In the latest Unearthed Arcana: Eladrin and both kinds of Gith: -zerai AND -yanki.
Hot off the Unearthed Arcana presses (and in the wake of the Tomb of Annihilation release), we’ve got a look at two new race options: the Eladrin and the Gith. But wait, you might be asking, face poised above the keyboard ready to argue.
The Gith aren’t one race–they’re two distinct species. They’re the Githzerai and Githyanki. And they hate each other, that’s been a part of D&D Lore since the time when the Gith were first introduced, only I guess technically they’re actually more like subspecies, because they’re both followers of the same mind flayer revolt, only one branch went more monastic, and the other went more astral piratical. So maybe I shouldn’t roll my face on the keyabousahdugjisofsjieosfhuesfjio.
I love the move of making them one species with subrace branches. That just makes their hatred of each other seem so much more intimate. So with that in mind, let’s dive in and take a look at this month’s Unearthed Arcana.
via Wizards of the Coast
The Eladrin get both a rules and lore update. No longer 4th Edition’s response to high elves and their place in the cosmology, Eladrin now firmly inhabit a place in the Feywild. The cosmology of 5th Edition incorporates a lot of the ideas from 4th, most notably the Shadowfell and the Feywild–with the Feywild being basically the realm of Faerie as evidenced by the strong seasonal influence that these elves get.
And that’s the first big change. Eladrin are elves now–but they are a subrace that hails from the Feywild. They get all the standard elf traits, including the +2 Dex, the Darkvision, Keen Senses, Fey Ancestry, Trance, and so on… but then they differentiate themselves from the rest of the pointy-eared pack with their unique spin on what it means to be an Elf.
Again, the Eladrin feel a lot more like something you’d hear about in a Faerie Court. They get a +1 to Int or Charisma, your choice, and they also keep the short teleport that characterized the Eladrin in the earlier edition. Fey Step allows an Eladrin to teleport up to 30 feet once per rest. But the real unique part of the race is their seasonal attunement. Starting with Shifting Seasons, which lets an Eladrin align themselves with the magic of a particular season, Autumn, Winter, Spring or Summer, each of which grants access to a cantrip (based off of the higher of Int or Cha). Autumn gets Friends, Winter – Chill Touch, Spring – Minor Illusion, and Summer receives Fire Bolt. But on top of that, the seasonal theme is woven into their personality traits.
Pictured: Every Eladrin player who picks Chill Touch after a short rest. And I bet you can guess which classic line from Game of Thrones they’ll say.*
Eladrin are influenced by the shifting seasons. They have four distinct personality ‘states’ which they shift between as they experience an overwhelming emotion. As you might have guessed, these are Autumn, Winter, Summer, and Spring. And reflective of the cantrips granted by each season, Autumn is a season of peace, adopted by Eladrin overcome by contentment. Winter is a season of grief and sorrow. Spring is a season of boundless joy. And when it’s Summertime, the living is not easy–but rather it is fighting time.
They advise you to generate a personality trait and flaw as well, depending on which season is dominating your personality. It adds a dose of that Feywild chaos to your character, and I think it’s a neat idea. Obviously you don’t have to do this and can easily play against type–but there are plenty of roleplaying hooks present with this subrace.
I love the Gith. We’ve talked about both Githyanki and Githzerai at some length here on BoLS. And now they’re a race you can take if your DM lets you play with Unearthed Arcana (and is not a monster). They’re both pretty powerful too–and more importantly, the mechanics reflect the established narrative about them. The Githyanki and Githzerai both capture the feel of their respective monster manual entries.
To begin with all Gith get a +1 Intelligence, ad are a medium creature giving them a speed of 30 feet. That’s all that a baseline Gith gets, but that’s alright because the subraces are fairly powerful, with each one granting access to the vaunted psionic strength of the Gith via spells that they can cast once per long rest. At level 1, 3, and 5, Gith of either stripe will gain a spell of increasing level.
The Githyanki, as the more brutal, warlike branch of the species, gain +2 strength and proficiency with an extra language and tool of your choice. Thanks to their Martial Prodigy all Githyanki are proficient with light and medium armor. And then there’s their Githyanki Psionics, which grant them access to the Mage Hand cantrip at 1st level, Jump at 3rd level, and Misty Step at 5th level. So you can count on a Githyanki to be mobile when she needs to be.
Githzerai, on the other hand, are more contemplative and monastic. Their minds and bodies honed to perfection in the evershifting chaos of Limbo. They add +2 to their Wisdom score, and additionally thanks to their Monastic Training gain a +1 bonus to AC while not wearing medium or heavy armor or using a shield. So basically, Githyanki monks and barbarians are among the most skilled at defense–but even lightly armored fighters and rogues can protect themselves with this training.
And like the Githyanki, they also gain psionics, learning Mage Hand at 1st level. They also learn Shield at 3rd level, and Detect Thoughts at 5th, making a defensive Githzerai one of the more unassailable forces on the tabletop.
All in all, both of these races are fairly powerful–and if this is a taste of things to come, I’m very excited to see what the game looks like once Xanathar’s Guide to Everything hits in November.
Until next time, friends. I’m going to go work up that Githzerai ronin barbarian concept.
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