The Gith are a race pulled in two extremely distinct directions in Dungeons & Dragons 5E. The Githzerai are the disciplined psychic warriors, who broke free from mental control of their Mind Flayer overlords to become allies of their enemies. The Githyanki’s freedom came at a cost; their bloodthirst caused them to be standoffish to the forces of good at the best of times, and a return to villainy at worst. No matter what, these psychic warriors are forces to trifle with, and should not be underestimated. Our Gith 5E guide will show you what these races can do.
Gith 5E Lore
In Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, the Gith started in a pretty awful place. For as long as their tomes can tell, they were enslaved by the Mind Flayers. They were underground, greenish people with long, slender bodies and a lack of nose. Their natural attunement to the Astral Plane allowed a very slow, methodical release from the enslavement of their oppressors. However, because of their intense need to have free will, the extremists on the two sides of the Gith forced a split between camps; the Githyanki and the Githzerai.
The Githyanki are the warrior tribe, who firmly believe that the Mind Flayers must pay for their crimes. They are violent, tend to act quickly, but aren’t without reason; they just are somewhat emotional in nature. They’ve fallen back under the servitude of the lich-queen, Vlaakith. The Githzerai, meanwhile, are almost the opposite. They believe that, after years of being nothing but minions, it is time to create a civilization and grow away from their past. They are thoughtful but very slow to act, leading to many conflicts ending before they make a moral decision.
The tragic conflict between these two races was amplified by the Mind Flayers, who still had enough influence to divide the camps. Now, instead of being truly free, the Githyanki and Githzerai battle. There is not much difference between the two races, since they are both Gith, though Githyanki tend to be naturally larger than the Githzerai. They are both yellowish-green in tone, relatively close to the same size as humans, with stubby noses and elven ears.
Githyanki tend to be more likely to be evil, but can easily have great hearts and minds. Githzerai tend to be lawful no matter what, but their cause is usually aligned with those that agree with anti-slavery.
Gith names are extremely unique amongst the races. Check out our Gith names guide if you’re looking for ideas for names!
Gith share almost nothing between the two subraces; they have been divided by magic and nature to the point where they’re almost distinct.
- +1 Intelligence. Intelligence is a pretty rarely used stat. For non-Intelligence casters, you’re basically only using this for skill checks and an underrepresented save. I’m just not a big fan, but as your secondary (+1) stat, it’s not super important.
- Medium Size, 30 Ft Speed. Extremely normal, and the Gith are just a little taller than humans. You’re not going to get much extra out of any strange height or weight. But that can be a blessing as well, since you know what cover works and whatnot.
- Languages. Your only fun language is Gith, which isn’t great. Only other Giths really know the language, so you’re not gonna hop over language barriers very easily. On the other hand, you can use this as a secret language between party members. Could be fun!
These warriors might share the baseline stuff… But good lord are they distinct!
- +2 Strength. Strength is about as niche as Intelligence. Strength is great for melee attacks, boosts an alright Skill check, is for a pretty poor save, and increases carrying capacity… Yeah, not too important if you’re not swinging a weapon around your head like a maniac.
- Decadent Mastery. The extra language can be good for breaking language boundaries or having a secret language. That’s not bad, but probably more important is the free additional skill or tool. This can let you fill gaps in your party and let you take on a bunch of roles, including emergency trap disabler. We suggest getting a generally good skill, like Perception, if there’s no role to fill.
- Martial Prodigy. Great in concept, problematic in execution. What classes would like access to these weapons? Most of the time, the classes that make the best use of Longsword and Greatswords will have that proficiency. The same thing with armor. You can use this to bring a Wizard into the frontlines… But why on earth would you want to do that? Bladesinger? That doesn’t even work! Don’t worry about wasting these proficiencies.
- Githyanki Psionics. The Mage Hand with a small buff is fun, allowing you to manipulate your environment. Nothing intensive, but a free cantrip is a free cantrip. Eventually, you get Jump… Which is definitely a spell. It’s like a really bad version of flight. Not bad, but certainly not the best thing you could get. Speaking of best things, Misty Step. Misty Step lets you quickly and effectively reposition. Considering you’re a melee character, that extra mobility is perfect.
- +2 Wisdom. Wisdom is the best mental stat, since it is constantly attacked by magic and is the stat for the best skills in the game. However, this is such an incredibly awful combo with Intelligence! No Wisdom class cares much for Intelligence, and neither does any Intelligence class! There’s a lot you can do with these stats if you don’t mind spending some racial power on things that you class cares not for.
