Roddun Lore

Oct 17th, 2017
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  1. Roddun: Scourge of the City
  2. The rats? Why complain? What good will it do? What are you gonna do about them? One day, there was nothing, and the next, they were everywhere. Wasn’t like they crept up on us.
  4. It was the Plague. That’s what it was. Hit every city like a hammer. They had to burn everything. They burned the clothes, they burned the corpses. They had to burn everything. Left entire barrios like blackened scars. And that’s when the rats moved in.
  6. They say the rats brought the Plague themselves with their black magic. Made way for their move. That’s what they say. I don’t know if its true and I ain’t saying as such, but that’s what I heard. I don’t want them looking for me, flashing their teeth at me. They’re a part of the city now and that’s that. Like the haffuns, they’re just here and there’s no getting rid of them. So, why bother?
  8. Me, I say keep them. Never been so quiet since they moved in. Got rid of all the filth that was running around here. Don’t see no more gangs, do you? That’s because the rats got rid of them. No more of that.
  10. Sure, I pay them. Why not? If I don’t, I’ll get them gangs back. Better to have the rats than the gangs. And at least them rats understand respect.
  11. — Robin Jestes, Copper Merchant
  13. Historians call it, “the Time of Blue Fire.” Nearly a century ago, “the Blue Death” ran through the Cities of men, devastating almost a third of the population. It was assumed the disease was carried by cats, causing a mass murder of felines. At first, men tried to deal with the disease, but it spread so quickly, those efforts were cut short. Eventually, officials walled off the infected parts of the Cities and left the diseased to deal with themselves. Those who broke quarantine were killed and burned. The fire that consumed the infected was not red, but a deep blue. And the smell was sweet.
  15. Historians disagree on the events that followed. The Plague seemed to have run its course and the walls were taken down. Those who survived the Plague were never fully welcomed back, the infected barrios never fully recovered… and they had new residents. The rats who walked like men.
  17. While the walls stood, the rats made their way into the “Blue Barrios.” They showed no fear and walked among the men freely. They traded for food and other goods. They cared for the dying and buried the dead. And when the walls came down, it became very clear that they weren’t going anywhere.
  19. Men called them “ratters.” They called themselves, “the roddun.”
  22. A Roddun’s Life
  23. The following section details a roddun’s life through youth, adolescence and old age.
  25. Youth
  26. When a mother roddun gives birth, she gives birth to a litter of around six to ten, but only one to three of those survive to be young adults. Regardless, female roddun can carry a litter to term every six months. The roddun spread quickly.
  28. When he is young, a roddun is taught the values of his people. He is taught that family—”kin”—are the most important people in his life. He is also taught that anyone outside his family are less valuable, and those further out are even less valuable. “You can’t trust anyone who doesn’t share your blood,” he is told. “Blood is kin and kin is blood.”
  30. As he grows older, he learns the place of his people within the Reign of Men. Since their arrival, the roddun have made themselves an essential part of the Reign. They are not recognized as citizens—they are not men, after all—but they can expect a degree of protection. For example, roddun cannot own land—only a citizen can do that—but a roddun can expect the City Watch to protect him from gangs of ruffians looking to steal his purse. In short, a roddun can expect the protections of society but none of the benefits.
  32. His mother and father teach him that there are parts of the City that the Reign has forgotten, or chooses to ignore. The City Watch does not patrol these streets. His parents explain to him, “These streets are ours. Men have left them and we have picked them up.” They teach him that anyone who neglects an object doesn’t want that object and that it is perfectly ethical to pick it up and keep it if you want it. But only if you want it. If you don’t, leave it for someone else to pick up. Men put things on display and never use them? It’s yours, if you want it. They throw something in a vault and never touch it again? It’s yours if you want it. But never pick up something that someone needs. If someone needs something, you should leave it alone. And if you don’t need something, you should drop it or give it to someone who does.
