Giant Rats

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Giant Rats
Giant Rat
Giant Rat from Ultima VII manual
First appearance: Ultima I
Last appearance: Ultima IX

The giant rats of Sosaria, Britannia and Serpent Isle are unusually large rodents, often responsible for spreading disease and infesting poorly maintained basements and sewers.

Description[edit]

Originating in the sorceries of Mondain, the giant rats of the land have steadily grown in size since their appearance in Sosaria in the early Age of Darkness, growing to size comparable to a man by the time of the Avatar's adventures in Ultima IX.

Around the time of Blackthorn's regime, these rodents of unusual size had begun to become carriers for various noxious plagues, and frequently have transmitted their infections to the unlucky victims of their bite. Fortunately, these hazardous variations on the common rodent have long dwelt mostly in the dungeons and wilderness of the land, staying far from the bastions of civilization. While not violent by nature, hunger and sickness makes the Britannian giant rat a formidable nuisance to travelers, often attacking wayfarers with little provocation.

Tan and Gray Giant Rats[edit]

Within the depth of some dungeons, these rats appear to have stratified into specific sub-species identifiable by color. Within the depths of the Abyss and other such underground systems, the giant rats have split into tan and gray populations, with the former living in drier areas closer to the surface and the latter spawning deeper within the underground. Due to their displacement from standard above ground feeding sources, the giant gray rats frequently turn to unsavory diets, and as a result, nearly all of their number spread contagion and fever with their bite.

Giant Rats on Earth[edit]

Giant rats also briefly appeared on the Avatar's home world of Earth, and could be found prowling near the residence of hero during the champion's momentary homecoming at the beginning of Ultima IX. If such creatures were summoned by forces similar to whatever pulled the Avatar back to Earth from Pagan or if the blue planet had somehow birthed monsters similar to those on Britannian soil is not clear, and the eventual fate of the hero's homelands remains unknown.

Lore[edit]

A giant rat (Ultima V, caves)
The underground passages of the Realm are prowled by oversized rodents, the result of Mondain's necromancy and an abundance of food in the form of victims of the Evil One's minions. The Sosarian Giant Rat is a vicious predator and should not be taken lightly.
The common Giant Rat, while not evil by nature, will still enter human camps in search of food. They pose a threat to any dungeon explorers foolish enough to startle them.
Natural agility and sharp teeth are rats' chief advantages. They are not strong and do not hit very hard. The mortal danger rats pose to knights comes from their capacity for passing on noxious germs and substances. Seldom do knights tangle with rats without someone in the group becoming ill with poison. At worst, the result of such an encounter is infection with plague.
These voracious, overgrown rodents have evolved over the centuries in the dank, inhospitable sewers that honeycomb the levels below some castles. Having grown immune to most poisons, they are difficult to exterminate. Even a single bite from one of these giants can cause disease or plague.
Rat2.gif

Over the centuries, the rodents of Britannia have grown ever larger (and hungrier) in the catacombs and tunnels which honeycomb this land. Natural agility and sharp teeth are these creatures' chief advantages. Even a single Giant Rat poses a significant danger for a lightly armed opponent, though an experienced warrior can slay a pack in as many blows as there are enemies. Of the rats which have bred in the Abyss, we have distinguished two varieties.
The Giant Tan Rat, commonly found in the drier upper levels, is an aggressive beast with the disgusting tactic of leaping up in order to slash with its teeth at an enemy's throat.

The Great Gray Rat is found in the lower depths, where it feeds upon the refuse washed down from higher in the chasm. Consequent to their revolting eating habits, these rats are universally infected with noxious germs which they pass on with every bite. Seldom do our Knights tangle with Great Gray Rats without someone in the party becoming ill. Fortunately, these rats can often be avoided, or driven off with a spirited defense.
This filthy, overgrown rodent is a severe hazard to the health of human beings. Immune to poison and too large to be trapped, this creature has a voracious appetite for garbage and carrion. When it roams in packs it loses its natural fear of human beings. The bite of a giant rat can cause a variety of potentially fatal diseases.
Away from towns, cities, and domestic settings, rats grow to the size of cats or even small dogs. Such rats usually live underground, eating smaller vermin, scavenging refuse left by other cave-dwellers, even occasionally cooperating to bring down larger prey. The giant tan rat is the most common of these creatures, but in the lower depths a thing called the great grey rat has been increasing its numbers. The knight who reported this to us soon succumbed to an unidentifiable feverish disease, perhaps contracted as an infection from the many bites found on her legs and torso.
Grat2.gif
Much larger and fiercer than its smaller brother, the giant rat is the king of carrion. When several are found together, what little fear they possess for humans vanishes entirely. Both here and back in Sosaria, we sought to eliminate the local population with poison, but whatever it is in their metabolism that causes them to feast on refuse has also granted them immunity to most toxins.
A larger cousin to the common rat, the giant rat has fattened itself on corpses found in places wherein only the strong survive. Attacking in numbers, these foul creatures have no fear of man, but respond well to vigorous counter attacks. Most strikes come from the side with a hasty retreat following.
- from Journal (Ultima IX)

See Also[edit]

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