Githyanki as player characters

Githyanki OG

by Russ Nicholson

Warriors from the Astral Plane

Githyanki are descended from a humanoid species enslaved by the Illithid thousands of years ago, used as both labor and as a source of food. Led by the legendary Gith, from whom they take their name, they revolted against their psionic overlords made their way to the Astral Plane. In this alien space between the planes, the Githyanki carved out floating citadels from pieces of long dead deities, eventually founding Tu’narath, their capital city built on the corpse of a god.

The githyanki society is a military-minded cultural engine that does its best to make its people warlike and vicious, looking down on all other races and species. They stop their conquests only for two things: to destroy illithid or destroy githzarai. Githzarai are born of the same stock, both having fought for their freedom against the illithid empire but some unknown conflict during the fall of the illithid has led to a hatred between these two descendants of Gith. Their extermination of one another only takes pause to stamp out illithid.

The Lich-Queen’s Subjects

The githyanki are without a pantheon, instead paying homage to the lich-queen, a hungry patron who reigns from her palace on Tu’narath, surrounded by her eunuch warlocks. When one of her subjects becomes too powerful, she calls them to her palace where she can publicly devour their life essence. To deny the lich-queen when summoned is to be branded a traitor by your people and to be hunted across the planes of existence.

githyanki FF full

by Russ Nicholson

Size. Githyanki are well over six feet tall and weigh between 170 and 190 pounds. Your size is medium.

Age. Githyanki reach physical maturity at the same age as humans and rarely live past 60 years.

Alignment. Githyanki are most often evil, having been raised in a harsh culture of military imperialism, instilled with a feeling of superiority and lack of empathy. Good Githyanki are rare but sometimes occur.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet. In the Astral Plane, Githyanki can move at 120 feet, being used to moving with one’s mind as the guiding muscle.

Language. You speak secret language of Gith. You also speak Draconic and Common. In this setting, you may choose one more language: Drow, Dwarvish, Quaggoth or Gnomish.

Draconic Pact. Your people have had a pact with red dragons since your first days on the Astral Plane. When using your persuasion skill with a red dragon, you have advantage.

Psionic Resistance. You have resistance to psychic damage and have advantage against any saves against mind-control spells or psionic attacks.

Psionic Powers. You know the mage hand cantrip.

At 5th level, you know clairvoyance and can cast it once per day.

At 7th level you know dimension door and can cast it once per day.

At 9th level you know telekinesis and can cast it once per day.

At 14th level you can cast plane shift once per day.

You use these powers as a Wizard of your class level; you do not need any material components.

Lich-Queen’s Hunger. At 9th level, you must make a wisdom save, DC 15. If you fail, the lich-queen calls you back to Tu’narath so that she can devour your life essence, allowing your power to serve your people. If you refuse her summons, her first subject will be of equal power to you, increasing in power if you should defeat them.

If you succeed, nothing happens. You will make this save at every subsequence level, adding +1 to the DC each time.

WEB githyanki

by Russ Nicholson

Thank you to everyone who helped with comments, critique and encouragement on G+.

D&D begins

Riffing off of this post, a few local gamers got together and made their characters for some surface crawling.

The party (so far):

Zuul, the Quaggoth/Folk Hero/Ranger CG

Saav, the Drow/Acolyte/Monk CG

Gorgolog, the Orc/Gladiator/Fighter CE

Vistra, the Dwarf/Acolyte/Cleric LG or NG? (DM’s NOTE: I kinda like that we aren’t sure just yet)


I gave them a hand-drawn hex map of the area, as it was known to a dwarven general during the war, over 1000 years ago. This rag-tag group was brought together because they pooled their money and purchased a charter that allowed them to have sole access to this portal to the surface.

I asked us all to gather around the map in character to decide which direction they would head into next week. So, they huddled around a bio-luminescent mushroom growing out of a table in a lean-to at the bottom of the pit that they’ve chartered the rights to. This will be their town, their home base, growing with them.

“Would you like to name your little charter corporation?”

“We can’t name it yet. Naming it gives it power over us.”

Nice, Dev.

Gorgolog made a roll to see where the orcs were in the area…but I had the area made up and there were no orcs. :( He rolled a 10 on his history check and found out that the elves, when they established their fort, exterminated any and all orcs that were in the mountains. Gorgolog’s hero, Bogg Skullsplitter, used to spin a dagger when he was unsure of where to go (unless it pointed to where he had been, then he would spin again). Using that bit of orcish game design, we spun a pencil.

