(Three planar tieflings fighter, wizard, thief (one for each self) [he/she/they/them] / Sensate / CG)

Troika’s an uncanny blood, for sure. Listen carefully, cutter, this might take you by surprise, and it might make your head hurt a bit. Maybe you’ll reckon you’re being peeled, but I promise you ain’t. You’ve already been mislead, cutter. Troika ain’t a single blood, see. They’re three bodies. But then, at the same time, they ain’t. This is going to take some explaining, right?

Okay, start with the basics: Tieflings. Every one’s a story on its own, as you’re probably aware. There’s this thing about fiendish blood see, that makes tiefers special. Y’know what I mean; they’ve got this look about ’em. Could be dragon scales in the palms of their hands, could be a forked purple tongue, could be eyes like burning stars; whatever it is, there’s always something different about a tiefer.

It ain’t always something so glamorous though. Thing is, more tieflings than is fair are born wrong, with defects and unnatural disorders. They’re hardy cusses, most of ’em, and they usually survive their troubles. You’ve probably heard of the tiefers they call ‘Siamese twins’. They’re twins, sure enough, but they’re born joined together. Could be by the waist, back or hips; in fact, it could be most anywhere. Rarer still are Siamese triplets, but they never live long; even tiefers ain’t tough enough to survive that sort of bad luck.

If you’re a real blood, you’ll know there’s always an exception to every rule. Troika’s just that: they were born as Siamese triplets, ‘cept there didn’t seem to be anything amiss with the poor little pikes at the time.

That’s because Troika was joined at the mind.

The chant is that Troika’s mother didn’t notice at first. You wouldn’t though; the being we now call Troika consisted of two baby girl tiefers and a baby boy. Pikelets that young all act the same anyway. Troika’s mother (a half-elf planewalker called Fanarrigan) called the babies Gilia, Lilia and Danderel. Something must’ve struck her as curious when all three of ’em would cry at the same time, even when they were put in separate rooms. Seemed they had some strange kind of empathy with each other. Least, that’s probably what Fanarrigan put it down to.

It wasn’t until the tiefer triplets’d learned to talk that the world at large began to figure out what had happened. Any Bleaker who’s spent time inside the Madhouse could tell a body about barmies with split personalities. These sods reckon they’re more than one cutter at once, inhabiting the same body. Some of their personae don’t know about the rest, some do. They’re often as complex as a Baatorian government, with double-dealings and treachery all in the poor sod’s mind. That’s probably what drives ’em barmy in the end, cutter.

Troika was similar to this, but at the same time crucially different. See, the three bodies all shared the same personality. It was as if Troika had a split body. Gilia, Lilia and Danderel were in fact the self-same blood; same thoughts, same memories, same soul even!

It couldn’t have been easy, bringing up three children as one, and Fanarrigan managed admirably. It was a wonder she didn’t go barmy sooner (as it was the breakdown came only after Troika left home). Once she’d realised the three were one, she renamed ’em Troika, and tried to remember that they were singular, not plural. I’ll try and do the same, cutter.

As Troika grew up, he…she…oh, we’ve hit the blinds again. Remember, Troika’s two-thirds female, one third male. Problem? No, not really. At least, not for Troika. If it don’t bother him, her or them, then it shouldn’t phase bloods like us, right?

“Love many, follow few, and always paddle your own canoe.”

– Reportedly sung by a Sensate while on the Styx

We digress. As Troika grew up, she realised she had a great potential. See, Troika’d always been interested in the factions (a real Cager is born into ’em, they say), and he especially took a shine to the Society of Sensation. “Experience all things to learn the truth,” they said. Well Troika, with her three bodies, had triple the chances to do just that. As soon as he was old enough, she joined the Sensates and fell in with the swing of things.

There was some argument as to whether Troika should pay membership fees three times, but apart form that, everything went smooth as slaadi. At first, Troika was a novelty for the faction, and the cutter spent most of her days in the Sensorium recording his thoughts and feelings. Nothing stays new for long in the Civic Festhall though, and pretty soon Troika was yesterday’s news.

Troika always knew she was destined for something great, and that wasn’t as a side-show freak, neither. To Troika, it was perfectly natural being a trinity; he found it amusing that other people thought it was strange. As she found her feet in the faction, so his three Big Ideas became more widely known.

Firstly, Troika suggested Sensates might like to participate in psionic ‘mind linking’. Factol Erin liked the idea, and the Sensates hired a bunch of psychics from the Bazaar to come and play with the minds of factotums. It proved to be a great hit; for the first time, Sensates were able to feel what it was like to share their heads with other beings, and for real too! (None of that magic stone stuff)

An impromptu speech given by the trinity gave the faction another idea to follow. Troika suggested that, since senses were all that mattered, perhaps they were something fundamental to the planes. Every berk knows the animal lords represent the essence of certain animal characteristics, Might there also be, he reasoned, Sense Lords?

Frenetic brainstorming followed, and pretty soon the Sensates proclaimed their ‘sacred’ creatures. Representing the sense of sight: the beholder, who can see in all directions. For hearing: the harpy, whose song can charm the hardest of hearts. For taste: the vampire, who lives beyond death to savour his drink. Touch was embodied by the mimic, who can simulate any material. Smell was personified in the otyugh, whose stench surpasses that of any monster. And the sixth sense, not usually talked about by most bashers, was the domain of the illithids, who can know your thoughts before you do. Parties were dispatched across the planes to seek out and return with these beasts, so that the faction might learn the secrets from the masters. Most of ’em are still out there looking.

Troika’s third observation was that the self is a reflection of society. Everyone learns through experience, and it’s a cutter’s environment that determines much about his character. Berks born in Plague-Mort tend to be as foul as tanar’ri, while the children of Excelsior grow up to be paladins, all.

Understanding the self can be achieved by understanding society then, and this in turn is accomplished by going out and getting to meet as many bodies as possible. Troika’d already made a good start at that. Since she has three faces, and is able to think for all of them at once, he can literally do three things at once. While one of the trinity lectures in the Festhall, the other two can hit the nightlife of the cage, meet folk and party.

By that token, Troika understands herself pretty well. The chant is that he knows most bashers in the Cage. It’s an unlikely-sounding claim perhaps, but consider this: a basher only has to meet one of the three for Troika to know about it. It’s quite possible you’ve already met the triplet yourself, basher. That blonde tiefling in the tavern? The burly cutter with the moustache? The brunette with red eyes? They’re all Troika. Sound familiar to you?

Source: Jon Winter-Holt,

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