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Liara T'Soni (Mass Effect) in Colossus armor aiming a pistol

Doctor Liara T’Soni

(Profile #1 - Mass Effect)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Dr. Liara T’Soni is one of the main characters in the Mass Effect trilogy, a major computer role-playing saga released from 2007 to 2012.

She’s the alien xenoarchaeologist whose expertise repeatedly holds the keys to the plot, a powerful combatant, and potentially an adorkable love interest.

This article assumes strong familiarity with the game. See the Mass Effect setting profile and the first Commander Shepard profile if that’s not the case.

This profile only covers Liara as she appears in the *first* game, without data from later game.

At this stage, our profiles are a bursting-with-content trilogy covering the first two games. It goes :

  1. Dr. Liara T’Soni – Mass Effect – this here profile.
  2. Dr. Liara T’Soni – Mass Effect 2 part 1.
  3. Dr. Liara T’Soni – Mass Effect 2 part 2.



  • This profile includes S P O I L E R S.
  • This profile assumes a specific video game playthrough – see our video games writeups FAQ for more.
  • This profile features tabletop RPG mechanics about the video game’s gameplay – see our video games writeups FAQ for more.
  • This profile features non-canon hypotheses about in-game events and mechanics – see our video games writeups FAQ for more.

Background

  • Real Name: Dr. Liara T’Soni.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Matriarch Benezia (mother, deceased) and another Asari parent (unrevealed at this point).
  • Group Affiliation: Consultant for Staff Commander Shepard of the STR.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile aboard the SSV Normandy SR-1.
  • Height: 5’8” Weight: 135 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue (solid black with silver rings when melding) Hair: N.A.


Powers & Abilities

Doctor T’Soni is a xenoarchaeologist — an expert in the far past of alien species. Her speciality is the mysterious Prothean civilisation, long-since extinct but whose legacy shaped the last 50,000 years. Liara’s archaeological and historical knowledge is vast and remarkably precise.

She seems to have a sort of super-memory. She could “replay” Shepard’s vision over and again to analyse it, as if it were a digital video in her mind. Furthermore, she could identify within seconds the ruins of Ilos among thousands of Prothean ruins across the galaxy.

Her eidetic memory might be a product of the super-advanced nervous system of her species, the Asari. And/or it may be an adaptation to their multi-centenarian lifespan. Liara also seems able to study information with superhuman speed and acumen.

Furthermore, she’s a well-trained emergency medical technician and electronician. Apparently these are a normal part of Asari academical training, presumably for cultural reasons.

Blue thought is a fact

Liara’s species is a natural at biotics. Dr. T’Soni was trained by a powerful Matriarch, and exercises her telekinetic powers regularly and seriously. Though she looks harmless and would rather avoid fights, she can use her mind to throw people around like rag dolls, trigger gravity implosions, sheathe herself in protective force and the like.

Liara talking in the Normandy SR1

She even has some combat experience. Dr. T’soni has had to use her biotics to repel marauders, wild animals, criminals, etc. during some of her archaeological digs.

Liara’s biotic puissance seems to be significantly above normal for her age, and her singularity technique is apparently an advanced one. This impression that she is a biotic prodigy will grow in later games.

The aqua marine

After joining the Normandy, Dr. T’Soni receives intensive training. This is so she can accompany special operations commandos in the field. She :

  • Can operate military equipment such as heavy pistols and hard suits.
  • Knows how to behave on a battlefield.
  • Has extensively drilled to use her biotics to disrupt the enemy and open opportunities for her comrades to move in for the kill.

Asari are reportedly a bit quicker and more agile than equivalent Humans. This presumably helped Liara learn some military skills.


About the Asari — Liara’s species

(This information is strictly based on the first game. Later profiles include information from later games. Which clarifies, confirms or occasionally contradicts some of this data.)

Asari are the most important and influential species in Citadel Space. They have an ample and tumultuous history, and were the first to discover the mass relays and the Citadel. They even seem biologically “more evolved”. For instance they have a remarkably sophisticated nervous system.