The group will head off into the northeast.

GM’s Chores:

Re-read the races with an eye towards hacking. I have to do a full write-up for the Quaggoth, Githyanki and maybe some underground Backgrounds. Bret is already hard at work on his write-up for full-blooded orc as a PC.

Get some maps printed out for what awaits them to the northeast.

Read up on Inspiration, relevant Monsters, Combat.

A Web of Cities

You’ve got 12 Nearby Cities and now you want to start forming a web of political intrigue, creating a sense of history and motion. Roll dice until you are satisfied. Don’t make it too complicated.

Roll another 2d12, those are two cities. Roll another d6:


War is pending. The cities are hiring mercenaries and preparing their armies for the coming season of war. Trade sanctions have been in place for some time.


Treaty by Marriage is pending. The rulers or ruling class of one city is about to marry into the ruling family or class of the other, making a strong alliance. Roll another 1d12 if you want to find out which city is nervous about this.


Civil War is pending. One of the cities is about to be ravaged by internal strife and the other city is aiding the revolutionaries.


Hordes are coming. An invasion is coming from beyond the lands currently mapped and one city is set to bear the brunt of the first wave and the other is in denial that the first attack will be as bad as it will certainly be.


Unity is coming. These two cities want all of the local cites to form a league in order to support each other through any invasions or future troubles.



Peace is coming. After a bloody and brutal conflict, two sides are ready to sue for peace. Roll another 1d12 if you want a third city to act as a diplomat and broker the process.




Ode to Zaheer

Zaheer is the best villain the Legend of Korra has ever put together. 

He looks cool.



He goes too far but he also has a point.


He leads a team of total bad-asses. You can feel their shared history when they are on the screen together.



And he is voiced by:

Henry Rollins

Daydreaming about a Hexcrawl

Thinking about Quinn’s posts about Drow and thinking about West Marches, I’m daydreaming about a hexcrawl.

Your maps are a thousand years out of date as you make your way to the surface…

It is one thousand years since the Drow exodus to the Underdark, soon after which the Web Matriarchs went to war against the Star King in the West. The Drow cut themselves from the fate dictated by the stars’ song, bound themselves instead to the Matron’s Holy Web. 

Every nation was drawn in to this elven civil war. Gnomes, dwarves, drow, quaggoth and githyanki allied against elves, humans, hobbits and githzarai. On both sides, there were those who went against the majority. Undead were split – Ghouls and zombies made alliances on the surface while vampires and liches made alliances with the under-kingdoms. Orc were found on both sides.

Terrible arcane powers were unleashed that have left scars above and below, unleashing fell powers into the world. The gods sent visions to make it clear, this war would end the world if it continued. The holy gathered under a cessation of violence and crafted the treaty, binding a devil, angel and demi-god to enforce it. The treaty demanded that everyone choose above or below and stand by that choice for a thousand years: tunnels, stone and secrets buried in the earth or sun, moon and the heroes depicted in the stars.

Your ancestors chose tunnel, stone and secrets. In that thousand years, drow matriarchs have established vast city-states ruled by a complicated alliance of noble houses and priestesses. The githyanki attempted to take over the tunnels some years ago but were shut down by the combined might of their former allies; they are still present, though diminished – all of their red dragons slumber. The dwarves were driven into debt by the war effort and blamed their allies, always threatening to break the treatise as their princes and holdfasts faded from their former glory. The gnomes have quietly migrated deeper and deeper. The quaggoth ride underdark-bred dinosaurs, riding their steeds along ancient tunnel highways, following their mushroom herds. 

Your maps are a thousand years out of date as you make your way to the surface…


Question: 1000 years or 10,000 years?

Reading, Planning and Writing: Another Beautiful Friday (Gen Con Jealousy)

Reading: I’ve got The Lone Range and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie on my phone’s Kindle app. I’m really loving the poetry and humor in Alexie’s writing. This might turn out to be one of my favorite books ever. In print, I’m reading Book of the New Sun, which I’m enjoying but can drag a bit here and there.

Online, Quinn’s posts on Drow and race are cool – here and also here.

