Baldur’s Gate 3 – You Should Play a Githyanki (Seriously)

According to official stats released by Larian Studios after Baldur’s Gate 3’s release, Githyanki are the least popular race in the game. This should be no surprise; they are a strange race that isn’t present in the 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook (unlike every other race and most subraces in Baldur’s Gate 3), and they come off as otherworldly and brutish even in the brief description unfamiliar players are given by the game. Plus, their appearance is at least a bit offputting. In short; they seem, at first glance, to be hard to roleplay, weird-looking, and unfamiliar. I can hardly blame people for being wary.

But, despite that apprehension, you really should play a Githyanki (sometimes shortened to Gith) in your next playthrough. Let me tell you why.

Most players will have already noticed the [Baldurian] speech tag that accompanies some dialog. If you have, that’s because you played one of the many races (including Humans, Elves, both the half-races, and more) whose most interesting trait is being from the city the game is named after. A few players might’ve instead seen dialog tags for [Underdark], or for some specific races ([Dragonborn] and [Tiefling] being the most common). But none of those are as frequent, or as important, and the dialog tag for [Githyanki].

There are a few reasons for this. The most obvious is that the very first companion you meet, Lae’zel, is Gith. Meaning that you get to exercise those [Githyanki] dialog tags really early. In fact, in both your first interaction with the Intellect Devourer Us, and your first conversation in the game with Lae’zel, the tag [Githyanki] is present. And this is just the start. If Lae’zel stays in your party (and there is a good chance that she will, given her popularity among fans), then you’ll see [Githyanki] a lot, and there are countless interactions that are influenced by you being a Githyanki (especially when interacting with, you guessed it, Githyanki).

baldurs gate 3 githyanki dialogue options

Githyanki, you see, are ancestral enemies of the dreaded ghaik — which means “Mind Flayer”. Given the prominence of Mind Flayers in the story, then, is it any surprise that a Githyanki character constantly has something to say based on their unique ancestry? Combined with the fact that both one of the best areas is controlled by Gith, one of the best quests sees you dealing with Gith, and one of the best companions being a Gith, then, you’ll end up with countless dialog options that really help connect your character to the world, and give further context and roleplaying opportunities that other races simply won’t have.

Listen, no offense to “Dwarven Resilience,” “Gnome Cunning,” or “Darkvision” (so much Darkvision…), but most racial features are simply not very interesting, and some are downright useless. The various resistances and darkvisions are passive effects that don’t impact gameplay very directly, and other abilities often add proficiency or advantage to checks of some kind — not exactly the most revolutionary effect. The best racial features are those that provide much more, like Half-Orc’s “Relentless Endurance”, but even that only activates if you are already in dire straits. Most racial features, while useless in some contexts, are just not that exciting or game-changing.

Githyanki are the exception. They get 3 abilities at the start, “Martial Prodigy”, “Astral Knowledge”, and the first of their Githyanki Psionics: “Mage Hand”. By level 3, they also get another Githyanki Psionic: “Jump.” And — Holy Shar — those blow the other races’ abilities out of the water.

baldurs gate 3 githyanki abilities

Martial Prodigy is the simplest, merely giving Githyanki proficiencies with swords if their class lacked that proficiency. That in and of itself is deceptively good, since the best class for Githyanki is Monk, and having extra weapon proficiencies means that more weapons count as “Monk Weapons”, drastically increasing the class’s versatility. But that’s just the starter.

We get a more interesting ability with “Astral Knowledge.” You remember how I said many races just give bonuses (either Advantage or Proficiency) to skills? Yeah, Githyanki can use Astral Knowledge to become proficient in any skill in Baldur’s Gate 3, whenever they want. Once per day — and for the remainder of the day — a Gith can activate Astral Knowledge to become proficient in all skills belonging to any given Attribute, meaning that, with careful planning, Gith can be regularly proficient in more skills than any other Race (or Class, even) in the game.

But we aren’t done yet! Githyanki Psionics also give Gith access to two very useful utility spells: “Mage Hand” and “Jump.” Mage Hand can be used to bypass all manner of traps, pull all kinds of otherwise inaccessible levers, and slide through every tiny hole and pipe in the game. And Githyanki get it for free, no spell slots or known spell commitments. The same is true for “Jump,” which allows direct access to dozens of areas otherwise impossible to reach. Even for casters, these are excellent to have, freeing up their prepared spell list by covering some common utilities. And for non-casters? They open up worlds of possibilities.

So, you know how I mentioned earlier that [Githyanki] dialog tags appear everywhere, largely because of their ancestral rivalry with the ghaik (“Mind Flayers”)? Let’s not just pretend the effect of that is a few extra pieces of dialog — for those who get into the role-play of Baldur’s Gate 3 (which is most players, it seems), the story involving the Githyanki can impact a Gith character extremely hard. Not only do they have unique ways to react to the events of the plot involving the Githyanki Crèche and the Githyanki Queen Vlaakith, but a dedicated role-player might take the events within the Crèche to heart, meaning that Lae’zel won’t be the only one going on an arc related to her place amongst her people.

baldurs gate 3 githyanki storyline

In order to avoid spoilers, I won’t say too much, but suffice to say that Lae’zel’s arc and Companion Quest is not only one of the most fully-fleshed out and best-written in the game, but is also the only one involving a Companion’s race so fully. Which means that, when playing as a Gith, it is your race that is most directly involved with the ghaik-laden story. No other race in the game offers so much narrative potential for the main plot.

