I was sure that the githyanki were going to have a full character write up in Player’s Handbook III. It makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Ever since they first appeared on the cover of Fiend Folio back in 1E, they have been a popular monster. Githyanki also are strongly tied to the psionic power source, which debuts in Player’s Handbook III. Not to mention that the mock up cover for Players Handbook III seemed to have an obvious githyanki woman on the cover.
Well, after perusing this month’s debut content, it seems that was a githzerai woman. The githzerai will be one of the new PHB III races, but the githyanki will not be making an appearance in that book.
I suppose I can be forgiven for mistaking one race for another since they look exactly the same!
What I found interesting was their reason for not including the githyanki. To quote Mike Mearls:
“While sometimes it’s fun to play against stereotypes, we don’t want every villainous race to go the way of the drow.”
This really resonates with me. I remember when the drow were first introduced in Against the Giants. They were cool, deadly, and one of the most evil races around. Finally, there was a worthy opponent for the player characters!
Then the drow were given a player character racial write up in Unearthed Arcana (1E). Suddenly dark elves went from being the ultimate bad guy to being the ultimate badass player characters. I know one of the player’s in my D&D 1E game played an infamous rogue dark elf fighter/cleric of Tempus. I am sure that a lot of games featured at least one drow during that period.
Then came Drizzt Do'Urden. I want to say that I am not a Drizzt hater. In fact, I have read and enjoyed most of the novels that feature him. I don’t blame Drizzt’s for creating a glut dark elf player characters. After all that trend was well under way by the time The Crystal Shard hit the stands. Still, his immense popularity exacerbated dark elf overexposure.
The popularity of dark elves as player characters has even jumped to other media. Dark-skinned and light-haired elves are popular player character choices in video games like EverQuest and World of Warcraft.
Sometimes I feel that the Zz’dtri joke in Order of the Stick has become a reality. Drow are no longer an evil race. Rather “the whole species consist of nothing but Chaotic Good rebels, yearning to throw off the reputation of their evil kin.”
So I respect the line in the sand Wizards of the Coast is drawing with the githyanki. No matter how cool they might be, sometimes it is best to keep the villains as villains.
Or maybe they are just holding them in reserve for PHB IV.