Ratlings in Pahvelorn

Rackham (source)

Rackham (source)

Or, how I discoverned what halflings were like in my setting.

The sequence of events was as follows.

  1. Gustie’s first PC, a fighter named Lune, was incinerated by a fire-breathing statue trap.
  2. For his next character, he decided to create a thief, Beni Profane, a rat-catcher.
  3. After an adventure, Beni went carousing and failed his saving throw. He rolled a 19, which is: When in a drunken stupor you asked your god(s) to get you out of some stupid mess. Turns out they heard you! Now as repayment for saving your sorry ass, you’re under the effects of a quest spell.
  4. I asked Gustie what god or spirit Beni worshipped, to which he responded none. So I asked him what god he feared, and he came back with The Mother of Thousands, a six-armed rat spirit.
  5. And so was Beni was given a quest in his dreams by The Mother of Thousands.
  6. The problem, as it turned out, was that a group of ratlings was being persecuted by the Priest-King Agamos, lord of the stronghold of Ilum Zugot to the northwest (map).
  7. The ratlings had recently taken over some abandoned grave barrows as shelter, and were stealing grain from the Priest-King’s farmers and grain stores.
  8. The PCs successfully negotiated a deal between the rat-folk and the Priest-King where Agamos would give them grain in exchange for direction to more sealed barrows and spying on those around the Priest-King’s domain (especially Efulziton the Unseen, a necromancer to the south).

Ratling Class

  • 2d6 for strength and constitution
  • Level progression as thief
  • Hit dice as magic-user
  • Attack progression as cleric
  • No skill with armor, but see below
  • Only small weapons may be used without penalty
  • Weapon damage is “two dice, take least” or one die if wielded with two paws
  • May use their bite to attack (1-3 damage) or chew through things like ropes
  • Climb Walls, Hear Noise, Hide in Shadows, Move Silently, Pickpocket
  • Smell-based search rolls (including detecting poison) as Hear Noise
  • Natural AC as light armor (leather)
  • Round to round, attack ranks may be used to improve AC
  • +4 save versus wands, dragon breath, and disease
  • May speak to rats and related rodents (only general concepts)
  • Can squeeze through extremely small openings
  • For starting retainer roll d6: 1-3 giant rat, 4-6 young ratling

Ratlings detest most domesticated animals, but sometimes have giant rats (HD 1-1, AC 7, damage 1-3) as companions. Humans also will generally not follow them as retainers. Thus rather than a standard retainer, ratlings may begin with a giant rat or ratling youth. It is common for young ratlings to be taken on short tours of the world at large, to teach them how to hide from civilized folk and familiarize them with all the dangers that threaten rat-folk. Most return to their burrows terrified of everything, but a few rare ratlings acquire a taste for adventuring.

Ratling youth

HD 1-1, AC 7, bite, smell, and climb walls as above; convert to full ratling at 100 XP.

18 thoughts on “Ratlings in Pahvelorn

  1. Gus L

    Glad for my part in the first pahvelorn demi-human race. They seem to have few upsides? Perhaps a missile weapon (thrown only?) bonus and normal missile damage would be appropriate? Or a natural bonus to hide, climb and move silently?

    Reply
    1. Brendan

      What, being able to talk to rats is not enough? 🙂

      I considered a missile weapon bonus, given that it is traditional for halflings, but decided that it didn’t fit. I also want to avoid the synergy character build issues of ratlings being better at thieving than standard thieves.

      I was considering some sort of save to dodge attacks ability though, as I picture them very squirrelly (at the very least, I should add in a penalty to attack for large opponents trying to hit a ratling; I meant to do that but forgot). I think such a dodge option would be attractive and unique, and I keep wanting to try out some more active defense options.

      What about the following:

      Ratlings may save to dodge mundane (melee or missile) attacks. Use the most favorable saving throw. This ability may be used a number of times per round equal to the ratling’s hit die total.

      Darkvision I’m on the fence about, especially given that they already have heightened smell and hearing, and the skill tax implications. Are rats known for seeing in the dark?

      Reply
    2. Brendan

      It would totally make sense to give them some bonus to dexterity (perhaps 4d6 take best 3). But I feel like giving ability score bonuses takes me over to the dark side or something.

      Reply
    3. Brendan

      Yeah, I’m not 100% opposed to ability score bonuses, but I don’t like how they feed into the character optimization spiral and make people less likely to be satisfied playing characters generated with 3d6.

      Reply
  2. SAROE

    Resistance to disease (but likely to transmit it to others)
    Can unerringly retrace their steps in a labyrinth or maze
    Tail-knives
    Ability to squeeze through seemingly impossibly small openings
    Good swimmers
    Short-sighted (eyesight) so they tend to walk close to the walls

    Reply
    1. Brendan

      Disease is a good one. I’ll add that to the save bonus line.

      Retrace their steps is thematic but I would probably avoid for skill tax reasons.

      What’s a tail knife?

      Squeeze ability: definitely!

      Thanks for the suggestions.

      Reply
    2. SAROE

      A Tail Knife is a knife strapped to their tail, with which they can do the stabby-stabby, slash-slash thing. Although I suppose a tail dagger is better suited for the stabby-stabby.

      Reply
  3. Gus L

    As for dark vision I don’t necessarily mean dark vision as vision, but some ability to move in utter darkness without tumbling into walls and to sense the presence of others/monsters etc. These guys would then be great dungeon scouts but are still almost worthless in a fight. Maybe they have to skitter slow next to a wall – but still better scouting than a human thief underground.

    Reply
    1. Brendan

      That’s not a bad idea. Perhaps in concert with the X in 6 smell ability.

      They do have a lethal weapon that can’t be disarmed or lost (the bite), though yeah they are definitely not frontline combattants.

      Reply

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