It occurred to me this morning that an awful lot of very big things are happening between very big characters and personalities. It thus becomes very easy for us (and MTG Story) to gloss over some of the more nitty gritty behind the characters that are slaving away in the background with zero recognition. In some cases, we care very little about their mental health and the stresses a human is subjected to when you’re at the mercy of the whims of multiversal threats with exceedingly erratic power levels and schemes spanning thousands of years. I speak of course, about Tezzeret, whom my playgroup fondly refers to as Tezzeret the Sucker (a reference to his foreign Seeker print) and his general ability to fail painfully at everything. He is MTG’s Worf from Star Trek: TNG. There were frequent grumblings about his characters sanity, or lack thereof, in the Kaladesh storyline. In short his mental stability was like that of a finely sautéed potato that had been left to the elements for several days, mashed together with days old vegetation to create some kind of abhorrent edible mess. Strictly speaking, his emotional range is fairly comparable to the texture of bubble and squeak. He is a well and truly broken and aging man, and no matter how much he may want to end it all, it was made quite clear that death was not such an easy way out.
People kept saying he was out of character in Kaladesh. Let me inform you how he got this way.
Liliana Vess, Jace Beleren, Nicol Bolas, even non-planeswalkers like Toshiro Umezawa. Notice how nearly every damn primary and most secondary characters have surnames? So can you tell me what Tezzeret’s is? Can you even tell me what his real first name is? Tezzeret isn’t even his actual name, it’s just slang he got from the cesspits he was brought up in, and even that title merely refers to him as a weapon. So not only is he the only Planeswalker without a surname, he’s also the only Planeswalker born without any name at all, allegedly.
Pistol whip for -1
Oh, his mother was a prostitute.
Then she died when he was seven and he had to help his abusive father clear the street of her corpse.
A minor setback to one’s state of mind. A cool -10?
Following on from the abuse from his father, he soon exceeded his father’s ability in salvaging metal, and unfortunately became the brawn of their paltry operation. His father was lazy, so Tezzy would steal some metal for himself and receive a thrashing as and when he was caught. He used said thrashings to aid him in stealing yet more metal. It’s also noted that while he rose the ranks in his little gangs, he murdered the mother of anybody who crossed him. That’s an interesting interpretation of emotions when dealing with the loss of a parent. I mean that’s only mildly psychopathic right? In the grand scheme of things this is relatively small fry for what our little lad has yet to do to the multiverse. Did I mention he hid some of the etherium he salvaged in his groin?
Walking around with magical metal floating inside your pork and beans. -10
Sucker-T is still doing OK.
He spends years learning an awful lot about artifice, and his rhabdomancy (the ability to find metal) helps him rob people’s stashes of etherium for his own diabolical ends of… a good education! At last our little psycho-scrapper has admirable goals in life. He was a baller, and completed most of his training in a third of the time. He becomes thrifty and shows great promise to his teachers and chops off his arm. Oh yeah, he wanted to do this ever since he was a child. I mean who didn’t think of lopping off a limb and replacing it with metal stolen from corpses when they were kids. Life goals my friends. The Guild heads notice this and think he’s a top notch guy and fast track him to master status. Tezzeret then leaves to the Academy of suckersSeekers
Chopping off an arm sort of weighs out academic success so we’ll say our boy broke even.
Sanity: A respectable 75
Oh wait he wanted to join the Seekers of Carmot (more on this later) but got roshambo’d by Silas Renn and told he sucked(hah!) too much to be considered. He protests to the headmaster but they decided to expel him instead. Tezz goes from child prodigy to unworthy in the space of a single (unfair) fight that may or may not have involved clockspinning. But he couldn’t have that could he? Oh no, when faced with expulsion what would any other student do? Why, they’d kill the headmaster of course! If you think that’s a watershed moment when Tezz goes from broken sewer boy to full blown crackers, you ain’t seen nothing yet. With the head teacher disposed of, he continues his training unabated for years, aside from the fact that all his peers hate him and everything he stands for. Office banter, I imagine.
Silas Renn, a man of a few natural limbs, makes himself an etherium heart (I believe if we go by A Test of Metal he’s eventually got nothing organic left besides his head). Such transplants are looked upon quite fondly by the Seekers, and so Renn proves his membership. This angers the already unstable Tezzeret, and so he decides to go and steal the Codex Etherium (Mary Berry’s secret family recipe for creating Etherium) but discovers it’s all a big fraud. He’s spent years of his life in service to this, and is swiftly informed that this was all one big lie. His life’s work and hardships were for naught. He’s then caught and given a good beating for his troubles to near death when his spark ignites.
Attack roll, score -10
Half dead, floating through the eternities for the first time, the poor bastard lands on Grixis of all planes. This guy really cannot catch a break. He survives the monsters of Grixis. Everybody is quite aware of just how grim and bleak Grixis is, let alone the demons and zombies that walk this plane.
He finds Bolas.
Watershed moment people. It all goes downhill from here.
Hah, jokes on you, some story hand waving is done within a few lines of text and it turns out Sucker-T takes over the Infinite Consortium from under Bolas’ nose by assassinating numerous high ranking leaders and taking it for himself. Take that childhood trauma. It’s at this point when the power level of Bolas becomes somewhat questionable. This is post mending so Bolas is about as powerful as any other 25,000 year old elder dragon, aka, insanely powerful and will crush your mortal mind with the flick of his eyes. The fact that Tezzeret takes over the Infinite Consortium at this stage is somewhat of a curious turn of events. Yes there was a big long cunning plan of pitting our future mind mage against him, but that was in order to regain control of his planar wide biz. The actual act of losing it was allegedly never part of any plan and yet it just sort of happened.
