Half angel, half serpent, most lillends in published adventures tend to be on the party’s side—as objectives to be met/rescued or as a source of advice and boons about 2/3s through the adventure (kind of a snakelike version of the fairy in The Legend of Zelda). They are excellent muses, sages, and bards, not to mention pretty good healers/buffers/combat allies.
Which is all fine…but that portrayal emphasizes the good, rejuvenating aspect of art…and not the chaos.
Artists can be manic. Artists can be single-minded. Artists can be oblivious and selfish. Artists can be willing to cut corners on truth and accuracy in pursuit of the better tale or image. Artists can mine their friends and family for stories, models, experiences, money, futons, time, attention, etc. Artists can take the last two clean pots in the house, use one to make ramen and the other to wash their brushes, and never ever ever wash either pot out until the end of time itself.
Beethoven. Van Gogh. Hemingway. Hunter S. Thompson.
I’d still much rather meet a chaotic good lillend in a dungeon than a demon or devil. But anyone who knows any artists at all (or at least art school students—can you tell I live in Baltimore?) should not have to think hard for reasons why your PCs might cross swords with one of these azatas, good alignment notwithstanding. “Lillends prove passionate foes,” says the Bestiary, “[…] crushing philistines in their striking but deadly coils.” Speaking of philistines, wasn’t it your fighter who just defaced the priceless mural in that last room…?
The ascetics of High Verai suspend themselves from cliff faces, anchored only by hooks driven through their flesh. By transcending the limits of pain and gravity, they claim to hear the secrets of the universe on the winds. Inspired, the lillend Zephenia hopes to replicate their devotions in a chandelier-like “Tree of People” in the city of Weatherhope. But as only four Verai ascetics would journey with her, she is recruiting volunteers from the Weatherhope citizenry. In her enthusiasm, she is blind to the fact that those who have stepped forward are all sadomasochistic cultists of Tzil, the Lord of Pain—a mysterious entity who may be a demon, kyton, or something far worse.
Hung with strings made from unicorn hair, the Spiderweb Gate is a magical arch that can be played as a giant harp or dulcimer. It is also a magical portal to an isolated demiplane known as the Malachite Rim, home to an exiled planetar and an enchanted trident. An adventuring party needs the services of both, but activating the Spiderweb Gate will also destroy its musical qualities—and two lillends are determined not to allow that to happen.
The Muse of Florin is an azata known for patronizing painters and poets in the City of Towers. Unfortunately, she was also recently poisoned by the sting of a bone devil in service to Baron Lockjaw. (Known as “The Addict’s Reward,” the baron is a patron of drug dealers and answers the last prayers of addicts who have sold everything but their souls for a fix.) The Muse’s bardic performances are now tainted like a drug, driving those she inspires to new heights of artistry, but taking a terrible toll on their bodies—and hers. She has begun to hunger not only for art but for the artists themselves, and if not cured or driven from the Material Plane she will begin to unhinge her elfin jaw and consume their music-drugged husks whole like a python.
—Pathfinder Bestiary 16
I have an MFA. I went to school with the most wonderful people in the world, who I still see almost every weekend. I have also seen the blood spatters on the living room ceiling when they got tired of their furniture and invented a game called Breakage. (It went…downhill. And vein-open-y. Oops.)
None of this, of course, applies to justjingles, who keeps sending me the nicest notes. If you’re not following Jingles yet, now’s a great day to start!
In the world’s oldest role-playing game, I think lillends were a separate kind of outsider from eladrin, but in Pathfinder they’ve become a subrace of azata (Pathfinder’s eladrin analogue.)
Personally, I’m down with both approaches. On the one hand, I liked it when lillends were pure spirits of art, existing above and apart from the alignment politics of the celestial realms in their pursuit of truth, beauty, etc. On the other hand, they fit in well with the chaotic good azatas, and their serpentine forms add a nice bit of edge (and tail slaps!) to what is otherwise a race of super-elves.
Where do your lillends fall?