This page is a handbook for players of current wererat characters and those considering apping one in the future.
Some facts about wererats (from the Anita Blake Wiki):
- The rat virus is highly contagious. It, along with the wolf variant, is one of the easiest types of lycanthropy to catch.
- Silver is very harmful to them and can cause permanent injury and death.
- When in full rat form, they are about the size of a large German Shepherd with five-inch incisors.
- Fur colors vary and often seem related to the human hair color.
- They can talk when in ‘rat-man’ form.
- They have a natural aptitude to shift on demand.
- Nest – The term for a safehouse or meeting grounds where local wererats gather.
- Plague - An alternate term for a group of rat-based lycanthropes who inhabit an area (equivalent to a pack for werewolves and a pard for leopards).
- Swarm – An alternate term for the leader of a local group of wererats.
- Rom – An alternate term for the leader of a local group of wererats. Not used in Chicago.
- Ratanar – The monthly gathering of local wererats on the full moon. NOTE: This is actually an OOCly made-up term since there was no term canonically introduced nor have any of the were-rat characters in-game used a name that has stuck.
- Rat King/Queen – A term for the leader of a local group of wererats. This is the term the Chicago wererats use. The current King is Tex.
- Rodere - Taken from the Italian for “To gnaw”, it is a term for a group of rat-based lycanthropes who inhabit an area (equivalent to a pack for werewolves and a pard for leopards). This is the term the Chicago wererats use most often, but both Plague and Swarm are used by some.
Entering New Territory
A non-local wererat entering the Chicago city limits should introduce themselves as soon as feasibly possible to the Rat King or Queen. OOCly, this is best handled via an @mail to the current Rat leader on the +leaders board. You can then arrange an IC meeting or an OOC agreement on having met if schedules do not mesh. If you are able to arrange to run into another local rat in RP first, they can provide you the means to contact the leader. The urgency of this meeting and what transpires after is dependent on your current situation as follows.
- Newly made local wererats – A brand new wererat is in a very dangerous situation. They do not have control of their shifting, and they need to be taught control and the rules and traditions of the Chicago Rodere. They need to contact the Rodere as soon as possible for help and training.
- Visiting wererats – Rats coming into Chicago temporarily need to immediately announce themselves and their reason for being in Chicago, and need to be apprised of the rules and limits of their stay.
- New Arrivals Moving Permanently to Chicago – New arrivals who are coming to Chicago permanently need to introduce themselves as soon as possible. During that time they will be apprised of the local wererat policies, and told where the Nest and Ratanar are.
New Rat Training
Here are some things which all rats would be trained in over the first 6 months to a year of being infected. Training is handled by Alphas in possession of Dominate and Shapeshift Other when it requires control of shifting, or any experienced rat otherwise. In most cases, it's great if you can RP these things out? But if you haven't by the time noted for each, you can assume they've been done "off camera" with an NPC.
- First Shift (First Moon) - If a newly infected rat comes to the Rodere before their first moon, an Alpha with the Shapeshift Other and Dominate abilities will assist them in their first few shifts. They will call the new rat's beast forth to make the change smoother for them the first few times. Please note a new rat will not remember anything about their initial shifts. +shifter/memory will tell you how much your rat remembers, and this will improve over time.
- Stress Shifting (After First Moon until control is established) - Newly infected rats have very little control to resist shifting when under stress. +moon/stress will show the likelihood of shifting against your will on a given day, modified by willpower, shapeshift power, the nearness to the full moon, and whether the moon is waxing or waning. The scent of fresh blood tends to trigger stress shifts in new shifters as well. Training will begin to learn to control these shifts (Building Shapeshifting power and/or Willpower levels) after the new rat's first moon. An Alpha with Dominate is required to keep someone from shifting, and Shapeshift Other is required to force someone to shift. There are NPCs available to teach these things.
