Monday, March 18, 2019

Dolmenwood: Ratling (Race-as-Class)

Noted in Gavin Norman's Dolmenwood House Rules document, the idea of Ratlings in the setting have long entertained me. Are they meant to be truly tiny things, or are they halflings but a bit scummier a la 40k? Given that Gavin has said he's not a deep Warhammer fan (or so I misremember from a convo on Orks), I must assume that Ratlings are meant to be actual rat-like people; something in tone akin to Redwall or Mouse Guard possibly. While noted in the document as being functionally equivalent to Halflings, with a 3-in-6 hiding rate in any environment; I'm going to attempt to do something a bit more setting appreciative with them. Also chucking in some Midderlands references.

Art from Larry MacDougall's Gwelf Project


Requirements: Minimum CON and DEX 9
Prime Requisite: CON and DEX
Hit Dice: 1d6
Maximum Level: 8
Allowed Armour: Any appropriate to size, including shields
Allowed Weapons: Appropriate to size (see below)
Languages: Alignment language, Common, Woodsigns

Ratlings (aka Giant Mouselings as they're called in Scrotland) are diminutive race of furred demi-humans who possess rodent-like features, long filthy tails, and teeth as strong as well-tempered iron. Seldom achieving heights greater than 3 feet or weighing more than 60 pounds when preposterously rotund or heavy with child, Ratlings rely on knowledge of secrets and their community to survive in an unforgiving world. Each Ratling warren is built in spiraling stone architecture deep beneath the roots of old trees, ruled over by broodmother and rat-king who tend to the collected knowledge and deeds of their ancestors. 

Ratlings, in their pure and honest forms, can be found in the Table Downs and Brackenwold; with corrupted forms commonly found in the Upper Middergloom of Havenland. Both types make use of sacred Woodsigns written in the whorls of trees and stones, which whisper secrets when read. Seldom does a Ratling adventure, as to surface-dwellers they are seen as pests or plague-spreaders regardless to any truth on that matter. When one does join up arms with humanity, they do so often with ambitions to start their own warren or as exiles of a warren which cast crimes against them. 

They're not the most well-loved creature to walk the world, but Brackenwolders have seen worse and Havenlanders have better things to fear. Grimalkin personally dislike the whole of the Ratling race based on a folkloric dispute wherein a Grimalkin was once made stumbledrunk on tipple and robbed of an estate by the Ratlings. 

Prime Requisites: A Ratling must have at least 13 in one or the other prime requisite in order to get a +5% to experience. The character must have a CON and DEX of 13 or higher to get a +10% bonus.


Combat: Ratlings may use any type of armour, but it must be tailored to their small size. Similarly, they may use any weapon which is appropriately sized to their stature. They cannot use longbows or two-handed swords.

Defensive Bonus: Due to their small size, Ratlings possess a lower Armour Class (-2 bonus) when attacked by creatures larger than itself.

Hiding: Ratlings have an uncanny ability to disappear from sight:
        In bushes or other outdoor cover, a Ratling can hide with 90% ability.
        In dungeons, a halfling can also hide in shadows or behind other forms of cover, so long as he or she remains silent and motionless. The chance of success is 3-in-6.
        If nude, a Ratling may pose as a rodent of unusual size rather than a sentient being, succeeding at a rate of 4-in-6 so long as those viewing the Ratling don't know they're on the lookout for the creature. 

Listenings: Ratlings have a 2-in-6 chance of hearing noises at doors, and in conversations or gathering gossips they have a 2-in-6 chance to determine if the information they're receiving is deceptive or intended as a secret.

Teeth of Iron: Ratlings may make unarmed attacks by biting, dealing 1d4 damage. Their teeth can pierce stone and metal with enough time. This damage increases to 1d6 at level 4, and 2d4 at level 6.

Secret Woodsigns: Ratlings may take a minute to read the whorls of a tree's trunk or the roughness of a stone to discern secrets. Once per day, a Ratling may use their woodsigns to do the following:
        Determine the location of nearby edibles or water. The chance-of-success is 3-in-6.
        Determine something said by a passerbyer in the last 24 hours. The chance of the information being relevant or useful is 10% per character level, to a maximum of 80%.
        Conceal a message for others who can read woodsigns, up to 20 words. This message remains for a number of days equal to the Ratling's level.
        Determine if another Ratling has made use of the woodsign, and if so what message they have concealed with it.

Stronghold (Warren): When a Ratling has sufficient funds, secrets, and time, they may construct a stronghold. These strongholds will be built deep beneath the roots of an ancient tree, constructed of stone along dirt tunnels when properly finished. Ratlings who have heard of the character's deeds and wisdom will make their way to the stronghold, and over time they will expect the Ratling to become either broodmother or Rat-King.

Dark Heather from Mouse Guard is a good base for a Warren

Level Progression/Saving Throws: As Halfling.

