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Githyanki Quotations, Proverbs, and Sayings

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Zimrazim's picture
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Factol
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Githyanki Quotations, Proverbs, and Sayings

Githyanki Quotes, Proverbs, and Sayings

[While githyanki can use gender-specific language, they do so less often than many races. References to 'him,' 'brother,' etc. in the quotes below can be similarly rendered in Common as 'her,' 'sister,' and so on.]

Some quotes and sayings derived from the plays of Sar'yel-Reth:

"Behold what a thrall is the barbarian -- even in the absence of a master! The graith builds the walls of a thrall-pit around his mind and never leaves it. He is not content unless he has either enslaved his fellows, or is the servant of his fellows. He makes sacrifices to unclean spirits rather than relying on his blade and the strength of his will. Nor can he truly call any man 'brother,' even those of his own city. Loneliness* and terror are his lot."

[*The githyanki word used here means "the isolation which results from being unable to trust others," and does not translate precisely into Common. It has been translated variously as 'loneliness,' 'distrust,' 'isolation' or 'solitude.' It is often used to describe the mental state of barbarians and Githyanki exiles.]

"What a pleasure it is, to put down a bag of silver and know that it will be here when I rise!"
[Spoken by a githyanki traveler coming home in one of Sar'yel-Reth's plays.]

"What do these heathen Venerators know save gold and blasphemies?"
[Commentary on the occasional cultural practice of allowing mercenary barbarian priests to heal Githyanki troops. The word 'Venerator' is more often used to describe members of the illithid Venerator Creed, and thus is particularly insulting.]

Fune-Zaad wrote various texts on Githyanki morality and orthodoxy; the following are only a few of the sayings attributed to him.

"Only foolishness and blasphemies come forth from the mouth of the barbarian."

"No object is more dear than honor. Not only does the thief proclaim his own honor to be of little value, he demonstrates a lack of trust in his brothers and shows himself to be a barbarian."
[On Githyanki thieves. Fune-Zaad refers to 'lack of trust in his brothers' because because a githyanki in good standing may reasonably expect other githyanki to help him with regard to basic physical needs, i.e., food, water, shelter, weapons.]

Some quotes and sayings from Ezad'ara's writings:

"Our shij is the quality that distinguishes the Githyanki from all other races. Even those children of Gith who have fallen into sin and heresy must, in the absence of genuine faith, cleave to some idea or principle, some heathen idol. Compare to the barbarian, who is oft content with his own survival, comfort, and pleasure! Even the most vile Githyanki renegade is incapable of living an aimless and purposeless life."

"A Githyanki cannot reject the shij he owes without destroying a vital part of himself. How long can one last without a heart, without a liver? What enjoyment can one experience, in such a life?"

"No contradiction exists between our liberty and our faith. Can the man call himself free who knows neither purpose nor direction? Can he even call himself a man?"

[From Ezad'ara's reflections on the nature of shij.]

"*Know* this about yourself, that there is an intrinsic part of the mind of the Githyanki, that desires most ardently to serve, that cannot rest content if it does not subordinate itself."

[From one of Ezad'ara's more inflammatory texts, this one concerning the Githyanki mind, and written for the edification of his own students. Ezad'ara himself believed that the desire to submit to another was itself morally neutral (rather than universally negative) and an intrinsic part of the githyanki character. He explicitly states that this desire can be expressed positively in the form of loyalty to those one knows are superior to oneself -- i.e., more intelligent, more clever, more skilled with the sword, more morally virtuous, more experienced in general, etc. (i.e., one might assume in the context of githyanki society, to superior officers and particularly to members of the royal house).]

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Dunamin's picture
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Githyanki Quotations, Proverbs, and Sayings

Very nice work!

'Zimrazim' wrote:
[While githyanki can use gender-specific language, they do so less often than many races. References to 'him,' 'brother,' etc. in the quotes below can be similarly rendered in Common as 'her,' 'sister,' and so on.]
You know, actually I can imagine that githyankis have proverbs/sayings on this point, to further distinguish them from barbarians/graith. In other words, to the average githyanki, the act of seperating or restricting roles in society based on gender is percieved as a mark of a barbarian society.

'Zimrazim' wrote:
"What do these heathen Venerators know save gold and blasphemies?" [Commentary on the occasional cultural practice of allowing mercenary barbarian priests to heal Githyanki troops. The word 'Venerator' is more often used to describe members of the illithid Venerator Creed, and thus is particularly insulting.]
Generally, I imagine most githyanki healing comes by the way of psionics, rather than divine power. This might lead to the idea that the former is more "pure", whereas the latter as well is a trademark of the barbarian. I wouldn't stress this point too much, though, considering that divine healing also can come in other ways, such as a githyanki blackguard's hands.

