Notorious bandits and raiders of the Astral, Githyanki are one of the two descendants of a race that once served the illithids as slave-labor and food. However, with the aid of two great leaders; Gith and Zerthimon, they rose up and threw off their chains, massacring their former masters. At the pivotal moment of achieving total victory, however, their ancestors schismed due a conflict between their leaders; Gith wanted to conquer the multiverse to ensure that no race would ever have power over them again, whilst Zerthimon argued for a peaceful path focused on internal mastery that would render them immune to slavery. The Githyanki stayed true to Gith, and settled on the Astral, from which they have continued their warlike path ever since.
- A God Am I: Socially, Vlaakith CLVII is pretty much the goddess of the githyanki, but that's not enough for her; she wants to become a full-fledged deity. This aspect became particularly prominent in 3rd Edition, when an entire adventurenote was devoted to her attempt to complete a divine ascension, which the players have to stop.
- Bad Boss: Vlaakith CLVII consumes the souls of any githyanki who gets too strongnote , out of paranoia that a sufficiently strong githyanki may lead a rebellion against her. She's indoctrinated her people to not protest against this, though sources differ on whether they know she's eating souls and believe it to be an honor anyway, or if she hides the true fate of those she "honors".
- Berserk Button:
- The illithids are their oldest and truest Berserk Button, and have top priority in their list of threats. The githyanki devote their lives to rooting out and slaying mind flayers.
- The githzerai are the githyanki's second-worst enemy, with emphasis on the "second" — they will actually put aside their normal hostilities and team up to destroy illithids. Otherwise, they fight to the death pretty much whenever they see each other.
- 5th edition adds a new one; being called out on how their "shepherding" of Astral communities is essentially a form of slave ownership will result in their immediately massacring whatever band of unfortunates they are robbing, in order to prove they aren't slavers.
- Bizarre Alien Reproduction: Downplayed; despite their mammalian ancestry and appearance, githyanki canonically reproduce by laying eggs.
- Dragon Ascendant: The githyanki have been ruled for untold millennia by the Vlaakith dynasty, descended from Vlaakith I, Gith's second-in-command, who was the only one who returned when the two went to parlay with Tiamat. There are hints that Vlaakith may have betrayed her leader to seize power, but nothing concrete.
- Elites Are More Glamorous: The most powerful githyanki warriors are all called "knights", and their position is cemented by the fact that they develop powers analogous to a blackguard/antipaladin.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Vlaakith CLVII, the last of the Vlaakith dynasty, who chose to become a powerful lich-queen rather than die and pass on the throne to her daughter. She rules over her people as a veritable iron-fisted goddess, plots to betray the most ancient githyanki customs, and eats the souls of her strongest warriors to consolidate all her power.
- Hollywood Atheist: A variation on the trope. The githyanki notably refuse to worship gods, because they view the strictures of faith as being a particularly insidious form of slavery. Clerics are seen as, essentially, "trustees" — quislings who have been granted power to oppress the rest of their people in exchange for loyalty to their masters.
- Human Subspecies: The githyanki are actually descended from human beings, mutated by a combination of ancient illithid flesh-crafting and their generations spent in the Astral.
- Hypocrite: This could practically be considered their hat:
- The githyanki abhor slavery, yet can only survive in the Astral by preying on other people and essentially reducing small settlements to slavery, forcing them to give up everything but the bare minimum to survive and then leaving them to recover before plundering them again.
- Their fascistic culture means that the githyanki fundamentally are slaves to their own lich-queen; she even has an almost god-like reverence from her people, who sneer at the faith of other races and denounce the gods as tyrants.
- Third edition furthers Vlaakith CLVII's "god in all but name" status by having her create a cadre of warlocks who draw power from her, the Ch'r'ai. "The Lich-Queen's Beloved" makes it explicit that she intends for them to become her priesthood when she ascends to full godhood.
- The githyanki respect, trust and admire their red dragon allies, but shun and loath the half-red dragon duthka'giths, privately worrying that they may be intended to replace them.
- Hypocrisy Nod: "The Lich-Queen's Beloved" notes that many githyanki are unsettled by the Ch'r'ai, who seem a bit too priest-like for the githyanki's tastes.
