In today's Plane Above
excerpt, we introduce the githyanki -- fearsome pirates of the Astral Sea, restrained only by their awareness that victims deprived of their belongings and their lives will be unable to produce more belongings for the githyanki to steal. Though they are arguably the finest navigators and sailors of the Astral Sea, they learned their trade late. Before they became astral sailors, they were unwilling planar warriors as slaves of the illithids.
History of the Githyanki
Centuries ago, in the years of mortal empires after the Dawn War, the githyanki were members of a race of enslaved humanoids known as gith, after the name of one of their greatest leaders. The mind flayers, whose dark empires stretched out of the Far Realm, into the Underdark, and across the mortal world, kept the gith as slaves. The illithids yearned to extend their influence throughout the planes, and their seemingly cowed servitors, the gith, became obvious candidates for training as planar soldiers. The mind flayers trained the gith as a slave army that could spearhead invasions across planar boundaries.
Unfortunately for their masters, the gith took to the military mindset without swallowing the poison pill of ultimate obedience. The slaves that were supposed to submit to the illithids rose in rebellion. The gith overpowered their masters and escaped through the worlds as they had been taught to do. Gith, the leader of the rebellion, declared an Eternal Crusade, calling her people to remain ever vigilant against the threat of the illithids from then on. (See "Tu’narath, City of Death" in Dragon #377 for more information.)
Since the gith were a zealous and violent lot, freedom soon erupted into civil war. The followers of Gith clung to the military traditions the mind flayers had instilled, and they wanted to put their skills to best use, building a military machine that would be able to avenge itself fully upon the illithids and the other creatures of the Far Realm. The opposition, led by a mystic named Zerthimon, thought that the time for blind militarism was over.
The leaders fought, Zerthimon won, and he and the faction calling themselves the githzerai split away from the people of Gith and moved into the Elemental Chaos. Those who chose to stay true to their militaristic ways stayed loyal to Gith, renamed themselves the githyanki, and went in the other direction, invading the Plane Above where the deities ruled.
Military discipline served the githyanki well in their desperate early years. They put their training to use and seized a few scattered astral motes, since the territories of the deities were too strong and well organized for them to confront directly. As an offshoot of the Eternal Crusade, Gith developed a long-term plan to ensure the survival and prominence of the githyanki, embodied in what were called the three great stratagems: carving out a home base, cultivating an alliance, and refining a weapon that would enable the githyanki to hold onto what they had attained.
After decades (some say centuries), the githyanki happened upon a massive floating island. They called the island, which was the corpse of a dead god, Tu’narath. By making this place their main home and the central base for their wide-flying astral ships, the githyanki attained the first great stratagem of their eventual ascendancy in the Astral Sea.
Githyanki Sword Stalker
The silver sword is a sacred item to the githyanki. Some silver swords contain fragments of astral detritus, giving them the power to banish aberrations from existence. If a silver sword falls into the hands of a nongithyanki, a small but elite cadre of githyanki knights known as the sword stalkers is tasked with recovering the weapon. Sword stalkers are trained to cross the Astral Sea, travel to other planes, and even delve into the dens of their hated mind flayer enemies to recover a lost sword. For a sword stalker, recovering a silver sword is more than just a matter of pride—it’s about retrieving one of the most precious weapons in the githyanki arsenal that will be used in the final battles of the Eternal Crusade—battles that many githyanki believe will take place in the Far Realm itself.
Githyanki Sword Stalker
Level 17 Soldier
Medium natural humanoid
Initiative +14 Senses Perception +13
HP 160; Bloodied 80
AC 33; Fortitude 30, Reflex 28, Will 29
Saving Throws +2 against charm effects
+24 vs. AC; 1d12 + 6 damage plus 1d6 psychic damage (crit 2d12 + 24 damage). Effect: The target is marked until the end of the githyanki sword stalker’s next turn.
+22 vs. AC; 2d12 + 3 damage (crit 2d12 + 27 damage), and the target drops any weapon it’s holding.
+24 vs. AC; 2d12 + 3 damage (crit 2d12 + 27 damage), and the triggering attack instead targets the githyanki sword stalker. The githyanki sword stalker gains a +2 bonus to AC and Reflex against this attack.
Close burst 1; +20 vs. Reflex; 1d12 + 3 damage (crit 2d12 + 15 damage), and until the end of the githyanki sword stalker’s next turn, the target is marked and slowed by it.
Telekinetic Leap (move; encounter)
The githyanki sword stalker or an ally within 10 squares of it can fly 5 squares.
Languages Common, Deep Speech
Str 24 (+15)
Dex 19 (+12)
Wis 20 (+13)
Con 16 (+11)
Int 10 (+8)
Cha 11 (+8)
Equipment plate armor, silver fullblade
Githyanki Sword Stalker Tactics
Githyanki sword stalkers are trained to deal with enemies foolish enough to wield silver swords against them. As such, they are expert duelists and always try to use unavoidable swordsmanship to engage a weapon-wielding foe head-on. Once this tactic is successful, the sword stalker uses disarming reclamation to force its foe to drop its weapon, which can then be retrieved.