Their long lives — potentially more than 1,000 years — go through three distinct stages called Maiden, Matron and Matriarch.

Liara working in the Normandy SR1

Maidens are typically individualistic, adventurous and hoydenish. They like such occupations as mercenary or exotic dancer. A typical Maiden enjoys mingling, fighting, having sexual adventures and showing off. By contrast, Liara much prefers studying. She shares the Maidenish instinct to go out there and explore, but for her that takes the form of painstaking archaeological research.

After age 200 or 300, a Maiden will become a Matron. As a result, she will typically take on a corporate or governmental role as she settles down and becomes interested in having children.

The oldest Asari are Matriarchs, and are typically advisers, writers or philosophers.

The Asari homeworld, Thessia, is rich in Element Zero. This both means that Thessia is a wealthy world, and that the local life forms are adapted to Element Zero exposure. The latter results in an enhanced potential for biotic powers.

I got my mind set on you, part 1

Asari are the most biotically powerful species. They can perform telekinesis without needing psychotronic  implants. Thus the well-trained Dr. T’Soni is significantly more powerful than Lieutenant Alenko, one of the mightiest registered Human biotics.

However this doesn’t mean that all Asari have biotic training, much like not all Humans are athletes.

Beyond the manipulation of Mass Effect fields through biotics, Asari have unique telepathic abilities. These allow them to meld their mind with that of a person they are touching. Such mental contacts are actually their mode of reproduction. If the psychic merging goes all the way, an Asari can self-impregnate.

Adorable drawing of Liara by Stacie Ponder

Drawing by Stacie Ponder, from her blog .

Sexual psychic fusion is a total, rapturous experience. However, an experienced Asari can use it as a limited, emotionally neutral tool to exchange information. An Asari called Shiala  could thus “upload” information into the mind of Commander Shepard, though it was too alien for Shepard to understand the “file”.

Liara could also “read” a vision in the mind of the Commander as if she were seeing it herself.

I got my mind set on you, part 2

This hack of Asari sexuality is uncomfortable for the Asari. It requires intense concentration and has strong sexual overtones. Shiala clearly felt that the operation was awkward, the equivalent of grabbing and kissing Commander Shepard.

The sexually inexperienced Liara also couldn’t help but perceive intimate things about the Commander while making utilitarian contact. She was left exhausted by the concentration required to “read” specific information rather than simply have sex. In both cases though, Shepard didn’t feel anything special.

Some Asari apparently have precognitive intuitions. And it is said that very powerful Matriarchs, such as Liara’s mother, have superhuman intelligence, willpower and charisma.

Blue shift, part 1

Asari are a monogendered species. “Male” and “female” are concepts that only are relevant when interacting with gendered aliens. Most Asari seem to see it as a detail.

Asari very much resemble Human women, perhaps as a result of parallel evolution. The main cosmetic differences between the two are :

  • Asari do not have any hair on their skin or scalp.
  • Asari have superstructures on their skull, called “crests”, which sweep backward.
  • Asari have blue skin, ranging from powder blue to almost violet depending on ethnicity. They often have skin marks on their face, forming various patterns.
  • Asari eyes reflect light differently than Human eyes do. They faintly glow under certain illuminations.
  • A few seconds of pondering lead to the conclusion that Asari do not have genitalia. However they can use Human body armour in female configuration, implying a roughly similar urinary tract and presumably birth canal.
  • Asari presumably do not have dark red blood, since Human blood is stated to be unusually coloured by galactic standards.
  • Asari do not have eyebrows (Liara’s are just marks on her skin). So either they do not sweat, or have an alternating mean of dealing with sweat in their eyes. Perhaps they have a very thin protective membrane, since their eyes look a bit different from Humans’.
    My theory would be that they do not perspire, and instead vent excess body heat through their crests.
    (And yes, this is important. Perspiration was a key asset for early Humans as endurance-based hunters.)

