Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Fate is not an eagle, it creeps like a rat.


Scuttles and squeaks are not the only sounds these creatures make. Pictures Mangled By: Me

Just so everyone knows, the picture of the monster is a collage of late 19th and early 20th century illustrations. I did not draw it, just put it together. The pictures are public domain, so I am not unduly benefiting from their use.

Speaker Rat
Description
A scuttling movements through debris and walls' hollow spaces. Pressure on the ears, vague squeaking almost in normal hearing ranges. Sudden darting movement, small, close to the floor, from one shelter to another. Brown fur, hairless tail, a rat? No, the head. Something off about the head. More scuttling, now a small wave of fur and hairless tails. Rats! No. Heads are mechanical, a circular disc with a horn protruding from it. Pressure, waves of it coming from the rodent mob. Hard to think. Ears hurt. So much pressure on your head...

Excerpt of a letter from Asenath Hamlin (Rat Catcher) to an unknown apprentice:
Apprentice,

I know little of the Speaker Rats' origins, but I shall attempt to make as best an account as I can.

Like many woes and plagues of the city, they have their origins in the Storyteller Wars. Speaker Rats are the echo of that awful time, passing through our lives without regard to the destruction it causes.

From what I have been told, they were made as a form of security, a way of 'pacifying' intruders into areas held by the Marchen. They like to congregate in groups that the guild refers to as choirs. Speaker Rats produce a sound from the metal horn in their head that mundane hearing is unable to detect.

Avoid the trash strewn streets and alleys at night.

Alone, they are harmless, even more so than normal rats, due to the fact that they have no mouth for which to bite. When they congregate in a choir, they can become dangerous when the choir is accompanied by a pack of mundane rats.

The choir will come before the mundane pack, which the guild refers to as a congregation when paired with a choir. A choir will subdue or distract an animal or person, so as to allow the congregation to consume them.

One of the sage sphinxes of the Lorrentine Librarium. Art By: Norman Lindsay

Speaker Rats produce a sound that can drive a person into unconsciousness or drive them into temporary madness. The mechanisms of subduing and maddening are unknown to me, but perhaps the sage sphinxes at the Lorrentine Librarium or the wise spiders at the De Mancha Bibliotheque might have answers for you.

One of the wise spiders of De Mancha Bibliotheque. Art By: Odilon Redon

Speaker Rats appear to be able to breed with mundane rats, producing either a normal rat or a Speaker Rat. From the few studies our guild has undertaken, we have learned that the birth of a Speaker Rat is far less likely than a mundane one. Speaker Rats do not need to eat nor drink, nor even breath. The lifespan of these creatures is unknown, but at very least matches that of a human, if not further.

A rat colony that includes Speaker Rats, has a tendency to be far more successful than a mundane colony. At the heart of such colonies is a group of attached Speaker Rats, similar to a rat-king, called a rat-bishop. The high-pitched squeaks from this rat-bishop appear to direct the actions of the choirs and congregations.

Fear and respect these creatures, apprentice. They have killed greater men than you...

At the heart of such a wondrous place, exists the creatures that live on its filth. Art By: Shaun Tan

OSR / AD&D / LotFP
Activity Cycle: Nocturnal
Alignment: Neutral
Intelligence: Low
Treasure: Miscellaneous shiny objects may be found in their nests.
AC: 5 / 15
Move: 15 feet (Ground) / 15 feet (Climb) / 15 feet (Swim)
Space: They take up a 10' x 10' space and are considered a swarm
HD: 3
THAC0 / To-Hit: -
# of Attacks: 1 (Subduing Squeaks OR Chittering Madness)
All Saves: 14
Special Attacks -
Subduing Squeaks – Everyone within the 10' x 10' space the swarm occupies takes 1D4 points of damage automatically on the swarm's turn. Those within 10 feet of the swarm, but not inside of it, automatically take 1D3 points of damage on the swarm's turn. This damage cannot kill a character, no matter how long it continues. Once a character reaches 0 HP, they will go unconscious, and awake after 1D6 rounds once the subduing squeaks have ended.

Chittering Madness – Everyone within the 10' x 10' space the swarm occupies must make a save versus Paralyze. Those who do not make their save lose 1D4 points of Wisdom temporarily. This wisdom loss can prevent a Priest/Cleric from casting their spells if their wisdom drops below the minimum rating needed in order to cast. Once the individual is at 0 Wisdom, they act as if under the effects of a Confusion spell. A character regains their Wisdom at a rate of 1 point every 10 minutes. A successful save does not make a character immune to further uses of this ability.

Roll 1D10 at the Beginning of each round to determine the character's action.
1: Wander away in a random direction unless prevented until at least 1 point of Wisdom is regained.
2 – 6: Stands and stares confusedly at the world around them. Roll again at the start of the next round. Still may defend themselves.
7 – 9: Attack the nearest creature. Roll again at the start of the next round.
10: Acts normally for the round. Roll again at the start of the next round.