  34. As he walks through the streets, his parents introduce him to people he’s never seen before, saying, “This is your uncle and this is your aunt and this is your cousin.” These people may be roddun or they may be human or they may be haffun, but they are all kin. He learns that the shop owner at the end of the street is his uncle because he protected his father from the City Watch. He learns that the Madame in charge of the brothel around the corner is his aunt because she “dropped” goods for protection against the human street gangs. The City alderman is a cousin because he “dropped” a few things in exchange for keeping the streets clean of criminals. And his parents explain that all these people are family members. They are kin. And they deserve respect and protection.
  36. He also sees groups of roddun on the street all wearing similar clothes, marked with similar tattoos. He learns these are the “working families,” the tiztittl, what men call “mischiefs.” They are a family of their own, working to build their reputations, hoping to get the skitztattl’s attention.
  38. Who is the skitztattl? Glad you asked.
  40. During his youth, parents introduce our young roddun to the barrio skitztattl: the roddun men call “King Rat.” The skitztattl has the biggest mischief, has control over the most territory and demands the most respect from his fellow roddun. He is in charge of everything. Nothing happens in his barrio without him pointing a finger. He has the most respect because he has the most control and he has the most control because he has the strongest mischief. There are other King Rats in the City, but this is the one that rules over our young roddun’s barrio. And if he wants to become anything, he has to earn the King Rat’s respect.
  42. This is what our roddun learns in his youth. But that only lasts for one to two years. After that, his parents give him a stern look, a few things thrown in a pack and tell him, “Go earn respect.” Then, they kick him out the door. Either he’ll do as he’s told or he will die. Either way, it’s up to him.
  44. Adulthood
  45. A roddun reaches adulthood after only one to two years. Following those years, he learns the barrio, makes friends, makes new kin and establishes his reputation. He also does his best to find a place in a mischief.
  47. A mischief is a “working family.” It is a small group of close friends who operate within the City. For a roddun, being invited into a mischief is a great honor. It also means safety and security. Because each mischief controls a part of a barrio, he has newfound respect by the members of that barrio. But keeping that control isn’t easy. Human street gangs, thieves’ guilds, corrupt City officials and other rivals are always looking to take over a mischief ’s territory. To keep that control, the mischief has to maintain their respect, otherwise, they’ll lose their territory, and thus, lose the respect of King Rat. And once you lose his respect, you’re open game.
  49. Meanwhile, our young roddun has a few dalliances with roddun ladies but finally settles on one of his choice (or, perhaps, he is her choice). There are no marriage ceremonies in roddun culture. Our male and female make a promise to stay together and raise children, and that’s all the tradition they need. Because once a roddun makes a promise, he keeps it. That’s why he never makes a promise he can’t keep. Together, they raise litters of little roddun to young adulthood and then give them a pack full of things and kick them out the door, hoping they’ll survive, but knowing they can do nothing to help them. You see, there’s a word for a roddun who keeps running back to his parents. Tstortzkee. “Mamma's boy.” And that is an epithet no roddun wants to carry. That’s why parents kick their children out, telling them, “Don’t come back until you’ve earned your reputation.” And once they close the door behind him, they might cry. But never in front of the child. He has to make it or die. That’s the way of things for the roddun.
  51. Old Age
  52. A roddun’s adult life lasts only five to ten years. He reaches middle age around fifteen years old. And once he starts slowing down, others start looking to steal his reputation. His limbs ache, his eyesight is not so keen and he’s not as fast with the blade anymore. His hair is growing grey, his scars grow deeper as his muscles start to fail. Soon, he will give his farewell speech to his mischief, saying that he can no longer run with them. Then, he goes to his family members, one by one, and gives his goodbyes. He gives everyone a gift: he won’t be needing anything where he is going.
  54. And when all of his possessions are gone, when all of his goodbyes are done, he goes to the King Rat. He tells the King Rat what he’s done for him, what he’s accomplished. A full recounting of his reputation. And when he’s done, he challenges the King Rat to a duel. The King Rat cannot refuse any challenges, and so he must accept. And because our roddun is old, because he is slow, because he is no longer strong, because his claws are dull and he has so few teeth, the King Rat kills him. But he dies adding to his reputation, “I challenged the King Rat.”
