5716 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Lilith (Borderlands 1 video game)

Lilith the siren

(Profile #1 - early Borderlands)


Context

Borderlands is a 2009 action video game. It is primarily a First-Person Shooter game, but with quests, loot, vehicles, and a simple storyline. It features an immersive setting mixing ultra-violence, stylized aesthetics and dark comedy. It striking aesthetics were derived from the short movie Codehunters .

Lilith is one of the 4 Player Characters  in the first person game, though she returns as a NPC  during the second game. This profile only covers the first game.

This here article also includes a description of the Borderlands setting as it appears during the first game.


  • This profile features a sample or customized Player Character – 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.

The illusive generic Vault Hunter

The “characters” in the first Borderlands game are closer to being character classes, as they can all develop a variety of builds in typical Action-Adventure Computer Role-Playing Game fashion.

For instance, this entry assumes that Lilith has a typical controller/elemental firefly build emphasising incendiary firearms, though there are other possibilities. This seems to be the official default version, since in Borderlands 2 Lilith had a fire theme (and the signature wings of fire).

However, they do have a minimal degree of characterisation with a canonical name, a largely set appearance, a handful of lines, a brief intro sequence conveying a sense of their style, etc.

This became more developed as additional characterisation appears in the second game — though it’s not covered here — and in the comics – which are covered here.

With this material, Lilith can be treated on writeups.org as a bare-bones character rather than a character class to be fleshed out.


Background

  • Real Name: Unrevealed.
  • Marital Status: Presumed single.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: None.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile on Pandora.
  • Height: 5’5” Weight: 110 lbs.
  • Eyes: Orange Hair: Red.
  • Distinguishing features: Swirling patterns on the left half of her torso and her left arm (and possibly her left leg) ; alabaster-white skin.


Video

Borderlands trailer.


The Borderlands I milieu

The first Borderlands game takes an approach common among Action-Adventure Role Playing Games — for instance the approach in Torchlight is similar.

The game world is generic enough for most players to orient themselves without any information dump. The exposition about the universe is kept minimal and allusive, what little exists has to be pieced together, and there isn’t a story per se.

Tech levels

It is a science-fiction setting. Humanity has colonised multiple more-or-less habitable planets, though it doesn’t seem that intelligent aliens have ever been encountered.

That there is super-tech is obvious. For instance automobiles can be teleported, rapidly materialising around their soon-to-be-driver like lightcycles do in the TRON movies, a process called digistruction. Clones can be flash-grown, with the memories of the original implanted in a near-perfect format.

Ablative personal force fields are available for soldiers. There are robots with artificial intelligence, though “intelligence” may not be the best word.

Lilith reloading a submachinegun

However, such technologies as firearms and cars seem based on the same principles as present-day ones.

The cars in the game are very similar to modern Fast Attack Vehicles. The guns remain shotguns, submachineguns, assault rifles and so on and so forth. However they employ caseless ammo that can carry a warhead delivering impossible quantities of incendiary compounds, acid, explosives, electricity, etc.

Thus the setting has generally modern-to-near-future tech, with sudden jumps into sci-fi for oddly specific applications.

These jumps are explicable. An important historical event was the discovery of a cache of alien technology, which allowed humanity to greatly accelerate its technological progress. One assumes that the sci-fi bits of tech are all applications of alien tech, and the rest is native human tech.

Humanity may thus have made the alien cache discovery not too long before or after 2013. This would explain the relatively familiar guns, cars, clothing, etc. However, rapid space flight to inhabitable planets was already in use when the alien tech was discovered, hinting and a different human technological development and history in this universe.

The alien cache was discovered on a planet named Promethea, by the Atlas Corporation . Atlas became a gigantic interplanetary company based on the sale of products derived from its analysis of the alien tech. It came to reign over numerous industries and developed its own military forces.

Other corporations tried to unearth alien artefacts to better compete against the mighty Atlas, but didn’t find anything. Further, Atlas was determined to find any further resources first.

