Rats! is a role-playing game based on a streamlined version of the d20 system, with a few differences, some of which I shall get to later. In the game you take on the role of rats, of different cultures. Rather than simply paraphrase what the Funding Campaign site says, I’ll just copy part of it below:
RATS! uses streamlined mechanics based on third edition d20. This system allows the rapid creation and decimation of rat characters. Starting characters can be created within minutes. A good thing, since if you’re not very careful, this will be your lifespan.
There are thirteen diverse cultures, three elite cultures, six races, twenty starting habitats, and a gazillion feats, skills and mutations (inspired by a hundred years of misunderstanding radiation) to customize characters. Thus, while characters are very simple to create and play, they are highly diverse.
There are no classes or levels. Rat characters advance by gaining new abilities and mutations, which are bought directly with XP, and by growing in size. A sufficiently experienced character is a right proper ratzilla. There are no hit points, either. Every time your character is hit, a consequence is rolled. These range from the embarrassing (you make an undignified sound) to the horrifying (you blow up like a watermelon in a Gallagher show).
Players can take on the roles of heroic rats on a grand quest to make the world a rattier place, or manage packs for many litters, placing the good of the collective before their your own (yeah right!).
The absence of Hit Points and the replacement in the form of a Death & Dismemberment or Mortal Wounds styled table is a nifty idea, and I can preview a snippet of this, courtesy of Uri: when a character is hit, instead of deducting hit points, you make a roll on a table, which has results such as the following:
- The Jaw That Snaps! You sever one of your victim’s fingers, imposing a -2 penalty to attack rolls and 1 continuous Con damage.
- Reveal Thy True Face! You work through large portions of your victim’s face, inflicting 1d6 Cha damage and a -4 penalty to all rolls.
- Make Them Humble! You gnaw through your target’s spine, inflicting 3d6 Dexterity damage. If this reduces the target to 0 hp, it’s permanently paralyzed from the neck down.
- I Did Not Brush My Teeth! Target contracts a random disease (see page XX).
- Thy Last Vision Be a Rat! Target is permanently blinded.
- From Ear to Ear! You chew on the target’s jugular veins, causing continuous 2d6 continuous Con damage. Everyone in a ten foot radius must save on a DC 15 check or be blinded by blood spray.
- Teeth to Toes! You annihilate the target’s toes, inflicting 1d6 Dexterity damage and causing it to move at half speed and be unable to run.
- Agony Victorious! Your bite is superficial but incredibly painful. Target is stunned while you’re empowered by his agony, gaining a +2 Sadism bonus to all melee damage rolls until the end of the encounter.
- The Foulest Gluttony! You eat into the target’s body, inflicting automatic double damage each turn until it, the target, not the damage, removes you via an opposed Dexterity check in which you gain a +8 bonus (full round action).
- Make an Example! You ravage the target something fierce. Roll five times on the hit locations table. Also, every enemy seeing the attack must make a save opposed by your Intimidation or rout for 1d3 rounds. Those who succeed on the roll are shaken instead.
- I Strike Thee in Thy Holy Place! The target is unable to do anything but whimper and moan in girly voices for 1d3 rounds. All its subsequent actions suffer a -4 OMG penalty.
- I Am Thy Weakness! Normal damage and the target counts as nauseated due to uncontrollable sneezing and a sudden rash.
- I’ll Make Thee a Modern Art Masterpiece! The target loses its next 1d6 actions, suffers 1d6 points of damage to each ability and its Charisma is reduced to 1. The Charisma damage can only be healed by many months of plastic surgery and therapy.
- One in a million! Your furious toothy assault messes up the target’s system so bad that it dies on the spot. Everyone, animal or human, must succeed on a DC 20 check or become nauseated for 1d4 rounds.
And here is just one example of the excellent artwork for the game, showcasing one of the Rat cultures you can play: