Author Topic: The Barovian Ratter's Handbook Volume II, by Radovan Krezkova  (Read 287 times)

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The Barovian Ratter's Handbook Volume II, by Radovan Krezkova
« on: February 15, 2024, 11:47:59 AM »
//Volume I can be found here: https://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=62183.0

The Barovian Ratter's Handbook Volume II
by Radovan Krezkova




It has been two years since the release of the first volume of the Barovian Ratter's Handbook, and I'm pleased to say that I've been finding fewer corpses down in the muck. There is still much more to be learned however, and now that you have some experience under your belt, it may be time for you to move forward to the Northern sections of the sewers. Following the guidelines laid out in this book will help you survive where countless others have failed.

As before, there are five chapters in this volume, each dealing with a particular subject.

The first Chapter is New Dangers, a list of the additional challenges that await you in the more dangerous half of the Vallaki sewer system.

The second chapter is Equipment, where we discuss weapons and protective gear.

The third chapter is called Your Toolbelt, where we go into detail regarding what other tools, trinkets, and potions you should keep on hand.

The fourth chapter is on Tactics, a reinforcement of previous lessons and how they can be applied to the new hunt.

The fifth and final chapter is on Observations, taking some time to outline possible causes for the rather severe infestations that can be found around Barovia.



Chapter One: New Dangers

In addition to the dangers outlined in the first volume, you will now have to deal with two further issues should you venture into the northern quarters.

Gelatinous Cubes: Large masses of ooze that feed off the refuse and scum of the sewers. If they manage to engulf you entirely, you may find yourself slowly digested until your last agonized gurgle. Although they are large, they are not particularly nimble and can be dealt with at range with the proper tools. Alchemical arrows and bolts can be quite useful here, although they are highly resistant to shocking attacks. When slain, the remains of these creatures can be gathered up and used in alchemical projects. All in all, I would advise not engaging these creatures in melee combat. One mistake with them could very well spell your doom. If you *must* wade into the fray, pay careful attention to the "Your Toolbelt" chapter.


Direst Rats: These creatures have a number of fanciful names, as well as a great many tales about their supposed powers and abilities. Their corpses cannot be turned into Rulinus for coin, but they tend to have nests filled with the trinkets they've stripped from the bodies of those who came before you (and who didn't read this tome). Suffice it to say, they are swift, they are silent, and can grow to be incredibly large. Their hide is too tough for simple steel to penetrate, so you will need to be smart about the equipment you take to face them with.



Chapter Two: Equipment

It is quite expensive to begin hunting in the northern quarters. Luckily, you've been diligent to follow the rules set out in the first volume of the Ratter's Handbook and have pockets filled to bursting with coin. Unfortunately, the next two chapters will thoroughly empty them. Don't fret however, you'll make it all back in time.

Silver-gilded Melee Weapons: Whether you're using a basher, poker, or cutter, the weapon needs to be made of silver-gilded steel or better. Silver is the best thing to pierce the hides of the Direst Rats, and you'll be thankful you have one when the creatures begin to swarm you.

Silver-gilded Crossbow: There's a great deal of debate over whether to use a crossbow or a bow. In my experience, the Direst Rats are usually far too swift to get off more than one shot with any sort of accuracy (Regardless of whether  they're charging you or attempting to flee). In this case, I prefer a singular powerful bolt over barrage of arrows. Of course, your experiences may be different than mine. If you prefer to use a bow, then use a bow.

Silver or Electrum gilded Armour : In the previous volume, I advised the novice Ratter not to wear heavy armours if he could help it. The sentiment still rings true, and you'll want to wear something as light as you can get away with. A shirt or suit of chain reinforced with silver or electrum is your best bet. If you are possessed of truly prodigious strength you can wear something heavier, but remember that every extra pound of equipment weight is one fewer pound of tools or rat corpses you can carry.