Lilith with a blue sniper rifle

However, on a brutal but somewhat habitable planet named Pandora , rumours of a secret alien vault endured for years.

One day, four real hardarses obtained a fresh lead about the mythical Pandora vault, and converged toward the same area.

Themes

The original Borderlands doesn’t quite have narrative themes until the DLCs, which get refined in BL2. In this cyberpunk-ish universe :

  • Life has little value unless the person is affluent. The life of those proles living on unprofitable planets such as Pandora is worth zilch. The mega-corporations will routinely sacrifice the lives of their workers and soldiers if that’s vaguely profitable.
    It is possible that the human population is so vast now that it lives on dozens of planets that it has become valueless.
  • The mega-corporations apparently rule everything, but are completely dysfunctional and isolated from the real world. They seem to be so lost in their Byzantine internal power struggles and absurd corporate culture as to be unable to relate to what is not them – never mind decency.
  • Most everybody is generally awful, especially on Pandora – whose ultraviolent and toxic environment breeds explosive insanity. Almost everybody is very low on empathy and desensitized to suffering, and most are outright sociopathic and/or psychotic. Greed, self-gratification and hair-trigger tempers rule.
    Even those characters who are sort of, more or less good guys (such as Roland and Helena Pierce ) have serious character flaws and do not wield power gracefully. They *are* seen as good leaders by those people who are not thoroughly damaged and ultraviolent, though.
  • Deadly violence is considered to be great entertainment, and the public lusts after it.

The Borderlands setting is presumably another attempt to have the typical shoot-them-up gameplay, where hundreds of foes are killed, make sense in a story.


Powers & Abilities

Lilith is an agile, fast, precise gunfighter – the usual role for the one female character in shoot‘ em up games.

She favours light automatic weapons such as submachineguns and personal defense weapons. Howbeit, she will often start an engagement with sniper fire to thin enemy ranks before they can rush her. Lilith is probably the most powerful among the 4 Vault Hunters.

Caveat

Borderlands features constant use of “video game logic” that doesn’t make narrative sense outside of a video game context.

Examples include people suddenly acquiring powers that make their equipment run better because they have been killing lots of things, or finding equipment off random bandits in the arse end of nowhere that changes how super-powers possessed by 6 people in the universe work. The following descriptions smooth things over, in order to depict Lilith without fully relying on video game logic.

Song of the Siren

Lilith is something called a Siren – more about this later. She thus has bona fide superhuman powers, mostly having to do with the manipulation of space and energy.

Phasewalker

Her main superhuman ability is that she can concentrate to reach out, touch the fabric of space and tear it open with her hands for a short while.

Stepping through the tear, Lilith can briefly be “under” the normal world. That makes her intangible, invisible and able to move very quickly. She he calls this phasewalking. Phasewalking movement seems to be about as fast as a sports car.

Lilith phasewalking

Lilith phasewalking out

Both the point at which she opens the tear and the point at which she returns to the real world will explode due the damage inflicted to space. Lilith is immune to the effects of the explosion – presumably it occurs just before she re-enters, and right after she leaves.

This is of course oft used as a weapon. Lilith will phasewalk away while close to an opponent, warp in into the middle of an enemy group, phasewalk away while close to volatile materials such as fuel tanks, etc.

Lilith can also squeeze space within her hand, producing a smaller deflagration, which can be timed to occur when she punches something. These warp punches can be quite powerful.

Lilith physically regenerates while she is phasewalking, healing some of her wounds during the brief time she spends out of phase.

Phoenix

Lilith also enjoys a superhuman affinity with “elemental” weapons. This means guns using alien technology to have their bullets discharge fire, electricity, acid or concussive force on impact. These projectiles produce more energetic conflagrations when she fires them, and this is especially true of incendiary weapons.

