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.

The "gith" from -Darksun- have always been a personal favorite of mine. They lacked the social structure and politics that are so prevalent in both Githyanki and Drow society. As many will recall, they were primitive, feral versions of their Githyanki ancestry, and made the most pure hunter/killers I have ever seen. Savage and deadly, they were not hampered by social restrictions or moral obligations. It is from this uninfluenced form of predatorial instincts that we have been entertained by the "Aliens" of same movie name; "The Predator," also of same movie fame; And of course, my favorite, "Jaws" from (no, not Moonraker) movie of same name.

Though completely opposite from Rogue Githyanki's richly characterized and complexly motivated NPC, these "forces of nature" can be just as effectively used to create memorable campaigns.

My question to other DMs and the author is this: What makes an NPC or creature race more memorable? The mortal challenge that is created by the villain, or the historical and psychological depth of the villain? Perhaps the answer is either, neither, or both.

Also, directly to Rogue, has there ever been a Githyanki lexicon created?

I see I was too late to mention the Darksun Gith. In the revised 2nd Ed of Darksun the Gith were included as a PC race. I used to allow them, either as their feral DS type or the typical noble astral warriors. Now that I play 3rd Ed I have not seen them anywhere as a PC race but I would still allow them.

I like the approach of the 'rouge' Gith. It is a good intro for why a Gith would adventure with a non-Planescape group.

You know, EaterOfTheDead, the Savage Species handbook gives rules on turning many, many different monsters and races into PC's. Heck, the Gith decended ones are easy, really.
Githyanki are cool and all, but I kinda like Githzari (I think I spelled that wrong) better. I mean, they control parts of Limbo. That's not easy. And, the warriors (the lawful ones, anyway) can earn zerth blades, which are very cool. I first learned about them in Planescape:Torment, and have always wanted to use one, but I can't find any rules for them. I might just make some up. Oh, and if you haven't played P:T, go and buy it. Best D&D based C-RPG ever. Could even be the best C-RPG ever.

Hmm... Let me clarify my last post a little. What I meant was I've never seen rules for zerth blades before. I should have been more specific.


As far as I know, there is no real lexicon for the githyanki. I've seen a handful of words here and there (the Monstrous Companion, for example), but nothing substantial.

Regarding villains & monster races...well, I think it's a toss up. As a rule of thumb, I think it's the psycological elements that make a single villain more memorable and challenging. My players usually enjoy encounters with individual, well-thought-out villains. For example, the arch-devil Moloch has been a thorn in my player's side for over a year now. They've been captured, interrogated, and have seen comrades fall at Moloch's hands. He has a personal hatred for a few of the and is more interested in ruining them than killing them. In Moloch's case, the fact that he can control fire and has giant-like strength aren't as important as his agenda and motivations.

My players have also crossed the paths of umber hulks 3 or 4 times. In this case, they're more concerned with how to avoid the umber hulk's gaze and mandibles.

I kinda like to keep it mixed up.

I like the Gith, too, but haven't been able to incorporate them into many of my games. My players (Planescape folks) have gotten stuck on the Dark Sun world before...and while I tried to give them a good feel for how deadly Athas can be, I didn't get too involved with the Gith. Maybe later.

I also like the Githzerai, but tend to use them as reluctant allies and not foes. But, in my world, the githzerai are almost as deadly as the githyanki and maybe more mysterious.

I agree completely that Planescape: Torment is the best D&D PC game ever created...not that I've played them all, mind you.

Planescape: Torment was definatly an awesome game and Dak'kon was one of the coolest characters. If you ever get an oportunity to pick up the novelization of Torment, don't. It was one of the worst books I have ever read and had allmost nothing to do with the story.

I wasn't playing D&D when I played Torment but I thought it would be really neat to have the zerth blade in a game. By the time I started 3rd Ed I had forgotten about how damn cool it was.

I'll have to look through Savage Species and see if there's something I can do abouth Gith. Savage Species is one of many game books that I don't own a hard copy of but downloaded for free on Kaaza so I havn't read it as thouroughly as other books.

