Rats, mice, and other vermin were ubiquitous throughout medieval life, and an ever-present harbinger of pestilence, famine, disease, and epidemics. The Black Death was spread by rats and is estimated to have killed 30--60% of Europe's total population between 1346--53, putting the toll around 75--150 million people. 600 years later---with all the World's most grievous weapons---WWI would kill an estimated 17 million soldiers.
Keeping the rat population down was crucial work in preventing the spread of disease, and damage to food stocks. Thus, professional Rat-Catchers were always in demand and, despite their work being grim and dirty, they were actually rather respected. Even today, folklore casts the Pied Piper of Hamlin in a positive light.
In the fantastic medieval genre vermin can be driven by vampires, lycanthropes, or diabolical cunning, or grown to giant-size, or conjured as part of who knows what wicked sorcery? The Rat-Catcher could hardly be less important in the fantastic medieval wargame than he was in reality!
And so, without further preamble...
A professional Rat-Catcher is essential to every castle, city, town, and village with a pest problem---or wherever there are people. These crafty Men must frequently work in the "undesirable" places where vermin fester, including sewers, derelict basements, and catacombs, risking health and safety by proximity to diseased and rabid pests.
================================================== Rat Catcher Progression ================================================== Dice for Accu- Fighting Rat-Catcher XP mulative Hits Capability -------------------------------------------------- 1 Mouser 0 1 Man 2 Grimalkin 1,400 1+1 Man+1 3 Trapper 3,000 2 2 Men 4 Ferreter 6,000 3 3 Men/Hero−1 5 Serpenteer 12,000 3+1 3 Men/Hero−1 6 Stalker 21,000 4 4 Men/Hero 7 Hunter 40,000 5 5 Men/Hero 8 Wolfhund 70,000 5+1 5 Men/Hero 9 Piper 105,000 6 6 Men/Hero 10 Piper Lord 150,000 7 Superhero −1 11 PL, 11th 300,000 7+1 Superhero −1 12 PL, 12th 450,000 7+2 Superhero −1 -------------------------------------------------- A rat-catcher requires 150,000 XP per level beyond the 10th. A rat-catcher adds one hit-die per four levels beyond the 10th.
The Rat-Catcher learns his craft in the Underworld were vermin are and has a keen awareness of mischief and danger in such places. They can be nearly invisible and can move almost silently, surprising enemy on a throw of 3--6 on a six-sided die. When actively searching Rat-Catchers will locate secret doors with a throw of 3--6 on a six-sided die; when merely passing by they will do so with a throw of 5--6.
They are able to identify noises when listening at doors with a throw of 5--6 on a six-sided die and will note traps and slanting passages, and have good vision even in the feeblest light.
Grimalkin (2nd level) and above are immune to natural diseases and are aware of unseen opponents within 3". A Stalker (6th level) and above can even speak with vermin, in a rudimentary fashion, that are in a calm state (cf clerical Speak with Animals spell).
A Rat-Catcher can lace food with wolvesbane (or hemlock) to poison vermin via the clerics versus undead table, affecting vermin with half as many HD as the indicated undead types. In combat he is particularly effective at skulling and boning vermin, adding 1--6 hp damage versus all these including oozes and lycanthropes; the latter type will always attack a Rat-Catcher in preference to other enemy. But for all this the Rat-Catcher is no fighter; he does not employ swords or proper bows and has the magic-user's Attack Matrix. He may wear armor but mobility will be his best protection. Fortunately, he has the cleric's Saving Throw matrix.
The Rat-Catcher can identify vermin by signs or marks of their activity, and track them with a throw of 3--6 on a six-sided die. He can collect a bounty of 1 gp per hit die for each carcass he returns to the local authority (live vermin may fetch a higher price where baiting is practiced for sport).
The Rat-Catcher frequently handles cats, ferrets, serpents, and the like to root out and destroy vermin. He adjusts reaction checks by +2 in any dealings these but, alas!, the smell and appearance of him adjusts reaction checks with civilised Man-types by -1, and Lycanthropes' reactions are always adjusted by -2.
Never the less, a Piper (9th level) and above is highly sought after for his ability to charm vermin with pan pipes (or similar) for so long as he continues to play (cf magic-user Charm Animals spell). Unintelligent vermin such as slimes and oozes will be held in a quivering, immobilised state while rats and their like will follow after the Piper, mesmorised.
A Piper Lord (10th level) can establish an operation in any existing town, city, or stronghold that does not already have such--including any run by a non-player figure (even non-players have rat problems). This operation will attract 4--24 Mousers who will each generate 1--6 gp profits per month of normal practice. Any activities outside of "normal practice" remain the jurisdiction of the player.