  56. And when our old roddun challenges the King Rat, the King’s eyes are full of tears. This is an old friend. A roddun who gave everything to the barrio. A roddun whose reputation was maybe even be greater than King Rat himself. And when the killing blow lands, the King falls to his knees, sobbing helplessly, as his blade spills his friend’s last drops of blood. He whispers goodbye to our old roddun and holds his head in his arms. And then, when he is gone, the King Rat stands and says, “This one was worthy of my title. It was only his age that kept him from taking it from me.”
  59. The Roddun Language
  60. The roddun language is a series of clicks, chirps and other sounds that are almost impossible to translate into the human tongue. Most of the sounds are outside the human audible range. Translating it into the human tongue would be incredibly difficult. For example, the word for their own people, if spelled out phonetically, would look something like, “tchtchleetchtiktitchleeti.” We will not burden you, dear reader, with such a labor. We already gave you a difficult enough task with the elven language.
  62. Most of the “roddun language” you will find in this chapter are roddun-modified words from the human tongue. Most of it is gutter speak, slang and jargon because that’s the kind of language the roddun have encountered. Another reason for the nobility and “higher-ups” to think of the roddun as filthy, dirty beasts: they all speak like sailors.
  64. Instead of forcing men to learn their own language, the roddun adopted human sounding words and phrases. Thus, the term, “roddun.” It is a word men understand (their own word for “rat”) and makes it easier for both races to communicate.
  66. When the roddun speak the human tongue, they do it with a distinct accent. The roddun are better at making some sounds than others (high pitched clicks and chirps), and those are emphasized in their speech. Other sounds are less pronounced.
  68. The written roddun language is a series of hieroglyphic symbols. There are many nouns, no adjectives or adverbs and only a few verbs. It is a language of dots and dashes, impressed onto paper, wood or even drawn in the dirt. Most often, it is carved into stone walls. The roddun run their fingers over the impressions, reading the symbols with touch alone. Roddun keep their language a guarded secret; only a few very ambitious scholars have learned a handful of words.
  71. Kinship
  72. When first studying roddun culture, human scholars understandably misunderstood a particular term. They translated it as “family.” But the term does not mean family. The proper translation was “people I know.”
  74. Every roddun has a number of families. Human scholars have called these “circles of kinship.” Imagine a small circle. Now, draw a larger circle around that one. And yet a larger circle. This is how the roddun see the world: in circles of kinship.
  76. For a roddun, his closest kin (or, “first circle”) is his immediate family: his parents and any siblings. His second circle is other relatives such as aunts, uncles or cousins. His third circle is people he trusts. His fourth circle is people he knows. His fifth circle is people he does not know. (Roddun often refer to these as “first kin,” “second kin,” “third kin” and so on.)
  78. The roddun do not see morality as humans do. A roddun bases his actions on kinship. This has confused human scholars for decades, making roddun behavior seem haphazard and chaotic, when in fact, it makes perfect sense if you understand it.
  80. For a roddun, all behavior stems from one question: “How close are you to me?” A roddun will never lie, steal or kill someone he considers closest kin. That kind of behavior is seen as the highest crime. If he is forced to choose between someone who is closest kin and second kin, he will always choose closest kin.
  82. The further away you are from a roddun, the less “moral” he feels he must act toward you. Someone who is fourth kin does not deserve honesty, integrity or even respect. And someone who is fifth kin... well, what has he ever done for you?
  84. Of course, saying “always” and “never” in these kind of circumstances is using a bit of hyperbole. There are always circumstances where a roddun is forced to choose between kin, and sometimes, he goes against what is expected. What maintains his adherence to the roddun ethic is society. If he is seen as one who breaks kinship, other roddun will shun him. Thus, if he wants to break kinship, he must do it secretly. But most roddun keep to the code of kinship. It makes life easier, cleaner and simpler.
  86. Until it gets complicated.
  88. It was this outlook that gave human scholars such problems when trying to interpret roddun behavior. At times, they were caring and compassionate. But other times, they were ruthless and brutal. It wasn’t until scholars gained a grasp on kinship that their behavior started making sense.
