Name: Tsr of Gsha
With some watered down racial modifiers for LA 0 Lizardfolk
The lizardfolk known as Tsr is a primordial, sinister looking reptilian. Broad of frame, with a powerful neck, thick limbs, a bony crest and a pair of alien, unblinking eyes, Tsr is everything one’s mind would conjure up about a savage, anachronistic race bent on the hellish destruction of the newer races. But Tsr harbors no such desires, being admittedly of a smaller, more practical mind. Yet it would also be a mistake to think he is some sort of noble incarnation of his race, when in fact he had once thrived among his race, however briefly, as a despot and patriarch.
Tsr has taken a liking to the metal skins used by the warm bloods, adding to his already naturally tough hide. Yet he finds the heaviest of it to be cumbersome, and so he settles for a middle ground. He bears a long-hafted, serrated falchion in combat, butchering foes as Tsr works himself into a reckless frenzy once battle has been joined. What he lacks in grace or technique he makes up for in raw strength and sheer aggression, and he has taken a liking to grisly trophies of memorable battles he has had in the past. Bone necklaces, mummified fingers and even the occasional skull hang from his notched belt.
The lizardfolk are a race from another age, a different time long ago, and developed free from the societal norms imposed upon the warm blooded races of today. Theirs is an intelligence not as imaginative as it is practical, one straightforward rather than empathetic. What some of the warm bloods would consider undesirable traits, such as the merciless execution of foes or devouring of the slain in times of famine, lizardfolk see simply as necessary; a dead foe can no longer take up arms against you, and if other scavengers are going to eat the dead, why shouldn’t they capitalize on the same opportunity? Yet to think the lizardfolk take some sort of sadistic joy in such acts is mistaken, a misconception that furthers the lizardfolk’s stereotype as aggressive, murderous predators.
Tsr possesses all of these traits, simply because this method of thinking has rewarded him in the past. Being large, powerful, and aggressive among his race had allowed him to thrive. Though physically gifted, he was certainly not the brightest among his folk. But he has a low cunning that has served him well, and has shown skill in ambush and stealth as well as in furious melees. Tsr has never needed to be what the warm blood races would describe as “intelligent” simply because his physical prowess and instinct have served him well enough. Maddeningly hungry at all times, Tsr can go long periods without a meal, yet he gorges himself without manners when presented with a meal.
Having grown up in a tribe where “Might is Right” and “Only the Strong Survive”, the largest of the males had come to dominate. To go along with his preference of instinct and tradition over critical thinking, Tsr is patriarchal and believes that females of all races should be below males in all social hierarchies. This rather obscene sexism is just another fact of life for Tsr. Though he will work with females, he will likely resent being ordered around by them, even if they are smarter than he is.
That is not to say that Tsr is close minded or stupid, in the sense that he does not observe his surroundings. After having been expelled from his own race, Tsr has been forced to scratch out a living among the warm bloods. He has watched as they manipulate one another with social mannerisms, harbor secret resentments, and discuss matters of an impractical, abstract nature. Tsr knows these creatures are quite clever, perhaps even cleverer than is good for them. His previous law of might is right no longer applies, and if they can manipulate each other, then they can certainly manipulate the dimmer Tsr, who is unused to such social situations. Having once been dominant and then usurped by a rival, Tsr has a chip on his shoulder when it comes to being outsmarted or outmuscled. Being outmatched in combat is bad enough for him, but if Tsr learns he has been lied to or manipulated, it sends him into an indignant rage. Those too weak to order him around should not resort to mind tricks, for sooner or later he will figure it out and settle the score.
As such, he has come to the conclusion that he must force his own style of thinking upon those who would demand his services. He loathes undertaking missions with a lack of reward or material incentive. Missions based on such causes as “goodness” or “justice” are lost on him, for these very words are of the abstract nature that the wary Tsr has seen used to manipulate others in the past. In short, such terms may or may not have merit, but Tsr doesn’t bother to find out. He is sticking to what he knows as much as possible, and rewards of currency and plunder are good enough for him. His life experience has changed him from a brutish thug into a more agreeable brutish thug, one who is genuinely willing to work with others towards a common goal for the benefit of all. Having cast aside his previous life as a greedy, gluttonous despot, Tsr now seeks a new life, yet one filled with what he knows best: Violence.
