The githzerai (sing & pl; pronounced: /ˈgɪθzɛraɪ/ GITH-zer-y or: /ˈgɪtsɪraɪ/ GIT-sir-eye) were a humanoid race that dwelt primarily in the plane of Limbo. They descended from a splinter group of gith, a race that had been enslaved by mind flayers for centuries until they rebelled for their freedom. Philosophical differences led to a long and bloody civil war among the gith, who ended up divided into the militaristic githyanki and the ascetic githzerai.
Description[edit | edit source]
Like all gith, githzerai were tall and emaciated-looking humanoids, but, thanks to their rigid training, had more muscular bodies. They had pale yellow skin, sometimes with greenish or brownish tones. Their skulls were long and angular, with deep-set eyes, flattened noses, and long pointed ears. Typical hair colors included black, russet, and sometimes gray, which male githzerai either shaved or wore in braids. Their facial hair was also carefully groomed. Female githzerai usually wore their hair in buns or braids.
As a result of their long period of enslavement and manipulation by the mind flayers, all githzerai possessed psionic abilities. They were all capable of minor telekinesis in a similar fashion to the mage hand spell and could also hone their abilities to become capable of innately casting shield and detect thoughts.
Personality[edit | edit source]
Since their hard-won victory against the mind flayers, followed by their dissent and defeat at the hands of the githyanki, the githzerai became ascetics and philosophers, pursuing self-knowledge in the face of adversity. As a splinter group of an oppressed race, they were extremely distrustful of outsiders and were devoted to their self-preservation.
An intense and sometimes fanatical people, the githzerai kept the memory of their origins always alive and carried out all their affairs with a burning sense of righteousness.
Combat[edit | edit source]
Many githzerai, following their monastic lifestyle, tended to train in martial combat and fought as monks. Githzerai monks who most closely followed the teachings of Zerthimon were known as zerths. Through intense training and meditation, zerths had access to many psionic powers, such as the ability to innately reproduce effects similar to the feather fall, phantasmal killer, plane shift, and see invisibility spells. Particularly advanced zerths reached the rank of "enlightened", acquiring the ability to explore the nature of reality itself. Enlightened githzerai could use their psionic abilities to produce additional effects similar to blur, expeditious retreat, haste, and teleport.
Society[edit | edit source]
Githzerai society was monastic and introspective. Many githzerai trained as monks, while others chose to lose their natural magic resistance and become wizards. Some multi-talented githzerai became zerths, blending magic, combat, and psionics into their fighting. The zerths also held special significance as religious leaders in githzerai society. Like their cousins and enemies, the githyanki, githzerai often formed hunting bands for the purpose of seeking out and destroying the hated illithids.
They were fiercely loyal to their leader Zaerith Menyar-Ag-Gith, who remained alive centuries after he had led the surviving githzerai to Limbo following the battle between Gith and Zerthimon. Despite their strong sense of loyalty, the githzerai also placed immense value on their personal freedom.
The githzerai dwelt mostly in the chaos of Limbo. There, they used their natural psionic abilities and mental focus to channel the power of the Spawning Stone to control the swirling chaos of the plane, shaping it into great adamantine fortresses and monasteries. Those fortresses, and the ones established outside of Limbo, were maintained by extremely powerful githzerai known as anarchs, who were capable of mentally manipulating the raw stuff of Limbo into whatever form and landscape they desired. This power extended for a distance of up to 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the anarch.
Githzerai presence in Limbo was not confined to fortresses, but also included cities. Although city inhabitants did not follow the strict martial discipline enforced in monasteries, they revered and respected the martial discipline of their brethren. Their largest city there was called Shra'kt'lor, an austere fortress-city that served as both the capital of the githzerai civilization and its military headquarters. Shra'kt'lor's fortifications were coordinated by Menyar-Ag himself, who dwelt in the center of the city and was considered akin to a deity.
The githzerai kept several outposts in the Underdark, in particular in the region of Old Shanatar, from where they observed githyanki and mind flayer activity. One particularly large fortress was the secret hold of Karokrath, from which they observed activities in Oryndoll and in the githyanki enclave of Gatchorof.
There were also a number of githzerai settlements located in the Elemental Chaos, according to the World Axis cosmology. The largest such city/monastery was called Zerth'Ad'lun, an oasis of peace among the plane's chaos. The city consisted of an enormous spherical arrangement of stone spires that made use of the subjective gravity of the plane to create a complex and nontrivial internal architecture. It contained numerous temples dedicated to several deities, including Corellon, Moradin, and the Raven Queen. The monastery's headmaster, Sensei Bertholomais, thought a martial art called zerthi, which granted its practitioners the ability to briefly glimpse into the future during a battle. The teachings were open to non-githzerai as well. Practitioners of zerthi were known as cenobites.
In an effort to replicate the bond between the githyanki and red dragons, a group of githzerai once attempted to forge a similar alliance with chaos dragons. The effort was largely a failure due to the chaos dragons' unpredictability and disloyalty. However, some successful exceptions existed and, in rare cases, collaborations between chaos dragons and githzerai could be found.
Language[edit | edit source]
The githzerai spoke their own dialect of the Gith language, which used a unique form of writing called tir'su. It was an alphabetical set of runes in which words were formed in circles instead of linearly, with the letters of a given word being linked in a ring counter-clockwise from the bottom. Sentences were formed by a series of these rings.
History[edit | edit source]
The githzerai descended from the same race as the githyanki, a race which some referred to as "the forerunners" and whose exact origin, and even its name, was lost to time. Some sources claimed that they were originally humans from a world called Pharagos, located in an unknown crystal sphere that had been conquered by the illithids during the expansion of their empire, and who had been slowly altered by the mind flayers' genetic experiments, while others claimed that they might have been created by the illithids themselves through mixing humanoid hosts with powers from the Far Realm.
After centuries of servitude, the forerunners revolted under the guidance of their leader Gith, conquering their freedom and spreading an unprecedented devastation through the illithid empire, bringing the mind flayers to the brink of extinction. However, Gith ordered the continuation of the war effort until the last mind flayer was destroyed and the gith became masters of their own empire based on conquest. At this point, Zerthimon, a gith who had gathered a significant following during the uprising, challenged Gith's leadership and her motives, arguing that she would end up leading the people into a similar tyranny that their former masters enforced.
Zerthimon maintained that the mind flayers had already been defeated beyond recovery and that it was time for the fighting to stop and for the newly freed gith to learn about themselves and to improve as a culture, strengthening their unity and wisdom as a people, not to start another cycle of violence.
The disagreement led to a violent civil war. Zerthimon was killed and his followers, who called themselves "githzerai" (meaning "those who spurn Gith" in the Gith language), led by Menyar-Ag, retreated to Limbo in defeat. The fighting dealt substantial damage to Gith's forces, which had to retreat to the Astral Plane to regroup. This struggle gave sufficient time for the surviving mind flayers to retreat and hide in well defended underground locations.[note 1]
Notable Githzerai[edit | edit source]
- Yrlakka, a zerth member of the Sha'sal Khou.
- Zhjaeve, companion of the Kalach-Cha.
Appendix[edit | edit source]
See Also[edit | edit source]
Notes[edit | edit source]
Appearances[edit | edit source]
Gallery[edit | edit source]
External Links[edit | edit source]
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the following links do not necessarily represent the views of the editors of this wiki, nor does any lore presented necessarily adhere to established canon.
- Githzerai article at the NWN2Wiki, a wiki for the Neverwinter Nights 2 games.
- Githzerai article at the Eberron Wiki, a wiki for the Eberron campaign setting.
References[edit | edit source]
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