Ratatosk

Inspired by Norse mythology, specifically the Poetic Edda, the ratatosk are celestial humanoid squirrels who dwell in the extraplanar environment of the World Tree. Ratatosk are insatiable gossips and tricksters whose joy in gathering secrets is only eclipsed by their delight in spreading those gathered morsels of gossip in mischievous ways.

The squirrel-folk build fortified towers and sprawling tree cities in secret nooks or suspended beneath the vast branches of Yggdrasil. In most squirrel-folk communities, 70% of the population is the tiny-sized ekorre (or ratatosk,) and 25% are their larger cousins, the tradvakt (or ratatosk warlord). The last 5% are of a few lesser subraces, but these are seldom seen by outsiders.

In the byways of Yggdrasil, ratatosk often act as guides, leading planar travelers, though it is not uncommon to find squirrel-folk offering their services as couriers, thieves, or even spies. The tradvakt do not possess the planar connection of the ekorre, so they prefer using their martial skills to guard the ratatosk communities or provide protection for travelers.

Celestial Gossips

The incessant chattering of the ratatosk is not mere animalistic nattering: it is a complex web of interconnected messages relayed from squirrel-folk to squirrel-folk. Their ability to use the message spell at will provides the core of this celestial gossip network. The ratatosk visit the eagle at the top of the World Tree each day to exchange the latest news, rumors, and scuttlebutt. These tidbits flow from ratatosk to ratatosk and from them to the eagle itself in a never-ending cycle of gossip. Any traveler who wishes to learn the latest goings-on needs but ask a ratatosk. However, the little creatures cannot help but elaborate their news to make the stories better for their audience. This even extends to two listeners standing side by side. Each might hear vastly different accounts from the same ratatosk, which often leads to arguments, misunderstands, and even fighting.

Role In A Campaign

Ratatosk are divine figures who dwell on Yggdrasil itself, so their traditional role of messenger or guide seemingly takes on a divine countenance. They can act as the focus of a quest—perhaps a tidbit of information needed by the heroes is known to a particular ratatosk—or as is often the case, perhaps a ratatosk went just a bit too far and shared the wrong bit of gossip with the wrong person and now needs rescue. The squirrel-folk can appear at the end of a quest as well. After defeating a major foe, perhaps a ratatosk appears to deliver important information from a divine patron or a well-deserved reward from a mysterious benefactor.

Names

The naming conventions of the squirrel-folk put the emphasis on a forename given to a child at birth. The ratatosk make no differentiation between male and female names. Names tend to be short, but highly respected families occasionally add infixes like “-ee-” or “-ekke-” to create longer names. Ratatosk who dwell in other planes sometimes take regional names.

During the course of a lifetime, a ratatosk gains and loses a number of surnames, usually a descriptive title in the form of an adjective or verb followed by a noun, such as “bristletail,” “wisetooth,” or “sharpclaw.”

Most often, a ratatosk chooses this changing surname themselves to commemorate an important milestone in their lives.

Forenames: Chiringa, Ekirp, Kerasil, Najuta, Orrin, Skirekkeret, Tiptup, Turorri

Surnames: Brightsong, Flitpaw, Jumptwig, Silentleaf

Traits

The following details provide everything needed to create ratatosk characters.

Ratatosk are insatiable tricksters. Sharing gossip from across the planes, they delight in learning secrets and spreading those tidbits of information in mischievous ways. Resembling squirrels with sleek fur and small tusks, they form close matriarchal familial units called drays within larger communities called scurries.

More adventurous ratatosk often act as planar guides and guardians, though it is not uncommon to find squirrel-folk offering their services as couriers, thieves, or even spies.

Names

The ratatosk make no differentiation between male and female names. These names tend to be short, but highly respected families occasionally add infixes like -ee- or -ekke- to create longer names. Ratatosk who dwell in other planes will sometimes take regional names.

Example Forenames: Chiringa, Daresh, Ekirp, Ekkitta, Kerasil, Najuta, Orrin, Skirekkeret, Tiptup, Turorri.

