The githzerai are descended from an ancient race once held in thrall by mind flayer overlords. After the bloody uprising that won these people their freedom, ideological differences split them into two races: the githzerai and the githyanki. The githzerai rejected the cruel warmongering of the githyanki and withdrew to the Elemental Chaos and to remote locations in the world to follow a path of self-renection, harnessing the power of the mind and the soul. Centuries later, the githzerai remain in such locations, leading disciplined lives and observing their surroundings to determine their place in the universe.
Characterized by spare frames and an exotic appearance, githzerai are taller than humans and slender to the point of being gaunt. Their skin tends toward yellow tones, occasionally shading into brown or green. They have distinctive angular features and pointed ears, as well as eyes set in deep sockets and flattened noses set high on their faces.
Male githzerai usually keep their heads shaved or tonsured and braided, and they grow controlled facial hair. A typical style is a shaved pate with a long braid trailing from the back of the head. Females wear their long hair close to the head in braids or tight buns. Githzerai hair is typically russet, but black and gray sometimes occur.
The githzerai commitment to asceticism means that individuals generally disdain displays of wealth. Their clothing is practical. simple in design, and accentuated only by simple jewelry. They indulge their artistic nature through body painting or tattoos. Even these expressions incorporate a functional purpose: Tattoos serve as identifiers, helping githzerai recognize the tradition and location from which a fellow githzerai hails. Githzerai live about as long as humans.