As cool as it was to see the Githyanki in a game, I found that the whole premise of P:T was a bit too gory. I mean, practically everything was a rotting hunk of meat. I have a night job watching many "deep" sleepers (gives me plenty of time to draw and paint). The game hit too close to home, I guess.

Plus, it seemed the game designers were adamant about all females having massive ... ahem ... assets.

How about a game featuring Githyanki vs. Githzerai?

The Dungeon and the Dragon magazines had a special on a Githyanki invasion last year, nice stuff if you like these critters.

Sam? What in the nine Hells are you doing up at 3:27 a.m.?

The articles you refer to were a rare but well received crossover hit from the weiners at Paizo. Not only did they print up articles in Dragon detailing Githyanki troops and heirarchy, they also printed up a huge invasion special in their Dungeon magazine. The only thing they lacked was a follow up issue the next month, detailing more closely how Githaynki society revolves and evolves.

They made the assumption that most campiagns would succeed in turning away the invaders. Not so for my Knights of the Natural One. I DM the world's most poorly rolling sod's to ever hold a character sheet. It's pathetically comical and so unjust when faced against even a handful of Githyanki warriors. Now, my PCs are slaves (two have died already). They have been for the last 3 gaming sessions. I need more Githyanki material. The rogue Githyanki is but one of many tools I need to utilize. Also, many of my former (hand made!) maps were rendered useless during the havok of the invasion. *sigh*

Sounds like a pretty cool character! There's one thing about "rogue" characters that has bugged me in the past. I'm glad you didn't fall into this trap!
This showed up particularly in Planescape: Torment. It's the idea that a rogue has the opposite normal alignment. Rogue succubus raised by devils? Lawful. EH? I can understand a risen demon (is that the right antonym to "fallen angel"?) being Good, but being raised in a lawful society might shift her to neutral, MAYBE, but more likely it'd just make her less-chaotic. When you're dealing with embodiments of alignments, there can be a lot of shades within "lawful" or "good". A rogue modron is still lawful, just not lawful ENOUGH.

The rogue deal is an interesting way to go...and in my last campaign, I made it a feature in the world. One of the things I did to mix things up for my players a bit was to cut out the Gods and restrict clerics, paladins, and other classes that depend on celestial aid for their help. I didn't, however, take out the demons. Another feature of the world was a couple of thin spots in reality where a magical accident six centuries in the past had ripped the planar barriers so that all kind of funny things could come through. One of the major NPCs in the campaign was the descendant of a rogue demon who went good and essentially bound his bloodline from that point forward using a heavy duty spell so that they were compelled to act as guardians of the borders between the realities, keeping the inhabitants of the world free to live their lives without having demons and the occasional celestial type come in and muck about. Their final foe in this campaign is going to be a rogue member of that family...well, a rogue rogue, actually, since he's gone back to the original alignment he would have been headed for as a half-demon.


I was having insomnia, that sleep dysfunction got me through my two BA's and my master's degree.

Now I don't find it so convenient but my insomnia is getting better over the years.

Back to the thread...

I've once had a gaming world where the Githzerai had gained a foothold, the nation of Gith.

My players never went there as they were too scared (or wise one would say) to risk angering them.

I agree, the Gith are an interesting addition to a game, however, much caution must be used. To keep in the spirit with races like the githyanki, drows, or even the ancient grenkin (Zekalon), they must be used sparsely throughout your gaming adventures. Afterall, how can you call a dragon (for example) a secluded creature when your party encounters a dragon every session.

Personnally, I like a game that deals mostly in the human realm with an occational dealing with another race. This makes creatures like goblins and orcs still mean something to the game. Too many times are creatures overused and taken for granted. "Oh, it's just another battle with orcs... again." Afterall, we could play a campaign were the players were gith's in a world of there own kind but, what would be the fun in that? :)

yeah, i played d&d for a looooonnnnnngggg time and the best look into githyanki / zeria culture has been Planescape Torment. i've always had a thing for antiheros and the gith are definantly that. the gith were orginal humans who were taken from there homeword by the illithids and used as cattle for a couple of milinea. in my opnion githyanki just plain rock.