A seemingly related ability is emitting a sphere of translucent flame around herself in the heat of combat. It is capable of badly burning people and objects in her vicinity. Lilith usually manifests a pair of flaming, non-functional (and apparently immaterial) wings from her back when she does so, for unknown reasons.

It is possible that Lilith has some sort of pyrokinetic ability used to detonate elemental payloads in her bullets. Or perhaps all of her superhuman abilities, including phasewalking, are the result of interfacing with some sort of Eridian technology.

Lilith torching a bandit

The Siren’s bullets have a dazing, disorienting effect. This is important in a context where many creature can take a huge volume of fire before they go down. This is presumably related to how she can apparently “overclock” the payload of her bullets, perhaps by making the bullet itself detonate in front of her target.

For simplicity’s sake and based on this hypothesis where the bullets explode before they hit, our game stats assume that shooting to daze is different from shooting to damage.

Spotting a place where Lilith has been fighting is trivial. What was close to her was set on fire, she shoots her opponents to set them on fire (and what’s next to them catches fire too), she goes through lots and lots of incendiary bullets and thus a lot of stray shots hitting random things nearby and setting those on fire… and if she phasewalks stuff nearby gets blown up. And was probably on fire. Also, grenades.

Lilith is not a subtle person.

Other abilities

Lilith can run at high speeds, and her jumps feature some sort of gravity-lessening effects. These abilities seem normal in the Borderlands world, though – at least for adventurers. Still, since she has some minor speed enhancing abilities, our game stats assume a slightly superhuman running speed.

Lilith makes a bullet explode

Lilith detonates a bullet.

Like most professional fighters, Lilith uses an orb shield. This is a tight personal force field that stops incoming attacks until the accrued stress overwhelms it. Lilith’s shields are particularly strong, and will rebuild capacity quickly once depleted, even in the middle of a fight.

One possible approach is to consider that it’s simply technical skills on her part, and that she tweaks and overclocks her shields for greater output. She might also be able to feed them extra energy through her superhuman abilities.

Lilith’s weapons can fire faster and have greater bullet velocity. This can also be attributed to her technological tinkering skills with infantry equipment.

Shoot ‘em up

Being a FPS character, Lilith can carry an arsenal of weapons and ammunition without hindrance.

Since the setting has some sort of teleportation technology capable of making cars materialise out of thin air, one presumes that her belts hold teleporters to have her weapons and ammunition appear and disappear as needed. This is more or less confirmed in Borderlands 2 where some weapons can be thrown away only to have a new copy digistructed on demand.

Her core arsenal is :

  • A precision rifle with incendiary ammunition, used when she gets to start the fight and is at an appropriate range.
  • A submachinegun with incendiary ammunition used for most combat.

Lilith and the other three Vault Hunters on Pandora

Lilith keeps a number of other weapons teleportation-ready, either for specialised tactical purposes or because switching weapons is often faster than reloading. This is especially true since various creatures can be resistant or even immune to incendiary effects, either physically or because of fireproofed armour.

Typical examples of special-purpose weapons would include a shotgun with corrosive effects to attack said armour, or a high-calibre two-shot handgun with an electrical effect to quickly disrupt enemy orb shields.

A typical engagement will have the Siren opening fire with her precision rifle from afar until the enemy gets too close, then darting from opponent to opponent. She’ll stay very close yet highly mobile, setting an opponent on fire through gunfire and her flame aura until it is eliminated.

Once her orb shields go dead from enemy attacks she will phasewalk away (preferably while close to wounded opponents) to regenerate and rebuild her orb shields, then soon resume the fight as she is refreshed. She’s a mistress of hit-and-run tactics, as she hits particularly hard and runs particularly fast.

I’ll be back !

Lilith is one of relatively few persons with a New-U  account and implant. New-U is a service that will flash-grow a clone and implant the latest copy of the memories within the brain in minutes. The data is kept up to date every few minutes at worst. Being a very dangerous planet, Pandora has a solid network of New-U meat-printing stations.

