The Slitherin are a race of ratfolk native to the Dungeons & Dragons setting of the Scarred Lands. Somewhat Skaven-like, slitherins are a Titanspawn breed that emerged after the divine war, when rats fed upon the scraps of Titanic gore left behind by the battles and mutated into a race of humanoid creatures. As such, there are multiple different subspecies based on precisely which Titan they worship and whose flesh they feed upon.
Scarred Lands 2nd edition added "Redeemed" Slitherins, ratfolk who chose to ally themselves with the godly races, as a PC option.
Slitherin, also known as "Ratmen", first appeared in the first of the three Creature Collection splatbooks, with lore and statistics for Common Slitherin, and the Brown Gorger, Diseased, Foamer and Red Witch tribes. The 2nd Creature Collection would add three more tribes; Daywalker, Stalker, and White Wraith. Only the Diseased, Daywalker (renamed Dunewalker), Foamer and Red Witch tribes have appeared in Scarred Lands 2nd edition so far.
The average slitherin is a medium-sized, furry humanoid with rodent-like heads and tails, whose long torso and equal-length arms and legs gives them a strange appearance. They come in many colors, but share the trait of red eyes. They are filthy creatures, who know nothing of cleanliness, and their habit of scavenging clothes, arms and armor without cleaning or maintaining it adds to their noisome reek and vile appearance. Different tribes have slightly different appearances; the Foamers are enormous 7ft tall creatures who resemble water rats, the Red Witches are characterized by their dimunituve size and ruddy coats, and the Daywalkers have the elongated feet, bent legs and tufted-tipped tails of hopping desert rats. To say nothing of the White Wraiths, whose translucent flesh makes them look like animate ratfolk skeletons!
The Slitheren are a superstitious race, filled with a burning fear of starvation and of their own dark titans, a fear that is kept at a fever pitch by the priesthood. Prayers are made twice daily to the priest-king for his intercession with the titans, and the Slitheren year is filled with holy days and rituals. In fact, each tribe has its own calendar of tribute events, and any co-mingling of ratmen from different nests demands observation of the holy days of all participants. Gnawed and carved into ratmen tunnels are shrines and prayer icons. The priesthood — composed strictly of albinos — watches over all these rituals in stern judgement, knowing that it is only by their efforts that the titans are appeased.
Brown Gorger Tribe
As their name implies, these medium-sized, brown-furred ratmen fed from the flesh of Gaurak the Glutton. They were the first of the nests to leave the underealm as they had ravenously devoured the rather large piece of Gaurak that created and sustained them and needed other sources of food. Their priesthood is composed of grossly obese ratmen who must be carried in order to preside over a regular schedule of holy feast days, yet their priest-king is skeletally thin and eternally hungry, unable to ever eat enough and in constant, gnawing pain. These ratmen are raiders and pillagers, sending war parties and caravans farther and farther from their settlements in search of food. Entire villages of humanoids have been enslaved and dragged beneath the earth to serve as cattle for the Gorgers. Such is their all-consuming hunger that only metal and such inedible things as gems are worn by these Slitheren — all clothing, wood and leather is inevitably devoured. Unlike the other nests, the Gorgers keep no common or giant rats, seeing them as rivals for food and as food in themselves. After defeating foes on the battlefield, Brown Gorgers cannibalize the fallen from both sides; anything edible that isn't eaten in the first frenzied feast is dragged back to the warren for future consumption.
The Diseased Tribe
Those rats that partook of the flesh of Chern the Unclean have formed the most civilized of the nests, relatively speaking, with cities hidden beneath those of other races. The Diseased even have several partially above-ground communities in the Mourning Marshes, where legend claims Chern was interred. The Diseased are dull gray in color and wear more clothing, in particular cloaks and cowls, than do other Slitheren. Perhaps this trend is due to these rats' closer association with other humanoids (beyond eating them, that is). This association is also evident in Diseased cities, which, while still dark and labyrinthine to humans, have passages that enable the ratmen to walk erect at all times.
The Diseased priesthood is divided into orders, each of which is responsible for nurturing a clutch of slaves bred as hosts for different plagues and ailments. The Order of the Scarlet Shaking Pox maintains almost 100 humanoids in various stages of the disease, for example, and introduces captives when necessary to insure that the pox is available to be unleashed when needed. While rivalries exist among the orders, there is a limit to how far such conflicts can go; allowing a disease to die out would be considered an offense to the titans. Given their capacity for cooperation, the Diseased are the most likely ratmen to seek joint ventures with other nests, particularly when they require brute strength for conquests. Usually, however, the diseases they inflict for weeks upon villages and other targets make for easy victories. And while the Diseased prefer to attack from a distance, they have bred a race of depraved humanoids called the dead eaters to serve as their shock troops.
