Vortigaunt Guide Vortigaunt Encylopedia (Author: Vornag)

Paladin Reese

Staff Member
Sep 5, 2020
Half-Life canon is enigmatic by nature, and the Vortigaunts are no exception. For ease of roleplay and character creation I've taken liberties, filling the blanks with user-generated content that is not canon. This merely serves as a general guideline that I expect applicants to follow, but it is not the end-all be-all for Vortigaunts.

Vortigaunts are a highly spiritual alien species hailing from the farthest corners of space. After being forced to the inhospitable wastes of Xen by the Combine forces, they escaped to Earth using portals caused by the Resonance Cascade. Most were enslaved by the Civil Protection forces and are now used for janitorial duties, although some still roam free, either aiding the rebels or simply going about their lives as best as they can.


Vortigaunts are bipedal creatures with two legs and three arms, their third protruding from their thorax. This arm is noticeably less maneuverable and weaker than the other two, meaning it's primary purpose is feeding and other less work-intensive duties.

Their faces consist of a large maroon coloured eye, surrounded by three smaller ones, all of them having the ability to move independently. The smaller eyes are sensitive to movement and sudden changes while their large eye takes in more detail than the smaller ones combined, allowing them to inspect items and their surroundings with ease.

They possess teeth that are naturally sharp, however can't be used to bite due to their heads lacking a jaw. Their lacking jaw also hinders their ability to speak most Earth languages fluently, causing them to communicate with somewhat of a lisp. The claws on the end of their double digit hands are too small to cause any major damage.

Their skin is noticeably thicker compared to what humans possess, as is required to survive in environments as inhospitable as Xen. It successfully wards off most scratches and cuts without any major issues, but is still easily penetrated by firearms and the like. It's color varies from brown to mottled green. Those born with wildly different skin pigmentations are either considered highly important and showered with praise and respect or, on the other hand, outcast and shunned entirely.

Their physical strength develops identically to how a human's would, however Vortigaunts are overall weaker and instead rely on outsmarting or outrunning their adversaries. While this doesn't mean that Vortigaunts cannot best their opponents in a fair battle, they'd much rather not try. Most of their power rests in their digitigrade legs, which, while appearing awkward, allow them to make long strides and high jumps.

Their height varies per age and individual. The default Vortigaunt model stands at four feet, and is within the age of 100 and 200.

( Measurement unit: Feet. Measured using the measuring stick STool found in the workshop. Citizen used as comparison. )

Height varies from person to person. Note that their age doesn't necessarily govern their height, it simply serves as a general guideline.

A Vortigaunt within 0-30 of age are progeny.
A Vortigaunt within 30-100 of age are scholars.
A Vortigaunt within 100-200 of age are teachers.
A Vortigaunt that is 200+ of age are elders.

The groups exist for ease of classification and education. In Vortigaunt culture, age means nothing if it's not backed by deep understanding of the Vortessence.

The average natural life expectancy is 2000 years, although many die before reaching that.


The Vortessence is a life-force that ties together all living beings.

Vortigaunts believe the fabric of the universe (and everything within it) is created out of Vortal Cords, similarly to how humans believe the world is constructed out of atoms.

While the two concepts share similarities, Vortigaunts can, with enough practice, tap into the Cords and manipulate them as desired. They may give, take, heal and read them, allowing them to perform feats unimaginable to humans. The longer they meditate, the deeper their understanding and control of the Vortessence is.

This gives them a vast array of abilities that can be used to either help or hinder, such as:
- Healing wounds
- Creating electrical charges ( Either firing them as a bolt or concentrating them into an appliance )
- Resurrection ( Read below )
- Flux Shifting ( Commonly confused as telepathy. Read more in the chapter Communication & Speech Syntax )

It is highly unlikely for a Progeny to tap into the Vortal Cords, as it requires deep concentration and years upon years of practice. They begin training around the age of 30, at which point a Vortigaunt Progeny becomes a Vortigaunt Scholar. If they invest more time into meditation, their Vortessence powers become progressively stronger, allowing them to perform increasingly difficult feats.

Vortigaunt culture obsesses over mastery. The deeper an individual's understanding of the Vortessence is, the higher social status they achieve.

-Healing wounds and resurrection-

As aforementioned, everything is woven out of Vortal Cords, meaning everything is connected. A Vortigaunt with enough experience may manipulate these Cords to heal a wound at the cost of expending another creature's life force. This is either the Vortigaunt itself or any willing living being. The ordeal is entirely unpleasant for the healing Vortigaunt, even if they're healing a minor cut. It leaves them tired for hours, perhaps days depending on how severe the wound was. A missing limb cannot be re-attached via these means.

Life force is required in order to heal any wounds. The cost may be split across multiple individuals, however it requires multiple Vortigaunts to participate in the process.

If the giving creature is a Vortigaunt, their connection to the Vortessence is temporarily weakened after the exchange is complete. Depending on how large a wound they healed, their connection is disrupted for longer. They may regain their connection after resting for long enough.