Randomized Appearance (Head, d8)
  1. Pudgy, slight-eared and tooth-bearing, like a gopher.
  2. Large-eyed and larger-eared like a vole.
  3. Long-snouted and squinty-eyed like a shrew.
  4. Tiny-eyed with large ears, like a house mouse.
  5. Large fleshy ears and bulbous black eyes, like a wood mouse.
  6. Slanted snout and small ears, like a common black rat.
  7. Jovial black eyes and chubby cheeks, like a doormouse.
  8. Large-headed with small black eyes, much like a musk rat.
Randomized Appearance (Colors, d10)
  1. Pink, nude and wrinkly, with flaking dandruff as if diseased.
  2. Pale white, with eyes that blaze red when concerned.
  3. Brown and black, like the bark of a tree towards the forest duff.
  4. Black and grey, like the smoke from an elder's pipe.
  5. Black as a cold winter night without stars.
  6. Red as fallen maple leaves, hints of orange.
  7. Pale grey, like a stone dove.
  8. Powder blue, like the Wood-King's jael stones.
  9. Wheat blond, like the autumn grains before the harvest.
  10. Stony grey, like an outcropping in the woods.
Randomized Coat (d6, don't roll if a nude)
  1. Straight-haired coat.
  2. Curly-haired coat.
  3. Wavy-haired coat.
  4. Velveteen coat of furs.
  5. Long silky coat of furs.
  6. Long straight-haired coat of furs.
Randomized Pattern (d8, reroll on Colors, if nude it's a mark on the flesh)
  1. Completely solid coloration, white upon the feet.
  2. Solid with different coloration upon the belly and hands.
  3. Blaze of a different color upon the face.
  4. Capped upon the head in a different color.
  5. Hooded in a different color upon the head and back.
  6. Masked in a different color over the eyes.
  7. Of roan pelt, with initial coloration fading into a different type as the seasons change.
  8. Varegated in different colors.
The Midderlands are very unkind to Ratlings.

Midderland Variety Mutations (d8)
  1. Covered in caustic green boils which rupture when struck with critical damage.
  2. Three eyes of murky jaundiced pickle green.
  3. Teeth like needles which pierce through the snout at odd angles.
  4. Slime-leeks from pores rather than sweat. 
  5. Vomits luminescent slugs when speaking too long.
  6. Forever twitching and speaking in double-double, hacking cough when trying not to.
  7. Fingers and toes of misshapen lengths, vaguely arthropod in digit appearance.
  8. Secondary rat-head growing out of back. Has nothing good to say.
Starting Outfit (d8) (Coinage/Wealth as a Halfling, its the whole of your warren's wealth.)
  1. Brata cloak of ochre red, clay-handled dagger, fine leather belt with beetle-buckle.
  2. Tunic of blue and white, carpenter's hammer (as mace), leather pouch with brass aglets.
  3. Long nightgown and sleeping cap, zig-zag dagger (your mother's), a smoking pipe (no snuff.)
  4. Cloth gambeson with fish patterns upon it, woodcutter's hatchet, tricorn hat.
  5. Pig-leather culottes bleached white, yellow-and-red beaded sash, walking cane (as staff.)
  6. Long Tartan with serpent torc, ancient brass shortsword (Goman make), bag of hash.
  7. Artisan's smock-frock, leather jackboots, and a tack-hammer (as mace.)
  8. Surtout of deep clay red, with a torc of ancient rat-king tails. A black hand ax.
Names (d20)
  1. Clundoder / Mosswater
  2. Basilmac / Gingi
  3. Methuselah / Prudencia
  4. Mac Luch Mor / Bea Luch Beag
  5. Kimkarnagie / Clarymulch
  6. Bromaine / Celdana
  7. Rocksorrel / Gabwhacker
  8. Quillhaver / Cloggswalk
  9. Craiken / Cavelhome
  10. Swiftlysung / Mumblerock
  11. Saynavain / Viluna
  12. Bigglebones / Bucklescutt
  13. Shoggwallow / Horsewalma
  14. Logalwealth / Buskerback
  15. Eulail / Biskpaw
  16. Clayulton / Doomhaver
  17. Reginald / Miramoore
  18. Broggleton / Constantia
  19. Wellbuckle / Limewater
  20. Reynard / Wilffenleaf
Why do you adventure with humans? 
  1. The Watchers made dark work to steal the bones of our ancient rat-kings. I must see them returned to my deeply-delved warren.
  2. The warren flooded, leaving few of us behind. I seek funds so I might rally kindred in distant warrens to help reclaim it from the water wyrds that've come.
  3. The Hag stole away my kin, humanity and grimalkin don't care for her muchly. They'll be honorbound to help me if I provide services in kind.
  4. The glint and glitter of gold warms my belly with mead and meat; to live under a tree is no life for a young blood like myself.
  5. I was chosen to join the Rat-King, but I feared the ritual. I can never go home, nor face my kind. I must find work among the tall-ones.
  6. In dreams I was haunted by the sword of  Saint, one of the Church of the One True God's sort. Upon his shoulders sat a head like mine own, and from his mouth he spoke of my destiny. I must seek such a thing.
  7. Kin mined too deep, found blue stones that laugh, found green stones that cackled. I made it out alive, but they're not my kin under that hill no more.
  8. Wolves routed us, devoured us, and faerie folk watched and laughed. Good neighbors my arse. Met enough men-folk who in words don't care for neither crowd. Figure we can kill a bunch of them together, have a day of it.

Next: I was putting together some random encounter lists, but Ratlings caught my interest. 

An Attempted Framework Conversion for: The Hole in the Oak set in Dolmenwood

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