Rats, rats, rats

August 22, 2008 at 8:54 pm
filed under Roleplaying
Tagged ,

Anyone seen this?

Essentially, a pair of ladies, who were also identical twins, moved to a suburb of LA in 2002. At some point, they started feeding wild rats they found living near their house. Rats, as you might know, breed quite rapidly. Hilarity ensues as some neighbors who just move in notice a truly absurd number of rats in the area.

You can read the original LA Weekly article here. Here’s an excerpt:

The number of wild rats the Barthels bred in one yearβ€” if they began with a single male and a single female β€” is, by the association’s calculations, 2,258. That number of rats would be capable of devouring 10,931 pounds of food and excreting 56,400 rat droppings. But the sisters fed the rats for much longer than a year. They did so from the time they returned from Santa Ynez in 2002 until late 2007 β€” not to mention possible rat-feeding during the decades that Margaret continued teaching in Redondo to support their refuge in Santa Ynez. Theoretically, during a second year, 2,258 rats in the Palisades could grow “a thousand-fold,” to more than two million rats, says Greg Baumann of the association. That’s only a mathematical figure, because the food needed to sustain two million rats would be impossibly huge, and cats were in the area. But, estimating conservatively, the two sisters added tens of thousands of rats to L.A.’s tony Westside. And perhaps far, far more.

Can we talk about this? Let’s look at some big “creepy” markers:

Of course, my first thought was about how I’d use this in a World of Darkness game. Beyond the obvious beshilu-type connections, this offers all sorts of interesting possibilities.

A hive mind composed of rats, who perhaps share a mind with these ladies? Women who’re made of rats? Rat-spirits gathering in advance of some event? Post-apocalyptic food supply for some messed up people? Eventual carriers of an as-yet unknown plague? An animal-based spy ring for some bizarre or sinister purpose?

Shit, this is one of those plot hooks that just writes itself.

  • Oh… my… god…

    I am so digging this! Let me give you a spin on the issue… you talked about World of Darkness (and incidentally made me want to check out the new incarnation of the game) but why don’t we drive the plot to its proper and rightful home.


    Indeed! You say rats, I say Skaven. Add some mutagen X and mix our ideas together to get some incredibly awesome pot of mutated rat hive mind that is bent on creating fear and distrust in the society above. How will our courageous heroes deal with such a fiendish menace?!

    Nice tip, see you around.

  • Heh, unfortunately I’m not terribly familiar with WFRPG. :)

    But a quick search for skaven tells me they’re rat-men, which is definitely appropriate— that’s why I brought up the beshilu— but the fantasy angle is interesting. I hadn’t thought about how I’d incorporate this into fantasy, as my natural inclination is to look at real-world stuff see how they’d fit into the WoD.

    Anyway, thanks for your comment! I’ll have to check out WFRPG sometime.

  • deadlytoque

    I would stick with your WoD angle. If you use Werewolf, this would be a perfect time to introduce Rat Swarms! I’m going to assume limited or no familiarity with Werewolf, and just say that Rat Swarms are basically collections of spirits who want to tear down and destroy the Gauntlet, and are creepy-as-f*ck.

    Also something to consider: “That number of rats would be capable of devouring 10,931 pounds of food”. Pounds of food. It’s not specific as to what that food would be… rats are omnivores… you could even run a totally non-supernatural (but still sufficiently horrific) game in which they little old ladies were forces to turn to alternative food sources for their growing horde of “pets”.

  • Ooh! I’ll confess I hadn’t thought about the “food for the rats” angle, and you win bonus points for making it non-supernatural. It is all the better to demonstrate to your players that not everything horrible in the World of Darkness has supernatural in origin.

    I am sort of with you in that my default preference is, unquestionably, modern fantasy/horror type stuff, despite the current slant bent of the blog. That said, I could easily see throwing something like this into a low-level D&D campaign.

  • deadlytoque

    If you dig modern horror and play/run nWoD, you might be interested in my cobbled-together “Stability” system. Basically, it’s just a tag on to the existing Morality, but designed to reflect that seeing and doing bad things will have a telling effect on mere mortals.

    I’m not sure what the copyright status of homebrew mods is, so I won’t post it here, but if you’d like to see it I can email it to you (it’s a small .doc file).

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