Why Rogue Githyanki?
I've been intrigued by the Githyanki ever since I saw my first Fiend Folio (the year was 1988). I've always had a fondness for warrior races. I like Klingons. I like Luxans. I like Cimmerians.I like Githyanki.
I've been intrigued by the Githyanki ever since I saw my first Fiend Folio (the year was 1988). I've always had a fondness for warrior races. I like Klingons. I like Luxans. I like Cimmerians.
I like Githyanki.
I like their silver swords. I like their ornate armor. I like their mysterious ways. I like their funny hair, sallow skin, and needle-like teeth. I like their heritage. These were a bunch of guys who overthrew their masters and carved out their own slice of power in the D&D cosmos. These are guys who are crazy enough to make the Astral Plane their new home. These are guys who are not to be trifled with.
The only problem with the Githyanki is they're not easy to use in a normal D&D game. A race aloof by nature may be mysterious and intriguing and, therefore, interesting to use in a game. But, by the same token, enigmatic races can be hard to incorporate.
Your typical PC party travels to and fro across whatever world they live on. Mondays, they fight goblins. Tuesdays are reserved for the undead. Wednesdays is subterfuge night at the Green Golem Inn. The weekends are set aside for playing boxed sets. Most PC groups probably don't do anything to get involved with the likes of aloof, astral warriors. At least not for extended periods of time. After all, why would a Githyanki Knight care if some paladin of Mitra went hunting for the skull of Thulsa Doom? Sure, the Githyanki can be used in random encounters, but that almost seems wasteful. Any race that has some degree of development and legacy warrants more than just a random encounter cameo in Dungeon X.
Since 1988, I wanted to use the Githyanki in my games. And, for a long time, I couldn't figure out a decent way to use them. So, they sat on the sidelines for a while.
Then I thought of Keleth Kith Khan.
I'm somewhat loathed to admit it, but the character of Khan was inspired by R.A. Salvatore's Drizzt. Sort of. Drizzt, as you all know, also hails from an exotic race. Drizzt is a Rogue Drow in the sense that he has chosen to walk the path of light rather than darkness. He is essentially the opposite extreme of what passes for a normal Drow. Because of this, he's allowed to run around with the heroes of Toril on quests and adventures. It's because of Drizzt that the world (both the D&D and the real one) knows so much about the mysterious Drow.
I didn't want that for Khan. Not exactly.
As many of you probably know, Githyanki who grow too powerful get an early retirement from their Lich Queen. In the old days, you couldn't find a Githyanki higher than 11th level (mage, warrior, whatever). The numeric value has altered over the years, but the point is that the Githyanki Lich Queen doesn't allow her brood to grow too powerful.
What happens, then, to Githyanki who have grown too powerful but want live? What happens when a Githyanki goes Rogue?
I wanted to include the Githyanki and their culture to my games. But, I didn't want to echo Salvatore completely and have a "good" Githyanki character show up and tag along. Like Drizzt, Khan was exiled from his race. Unlike Drizzt, Khan doesn't walk the typical path of the good and righteous. Khan is hateful, mean-spirited, arrogant, condescending,
sinister, dark, and deadly. He's still a tried and true Githyanki at heart, but he's constantly on the run from his own race, for the Lich Queen has deemed that Khan must die. Most of the time, his wits are enough to keep him alive. But, from time to time, he has to rely on the help of others and that's how I brought Keleth Kith Khan, the Rogue Githyanki, into my D&D universe. From time to time, Khan will stumble into one of my games, giving the players a taste of what the Githyanki and their world is like. Sometimes Khan and the players are on a common quest. Sometimes they're at odds. But, every time Khan shows up, the players get more of a taste for the Githyanki and their ways. And, over the years, these players (even the high level mages and dwarven warlords) have learned to give the Githyanki a healthy degree of respect.
In my experience, bringing a rogue member of some race into contact with your players is a good thing and it's something I would encourage all DM's to try (at least once). Unless you're working with a kill-all-monsters kind of group, your players should enjoy the chance to encounter some rogue member of an evil race. It's a good role-playing experience, and usually provides good banter (if you're into that sort of thing), and it gives your players a different approach to learn more about Race X. Sure, they can learn the Githyanki have psionic powers by a chance encounter in Dungeon X. Or, they can meet someone like Khan who doesn't use his telekinesis until a few adventures down the road.
Obviously, you don't have to use the Githyanki. There are several races that can have a theoretical rogue member. Mind Flayers, Slaadi, and Beholders are all races that might be fun to experiment with. You don't have to go for the exotic races, either: I've also used not-so-evil orcs, bugbears, and the like.
Like anything else, the concept of the Rogue Githyanki can be overused. But with a little thought, bringing in a Rogue Githyanki (or whatever) can add a little extra spice to your games and give your players plenty of fond memories for years to come.