Rats! is a satiric rpg about rats trying to take over the world. Uri Kurlianchik is the designer of the game and is currently running an Indiegogo campaign to fund the project.
Uri came up with the idea after reading William King's Skavenslayer. He thought "What would happen if these guys popped into our world?" and ran with it. After running a game for his friends he started creating various rat cultures that satirized humanity. He created the rat's religion and ideology as a satire of all the bad things he saw in humanity.
Rats! uses the streamlined mechanic of 3rd edition d20. Rat character creation is very quick. You can pick from thirteen diverse cultures, six races, twenty habitats, and a bunch of feats, skills and mutations. There are no levels in the game. Rat characters advance by gaining new abilities and mutations and grow in size. One cool part about the game is that there are no hit points. Every time your rat gets hit a consequence is rolled. Consequences can range from making an undignified sound to blowing up!
Part of Uri's day job is instructing RPGs as an after-school activity and has a lot of gamer friends near by. He ran playtests of the game over the last couple of years for a wide range of ages. He got to experience a lot of different perspectives from the players and has adjusted the game throughout the process.
The game is going to comprise of a core rulebook with the possibilitiy of future expansions. The core rule book will have character creation, equipment, NPCs, rules and much more. On the Indiegogo page there is a list of the chapter titles. I asked Uri why each one starts with "Blame" and how he went about picking the names of the chapters. He told me that "much of Rats! was inspired by what I hate in humanity. One of the things that leads to vicious dictatorships and other kinds of mass crimes is failure to take personal responsibility. As far as the rats are concerned the whole universe is guilty of their predicament expect them. Any mistake they do, they can come up with an excuse blaming someone else. Learning how to blame everyone for your shortcoming is probably one of the most important skills for a rat to acquire and the chapter names reflect this."
The artist for the book is Stav Levi. He's the art director and an artist and animation student at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. You can see some of the artwork for the book on the indiegogo page. Stav captures the essence of evil rats and there is sure to be much more!
With all projects there are always challenges to overcome. I wanted to find out what the most difficult thing Uri has faced so far. Uri told me that "there are many challenges inherent to producing a new tabletop RPG and I'm sure I haven't faced half of them, but for me the most difficult thing is the constant self-doubt. Thousands of talented people have great games out there and the ground trembles as giants like Monte Cook or Mark Rein-Hagen awake from their slumber, and you ask yuorself -- can you really do something that will stand out? Do you really have a cool and original idea here, or are you just deluding yourself"? I admire Uri's drive to overcome his self-doubt and continue to make this game a success. The Indiegogo campaign is full of awesome pledge levels, artwork and stretch goals. The campaign ends on Halloween. With over 3 weeks left Rats! is already funded but the stretch goals are going strong. Check out the game and the blogspot to see what type of Rat character you'd like to play!