Special Abilities -
Breathless: Speaker Rats do not need to breathe, and are immune to all gas attacks and inhaled poisons.

Ageless: Speaker Rats do not age, making them immune to magical aging.

Echolocation: Speaker Rats are capable of 'seeing' in any conditions despite light levels or obscuring smoke. Their sight is still orientated toward the front. Loud continuing noises obscure the rats' vision as smoke would for people with normal vision.

Sound Sensitive: Speaker Rats are especially sensitive to sound. They take a -4 penalty to all saves against sound based effects.

Swarm: As a swarm Speaker Rats only take ½ damage from Slashing and Piercing weapons. All other damage is treated normally.

Experience Award: 700

Note: Speaker Rat choirs are usually accompanied by a normal swarm/congregation of rats. Without being paired with another set of rats, the Speaker Rats would only be capable of subduing characters, but not killing them. 

Rats seem to be attracted to the undead workhouses of the Dulshev neighborhoods.
 
Pathfinder / 3.X
CR 4
XP: 1,200
N Tiny animal (swarm)
Initiative: +6;
Senses: Blindsense 60 ft. Perception +8

DEFENSE
AC 16, touch 14, flat-footed 14 (+2 Dex, +2 size, +2 Natural Armor)
HP: 22 (4d8+4)
Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +2
Defensive Abilities: Swarm Traits (as a swarm of tiny creatures, a Rat Swarm takes only half damage from piercing and slashing attacks)

OFFENSE
Speed: 15 ft., climb 15 ft., swim 15 ft.
Melee: Swarm (Special)
Space: 10 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks: Subduing Squeaks and Chittering Madness

STATISTICS
Str 2, Dex 15, Con 13, Int 2, Wis 13, Cha 2
Base Attack: +2; CMB —; CMD —
Feats: Improved Initiative, Skill Focus (Perception)
Skills: Acrobatics +6, Climb +10, Perception +8, Stealth +14, Swim +10; Racial Modifiers uses Dex to modify Climb and Swim

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Subduing Squeaks – Everyone within the 10' x 10' space the swarm occupies takes 1D6 points of damage automatically on the swarm's turn. Those within 10 feet of the swarm, but not inside of it, automatically take 1D4 points of damage on the swarm's turn. This damage is non-lethal, and heals at the normal rate.

Chittering Madness – Everyone within the 10' x 10' space the swarm occupies must make a Will save (DC 14) . Those who do not make their save lose 1D4 points of Wisdom temporarily. This wisdom loss can prevent a Priest/Cleric from casting their spells if their wisdom drops below the minimum rating needed in order to cast. Once the individual is at 0 Wisdom, they act as if under the effects of a Confusion spell. A character regains their Wisdom at a rate of 1 point every 10 minutes. A successful save does not make a character immune to further uses of this ability.

Roll D% Each Round to Determine Behavior
01–25: Act normally
26–50: Do nothing but babble incoherently
51–75: Deal 1d8 points of damage + Str modifier to self with item in hand
76–100: Attack nearest creature (for this purpose, a familiar counts as part of the subject's self)

Breathless: Speaker Rats do not need to breathe, and are immune to all gas attacks and inhaled poisons.

Ageless: Speaker Rats do not age, making them immune to magical aging.

Sound Sensitive: Speaker Rats are especially sensitive to sound. They take a -4 penalty to all saves against sound based effects.

Note: Speaker Rat choirs are usually accompanied by a normal swarm/congregation of rats. Without being paired with another set of rats, the Speaker Rats would only be capable of subduing characters, but not killing them. 

Those poor souls living in the streets are the most common victims of these rats.

Into the Odd
Str 2, Dex 16, Wil 5, 3 hp. Armor: 1
Driven to help rat congregations capture food.
These rats move in swarms that take up a roughly 10' x 10' area. This swarm only takes ½ damage from bladed and stabbing weapons. They take full damage from all other types.

Subduing Squeaks – Everyone within the 10' x 10' space the swarm occupies takes 1D6 points of damage. Those within 10 feet of the swarm, take 1D4 points of damage. This damage is non-lethal, and heals at a rate of 1 HP every 10 minutes.

Chittering Madness – Everyone within the 10' x 10' space the swarm occupies must make a Will save. Those who do not make their save lose 1D4 points of Will temporarily. Once the individual is at 0 Will, they act in an erratic fashion. Each round the character is at 0 Will roll on the table below. A character regains their Will at a rate of 1 point every 10 minutes. A successful save does not make a character immune to further uses of this ability.

Breathless: Speaker Rats do not need to breathe, and are immune to all gas attacks and inhaled poisons.

Ageless: Speaker Rats do not age, making them immune to the effects of aging.

Echolocation: Speaker Rats are capable of 'seeing' in any conditions despite light levels or obscuring smoke. Their sight is still orientated toward the front. Loud continuing noises obscure the rats' vision as smoke would for people with normal vision.

Sound Sensitive: Speaker Rats are especially sensitive to sound. They take a -4 penalty to all saves against sound based effects.