A to Z: R is for RATS!

R is for Rats!

Does anyone else remember the movie, “Ben,” with theme song sung by a very young Michael Jackson? Jackson was still black and still had a nose at that time, which made his involvement in a movie about telepathic killer rats all the more ironic since I remember seeing pictures of human corpses who had apparently been nibbled on by rats (the rats often eat the noses first — was Jackson’s future noselessness predicted by his involvement with the Ben theme song?).

If you don’t know, ‘Ben” was a movie from the 1970s and a sequel to a movie called ‘Willard.’ I barely remember the Willard movie… but I recall that ‘Ben’ was a film about a boy who had a pet rat he named ‘Ben.’ Ben was also a super intelligent telepathic rat who could control swarms of other rats. Scenes from the film included actors covered in fake blood thrashing around among tame rats who were probably trying to lick the peanut butter off of the actor’s bodies as stage hands off camera threw rats at them.
In Aldeboran, there are several kinds of rats. The houses, ships and barns of humankind are home to Norway rats, brown rats, black rats and other mundane vermin.

Of slightly greater concern are the ‘trench rats.’ These are bigger, bolder and more agressive than ordinary rats and tend to attack in swarms, making ‘rat catcher’ a full time job in the major cities like Eord.

Of slightly greater concern than trench rats are the ‘dungeon rats’ or ‘giant rats’ or ‘Sumatran rats.’ These are the big, hairy fuckers that have 1d4 hit points and who wander up and down the corridors of most dungeons. They serve as food for goblins and adventurers who forgot their iron rations… and dead goblins and dead adventurers often serve as food for Sumatran rats… ah, the circle of life. Why people on the world of Aldeboran refer to ‘Sumatran rats’ as ‘Sumatran’ when there is no Sumatra on this world is a mystery that the sages cannot answer. Similarly, there are ‘french cut’ green beans, ‘french fries’ and ‘french kissing’ in Aldeboran, but there is no ‘France.’ Go figure.

Mutant varieties, including albinos, have been encountered and the albino variety are sought after for their valuable pelts. Even more worrisome than the Sumatran Rats (which are bad enough, really), are the really fucking big rats. Some call these “Really Fucking Big Rats” or “Monster Rats” or “R.o.T.S.” (Rats of Tremendous Size). These can range in size up to 8-10 feet from nose to tail. The larger ones can bite a man’s hand off at the wrist. Do not fuck with them.

Rumors also persist of rats who have been altered or magically enhanced or mutated (or perhaps just blessed by the gods) and may have human-like intellect and build enormous ‘shadow cities’ beneath the earth where they have kings of their own and plot one day to conquer the surface dwellers, but this really must be nonsense. That just does not seem remotely plausible!

from Ben:

A young Michael Jackson wearing a terrifying pair of pants sings the theme song (warning: pablum alert!):


6 Comments on “A to Z: R is for RATS!”

  1. Felt says:

    You should've posted the rats from The Food of the Gods. They might be your Sumatran rats!

  2. Scott says:

    I've had rats as pets occasionally, including a couple of them now. I occasionally still use rats as monsters in dungeons, but it always gives me a little twinge when they get slaughtered (like using giant ferrets or weasels).

    The real world versions are fast, strong, and smart (on a problem-solving level) to an almost disturbing degree – I can't imagine what handfuls the fantasy giant versions would be. A gaggle of pissed-off regular rats would be nasty enough to daunt an unarmored or lightly armored adventurer.

  3. limpey says:

    Scott: As a dog lover, I've always felt a little queasy about how readily some of my fellow players use dogs 'in game' as disposeable scouts, mooks or 'trap finders.' I have an easier time saying, “huh… too bad… what was his name again?… grab his pack and let's move on” when one of the human henchmen bites it.

  4. limpey says:

    I also have to confess that I really hate it when I see animals being abused to make a film (like “Ben” where some assistant is clearly literally THROWING rats at the actors — or “Food of the Gods” where they have taped rats to the bottom of a fish tank by the tails and are filling the tank to show rats drowning). “Cruelty” to human actors seems much less cruel because human actors agree to take part.

  5. Felt says:

    Just read your Food of the Gods post from last year. I honestly hadn't thought of that movie in about 20 years until I read about your Sumatarian rats this morning.


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