • Produce Flame (cantrip)
  • Scorching Ray (2nd level)
  • Searing Smite [Paladin] (1st level)
  • Wall of Fire (4th level)

If you wish to harmonize the fire genasi, or red, bronze or gold dragonborn character also happens to be a barbarian, consider this path. Then there’s this Sorcerer Pyromancer class.

Water Genasi & Silver & White Dragonborn

Water Genasi have an affinity for all forms of water: steam, fog, ice, and snow. The following spells may be appropriate for tattoos:

  • Animate object [ice only] (1st level)
  • Chromatic Orb [Cold only] (1st level)
  • Conjure Elemental (5th level)
  • Control Blood: This tattoo, which has been lost to the annuls of time, allows the user to control another creature that has blood like a puppet [legendary]
  • Control Water (4th level)
  • Create or destroy water (cantrip)
  • Cone of Cold (5th level)
  • Elemental Bane [Cold only] {4th level)
  • Elemental Weapon [Cold only] (3rd level)
  • Fog Cloud (1st level)
  • Frostbite (cantrip)
  • Ice Knife (1st level)
  • Ice Storm (4th level)
  • Investiture of Ice (6th level)
  • Misty Step (2nd level
  • Otiluke’s Freezing Sphere (6th level)
  • Ray of Frost (cantrip)
  • Shape Water (cantrip)
  • Snilloc’s Snowball Swarm (2nd level)
  • Storm of Vengeance [Druid] (9th level)
  • Storm Sphere (4th level)
  • Wall of Ice / Wall of Water (level 4)
  • Water Breathing (2nd level)
  • Water Walk (3rd level)
  • Watery Sphere (4th level)

Water Genasi and silver and white dragonborn might benefit from this Water bending or Water Manipulator class. They may like to pursue the Waters of Life sorcerer archetype or the paladin Oath of the Drowned. paladin

Earth Genasi

Earth Genasi have affinity for rocks, dirt, minerals.

  • Animate object [earth, gemstones, clay, & stone only] (1st level)
  • Bones of the Earth (6th level)
  • Conjure Elemental (5th level)
  • Earth Glide: The elemental power allows the user to burrow through nonmagical, unworked earth and stone. While doing so, t doesn’t disturb the material it moves through.
  • Earth Tremor (1st level)
  • Earthbind (2nd level)
  • Earthquake (8th level)
  • Erupting Earth (3rd level)
  • Investiture of Stone (6th level)
  • Maximilian’s Earthen Grasp (2nd level)
  • Mold Earth (cantrip)
  • Shatter (crystalline objects only) (2nd level)
  • Stone tell: grants the user the ability to speak with the earth (4th level)

Earth Genasi may wish to look into the School of Animation wizardd class,  the way of the iron mountain monk school, or into the following Gravity Spells

Air Genasi & Blue & Bronze Dragonborn

Air Genasi and the blue, bronze dragonborn have among the most choices, thematically, with lightning, thunder, and cold damage to choose from. They might consider the following tattoos:

  • Absorb Elements [lightning/ thunder only] (1st level)
  • Call Lightning (3rd level)
  • Chain Lightning (6th level)
  • Chromatic Orb [Lightning/ thunder only] (1st level)
  • Conjure Elemental (5th level)
  • Cone of Cold (5th level)
  • Destructive Wave (5th level)
  • Elemental Bane [Lightning/ thunder only] (4th level)
  • Elemental Weapon [lightning/ thunder only] (4rd level)
  • Frostbite (cantrip)
  • Ice Knife (1st level)
  • Ice Storm (4th level)
  • Investiture of Ice (6th level)
  • Investiture of Wind (6th level)
  • Lightning Arrow (3rs level)
  • Lightning Bolt (3rd level)
  • Misty Step (2nd level
  • Otiluke’s Freezing Sphere (6th level)
  • Ray of Frost (cantrip)
  • Shocking Grasp (cantrip)
  • Snilloc’s Snowball Swarm (2nd level)
  • Storm of Vengeance [Druid] (9th level)
  • Storm Sphere (4th level)
  • Thunderstep (3rd level)
  • Thunderclap (cantrip)
  • Thunderous Smite [Paladin] (1st level)
  • Thunderwave (1st level)
  • Wall of Ice / Wall of Wind (4th level)
  • Witch Bolt (1st level)

Air Genasi, blue and bronze Dragonborn might benefit from the barbarian Primal Path of the Storm Herald. The homebrew class Monk of the winds may also be appropriate.

Green Dragonborn

Green Dragonborn are known for their poison breath weapon. If they wanted to double down on the ability, they could tattoo the following

  • Chromatic Orb [poison only] (1st level)
  • Cloudkill (5th level)
  • Contagion (5th level)
  • Poison Spray (Cantrip)
  • Ray of Sickness (1st level)
  • Sickening Radiance (4th level)

Black & Copper Dragonborn

  • Absorb Elements ]Acid only] (1st level)
  • Acid Splash (cantrip)
  • Chromatic Orb [Acid only] (1st level)
  • Elemental Bane [Acid only] (4th level)
  • Elemental Weapon [Acid only] (4th level)
  • Melf’s Acid Arrow (2nd level)
  • Vitriolic Sphere (4th level)

All Dragonborn

All of the dragonborn could benefit from the Path of the Dragon or Draconic Patron homebrew classes

All elementalists

All elementalists can benefit from this class or the Circle of the Elements druid class.

We will continue our discussion of the races next article.


As you can see, there are many ways to use tattoos in your game. Take a few of these ideas and change them to suit your gaming world. If any of these ideas struck a chord, and you want to use them, feel free to tell me in the comments section below!