After a bit of digging, it seems like in tt-rss.js and prefs.js in hotkey_handler and prefs_hotkey_handler, respectively, the following is used:
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var keychar = String.fromCharCode(keycode);
However, while there is some degree of overlap, a keycode (i.e. position on a keyboard) is different from a charcode (i.e. Unicode). So while Unicode 116 is a lowercase "t", keycode 116 corresponds to the F5 on a standard US keyboard.
Tested this out by hitting F4 (aka "s" if you convert it into a character) and it starred an article; wild.
I don't know if anyone other than myself cares about this "feature" (2 hotkeys for the price of 1?!), and if not, perhaps I'll just do a dirty hack / range check on it ([A-Z0-9] or something) in my local branch and leave it be for now. But figured I'd mention it in case anyone else has this trouble.