D&D 5e: Gith Race Guide

D&D 5e: Gith Race Guide

Intro

The githyanki and the githzerai were so profoundly scarred by their enslavement to the mind flayers that they forget they were one race, united. Having won their freedom, they wage war against each other with a hatred none can fully comprehend.” – Aristul the Yellow, 5e Monster Manual

Coming to D&D 5e in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, the “Gith” are a fascinating clash of history, culture, and lineage. They are aptly described as a sundered people. Who they were before they splintered into their cultural diliniations of “Githyanki” and “Githzerai” is unknown, their name “Gith” coming from a long-dead, great leader known as Gith who lead them out of slavery from the Illithids (i.e. the Mindflayers). In short, their origins are shrouded in mystery and their search for self has boiled over into war on the Astral plane.  

“What’s the Astral Plane?” you ask. A good question. In short, it’s fantasy shorthand for “space”. Though it isn’t ‘outer’ space per se, it’s better viewed as a between space. Between the Prime Material Plane and all other planes. An endless, sprawling silvery void upon which remnants of civilizations, worlds, and gods long forgotten float in utter banality. 

It’s here that the Githyanki, in worship of their lich-vampire goddess, launch pirate campaigns on the backs of Red Dragons. And, not too far away, in their fortress in the border plane of Limbo, the Githzerai live a life of monastic order on a vast sea of chaos.

Guide Key

Epic

Good

Meh

Bad

Gith Traits

It’s no secret that the Gith subraces are at war with one another, so it is fitting that the Gith base traits are limited and that the cultures of the different Gith peoples would define their development. The one challenge is that, on their own, they don’t feel like fully defined subraces. They truly do feel like a fracture race. If we could put it all together for a +1 INT, +1 STR, +1 WIS… man, life would be good.

ASI: +1 INT. On its own, you’d lean toward a Wizard or Artificer, but with the additions of the subraces you’d be able to expand far beyond that. However, I will note that these do not come without their limitations. We won’t have any boosts to CON, DEX, or CHA available to us which are used widely across MANY classes in 5e.

–Age: Adulthood in teens and then live for about a century (be aware though, no aging takes place on the astral plane).

–Size: Medium, slender, reaching heights of 6ft.

–Languages: Common and Gith

Gith Subraces

Githyanki

ASI: +2 STR. Now with the addition of STR, we’d likely start asking questions like, what subclasses benefit from STR and INT? In this case, we’d say the Elditch Knight Fighter and Psi Warrior Fighter.

–Alignment: Tend toward lawful evil, however some renegades lean chaotic, but this is up to you.

Decadent Mastery: You gain a bonus language, and a skill or tool proficiency. The language you pick could help with some knowledge of what your campaign is going to deal with. And picking a skill or tool proficiency will likely depend on what sort of build your going for. I’d recommend picking this after you’ve already selected your class and background and solidified what skills you want. You would really only want a tool proficiency if you were going to use the Xanathar’s rules set for tools or if your DM allows for some creative thinking with your tools.

Martial Prodigy: Proficiency with light and medium armor, shortsowrds, longswords, and greatswords. If you don’t have those things already, that might help with some build options. Especially with casters, getting proficiency with armors is HUGE. 

Githyanki Psionics: You get some basic spell casting options using INT as your spellcasting ability; Mage Hand (Cantrip), Jump (at 3rd Level), and Misty Step (at 5th level). The latter two require a long rest to recharge. Also, they do not require components! Nice!

Githzerai

ASI: +2 WIS. It’s sad that the Githyank gets three additional subrace traits, but getting a +2 to WIS is rare enough that this more than makes up for any imbalance in number of racial traits.

–Alignment: Tend toward lawful neutral given their rigorously trained mental discipline (see the following racial trait)

Mental Discipline: Advantage on saves agains charmed and frightened conditions. Super nice. It sucks to lose control of your character! And the +2 WIS will help a lot with that since many charm and fear effects target your WIS saving throws. 

Githyanki Psionics: You get some basic spell casting options using WIS as your spellcasting ability; Mage Hand (Cantrip), Shield (at 3rd Level), and Detect Thoughts (at 5th level). The latter two requiring a long rest to recharge. Also, they do not require components! Nice! 

Best Classes and Archetypes for Gith

I’ll save you some time and pair the archetypes with my preferred subrace combination. At the end of the day, the reasoning comes down to three things:

 

1) Does the race satisfy the expectations of the class?

2) Does the class synergize with subclass abilities?

3) How easy would it be to get started with this race-class/subclass combo?