Blue shift, part 2

Liara mentioned that there were significant differences between Asari and Human women. But since a naked Asari looks so much like a woman, Doctor T’Soni was presumably referring to neural and biochemical differences.

Their physiology is levo-rotatory amino acid-based, like Humans’.

All known Asari are by common Human standards fit and attractive. They sport beautifully proportioned bodies and facial features. Likewise, their cranial superstructures apparently resemble those of Turian females, and reportedly look sexy to most Turian males.

There are nonsensical rumours about Asari being pulchritudinous due to siren-like mental powers. But the reality is presumably far more mundane. A possible explanation is that Asari tend to have perfect bilateral physical symmetry. Among species using sexual reproduction this implies superior, desirable genetics.

Let’s talk about sex

Asari prefer to have children with alien partners. Since they self-impregnate during psychic contact, physiological differences are irrelevant. The psychic imprint gained during the mental communion will be part of the Asari’s child’s psyche. It is also somehow used to randomise genetics so the Asari isn’t pregnant with a clone of herself.

At this stage of the Mass Effect saga, Asari xenophilia is presented as a philosophical choice.

Liara in Colossus light armor aiming a pistol

Asari babies are 100% Asari. But they reputedly carry some personal and racial qualities from their alien parent, increasing Asari diversity and enriching Asari noosphere . Being a “pureblood” (the child of two Asari) is thus considered sub-optimal, but the implications aren’t explored at this stage.

Compared to most Humans, Asari have little taboos about sexuality. Exotic dancing is considered a fun form of artistic expression, and many Maidens perform as such for some quick cash.

The Asari equivalent of geisha (“consort” ) are respected professionals, with a role akin to that of psychiatrist, advisor, priest and councillor. And even lawyer or pythia for the most reputed ones. Sex is just a part of a consort’s toolset, though they can achieve a lot through sexual psychic contact.


History

(This information is strictly based on the first game. Later writeups include information from later games, which clarifies, confirms or occasionally contradicts some of this data.)

Dr. Liara T’Soni is the only child of Matriarch Benezia , a powerful spiritual and philosophical leader. Her other parent is also an Asari, but Benezia never told Liara about her. Perhaps this was due to the embarrassment of having a pureblood child.

Most Asari assumed that Liara would be a wise leader and thinker, like her famous mother. But the youth couldn’t cope with this pressure. Whereas Matriarch Benezia advocated for her vision of an Asari future, Liara became fascinated by the distant past of aliens. She thus studied to become a xenoarchaeologist, spending her time alone in libraries, museums and digs.

Deeper understanding

Liara studied on Thessia – which was presumably her homeworld. As she continued her education she specialised in Protheans studies. She thus joined the ranks of those archaeologists poring over the improbably rare and scattered remains of this forerunner civilisation. One of her mentors was Dr. Passante.

While other Maidens were getting drunk, fighting, having sex and dancing — or some combination thereof — Liara was sneaking into college libraries after hours to pursue her research.

Side view of Liara's head

Dr. T’Soni spent years alone in the wilds of strange planets, conducting archaeological digs. This isolation was a plus for her. The lass was socially awkward and felt uncomfortable with the pressure surrounding her as Benezia’s daughter.

Her post-doc research tied the extinction of the Protheans with the solution of the Fermi Paradox . Her theory was that there existed periodic, galactic-scale waves of deliberate mass extinction. In that framework, the reason for the lack of Prothean ruins and artefacts was that they been systematically destroyed.

Though her theory was essentially correct, T’Soni had decades of work ahead of her to prove it. Plus, at barely 106 she was far too young by Asari standards to have much academic credibility.

Mother stands for comfort, part 1

While Dr. T’Soni was away on a dig, her mother learned that Saren Arterius, a special agent of the Citadel Council, had made a major discovery. Benezia discovered that Saren had gone mad and had genocidal plans. She tried to reason with him.

However, the same immense forces that had corrupted Saren could bore even through a Matriarch’s psychic resistance. Thus, Benezia ended up joining Saren.