- Pleasure Shifting (After First Moon until control is established) - The stress caused by extreme pleasure is vastly different from that caused by pain, fear, or anger. This is a tricky situation which the AB books expressed training was necessary in to prevent mauling/infecting/or killing a lover during sexual intimacy. In one instance in the books, a shifter refusing training with an Eros/Eranthe (because he was engaged to be married) ended up shifting during his honeymoon night and killing his new bride. Due to the intimate nature of this sort of thing, a player should feel free to handwave it and just note to their faction leader that they would be taking the training with an NPC or appropriate PC without needing to play it out. Basically, an Alpha rat with a compatible sexual preference and the Dominate ability will have intercourse with the new rat until they are able to reach sexual fulfillment under different sorts of duress without shifting during it. If, for some reason, your character would NOT agree to this training, there may be consequences IC. This may require the Rodere to banish you from their protection and declare you rogue in order to protect the group from your future actions (You might seek the independents to remove this stigma if they will accept you without this training and take on the burden of the possible consequences). This may also include staff enforcing a stress shift on you if you become sexually active which might result in the injury, infection, or death of your partner (And thus making you a murderer which, as a shifter, is an automatic execution offense). So think carefully about this.
- Physiology (Within first 2 weeks) - New rats learn the following about their new selves.
- Boosts - The first thing you will learn on your own is that your muscle, fitness, reflexes, willpower, and senses all leap in power. This will likely cause some initial disorientation, recalibrating, and instances of being fascinated by mundane things. When your senses are superhuman, imagine how detailed food tastes or how many fine details you can suddenly notice in the world. Further, those nice insulated walls might no longer keep you from hearing your neighbors conversing while you're trying to sleep. If you are a physical combatant (martial artist, bouncer) you may have to take some time off until you learn to gauge and curb your own strength or else you might end up seriously injuring or killing someone by accident.
- Healing - You will heal extremely quickly and can handle a lot more damage than you did as a human being. Some lucky rats might also be able to actively regenerate lost limbs, and all rats are immune to diseases. Things you had before being turned (such as poor eyesight or balding) will remain afterwards, but they will not get any worse.
- Forms - Your rat form will be about the size of a large dog, and your +size will increase by a pound. Your ratman (half and half form) will be not far off your human size and will have no weight increase. You can speak in your half and half form, though it will be filtered through a mouth not meant for it which alters some annunciation.
- Hunger - After Shifting you will be ravenously hungry and must eat. Also, you will eat more as your metabolism will be higher. Ignoring this need will contribute to uncontrolled shifts.
- Temperature - All shifters have a body temperature notably higher than a human's. It may seem like they are constantly running a low grade fever. They also are not as sharply affected by cooler temperatures. You might find a wererat walking around in winter with no coat on if they aren't hiding what they are. In general, consider them to feel as if the air is 10-20 degrees warmer than it is. They are not immune to the effects of extreme cold though, you can still die of hypothermia.
- Danger (Within first 2 weeks) - New rats learn the following about what can and cannot do them harm.
- Silver - You will be instructed about how silver is very harmful to you, can kill you if ingested or used as a weapon, and is uncomfortable even when skin comes in contact with it. If injured by silver, you will heal at a human rate.
- Fire - You will learn that fire is bad. It can cause permanent injury and in all ways will harm you the same as it does a standard human, and you will heal it as if you were human.
- Holy Objects - You will learn that holy objects do not negatively affect you and church foundations don't shake if you attend mass.
- Vampires - Wounds from the claws and fangs of vampires heal at a normal human rate instead of with accelerated healing. There are vampires with the ability to call specific types of animals and their shifter counterparts. They are dangerous and should be avoided. Any current allies and enemies (See below) will be told to you and areas to avoid will be noted.
- The Beast (Within first week) - Even before your first shift, you will feel like there is a secondary presence inside your body, a sort of metaphysical version of a rat. In the AB books, Anita could feel her individual animals as themselves and could visualize them vividly, so you will likely be able to "see" the metaphysical rat inside of you. When rising to the surface it has been described as running up a dark tunnel and trying to leap out of you, often through your mouth, or trying to claw it's way out if you are resisting. It is also described a few times as being a metaphysical, almost ghostly energy rising outside of you and mingling with that of other shifters, even in forms of attack (Likely the Dominate ability) or to comfort.
NOTE: In-Game, 'the beast' is played down as an actual entity. Instead, it is considered a metaphorical construct for use of Dominate and +flashing your Power around.
- Protocols (Within first week) - Your rat will be instructed on the following common protocols.
