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Alternity Tsa.jpg

T'sa are an alien race of small, horn-crested humanoid lizards with a surprisingly wide history. They originated in Alternity, specifically in the original Star*Drive setting, but have also made appearances in Dark Matter, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and d20 Modern.


T'sa made their appearance, as mentioned above, in Star*Drive, the original campaign setting sourcebook for Alternity. They also received an expanded writeup for this early version of Alternity in Dragon Magazine #263 - six issues after having made an appearance as a playable race for AD&D!

Evolving on Taasa, a large, warm planet dominated by small lakes, swamps and marshes instead of oceans, and which never evolved mammalian life, the T'sa are small, warm-blooded reptilian humanoids, averaging 1.1 to 1.4 meters in height and 30-50 kilograms in weight. They are a slender, wiry race, with sleek hide covered in small, overlapping scales (ranging from dark brown through greens to red, ochre and golden) that lie over whipcord muscles. Their heads are small and triangular, with a blunt snout, slitted nostrils, and small, slitted eyes. They are omnivores, but distinctly prefer flesh to vegetation; outsiders beware, t'sa cuisine favors lightly cooked or raw meat, often heavily spiced, and many dishes are based on small animals that are consumed alive. Both sexes have elaborate, fin-like crests of ornamental horns, but males tend to have larger horns and brighter skin tones than females. The species possesses long, whiplike tails that are constantly twitching - not the rest of them is ever much stiller.

T'sa are renowned for being quick-witted, curious, gregarious, technologically orientated, and hyperactive. They are bundles of nervous energy, constantly moving, thinking and acting. Their incredible speed and reflexes makes them a lot more dangerous in a fight than you'd think of such small creatures. They are quick-talking, with a tendency to repeat themselves or use multiple synonyms in the same sentence. They also can't abide mysteries; a t'sa that sees a locked door wants to open it, and being denied their wants just makes them more determined to find out what it is. This can make them great explorers and inventors... and it also gets them into trouble. All the fucking time.

Other races would find t'sa annoying just for this combination of hyperactivity and curiosity, but their blunt approach to asking personal questions - t'sa culture lacks the modesty mammalian races have - really cements their bad reputation.

An oviparous species, t'sa mate during a week-long reproductive season ("t'ak tau", in their language) that occurs once every 3 to 5 years. They do not form permanent pair-bondings but instead casually (but pragmatically) seek out acceptable t'sa of the opposite sex, have intercourse, and then resume their normal lives. The gravid female lays a small clutch of 4-10 eggs, which hatch roughly 27 days later and mature rapidly; the female looks after the hatchlings only for three months, after which point they are fully mature and ready to make their own way. T'sa have no interest in sex outside of t'ak tau, and find the "preoccupation" that races like humans have with mating humorous and the rituals they surround courtship and breeding with to be bewildering wastes of time.

Infant t'sa form no real bonds to their mother; instead, their familial loyalty is centered around their egg-clutch. T'sa siblings hatched from the same clutch are extremely loyal to each other, and indeed their entire society is built around this tightly knit family unit; an individual t'sa who achieves great wealth or fame not only advances their individual status, but also that of their entire clutch. On the other hand, a single infamous sibling will bring down the rest of the clutch as well.

Perhaps because of this, t'sa are a naturally unified, collectivized species. They don't understand the concept of nationalism, and find it alien. Their xakksha covers individual alliances and loyalty to the t'sa race as a whole, but these are always personal loyalties, given from one t'sa to another. They are still one race, and one culture.

Of course, the xakksha is just as incomprehensible to humans (or most other races), and seems almost anarchic. In a xakksha (t'sa for "kingdom" or "nation"), the ch'tass ("family", based on a given clutch) is the foundational unit. Each clutch owes equal loyalty to another clutch of higher status as it gives to its own mmbers. Different clutches join together to form different clans, professional associations, guilds and companies, creating a complex web of duties and organizations.

It helps that t'sa are highly sociable creatures. Though they can work alone, as their work gives them a distraction, companionship is practically a neccessity. T'sa who want to relax seek somebody to hang out with. They make friends easily, and are loyal to their friends until death. T'sa punishment favors fines and reparation, with imprisonment being considered a very harsh punishment; these [[lizardfolk] don't take well to confinement. Laws are simple and straightforward, based on a strong respect for the rights of the individual.

T'sa follow a polytheistic religion known as Ch'Nalism, which is essentially a form of animism in which every aspect of the universe is governed over by a Ch'Nakan, a particular guiding spirit.

Relationships with humanity are... complicated. The T'sa were the first race that humanity encountered who had achieved the formation of their own multi-system space empire, although humanity's stardrive was superior to any system the T'sa had cooked up (which basically amounted to freezing lots of colonists and transporting them as freight, like in Avatar). The T'sa were definitely interested in making friends, but were staunch on holding to their independence; ironically, the efforts by different human nations to try and acquire sole rights to the T'sa as an annexed client-state became the tinder that lit the fires between human interstellar powers, resulting in the First Galactic War. At the time of the Star*Drive setting, the T'sa control a couple dozen star systems within Concord Prime and are jockeying to annex more. The T'sa cluster is regarded by the Galactic Concord as a self-governing autonomous region; in T'sa space, you live by T'sa law.

T'sa find humans simultaneously fascinating and repulsive; their curiosity compels them to get to know humans, and they yearn to study the alien human technology, but humans are more aggressive than t'sa, and the t'sa also perceive humans as arrogant, both factors that repel them. This is made worse by the fact that, compared to humans, t'sa tend to be naive; their desire for achievement makes them ready fodder for get-rich-quick scams and the like.

Overall, t'sa have a love-hate relationship with humans, viewing them in two lights. Firstly, as kindred spirits, sharing the t'sa desire to explore and to achieve things. Secondly, as a race of liars and cheats, who stumbled into the discovery of stardrive and who have been using that to puff up their egos ever since.


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T'sa appear in Dark Matter filling the role of the conspiracy Reptilians race.


In Dragon Magazine #257, an article presented the T'sa as a race for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition, flavoring them as stranded t'sa aliens from Alternity who have lost their ancestral technology, due to being cut off from the greater t'sa civilization combined with their rapid generational progression, and thus reverted to barbarism. They still maintain the same basic lore as would be presented in their Alternity lore-article six issues later - hyperactive, quick-witted, gregarious and sociable - just adjusted for their lack of memory to the greater t'sa culture, the loss of their technology, and their general status as a "new race" in the world.

One strange difference is that these "feral" t'sa are much more fecund; females lay clutches of 5d4 eggs, in comparison to the 4-10 eggs of the "civilized" t'sa.

Ability Score Minimum/Maximum: Strength 3/15, Dexterity 10/20, Constitution 3/14, Intelligence 9/18, Wisdom 3/16, Charisma 3/17
Ability Score Adjustments: +2 Dexterity, +1 Intelligence, -2 Strength, -2 Constitution,
Racial Class Restrictions: Fighter 14, Ranger 10, Mage 10, Cleric 6, Thief Unlimited, Bard 8
Multiclassing: Fighter/Thief, Fighter/Cleric, Figher/Wizard, Wizard/Thief, Cleric/Thief, Ranger/Cleric
Racial Thieving Adjustments: Pick Pockets +10%, Open Locks +15%, Find/Remove Traps +10%, Move Silently -10%, Hide in Shadows -5%, Climb Walls -5%
Natural Armor Class: 4
Movement Base: 12
Hyper Reactions: T'sa gain a -2 bonus to any Initiative roll, which stacks with other modifiers.

d20 Modern[edit]

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T'sa are amongst the various Alternity aliens that made an appearance in the splatbook d20 Future.