Enter Jace. Tezzeret is a pretty paranoid chap at this point and rightly so. He stole the IC (Infinite Consortium) from his boss whom he promised eternal servitude to, a boss that could appear at any moment he pleased and turn Tezzy into etherium macaroni. Tezzeret needed a mind mage and Jace was just the chap to root out Bolas’ spies. Tezzeret trains him in some rather unorthodox and seemingly brutal ways, mind mage BDSM style. He’s got beef that Bolas managed to set up the Seekers of Carmot and cause a large portion of his problems. Strangely, he felt betrayed that an all-powerful evil being bartering power for servitude would do such a thing. That must be strike three for Tezzeret woefully misjudging characters, and he’s about to get another swift lesson in such things with Liliana and Jace. Tezzeret foolishly thinks that if he trains Jace real good, he’ll be able to withstand Bolas’ mind games. As readers, hindsight is a beautiful thing, but yes, this does not end well. In fact it ends very badly for our unstable metal man.
So, Tezz takes Jace to meet with our elder dragon to negotiate (yes… I know, he’s trying to negotiate with Nicol freaking Bolas) over some mineral rights. Needless to say Bolas plunders both Jace’s and Tezzeret’s mind with the artful agility of an Italian plumber. Weirdly he sends some barbarians of the plane to track them down and kill them instead of, you know, just turning them into mush on the spot. They escape alive, and Tezzeret is mad. Like super mad. Jace fails another mission and now Tezzeret, homicidal maniac that he is, starts dreaming of Jace’s death. The mind mage has run away to begin his toxic relationship with Vess. He captures Jace again, and Baltrice (like Chandra but beefcake and grumbly) is set to work on some mind mage torture. Meanwhile Tezzeret works on a Mindslaver to keep that pesky mage in check. Plots dictate that Jace magically frees himself, battles Tezzeret and then subsequently turns Sucker-T into a vegetable, chops off his prized etherium arm (man, this guy is just terrible at keeping hold of his limbs), and then dumps him on Kamigawa to be burned alive by ratmen.
So, Tezzeret is mindless, armless, mangled, burnt and very much dead. That’s game baby.
And then Bolas resurrects him and tattoos him with his symbol. The elder dragon equivalent of a dog kicking its leg up straight on yo’ face.
Sidenote: Tezzeret is in eternal servitude to Bolas at this point because of said tattoo. Who else do we know with a branding that causes them to be eternally indebted to someone/something I wonder?
This is where things get a bit tricky. Test of Metal is not strictly canon. It’s also been contradicted an awful lot, so it’s difficult to say whether this had an effect on Tezzeret’s mental stability by the time we get to Kaladesh. So let’s summarise and see how this might affect a man.
Bolas injects a safety into Tezzeret’s mind called Dr Jest, who both taunts, aids and fights against Tezzeret’s will and can basically control his body.
He heads on over to the Crystal Labyrinth that’s under siege by millions of zombies, under the control of his old buddy Renn, and then heads back to empower himself by injecting sangrite into his heart (this guy loves to use and abuse his own body). He gets into a fairly savage fist fight with Renn who’s tricky to defeat because of his clockworking ability. Eventually, Renn is horribly horribly wrecked, and Tezz decides to keep the guy’s living head around for safe keeping.
Pet head status: Achieved.
He uses the head to solve the labyrinth, comes face to face with the Riddle Gate guarded by Kemuel, who informs him this has happened millions of times and usually Tezzeret goes crazy (oh sweet Kemuel, if only you knew) and kills himself or gets killed by the sphinx.
Your life was a Truman Show crossover with Groundhog Day for a hermit Sphinx.
He ends up on Metal Island (highly creative naming here) and finds masses of etherium that can’t be transported off-plane, but Sucker-T can use it while he’s here. An island with plot armour!
(My sanity: 95)
Lots of double and triple and quadruple crossing occurs, Tezz wins but loses, Bolas wins but loses, lots of hand waving occurs in the story and the end happens about twelve different times. Eventually (finally) we learn that it was all a super tricksy trick of Bolas. At this stage Bolas runs up to Tezzeret with his camcorder live streaming to YouTube and shouts “IT WAS JUST A PRANK BRO!”
Then we arrive on Kaladesh, discover that Tezzeret is a bit mad, and are greeted with such eloquent quotes as:
“WHAT DID YOU SAY?” Tezzeret’s voice sounded as though it were coming through an amplifier.
“I thought I made it clear before. You are nothing. NOTHING.” Spittle flew out of his mouth dusting her cheeks in a spattering of hot dew. “You are here ONLY because I wanted you to be. You are alive ONLY because I have allowed it. You will do as I say, or I will END you.”
Then people complained about Tezzeret being out of character in the story. So go back and reread just how Tezzeret got to this point, and then tell me that these responses are out of character. The dude had his arm removed, twice, had his brain gently beaten to Jell-O and burned alive, resurrected, all after discovering ninety percent of his life’s goals were in pursuit of a lie concocted by a man that literally owns him. Did I mention he injected metal into or around his testicles?
Somebody please allow this man a solid six weeks of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.