Bolts: Although a standard bolt is enough to take down your run-of-the-mill rat or dire rat, for the Direst of Rats, I would highly invest in silver-tipped alchemical bolts (or simply silver tipped if the cost is prohibitive). You do not need to keep a large amount of these on hand, but you'll be happy to have them. A smart ratter will keep other sorts of bolts on hand for other situations that may arise, such as steel or dlarun tipped bolts (alchemical or otherwise). You want your opening shot to be a powerful one, so it's important to use the right bolt for the right situation.



Chapter Three: Your Toolbelt

It may seem strange to keep this chapter apart from the one before, but your toolbelt is the second most important thing you possess as a professional ratter (the first being your wits, of course). We will go into intricate detail as to what you should keep and where, and you would do well to heed my words explicitly.

The first thing to know about toolbelts is that you should always have more than one. They might take the form of a belt cinched around your waste, but it may be a satchel at your hip, or a collection of pockets in your cloak. The important thing is that you should always keep similar tools on the same "toolbelt" for easy organization and access.

//OOC Note: When Radovan speaks of "Toolbelts", he is referring to the quickbar saving and loading system. Keep in mind that the quickbar saving/loading system doesn't always play nice with weapons or other equippables that are placed in bags (magic or otherwise). As a general rule of thumb, any magic items that must be equipped to use, or weapons/ammunition/armour pieces should not be kept in a bag if you plan to put them on a quickbar. They should remain in your main inventory.

My first toolbelt holds up my pants, as well as the majority of my weapons. A longsword, mace, crossbow, iron bolts, steel tipped bolts (normal and alchemical), silver tipped bolts (normal and alchemical), and other exotic-metal tipped bolts (normal and alchemical). In addition, I keep a collection of alchemical varnishes to use against large groups of normal and dire rats, as well as to coat my melee weapons as the need arises. Finally, I have emergency healing, speed, and invisibility tonics to round out my first toolbelt.

My second toolbelt is devoted primarily to healing tonics and kits of all strengths and stripes. A good ratter always assumes the worst creatures imaginable are skulking around in the dark and muck and prepares accordingly.

My third toolbelt is mainly comprised of utilitarian tonics (such as Freedom tonics in case I need to wade into combat with a Gelatinous Cube), lockpicking and trapspringing supplies, as well as some trap kits, waterskins, goggles for my eyes, and spare rags to cover my nose and mouth if need be. When it comes to utilitarian tonics, you need to cover a wide variety of situations. Speed tonics, tonics that protect you from witches, strength tonics, hardiness tonics, all are useful. Your goal should be to have a tonic for nearly every situation, rather than a huge number of a small variety. It doesn't matter if you have 100 strength tonics if what you need is a speed tonic.

Of course, this isn't everything I carry on my person. Rats can be clever, and the first one to learn to read could very well pick up this book and be as prepared for me as I hope to be for them.



Chapter 4: Tactics

It may surprise you to learn that you already know how to handle these new threats effectively. Or at least, you know the fundamentals if you read the previous handbook and took the lessons to heart. I'll repeat the lessons from before, and illustrate how they apply to your new challenges. Here's the list from the previous book:

Close sluice gates and doors behind you as you work
Clear the infestation fully
Don't leave your kills behind
Poke through every Rat's Nest
Finish the Job
Pick up herbs, lichen, and fungi
Be friendly with the Garda and the Temples
Stay light on your feet

Close sluice gates and doors behind you as you work: It's doubly important to do this in the northern quarters. The Direst rats don't tend to scatter as frequently as their smaller cousins, but they can sneak up on you a great deal easier if they don't need to open up the gates as they approach. They're also hardy enough to survive your first swing most of the time, so when they do try to bolt, it's good to force them to stop in order to open the gates you've been closing.

Clear the infestation fully: When sweeping the northern quarters, you need to ensure that each rat you find is dealt with swiftly. A fleeing rat may alert it's comrades in another section, making your job that much more difficult. In addition, the direst of rats recover from their wounds extremely quickly. Any that you leave behind will soon regain it's strength and attack once more.