For Githyanki, the implantation of the parasite isn’t just personal, it’s ancestral. And, with a world as flush with fascinating lore as Faerûn, engaging with it from the perspective of a character with that deep of a history with it really can add a lot to the experience.

Arguably, the best writing in Baldur’s Gate 3 comes from your Companions. And, for the most part, very little changes with those Companions depending on what race or class you play as. No matter what, Astarion will still want to suck your blood, Gale will still tell you about the time his dalllance with a goddess ended in the implantation of a thermonuclear bomb in his chest, and (spoilers) Karlach will still be the greatest character to ever get shafted in Act 3, and all in the same ways. But, for two of the most popular (and earliest) Companions, playing as a Githyanki can add a lot.

The first is Lae’zel. I’ve already mentioned her a few times previously, but it should come as no surprise that the Companion whose race is most closely tied to their quest and to the main story of the game really goes care if you are a Githyanki. She is still just as blunt and forthright as ever (thankfully), but she now has more reason to be: you are her kin, but you don’t follow her path. You ought to be in the domain of her queen, Vlaakith, but you might not be (though she will respect you more if you are). And you and her share the racial animosity against the ghaik. Essentially, Lae’zel’s story — again, one of the most well-realized in the game — is just made better and deeper if she has someone to share it with, something only possible if you are a Gith.

baldurs gate 3 githyanki laezel in the thing

And you know what other character has one of the most well-realized and best written quests in the game, and who is also a fan favorite? Shadowheart, the second character you meet in the game and the first full-time companion you’ll get (and she’s a Cleric, so… She usually sticks around). She beigns the game with a stolen Gith artefact that turns out to be the key to unlocking some very fascinating things in the Gith Crèche, and she clearly has a history with Githyanki. When she first meets you, even if you save her life, she is apprehensive of you due to this — a suspicion made worse due to Lae’zel — and remains constantly vigilant against you to begin with.

Which makes her questline (and romance, should you choose that route) all the more impactful: she doesn’t just need to get over her bias against Lae’zel or her personal issues, she also has to get over her prejudice against you. Given that Shadowheart is an exceedingly popular choice for both party composition and romance, with one of the deepest quests in the game, it really means a lot when you can stop to ask her how you’re living up to her expectations, and to have her reply in terms of how you are so much more than she expected. That aspect of her character development is barely noted, through Lae’zel, if you aren’t a Gith, but if you are? You get to experience her arc through a new light.

There is some innate human desire to be in on something no one else is, isn’t there? Just the feeling that we want to stand out from the pack. Experience things in a different way from others. Sometimes, it really is that simple: it can be fun to be in the exclusive club.

With that in mind, let’s look at the stats:

baldurs gate 3 githyanki popularity

During Baldur’s Gate 3’s launch weekend, roughly 270,000 players played Half-Elves. Nearly as many played Humans and Elves, respectively, for a collective total of more than 700,000 people playing bland “Baldurian” races. Nothing wrong with that (and, statistically, you are likely to be among them), but one only has to scan to the right to see that Githyanki seem to have capped out at around 15,000 players. That’s nearly a twenty-fold difference in popularity between the top and bottom of the list.

Given what we’ve shared, that means that somewhere around 98% of players (give or take) missed out on playing the best race in Baldur’s Gate 3 when the game launched. That’s a lot of people that ought to rectify that, and make a Githyanki for playthrough #2 (the game is open enough to be worth it. Trust me). And, when you do, you’ll know that you get to be in the elite cadre of players who gets to play the game as a Githyanki. You’ll have access to the most interesting dialog, the most compelling stories, the best racial features, and the best party banter, after all. What’s not to like?

So, all that said, when it is time to create that new adventurer, and you are left staring at the “Race” menu trying to decide, you’ll know what to pick now. It’s time to move on from “Mind Flayers” and start hunting ghaik. That’s right: you should be a Githyanki.

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Graves is an avid writer, web designer, and gamer, with more ideas than he could hope to achieve in a lifetime. But, armed with a mug of coffee and an overactive imagination, he'll try. When he isn't working on a creative project, he is painting miniatures, reading cheesy sci-fi novels, or making music.

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5 months ago

Just started my run as a Gith War domain cleric of Vlaakith and it’s rad so far. I’ve barely touched act 1 and there’s already been a lot of unique interactions. Definitely recommend

7 months ago

Weary means tired. I think you meant leery or wary but not weary.

Reply to  Dnd
7 months ago

…or maybe roleplaying a Gith is simply tiring?
Seriously though, thank you for the correction.

7 months ago

They also get Medium Armor for free, which is a pretty big deal. You can run a single class Blade Pact Warlock and actually armor yourself like you’re supposed to be on the front line without having to burn a feat on it.