- Instant Awesome: Just Add Dragons!: Thanks to Gith's ancient pact with Tiamat, the githyanki have a long-lasting and deeply respectful partnership with the red dragon subrace of chromatic dragons.
- Magic Knight: Githyanki fighter-mages are so iconic to the race as a whole that their in-universe name for them, "Gish", has become a memetic term for this trope in the D&D fandom as a whole.
- Meaningful Name: Githyanki means "Child of Gith" in their own tongue, reinforcing the ancient split that divided their people.
- Non-Human Humanoid Hybrid: Duthka'giths, introduced in 3rd edition, are hybrids of githyanki and red dragon whose creation was mandated by Vlaakith CLVII as a race of Super Soldiers.
- Psychic Powers: All githyanki possess potent psionic abilities, a result of the mutations they underwent at illithid hands.
- Reconcile the Bitter Foes: There is a secret underground society amongst both the githyanki and the githzerai dedicated to reconciling their races, called the Shasal Khou.
- Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Githyanki look like slender humanoids with yellow skin, fangs, and faces that can be described as "skull-like", with sunken eyesockets and semi-vestigial noses that have receded to a flattened expanse of skin with two nasal slits in it.
- Slave Race: They were this, originally, and they are sworn to never be one again. Ironically, many would argue that they've ended up becoming slaves again to their Lich-Queen, and just haven't accepted it.
- The Undead: "The Lich-Queen's Beloved" identifies two unique strains of githyanki undead that Vlaakith CLVII creates from those whose souls she consumes: githyanki knights become tl'a'ikith, ghostly warriors wielding spectral swords, and githyanki warlocks and gish become kr'y'izoth, beings of black flame wrapped in tattered wrappings.
- Won the War, Lost the Peace: They had the illithids on the ropes, but failed to exterminate them, and now the mind flayers have scattered to the point they may never be able to finish the job. The githyanki blame the githzerai for this.
- You Keep Using That Word: Githyanki refer to all of their arcanists as "warlocks", regardless of if they're members of the actual warlock class or not.
One of the lesser races, Mephits are a race of small, fiendish-looking humanoids native to the various elemental planes. They are commonly called by malevolent beings of the Lower Planes as expendable servitors, mostly because, although technically not evil in alignment, mephits are such unpleasant little buggers that they typically end up being killed as soon as they are no longer needed.
- Cypher Language: There's actually an established form of code language involving sending mephits to people you don't like, where the type(s) of mephit sent and the number of them sent conveys different responses or information. For obvious reasons, you only send mephits to rivals, enemies and other people you just don't like. The precise details of the code?
- Air: The gift of an air mephit indicates that the sender intends to either ambush the recipient or politically betray them. Naturally, these are usually timed to arrive after the plot is already in motion.
- Ash: These mephits are normally only sent to get the last word in, as they indicate a very strong and very rude refusal to correspond with the recipient anymore. They signal the recipient is no longer seen as being worth talking talk.
- Dust: Receiving a Dust Mephit is a subtle threat, typically indicating that the giver has recognized some plot you are holding against him.
- Earth: Indicating a strong refusal to concede to demands, sending an Earth Mephit to somebody is a very firm declaration of "NO!"
- Fire: These mephits indicate displeasure with some recent action of the recipient's, with the number sent indicating just how mad the sender is.
- Ice: These mephits indicate that the recipient is now officially forbidden from entering the home of the sender, with the number of Ice Mephits sent roughly indicating just how harshly they will be punished if they try.
- Lightning: Serving as a simultaneous warning and boast, the gift of a Lightning Mephit cautions the recipient to reconsider their tactics against the sender, as the sender has acquired some hidden ally who can swing things in their favor. These mephits are often, but not always, a bluff.
- Magma: One of these mephits is only sent in response to the sender having recently bested the recipient in some intellectual or diplomatic challenge. Basically, it's the sender's way of gloating.
- Mineral: An exception to the general rule of mephit code, the gift of a Mineral Mephit indicates that the sender is willing to compromise on something and is asking for more direct communication to be opened.
