Strange beings even by the standards of Vaarn, Lithlings are a slow, solemn species with a silicon-based biology that surely originates in a solar system far removed from Urth. They are solitary by nature, concerned mainly with the opinions of other Lithlings, and with the esoteric academic studies they devote their long lives to.
Lithlings are formed from a strange mesh of motile crystals, each shard attracted to its neighbours and animated by an energy field far beyond the understanding of Vaarnish scholars. They walk stiffly and ponderously, but have surprisingly dexterous fingers, and are capable of skilful manipulations of brushes, pens, and other delicate objects. They do not breathe, eat, or drink, a quality that makes them masters of the harshest environments imaginable. Lithling scholars have carried out extensive surveys of the toxic landscapes of Ikor Quag, and think nothing of spending years at a time submerged beneath the surface of the desert, composing some treatise in their calcified mind.
Their life cycle is as strange as their bodies. Lithlings are grown from a seed, which must crystallise and grow in a pool of special chemicals. After decades of maturation in this bath, they are fully-moulded and awaken, as large and strong as they will ever be. They are inducted into the Lithic Lyceum by their kindred, and instructed in their duties as scholars.
Adult lithings cannot repair their bodies when they have been injured, and so although they are immortal by human standards, the creatures must treat every wound suffered with utmost severity. Over the course of their long lives they nurture a new lithling seed within their chests, which is released when they finally perish and crumble to dust. They trust that their companions will undergo the long journey to return the seed to the Lyceum, in order for it to be nurtured in the awakening pools and taught the duty of a scholar. As a result of this strange life-cycle, the lithlings have never been numerous, and their total numbers have declined in recent millennia, as scholars perish without their seeds ever being returned to the Lyceum. On very rare occasions a dead lithling will birth twinned seeds, but this has only been recorded a handful of times.
Lithlings have a scholarly, enquiring cast of mind, and are endlessly fascinated by the alien world of biological organisms they find themselves marooned on. The Lyceum is devoted to cataloging the minutiae of the natural world, and contains the life’s work of millions of long-dead lithings in its underground archives. Unfortunately, the records of the lithlings are often of dubious usefulness to outsiders – their dissertations and essays tend to focus on the minutiae of data and experience while lacking the wider context that a human mind might find meaningful. One celebrated lithling study describes the movements made by generations of land-snails over a hundred year period, with the relative positions of each snail recorded by the second.
Stony Flesh – You are formed of living crystal. Your base Armour Defense is 16. You do not need to eat or drink. You do not take damage from fire, cold, poison, radiation, electricity, fungal spores, or suffocation.
Inevitable – During character generation, roll a d10 and multiply the result by 100. This number is your starting HP. You cannot heal lost HP through any means, and do not add to your maximum HP when you gain a level. When your HP tally reaches zero you crumble into iridescent dust, leaving behind a pebble-sized lithling seed.
Finally, as is customary I’ll be rolling up a lithling myself to see what we come up with.
We get to meet Calbazar, a child-like, squat, orange lithling, whose head is carved with the image of a maiden and whose body is engraved with an equation. Calbazar has an aloof demeanour, and is writing a paper about Vaarnish cacti – it should be done in roughly sixty years at the current pace of work. I think the equation may be related to the average distribution of needles on a cactus branch, a mathematical expression that Calbazar finds particularly beautiful.
One of the weirder ancestries for Vaarn, and I’m aware that not everyone will enjoy their unique HP mechanic, but there’s something pretty fascinating to me about knowing *exactly* how much HP your character has before they die forever. Let me know if you ever end up using lithlings in a game.