The Song of the Qui-Chi
In the Blue Age of Athas, the rhulisti (ancient halflings), known as the Shapers of Life worked with living material the way that a smith works with iron or a carpenter with wood. The fruits of their labors were tools and machines that lived and grew and even reproduced. Why make a shovel when you can make a living tool that will dig by itself? Eventually the Blue Age came to an end. The other races developed powers of the mind that matched and even exceeded the abilities of life shaping. The rhulisti lost their dominance and their civilization fell into ruin.
Exactly how and why has been lost in the sands of time. One small enclave of rhulisti survived the end of the Blue Age. Hidden away on the precarious Jagged Cliffs, the Rhul-thaun still practice the ancient ways. In the eons since the passing of the Blue Age, the Rhul-thaun science of life shaping has deviated and evolved from the old ways. Some would even say it has mutated.