All of these strategies for domination and terror are concocted by the Diseased priest-king, a robed and cowled figure whose concealed body twitches and pulses as he slumps on his throne. His whispered plans for conquest are for the ears of his priesthood alone.
These are the largest of the Slitheren — seven feet tall at their shoulders, with black oily fur and short, slightly flattened prehensile tails. They are the most barbaric of the ratmen, if that's possible, and are the bane of the seas, having been weaned on the hate-maddened blood of Kadum the Mountainshaker. These ratmen now live only for war and slaughter. Semi-aquatic by nature, they churn out of the water, surrounded by packs of giant rats to rend and tear the life from the unprepared. Instead of dwelling in tunnels, the Foamers reside on bloodstained and half-sunken boats and ships they have captured, sometimes lashing them together as floating bases. Not possessing sailing skills, they rely on captured slaves to propel these makeshift craft, either by sail or oar. In addition to propelling their ships, Foamers' slaves are used to perform any task that is not combat-related, as the ratmen consider such chores beneath true warriors.
The Foamer priesthood is comprised of warbands' generals and admirals, with their massive 10-foot-tall priest-king being the most bloodthirsty berserker of them all. His white fur is crusted black by the oceans of blood through which he has waded, and his mad eyes always search for new victims. As might be expected, Foamer priests' rituals are based on blood and slaughter, often pitting captured humanoids against each other in battles to the death.
Red Witch Tribe
From the flesh of Mormo comes the most terrifying and mysterious of the ratmen, and also the smallest in number. The Red Witches have been more heavily imprinted by the will and ways of their titan than has any other breed of Slitheren. These vermin are the shortest ratmen, as well, typically standing five feet tall, with reddish fur, and with little interest in armor or weapons. Their power derives from a necromantic or illusionary ability developed by rigorous and deadly training rituals designed to insure that only the wiliest and deadliest spell-casters survive. The Red Witches' priesthood is actually a matriarchy consisting of arch-magi who take groups of lesser male mages, up to two dozen, as covens.
These small bands of ratmen seek out areas of magical power and establish underground bases nearby. Their havens are filled with traps, illusions and the witches' undead servitors. As they absorb and extract the local magical energy, the witches ingest various potions and powders designed to inspire hallucinatory visions to guide their paths into the future. The resulting prophecies are called the Gifts of Mormo. The most powerful and telling prophetess is the Witch-Queen, who reclines in a chamber that wafts with hallucinatory mists. She is one of the extremely rare shapeshifters among the Red Witches, capable of assuming the form of a giant rat or a member of any of the humanoid races (although she prefers that of a hauntingly beautiful, half-naked human woman). In this form, she amuses herself decadently with her humanoid slaves.
There is one other way that the Witches are unlike the other nests: Some lone ratmen go off on their own to pursue research they don't care to share with the others. These individuals sometimes find their way into civilization, if that's where their visions take them.
Of all Slitheren, Daywalkers' existence has perhaps changed most from their days as nocturnal vermin. They once spent their days sheltering from the desert heat, emerging only at night to ferret out drying and decaying carccasses to eat. Now, as ratmen, Daywalkers stride under the burning wasteland sun in tribute to the titan Thulkas, whom they venerate. These ratmen tribes gather around the smoldering embers that were scattered when Corean forged the Father of Fire into an arrow before Tanil then fired the titan into the sun. Indeed, the Daywalkers believe that all deserts of the Scarred Lands were created where such sparks landed, which may be true, for these Slitheren are found in most arid lands.
The transformation that created Daywalkers resulted more from magic than from feating upon titan remains. They gained supernatural capabilities from the burning embers arounde which their tribes emerged. To this day, each tribe feeds Thulkas' fire by gathering all wood and combustible materials they can find in the wastes, in tribute to their master. Seasoned desert travelers who see light on the night horizon know to avoid it, for fear that the ratmen may try to use them to fuel Thulkas' rage.
These sun-bleached Slitheren gain their name for foregoing their nightly existence and honoring their new lord by traveling under the sun by day, so that he may see them, know they worship him and take solace in his imprisonment. Daywalking is not pleasant to these vermin, however, and they often wrap themselves in strips of cloth and gauze, even if for psychological rather than physical comfort from the burning heat.
