Dungeons & Dragons are full of all sorts of fantasy races, many of which are common enough terms that even a child will understand.
While humans are us and thus instantaneous to understand in a fantasy setting, most people know that dwarves are squat, muscular humanoids, often reputed for having beards (regardless of gender in some fiction), have skills with the forge, and who live underground. Elves are long-eared beings with long lifespans, prowess with the bow, arrows, magic, and nature, and who regularly seem to work for Santa Claus, despite all representation of Santa's elves resembling something closer to the gnome player character race.
But if someone mentions the name, Gith DND 5E requires an examination taken from game books to know what a gith is. In that vein, we have provided an overview of the gith race, its origins and some detail on the split between the githzerai and the githyanki.
The gith, a singular and plural term like moose or sheep, is a humanoid race of beings that had been enthralled by the illithid race, colloquially known as the “mind flayers,” through a program of enslavement that spanned generations. Some studied individuals within the fiction think that gith may have originated from the human race. Yet, other scholars theorize that any ancestor race they might have is something that no one has encountered.
After a great upheaval caused these bring to cast off their bondage, there was a great degree of infighting over existential philosophy that led to the one race branching off into two camps: “githyanki” and “githzerai.”
The gith are a tall and gangly humanoid race. Their skin can range from jaundice yellow to green or even brown.
The shape of their skulls is rather long and angular, leaving them with deeply set eyes, flattened noses, and ears that are so pointy that they are actually serrated.
They possess hair that comes in shades ranging from black, russet, red, and even the occasional gray.
Despite gaining freedom from their tyrannical octopus-faced oppressors, the gith remained a sundered people. A cascade of conflict and philosophical disagreements across multiple generations left each of the two camps with nothing but hatred, disdain, and anxiety toward the other. This disquiet was further amplified by actions performed by the mind flayers, who installed loyalist spies within both gith communities. These traitors to the gith race were tasked with fanning the flames between the githzerai and githyanki.
That said, a splinter group of renegade gith, going by the name “Sha'sal Khou,” aspired to end the fighting between the two races and bring them together over their common elements instead of focusing on the differences.
The Sha'sal Khou works in secret among the two cultures, seeking to ease tensions until a day might come where the two subraces may cast off the -zerai and -yanki parts of their names, content to simply refer to one another as gith.
There are two other subraces relevant to the gith:
- An isolationist group of pirates chose to stay behind within the Prime Material instead of fleeing to the Astral Plane or Limbo. Nowadays, these pirates prefer to raid, plunder and pillage within wild space while adhering to the structured military organization of gith society.
- Githvyrik are a relatively minor group that claim to be neither githyanki nor githzerai.
The githyanki and githzerai have distinct dialects of the Gith language, a form of communication whose script is rather unique and known as tir'su. Tir'su consists of a runic alphabet where words are written within circles, rather than in a linear fashion. With the letter of one word being linked with a ring. Githyanki arranged these characters in a clockwise manner, starting at the 12-o'clock position, while githzerai writing began at the 6-o'clock position and flows in a counter-clockwise fashion. Tirsu's sentences are constructed through a series of such word-rings.
Whatever ancestry the gith may have has been lost to time. Even the alleged name for these proto-gith, which some simply called “the forerunners” has mainly been forgotten over centuries. Some scholars will say that the gith started out as a variety of humans indigenous to a realm known as Pharagos. They were conquered and genetically modified by the mind flayers during the latter's Imperial expansion. Other learned individuals believe that the gith are the result of illithid genetic experimentation involving humanoids and the Far Realm.
Some evidence suggests that the gith and duergar were enslaved during the early period of the Illithid Empire's expansion. Whether the gith started out as human or some other ephemeral humanoid life form, centuries of enslavement and selective breeding left them a considerably changed species. For all intents and purposes, the gith were likely created by mind flayers.
While revolts often happened during the gith's time as servitors to the illithids, most failed to be worthy of concern.
More recently, some gith slaves would manifest resistance to the psionic abilities of their monstrous dominators, and they would work upon mastering these latent psionic powers.
When the time was right, the forerunners, also known as the proto-gith and were led by one known as Gith, led a successful revolt that cascaded into the devastation of multiple elder brains and the collapse of the illithid empire.
In less than a year, the devastation of this revolt left the mind flayers nearly extinct and forced them into seclusion to mend their wounds and plot retribution.
The Civil War and Schism
Soon after becoming a freed people, Gith ordered that militarism should continue. This led to an extinction campaign against mind flayers and the establishment of a Gith Empire.
At this moment, Zerthimon, a gith with a significant number of followers, challenged Gith's intentions and right to lead; Zerthimon believed that Gith was leading their people down the same path as their tentacled oppressors.