If the giving creature lacks a connection to the Vortessence, their immune system takes a hit, leaving them exhausted and nauseous. If it was a small cut, they carry on without an issue. Larger wounds further weaken the individual, leaving them vulnerable to disease.

They may also use certain items such as Antlion Extract to lessen the burden or entirely remove it, although such items are few and far between ( Per agreement with owner )

Similarly, the Vortigaunts can resurrect a deceased creature if enough healers are present ( At the very least 3 elders ) and if certain items such as Antlion Extract are present during the resurrection. Without the item to serve as a sacrifice, two willing beings may be used instead ( It can't be the Vortigaunts involved in the ritual ) The two willing beings are killed in the process and their energy is transferred into the target. Performing a resurrection leaves the healing Vortigaunts severely drained for months on end.

The process doesn't require any rolls, simply time and experienced characters.
Do not attempt to resurrect ANY characters without owner permission and a proper roleplay scenario.

-Energy beam-

Vortigaunts can alter the surrounding air's properties and supercharge it into a beam of electricity, it's strength dependant on the caster's experience and practice.

We have a special OOC procedure for using the beam ability.
Once your character has meditated long enough to be able to create said beams of energy, and they aren't enslaved, they have to roll twice (This is assuming you're in combat. If your character has time to concentrate, no rolls are required.) The power of the shot increases as a character's connection to the Vortessence solidifies.

Depending on how old they are, they receive different roll bonuses:

Progeny cannot tap into the Vortessence
Scholars receive a -10 roll deduction.
Teachers receive no roll deduction/bonus
Elders receive a +10 roll bonus

If your character has won the roll, they have successfully tapped into the Vortessence and have begun charging their bolt. Now they must roll again, this time receiving a different roll bonus.

Scholars have no roll deduction/bonus
Teachers receive a +10 roll bonus
Elders receive a +15 roll bonus

If your character wins the roll, you perform a direct hit to where you were aiming. If you lose the roll, you perform a glazing shot

Each shot takes it's toll on the Vortigaunt, disrupting their connection to the Vortal Cords, meaning each consecutive shot will diminish in strength. They may regain their full strength through meditation.

A Vortigaunt can also direct this energy into various electrical appliances, momentarily supplying it with power. This, too, diminishes the character's connection to the Vortessence. The more energy they invest in an appliance, the more they're weakened. Similarly, the connection can be restored through rest.


Vortigaunt names heavily differ from standard human names. They contain up to five 'parts'.

A name like Muranni would contain one 'part', a name like Kazz'Ar would contain two 'parts', and so on and so forth. Parts are separated by apostrophes or spaces.

Names serve as more than just identification. They may also contain official or unofficial nicknames.
Similarly to how Humans have jobs, Vortigaunts have roles in their society. Their role is visible in their name (to be added).

There's a handful of name generators, but the one I found best was DonJon's Sci-Fi Alien name generator, and the newly made Guild Wars 2 Asuran name generator
DonJon: http://donjon.bin.sh/scifi/name/#space ( Remember to set it to Alien name mode )
Asuran Name Generator: http://fantasynamegenerators.com/asura_names.php#.Ugu16dKmi18
If you wish, you can combine results from both generators.

Male names typically end with a consonant, while female names usually end with a vowel, and have double letters in at least one part of their name. This is more so a guideline than a rule, one that the Vortigaunt culture zealously follow.
Examples of a female name would be Reeva, Nevvi, etc...
Examples of a male name would be Kazz'Ar, Xurrat, etc...

Communication & Speech Syntax

Flux shifting is a form of long-range communication that relies heavily on a Vortigaunt's connection to the Vortessence. Humans only hear a few short calls that are still audible well over a kilometer away. To those with a connection to the Vortal Cords however, those few calls are highly descriptive.

In addition to Flux shifting, Vortigaunts also sport a more traditional verbal language, although much is still expressed through the Cords. They rarely communicate using body language, meaning they sometimes miss out on the unimplied when talking to humans.

While spending their time on Earth, Vortigaunts have taught themselves at least one human language.

Unless a character has devoted a large portion of their time to studying their chosen tongue, most Vortigaunts will have limited knowledge of it, and will often use outdated words and syntax. Their speech is further impaired due to their lack of jaw, forcing them to speak with a form of lisp. Some characters will put extra emphasis on certain consonants, such as S and N.


"We have lost all that is dear to us..."
"We will put aside Black Mesa... For now."
"We are a tapestry woven of the Vortessence. It is the same for you if only you could see it"
"For a brief time you have joined us. You are one. Between the worlds."
"There is no distance between us. No false veil of time or space can intervene"
"Let this war end in either total victory or extinction. No further compromise shall we allow!"
"We bear witness to the bright eternity of the Nihilanth's demise. You leap, you fall, we see you flash beyond the barriers"
( Quotes taken from the HL2 Wikia, http://half-life.wikia.com/wiki/Vortigaunt. It is heavily recommended that you take the time to read through the entirety of the wiki. )

To be added:
History ( Glossed over in the HL2 Story in a Nutshell. That should be your source of Vortigaunt "canon" for the time being. )

Guide may (and likely will) be retconed at any time without warning.
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