 

You can try to turn D&D 5e into as much of an exact science as you want, but at the end of the day, you need to figure out what works best for your playstyle, your campaign, and your playgroup. Alrighty, here we go!

Artificer

A +1 to INT is a super nice way to open up options with classes like the Artificer and Wizard. However, the subraces of Gith lend themselves to different subclasses of the Artificer. 

Githyanki

Armorer: The bonus to STR will help make up for not having a +2 to INT to start out with. Though, you’ll definitely need to take a bonus to INT down the line.

Githzerai

Alchemist: The Githzerai is a great pick here because you get access to the shield spell, making you much more resilient against attacks which the Alchemist really needs.

Artillerist: INT is the MAIN requirement here for your damage output and utility value. The +1 INT is solid, but you’ll want to boost it.

Battle Smith: See my thoughts on the Arillerist!

Barbarian

Sorry, but your going to have to be a SMART-barian. But the issue is that you can’t cast any spells while raging. So, your racial spells are basically shut off. The STR is nice since you’ll be able to hit hard, but you won’t have access to your full kit when you’re trying to operate at peak efficiency. There’s not a great space to take the +2 to WIS of the Githzerai over the primary STR stat of Barbarians. With no CON or DEX bonuses, your AC will be pretty sad. You’ll need to boost your CON and DEX at your nearest convenience. Do anything for the boosts. 

Githyanki

Ancestral Guardian: Fits the theme of fighting in the planes with the eventual addition of Force damage. Wants a high wis for mid-level play, so Githzerai is a side option if you boost your STR early on. 

Battlerager: Dwarf locked. Suboptimal anyway. BYE! 

Beast: This may be the only way to go to use the Form of the Beast for the Tail in order to get AC boosts. 

Berserker: Needs better CON and DEX to play aggressively. 

Depths: Water based campaigns. Not solid for you.

Juggernaut: Break things. The STR is good for that, but you’ll be limited by low CON and DEX.

Storm Herald: You’ll be able to hit hard, but you get hit harder. 

Totem Warrior – Bear: Getting all the resistance might be the only way (second to the Beast) to get your HP in a safer place. 

Totem Warrior – Eagle: The mobility here is usually great, but now it’s a pass, moving around too much will get you killed.

Totem Warrior – Elk: STR will be solid to knock people over, but you will get taken down faster.

Totem Warrior – Tiger: Jump around… TO YOUR DOOM! 

Totem Warrior – Wolf: Your life will be useful to provide advantage to your allies. 

Wild Magic: This one is just fun. Have a nice time. You won’t be great, but you’ll have a laugh.

Zealot: Though the subclass itself is very survivable, but having a crummy AC will make that very hard.


Bard

No CHA = Bad.

Creation: You need CHA to create.

Eloquence: You need CHA to perform the basic tasks of the subclass.

Glamour: You need CHA to be a star

Lore: You need CHA to use your skills.

Maestro: You need CHA to make the most out of your Conducting Techniques.

Swords: You need CHA to swishy-slashy.

Valor: A negative plus a negative actually equals a positive. Sorry, this is a joke. Don’t do this. Or do, it’s your life. 

Whispers: You need CHA to whisper madness into the minds of your enemies.

Blood Hunter

You’re split down the middle here. Having INT is great, but you’d really want the STR and WIS, not either or. So, this isn’t the best fit for you. In reality, either Githyanki or Githzerai would operate adequately here. However, you can be more bashy with the -yanki, and lean more into the class abilities with the -zerai.

Githyanki or Githzerai

Ghostslayer: Limited utility in the long run, but solid with undead campaigns.

Lycan: You’d really enjoy having more CON to be a bit more tanky, but this works okay in the end.

Mutant: Your stats will shift around, so it’s not the end of the world that you don’t have the perfect array.

Githzerai

Profane Soul: Githzerai is a must to have to the +2 WIS for your spellcasting.

Cleric

The Githzerai is an excellent pick for this class. You’ll mostly be focusing on casting and skills, since you don’t have the frontline utility of races that offer STR or DEX boosts. 

Arcana: Wizard Cleric. Pretty solid overall. Great options from level to level. You’ll always have something the offer the group.

Blood: Though this sits more in the camp of homebrew, it’s still nicely balanced and you’ll be able use your Blood Puppet channel divinity feature with greater efficacy. I like it.

Death:  The Death Cleric is already one of my favorite options in the game, so I am biased here. Your abilities are excellent and you’ll especially love this if you face undead regularly. Much better than the Wizard Necromancer

Forge: Solid utility options. Free +1 AC or Weapon boosts at level one are pretty amazing. Boost yourself or your allies. Everyone will be happy.