This disagreement resulted in a civil war that claimed the lives of Zerthimon aGith's followers, who called themselves githzerai, meaning “those who spurn Gith” in their native tongue, limped away to Limbo, but not before hamstringing the extermination campaign. The actions of Zerthimon's githzerai allowed the few remaining clusters of mind flayers to sneak off into well-fortified subterranean locales.
Gith led the survivors, beings who took up the name “githyanki,” meaning “Gith's children” to the former Astral strongholds of the illithids, using them as bases to regroup and bolster forces as a prelude to unpausing the multiversal extermination campaign. Furthermore, Gith interpreted the githzerai's actions as treason; thus, githzerai are just as bad as the illithid to these beings.
This brings us to the present state of the githyanki and githzerai. While the githyanki expanded their efforts to demolish githzerai strongholds, the githzerai have also sought to destroy illithid outposts while keeping up efforts to stop githyanki militarism. Sadly, this ongoing conflict has been a stalemate that has prevented either race from decisively extirpating mind flayers from the cosmos.
The Pronouncement of Two Skies
This is an apocryphal tale of the githyanki-githzerai schism.
After the gith destroyed the Illithid Empire, the triumphant warrior-queen Gith decreed that her people would never rest until all illithids had been purged from the multiverse and that her People would be free to conquer all of existence through warfare. While many of the People shared this sentiment, Zerthimon made the case that the People already comprehended freedom and should work to recover from centuries of mind flayer dominance over their lives. Zerthmon's words also spoke to many gith, but Gith insisted that hers was the only true path; that all gith should live “under the same sky.”
Zerthmon responded to Gith by stating that there “cannot be two skies,” and this was the moment that caused the splintering of the People into the githyanki and githzerai and the beginning of their racial war. War was waged on the Blasted Plains, causing the githyanki to retreat within the Astral Sea and the githzerai to flee to the chaos of Limbo.
Githyanki are savage warriors, while githzerai are contemplative types. Githyanki are taught how to fight from the moment they begin breathing, while the githzerai are encouraged to sharpen their minds within the ever-shifting chaos of Limbo.
Githyanki will raid all sorts of worlds while piloting astral ships or riding atop red dragons. These beings prefer to accent their equipment with beads, feathers, gems, and precious metals, and this gear includes an iconic variety of silver swords.
Since they took their lives from the illithids, githyanki rose to ruthless conquerors who currently abide by the undying rule of Vlaakith, a lich-queen.
Githzerai are very much the mind to the githyanki's might; they prefer philosophy and asceticism with a relentless dedication to law and order. These beings are lean but muscular, wearing very bland and functional attire without any sort of accents. Githzerai prefer to rely upon their own kind and stick to the calm of isolated spots of order within Limbo, where they erect monasteries.
While most of this material has presented the fluffy lore of the gith race, here is a more crunchy, mechanical breakdown of what makes a gith a gith.
What is a Gith? Is It Like an Elf?
Gith are their own tag of humanoid, just like an elf or a human.
What is a Gith's Alignment?
While the githzerai are easily suited toward lawful neutrality, the githyanki's behaviors are incredibly aggressive yet arrogant, leading most to feel at home as lawful evil beings-renegade githyanki tend to be various chaotic alignments.
Where Do Gith Live?
As previously covered and despite their raiding ways, Githyanki consider the Astral Plane to be their home turf. Githzerai consider Limbo to be a home turf that allows for constant self-betterment.
What Do Gith Eat?
Gith are omnivorous.
When Did Gith First Appear in Print?
The very first book to mention the gith would be “Fiend Folio” from the first edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Indeed, they were the “cover monster.”
Where Can I Find Rules to Play a Gith DND 5E?
Rules for Gith player characters can be found in “Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes.”
Playing as a Gith
- Ability Score Increases: Both races gain +1 Intelligence. Githyanki also gain +2 Strength and Githzerai gain +2 Wisdom.
- Size: Medium. Gith tend to be taller and leaner than the average human, with most standing around 6′ tall.
- Speed: Githyanki and githzerai have a base walking speed of 30.
- Virility: Gith become adults in their late teens and live for around a century.
- Communication: Gith PCs understand Common and Gith in both speech and text forms.
- Decadent Mastery adds one language and proficiency to any chosen skill or tool.
- Martial Prodigy grants proficiency with light and medium armor and shortswords, longswords, and greatswords.
- Racial Psionics: Githyanki begin knowing the mage hand cantrip, which manifests invisibly when cast this way. 3rd level githyanki can manifest jump once per long rest. 5th level githyanki can manifest misty step once per long rest. These psionics use Intelligence for casting and without components.
- Mental Discipline grants an advantage on saves against becoming charmed or frightened.
- Racial Psionics: Githzerai knows the mage hand cantrip, and it works invisibly when cast through this manner. 3rd level githzerai can manifest shield once per long rest. 5th level githzerai can manifest detect thoughts once per long rest. These psionics use Wisdom for casting and without components.