Tsr hatched along with a dozen others from his mother’s clutch, within the swamps of Bilgrath. It was a fetid bog that reeked of rotting vegetation, large swathes of murky water overlapping with soggy, moss covered ground. Rampant with disease, unsanitary conditions, and lack of steady food, many warm bloods would find the place inhospitable, but the lizardfolk of the Gsha tribe were hardy, thick skinned lizards determined to survive at all costs as their ancestors had. Their cold blooded bodies meant they did not have to feed often, but had to capitalize on every opportunity they could find.
Lizardfolk tend to grow throughout their lives, and will continue to do so as long as they can eat. From a young age Tsr found himself almost permanently famished. He would bite and claw others aside every time a meal was presented, eager to sate his never ending hunger. But it never went away, though he swelled in size and muscle as he fed far more than the others of his clutch. He began to hunt and raid at a younger age than his brothers and sisters, and by the time he neared his 20th year his strength, ferocity and cunning drew grudging respect from his tribe, even among his rivals. He had developed a reputation as somewhat of a glutton, devouring any dead carcasses his raiding parties would stumble upon, though no one dared to speak it to his face, and if anything the extra meals simply added to his layers of muscle and scales.
It was in his early twenties that Tsr came to instigate a bout for leadership from the lizardfolk tribal leader, an old, scarred veteran by the name Grs. A seemingly petty squabble over the scraps of a warthog between Tsr and Grs resulted in the battle for dominance. Then and there, a fight emerged, not only to determine who deserved the food, but more importantly which one could impose their will upon the other. Fights for leadership are not lethal affairs, not intentionally anyway; both combatants fight with only fang and claw, their tough, scaly skin protecting them from serious harm. So it was that while neither combatant could kill one another, Tsr was younger, larger, and capable of an extended battle. While Grs was more experienced, tougher, and fought with an elder’s fury, Tsr eventually tired out the old lizard, burying him under repeated, vicious onslaughts that eventually tired Grs out.
So began Tsr’s glorious reign over his tribe, though it was doomed to be short lived. He ruled as a simple despot through brute strength alone, intimidating or exiling those he viewed as threats, while allowing the weaker to existence under his thumb. He kept a loyal band of followers, whom he gave an extra portion of all food to (after gorging himself), and designated them to be the only hunters in the tribe, thus ensuring his rule; those loyal to him now controlled the source of the tribe’s survival. He led by example, as any lizardfolk leader would, hunting and raiding, capitalizing on opportunities for food and supplies without hesitation.
But it was this method of systematically facing danger that proved to be his undoing. A tribe of gnolls, wretched, hyena like creatures, had recently migrated from far off forests and had settled on the Bilgrath’s edge. They had encroached upon Gsha territory, knowingly or not, but regardless, Tsr was determined to send them a message, as well as assert to his subordinates that he would not tolerate violations of their territory. Tsr decided that his warriors would encroach along the waters’ edge as close to the encamped gnolls as possible, before bursting forth and sweeping them aside in a single, glorious charge.
Once the trap was sprung, a grim Tsr lunged from his hiding place, and with a guttural roar he barrelled towards the surprised gnolls, enormous falchion in hand. Such simple tactics, the surprise ambush and charge, was effective when you are as large and powerful as Tsr, who wrecks such bloody carnage so as to demoralize any sensible foes. Yet as he leaped over a rotting log he was struck by an arrow in the shoulder, and the wound, though it barely drew blood, instantly began to burn and itch. The sensation became more unbearable every second, and as Tsr closed with gnolls, his right arm became more and more numb with every passing second. Though his warriors were soon by his side, an exhausted Tsr staggered from the melee, bleeding from a dozen wounds, the cut on his arm a festering oozy puss that left the limb numb. Nausea and shock overcome him, and he lost consciousness as his warriors continued the fight.
He awoke back in his village, his arm in a sling. The poisoned wound was dressed, as were the many others. He heard the guttural roars of his folk outside, and saw the veterans of the battle, obviously successful, fending off the other members of his tribe, as they all stamped, snarled, and closed in upon him. It was instantly clear they were trying to shed themselves of a selfish despot in his moment of weakness, while his men, who received extra food under him, were holding them off. Groaning, he struggled to his feet, tripped over himself, and staggered into his shelter’s tent pole, knocking the structure over with him inside it.
After cursing and struggling to stand, he found everyone had fallen silent. They were staring at him, when suddenly from the crowd burst an angry challenger, not as big or strong but wiry and quick. There were no words spoken, as the young challenger raked the groggy Tsr across his chest and face. Though Tsr briefly fought back, he was in no condition for battle, and soon was forced to submit.