- Mist: Getting one of these indicates that someone close to you is an assassin, but the mephit itself almost never knows who. Given the usual audience for mephit codes, it's typically intended to inspire paranoia.
- Ooze: These mephits are intended as sarcastic gifts, and basically serve as a way for the sender to say that the recipient is a weakling.
- Radiant: Like the Mineral Mephits, these are an exception to the generally hostile nature of the mephit code. The gift of a Radiant Mephit is essentially like receiving a white flag; it indicates that the sender wants to declare a truce.
- Salt: As the most unpleasant of all mephits, sending somebody a Salt Mephit serves as a declaration of open warfare between sender and recipient.
- Smoke: Similar in nature to Salt Mephits, but less extreme; the gift of a Smoke Mephit is a sign of insolence and contempt, and is usually used to declare a vendetta.
- Steam: Serving as opposite of the Earth Mephit, the gift of a Steam Mephit indicates that the sender is agreeing to some request of the recipient. There is, however, a connotation of gloating — it serves as a way to say "yes, but I told you so!"
- Void: As mentioned above, the Plane of Void (or Vacuum, depending on where you look) has no native mephits, so "to get a Void Mephit" means to never get a reply.
- Water: Serving as formal answer to an Air Mephit, the gift of a Water Mephit indicates a sarcastic congratulation on a failed attempt by the recipient to trap or plot against the sender.
- The Mimir fansite also adds the Shadow Mephit, which, in the Mephit Code, means that one of the recipient's enemies has discovered one of the recipient's plans and is now subverting that plan by manipulating it to their own ends. For obvious reasons, this is the most terrifying mephit it's possible to send to beings that fancy themselves The Chessmaster, although fear of Gone Horribly Right keeps the vast majority of people "honest" and so refusing to use Shadow Mephits for bluff messages.
- Deadpan Snarker: Salt Mephits are known for their sarcastic and acidulous wit, which makes them perhaps the most unpleasant of their kind and so typically the shortest lived once summoned.
- Elemental Embodiment: Unlike their equivalents the Imp and the Quasit, mephits are a kind of lowly elemental creature. Traditionally, there is a mephit for every elemental, quasielemental and paraelemental plane bar the Plane of Vacuum/Void, which has no inherent life. 5th edition drastically undercut this by instead making mephits only native to the paraelemental planes (quasielemental planes no longer existing), reducing them to just the four breeds of magma, ooze, smoke and ice.
- The Gadfly: Mephits are notorious for both their love of mischief and their poor impulse control, which leads to them incessantly pulling pranks or making a nuisance of themselves.
- The Imp: They actually form a trinity of imp-like creatures in D&D, alongside the Imp (a lesser baatezu) and the Quasit (a lesser tanar'ri). They stand apart from their kin by being elementals rather than fiends.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Despite being small, weak and stupid, mephits are notoriously braggadocios and vain, loving to give themselves absurdly pompous titles.
The outsiders native to Mechanus, the Lawful Neutral
plane, who originate from their segment of the gear-world known as Regulus. The Modrons are a bizarre hierarchy of construct-like beings, starting at the barely-sentient Monodrone and ascending all the way to the godlike Primus, the One and the Prime.
- Clockwork Creature: Subverted; they look like cyborgs, and are made partially of metal, but they're very much living creatures. Which means, for instance, spells that only work on living beings, like healing potions, work on them just fine.
- Everyone Has Standards: One of the Secundus tainted by Orcus participated in a traditional challenge of killing the most chaotic beings as possible in one week to decide who would succeed the Primus Orcus killed and impersonated before leaving. He did so by invading the Gnome afterlife with his army. He was disqualified, as while the Gnomes are Chaotic Good, they're not opposed to the Modrons, and he also didn't do the killing himself.
- Hive Mind: Sort of. Modrons are in a sense, extensions of Primus, a godlike being whose own thoughts direct and move the whole race.
