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Jinshu Shu (Metal Rat)

Tiny elemental, neutral

Armor Class 14 (natural armor)
Hit Points 25 (10d4)
Speed 20 ft., Climb 20 ft.

5 (-3) 13 (+1) 11 (+0) 4 (-3) 12 (+1) 6 (-2)

Saving Throws Dex +3, Cha +0
Skills Perception +3, Stealth +3
Damage Vulnerabilities thunder
Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons
Damage Immunities necrotic, poison
Condition Immunities exhaustion, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, unconscious
Senses darkvision 30 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages understands Terran, Ignan, and Auran but cannot speak
Challenge 2 (450 XP)


  • False Appearance. While a metal rat remains motionless it is indistinguishable from a statuette.
  • Elemental Demise. If a metal rat dies, its body will disintegrate into a pile of worthless metallic dross but will also leave behind one or two of the tiny but perfect gemstones that served as its eyes and which are worth 100 gp each.
  • Keen Smell. A metal rat has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.
  • Weakened by Fire. If a metal rat takes at least 5 points of fire damage in a round then it will lose its damage resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons until the same point in the next round.
  • Wounding Bite. A metal rat has long, strong, razorsharp fangs that can cut deeply and shear through veins, tendons, and bone and cause terrible wounds that require greater than usual effort to treat. Anyone who suffers damage from a metal rat’s bite must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw and, failing it, will take 1 point of necrotic damage at the start of each of its turns until the wound is staunched. This can be accomplished with any sort of magical healing that restores hit points to the wounded creature or a successful DC 15 Wisdom (Medicine) check.


  • Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 2 (1+1) piercing damage.
  • Deplete Oxygen. A metal rat can suck the oxygen out of an adjacent 5-foot-square, extinguishing normal flame like torches, lanterns, or campfires in such areas and forcing any air-breathing creature there to make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or become lightheaded and suffer disadvantage on attacks and ability checks for a full round. A metal rat that does this will have advantage on the next attack, saving throw, or ability check that it makes until the end of its following turn.


  • Bites. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 0 ft., one target in the swarm’s space. Hit: 14 (4d6) piercing damage, or 7 (2d6) piercing damage if the swarm has half or fewer of its hit points.


  • Deplete Oxygen. A metal rat Swarm can suck the oxygen out of its or an adjacent 5-foot-square, extinguishing normal flame like torches, lanterns, or campfires in such areas and forcing any air-breathing creature in them to make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or pass out and become unconscious. A metal rat Swarm that does this will have advantage on the next attack, saving throw, or ability check that it makes until the end of its following turn.


Jinshu Shu are elemental creatures that look like rats made of various sorts of precious metal, silver (40%) and gold (30%) being the most common, but copper (20%) and platinum (10%) also being possible (swarms of Metal Rats might consist entirely or one sort of such creature or be a mix of two or more kinds of them, as the storyteller desires). Little beasts of this sort are created on the Elemental Plane of Earth through a convergence of metallurgic, metaphysical, and elemental fire and air energies and are the size of normal rats but much heavier, typically weighing between seven and 10 pounds. They have spiky metallic hairs and eyes that look like gemstones, typically sapphires for silver rats, rubies for gold ones, emeralds for copper ones, and diamonds for platinum ones.

Even though they are elementals, Metal Rats still eat and sleep like their non-elemental cousins. They are omnivorous and can subsist on a wide variety of foods — their favorite things being rotting organic material, lilac shrubs, and wood of all sorts — and will single-mindedly devour such things when they are available unless dissuaded in some way.

Metal Rats are very adaptable and might be found almost anywhere on the Prime Material Plane, although given the choice they are most likely to inhabit places where they can find their favorite foods, to include gardens, jungles, and graveyards. They might be active at any time of day or night but are especially likely to be found foraging and engaging in other activities in the hours right after dark when the Evening Star can be seen or before dawn when the Morning Star is present.

Metal Rats are not easily spooked and will generally respond favorably to creatures — especially Humans, demihumans, humanoids, and even monkeys and apes — that are friendly or kind to them in some way (e.g., feeding them, especially delicious things like sandalwood chips).

Revered Rodents. Metal Rats are often kept as pets, animal companions, familiars, or guards by Earth-dwelling beings like Dao; Dragons, which often view them as living treasures; and people that include alchemists, jewelers, metalworkers, and necromancers. They also sometimes dwell in the temples of various deities, especially those associated with the element of Earth, treasure, craftsmen, and death, where they typically serve as companion animals or guardians. In cultures that observe the Lunar New Year and adhere to the Asian Zodiac, spellcasters often summon Metal Rats to take part in annual celebrations (e.g., with Conjure Lesser Elementals, which will summon one such creature, or conjure lesser elemental, which will summon a swarm of them). They are then displayed, doted on, marched in parades, fed treats, and otherwise honored for the duration of their stays — and, in some traditions, sacrificed at their conclusion so that their valuable remains might be added to the temple treasuries. They might also be summoned in tactical situations for purposes of things like quickly destroying wooden structures.

Good Poop. One of the things that makes Metal Rats so valued is that their scat is pure metal commensurate with the sort associated with the animal (i.e., copper, silver, gold, or platinum), and every day one will produce 2d4 pellets, each equal in weight to a normal coin. A swarm of Metal Rats will produce 6d6+4 pellets of precious metal a day and it is at the storyteller’s discretion whether these are all one sort of metal or a mix of two, three, or four types.

Destructive Devourers. Metal Rats attack inanimate wooden objects with advantage and swarms of them are therefore able to quickly destroy things like barrels, chests, doors, catapults, and the like. At the storyteller’s option, up to once per round a creature in a space occupied by a metal rat swarm must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw or have destroyed one non-magical wooden item it possesses (e.g., a quarterstaff, a wooden shield, the haft of a spear).

Equine Antipathy. Metal Rats hate horses, to include creatures of similar appearance and those that are partially equine in form (e.g., donkeys, Centaurs). In combat they will tear into such creatures recklessly, whether individually or in swarms, gaining advantage on their melee attack rolls and +2 on their damage rolls, but attacks made against them when they are doing so are also at advantage.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

“Jinshu Shu: The Metal Rat” copyright 2021, Skirmisher Publishing LLC.

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