  91. A Roddun Barrio
  92. The key to understanding the roddun is an understanding of how a roddun-controlled barrio works.
  94. First, each human City is divided into different districts, or barrios (for more details, see The Reign of Men). The roddun moved into the Cities (with different degrees of success, see below) and adopted certain barrios of their own. They chose barrios that men had forgotten, or as the roddun would say, “dropped.” These were the rundown slums where the City Watch never traveled. They were ruled by criminal gangs, often using shakedowns and extortion tactics. The roddun moved in, provided protection against those gangs and essentially took over. Now, each barrio is governed by a skitztattl with many mischiefs running around, all trying to impress him and earn respect. Let’s take a look at a roddun-controlled barrio from the top, down.
  96. King Rat
  97. “You have come to me,” says the King Rat, “telling me a story of your daughter and how these men have beaten and harmed her.” He shuffles in the dark room. “You have always offered my brothers a warm place when the rains came. Always kept their bellies full. Always hidden them when guards came to harm them. You have put yourself in danger to protect my own.” The King Rat makes a small noise in the back of his throat. “Of course I will do this thing for you. You have done so much for me. Such a small gratitude for the great kindness you have shown us.”
  99. Each barrio has its own mischiefs. These gangs of roddun keeps the barrio safe from miscreants. Mischiefs keep the peace in the lower city but even they answer to a single roddun. Humans call him “King Rat.” The roddun call him skitztattl, which translates as “poppa.”
  101. The King Rat has a mischief of his own— usually the largest mischief in the barrio. He settles disputes between the mischiefs and directs them in times of trouble.
  103. Typically, the King Rat serves his role until he dies. (Roddun usually live to about thirty years old.) After he dies, another must fill his role. To become King Rat, a roddun must go to all the other mischiefs and ask, “How can I earn your gratitude?” They tell him what must be done. If he can accomplish that goal, he becomes the new King Rat. Of course, the difficulty of the requests is based on how much that mischief wants the roddun in question to become the King Rat.
  105. The King Rat maintains his position through showing his teeth. He is strong and can accomplish what others ask of him. If a King Rat says he will do a thing and fails in fulfilling the request, his title is in jeopardy. If another roddun can fulfill the request, there is a chance the mischiefs may recognize him as King Rat instead. This transfer of power is rare, but it has happened.
  107. But there is another way to become King Rat: by killing the current skitztattl. A roddun who does that gains the title and authority over the neighborhood. Challenging the King Rat is a dangerous act. A challenge can only end in death. What’s more, a skitztattl cannot refuse any challenge. Whenever someone draws their blade before the King and utters the words, someone is going to die.
  109. Every City has its share of King Rats, but there is no “City King.” No roddun rules a single City. Each respects the others’ territories. If one skitztattl becomes too ambitious and seeks to gain more territory, the others quickly put him down. That isn’t to say that King Rats all over the Reign don't dream of becoming King over an entire City… but so far, no King Rat has done it.
  111. So far.
  114. Mischiefs
  115. Because of their unique circumstance, roddun developed their own unique niche in human cities. They remained in the slums and ghettos, staying far away from the richer, more sophisticated barrios. Organizing themselves into groups—City scholars called them “mischiefs”—they divided the barrios among themselves, serving as unofficial guardians. They routed the gangs, got rid of the Thieves' and Assassins' Guilds and kept the streets safe at night. Over many years, they became not only a vital part of city life, but an essential part as well. Over the years, the necessity of mischiefs arose. Young, ambitious roddun who sought out reputation by protecting humans from their own.
  117. Each mischief has its own leader, its own itztitl: the roddun with the highest reputation. He calls all the shots. He maintains his own territory, he answers to the King Rat, bribes City officials, maintains relations with the Guilds (including the Thieves' Guild) and makes sure his barrio is safe. If a member of his mischief questions the itztitl's judgment, the itztitl listens. He may accept the advice, he may disregard it. That’s his right. But if a member of his mischief questions his authority, that’s another matter.