Planning: I’ve got some gaming coming up on the horizon – not this weekend but towards the end of the month. This weekend I just want to catch up on the exhaustion debt I accrued last weekend.

Writing: This week I’ve really fallen down on my writing. There have been several days when I’d get home from work, skip dinner and go straight to bed. I need to carve out that time-space for my keyboard but I haven’t found it just yet.

And you?

12 Nearby Cities

You’ve got that fantasy city you made up on the map – here are some neighbors beyond the map’s edges:


Asmodeen: former capital of the Tiefling empire, back when there was an empire. Made to honor the God-Tyrant, Asmodeus but was never officially recognized as His unholy capital city. The city is guarded by the 13 Altar-Fortresses, each commanded by a warlock-commander.

Exports: goats, obsidian, indentured devil tutors


Bahamudad: holy city of the Dragonborn, where it is said that Bahamut and Tiamat’s high priests and priestesses made a peace accord and gathered to create the species after the first Dragon War.

Exports: lumber, ancient coins, accountants


The Walking Cathedral: an ancient, lumbering machine said to be built in a collaboration between saints, sorcerers, devils and gods before the world knew of war and blood. The path it lumbers along is completed once every season, said to be on guard against the Tarrasque.

Exports: buffalo, holy books, oracles and scribes


Pentacle: a new and growing metropolis made by a cabal of five mages who have built a merchant house from their money made from stolen dragon’s hoards and looted lich’s tombs, surrounded by five towers that are still under construction and stout walls.

Exports: vellum, ink, map-makers


High Fell: a city in the middle of the Bright Bay, built atop the skyships, airships and spelljammers that fell to the earth during the Storm Wars. The ships are connected via tunnels and gangplanks, purchasing a ship entangles one into complicated relationships with one’s neighbors.

There are Lower Fells all over the Bright Sea.

Exports: fish, otherworldly artifacts, artifact appraisers


Corvuston: the holy city of the Raven Queen with necropolis walls and many murders.

Exports: marble, embalmers, morticians and undead hunters


Ulula: the city that clings to the fortress built by the owl god is known for its giant owl steeds and the city’s knights who ride them – delivering messages and slaying monsters that haunt the night.

Exports: wool, flying steeds and astonishingly recent news from afar


Endë-Osto: the deepest city of the Drow is ruled by a matriach whose throne is said to float in the center of the earth. Her queensguard is made of the palest of the drow sword-maidens who have never seen sun, moon nor stars; they ride dinosaurs bred for traversing tunnels. 

Exports: mushrooms, ore, gems and Underdark guides


Three Giants Dam: Before the Curse fell upon the Giants and damned them to mindless savagery, they used their magics to raise a dam that stretched miles wide and half a mile thick and high, sealing the Sunset Ocean off from the Inner Sea, and creating the lush Valley of Indris. The dam still stands inviolate, the three carved giants on its face standing testament to their once-mighty craft. The smaller races have built a city of interlocking platforms, scaffolds, and houses all along its inner face, with the world’s greatest and most dangerous harborage spilling over the top.
Exports: wine from scaffold-grown grapes, old Giantish machina from the access tunnels, magebred messenger monkeys.
By Jim DelRosso


J’arr: also know as the City of a 1000 ports it is said to have been created in a single night by a djinn of the first order. J’arr sits at the mouth of the mighty river All’taugh, the Sweet, known for its refreshing and soothing waters.  High minarets and brightly colored palaces speckle the skyline and merchants and creatures of all sorts walk its streets.  It has been thousands of years since the city’s founding but the mage with ruby eyes still rules as he always has. It is said that in the dunes that surround the city a giant insect god with glittering eyes watches from beneath the surface. 

Exports: olives, diplomats, (there is a school for diplomatic and negotiating skills within the city), and pepper.

by Anthony Loinaz


Big Shire: a sprawling series of hills inter-connected with hobbit holes, weed dens and sabbatical hostels for over-stressed wizards. The Big Shire is governed by a complicated morass of mayors and sheriffs.
Exports: pipe weed, cabbage, fireworks, burglars

Labyrinth: an urban maze created by and constantly kept up and altered by minotaur architects and masons. The city is a philosophical statement about choice and free will and is said to be slowly dying along with the minotaur species.
Exports: bricks, architects, book-binders