The Gith are a race of humanoids who were a slave-race of the Illithids (the mind flayers) for generations. Not much is known of their history before the centuries of Illithid captivity. Some believe they were humans from a distant unknown crystal sphere in a world called pharagos who were conquered by the Illithids, enslaved and experimented on to produce slaves with suitable qualities for their use. Another theory is that the Illithids mixed humanoids and powers from the far realms to create a formidable soldier race to combat a dangerous enemy they faced during their conquest of worlds.
Whatever the case might have been, the gith were a slave super-race with great strength and psionic resilience which was aided them in breaking free from their captivity as well as bringing about the destruction of the Illithid Empire. Subsequent philosophical and ideological differences between the gith just after their independence resulted in a brutal conflict which divided the gith into two factions with a burning hatred for each other, The Githyanki and the Githzerai.
Gith are tall, skinny humanoids with rough, leathery pale yellow skin with occasional greenish or brownish tones. They have long, angular skulls, deep-set black colored eyes, flattened noses with slit shaped nostrils, long pointed ears, and pointed teeth. Gith have black or red hair but sometimes you can find gith with gray or russet coloured hair.
As a result of their long periods as slaves, Gith possess psionic abilities as well as high resistances which they acquired either through being the subjects of illithid experimentation as some historical speculation suggests, or their long exposure to the abilities and environment of the mindflayers. This would prove very instrumental in their uprising as the Illithids normally subjugate enemies and slaves using their incredible psionic abilities, often reducing them to mindless task robots. Gith use their psionic gifts in combination with their fighting styles to enhance their physical abilities as well as mimic the effects of magic spells suck as Mage hand, Jump and Misty step.
Gith before the split
At the onset of the gith revolution, an incredible warrior of this previously nameless slave-race, named Gith (from whence the name of the race came), arose with the intelligence, combat prowess and charisma to gather a following of her fellow slaves. With a joint burning hatred for their captors, the gith seized their captors, slaughtering them and destroying all they had built leaving nothing that could remind any coming generations of the Illithid Empire and its former glory.
The Split: Githyanki and Githzerai
After Gith and her followers had completely broken themselves from captivity, another individual named Zerthimon, who had gained respect in the slave revolution as a great warrior himself, challenged Gith’s leadership. He argued that Gith was too motivated by her hatred towards their captors and her desire for vengeance. He believed that she would lead her people to become just as cruel and hateful as the Illithids.
Zerthimon’s suspicions proved true. Gith was not satisfied with gaining freedom and toppling the mind flayer empire. She advocated for a military campaign to completely annihilate the Illithids and destroy every other race who might potentially enslave them. All who shared Zerthimon’s reservations against Gith’s militaristic rule rallied behind him and began to undermine her agenda. Thus two gith sects were born, The Githyanki and the Githzerai.
The relationship between these sects became more and more tenuous (some believe Illithids planted spies amongst them to instigate more enmity between the sects) until a civil war broke out. The Githyanki and the Githzerai squared off against each other for years, abandoning to some extent their crusade against the Illithids. The remaining Illithids used this opportunity to retreat into the deepest reaches of the astral plane and some escaping to the material realm and the wild-space where they persist in secret to this day.
The bloody conflict came to an end with the death of Zerthimon, allegedly at the hands of Gith in single combat. The Githzerai retreated into the realm of Limbo while the Githyanki settled in the Astral Plane in Illithid settlements left standing after the two wars. The two sects survived hating each other for different reasons; The Githyanki hate the Githzerai for betraying them and causing the Illithids to have the chance to escape their annihilation while the Githzerai hate the Githyanki for becoming just like their masters and killing their leader Zerthimon.
The Githyanki – The Children of Gith
The Githyanki are the Astral Plane dwelling gith. They ride on Astral Vessels and Red Dragons raiding and pillaging many civilizations in the Prime material plane under the leadership of their Lich-Queen Vlaakith.