Kneeling before the challenger, his neck exposed in a show of submission, was the most humiliating moment of Tsr’s life. The shame he felt went beyond words, his rage made all the more worse by the fact that, for once, he couldn’t just bully the source of his anger into submission. He was forced to endure the ridiculing looks of the ones he once had cowed to submission, as the new Leader, despite winning the battle, suddenly pounced upon the helpless Tsr again. He was smashed onto the ground, and before he could blink, the Challenger’s claws raked his throat, arterial blood splashing into the air.
The wound was fatal, and as he lay mortally wounded, the Challenger was torn away by Tsr’s warriors. He was not scolded, and in fact, he had the right to push the matter to the death. But in that moment, Tsr’s loyal men saved his life for no other reason that sheer loyalty, as the shaman of the tribe, an old, wise diviner by the name of Jsk, healed the dying Tsr, saving him from death.
As the defeated, weakened Tsr lay prostrate, he could only listen as his men argued for his exile rather than death, with Jsk agreeing, saying he had seen a vision where Tsr might do something important in his life, whether or intentional or not, though it was not among his people. So his Challenger reluctantly accepted, allowing the beaten Tsr to keep his sword and armor as a sign of mercy; he no doubt expected the harsh swamp to finish off the hated despot once and for all. The bewildered Tsr then left, still bleeding, clutching his sword... hungry. And he survived, his tough, scaly body fighting off the poisoned infection, his wounds becoming scars.
For all his brutishness, Tsr had a moment of clarity one night, an epiphany as he gnawed hungrily on a bloated fish. Perhaps it was the words of Jsk, or the fact that his life had certainly taken a turn for the worst, but Tsr realized that he had thought too little of others before. He thought them mere sheep, having assumed they must be dimmer than he was (certainly not the case), but as his warriors had leapt to his defense, even as the others had ousted him the very moment the opportunity presented itself... as he would have done.
He decided then that he would travel northwest, nearer where the gnolls had ventured, and make his way from the swamps. The burning humiliation was too much for him to go back to, and the further humiliation of desperately returning, whether victorious or no in his challenge, would show the others he was not capable of surviving without them. And he would not just eke out a wretched existence among the swamps. He would take the seers word, he decided. In his own mundane way, he interpreted “important” to be what he thought was important, namely food, plunder, fame, and power. In warm blood terms, he decided to become a sellsword.
Sure he could exist by himself, but it was hard, harder than working with others. He would never again feel the taste of power as he squatted in the mud. So he left the swamps, and he came to a small village of humans, where it hit him like a rampaging moose that he couldn’t just walk in and start barking orders. He needed their help, not the other way around. The people there had traded on occasion with lizardfolk, and Tsr could speak enough broken Common to hiss:
“Where isss important?”
The villagers, to be fair, were perplexed. However, wanting to get the enormous lizard away from them, they pointed down the road leading out of town, without giving a thought as to what they were pointing to. Figuring they knew what they were talking about, Tsr thanked them and, after stealing a nearby dog (he didn’t realize they were kept as pets) he left (fled) the village. Pondering on the day’s events, Tsr was pleased that he had used diplomacy to exact a favor that had cost him nothing. He realized there was merit to getting along with others, not just bossing them around. His situation had changed, and he adapted; though he isn’t the brightest, he’s more cunning that most people give him credit for. He realized loyalty, of the kind his warriors had shown him, combined with his refined diplomatic skills, could help him find others like him who were also seeking “important”. Together, they could accomplish more than just Tsr, or anyone of them for that matter, could ever hope to do alone.
Wandering from village to village, Tsr refined his Common speech and wandered aimlessly, guided by the dumbfounded finger pointing, until one rather knowledgeable individual (drunken pauper) told him of the nearby town of Blasingdell and Durgeddin the Black’s older settlement, a long lost city of jewels and silver, of wondrous items, of rivers of gold... it sounded... important.
Tsr knew even as the man rambled that he would seek out this “Blasssingdell”. After a hissing thanks (from which the man recoiled), Tsr got up and left, finding a number of sheep conveniently trapped inside a wooden fence on the way out. They made for easy pickings, and once nourished and motivated with a goal in mind, Tsr traveled determinedly, keen on seeking associates who also sought “important” like him.