- Nudity - Nudity is not a sexual thing with shifters. Looking upon another naked rat with sexual intent is not welcome without prior invitation. The modesty may not drop instantly, but over time it should become comfortable.
- Comfort Touching - All shifters find physical touch as a source of comfort and bonding. This is not a sexual thing. Again, sexual contact is not welcome without prior invitation.
- Registering - Although the Rodere will not force you to register as a shapeshifter with the police, they will explain the pros and cons of it. The pros consist of having the law fully protecting you as a citizen against hate crimes and the like, and because, well, it’s the law. The cons mean you have to be careful using your abilities against other citizens, you might be locatable by hate groups, and you may find yourself turned down for jobs for reasons that say something else but are truly (but not provable) because you are a shifter.
- Policies - The policies outlined further down the page will be told to you as well within your first week in the Rodere, and most typically the first day.
the shifter groups, the Rodere establish a pecking order via dominance. Dominance is not used in sexual terms, but in simple “I’m the boss of you” terms, like managers and employees in a business. The Chicago Rodere are a fairly laid back group under Tex, but dominance pecking orders are simple instinct as well. Dominance is shown in several ways.
- Grooming - A habit of actual rats, there is an inclination to groom one another in order of dominance. However, unlike other animals who use grooming in this methods, rats tend to have the groomer as the dominant, rather than the groomed. In human forms, this tends to play out with the more dominant members sometimes dictating the fashion choices of the less dominant members.
- Deference - Like in any pecking order, you don’t walk up to your boss and tell him to go take a long walk off a short pier unless you’re looking for a fight. Deferring to a dominant shifter does not mean you are a doormat or can’t argue or disagree with them. It does, however, mean that you should try to express your differences politely, like you might bring a grievance to your boss in a large business. And it’s expected that if you do act impolitely or aggressively to a superior at work (or a more dominant rat in the Rodere) that there will be consequences. Depending on the whims of the dominant and the King/Queen they might be a physical beat down, restrictions, duties, or even banishment/death if the overstep was severe enough.
On the full moon, the wererats of Chicago meet at the Nest in the sewers under the city, and gather to conduct business and shift to run/hunt together as a group. These events are not always done “On Camera” so to speak, but should always be considered to have happened IC. All wererats are expected to attend, and any PCs who are RPing that their character is not attending should @mail the rat’s leader to let him or her know of their absence from the event.
- Rogue Wererats - The Rat King does not suffer rogues in Chicago. Rats in the city either live under the Rat King's Rules, under someone else's protection, or outside the city limits.
- Rodere Business - The policy on telling non-rats about rat business is that they King doesn't care about the minor stuff, but some things should be kept within the Rodere: especially identities, bolt-holes and the like.
- Dominance Fights - The policy on dominance fights is that the King would rather they weren't lethal, and he'll be asking questions if someone gets killed.
- Being King - Although succession of Rat Kings and Queens has often been by lethal coup in rat communities, there have been non-lethal changes of power more than once in Chicago. There is historical precedent for peaceful stepping down of the prior leader who remains part of the community. That doesn't mean it will always happen, but there is no shame in a non-violent change of leadership.
- Sanders - Alpha male wererat who sometimes helps new rats through their first few changes.
- Lion Pride of Chicago - There is currently a mutual respect alliance between the Rodere and the Lions of Kim and Javier's Pride.
- Places To Avoid - At current, although we are not considered enemies, we are not permitted near the Navy Pier and the businesses contained there (such as Cafe://Polychrome).
Other Known Rat Leaders
These are the other known rat leaders from player backgrounds and RP, as well as canon. The way the group referred to itself follows in parenthesis.
- Niranjan Bhandari - Rat King of Kathmandu, Nepal (Plague)
- Casius Dover - Rat King of Manhattan, New York (Plague)
- Mark - Rat King of San Francisco, CA circa 2006 (Plague)
- Unnamed - Rat King of Honolulu, HI - Known for being cruel, having a penchant for casual murder, and feeding the remains of his victims to the sharks offshore. (Plague)
- Lucy Marrero - The Rat 'King' of Flagstaff Arizona. Been in power about ten years. Came up from Central America with Rojas, MOTC. Rumored to be his Animal Servant. Notably unpleasant, prefers the masculine form of the title despite being a woman, chip on her shoulder about being a female leader.