- Lawful Stupid: As elemental incarnations of the Lawful Neutral Character Alignment, Modrons are lawful to the extent that it makes them seem quite insane to human perspectives. To put this in perspective; during the second adventure of "The Great Modron March", the players have to deal with the fact that the Modrons refuse to accept that a city in their way has changed in the three centuries since the last march and so will blithely march their way through the city, smashing buildings that are in their path and trampling any living creature that fails to get out of the way.
- Living Polyhedron: The lowest ranked Modrons look like animated geometric bodies — monodrones are spheres, duodrones are rectangles, tridrones are pyramids and quadrones are cubes.
- Order Is Not Good: Beyond the fact that their obsessively orderly minds make them an absolute nightmare to interact with, the adventure The Great Modron March makes it clear that Modrons can be as indiscriminately destructive as the fiends under the right circumstances.
The outsiders native to the Outlands, the True Neutral
plane. Cold-hearted objectivists to the core, they consider themselves the caretakers of the multiverse, intervening throughout reality to keep everything ticking along in cosmic harmony.
- Balance Between Good and Evil: Overlaps with Both Order and Chaos Are Dangerous. The cornerstone of their purpose is that the rilmani believe the four great cosmic forces — Law, Chaos, Good and Evil — must all be kept in a fairly balanced state, and that to allow otherwise would cause the multiverse to come apart.
- Stupid Neutral: Like all exemplars, they are defined by their ingrained connection to one Character Alignment — in their case, True Neutral. Because they see this as keeping a balance between the forces of Law, Chaos, Good and Evil, that means they do actively alternate between working alongside and working against different powers and factions to adjust the Balance. However, unlike their compatriots the Modrons and Slaadi, they're not so caught up in this to be unaware of the potential for this to simply end up supporting chaos — Jemorille the Exile was banished from the Outlands due to his repeated bungling via being very hamfisted in his methods.
The outsiders native to Limbo, the Chaotic Neutral
plane. These bizarre, flippant, frog-like creatures act as though virtually mindless, roaming aimlessly through the planes in search of prey and entertainment.
- Chaotic Stupid: As elemental incarnations of the Chaotic Neutral Character Alignment, Slaadi are chaotic to the extent that it makes them seem quite insane to human perspectives.
- Chest Burster: The slaadi reproductive cycle is based on two colors. Red slaadi infect victims with tadpole-like slaad larvae that eventually burst out of their host's body, creating blue slaadi (or green slaadi, if the host was a powerful wizard). Blue slaadi have a mutagenic toxin in their bite that can turn victims into new red slaadi.
- Extreme Omnivore: As "chaos elementals", Slaadi will eat just about anything that catches their eyes.
- Reality Warper: They have the ability to shape the essence of Limbo to a degree proportionate to their intelligence; mortals can learn how to do this, but slaadi do it by instinct.
The third branch of the fiend family, the daemons to the tanar'ri (demons) and baatezu (devils). Lords of Gehenna, the Neutral Evil
with a hint of Lawful plane, although they originated in the Grey Waste, the pure Neutral Evil
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Subverted. The lowest ranking Yugoloth is actually stronger than the next rank. Those who realize this get singled out as potential candidates for promotion.
- Evil Tower of Ominousness: They have two of these, the Tower of the Arcanaloths on Gehenna, and the much larger Khin-Oin on the Grey Waste. Attempts have been made to build a third tower on Carceri, but the geheleths keep tearing it down.
- Hermaphrodite: According to the "Faces of Evil: The Fiends" sourcebook, yugoloths are all either hermaphroditic or genderless, in terms of reproductive capability, adopting genders pretty much according to their whim.
- No Mouth: The highest ranking Yugoloths, the Ultroloths, don't have mouths.
- Plague Master: The Oinoloth (the powerful Yugoloth that currently rules the tower of Khin-Oin) can control the plagues of the Grey Waste.
- Precursors: Legends tell of the baernoloths, ancient fiends who created the yugoloths, and also purged Law and Chaos from themselves by transferring it into larvae which became the first baatezu and tanar'ri. Of course, while the baernoloths clearly do exist (one of them plays a vital role in one module) almost all legends about them are told by the yugoloths, and thus subject to scrutiny.
- War for Fun and Profit: Some believe that they are behind the Blood War.