  119. When a fellow roddun questions his itztitl’s authority, it is usually because he has a greater reputation than his leader. The leader has two choices at this point: accept the change in power or defend his title. If he accepts the change, he must leave the mischief and find another. He cannot rejoin his own mischief as a follower. Roddun know this never works, and thus, the tradition stands. If the itztitl refuses to withdraw his authority, the two must fight to determine who is the true leader of the mischief. The loser is either killed or thrown out of the mischief, depending on the winner’s character.
  122. Gratitude
  123. Because most City Watchmen refused to enter the ghettos and slums, mischiefs became the only “law enforcement” the poor could rely upon. The merchants and craftsmen knew it and made sure the mischiefs knew it, too. In the lower city, a roddun hardly ever pays for anything. In the pub, his tankard is always full and his plate is never empty. If he needs a new leather jerkin, the leather worker makes sure he gets it. Their knives are always sharp and the ends of their cloaks are never tattered.
  125. This exchange—favors for protection—is what the roddun call tseet, or “gratitude.” If you do something for someone, they should show gratitude in a tangible way. Not with a “thank you,” but with something you can hold—preferably, something you can eat. Above all other things—tools, weapons, clothes—roddun value food. Food keeps you alive. Everything else is eetsl—or, “comfort.” Eetsl makes life easier. But to keep on living, a roddun needs food. It is one of the reasons roddun don’t understand the value of coins; you can’t eat them and they only seem to serve as a lazy way to say thank you. You didn’t give me something in return, you gave me something that will allow me to get something for myself. Sotzo. “Lazy.”
  128. Teeth
  129. Another important part of roddun psychology is the concept of tetna, or “teeth.” If a roddun is dangerous, he has teeth. If he is clever, if he is strong, if he is a good fighter, he has teeth. When a roddun says, “He has teeth,” it means, “He is someone you just don’t want to mess with.”
  131. When roddun show their displeasure, they show their teeth. “Look, my mouth is full of sharp, angry things. Don’t make me use them.”
  133. Roddun don’t only use tetna in context to themselves. Other dangerous things—dragons, ogres and other large dangers—also have tetna. But a beautiful woman can have tetna as well. Or a storm. Or a disease. Anything that threatens safety or security can have teeth.
  135. If a roddun breaks the rules of a mischief, his fellows will punish him by knocking out one or more of his teeth. That way, when a roddun shows his teeth, and a few are missing, others know exactly how dangerous he is.
  138. Take What You Need
  139. The roddun principle of tstsotsl, or “Take what you need” is another part of roddun culture that has confused many human scholars. Roddun only carry what they need. The idea of “pack rats” is completely foreign to them. “Why would you keep things you can’t use?”
  141. What’s more, they feel free to take something they feel someone else doesn’t need. A roddun in a handsome mansion may look at a fork on the table and stick it in his pocket. “They have ten,” he would say. “They only need one. And I don’t have one, so I need it.” Likewise, they could be in a blacksmiths, find a sword they like and take it. “He has dozens,” he would say. “I only need one.” It’s a common rule among roddun: only take what someone else doesn’t need. Roddun seldom, if ever, steal from children, the infirm, from widows or the poor. Those people obviously need everything they have.
  143. But the rich… that’s a different story.
  146. Taking vs. Gratitude
  147. At first glance, it would seem “Take what you need” would completely conflict with the concept of gratitude. One says, “I take what I need” and the other clearly states, “Give back when someone gives to you.” But a closer look at the two concepts shows how they work together—at least, in the roddun mind.
  149. Gratitude only comes into play with those the roddun feel kinship with. Roddun feel a deep connection with the barrios they live in. Just taking a sword from the blacksmith would violate gratitude. If you want the sword, you give the blacksmith something of equal value in return.
  151. On the other hand, the rich snobs who live on the other side of town are not part of the roddun’s community, they aren’t kin, and therefore, the roddun feel no obligation to show them gratitude.
  153. Also, the rich obviously do not understand gratitude. They hoard things that other people need. Not because they need them, but because they want them. That’s selfish. “Thus,” thinks the roddun, “if I take something that has so little value to him, he should not get so upset.”
