Sometimes locks need that extra sharp fingernail to twist the catch. Sometimes a thief might find himself locked in a prison with a wooden door. The Muzzled Mouse is a hideous little tool which helps one in such situations...
The Muzzled Mouse is a starved rat wrapped tightly in leather to disable its limbs, with only its mouth (with extraordinarily sharp teeth) left uncovered. Its owner feeds it only occasionally and the rest of the time its mouth is clamped shut to prevent accidental biting.
The Muzzled Mouse is kept in a strong leather bag and handled with care (have you ever been bitten by a rat?). When needed it can gnaw through three inches of wood in its blind and vicious hunger, or it can be used as a lockpick.
They often need replacing, since the rat may die from starvation, splinters or bleeding. Foolish owners who are careless get bitten by their rats, and often contract unpleasant and incurable diseases.
Sometimes you can find these little forlorn bundles of leather-bound flesh lying in alleyways, having been discarded by thieves for their broken teeth.
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? Responses (32)
This is a dark and slightly odd item. If this kind of non-humane treatment exists in the society as a whole, life could take a vicious turn unexpectedly. Warriors and city gaurds would keep starved dogs, nobles and wizards train hungry hawks, priests would be the only class that would be unlikely to keep a hunger crazed animal. If food shortages extend into the peoples lives, you could find yourself faced with an angry mob for bringing a goat into town.
This item scares me. Really scares me.
Of course, it is for a medieval setting, and the concept of animal rights will not come around for about 600 years....
Egads... Well, since people had such little regard for life back then, you could actually replace the rat's teeth with metal or something of the sort. Can't say as to what it would do for that rat, though. Metal poisoning isn't a very nice thing.
What Agar described above would make quite a sadistic society. What other reason to let your dogs be hungry, then to reward them for catching a human?
The 'Mouse' may come but from almost any society. Thieves have generally a harder life, and less scruples. Or it may be the 'mark' of some special criminal.
Hmmm... metal teeth. Will be re-usable, only for the moments of need, and of course when the rat itself needs to be replaced.
How about the disease the furry lil rodent would carry in it s feces? Could be the death of the one using it
I think I'd better explain this item, as I've had a few comments from people saying it's a bit weird. In designing it, I was trying to encapsulate the desperate, cruel nature of the ghettos of Erezi (see forum thread) and the idea that the poorest thieves will even stoop as low as this to earn money. As for metal teeth, they may indeed provide good biting power, but the operation to insert them would be dangerous for both surgeon and rat, so would probably be very rare. As for faeces I'll admit the rat would get pretty dirty, wrapped in rags, but that's a risk some thieves are willing to take...
Hmmm, well thats true. The teeth, however, could be attatched like headgear. It could wrap around the rat's head. Maybe all that would be requred would be to remove the old teeth, then just to tie one the new ones around the head. As for disease, in medieval times people didn't know about disease and what spread it that much. In Spain there was a river (forgot the name) that people would throw their bodily waste, garbage, and dead family members into. This river was also the main drinking source for the city. You can immagine what happened to the inhabitants.
There may be yet another disadvantage:
What if a thief with this 'equipment' meets a wererat?
I would think the wererat might kill the thief.
An intresting idea, but not one I would use as I love animals.
Because you love animals, everyone in your world loves animals?
Personally, I find the concept of human sacrifice to be abbhorent, but there are still people in my settings who do it.
Why would the thieves in your setting care about how you feel about the Muzzled Mouse? They would use it if they wanted to, unless, mysteriously, every thief shares your opinion.
It could be a slightly more idealistic society, or the animal cruelty is behind the scenes, though I most definitely agree with the seperation between DM and NPC captain.
Animal cruelty aside(it's an imaginary rat, after all), I actually like this concept. Not so sure about the 'lockpicking' bit, though. But if you need to weaken a wood structure somewhat imperceptibly, just put one of these at a key structural point and wait. Something to consider when talking about the mideaval equivalent of insurance fraud(such as it is). Maybe to take out a rival's store or something?
Or potentially get a slipping paladin to fall completely via muderous rage.
