Tso
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Race Overview

No one plane claims the tso as its own, and none would likely want to, for the tso have been described by poets as slippery eel-spider hybrids, with about as much honor and fewer scruples. Interestingly, such poets usually end up on the dinner table of an Old Master. The tso byword is 'suppleness,' especially where morality is concerned. While tso do follow their own convoluted set of principles, these tend to be vague standards such as offing old ladies is bad for business or only peel a baatezu if it's in the contract. If there's one precept at the core of tso culture it is the institution of slavery. To a tso all beings are slave or non-slave. This philosophy of living stems from the fear bred into the race, for every tso knows that should it prosper, one day it shall meet the poison which will turn it into an Old Master, one of the racial propagators of the tso, cursed to die upon bearing its brood. Every tso is a slave unto its own preconceptions, in a sense, for tso society is rife with prophecy and superstition born of this fear, whether it be brood lore, legends of a racial savior, or myths foretelling a terrible slave rebellion. When interacting with other beings through the course of trade, negotiation, or blackmail, tso continually strive to fit the world around them into the mold of The Way Things Are that they have cast. Ultimately, tso are most concerned with fitting things into their preconceived order, and it is only in this regard that they are trustworthy.

Race Life

Other races see the tso fear only through their legendary greed. "He's turned tso," has become a common saying to mean that a berk has become enslaved by his own desires, typically for jink or power. However, there's more to the tso picture than meets the eye. The tso are desperately social creatures and can't stand to be kept away from their own kind for long, often suffering from anxiety attacks or depression when separated from their brood. Recently, the aracheon (magical flying ships) of the tso have been disabled and countless broods forced to make due with what few supplies they have scavenged, trekking across the planes to make sense of the ensuing upheaval. As their toes grow callused, the tso are becoming a force to be reckoned with, though their numbers remain small compared to other denizens of the planes. Even now, tso society is extremely segmented. The Slether, or psionic-assassins, are the keepers of the Old Master poison and select the most promising of tso to be transformed. The Aistheat are great warlocks, ever manipulating the course of the broods, using them in an effort to complete several dark spells. What these groups hope to accomplish is unknown, but their constant threat ensures that the broods obey the hierarchy of tso society to a T. For your everyday tso this means obeying its superiors and smuggling, kidnapping, or thieving, at least until it can one-up the high-ups.

Since the Rendering, as the decline of the aracheon has been called, the tso broods have splintered from the original social composition, though some vestiges still remain. If anything, the tso are adaptable; after all, it was they who at one point ruled the Prime Material Plane under the mantle of the neogi. The new lines around which their society has been drawn are the factions of Sigil, which have become enormous broods unto themselves in the eyes of the tso. This is a revolutionary idea for the tso, for it puts them on equal footing with a multitude of races that would otherwise be their slaves (and rightly tso); clearly, not all tso support this move, the strongest opposition coming from the Slether and the Aistheat. The Slether fear losing power over the tso, and their brash actions have leaked hints of an ancient curse upon the race, one which the Slether have propagated since the time of the Illithid Empire. On the other hand, the Aistheat are more concerned with the purpose of their spells being kept dark, though the chant is that the Aistheat know the source of the curse and seek to hide it. Even as they march into the ranks of the factions, the tso still recall the prophecies of their race, which are enumerated in such classic works as the Tablets of Undoing and the Epic of Profit. These ancient books tell of So'idani, the tso who will end the curse that lives today; the Great Bard, a religious figurehead destined to lose his power to a woman; and the Grand Assassin, one of the Slether who will destroy the entire assassin guild in a quest for revenge.

Allies and Enemies

Never call a tso a neogi; they take it real personal like. While any berk can make an enemy of the tso real quick by calling them a planar neogi, the Slether have given the tso a bad name over history, not that they weren't doing a fine job of it by themselves. The Slether and their taszrik'oman, fearsome psionic weapons, have inspired much paranoia among the planes, and mention of a Slether can turn tables even in Malsheem. Largely, most bashers can set aside their prejudices and receive the tso with warm arms, albeit with an extra set of eyes to watch their back and purse. There are a few exceptions to this rule, however. A rotten deal by the Old Master Tsiir'Hanar has left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Baatezu, and since then all bets are off in regard to trade negotiations. Three other races have a grudge against the tso, including the neogi, high elves, and the illithid; the neogi despise the tso for claiming to be their masters, the high elves have sworn vengeance for a long stint of slavery under tso domination, and the illithid have an ancient bone to pick regarding the collapse of their empire. About the only ally the tso have rooting for them are their own kind, and sometimes not even that.

Faction Views

No matter what faction the tso join, they see it as an extension of their brood, and are most social within their factions, but this doesn't mean they're above using their brethren in their own ploys for power. Course, the Fated would seem a natural selection, given the bent of that faction towards looking out for Number One; however, while the tso are devious indeed, they shrink from the work ethic of many within the faction. Frequently, tso fall into the ranks of the Bleak Cabal, their aspirations smothered beneath the weight of many dreaded prophecies. Given their leaning towards fitting pieces of the great scheme into their preconceived meaning, the tso are natural candidates for the Fraternity of Order, which they join with a passion. Many graybeards note that the tso have a predilection for uncovering legal loopholes, so it's a small wonder they buy the Guvner's spiel. Chaos is poison to the tso, and they avoid the Xaositects like the plague; abandoning the quest to organize The Way Things Are is equivalent to death in the tso mind. Also numbered among their least favorite factions are the Free League, for opposing slavery, and the Believers in the Source, for supporting the ability of slaves to rise above their masters.

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