Grave: Powerful abilities. Loves the +2 to WIS. Good pick.

Knowledge: Likes having INT as well, so this cleric combo was basically built for you.

Life: You’ll be a very formidable healer and it’ll be hard to keep you down. This may make you a priority target for smarter enemies, but you’ll be able to negate any advantage they might try to get on you (if they are within 30 feet). That means it’s up to the party to help keep you alive if enemies are farther than that. Don’t use heavy armor unless it’s better than what you’d get with your DEX bonus.

Light: Pretty incredible abilities. Your enemies will be clutching their eyes, trying to avert their gaze from your holy radiance.

Nature: They have a lot of utility when you are out and about in nature. If you’re out on the planar seas, this might not be the right pick for you.

Order: A fun social cleric class with some solid crowd control options. 

Peace: This guy is pretty broken just because you get to add so many dice to people’s rolls. Basically, the party will pick who has the most powerful build, and then you’ll just make them unstoppable. Love it.

Tempest: My personal fave out of all the Cleric domains. I just like zapping people when they try to hit me, plus you can pop Shield when you run out of zaps. 

Trickery: Realistically, needs a better CHA score to keep up with the Trickery domain’s social expectations.

Twilight: Powerful, powerful, powerful abilities. I love these guys. Just keep up the Advantage to Initiative rolls and you’ll be golden.

War: The guided strike channel divinity ability is totally sick. +10’s to hit are a win.

Druid

A +2 to WIS. That’s all you need, baby! Welcome to Druid land! 

Githzerai

Dreams: Really fun abilities that expand roleplay/gameplay options beyond the waking world.

Land: Decent abilities, but I think they are outshined by the newer, shinier druid subclasses. Though, it is a classic, and it’s not like it can’t do awesome damage.

Moon: Just a solid druid pick. It’s a little weird to consider what animals a Githzerai has seen in Limbo or on the Astral plane, but that is a really cool creative space for you to collaborate with your DM.

Shepherd: Awesome conjurations spells and abilities that rival the Conjuration Wizard’s abilities well into the late game

Spores: Pretty tanky druids with all of their abilities taken into account. I think they’re just “okay” in nine out of ten situations, but they can be a pivotal last line of defense in a sticky situation.

Stars: Love these guys. They are top-tier druids. Their efficiency is unrivaled.

Wildfire: The Arson Druid. Solid pick for the burgeoning wild-child, pyromaniac

Fighter

You’re well set to enjoy the Eldritch Knight or the Psi Warrior, but everything else wants what you don’t have. STR is good, but it’s not enough on its own, in my opinion. You can make it work if you wear heavy armor and use a shield to get a better AC, but you’re not going to be operating in an optimal space.

Githyanki

Arcane Archer: You have the INT but you need DEX.

Battle Master: You’ll have to lean hard into STR to get by. You need more than that to really thrive though.

Cavalier: It’d be cool ride a dragon through the Astral Sea since that’s right up the Gith’s alley, but that’s not really an option for you unless your DM gets really cool (and probably very late into the game). 

Champion: Your expanded crit range is going to be what keeps you formidable. Pray to the dice gods.

Echo Knight: Really cool subclass, but a suboptimal combo.

Eldritch Knight: STR and INT. Booyah. This a very good fit. You’re getting at the core of what this subclass wants to do. Hit hard and blast evocation spells. 

Gunslinger: Sad DEX noises. Hit people with your gun or throw bullets really hard and maybe you stand a chance.

Psi Warrior: Use your brain and lean into the psionic abilities of the Gith. This is pretty much what Gith are in the first place, so it’s a perfect lore fit as well.

Purple Dragon Knight: Refit as a “Red Dragon Knight” and it’s a decent lore fit as well. Giving bonuses to your allies and focusing on team synergies could salvage this combo.

Renegade: Sad DEX noises.

Rune Knight: A suboptimal race/class combo makes this a bad subclass pick.

Samurai: You’ll have the combat tools, but you won’t have the social side the Samurai wants to focus on. 

Monk

The Githzerai are, say it with me, MONKS! HUZZAH! But, it’s not all rainbows and kittens here, since you have no DEX bonus. If your DM lets you retrain your +1 to INT to DEX, then this gets better. If not, you won’t hit as hard as you’ll want to. They should be amazing, but they are only fine. This is where I say, Wizards of the Coast, you should have made the Githzerai a +1 WIS, +1 DEX… you know, since that’s what Monks want to do! 

Ascendant Dragon: Draconic abilities with the Githzerai could be a fun way to herald back to their heritage and connection to red dragons (though that is more on the -yanki side). 