Unlike most Slitheren, Stalkers are loners who travel the Scarred Lands tracking and slaying prey. Sometimes they hunt for money, sometimes simply for the thrill of the chase. In this, they are true to their supposed heritage as the scions of Hrinruuk. These ratmen claim to have been created when titans feasted upon the titan's headless body as it occasionally rested during its search for its skull. This heritage would certainly explain the Stalkers' uncanny tracking abilities and innate ability to tame and control wild beasts, as the Hunter could.
Stalkers are the Slitheren that city dwellers are most likely to have encountered, if such people have ever laid eyes on a ratman. These vermin occasional visit establishments of ill repute in the worst sections of towns. They are almost common in the cities ruled by Virduk, as the king's bounty on Vigil medallions and his need for trackers keeps the rats profitably employed.
Cloaked in the dark hoods and capes they prefer when dealing with civilization, Stalkers may be on the hunt or in search of new targets when encountered. Most humanoids prefer to avoid the man-sized, gray-furred killers, no matter what their agenda is. This is not solely due to the rats' reputation as bounty hunters, but to Stalkers' response to anyone who defeats one of their number. Soon after the kill, other Stalkers hunt the individual responsible. They are not interested in revenge - they seek to prove themselves against one capable of defeating one of their own.
White Wraith Tribe
Truly the most bizarre of the ratmen, White Wraiths appear to be animated Slitheren skeletons. All their fleshy parts are translucent to the point of invisibility. They often wear tatters of cloth as protection from the elements, and totemic bits of bone and unworked gems as jewelry, but avoid armor. They prefer to rely on the defenses created by their mutated forms.
No book of lore records from whence these twisted creatures came, but White Wraiths' legends speak of the day when their greatest war band will be judged worthy to return to their Great Shaman and fight in a battle to free their titan creator Gulaben, Lady of the Winds, from her imprisonment by the gods. Their barbaric packs range across the Scarred Lands, ambushing caravans in the wilderness and howling out of the hills to ravage settlements, hoping to be found worthy to join the Great Shaman.
The White Wraith priesthood consists of many shamans who grimly drive their bands to greater and greater heights of pillaging, each priest trying to prove his band and himself to the legendary Great Shaman.
The Great Shaman is a mythical figure described as a giant half-rat/half-whirlwind that watches and judges all White Wraiths from his place at the feet of the bound Gulaben. The Wraiths believe it is he who grants the riesthood the ability to summon the two types of creatures traditionally called for battle: skeletons for combat and air spirits for use as spies and messences. White Wraith shamans also officiate over rituals in which living prisoners are boiled or burned alive and their naked skeletons are raised to become servants of the warband, while their ghosts are bound as scouts.
Much like the Manticora, the slitherin were retconned in Scarred Lands 2nd edition. In this new version, the slitherin actually emerged during the Titanswar/Divine War itself, having first been created by Chern's foul vitality and desire for revenge. However, whilst initially frenzied beasts gripped with holy fury by the Titanic ichors coursing in their veins, as the titans fell, the slitherin's madness began to cool; whole packs at a time would suddenly find themselves stopping and thinking "hey, why are we serving these assholes anyway?" Whilst some tribes remained loyal to their creators, the majority of the slitherin ultimately fled the Titans' ranks to seek to elevate themselves above the barbarism of their birth.
Slitherin enclaves sprang up throughout Scarn, especially in cities near the Mourning Marsh, the slitherin birthplace. The divine races, for the most part, still occupied by the war, paid little attention to this diaspora at first. In some cases, the ratfolk were actually welcomed as a form of cheap labor. As a result, today the slitherin are probably the best assimilated of the Redeemed races, even if they are not always trusted on an individual level.
Like their 1e predecessors, Slitherin are human-sized rat people, but a bit shorter than most humans on average. Standing upright, most have a crouching posture that makes them seem even shorter than they are. Aside from their muscular legs, slitherin have a lithe, wiry build, particularly in the upper body, with relatively wide hips and narrow shoulders. A slitherin face is more ratlike than human, and a slitherin has a long, agile tail like that of a rat. Most of a ratfolk’s body is covered in short, coarse fur, which ranges widely in color from white and gray to black and brown; in some cases their fur is a patchwork of these colors. Ratfolk often wear clothing similar to that of humans, with some modifications to account for their tails - unlike their 1e predecessors, 2e slitherin are perfectly aware of what "cleanliness" is, and take great care in their personal grooming, at least those who have integrated into godspawn society. Slitherin pride themselves on their tails, adorning them with rings or other ornate decorations and tattoos.