Pirates of the Astral Sea
The Githyanki traverse the inner astral plane on astral ships powered by psionic energy and launch ruthless raids against countless worlds of the material plane. According to the Githyanki, all worlds of the material plane are their rightful gardens to provide them with plunder whenever they see fit. And just like with a garden, Githyanki tend to leave the survivors of their raids with just enough food and resources to be able to rebuild their civilizations after which the Githyanki return for another round of pillaging.
A second reason for their raiding culture is the continuous hunt for the remnant Illithid populations who have settled in worlds of the material plane.
Githyanki are also known to have Knights who ride on red dragons. In the uprising against the Illithids, Gith was advised by Vlaakith, her advisor, to seek an alliance with Tiamat, the goddess of evil dragon-kind. Nothing is known about the details of the deal between Gith and Tiamat when they met in the Nine Hells, but Vlaakith returned alone, with the Dragon Queen’s red dragon consort Ephelomon who proclaimed that his kind will forever be allies of the Githyanki. It was after this that Vlaakith took over the leadership of the Githyanki.
Vlaakith is the one who opens psionic raid gates between the material world and astral plane. She is capable of holding gates open long enough to allow thousands of soldiers and tens of ships to pass through.
Githyanki Military Society
Every Githyanki is trained from birth to be ruthless fighters and to be ever battle-ready to face their many enemies; The Mind flayers, their countless victims from different worlds, and the Githzerai. Githyanki are trained to blend their psionic abilities with their combat skills. They wear light to medium armor and specialize in Swords and Greatswords with their signature weapon being the Silver Greatsword. These sword, wielded by githyanki knights, channel the will of the wielder to deal psychic damage as well as physical damage. They were developed to be used against the Illithids. These blades can cut through the silver cord that tethers a person’s soul to their bodies.
Some Githyanki who have hone their psionic abilities as well as combat skills are known as Gish. These are capable of using their psionic gifts to cast spells such as fireball, magic missile and haste.
The Astral Planes
The Astral Planes is where the Githyanki reside. It has no gravity and barely any matter with the only matter existing there being chunks from other outer planes which have broken off into it. Time operates very differently in this plane also. The flow of time is the same rate as that of the outer planes but the effects of time are slowed almost to a stop. Because of this, the residents of the astral plane can move, speak and interact with their environment as the flow of time allows but they do not age, hunger or thirst. The Githyanki being residents of this plane enjoy these benefits. They do not age, they don’t need food and they cannot reproduce.
To reproduce, Githyanki establish hidden crèches on different worlds in the material plane where they lay their eggs and raise young Githyanki. As children, they undergo gruesome training and combat practice all the while being fed the stories of knights and the teachings of Vlaakith. Fights to the death between githyanki children are not uncommon. Those who survive this training are to find and slay an Illithid and present its head to Vlaakith. Only then are they recognized as adults and allowed to join their brethren in the astral plane.
Githyanki Personality and Traits
Githyanki are generally cruel, self-centered, arrogant and aggressive. They have a great xenophobic pride and a disdain for every other race which they deem inferior… which also happens to be every single race in existence. They tend to never acknowledge any value in other cultures and people seeing them as potential slaves or plunder bags. This is why they only speak the language of their race, Gith and no other language. Their tendency toward unbridled aggressiveness is kept in check by their fierce loyalty to their Queen Vlaakith and the ways of Gith their warrior queen of old.
Also due to their habitat in the astral planes, where they live incredibly long lives and feel no hunger or thirst, they grow incredibly bored and become decadent novelty hunters. They hop from one thrill to the next leaving a trail of unfinished undertakings in their wake; only taking up new interests because they look new, and then giving up shortly after because they don’t have any personal interest to see it through or they have found something else that looks new. A very clear instance of this habit is their tendency to attach trinkets and trophies on their armor from the worlds as keepsakes making the typical Githyanki gear adorned with them most ostentatious jewelry, precious stones, feathers and metals.
Living in the Astral Planes for most of their lives, Githyanki bodies are not accustomed to needing sustenance. Because of this they get hungry very easily, react more intensely to bodily needs and require more sustenance than usual.