Liara talking in her office

Another Council agent — a Human named Shepard — then discovered critical information about Saren and Benezia. She also learned that Prothean artefacts were involved in their plot. Cdr. Shepard located Dr. T’Soni on Therum, in the Artemis Tau cluster, and came to interrogate her.

At the same time, Saren sent agents after Liara. He wanted to force her to provide her expertise about all things Prothean.

Mother stands for comfort, part 2

On remote and unpopulated Therum, Liara had no idea that anything special was going on. When Saren’s agents came in, she barricaded herself using the ancient security systems she had been studying. However, she also accidentally trapped herself in some sort of suspension field.

As Saren’s men were trying to capture her, Commander Shepard came in. The elite human soldier exfiltrated Doctor T’Soni after a series of brutal fights against Saren’s forces.

Though Liara didn’t know anything special, Shepard requested that she stay aboard the SSV Normandy special operations frigate. This was intended both for Liara’s protection, and to have her consult about those Prothean artefacts Saren seemed to be looking for.

One of Commander Shepard’s tactical operators, Urdnot Wrex, pointed out that Dr. T’Soni was a powerful biotic who could be helpful in the field. Liara agreed to join the tactical training regimen of the Normandy’s marines so she could operate with them in the field. Some room was freed for her in the back of the sick bay, and a cot broken out of storage.

Army dreamers

While the combat training and field missions were gruelling, Liara was enthusiastic. Investigating Saren’s trail led to the discovery of Prothean artefacts of such incredible magnitude as potentially readable data discs, and a silvery sphere that seemed to be a telepathic device.

An even more awesome find had deposited inscrutable data into Commander Shepard’s mind. Dr. T’Soni volunteered to psychically “read” this data for analysis. The archaeologist went over these finds day and night, though her priority was to determine what Saren was after.

While making mental contact with Shepard, the inexperienced T’Soni had accidentally established a light psychic rapport. This perception of each other soon became a strong attraction. After a second mind-meld to read new data in Shepard’s mind, Dr. T’Soni breached the issue in the frank Asari manner. She and the Commander gradually became lovers.

Heads, we’re dancing

Cdr. Shepard’s decision to retain Dr. T’Soni’s expertise was, as usual, the right one. Liara’s mind-reading abilities and Protheans expertise were instrumental in saving the galaxy. The young doctor also found even more data to test her Protheans theories, and greatly expand academic knowledge about this lost civilisation.

She also was there to help her mother tear herself free from dark psychic influences. Alas, at this stage, even the mighty Benezia could only find freedom in death.

Liara seemed poised for the big time — as a celebrated heroine, as a starry-eyed lover, and as the analyst of an unprecedented academic treasure trove. Yet, tragedy would soon strike.


Description

Dr. T’Soni is dressed in the usual style for academics, researchers, doctors, etc. in Citadel Space. Her shoulder patch reads “X-05” – which seems to be a code for a researcher with a doctoral degree. Presumably these were changed to “SR1” when she was officially attached to the Normandy SR1.

Liara T'Soni ME1 character model sheet

Reference sheet extracted by Trodoon80 .

In public, Liara speaks in a deliberate, didactic, precise fashion as if lecturing for beginners or presenting a report. It is probably because she’s thinking ahead about what she’ll say to avoid putting her foot in her mouth.

In private, the doc speaks with a more normal and spontaneous flow, to her occasional regret. But she always comes across as an intellectual.

Many Asari have skin markings on various areas of their face and the top of their head. T’Soni’s look a bit like a crown of glitter. She also has the equivalent of freckles, and brow ridge markings that coincidentally look like drawn Human eyebrows.


Personality

Liara is adorkable. She’s a xenoarchaeology nerd – enthusiastic and deeply knowledgeable about the ancient past, but stiff and awkward about almost everything else. She’s in love with the mysteries of the ancient Prothean past, and will grow very excited if an opportunity to learn more about it arises. This passion can occasionally override her common sense.

