Today in Vestitas, we kill ten rats.
Summary: A village in the Imperium controlled section of the river is home to a secret cult of rat mutants.
Discovery: If the party passes through the village during the day, a Challenging(+0) Awareness test will allow a party member to spot mysterious markings in the alleyways, usually close to the ground. An Ordinary(+10) Linguistics (Underworld) check reveals that these markings indicate there is an entrance to a hideout nearby, but do not indicate what the hideout is for. A Hard(-20) Logic test reveals that all of these markings are fairly close to sewer entrances of some kind. This Logic test is Ordinary(+10) if the same character has succeeded on the Linguistics (Underworld) check to translate the markings, or if another character succeeded on the test and explained their meaning.
If the party passes through the village during the night, a Challenging(+0) Awareness test will allow them to catch a few ratfolk scurrying through the dark streets at night, burgling one of the village’s general stores for food and tools before heading back underground to the sewer. If characters succeed on a Stealth check to follow them, they will be led directly to a sewer entrance. If captured and interrogated, the rats will break under an Ordinary(+10) Interrogation check and reveal the location of their underground lair. If the characters think to interrogate the captured rat for more than one, the rat will reveal all five lairs, but will only offer a single random lair if the characters don’t press for more.
If the characters have any kind of reputation for pro-Imperial work, the lord mayor may contact them about taking care of some mutant thieves plaguing his town.
Exploration: Upon arrival, roll a 1d5 to determine exactly which entrance the characters have located, with a 1 corresponding to A, a 2 corresponding to B, and so on, up to a 5 corresponding to E. All locations have a passage leading towards location F in the heart of the city.
A) This sewer section lets out in a large grate that dumps into the river. The river docks are just above. The lock is easily picked with a Routine(+20) Security check – the ratfolk replaced the original with a much cheaper imitation to make it easy to come and go without letting the dock maintenance workers know that someone had cracked the lock. During the day, a half-dozen ratfolk lurk in the shadows here. They hide when they hear anyone approaching. If spotted, they will flee unless they outnumber the intruders by at least two-to-one, in which case they will attack.
B) This section of sewer lies in a backalley near a crowded section of town. A single ratfolk lurks in the darkness here, and will scurry away to warn the others in the sewer heart at location F as soon as anyone enters.
C) This sewer grate leads directly into the cellar of the lord mayor’s mansion. During the night, it’s swarming with a dozen ratfolk as they pilfer from his stores. During the day, just one sits here, standing watch. If anyone approaches during the day, the rat will hide, and if spotted, flee. If anyone approaches during the night, the rats will attack, frenzied with greed.
D) These sewers are directly beneath a major land route leading out to the east. Generally speaking the only time anyone’s overhead is when they’re in a big truck making plenty of noise, meaning the rats don’t need to be too cautious here. As such, there’s a dozen of them crowded around in daylight hours, and a half-dozen loitering during the night. If someone does approach, the rats are caught off-guard and take a -10 penalty to their Stealth checks to hide. If spotted, they will flee unless they outnumber the intruders by at least two-to-one, in which case they will attack.
E) This sewer is in an alleyway between two warehouses. This is the main area the rats operate in during the night, with a dozen rats sneaking about overhead. They scatter and attempt to flee directly towards the sewer entrance if spotted, but will avoid any beams of light for fear of being detected. If someone starts camping on the sewer entrance, they will try to sneak through the city to one of the other five instead. During the day, a single rat keeps watch, and will immediately flee to the sewer heart at F to report if he is detected.
F) The sewer heart lies in the center of five sewer tunnels leading out to the other five major areas. Pipes from all around town lead here, dumping sludge that flows out towards the outflow pipe at A. Even at night, when many rats are out in the streets, two-dozen rats and their shaman sorcerer hide here. During the day, another dozen hide in the location. This is the rats’ home, and any rats here will fight to the death to defend it, unless they have fallen to under half of their starting number and their shaman has fallen. Any sound of battle here will draw in any rats from the other five locations, who will arrive two rounds after the commotion begins, unless they are outside in the town, in which case it will take them three.
Confrontation: The rat shaman is of clever personality, has a starting disposition of 25 towards most characters, but 35 towards anyone who is clearly anti-Imperial (whether Chaos or merely criminal), and is very much open to any kind of negotiation that might better his people’s station. Though he has no scheme to rise up, the rat shaman is eager to see his people take their place on the surface and be freed from the current resource-imposed limitations on their population.
There is a single Arbites and one PDF squad in the town. They are both willing to help storm the rats’ lair if the characters can locate it.
Rewards: If the characters inform the Lord Mayor that they’ve taken care of his rat problem, whether he contacted them for the removal or not, he will give them a large sum of money that can be used as a Rare item when trading items for requisition bonuses.
If the characters take over the town, either on behalf of the ratmen or just throwing a coup, they can install any Highborn as the new ruler. Anyone installed as ruler gains 1d10 Influence, and anyone associated with the new ruler gains 1d5 Influence. The characters can also levy the town at a cost of 2 influence to auto-succeed on any influence check made for goods or services available here. The town can provide anything that’s common or cheaper, any solid projectile weapon or service that’s average or cheaper, any medical care, low-tech weapon, or basic armour or drugs and consumables that are scarce or cheaper.
If the ratmen are installed directly into power and the human population is driven out altogether, there is no more economy, as the population now consists of a few dozen ratfolk who, even with rapid multiplication, will only grow to a few hundred even given a few years to work at it. As such, while ratfolk overlords can manage the town just as well as anyone else, turning the town into a ratfolk-only enclave causes immediate implosion of the economy. Under these circumstances, installing a ruler in the town gives no Influence, the town cannot be levied and, indeed, most goods and services leap up a rarity level here as the economy becomes strained (so Scarce(-10) items become Rare(-20), Rare(-20) items become Very Rare(-30), and so on). After a few months, the rats will, unless sustained from outside by efforts or decree of the characters, leave the area and find some other town to scavenge from, infesting their sewers in much the same way they did this town.
If the ratmen are installed as overt rulers of the town, whether the human population is retained or not, Grey Harbour will undoubtedly send at least a full company of PDF to sort them out.