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Githyanki Quotations, Proverbs, and Sayings

'Dunamin' wrote:
Generally, I imagine most githyanki healing comes by the way of psionics, rather than divine power. This might lead to the idea that the former is more "pure", whereas the latter as well is a trademark of the barbarian. I wouldn't stress this point too much, though, considering that divine healing also can come in other ways, such as a githyanki blackguard's hands.

While typical githyanki do indeed accept the knights -- I can't see there being any prejudice against being healed by one -- I think one could argue for the existence of a generalized dislike of barbarian/heathen priests. (Any githyanki who begins to worship a heathen deity is, of course, considered apostate, and loathed above and beyond even most Githyanki renegades.) Some of the canonical sources appear to suggest that githyanki aren't as comfortable with the concept of divinity itself as other races. ("It is difficult for a people who build their homes on the backs of dead powers to recognize such beings to be divine" -- Guide to the Astral Plane)

I'm less certain how the Githyanki public would have reacted to the Revered Queen's attempts to create a priesthood dedicated to Herself. (I'm certain, though, that Her attempts to replace the Githyanki race with duthka'giths, which were taking place at the same time, wouldn't have gone over well.)

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2) Roll a natural 1 on d20.
3) ?????
4) Profit!

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Githyanki Quotations, Proverbs, and Sayings

'Zimrazim' wrote:
While typical githyanki do indeed accept the knights -- I can't see there being any prejudice against being healed by one -- I think one could argue for the existence of a generalized dislike of barbarian/heathen priests. (Any githyanki who begins to worship a heathen deity is, of course, considered apostate, and loathed above and beyond even most Githyanki renegades.) Some of the canonical sources appear to suggest that githyanki aren't as comfortable with the concept of divinity itself as other races. ("It is difficult for a people who build their homes on the backs of dead powers to recognize such beings to be divine" -- Guide to the Astral Plane)
I agree, though I'd suspect that the current civil war and splintering of the empire would slightly increase the likelihood of finding githyanki priests around the cosmos.

The godly figure that has been the pillar in githyanki devotion is gone with a boom, I'm sure many githyankis are disillusioned and looking for something to believe in. It would probably be a power that isn’t tied strongly to a specific race or group of races, though, possibly some abstract force of divine power or ideal. They’ll still be very few and far in between, however.

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Githyanki Quotations, Proverbs, and Sayings

"Waste not your arrows on the barbarians."

[Attributed to various supreme leaders of the far past, speaking to their subordinates prior to battle. Now a famous githyanki proverb expressing the general worthlessness of the graith.]

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2) Roll a natural 1 on d20.
3) ?????
4) Profit!

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Githyanki Quotations, Proverbs, and Sayings

“Silver winds at your back.”

[Simple parting words, commonly heard when a githyanki warship sets sail for battle on the Astral plane. Used to wish good luck on a journey to someone you have at least a decent level of respect for.]
(I think I used this one in-game at some point, but I thought it might be worth putting on the list, regardless.)

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Ar'dru has some books on

Ar'dru has some books on the teachings/sayings of Gith and I've decided he should start quoting them a bit.

I decided that a few real life quotes, once slightly modified might work well. Here's some that I've found so far, mostly on the subject of freedom/liberty (because of the current in-game situation) I'm trying to get statements that have similar themes but which could conceivably lead to differing conclusions as to their meanings, sparking debate amongst Gith philosophers as to Giths' meaning

 Quotes to attribute to Gith

I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind

He only earns his freedom and existence Who daily conquers them anew

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves

What then is freedom ? The power to live as one wishes

They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security

When liberty is taken away by force it can be restored by force. When it is relinquished voluntarily by default it can never be recovered.

Who would be free themselves must strike the blow. Better even to die free than to live slaves.

Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.

None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free.

The average man does not want to be free. He simply wants to be safe.

Freedom is not something that anybody can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be.

Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death! (Obviously needs significant editing)

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

 Thoughts?

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In the Gith quotations, I

In the Gith quotations, I was trying for an old/ancient/religious-style feel to each quote with regard to the exact wording.  For example, the Liberator might refer to "the People," but wouldn't refer to "people" -- not least because She perceives githyanki and barbarians as totally different.  I'd like to try to preserve that 'voice' for at least some of the quotes -- bearing in mind that many quotes attributed to Gith may actually have been written by later githyanki...

'Azriael' wrote:
"...people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters."