The idea is good, and as you say it underscores the desperation of certain walks of life. It doesn't seem that realistic (dont they need to keep sharpening teeth.. they'll die a lot.... the waste of the animal in the wrapping would be foul and eventually take up lots of space... they could over time work their way out of rags perhaps... i dont think they could pick locks, but they could eat holes.. maybe near the lock so you could open door (with some metal rod) from the inside perhaps...
all the appropriate comments have been made, but WOW! This creates an image that is difficult, if not impossible to forget! Any chance we can link this to Black Market?
BUMP! An image that I just cant shake!
Reeks of human desperation and nitty gritty low-magic thievery!
This sounds like something the Thieves of Lanhkmar would use!
Yeah, y'know, it really brings to mind Lankhmar for me
This piece seems to have broken into my top twenty favorite submissions!!
Here's another one AG that is a far cry from a 5, yet unforgettable! IMHO
Sure is Murometz. It hails back to the time when the Citadel was more about the idea rather than the presentation. Well, idea + presentation ain't half bad either ;)
Nasty and useful, perfect for planescape (where it would fit right in without any notice) or any post apocalypse setting.
Three additional uses:
-A nasty melee weapon.
Unmuzzled and possibly with the front legs freed, this could make for a nasty weapon to thrust at someone's face, or try to cram down their pants in a grappling situation.
-A surprisingly effective interrogation device.
Seriously, how many people are going to withhold information with one of these things threatening their private bits?
-A poor mans evening meal.
After the poor thing died from whatever causes, it could be then cooked and eaten in any number of ways by a starving and desperate thief. (though most probably a stew since it would provide the best nutritional value given it's withered body)
As far as the rats feces becoming a problem, as long as it's only fed (and watered) occasionally the creature wouldn't produce must waste at all. Provided one places a strategic hole at the rear end of the wrapping it wouldn't be a problem.
I could easily see this sort of thing in some cities large enough to have a slums, or where everything is primarily built of wood. I could even see it in Kuramen, although someone likely has the bright idea of mixing thaumatech with it - rune-scribed leather that enhance the rat's teeth, and for the well-to-do rogue, a clockwork-familiar rendition that doesn't need such careful handling to avoid injury, and which can chew through much, much more.
Without being entirely aware of your thaumatech rune system, I'm not entirely sure such a system would allow runes inscribed on the leather to affect the capabilities of the rat. Perhaps more expensive versions have the runes for enhanced teeth tattooed on the rat's skin instead? (tattooing a rat would be a bit hard to do, thus more expensive)
Either would work; it simply requires the correct rune or glyph. Using a glyph on the leather that's besigned to make an item that enhances the wearer is quite possible; it's far more expensive than a rat-tattoo, because you need to have the runes set to affect something other than the item they're on, but they have the advantage that if the rat dies, you can reuse the wrappings indefinitely.
You could probably get the same result temporarily from an alchemical mix, of course, which would be good for thieves who are too strapped to get either the tattooing or the leather engraving.
I love the idea! cruelty aside, it really makes up for a cheap, multipurpose 'tool', one that evil/unscrupolous npc's would use in many a situation, and win the pc's hate for doing so. It screams Lankhmar to me, so it's good! :D
I'll have it in one of my games as soon as I can!
How about a magically enhanced version? Maybe for different purposes like the ones already suggested above, or for resolving the problems of food, water, feces and so on?
It's adorab... terrib.... I'm not sure what it is but it is absolutely perfect. Nothing says gritty, desperate, and clever like using a rat as a tool.
Flintstones X DnD
Interesting. Seems like something you'd find in a goblin's pocket.
Well, if I ever needed a way to motivate my party (especially the druids or the girls) to hate a particular group of NPCs, I could always pull this out. It's less cliche than a razed orphanage, and might be even more effective.
Yikes! That one is nasty, and ingenious!
Short and to the point (ouch). Well done eph :)
Edit: I like this, a lot. Have a HoH.
Disturbing and nasty, hence perfect for Warhammer Fantasy.
As has been said, this certainly says much about the wielder. Coldly pragmatic.