Liara would rather be by herself, since she has a talent for accidentally saying dorky and embarrassing things. This leaves her too flustered to realise that most people find that cute.

Though she’s prone to small, amusing foot-in-mouth incident Dr. T’Soni shouldn’t be seen as shy or socially inept. Asari cultures generally produce confident people with little hangups, who behave in a frank and open manner. These descriptors apply to Liara. It’s simply that she’s removed from ordinary life and social interactions due to her research.

If she has to interact at length with people, Dr. T’Soni will probably enter lecture mode. This is something with which she’s much more comfortable. Furthermore, as a nerd she tends to assume that everybody likes archaeological lectures as much as she does.

If Liara gets to become more familiar with people, she becomes more free-flowing and comfortable. As she relaxes she comes across as a strange mix between a starry-eyed romantic dreaming of soulful love, a pragmatic and self-actualised youth who knows of and accepts both her strengths and her limitations, and a somewhat absent-minded professor.

Jig of life

Liara tends to miss jokes. Her culture favours eager sincerity. She’d also be a terrible liar, provided that the idea of lying even entered her mind. Asari often master sarcasm and manipulation, but here again Dr. T’Soni is atypical, since she lacks the aggression and social experience for these.

Liara making a biotic attack (also, her butt because I'm a poor photograph)

Before meeting Shepard, T’Soni saw Humans as hectic, bullyish upstarts causing all sorts of trouble. This is a common Asari view, and isn’t unreasonable. Humans are louder and less passive than most Council Space species, and Liara may never have really met one before.

Asari culture puts great weight on age, and at 106 Dr. T’Soni is barely a young adult. For Humans this is odd. She’s a highly-qualified academic with decades of experience, yet she keeps expecting being treated like a 17-year old.

Liara gradually comes to appreciate being aboard the Normandy. Though she’s the only Asari aboard, it also means that she’s not treated like a wet-behind-the-ears kid. Most Humans interact with her as if she were in her mid-20s, since she’s a young PhD.

Humans also all treat Dr. T’Soni as female, even when they know that Asari are mono-gendered. Asari look so much like Human women that it takes an exceptionally butch behaviour not to be read as one. Furthermore Liara is gentle, romantic, understated and open about her emotions. So in the context of stereotypical Human gender roles she’ll inevitably be treated as a female.

Oh to be in love

Though she was trying hard to stay detached, Liara twice melded with Shepard’s psyche. As a result, they’re very much in love. However, Liara felt like an utter dork whenever she opened her mouth in the presence of the toweringly charismatic Shepard.

The virginal Liara was also intimidated by the deep psychic intimacy that a sexual relationship meant for an Asari. Her lack of knowledge about Humans and their customs made her even more hesitant.

Liara about to kiss Commander Shepard

As a further complication, Dr. T’Soni knows that many Human males cherish all sorts of salacious rumours about Asari interspecies sexuality. They tend to have fantasies about going all Captain Kirk on ’em blue space babes.

Since she’s markedly less adventurous than most Maidens and she’s the only Asari aboard, she’s concerned with not comforting stereotypes about her species. Especially since that might make the Commander look bad.

Her concerns are founded. In particular Shepard’s XO, Navigator Pressly, was wary of aliens and had an image of Asari all being psychic Mata Haris. Actually working with aliens thankfully destroyed Pressly’s prejudices.

Even though Dr. T’Soni became an item with his CO , Pressly was by then pretty sure she was no spy. Beside, Liara obviously couldn’t vamp her way out of a paper bag.


Quotes

“Me ? I’m afraid I’m not very interesting, Commander. I spend most of my time on remote digs, unearthing mundane items buried in long-forgotten Prothean ruins.”

“People wanted me to follow in Benezia’s footsteps. They wanted me to become a great leader.”

Liara (enthusiastic): “I find you so fascinating. You were marked by the beacon on Eden Prime ! Touched by working Prothean technology !”
Shepard (amused): “Sounds like you want to dissect me in a lab somewhere.”
Liara (alarmed): “What ? No ! I didn’t mean to insinuate… I… uh… I didn’t mean to offend you, Shepard ! I only meant that you would be an interesting subject for in-depth… study…” (beat) “Oh no… this sounds even worse…” (mortifiedly stares at her feet).