Example Surnames: Brightsong, Bristletooth, Flitpaw, Jumptwig, Silentleaf, Wisewhisker.

Traits

Your ratatosk heritage is apparent in a variety of traits you share with other ratatosk.

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2, but your Strength score decreases by 2.
  • Age. Ratatosk reach adulthood at age 10 and, due to their celestial nature, live up to 180 years.
  • Alignment. Ever curious and delighting in unpredictability, ekorre ratatosk gravitate toward chaotic alignments as they view laws as vague suggestions at best. The tradvakt tend to be slightly more focused and lawful in their thinking. Both groups tend toward good, placing value on doing the right thing, though some individuals lean more toward their darker impulses.
  • Speed. Your base walking speed is 25 feet, and you have a climb speed of 10 feet.
  • Darkvision. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
  • Grounded Celestial. You are descended from celestials, but you are strongly attuned to the mortal world. Though you are a humanoid, you are still susceptible to effects that target celestials.
  • Sharp Tusks. Your sharp tusks are natural weapons, which you can use to make unarmed strikes. If you hit with them, you deal 1 piercing damage plus 1d4 psychic damage.
  • Telepathic. You can speak telepathically to any creature you can see, provided the creature is within a number of feet of you equal to 10 times your level. You don’t need to share a language with the creature for it to understand your telepathic utterances, but the creature must be able to understand at least one language.
  • Languages. You can understand, read, and write Celestial and Common, but you speak via Telepathy.

Subraces

There are two main ratatosk subraces. The wily ekorre and the brave tradvakt. Choose one subrace below and apply the listed traits.

Ekorre (Clever Tusk)

The ekorre are the image most have in mind when discussing ratatosk. Superficially similar to squirrels, they have sleek fur, often in shades of red and brown, and tiny tusks. These celestials dwell upon Yggdrasil and all its branches. Clever, egotistical, and endlessly curious, the ekorre carry messages across the planes, sharing information from individual to individual in a never-ending gossip network.

  • Ability Score Increase. Either your Intelligence or Charisma score increases by 1.
  • Size. Ekorre ratatosk are around 1-1/2 feet tall and weigh between 20 and 50 pounds. Your size is Tiny.
  • Blessing of Yggdrasil. You are attuned to the World Tree and can tap into its power. You know the message and vicious mockery cantrips. When you reach 5th level, you can cast the mirror image spell with this trait. Once you cast a non-cantrip spell with this trait, you can’t do so again until you finish a long rest. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.
  • Diminutive Weapons. You can wield weapons with the light or finesse properties normally. You have disadvantage on attack rolls with other weapons, unable to use them effectively due to your Tiny size, and they are treated as two-handed weapons. You can’t use heavy weapons at all. A weapon specifically designed for ratatosk (or for other Tiny creatures at the GM’s discretion) are treated normally.

Tradvakt (Tree Protector)

The tradvakt, also called ratatosk warlords, believe themselves to be the guardians and protectors of Yggdrasil and the branches of the World Tree. Larger than their ekorre cousins, the tradvakt train from a young age to master weapons and battle tactics. They act to maintain order in their communities and stamp out dangers that threaten those settlements.

Tradvakt who become adventurers do so for a wide variety of reasons. Some seek a more proactive way to combat evil before it can threaten the World Tree.

Others simply wish to prove their martial skills. No matter the reason, tradvakt will rise to any challenge.

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 1.
  • Size. A typical tradvakt stands between 2 and 3 feet tall, weighing from 60 to 100 pounds. Some massive ratatosk warlords reach a towering 3-1/2 feet. Your size is Small.
  • War Chatter. Your constant chittering distracts your opponents. As a bonus action, a non-ratatosk creature within 30 feet that can hear you must succeed on a Charisma saving throw or have disadvantage on its attack rolls until the start of your next turn. The DC of the save equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Constitution bonus. Once you use this trait, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
Section 15: Copyright Notice

Ratatosk ©2022 Open Design LLC; Author: Brian Suskind.

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