Don't leave your kills behind: If you neglect to pick up your kills, all you're doing is leaving a trail of breadcrumbs. Something bigger will no doubt follow that trail back to you.

Poke through every Rat's Nest: Since the vast majority of rats in the Northern Quarter are far too large to bring back to Rulinus, you'll need to be doubly mindful of the nests. If what you find isn't rusted or broken, then take it with you. No doubt you'll find someone willing to pay good coin for it.

Finish the Job: Just as I've stated before; Once you start the job, take it to completion. Did you find some item that there's a bounty notice on? Good. Throw it in your bag, but keep working. Nothing is worse than fighting through a horde of the direst rats just to find that the nests have already been cleared out of trinkets.

Pick up herbs, lichen, and fungi: If you are as diligent as I hope you are, this has become second nature to you. You can continue to make coin selling these herbs to brewers, but consider that every herb you find is potentially another tonic for your toolbelt. You could learn the art yourself, save yourself some coin. Perhaps when you retire from this profession, you could open up a tonic shop. There's also alchemical reagents to be found down there. Every varnish you brew yourself is one less you need to buy.

Be friendly with the Garda and the Temples: When you scurry up a ladder to the surface while still under the effects of a half-dozen tonics and wielding a sword covered in a flaming varnish, would you rather come face to face with a Garda who knows who you are and thinks well of you, or a Garda who thinks you're an Outlander witch and claps you in irons right then and there? Don't be a fool. Be good to the Garda, and they will do the same for you.

The same can be said for the local temples. Treat them with respect, and they will do the same for you. They do not charge us for their services. We do not charge them for ours. If they have a rat problem, you handle it. Quickly, quietly, and without the need for reward.

Stay light on your feet: This is doubly important now that you'll be carrying more equipment. Do not rely on Strength Tonics to keep you on the run longer. They will fail you at an inopportune time, and then I will collect your coinpurse. Though they are costly, the Vardo (and sometimes the Vistani) sell extremely lightweight backpacks that distribute the weight so evenly so as to seem less than half the load. Make use of them, and never venture into the sewers already loaded down with too much gear to run and jump and flee.

If you're too heavily loaded, then shed the weight. Reorganize your kit, store spare tonics and varnishes (Do you really need 50 speed tonics in your bag? Take 10, store the other 40 and replenish as needed), get rid of the twenty-outfits you have in your pack.



Chapter Five: Observations

After spending years down in the muck, you begin to notice certain patterns and oddities in the behaviours of the rats. Where they like to hole up, where they're most ferocious, and how they like to handle intruders to their nests. Perhaps you'll make your own observations as time goes on.

The strongest and most ferocious of the Direst Rats can be found in the sewers of the Government District and the Docks District (Although I would never call the ones found in the Residential and Noble districts "docile"). There are potential reasons for this, but I believe that many of the Direst Rats that appear in Vallaki arrive from the Docks. Perhaps they've stowed away on ships arriving from the Midway haven. Once they make landfall, they scurry down into the sewers and migrate to the government district sewers due to it's centralized location and hidden hidey-holes. From there, they spread outwards to the other districts.

But where do these creatures truly stem from? Sources vary, but I've discovered a rather concentrated infestation of these beasts in the Village of Barovia. These rats are markedly more organized than the ones found in Vallaki, utilizing traps and other creatures as guardians as they congregate. Perhaps the ones in Vallaki are exiles from this larger group, as they are typically smaller and weaker than the ones found in the Village. Or maybe, just maybe, they're advanced scouts prodding the city's defenses for any percieved weakness.

Regardless of their true intentions, it bears investigating to see if there is any such link to be found. Perhaps that particular infestation will be the subject of the next volume?

Keep your wits about you, and your feet dry.

Radovan "The Ratter" Krezkova,
Vallaki Ratter.