To Chance with Hell (Planescape)
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Githyanki are the descendants of ancient humans enslaved by the Illithid Empire eons ago. After winning their freedom through a violent uprising led by one called Gith, they split with their brethren the githzerai over intense ideological differences. Living in the Astral Plane under the tyrannous lich-queen Vlaakith CLVII for millennia, the githyanki have devoted their entire society to warfare and conquest. Now, with the lich-queen recently slain, the githyanki are splintered and weakened, making them open targets for their ancient enemies. Due to both their heritage as illithid slaves and generations on the Astral Plane, githyanki also have a strong disposition towards psionic ability.
Personality: Cold, aloof and utterly militaristic, the githyanki have little in common with the distantly related humans. Although exceptions are quite notable, most githyanki only focus on war and domination – all life is defined by these. Needless to say, competition runs deep in the githyanki psyche. Even everyday activities become silent contests to outdo each other. They have a need for people to be organized hierarchically, like a military unit. Surprisingly, though, violence almost never erupts from this competitive drive. Ever since the separation from the githzerai, githyanki never fought other githyanki – as long as they were loyal to their lichqueen. Even with Vlaakith dead, the githyanki remain a proud and loyal race.
Physical Description: Aside from their form, the githyanki’s human heritage is almost unrecognizable. They are deceptively gaunt and lanky, but that hides steely muscles constantly trained for combat. The average githyanki stands 6¼ feet tall and weighs around 170 lbs. Their mottled, yellowish gray skin is pulled tight. Their hair is nearly always black, but red-haired githyanki have been encountered and it is said to be a dire omen when one is born. Their eyes are entirely glossy black, and their ears are pointed and marked with serrations in the back. They gain these serrations in dark ceremonies celebrating their coming of age. Githyanki dress is always ornate, bordering on gaudy. They decorate their armor and weaponry with elaborate engravings signifying their prowess in battle. These weapons and armor are always finely polished and cared for more than the githyanki’s own family. Unlike most humanoid races, githyanki are an egg-laying species. These eggs are normally taken to heavily guarded fortresses in the Prime Material Plane where they can properly grow until hatching. Githyanki children likewise spend many years on the Prime Material Plane training in warfare and growing to adulthood.
Relations: Overall, githyanki relate well with no one. They rarely leave their plane except in the name of conquest and war. In particular, they have a deep racial hatred for githzerai and illithids. Other races are considered potential enemies, but it is not unheard of for individuals to prove their value in combat enough to earn the respect (though rarely ever trust) of a githyanki. The only exception to this is red dragons. Due to a pact formed centuries ago between the githyanki and the goddess Tiamat, red dragons have always come to the aid of the githyanki people. Whether this extends to individual githyanki is anyone’s guess.
Alignment: Their entire society brutally engineered by the lich-queen, githyanki are almost always evil, and even those who have split from githyanki society are rarely good. Their regimented lifestyle leads most githyanki to be lawful, but not nearly as strongly as the tendency towards evil.
Beliefs: Loyal githyanki unilaterally worshiped the lich-queen as a deity. To avoid potential rivals and increase her own power, Vlaakith would devour the life essence of any loyal githyanki who became too powerful, and those githyanki not devoted to the lich-queen would be hunted to the death. Many continue to worship the lich-queen, though they will always feel a void within themselves without her guidance. Others have chosen to devote themselves to true deities, with gods of war being favored, though some githyanki become so appalled by their racial nature that they instead devote themselves to pacifistic deities. Few githyanki join factions, disdaining organizations led by mortals. Rogues will nearly always join some group due to their deep-rooted need to belong to a larger organization and for the safety customarily provided. They often join the Bleak Cabal, the Doomguard, the Dustmen, or the Free League.
Githyanki Lands: Githyanki inhabit massive fortresses within the Astral Plane, as well as numerous outposts on the Prime Material Plane. These bases are designed solely to be fortresses to either mount or defend against invasions. Those who have lived on the Astral Plane for extensive periods either remain on that plane or use unique spells developed by the githyanki to prevent time from catching up with them when they travel.
Languages: Githyanki speak their own secret language, and will typically know the Planar Trade and Draconic. A few also learn the languages of their enemies, the githzerai and the illithid. Those stationed on the Prime will likely know the predominant language of the region.
Names: Githyanki names are prophesied at birth by the parents and are said to denote their future deeds. Thus all githyanki names carry some meaning, though they hide this from those outside their race. They may earn additional prefixes denoting their profession and rank or due to major accomplishments. The honorific prefixes often differentiate names as necessary. The name of the fortress they are positioned in normally serves as a surname when traveling.
Male Names: Ki’Yaj, Tehv’in, Y’roon
Female Names: G’zen, Na’rai, Zan’uusm
Fortress Names: Githmir, Tn’erkis, Tu’narath, Xamvadim
Adventurers: Loyal githyanki rarely join adventuring parties unless it somehow benefits githyanki society. Most adventuring githyanki are therefore outcasts, and wander the land fleeing from their people and trying to achieve some purpose outside of their society.
*Roleplaying a Githyanki: Whether you accept it or not, every fiber of your being is devoted to combat. Focus this drive through your sword and vanquish those who would dare to stand against you. Prove to them that they are only worthy to bleed upon your blade. Combat is your passion, and the killing blows your ecstasy. Even when you are not in battle, be vigilant. Never forget that your people were betrayed by their alleged brethren. Trust no one. Underestimate no one. Always be aware of their capabilities in relation to your own, for everyone you meet is a potential weapon to be raised against you, or wielded by your own hand.