  155. Some roddun have even gone so far as to offer gratitude to the rich they take from… they exchange the item with something of equal value. At least, of equal value to the roddun. So, in some opulent mansion, a noble wakes up to find one of his horses stolen, and in its place, he finds a gold coin.
  157. In the roddun’s mind, an equal trade.
  160. Junk Magic
  161. About twenty years after they fi rst arrived, human wizards began noticing a strange phenomenon: the roddun were using magic. With no formal training, these roddun were casting rudimentary spells with mixed results. Sometimes their efforts were successful. Other times, the effects simply fizzled. And then there were the explosions...
  163. After some research, it was discovered the roddun had been watching the wizards closely, imitating their movements. The roddun had an affinity for human (arcane) magic and taught themselves using “discarded” scrolls and tomes. (”The humans dropped them...”) The scrolls and tomes turned out to be ancient, unused relics held in guild museums. Precious for their antiquity, but filled with simple, routine spells, the books somehow found their way into roddun hands and the roddun put them to good use.
  165. While the Wizards' Guild’s official policy has been to forbid any unauthorized use of magic, each City has its own standards. Some Cities completely outlaw unlicensed magic, others simply call for a tax on the possession of tomes and spells. When the roddun began using magic, all of those already complicated issues became even more complicated.
  167. Non-humans using what the Reign viewed as human magic. The very notion sent a fury through the Senate. Senators called on a Reignwide ban, but individual Cities rejected the motion; they wanted autonomy on making that decision. And thus, each City has its own way of dealing with the roddun and their “junk magic.”
  170. Tzitik: Gemstone Magic
  171. The roddun have not only “picked up” the dropped arcane magic of men, but have picked up another kind of magic as well.
  173. The uvandir, digging in their vast mines, brought with them a kind of magic men had never seen before—and still do not fully understand. It involves the use of gemstones, tapping into some kind of innate power, and unleashing it on the world. Th e roddun saw this magic and noticed that the uvandir only used highly valuable stones, discarding the less valuable ones. To a roddun mind, this meant, “You don’t need that.” And before anyone knew it, the roddun were using gemstones.
  175. They call it tzitik. The word is difficult to translate, but essentially means, “what the little ones dropped.” Using the gemstones, roddun have discovered they can emphasize strengths already present in their own race. They can climb faster, their teeth and claws are sharper and harder, their senses amplify beyond normal sensitivity.
  178. The Skootztik
  179. The roddun have a delicate situation with the Reign of Men. While the poorer parts of the Cities appreciate them, the richer parts are less sympathetic. To protect that relationship, every King Rat has a special tool: the skootztik.
  181. Translating skootztik is difficult for it has many meanings, but the most literal translation is, “the one who drops my problems.” A more concise translation is “troubleshooter.” And that’s exactly what the skootztik does.
  183. Not many roddun know the skootztik exist. Many consider them a myth or just an urban legend. A shadowed warrior who serves the King Rat, making his problems vanish. An assassin who makes every kill look like a natural event or an accident. He enters the household of a Governor who won’t be bribed, who wants to see the roddun removed from the City, and sneaks right back out without anyone ever knowing. And in the morning, the Governor is dead. How? He tripped on his carpet and fell face-first into the fireplace. What a tragic accident. And, of course, rumors are the King Rat had the Governor killed, but there’s never any evidence of foul play. And when City officials ask the roddun what happened, they just shrug and shake their heads. And when the City officials ask about an invisible assassin, the roddun snicker. “Believe that story do you?” And they walk away, laughing about the foolishness of men.
  185. But the skootztik are real. And they are fully capable of everything the legends say about them. They can run along the walls as easily as running across the street. They vanish in plain sight. They use explosives and other tools to distract and disarm their opponents and make perfect assassinations that look like perfect accidents.
  187. More than that, the skootztik utilize the power of gemstone magic better than any other roddun. Those who show a skill for this kind of magic in their youth are often chosen by other skootztik for training. The youths are raised learning how to tap into that energy, focus it, and release it in the world to serve King Rat and the roddun people.
