Ratmen in Space: The Rattati
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2022 issue.
The Rattati (the demonym is the same in singular and plural) are a Minor Race of intelligent beings raised by the Ancients from the common Terran Black Rat (Rattus rattus). It is unclear which planet is their homeworld due to their rapid and sometimes covert spread across the galaxy. The answer to this question is further clouded because the Rattati are so fecund that they thoroughly infest agricultural and urban worlds throughout charted space, traveling on the starships of others rather than construct their own.
The Rattati are a dimorphic species that give birth to live offspring. The average Rattati stands between 1.2 and 1.7 meters tall and weighs about 60 kilograms. They appear to slouch, carrying their heads almost level with their shoulders. They have clawed digits and opposable thumbs that they use to grasp tools and weapons. They are capable of incredible feats of climbing and are able to support their body weight with any two limbs.
Both sexes have red eyes and are covered in coarse hair that varies in shade from deep, coal-like black to lighter grays. Females can be identified by the six teats they have to nurse their young. Rattati with psionic capability are usually albinos (called “grays”) and have a predilection for Telepathy.
Rattati are bipedal, walking with short, quick strides, and have long, hairless tails. They have high agility and are capable of bursts of speed over short distances. They can swim and have a high endurance, enabling them to submerge completely for 1d6 minutes without harm. They have poor eyesight in direct sunlight but possess keen hearing and smell.
Individually, they are skittish (especially around large, aggressive races such as humans, Vargr, and Aslan) and place self-preservation over everything else. The Rattati are ferocious when in a pack of overwhelming numbers or are cornered. They are also very clever and innovative. They are noted for their ability to defeat various barriers and safeguards that deter their access to food, shelter, or safety.
Rattati have short but active lifespans, rarely living past 50 standard years. They mature quickly and are fertile in their tenth year. They are omnivorous. When hungry, they become frenzied and feast upon the wounded and the dead of any species, including their own. This trait makes many other races unwilling to fight beside them.
Humans deem them to be cowardly, self-serving, and deceitful. The Aslan and Vargr hunt the Rattati to the point of genocide on worlds they dominate. The Rattati live in the lowest tiers of society and never rise above Social Level (SOC) 6.
Females are roughly the same size as males, but males tend to be more aggressive. Females can give birth to two litters of 1d6 “pups” each year, given a gestation period of approximately six months. Females nurse the pups for approximately a month before the pups are able to fend for themselves. During this time, the mother’s estrus cycle is suspended.
Rattati assemble in dens and have little concept of family units or parental association. Dens share everything necessary for survival, with none of its members possessing individual property. There is no concept of marriage and the sexes are equal in terms of ability and social standing. Those Rattati that take to spacefaring occupations quickly identify their ship as their den, forsaking the den that they came from.
Rattati communicate in a pidgin Galanglic understandable throughout the Imperium and most of the Extents. Their accent is noted for being high-pitched and spoken in the third person. They commonly do not use personal pronouns. Among themselves, the Rattati speak in a language of rapid squeaks, hisses, and chattering sounds that convey meaning when combined with head bobbing and hand waving motions. For this reason, Rattati do not use voice-only modes of communication in their own language.
Among their own kind, Rattati are named for a physical characteristic or dominant trait that they possess. Among other races, they adopt nicknames that they are given and adapt them to their way of speaking. This habit results in most Rattati being known among others with names that are predominantly hard consonants.
Probably the only cultural touchstone shared by all Rattati is their faith in Rada the Mother and Fessin the Father. These deities are said to be the origin of the Rattati and are the mother and father of the race. They take little interest in the fates of their progeny, knowing that the wave of their numbers will overwhelm all who stand in their way.
Rada gave birth to the first Rattati. She taught them how to survive and then cast them out of the nest to make their own way. The Rattati know better than to pray to her for assistance, but rather they invoke her name as a curse on those that do not or cannot survive by themselves.
Fessin is the spirit of hunger, anger, and greed. He invests the bodies of Rattati that are threatened or in need and drives them to rare displays of bravery. Only the greatest warriors or thieves are raised to sit at Fessin’s table when they die. The rest become food for their den.
Rattati as Travellers
Rattati Travellers follow the standard procedures for creating alien travellers, as provided on page 51 in the Traveller Core Rulebook (TCR.) Unless stated below, the creation and career rules in the TCR should be used.
- STR-2, DEX+2, END-1
- Bite (1D), Claw (1D), Poor Eyesight (DM-1 for all sight checks)
Rattati do not have a SOC characteristic. They use Charisma (CHA), which starts at CHA 2D. A Rattati with a CHA 10+ has the influence to lead their own den of 1d6 other Rattati.
Rattati characters start their careers at the age of 10. They begin to feel the effects of age at age 18 (see Aging table, TCR p47) and roll 2d on the Aging Table every two years. Rattati select a career from the table in the TCR with the following restrictions:
In addition to the three Background skills, Rattati receive Melee (natural) 0 and can use claws and bite.
Rattati cannot join any of the military services or be subject to the Draft. If they fail to qualify for other careers, they become Drifters.
Rattati can become Nobles, but use CHA instead of SOC to qualify and survive terms. Given that their Imperial SOC never rises above 6, Rattati Nobles carry that status only among other Rattati. The referee may rule that in a particular Traveller universe in which the Rattati exist, Rattati Noble status is carried only in the Rattati’s den and other dens favorably disposed to it.
Rattati can choose to become Psions, but roll 2D-2 and then subtract the number of terms served. If they qualify, the rules in TCR Chapter 10 apply.
During the course of Character Creation, Rattati use the Life Events table (TCR p.44) and substitute the relationship with their current den for any romantic event. Mustering out and Benefits are the same as described in the TCR.