“What is striking is what I didn’t find. The Protheans left remarkably little behind. It is almost as if someone did not want the mystery solved. It’s like someone came along after the Protheans were gone and cleansed the galaxy of clues.”

Tali: “So, Doctor T’Soni, all these Prothean ruins we’re exploring – this must be like a survey for you.”
Liara: “Not exactly. For one, I am usually alone on my expeditions, and two, they involve lengthier studies… and… and far fewer explosions.”

“According to my findings, the Protheans were not the first galactic civilisation to mysteriously vanish. The cycle began long before them. (…) I have dedicated my life to figuring out why.”

“I’m sorry. My scientific curiosity got the better of me.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Liara

Dex: 03 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Upholding Good
Int: 04 Wil: 06 Min: 06 Occupation: Xenoarchaeologist
Inf: 03 Aur: 03 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 012 HP: 030

Powers:
Attraction/repulsion: 04, Biotic barrier: 35, Biotic lift: 07, Biotic stasis: 06, Biotic warp: 06, Data storage: 09, Recall: 07, Superbreath: 07, Telekinesis: 02, Telepathy: 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Attraction/repulsion, Superbreath and Telekinesis are all biotic powers.
  • Attraction/Repulsion is Attraction Only (-1) and is toward a point within Range that the character can see (+10 Base Cost).
  • Attraction has an Explosive Radius (+1) and a Serious Power Burnout (-2).
  • Biotic lift has a 0 APs Area of Effect.
  • Data Storage and Recall are probably Form Function.
  • Superbreath can only be used every other Phase.
  • Telepathy has No Range, but is Form Function. When used in a focused manner to transmit or read specific data (rather than just have sex), it also has a Serious Burnout.

Skills:
Accuracy (Biotics): 06, Evasion (Ranged only): 05, Gadgetry: 03, Medicine (First aid): 06, Thief (Identification systems): 05, Weaponry (Firearms): 04

Bonuses and Limitations:
Gadgetry is limited to maintenance, repair and power user operations.

Advantages:
Expertise (Galactic history, Galactic Archaeology), Familiarity (Military equipment and protocols, Zero-G Combat), Language (Council Trade and at least one Asari language), Lightning Reflexes, Scholar (Prothean archaeology), Slowed Ageing.

Connections:
Crew of the SSV Normandy (High), Staff Commander Shepard (High).

Drawbacks:
Socially Inept, MIA toward Prothean lore, Misc.: poor liar (Liara receives a further +1CS OV/RV penalty if she attempts to lie).

Equipment:

  • BASIC OMNI-TOOL [BODY 01, Data storage: 12, Radio communication: 13, Superspeed: 01, Limitation: Superspeed only for tasks involving processing information using the omni-tool].
  • HMWP Master Spectre Pistol [BODY 05, Projectile weapons: 07, R#02, Advantage: Targeting 2, Drawback: Overheat].
  • Liara carries other weapons but is not trained with them. They are primarily useful for somebody else to use if they lost a gun, and for suppressive fire.
  • COLOSSUS LIGHT BODY ARMOUR [BODY (Hardened) 10, Cling: 04, Cold immunity: 02, Flame immunity: 03, Hardening: 03, Lightning immunity: 04, MEK3 Shield: 16, Radio communications (Booster): 02, Sealed systems: 12, Skin armour: 03, Medicine (First aid): 04, Limitations: Cling only works on metallic surfaces and reduces movement speed to 0 APs, Medicine (First aid) is Self Only, but works automatically, Skin armour only against Sharp Impact].

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Mass Effect video game trilogy plus some details from Mass Effect: Homeworlds #4.

Helper(s): Eric Langendorff. Enhanced textures by CDAMJC .

Writeup revised on the 23rd of May, 2014.

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