Tcho Tcho Culture

The Tcho-Tcho are an unusual subset of humans, whose long separation from others of their race has resulted in a subtly different evolutionary pathway. They rarely intermarry with outside folk—human or otherwise— and do not engage in many friendly transactions with other cultures (a Tcho-Tcho merchant is rare, for example). The Tcho-Tcho as a group tend to share some physical traits, but most fall within the human range. They tend to be small in stature and heavily pitted with acne scars. Almost all Tcho-Tcho file their teeth, which tend to be slightly larger than the norm. Their hair, skin tone, and other physical features resemble those of the humans they split off from; the most well-known group has black hair and light brown skin.

Tcho-Tcho Technology

The Tcho-Tcho are not master metalworkers nor builders. Instead, they are highly knowledgeable about the ways of the Mythos, as well as biological and otherworldly science. Their leaders are able to produce cancerous growths, deadly plagues, parasites with horrendous abilities, and magical infections. This is their true power.

Tcho-Tcho devices include the assassin's teapot and Tcho-Tcho oculus. More innate modifications generally rely on rituals like the acid blood curse or the secret mouth. The Tcho-Tcho also know how to manufacture selenine and can even emulate mi-go digestive replacement.

The difference between Tcho-Tcho and average humans exists largely within the brain and the psyche: fundamentally, Tcho-Tcho do not think like other humans. It is hard to tell how much of the difference is cultural, and how much is inherent, but there is clearly a difference. The Tcho-Tcho are far more ruthlessly cunning and heartless than most sentient beings, and almost never make emotional decisions.

They have almost no sense of pride: a Tcho-Tcho will happily grovel or crawl before a stronger enemy with no hesitation. The Tcho-Tcho almost never engage in warfare, preferring a longer game. When a stronger group attacks their tribe, they immediately surrender, then promptly begin subverting their conquerors, often by bribing or extorting the enemy leaders. Notably, the Tcho-Tcho never seek revenge for wrongs committed against them. They will certainly destroy their enemies, but it is always coldly-calculated, and they are as likely to bring doom to a neighboring tribe who has never harmed them as to their most hated foe.

The neighbors of the Tcho-Tcho hate and fear them not because of Tcho-Tcho raids or attacks, but due to other forms of duress. Quite commonly, the Tcho-Tcho will send an emissary to a neighbor and demand tribute—often in the form of nubile youths and maidens. Failure to obey results in dreadful retribution in the form of manufactured diseases and other such scourges.

Tcho-Tcho disease vectors are not restricted to sentient beings. If the Tcho-Tcho want to destroy an elf forest, for example, they blight the trees themselves and leave the region a wasteland. If rival groups take over Tcho-Tcho grazing lands, their cattle or goats often end up with hideous growths, start giving poisoned milk, or suffer from other horrific ailments.

Because the Tcho-Tcho never engage in open warfare, most of their weapons are designed for assassination, extortion, and ambushes rather than open battle. To the Tcho-Tcho, a blowgun that fires a deadly spider is more useful than a two-handed axe.

Almost all of the Tcho-Tcho weapons are envenomed in some way. They favor poison, disease, and sleep drugs, but they also use hallucinogens, mind-control drugs, and magic potions.

Tcho-Tcho Society

The Tcho-Tcho are organized into tribes. All Tcho-Tcho in a given area belong to the same tribe, and each tribe controls an area that might be as large as a province or as small as a single valley. These tribes are often separated by a considerable distance, though they do send messengers back and forth to maintain communication. The Tcho-Tcho view all their separate tribes in the world as part of the same group, and their people are interchangeable between tribes.

Tcho-Tcho do not mix well with other peoples and they rarely live among them. Some large cities have Tcho-Tcho “ghettos,” which are notoriously dangerous.

The alien nature of the Tcho-Tcho mind inverts expectations of their power structure. Their leaders are not the most ambitious and selfish among them (as is often the case among other sentient beings), but instead are the most single-minded, dedicated, and unselfish of the Tcho-Tcho. Leaders live to serve the tribe and the Great Old Ones (not necessarily in that order). The leaders are “touched” by the Great Old Ones and Outer Gods and behave accordingly. Tcho-Tcho leaders, though granted amazing powers by biomagical science and the entities the Tcho-Tcho serve, often burn out quickly and live short lives, after which another leader must be selected.

In addition, the Tcho-Tcho can use their biomagical power to enhance their leaders. For example, if they have a need for keen calculation, they may modify their chosen leader’s brain size to swell massively. This would cause the leader’s brain to protrude, at the expense all other limbs, necessitating that the leader be kept in a tub (or on a throne). Or they may select a Tcho-Tcho to be modified to become astonishingly sexually attractive, intended to be used in seduction of a rival civilization’s leaders.

The Tcho-Tcho Okkator (Assassin-Enforcer)

The fact that Tcho-Tcho don’t engage in warfare doesn’t mean they are incapable of fighting. Quite the reverse, in fact: they have a whole system of unique martial arts. Certain members of the tribe are selected, and trained to be their enforcers, called the Okkator (this word is both plural and singular).

Tcho-Tcho biomagic and alchemy enable truly terrifying modification of the Okkator. They can grow venomous fangs or extra limbs, or develop the ability to spit acidic webs out of their mouths.

The basic Tcho-Tcho “martial art” is primarily based on assassination rather than face-to-face fighting. They are trained to hide for hours motionlessly, only to burst into explosive action when the time is right. They are extraordinarily silent and skilled at climbing and other athletic feats.

A few of the Okkator are modified so that sharp bones protrude from their joints, giving them natural weapons they may enhance. Their joints can all dislocate, enabling them to make amazing surprise attacks (kicking someone by moving their leg up over their shoulder, for instance). Naturally, the assassins feel pain when dislocation occurs, but their training and concentration allow them to overcome this. Such Okkator usually stay inside the tribal lands rather than hiring their services out, as the exposed bone spurs cannot easily be concealed.

All Okkator have a technique of inserting small, razor sharp blades under their skin, then letting their flesh heal over the wounds. Thus, when captured, they always have a hidden knife available somewhere on their body. All that is required is to open the wound and slide out the weapon, which is primarily used to cut bindings. They rarely use any other weapons, having no need for them.

Almost all Tcho-Tcho Okkator possess a modified bite attack, as well as potent talent and training in its use. They strengthen their jaws with exercise, drugs, and magic until they can bite like a wolf or barracuda. Okkator fighters have long and thick but mobile necks and bulging jaw muscles.

Many Okkator are physically modified to make them harder to grip in battle: their ears are amputated, for instance, as are their noses, often (which can also help with the bite attack). They may have the last joint in each finger removed, to make stabbing with the fingers more powerful. Alternatively, they may have their fingernails artificially grown, hardened, and poisoned for effective claw attacks.

The most dangerous Okkator have their lips removed and their mouths widened to expose a full set of teeth, all of which are sharpened (even the molars). Their jaw muscles naturally have to be modified to accommodate this change. The result is a creature with a shaved head, no ears, no nose, and no lips. The most potent Okkator often looks more like an undead horror than a living assassin.

Naturally, these top-tier Okkator wear masks, not only to conceal their terrifying features but also to keep dirt and grit out of their faces. They only remove their masks to eat, fight, or bathe. Tcho-Tcho killers almost always eat the corpses of their victims, at least in part.

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