Too many "surface on a Prime Material Plane world" references here, maybe.  I suppose the Liberator might use language pertaining to conditions on Penumbra or other artificially constructed worlds of the illithid empire.

Githyanki aren't humans -- in my opinion, even a totally average githyanki would prefer freedom over security.  Gith might make unflattering observations about barbarian mentality, however...

One might also argue that (modern) githyanki value freedom highly, without really understanding what freedom is.  They are a rabid theocracy, historically speaking.  I try to preserve that irony when quoting Gith -- the idea is that She refers to freedom often, but also can be amazingly intolerant, mostly of non-githyanki.

The quotes above mostly speak about freedom in a pretty generic sense, I think.  I'd rather see something more specific or presented as advice.  For example, qualities that a warrior should seek to shun or to develop in himself.  (Like, Book of Five Rings rather than Ben Franklin.)

That said, I definitely want to encourage more Gith quotations.  :)  These are just my opinions.  Others may certainly have other opinions concerning Gith. 

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2) Roll a natural 1 on d20.
3) ?????
4) Profit!

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Yep, and you pick up on a

Yep, and you pick up on a lot of things that I noticed but, as you mentioned, The Gith (race) of the time would have been working on prime worlds and would have been quite different to those of today.

I was also wondering about Giths (individual) viewpoint on barbarians? Some of these quotes were specifically chosen because I thought that over centuries they would have evolved into a hatred/contempt of outsiders but may not have started off that way, eg -

"Freedom is not something that anybody can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be"

"The average man (Graith) does not want to be free. He simply wants to be safe"

"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security"

From the Githyanki viewpoint those who were not of the people did not/do not continue to (ie. "earns his freedom and existence Who daily conquers them anew" following a statement identifying the illithid or slavers as 'they'") and would therefore be worthy of nothing but contempt.

I imagined these statements to be taken more from shouted exhortations to gathered slaves than written statements in a codex.

Anyway, thank you for the imput. I'll look a 'Githifying' the quotes I find/have found a bit more.

btw - as an Aussie I know very little about the backgrounds of many of the people who originally made these quotes so I'm taking them very much as written, without any pre-concieved notions as to their meaning so I may have a lot of them off.

I'm looking at digging up some Che Guevara and Hagakure quotes to modify and add as well, I'm not so sure about Musashis' stuff.

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Mostly, I base Gith's

Mostly, I base Gith's opinion on barbarians on the Sixth Circle of Zerthimon:

"Upon the Blasted Plains, the People had achieved victory over their illithid masters. They knew freedom.

Yet before the green fires had died from the battlefield, Gith spoke of continuing the war. Many, still filled with the bloodlust in their hearts, agreed with her. She spoke of not merely defeating the illithids, but destroying all illithids across the Planes. After the illithids had been exterminated, they would bring war to all other races they encountered.

In Gith’s heart, fires raged. She lived in war, and in war, she knew herself. All that her eyes saw, she wanted to conquer."



According to the githzerai text, this was the reason for the Two Skies -- Zerthimon wanted freedom, but Gith wanted to conquer everything.  Of course, it's worth noting that it's a githzerai text, and as such its depiction of Gith may not be accurate...



I think that the typical modern githyanki viewpoint on barbarians is pretty ambivalent.  They can make a short-time alliiance with barbarians if they want, slay a barbarian on a whim, make war against barbarians, or leave them alone (for now).

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BoGr Guide to Missile Combat:
1) Equip a bow or crossbow.
2) Roll a natural 1 on d20.
3) ?????
4) Profit!

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Re: Githyanki Quotations, Proverbs, and Sayings

"A telepath has many friends."

[Telepaths often have absurdly high Charisma scores and are more likely to have a number of ranks in Diplomacy than many other classes. This proverb can refer to the mentally dominated beings that telepaths often gather around themselves, but more often refers to the fact that telepaths tend to have a lot of friends, allies, and followers.]

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BoGr Guide to Missile Combat:
1) Equip a bow or crossbow.
2) Roll a natural 1 on d20.
3) ?????
4) Profit!

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Re: Githyanki Quotations, Proverbs, and Sayings

"What use is freedom if the freed become complacent? Complacency begets sloth and in turn sloth begets apathy. This, then, is the death of the will. Without the will, disorder reigns."

[An early surviving proverb variously attributed to a pirate of Gith, an early githyanki or even a disciple of Zerthimon, though the latter is usually regarded as attempts by githzerai to steal credit for githyanki wisdom.]

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So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss. If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose. If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself. - Sun Tzu, The Art of War

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