- Mental Discipline. Charmed and Frightened are both abysmal to fight against. Anytime you fail a save against them, your combat power drops dramatically. So, being effectively immune to the effect is rather potent. However, these are just two of many different debuffs that can be potentially applied to you… So this won’t come in handy too often.
- Githzerai Psionics. Mage hand, just like the Githyanki, is just fine. It moves things around, it’s invisible. It does the good stuff. Compared to the Githyanki, Shield is much more useful. Great defensive tool, great anti-GM shenaniganry. Good thing to have as a racial and constant in your pocket. Detect Thoughts is more niche than Misty Step, but is an incredible ability for social situations! And you can even use it to counter invisibility, which is nice.
The classes we will be considering will be assuming you’re willing to play both Githyanki and Githzerai. If you are only wanting to play one or the other, this list will be a little bit less useful for you.
Good Classes for Giths
- Artificer. This one’s hard. The Githzerai likely make the best artificers, though both are fine. Your Intelligence boost comes in handy fine, but Wisdom… Well, it’s nice to have some Wisdom for saving throws. And then, the Githzerai becomes good at resisting mental effects, making them good at fighting. It’s not the best choice, but not the worst.
- Barbarian. Barbarians typically don’t care about Intelligence, which is why your Githyanki will be so cool! A Barbarian with an extra skill, spell utility, and even the ability to talk in multiple different languages is a cool character concept. It might not be the optimal, Constitution-heavy Barbarian, but it’s far from bad.
- Cleric. Clerics might not care much for Int, but a cleric with the ability to throw a Shield out of their pocket every day is extremely good! You’re basically replacing a class with a Dexterity boost or Strength to gain better defensive options. That’s… very reasonable! Great choice.
- Druid. Very similar to Cleric, Druids adore having high Wisdom. Once again, you’ll be replacing a class with physical skills for better defensive spells and Mental Discipline. Really fair trade, especially if you want to go Wild Shape or hard caster!
- Fighter. Githyanki make great melee fighters. Sure, you waste your free weapon proficiencies, but the stats are great, and you get really unique mobility tools. The extra skill goes a long way, too! If you plan on going Eldritch Knight, this gets even better!
Paladin. The Githyanki aren’t bad Paladins, good enough to make the cut. The extra utility (from skills and spells) make paladins more useful for out-of-combat situations. Your Intelligence goes to a huge, unfortunate waste… But that can be alright, the utility can be worthwhile.
- Wizard. Githzerai and Githyanki alike are fine Wizards. Githyanki give wizards free Medium armor, good utility, but an unnecessary Strength bonus. Githzerai is great defensive utility for mental attacks (or actual darts of energy), but their high Wisdom is less important for a class with proficiency.
Bad Classes for Giths
- Bard. Neither race offers anything significantly beneficial to bard. You get no Dexterity or Charisma, no Darkvision or effects that help your Charisma skills… Nothing. You can do Githyanki/Valor Bard, but that won’t be the best for you. There are way too many better races for the Bard; WotC loves Charisma.
- Monk. The Githzerai have one really fun build; the Astral Self. However, no matter what you choose, your monk will be extremely non-tanky, deal very low damage (especially early on)… There’s just not really a reason to play a Monk. It’s too dangerous!
- Ranger. The Githyanki can be alright melee rangers, but the Ranger doesn’t need the extra skill or spells. The Ranger is so much more dexterity-focused.
- Rogue. The Rogue is not well supported by either of these classes. A lack of a Dexterity increase almost negates your reason for playing entirely. And a Rogue can get the utility of either Gith with the Arcane Trickster archetype.
- Sorcerer. Like the Bard, a lack of Charisma, Darkvision, or anything to help with Charisma skills… That’s not great. Mix in the fact that Sorcerer naturally gets some of the psionic utility, and you don’t have much of a reason to use the Gith here. Other than maybe medium armor.
- Warlock. Warlock is close to working, with some utility being well-liked by the class. However, Warlocks have relatively easy access to Medium Armor, and good utility all-around. They also rely on Charisma a bit more than you’d think, with a lot of their abilities getting Charisma bonuses to attack and damage. There are better races for them!
The Gith are a race in conflict. They can handle many, many different roles with their diverse skill set, but excel at very little. Depending on if you’re a Githyanki or Githzerai, you’re bringing an intelligent, psychic toolset onto a battlefield. Give them a try if you want insane utility with your next Intelligence class, or if you want to just have psychic powers without perfect stats.