  190. The Cities
  191. Each of the Cities in the Reign of Men view roddun differently. Listed below are each of the Cities and the roddun relations with men.
  193. The Capital City of Nevarnare
  194. The City of Nevarnare is too big for the Reign to manage as it is. How is it going to get rid of the roddun? In fact, Nevarnare is really two Cities: the Upper City and the Lower City. The Senate—and its wealthy families—all but monopolized the City Watch, leaving the Lower City a place of violence and crime. But then the Blue Plague swept through Nevarnare and soon thereafter, the roddun arrived. Within one generation, the roddun had all but taken over the duty of protecting the Lower City from crime and violence. In general, the people of the Lowers view them as neighbors, even going so far to learn basic roddun vocabulary and customs.
  196. But in the Upper City, the wealthy Senate families have a different attitude toward the roddun: they ignore them. They even go far as to deny their existence. “No, I have never seen a ‘rat man,’” Ylven Savani said, “and I doubt they are anything other than wild slum talk.”
  198. “Diseased, dirty rats that walk like men?” Senator Ishan Toval asked. “what human would tolerate such filth in their home?”
  200. The City of Ajun
  201. In the City of Ajun, the roddun have found a place among the scholars and philosophers. Unwilling to face the risks themselves, the colleges hire the roddun to root out ancient ruins, seeking out the treasures therein. They also use the roddun as envoys, carrying messages between colleges. And, finally, they use the roddun to steal old books from rival universities.
  203. Yes, the roddun have truly found a place in Ajun. And because they are so accepted, their hold on the poorer parts of the City has started to encroach on the richer parts of the City as well. With free access to the universities, the roddun started picking up old books, learning the City’s laws and are becoming very familiar with real estate regulations. Using humans as fronts, they have begun to purchase land and buildings. To what end? Only the roddun know.
  205. The City of Ashcolmb
  206. In the City of Ashcolmb, the humans are very suspicious of the roddun. Then again, find me a citizen of Ashcolmb who doesn’t view general suspicion as a virtue. The sorcerers of Ashcolmb see the roddun as an opportunity to gain materials for arcane experiments that standard (legal) channels will not allow. But they have another use for the roddun: contract assassinations.
  208. Calling the sorcerers of Ashcolmb, “cut-throat” is like calling a rabid dog, “unfriendly.” As such, when rivals seek to undo each other, they usually call on a favor from their local King Rat. While they do not know how the roddun do it, they do know that when the roddun get an order for a murder, nobody ever asks any questions.
  210. On the other hand, the vice lords of Ashcolmb are unhappy with the amount of control the roddun are gaining. The various crime lords have clashed with King Rats before, and while they do not look forward to open warfare on the streets, it seems all but inevitable.
  212. The City of Jinix
  213. In the City of Jinix, there is a war. You would not know it by looking at the City, but its victims are in plain sight. Every shop keeper, every tavern owner, every person who walks the streets after dark knows they are nothing more than collateral damage in this war. And there is nothing anyone can do about it.
  215. The battles are fought between the Thieves’ Guilds and the roddun mischiefs and the casualties are hidden from view. Neither side wants the City Watch to get involved—the City Watch that isn’t under their influence, that is—and they certainly don’t want to draw the attention of any palatines. And so, the casualties stack up and the invisible war continues.
  217. But the Reign has begun to notice the streams of blood flowing from Jinix’s streets and the Senate is now asking questions. What is going on in Jinix’s winding streets? Of course, the Governor and other officials deny knowledge of anything. They’d better. They don’t want to end up on the long list of casualties.
  219. The City of Millford
  220. The City of Millford does not understand why other Cities haven’t embraced the roddun. In fact, you can’t go anywhere in Millford without running into the roddun. On the streets, in the taverns, in the City Hall… the roddun are everywhere. And they seem to be running everything. While the roddun are not allowed to hold any official titles in the City (or the rest of the Reign), Millford is the only City in the Reign where the roddun openly serve in the City Watch.
