Last Updated: April 25, 2022
Originally published as a subrace of the Gith in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, the Githzerai was updated in Monsters of the Multiverse as party of WotC’s move away from the idea of subraces. If you are using the previous version of the Gith, see our Gith Handbook.
The Githzerai’s traits are primarily defensive, with a splash of magical utility thrown in. Mental Discipline provides a helpful defense against common status effects which often target Wisdom saves and can easily take many martial characters out of a fight, and resistance to psychic damage is rare (though, so is psychic damage).
The innate spellcasting includes some interesting options. Mage hand is an excellent utility spells, and Shield is excellent on almost any character, especially if you have spell slots to re-cast it. By comparison, Detect Thoughts is only situationally useful. It works reasonably for anyone since you can read surface thoughts without allowing a saving throw, but it can still be hard to bring into play on a regular basis.
Table of Contents
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
- : Good options. Useful often.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.
I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and I can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.
The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.
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This section assumes that you’re using the option “Customizing Your Origin” rules presented in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. If you’re not using those rules, scroll down to the next section.
Artificers are very resilient to attacks (especially when you add Shield), but their Wisdom saves are generally poor (at least until you pick up Flash of Genius), so Mental Discipline is a great defense. The innate spellcasting also provides a nice complement to your limited spell slots, and Shield is a staple option for the Artificer, so getting it for free is great.
Usually races with innate spellcasting are difficult for barbarians, but weirdly the Githzerai might work. Mental Discipline protects you from common status conditions that target the Barbarian’s poor Wisdom saves. You also get the enticing option of a bear totem barbarian with resistance to all damage, and coupled with Mental Discipline and the Barbarian’s Danger Sense you are absurdly hard to stop.
The innate spellcasting does get hard. Shield won’t be useful in combat except in rare cases where you’re not raging. Mage Hand and Detect Thoughts are interesting utility options that give you some buttons to push outside of combat.
Bards generally have poor Wisdom saves, so they’re susceptible to common sources of charm/fear effects, and they also can’t learn Shield, so the Githzerai’s traits provide some great options. Shield may be enough to tempt you play a swords/valor bard in melee, but remember that even with a way to pad your AC your attacks are still terrible compared to your cantrips.
Clerics already have excellent Wisdom saves, so charm/fear effects aren’t especially problematic, but a little insurance is nice. Most clerics also can’t cast Shield, so it’s a great way to boost your durability.
Druids already have excellent Wisdom saves, so charm/fear effects aren’t especially problematic, but a little insurance is nice. Druids also don’t get Shield, so it’s a great way to boost your durability.
Shield is a tempting option for Circle of Spores, but Halo of Spores will typically consume your Reaction.
Mental Discipline provides an excellent mental defense for fighters who are typically very vulnerable to charm/fear effects. Shield is a nice boost to AC, but keep in mind that the somatic component is hard for sword-and-board and TWF builds, so if you plan to use, build around two-handed weapons.
Eldritch knights have the ability to re-cast Shield, and the additional spells and spells known are always welcome since eldritch knights get so few of both. Even if you’re not an Eldritch Knight, you might enjoy Mage Hand and Detect Thoughts as utility options.
The Psi Warrior feels like it should be a good option thematically, but racial psionics don’t interact with psionic class features.
Githzerai are frequently portrayed as monks, which makes sense thematically. Unfortunately, the Githzerai’s traits don’t do much to complement the Monk’s capabilities. Monks already have decent Wisdom saves, so Mental Discipline isn’t as helpful as it is for other martial classes, and psychic damage isn’t common enough that resistance has a big impact. The innate spellcasting offers some utility and Shield is very tempting, but with no way to re-cast Shield it’s not particularly impactful. As a whole, the build works fine, but it’s not amazing and it doesn’t solve the Monk’s durability challenges.
While paladins do get immunity to fear, they’re still vulnerable to charm effects, so Mental Discipline is helpful. They also have spell slots to support re-casting Shield, which can compensate for not using a shield if you want to use two-handed weapons.
Despite needing Wisdom for spells, most rangers don’t have great Wisdom saves because few rangers go beyond 14 Wisdom, making Mental Discipline a useful defense. Shield offers some extra durability, but can quickly eat through your limited spell slots, and you need a free hand to cast it. I recommend either archery or using two-handed weapons, and in both cases I recommend a subclass with a Bonus Action damage boost so that you don’t need to rely on Hunter’s Mark.
The Githyanki’s innate spellcasting works great for rogues, who often rely on subterfuge and trickery to accomplish tasks outside of combat. Shield will only be meaningfully useful for Arcane Tricksters, but basically any rogue can capitalize on an invisible mage hand and the ability to read minds.
The Souknife feels like it should be a good option thematically, but racial psionics don’t interact with psionic class features.
Sorcerers have poor Wisdom saves and an extremely limited number of spells known, so Mental Discipline and innate spellcasting are very welcome. Shield is a staple defensive option, so getting it for free means that you can learn something more interesting.
Warlocks are proficient in Wisdom saves, so with Mental Discipline in place you may be able to safely dump Wisdom (not that most warlocks need to do so). Innate spellcasting offers a great complement to your Warlock’s extremely limited spell slots, but Detect Thoughts may not be consistently useful, and Shield once per day isn’t massively impactful.
Wizards are proficient in Wisdom saves, so with Mental Discipline in place you may be able to safely dump Wisdom (not that most wizards need to do so). The innate spellcasting is a nice complement to the Wizard’s spellcasting, but it’s not going to make you significantly better than you would be otherwise.