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This month's newsletter for Visionary Realms' fantasy MMORPG Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen recounts the team's experiences at PAX East, provides an overview for the game's highly resourceful Ratkin race, features a lengthy Q&A session with the game's CTO and lead programmer Daniel Krenn, and offers a look at the Black Rose Keep zone that was showcased at PAX. Here are a few paragraphs about Pantheon's Ratkin to get you started:
Global Presence. Ratkin are one of the more ubiquitous races in the Western Hemisphere of Terminus. Nearly every continent has at least one colony, from Kinsgreach down to Whitethaw, with several having multiple colonies in multiple regions. As diverse as environments are, so are the types of Ratkin that inhabit them.
Ratkin are experts at resourcefulness and survival. The race excels at acquisition of goods and materials, and has a reputation for bizarrely repurposing items pilfered from more developed civilizations. Here morality is curved for Ratkin, as stealing from other races is regarded more closely to harvesting than theft. Yet to take from another Ratkin within one's own colony is an egregious crime, which may lead to the offender being cut off from the colony entirely. Abandoned and alone, most Ratkin lose their instincts to adapt and survive, and perish.
As for proof of survivability, more than a few dominant races have attempted a genocidal cleansing against Ratkin colonies, but with marginal success. More efficient means of population control are pressed military service and outright slavery.
Ratkin revere old age, in part because so few survive to achieve it. Older members of the colony, called Eldi, lead the group. Beneath them are Noka, who are both capable melee or ranged fighters and established members of the colony.
Food over Family. Ratkin are highly sensitive to the rate of growth and consumption of their colonies. Taking their instincts of resourcefulness and protectionism to the extreme, colonies will periodically eject a minority percentage of their colony without warning. Known as "vermin mania", this harsh but pervasive instinct strikes when the acquisition of resources will over time be outpaced by the growth of the colony. Though studied to a degree, little is known about what informs vermin mania apart from a pure, animalistic sensing, as Ratkin have nothing like an advanced accounting or mathematics systems.
When this occurs the ejected Ratkin are treated as intruders and even enemies. Ratkin staying with the parent colony will group and fight the smaller child group, denying them even scraps of food or access to belongings. Vermin mania is so strong that some scholars believe Ratkin are able to predict famine and drought years in advance, while others consider this a myth that simply aligns with normal Ratkin practices.
Free Screech. Ratkin have no written language or long term means of reliably documenting information. Most of their communication exists as pictographs or surprisingly intricate claw markings, which - while limited to short term expression - do an excellent job communicating within the colony. They may also use scents, paints, carvings, their own excrement, or collections of materials such as stone or bone to direct their kin.
It is worth noting that some Ratkin have shown an ability to comprehend more advanced languages, though that understanding is limited to the ear. There is debate as to whether Ratkin are unable to speak common languages simply because their tongues are unable to form words used in most spoken languages. This has only added to their reputation as shameless thieves and ignorant wretches, which is not always accurate to individual Ratkin - or colonies.