Astral Self: You are already kind of your astral self when you’re on the Astral plane, so like… this is Astral self-ception.

Cobalt Soul: Truth punching. This actually feels like it would be pretty cool combo with a very introspective monk. They have found inner truth and can now find it IN VIOLENCE.

Drunken Master: It’s just Jackie Chan. It feels great to play mechanically and immensely fun to roleplay, however, you really need that DEX way up there.

Four Elements: I think the Four Elements Monk is a bit clunky mechanically and doesn’t do what it wants to do very well. Needs a rework, but it is still functional.

Kensei: Weapon master monk. Really solid and can give you a way to add some versatility to your combats. Frankly, this may be the way to go in order to benefit from Agile Parry, so you can get a boost to an AC that needs it.

Long Death: Totally fine. Decent damage, but you need that DEX up.

Mercy: Life giving monk. A nice utility monk and your Hands of Healing/Harm focus on your WIS score, so YAY! The lack of DEX won’t hurt as bad.

Open Hand: Classic monk. I think they’re alright overall. Very accessible. Need DEX though.

Shadow: Some amazing abilities, but they only *shine* in the dark.

Sun Soul: Goku. Be Goku when he is training with Kaio after he dies and goes to what is essentially the Astral Plane. 

Paladin

So, you have the STR. But you don’t have the CON or CHA that a Paladin really needs. So, this is not a good fit mechanically. 

Ancients: Great aura effect. Your spells will suffer.

Conquest: Your channel divinity for a +10 to hit is superb. Never miss a divine smite again!

Crown: Great combat options. Solid spellcasting (if you boost your CHA). A decent choice.

Devotion: The basic Paladin. Negating charm is fine, but you already have advantage on those saves. So, it’s up to you to decide if that feels too redundant.

Glory: Gives you one of the best mobility boosts in the entire game and your allies can benefit, but you have to make it to the mid-game. Also, the utility of giving temp HP after using your divine smites is immense.

Oathbreaker: One of the most powerful Paladin subclasses when everything is workin together, however, you have some big things working against you. Boost CON and CHA

Open Sea: Works best at sea. Otherwise, pass.

Redemption: The Rebuke the Violent Channel Divinity used against a powerful enemy is huge. But you’ll want a very high spell DC to make their save harder to pass. Boost your CHA!

Vengeance: Relentless Avenger will give you much needed mobility, but Glory is going to help your allies and with this suboptimal combo you should be trying to help everyone else.

Watchers: Good only for the thematic fit of watching the planes. 


Ranger

No DEX. Sad. You won’t be a bowman.

Picking between WIS and STR. Also sad, but not unrecoverable.

Ranger is going to feel suboptimal until you boost your lacking ability scores. Go _yanki for early damage, or -zerai for early class abilities. Then at Level 4, boost the missing attribute. You’re going to have to be a melee Ranger.

Githyanki or Githzerai

Beast Master: Needs to make access of all the Tasha’s optional features to even be viable. It’s fine, and using an optimal subrace would show how suboptimal this subclass actually is.

Drakewarden: A really fun pairing. Bring a dragon buddy along with you on your adventures and making it a little Red Dragon means it’s going to grow up to be your mount (at least as far as the Lore of the game goes). Have your Wizard friends cast the Enlarge spell… this can happen.

Fey Wanderer: Best in campaigns that involve the Feywild. Otherwise, their kit feels a little limited. But what they have is good! 

Gloom Stalker: One of the strongest subclasses in the game. Getting a high STR means you’re going to be able to hit enemies HARD again, and again, and again with your level 3 class features which will only become more fearsome as the game goes on.

Horizon Walker: Like the Watcher Paladin. Will likely be seeing a lot more play in the coming years of D&D. Solid toolset and a perfect lore fit for the Gith.

Hunter: Basic Ranger. They have a lot of options and can put out A LOT of damage in the right situation. The difficulty with them is that they basically ask you “when do you want to deal damage” and outside of that scenario you might feel less capable.

Monster Slayer: Big. Game. Hunter. A higher STR means this will be a better fit for you in the long run.

Swarmkeeper: The flavor is cool, the abilities themselves are solid, but they don’t synergize great with your racial abilities.

Rogue

No DEX isn’t great. The STR is usable. The WIS is usable. Having to pick between to usable things to make a suboptimal combo is not superb. The INT is nice for skills and the Arcane Trickster. You’re forced to be in melee, but we can use this to our advantage, and it actually turns out that a Gith Rogue can be pretty good!