  222. And for the people of Millford, that works out just fine.
  224. The City of Shavay
  225. In the City of Shavay, the roddun have undertaken roles unheard of in other Cities. Shavay is a transitory City with most of its members traveling to and from other Cities. Thus, the roddun fulfill the duties that humans take up in other Cities. The roddun of Shavay protect the City, supplementing its Watch, cleaning its streets and otherwise take care of the City while men are gone.
  227. However, while the roddun are forbidden from entering the City’s various post offices, they protect them just the same. In fact, the roddun are nearly fanatical about protecting the post offices, a fact observed by Shavay scholar Isnem Vanir. He said, “With the notion of ‘dropping’ being so prevalent in roddun culture, one would assume they would see no importance at all in letter-writing and sending. But the opposite is true. Something that must be taken into account when writing of the roddun.”
  229. The City of Tamerclimb
  230. Because of its isolated location, Tamerclimb reported the least number of victims from the Plague. Not only that, but it was also the last City to become infected. Thus, the palatines had a great deal of time to prepare. That meant there were few barrios for the roddun to occupy when the Plague hit.
  232. At first, the palatines hated the roddun and struck them down quickly, but the roddun refused to defend themselves against the purge, which quickly turned public opinion. Not only that, but the roddun also adopted the high standards of virtue required from the palatine, showing mercy and charity. While Tamerclimb has not fully embraced the roddun, they have grown to see them as something more than dirty rats. One visitor said, “They treat the rats like favorite pets in Tamerclimb. It is both sweet and a little condescending.”
  234. Despite all this, the roddun have a difficult time getting a foothold in Tamerclimb. They are in the City’s barrios, but their standard tactics are often thwarted by the ever-vigilant City Watch.
  236. One roddun has even been known to call himself a palatine, a claim that nearly got him killed on two occasions. But he defended himself well, disarming his opponents without causing injury to them (the same could not be said of his opponents). His actions have won the favor of a few of the palatines of Tamerclimb, but still others would rather see the dirty rat dead. If only he wasn’t so good with that sword...
  238. The City of Tomkin
  239. Let’s not mince words: Auntie Rose, the street queen of Tomkin, hates the dirty, stinking rats and there is no way she’s going to let them in to her City.
  241. No. Bloody. Way.
  243. When you find a rat, kill it. End of discussion.
  245. The City of Vanta
  246. The roddun have divided the City of Vanta. At first, they were allowed in the City because of what they did during the Plague, but when they made moves to take over the lower barrios, the City officials turned against them. It was a bloody purge that ended with the roddun hiding underground and the men of Vanta believing they had gotten rid of the menace for good.
  248. That was a few years ago. And vanity has, once again, proven to be the Reign’s greatest weakness.
  250. The roddun returned in great numbers, claiming portions of the City as their own, openly defying the City’s authorities. The Mayor has sent legions into the lower barrios looking to root them out, but the barrios protect the rats, hiding them from harm. Then, after the soldiers are gone, the roddun return to their business of running their barrios from the darkness, sabotaging the authority of the City whenever they can. Buildings catch on fire, City officials are found with cut throats and terror reigns.
  252. It is open warfare in Vanta. The Senate has given the Governor a deadline for dealing with the problem, but he has ignored their warnings. He will deal with the rat problem one way or another. And he will solve it the way all men from Vanta solve their problems: with cold steel.
  254. The City of Vinnick
  255. Vinnick is the City where the roddun first learned how to use magic. Learning the art from discarded scrolls and books, they nearly destroyed an entire barrio with their “experiments.” The Wizards' Guild of Vinnick had to make a decision what to do with the roddun. They knew making magic illegal for them would only cause more problems, so instead, they allowed the roddun to join the Guild, gain formal training and made roddun using magic in the City a legal right.
  257. The roddun said, “Thank you, but we’ll train ourselves. But still, thank you for your permission!”
  259. The guilds didn’t like that answer, so they changed the law. Now, the roddun must join Guilds in order to use magic. And while they are members, most roddun still ignore the lessons. They must pay membership dues, must attend meetings, but nothing in the Guild laws ever mandated lessons, and so, the roddun just ignored that part of the Guild's services.
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