On 5e Backgrounds: Ratcatcher


You earned a living on the streets catching rats. You got little respect from anyone and there are few that would consider you their peer. You know a bit about the underworld and a bit about tracking and a lot about ways to both kill and eat rats. You'd be surprised how often that knowledge comes in useful to fancy pants adventurer types.
Skill Proficiency: Animal Handling and Nature
Tool Proficiency: Choose one of Poisoner's Kit or Thieves' tools. Pick one Musical Instrument.
Equipment: Common clothes, Crowbar, Hunting Trap, Hooded Lantern, 2 Oil Flasks, 1d6 rat corpses in a sack, Iron Cage, Shovel, 50' Hempen Rope, A Small but Vicious Mastiff

Feature: Murine Nature

You've been chasing and catching rats for too long. You can squeeze though spaces as a small creature, no matter your size, and you have advantage on rolls versus animal venom and disease. You also have an intuitive sense about tunnels and caverns. While underground, you can generally tell which direction is north and determine which directions eventually lead  to passages up and down.

Suggested Characteristics

You do work no one else is willing to do. Not only that, but you can't even talk about the horrors that come up through the sewers. Unlike most hoity-toity adventurers, there's no chest of gold at the end of your day, just a few coppers the guv'ment can scrape up, plus whatever you can sell your rats for at the market. You do it anyway.

d8 Personality

  1. You like being alone, scouting ahead. That way no one can be mean to you.
  2. You don't talk much, because you enjoy making other people uncomfortable. That's the same reason you don't bathe.
  3. You're only comfortable in the tunnels and underground. Being in the sunlight makes you nervous. 
  4. You really like meeting people and talking with them. You have a broad definition of people that includes animals. Especially rats. 
  5. You hate disease and are fastidiously clean. It is extremely important that you eradicate everything that makes people sick!
  6. Underground you can hear the whispers better than you can above ground. Sometimes they tell you very interesting secrets. You're pretty sure other people might be trying to get the secrets from you.
  7. You like rats. And dogs. And cats, pigs, and goats. It's people you don't like. Animals aren't duplicitous. And they are loyal. Unlike people.
  8. You get to know things other people don't, because you see their trash and garbage. You really like that feeling. Maybe someday you'll know an awful lot about a lot of people!

d6 Ideal

  1. Duty: If you don't stop the rats, who will? (Lawful)
  2. Merciful: You can catch and release the rats into their own habitat, doing as little harm as possible (Good)
  3. Nosy: You can find out all kinds of secrets about people in the sewers (Neutral)
  4. Explorer: You find beauty in new and secret places (Chaotic)
  5. Freedom: You take a bad enough job and no one bothers you. (Chaotic)
  6. Power: No one complains if you practice making poisons on rats (Evil)
d6 Bond

  1. You saw something once, down in the sewers, and it told you it was coming back for you. Now you hunt for something to stop it before it can get you.
  2. You had a pet rat once. You're not so much a rat catcher, so much as you're trying to kill all the other rats so they don't get in the way of finding your friend. 
  3. Ratcatching goes well with your drug vices. You're always looking for another chance to get high.
  4. You've got a missus and six kids at home to support. You've always been too busy working to get any kind of better job.
  5. Your mastiff is your best friend. He loves catching rats more than anything in the world, and that's why you were a rat-catcher. 
  6. There are people after you and no one has ever looked twice at a rat-catcher.
d6 Flaw

  1. I'm better than everyone else because I'm willing to do what they aren't. 
  2. I hear and see things that sometimes make it difficult to know what's real and what's not.
  3. I love the smell of the sewer hate when I don't smell like it. I like the reaction I get when other people get a load of me! 
  4. I don't like people very much and crowds freak me out. When they talk to me I get nervous and just do or say whatever I have to to make them leave me alone.
  5. I've seen people act like rats, I've got more respect for them than I do folks. Easier to kill a man than a rat, besides.
  6. I didn't learn my education so good 'cause my head damage! Mama only dropped me two times (Hold up 6 fingers).

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  1. Replies
    1. Exactly what I was going to suggest. Especially since a "small" mastiff tends to weigh in around 160lbs.

    2. Mastiff is the only dog available in basic.

    3. You wrote a whole background and you're going to balk at writing up a terrier?

  2. Warhammer is a treasure trove of potential backgrounds for 5E. Well done.

  3. Nice touch with the musical instrument as part of the gear.

  4. If your personality (7) is liking animals, especially rats, why would the class be about how to kill and eat rats and equipment would have 1d6 dead rats? Seems contradictory

    1. Just because you like them, doesn't mean you don't need to eat. In fact, you probably have a better understanding of the role animals play in civilized lands. Rats everywhere isn't good for anyone, including the rats.

    2. The background is rat catcher, not rat murderer.

    3. Yeah but, "and a lot about ways to both kill and eat rats" and "1d6 rat corpses in a sack" Seems like the character is killing them to me

  5. This is really cool. Ratcatchers and other vermin-related motifs are very popular. Down at the club, my friend Bruce Wayne and the boys were just talking about that.

  6. 5E is really bringing out the best ideas from people.

  7. This is great. I so love common backgrounds.. and Ratchatcher is the classic example.

  8. This is great! ha. Definitely going into my home game.

  9. Excellent. Saving this one.


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