This is a “Lovecraftian” monster for use in a traditional fantasy roleplaying games. Slithering Rats use rules and stats from MAZES (a new RPG in 9 th Level Games’ new POLYMORPH system line of RPGs).
A Note to Our Readers: The Mazes RPG uses a modern rules system focused on dungeon adventures – Mazes FEELS like games from the 1970s but runs like RPGs from today. An integral part of the Mazes design philosophy is the idea of “keeping it weird” – specifically players throwing players off their game by always presenting them with strange things that they’ve never seen before – which used to be a key part of the 1970s RPG experience that we’ve largely forgotten today.
I present to you a different kind of giant rat to encounter on your first trek into the dungeon. The adventurers see a large rat, with weirdly glowing eyes, scuttle out of the darkness in the sewer. Then they notice it has six legs. Hopefully they are wise enough to avoid a watery grave under the Queen’s Nest…
THE SLITHERING RAT
In the times before the Witchlords’ magics destroyed much of this land, some urban areas had complex sewer systems that housed hordes of rats. Rats that were buried and drowned when those cites were destroyed by the Doom that Came Before. Lucky for them, rats are survivors.
A slitherrat is longer and lower than a true rat. Rat fur is replaced by a slimy, amphibious skin, and an even longer rat tail. They have powerful back legs, and a matched pair of four smaller forelimbs to hold up their elongated snake-like bodies. Slitherrats travel and swim in dense packs, making them look like a much large animal. Their wiry tails are better at holding than their six webbed and clawed feet. Their slightly glowing eyes have clear nictitating membranes, allowing them to see in the dark and underwater. Touching a slitherrat is an unwelcome experience as their flesh is slimy and cold.
Found on their own, slitherrats will try to escape from creatures larger than themselves. If they are protecting their Queen or have enough of their kind together – they attack. Usually pulling prey into the water and holding it under until it drowns.
Slitherrats are controlled by their psychic Queen. The Slitherrat Queen looks like a huge mass of slitherrats, covered in grasping tails. The Queen is nearly immobile – finding a place to latch onto in the murky depths and building an entire rat nest around her body. She births new rats
from glands in her multiple throats.
A Slitherrat Queen can spend a skull or a darkness to vomit out more slitherrats in a slimy, vile wave.
Under the nest of a Queen will be the picked clean skeletons of the colony’s victims. Any scrap of clothing, paper, leather, or flesh has been torn off and devoured. Any standard metal corroded under the water. A party may find magical potions (in glass), a magic item, or loose coins (the leather bags having been eaten).
Minion, Slithering, Amphibious
Hearts: 1; Skulls: 1; Damage: 2
Horde, Gestalt, Amphibious
Hearts: 5; Skulls: 1; Damage: 4
A horde of Slitherrats act as “gestalt” being – moving and attacking as one. Partially this is because of the psychic control of the Queen, and partially because of the instincts of the rats
Mother, Amphibious, Psychic, Night Magic
Hearts: 12; Skulls: 4; Damge:1
A Slitherrat Queen that survives long enough starts to gain dark magics, especially as corpses decay under the waters below her. Ghosts and ghouls are attracted to these nests which become strange, watery graveyards.
Slitherrat Ghost Leech
Night Magic, Amphibious
Hearts: 4; Skulls: 2; Damage: 0 (Condition: Controlled)
In the darkness, the Queen will create Ghost Leech Slitherrats – which look like pale, finger sized worms with the faces of rats. These Ghost Leeches will gnaw into the brains of the recently dead, and with their dark magic raise the water logged corpse to a form of undeath.
MAZES STAT BLOCKS: How translate this monster for use with a different rules set. Under each creature description is a list of “EDGES” which are keywords that define a creature’s abilities, skills, or powers – when a creature uses an edge they are advantaged. HEARTS act like HIT POINTS. A hard monster to kill might have 8 Hearts. Skulls are the “specials” that a creature or obstacle can spend to do more powerful things – so you can think of them like “spell slots” or something similar. You can also spend Skulls to refresh a creature’s Hearts.
Written by Chris O’Neill, 9 th Level Games
Designed for use with the MAZES RPG