The Let's Play Archive

Planescape: Torment

by Shadow Catboy

Part 71: Mechanics Update

Mechanics Update:

Okay, I'll admit. This isn't so much of a game mechanics update as much as it is about Planescape lore.

While the Githzerai/Githyanki split was a pretty integral component of Planescape, I'm not sure how many people really emphasized these two cultures really well. Sure, the sourcebooks went over "Hey, watch out for those Githyanki fuckwads in the Astral" and "The Githzerai live in Limbo," but most supplements and adventures revolved around freakier, more abstract things like Faction stuff, chaos in the Modron March, and odd ways to traverse the realms. What PS:T did was bring the Githzerai/Githyanki conflict to light, and really fleshed in out in more detail than you can find in most of the books and supplements.

However, here's some canon Gith stuff that isn't found in PS:T.

The Astral Plane and the Githyanki: The Astral is the big white void of timeless thought that borders the Prime Material and the Outer Planes. Beliefs form from the worlds of the Prime Material, filter through the Astral, and find substance and form on the Outer Planes.

It's here that the Githyanki set up kip.

Now despite the fact that both 'Yanki and 'Zerai were once human, generations of breeding on illithid worlds had given them a few distinctive features. Their ears are pointed, their skin is yellow, and their eyes are black and beady.

Where they differ physically, however, is that 'Yanki are ugly-ass bastards. Their faces are long and gaunt, with large point-toothed maws. On the Astral their knights wield Silver Swords that can sever the astral cords of the enemies, which is pretty much an insta-kill when done right. However, they might just be even more dangerous on the Prime Material since ages ago a Githyanki hero had drawn a pact with the Red Dragons. If you ever face a Githyanki army on the Prime, expect a few of them to be riding a few fire-breathing Red Wyrms.

Oh yes, and Githyanki lay eggs. I don't know if Githzerai do the same, but I'm not about to ask Dak'kon about his people's sexual practices. :fappery:

However, in some ways the Githyanki have traded one form of slavery for another. While the 'Yanki are still powerfully independent, they're ruled by a paranoid, immortal, evil Lich-Queen. In fact, she's so afraid that one of her subjects would usurp her power that she limits them from going past 11th level.

The moment a Githyanki reaches 9th level, he is sent to the Lower Planes as a sort of initiation ritual. Few survive, but those who do become supreme leaders of Githyanki lairs. If a Githyanki reaches 12th level, however, he is immediately taken before the Lich-Queen who consumes the poor sod's soul.

There's no real reason for the Lich-Queen to embrace undeath for immortality, though... those on the Astral don't age a second. The Gith also have magic that can keep time from catching up with them when they do have to exit the White Void.

Here are a few Githyanki jobs:

G'lathk: Farmers who grow fungi and water gardens. I don't think you really need to eat on the Astral, but you might as well populate your cities with gardens. Of course, since nothing grows or ages this is done in special chambers.

Mlar: You know how you go to college thinking you're going to major in Computer Science, then realize you're not nearly skilled enough to do so? So you end up relying on a fallback major that is kinda related. That's a Mlar. These Githzerai have innate magical powers, but instead of learning the Art to blow shit up and move the Planes, they focus their skills on architecture.

Hr'a'cknir: The Astral Plane is home to lots of weird forms of energy, and the Hr'a'cknir are responsible for harnessing this latent power. This could be as simple as residual psychic energy, or as unique as the essences of dead gods, whose corpses float through the void.

Limbo and the Githzerai: So we know the basics of Limbo already. A realm filled with floating blobs of chaos-matter that can be shaped by pure will alone. Here the Githzerai live in cities like Shra'kt'lor built from the focus and the knowing of the people.

In the sourcebooks, Shra'kt'lor is huge, and I mean on-par-with-Rome huge. It's populated with 2 million githzerai, held together by the Anarch's guild.

Now unlike the Anarchist faction in Sigil, the Anarch sect is a group localized entirely in Limbo, separate and distinct from the Sigilians who fight to bring down "The Man." In Limbo, Anarchs are those who specialize in chaos-shaping to bend the matter of Limbo to their will, to an extent that rivals that of the Gods. Githzerai cities are so huge, in fact, that in principle only a God should be able to maintain its integrity.

Now much like the Githyanki, the Githzerai are also ruled by a tyrranical wizard-king who exists in opposition to the Zerths who promote the word of Zerthimon. However, despite his efforts, it has proved impossible so far for the wizard-king to stamp out the religion of the Zerth.

One final note should be the Rrakkma bands. Even though the Githzerai aren't a warlike race, they still hold a deep enmity against the illithids that once enslaved them. To wage campaigns against the illithid filth, bands are organized consisting of 30-60 warriors. These center around a leader that takes the group across outer and inner planes to hunt down illithids. It's considered a great honor to serve in one.

Welp, that's all for now. I think I'll pass out and work on the next update tomorrow.