The ratfolk have little culture or history of their own, and as a race, they are still adjusting to being more than slaves of the titans. As a result, many slitherin do not care much about order or structure. The prevailing theme among the ratfolk is novelty; theirs is a culture of the new. Slitherin are not ones to care about tradition, and their society reflects this worldview. Various enclaves of slitherin, therefore, may have wildly different approaches to government or economics, based on whatever concept is in vogue at the moment. Fashion trends, music tastes, and even fighting techniques come and go with a flurry. This attitude makes some slitherin seem disorganized and scatterbrained, but for the ratfolk, the expression of new ideas, discoveries, talents, and identities is the most important contribution to society. This attitude also gives each slitherin enclave its own unique identity, distinct and possibly at odds with other slitherin groups. From the outside, slitherin enclaves seem to be havens for chaos, with a mildly anarchist attitude. But for the slitherin, this way of life is efficient and honest. To foreigners, the Walled Warren — probably the most authoritarian slitherin outpost on Ghelspad — still seems chaotic and indulgent, especially for a supposedly military city.
The slitherin have established a notable presence in many nations across Ghelspad. Though not universally welcomed, they are at least tolerated by most major governments and societies. Because the ratfolk have very little in the way of their own culture, and they value new things and new ideas, they often find it very easy to acclimate to new ways of living and new social fabrics. In recent years, slitherin have become sought after for their engineering prowess and building skills, especially since their construction of the Walled Warren. Slitherin engineers count as some of the most advanced of the Scarred Lands, due primarily to their willingness to work with nontraditional materials or use unproven theories and practices. Even the dwarves have on occasion come to marvel at ratfolk engineering talent.
Slitherin fought alongside the titans during the Divine War, but they do not maintain any allegiance to the fallen ones. Their obedience was an accident of birth. In fact, many slitherin do not revere the Eight Victors, either — not out of anger or faithlessness, but out of pragmatism. If slitherin do embrace a god, they most likely choose Enkili for her ambiguous nature or Tanil, whose strength and courage in the face of adversity some find admirable. Other slitherin have chosen to follow Hedrada, the god of civilization, for his guidance in engineering and construction. Fierce individuality is normal among the ratfolk, and the typical slitherin is more likely to look out for herself than to worry about the common good. As a reflection of their ambivalence, many slitherin hold to chaotic or neutral alignments across the spectrum.
Not all slitherin have shaken off the titans’ yoke. Some wandering tribes of titan worshipers still infest the Mourning Marshes and even wander the Sorporata Swamp. Most of these tribes avoid civilized lands, and even other ratfolk view them as dangerous lunatics. Some have also found a home among the titan-worshiping sects of asaatthi in the Desert Paradise.
As a new race, ratfolk have been adventuring for almost as long as they’ve existed. Slitherin are skilled at entering places where other races have never even dared venture, particularly ruins, marshes, and swamps. In modern times, many adventuring parties relish the addition of the slitherin, especially those skilled in stealth and trap-finding. And the ratfolk are eager to oblige, particularly if doing so means personal glory or riches, both of which are highly prized in slitherin society.
Male Names: Abap, Dinesh, Gerdaht, Lashkim, Malakwar, Oprit, Sidatru, Varaj, Yurdet
Female Names: Balaka, Choonish, Garesh, Ithrin, Noomya, Rrdip, Sivun, Timprut, Wafek
5e PC Stats
The "Redeemed" Slitherin became a playable race in the 5e relaunch of the Scarred Lands setting, where they showed up in the Player's Guide. They even had a unique Barbarian subclass, the Path of the Tailfighter, which they shared with the asaatthi. As for stats...
- +2 Constitution, +1 Dexterity OR +1 Intelligence
- Base speed 30 feet, Climb speed 30 feet
- Darkvision 60 feet
- Bite: Your bite attack is a weapon that deals 1d3 slashing damage and which has the Finesse quality. You have proficiency in your bite attack.
- Contortionist: You have Advantage on Dexterity checks made to escape from restraints, escape Grapples, and to squeeze through tight spaces.
- Disease Resistance: You have Advantage on saving throws against disease.
- Rodent Empathy: You can communicate simple ideas to rodents through vocalization and body language.
- Sure Footed: You can always choose Athletics, Acrobatics or Stealth as one of your skill proficiencies when you select your class.
- Slitherin Combat Training: You have Proficiency in the light crossbow, shortbow and shortsword.