Githyanki

Assassin: Needs the STR to at least try and hit hard. Mind you, Sneak Attack has to be used with a finesse or ranged weapon, so be sure that your DM knows that Finesse doesn’t just mean DEX, it can be STR or DEX. So, You’re doing fine.

Mastermind: Get in the melee to hit your opponents and bonus action help your allies to massive advantage. If anything, pair yourself with another Mastermind rogue and bonus action help each other. The sneak attack damage will be super broken.

Swashbuckler: Though it would rather have DEX, you can make this work.

Githzerai

Arcane Trickster: You have INT. IT WORKS!

Inquisitive: Your WIS will get you more sneak attacks.

Soulknife: Get access to psionics, a perfect lore fit. 

Thief: Not a good fit. Wants high DEX since this is like the template for the anticipated rogue.

Either

Phantom: Doesn’t worry to much about your ability scores, so this is a solid subrace agnostic choice.

Scout: Can benefit from either the STR or WIS, but the mobility will be a massive boon to either subrace.

Sorcerer

**It’s bad. See the Warlock for an expanded critique*

Aberrant Mind: The abilities are solid but they will always come off suboptimal.

Clockwork Soul: A fine pick if you want to multiclass for their level 1 ability, but will suffer in the long run.

Divine Soul: There are better ways for you to heal (Life Cleric/Mercy Monk). 

Draconic Bloodline: Love a dragon, but this is not the fit for you.

Rune Child: You will spend all your sorcery points trying to be barely useful.

Shadow Sorcery: Love the flavor, but I don’t savor this combo.

Storm Sorcery: Like the clockwork soul, you might take this for the level one ability, and the mobility is nice, but your damage would always be garbagio.

Wild Magic: The chaos of the fae is super exciting to play around with, but this is not the fit for you since the Wild Magic seldom triggers.

Warlock

*It’s really bad. See the Sorcerer for the TL;DR**

Archfey: Your

Celestial: Patron

Fathomless: Can’t

Fiend: Fix 

Genie: You.

Great Old One: Go 

Hexblade: To

Undying: THERAPY!

Wizard

At the end of the day, it’s up to you what direction you go since either way you get the +1 to INT. However, I recommend the Githyanki for the armor and weapon options. Wizards need that kind of defensive option at level 1 (and let’s be honest, they need it forever). 

Abjuration: Epitome of “play it safe”. Loads of defensive options.

Artificer: Play the Artificer class, folks. Don’t make me say it again! 

Bladesinging: I once played a Githyanki Bladesinger and had a really excellent time. I think they are a whole lot of fun if your DM lets you break the Elf-only rule (it’s racist anyway).

Chronurgist: Second only to the Divination wizard in absolutely game changing class features.

Conjuration: Amazing summons that really only get interesting in the late game. 

Divination: To this day, their ability to roll and pre-select outcomes is the number one class feature in the game.

Enchantment: You need a much higher INT (at least starting with +2) for your spell save DC, otherwise, you’re going to have a really bad time.

Evocation: Boost your INT at Level 4 to hit more reliably. Otherwise, awesome pick and great class features.

Graviturgist: I really like their effects and I think gravity magic is some of the coolest in the game, but you’ll have to pick when to use your effects wisely. You’re all about the set-up!

Illusion: Strong in the hands of a creative thinker. 

Necromancy: Not getting a horde of undead buddies is pretty sad. You’ll have an okay time, but you should really go to the Death Cleric, if you want to play this class optimally.

Order of Scribes: For the spell collectors out there, these guys are a hoot. You’ll be able to deny a lot of incoming damage just by knowing (and then temporarily forgetting) spells. That’s insane! 

Transmutation: These guys can be pretty fun, but with the advent of the full Artificer class, they have lost a lot of their draw.

War Magic: Arcane Deflection is wicked to boost your AC, but having low INT is going to hurt your class abilities later on. You need to prioritize a boost.

Racial Feats/Best Feats

There are no racial feats for the Gith. Super sad, I know. However, let’s look at some must-have feats! Honestly, before taking any of these, you’ll want to boost whatever ability score is lacking in your build (trust me, as a Gith player for the past few years, you will have at least one if you play a Gith). 

Mobile: Priority number one (after ability scores have been improved). Your mobility is extremely limited unless you go Githyanki for the Misty Step. But that’s not enough. Take this. You need it. 

Lucky: The Reroll Generator. I love this thing and always will. *Stares despondent and whispers to the feat: “You’re not broken. Don’t listen to them. You’re perfect just the way you are*

Alert: A plus +5 to initiative, are you kidding me? That’s a life saver. The other bonuses are solid as well.

Sage Gamers

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