Rat People

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The Rat People are from H.P. Lovecraft's "The Rats in the Walls (fiction)".

Description

A "Rat Person" stalks a human cave-explorer in The Descent (2005)...

For on every side of the chamber the walls were alive with nauseous sound—the verminous slithering of ravenous, gigantic rats.
H.P. Lovecraft, "The Rats in the Walls (fiction)"

Dwarfish, twisted and crouched, with flabby albino flesh and high-pitched squeaking cries and a taste for cannibalism, the "Rat Folk" were once human, but because of foul practices and inbreeding they have degenerated to a debased and near-animal state, dwelling in dank burrows and warrens of the Hollow Earth beneath old buildings and in sewers. They may be found in the company of Deros and Ghouls, with whom they sometimes trade, share living space, or integrate into cults with.


Cult

A debased Cybelene Mystery cult of the "Magna Mater" settled in Exham, England, established the original Rat Folk cult under the temple, later replaced by Exham Priory when the area was Christianized. The cult, practicing cannibalism as part of its rituals, inhabited an underground city in a vast cavern of the Hollow Earth under the area, which it populated with pens full of human "cattle", inbreeding the poor creatures in the darkness for generations as the victims of cannibalism grew more and more bestial and less human, grazing on vast amounts of vegetation imported from the surface world supplemented from food gathered from nightmare grottoes of the inner earth, while a population of rats grew to prodigious size in the city's cess-pits.

The De La Pore family (Americanized to Delapore) would inherit control of the Exham land in 1261, gaining an evil reputation soon afterward in connection to the enthusiasm for the cult assumed after intermingling with locals connected to the cult until the 1600s, when a Walter De La Poer, upon discovering his family's shocking secret, exterminated the cult - aside from some surviving "cattle" and other inhabitants of the underground city which had remained hidden, and fled to America. In his absence, the rats swarmed up out of the cesspits to consume the cult's survivors and their cattle, leaving the city ultimately abandoned except for ghosts, and the rats in the walls of Exham Priory, left to decay into ruin.

The cult in its form at the time of its extermination is long gone, but seems to have been thinly-veiled as a typical "Mystery cult" practiced in secrecy, with various "levels" of cult wisdom for cult members to be initiated into, in between regular ritual meetings of chanting, sacrifice, and drug- and alcohol-hazed orgies.

A crude form of the cult reportedly lives on in, with descendants of cult's survivors, horribly degraded by inbreeding in the darkness of he Hollow Earth into deformed "Rat People", contacting and bargaining with aristocratic members of other families: exchanging treasures of the Hollow Earth for fresh breeding stock and food. Some superficial elements of the original Mystery Cult may remain, combined with Mythos elements learned from the Ghouls and Deros, and this form of the cult is gaining traction as an international conspiracy, but for the last couple centuries the cult has only been a shadow of its former self.

City of the Rat People

The city beneath Exham Priory was built by unknown hands - shaped by human inhabitants from the surface world since prehistory to be sure, but apparently of subterranean origin: the passages from the underworld to the surface seem have been carved from below. The city might be surmised to have originally been built and populated in prehistory by Worms of the Earth, the "Little People", Deros, Ghouls (see Midian), prehistoric man, Hyperboreans, or other humanoids, and may even have originally been the work of other beings, such as the Serpent People; one observer speculated that the city might have be as old as 10,000 years ore more, and describes an unsettling jumble of structures that run a gamut from ancient barrow-tombs and standing-stones, to Roman and Sax architecture, to wooden English edifices standing side-by-side, or newer structures built on older foundations: cells, sties, markets, butcher-shops, and kitchens dedicated to preparing and serving monstrous cannibal feasts - and even the oldest these appear to be some of the newest structures in the cavern, with the unexplored deeper portions of the cavern being of unimaginably ancient age and the likely source of some of the most primitive ape-like skeletons found in the newer buildings.


Heresies and Controversies

  • The Rat Folk are at the heart of a monstrous conspiracy, involving aristocratic families in England, France, and Italy: in exchange for access to the wealth of the underworld of the Hollow Earth, the families involved dispose of their "disappointments" with the Rat Folk - deformed or mentally feeble children, or sometimes youths who prove too independent, uncontrollable, or given to embarrassing habits, abandoned to the underworld for inbreeding with the creatures wherever possible, or butchered for their tables otherwise; as part of the bargain, some of the most human-looking offspring of the "marriages" with the Rat Folk are sent back to the surface, with the expectation that the most exceptional examples will be selected to be welcomed by the families as changeling replacements for later "Disappointments", who often rise up through their family's ranks, often by violence and subterfuge against their fully-human "brothers" and "sisters", to become wealthy captains of industry in their family's names. Exiled changelings of families who have thus intermarried with Rat Folk - typically kept away from the "normal" members of the family by sending them far away - have assisted the Rat Folk in establishing secret colonies of their kind around the world, in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and North America, with one of the oldest and most successful enclaves to be found beneath Boston, Massachusetts in the United States, led by the Boucher family. (YSDC)

Keeper Notes

Associated Mythos Elements


References