New-U is present purely as a gameplay conceit, with encouragements not to think too hard about the implications, workings and in-universe impact.

Lilith blowing a kiss (also, cleavage)

Since admonitions not to think about things are not writeups.org-compliant, here’s a random hypothesis. New-U resurrection will normally cause massive psychiatric trauma, that will remain dormant for several years (though the onset will be greatly accelerated by repeated resurrections).

These consequences are absolutely catastrophic and generally considered worse than death, as the person experience a violent psychological meltdown and out-of-control aggression. However :

  • Establishing causality took many years, and by that point New-U had a solid presence on promising markets (i.e., dangerous worlds and warzones).
  • It doesn’t happen in 100% of cases. Some people with unusual genetics are essentially immune and can be resurrected over and again without any consequences bar paying for the process.

Lilith and the other Vault Hunters presumably belong to the immune population, and are thus among the relatively few customers left for New-U.

Retail in the Borderlands universe is mostly run by autonomous and self-maintaining machines (presumably restocked by teleportation). Thus, service stations such as New-U’s can run for very low costs. Therefore, they might as well continue running even for a barebones clientele.


History

Lilith is a Siren – reportedly one of 6 superhuman women with space-warping powers. Whence they come, whether they always were Sirens, their nature, etc. are all enigmas.

Sirens seem connected to the Eridians , an extinct race whose highly advanced technological artefacts are behind much of the progress made by humanity since their discovery.

Lilith with an alien weapon

Lilith test-fires an alien weapon.

Lilith apparently came to the harsh planet Pandora to investigate a precise lead about the Eridians and/or the presence of another Siren there – Commandant Steele  of the Crimson Lance, Atlas Corporation’s private military.

Though there had long been rumours about an Eridian relics vault hidden somewhere on Pandora, Lilith and perhaps Steele seemed to know something others didn’t.

During Lilith’s stay on Pandora, she was telepathically contacted by a third woman with strangely-coloured irises, who provided a steady stream of indications to guide her.


Additional information from the comic

The following is from issue #2 of Borderlands Origins published by IDW.

Like with the game, there are no clear explanations. The additional data is :

  • Lilith is from a planet called Honus 4651 (whereas she was previously listed as being from Dionysus). She is apparently an orphan, as her father died under her eyes from unspecified causes when she was about 5.
  • Seconds after her father died, she was accosted by an elderly woman with Siren markings. At this point the Siren markings appeared on Lilith’s body. The old woman explained that she was the eldest Siren and was about to die, passing her powers on to Lilith.

Ms. Arslan cosplaying as Lilith

Photo courtesy of, and featuring, Yasemin Arslan .

  • There exists a vague prophecy about the Sirens – content unknown. The old woman implied that she had been specifically looking for Lilith to inherit her powers, but this might have just been a turn of phrase. It is worth noting that Lilith’s eyes are orange even before she gets the markings.
  • The elder Siren alludes to Maya (the Siren player character in Borderlands 2), two masked Sirens in robes, and Commandant Steele (the main villain in Borderlands). Steele is said to have strayed from her path to cast despair, and interestingly she is the only Siren whose eyes aren’t orange.
  • A few minutes before the start of Borderlands Lilith impulsively kisses Roland, one of the other three Vault Hunters, as she finds him attractive and feels that she shouldn’t be a virgin anymore. Their subsequent relationship isn’t mentioned in the games until Borderlands 2, though.

Description

Lilith is a small woman somewhere in her 20s. She’s clearly dressed to operate in a desert – grey jeans covered in leather chaps, leather boots, fingerless gloves, a tiny leather jacket, etc.

She sports low-riding skinny jeans and a low-cut tank top with a push-up underneath. This is both for general sexyness and to show off the swirling patterns covering half her body. Her skin is very pale and her eyes are a sort of desaturated, light orange.

Lilith has numerous small scars over her face and body, though they are all well-healed and seem to have been deliberately kept to show off. There is an implication that her “tattoos” are actually a natural pattern on her skin – a sign of her Siren nature.

Lilith’s laugh is rather distinctive : here is a 15-seconds video illustration.


Personality

Lilith is an enigma – she doesn’t have any real dialogue, her motivations and past are a mystery. Even her nature as a Siren is undetailed. From the in-game exclamations and the short intro she seems to be aggressive, sensual, impatient, impulsive and perhaps a bit unhinged.


Quotes

(Laughing after headshotting her target) “I’m really good at this !”

(Eagerly jumping behind the wheel of a fast attack vehicle) “Let’s get wheels !”

Roland: “Bird guy and me are going after this Nine Toes guy. Wanna come ?”
Lilith: “Is it dangerous ?”
Roland: “Sounds like.”
Lilith: “Then I’m in.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Lilith

Dex: 06 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Thrill
Int: 04 Wil: 03 Min: 04 Occupation: Vault Hunter
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 003
Init: 014 HP: 040

Powers:
Acid immunity: 02, Enchantment: 01, Energy blast: 06, Flame being: 06, Flame immunity: 02, Flash: 09, Lightning immunity: 02, Mental blast: 08, Regeneration: 04, Running: 05, Spirit Travel: 07

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Enchantment is limited to enhancing the effects of incendiary Eridian tech (usually bullets and grenades with the Flame Project Power).
  • Energy Blast has No Range – it is a melee attack.
  • Flame being automatically affects everything within 0 APs of Lilith.
  • Flash requires a firearm of opportunity, loaded and able to hit the target – and expands one Ammo from the weapon if applicable.
  • Regeneration is Contingent Upon using Spirit Travel.
  • Shade doesn’t protect against Lilith’s Flash but Force Field/Shield/Wall presumably do.
  • Mental blast has No Range but has an Area of Effect (0 APs). It can only be used, and must be used, when entering and exiting Spirit Travel. On the other hand using Mental blast doesn’t consume any action of either kind.
  • Spirit Travel can only be used every sixth Phase, and can only last for two consecutive Phases.

Skills:
Acrobatics: 04, Gadgetry (Firearms and ammunition, Orb shields): 04, Vehicles (Land): 04, Weaponry (Infantry weapons): 07

Advantages
Credentials (Free access to the Catch-A-Ride network), Lightning Reflexes.

Connections:
Vault Hunters (Low).

Drawbacks:
Mistrust.

Equipment:

  • Submachinegun with incendiary ammunition [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 05, Flame project: 04, Advantage: Autofire, R#02, Note: Flame Project has No Range but can ride Projectile Weapons’ Range, and is Combined With Projectile Weapons].
  • Sniper rifle with incendiary ammunition [BODY 02, Projectile weapons: 06, Flame Project: 03, Telescopic vision: 02, R#02, Note: Flame Project has No Range but can ride Projectile Weapons’ Range, and is Combined With Projectile Weapons].
  • ORB SHIELD [BODY 02, Blunting: 12, Damage capacity: 10, Skin armour: 03, Advantage: Damage Capacity regains one AP of Current Condition at the end of every Phase where Lilith has not been hit by an attack, Limitation: Skin armour only vs. fall damage].
  • Incendiary cluster grenades (x5) [BODY 01, Flame project (Explosive radius): 07, Bonus: Half-strength Continuing Damage, Grenade Drawback].
  • Secondary firearms with non-incendiary elemental effects.

Design notes

As often with video game characters, our DC Heroes stats walk a line between modelling what happens on-screen, and keeping the mechanics simple enough for a pen-and-paper RPG… while still capturing the concept as it was probably envisioned by the writers, before it entered the sausage factory that is gameplay adaptation.


By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Borderlands video game – this entry only covers the first game. Lilith voiced by Colleen Clickenbeard.

Helper(s): Darci, Coyote’s Own.

Writeup completed on the 15th of August, 2013.

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