The Githzerai – Those who Oppose Gith
After their defeat in the Gith Civil War, their leader, Zaerith Menyar-Ag-Gith, led the Githzerai into the plane of Limbo where they could not be followed easily by their enemies. Having turned their backs against the ways of the war-obsessed Gith, Githzerai denounce war-like pursuits and devote themselves to strict monastic lifestyles. Following the ways of Zerthimon, the Githzerai are a philosophers who pursue self-knowledge in the face of adversity. Using their psionic abilities and strong wills, they have constructed adamantine fortresses and monasteries where they live, study and introspect, completely removed from the matters of other worlds, cultures and peoples.
The Githzerai however, are not completely uninterested in the world. They still keep tabs on their enemies – the Illithids and the Githyanki – and make effort to complete their mission to destroy every effort to rebuild the Illithid Empire and to frustrate the militaristic expansion of Githyanki.
Introspective Monks and Masters of Psionic Arts
Githzerai focused their time and energy to the study of themselves and their abilities, testing themselves to their limits. As a result, unlike the Githyanki which train themselves rigorously in physical combat, the Githzerai are Psionic Adepts who use their minds to daze and incapacitate their enemies leaving them vulnerable to physical attacks. Many Githzerai, following their monastic lifestyle, train in martial arts.
Those who have become incredibly gifted Psions through intense training and meditation and follow the teachings of Zerthimon are referred to as Zerths. These individuals have incredible powers including the power to shift their bodies across planes of existence by exerting their wills. Particularly advanced Zerths reach a point of enlightenment, acquiring the ability to contemplate the nature of reality.
The Plane of Limbo and Githzerai Society
The plane of Limbo is literally chaos – a realm of complete disarray filled with primordial matter and energy in a state of constant flux. The chaotic flow of this realm is so fluid that it responds to the order in the minds of sentient beings, availing itself to be shaped into order by those with enough will and focus to control it. The Githzerai use the power of their minds to tame the chaos and preserve its order by remaining focused all their lives. Very powerful Githzerai known as the anarch are able to sustain fortresses and monasteries by their lonesome.
Naturally, due to their lives of being bubbles of order in a world literally defined by chaos, Githzerai have very orderly societies and live lives of humility and simplicity. Each Fortress strives to maintain self-sufficiency. Using the power of chaos to build habitats and conducive environments for the growing of crops and rearing of livestock.
The Githzerai have no leaders but have a meritocratic society where the wiser and more learned amongst them are respected and emulated. Atop this meritocratic hierarchy sits Zaerith Menyar-Ag-Gith who has remained alive since he led his people to Limbo. By his lonesome, he holds together the fortifications of Shra’kt’lor, The Largest Fortress City as well as the Capital of Githzerai civilization and its military headquarters.
Githzerai Activity outside Limbo
Even though Githzerai rarely concern themselves with matters beyond Limbo, there are some activities that may bring Githzerai out of Limbo.
As a special devotion to pay respects to their history, Githzerai organize rrrakkma, a ritual hunting party of Zerths who are sent forth into the material plane to seek out Illithids. They do not return until every member of the hunting party has slain an Illithid.
Also they are known to show up during Githyanki Raids to repel the Githyanki forces. This is not necessarily out of compassion for the victims but simply to oppose their cousins and enemies.
Most rarely, A Githzerai master may venture out into other planes to establish a Githzerai Monastery where young Githzerai go to gain admittance as students. These monasteries also serve as outpost for the spreading of the teachings of Zerthimon. The largest of such monasteries is Zerth’Ad’lun located in the Elemental Chaos. In this monastery, Sensei Bertholomais taught a martial art to Githzerai and non-Githzerai alike which gave practitioners the ability to briefly glimpse the future during a fight
Githzerai are introspective, disciplined, naturally pragmatic and extremely stoic. They live simple lives and dress likewise, wearing very light clothing with little or no adornments. They greatly value individual independence and, after rigorous pursuit of self-knowledge, have developed great knowledge of their own strengths and prefer to rely on their own strength and counsel. They tend to be distrusting of most races and can be very paranoid but it is not impossible to gain their trust.
Githzerai can speak Gith and Common. They are not opposed to other cultures as their cousins, just very indifferent to them.