BY BDC

Now, if you’ve been looking around our site, you know we’ve been deep diving weres of all types and, last week, we focused on the illusive wererat. What I found was that they had the most detailed lore in the past editions than any of the other types. Not only am I ready to roll up a were rat to play, I was inspired to work on a couple of subtypes; one for monks and one for warlocks.

Of course, this monastic tradition can be used with any race or type in D&D. But this would easily apply to and work with the lore of the wererat.

Cover of CHILDREN OF THE HORNED RAT/War Hammer/Art by Andrea Urderzo and Scott Purdy

WAY OF THE FETID BLADE

Most civilizations work hard to eradicate disease and plague from their lands. You and your ilk carry it as a coat of arms. To your people, contagion is just a natural force of creation and you have been chosen to be its heralds. You have also found it to be essential to your clan’s survival; weakening your enemies and, thereby, giving your people a foothold in these lands. You and your monastery are essential to that survival as you are the first wave of defense against nations who are physically stronger, but their hubris and confidence is about to be judged.

3rd Level Feature

When you chose this tradition at 3rd level, your special martial arts training teaches you to master any finesse weapon as your monk weapons.

PICK YOUR POISONS

You have mastered the fine art of spreading several diseases and/or curses by applying a specific poison onto your monk weapons.

At third level you may use 1 KI point to add the disease FILTH FEVER or one other of your choice from the list below [Choose only one additional disease until your next Monastic Tradition Feature].  You may also, although highly unusual, add your own blood and/or saliva to your blade to attempt to inflict the wererat curse onto your opponent.

FILTH FEVER: A raging fever sweeps through the creature’s body. The creature has disadvantage on Strength checks, Strength saving throws, and attack rolls that use Strength.

WERERAT CURSE (Only available to those cursed as a Wererat): A humanoid hit by an attack that carries the curse of lycanthropy must succeed on a Constitution saving throw (DC 8 +the lycanthrope’s proficiency bonus+ the lycanthrope’s Constitution modifier) or be cursed.  The DM is free to decide what change in alignment takes place until the curse of lycanthropy is removed or what continuing as a cursed PC looks like from here on.

PICK ONE FROM THIS LIST:

Blinding Sickness– Pain grips the creature’s mind, and its eyes turn milky white. The creature has disadvantage on Wisdom checks and Wisdom saving throws and is blinded.

Flesh Rot– The creature’s flesh decays. The creature has disadvantage on Charisma checks and vulnerability to all damage.

Mindfire– The creature’s mind becomes feverish. The creature has disadvantage on Intelligence checks and Intelligence saving throws, and the creature behaves as if under the effects of the confusion spell during combat.

Seizure– The creature is overcome with shaking. The creature has disadvantage on Dexterity checks, Dexterity saving throws, and attack rolls that use Dexterity.

Slimy Doom– The creature begins to bleed uncontrollably. The creature has disadvantage on Constitution checks and Constitution saving throws. In addition, whenever the creature takes damage, it is stunned until the end of its next turn.

[These disease are taken from the 5E 5th level spell CONTAGION because they covered all the saves and made the most sense to me.  As a DM, you can plug in any disease either official 5E or homebrew you see fit]

INSTRUMENT OF YOUR DISEASE

Your blade inflicts one disease and/or curse chosen as a part of this tradition. On a successful Melee attack against a creature, the target is poisoned until cured.

[A poisoned creature has disadvantage on Attack rolls and Ability Checks]

At the end of each of the poisoned target’s turns, the target must make a Constitution saving throw (DC = your Ki Save DC). If the target succeeds on three of these saving throws, it is no longer poisoned, and the spell ends. If the target fails three of these saves, the target is no longer poisoned, but choose one of the diseases below. The target is subjected to the chosen disease for the spell’s duration.

Since this is a natural disease, any effect that removes a disease or otherwise aids in the recovery a disease’s effects apply to it.

Original Mashup of art done by Jon Cave and Biagio D Alessandro

RAT PLAGUE SWARM

Beginning at 6th level, you have a near symbiotic relationship with a swarm of plague-ridden sewer rats. 

You may spend 1KI to summon a swarm of plague rats.  They have the same stats as the RAT SWARM in the Monster Manual with the addition of one special property: Distraction

DISTRACTION: Any creature in the same 5 ft space as the swarm must make a Con save equal to your KI Save DC.  ON a fail, the character is distracted, flanked and at disadvantage on all attacks, saves and ability checks.

Also chose one new disease from the list above.  You now are able to use this disease as a poison on your monk weapons.

ONE WITH THE SWARM

At 11th level, your symbiotic relationship with the swarm becomes stronger.  Within 30 feet, you experience what the swarm does through their KEEN SENSE of smell and hearing.  You also aid in their stamina by doubling their original hp.

WHAT DOESN’T PLAGUE YOU GETS STRONGER

Beginning at 11th level, your poisons bring stronger strains of your diseases.  All of your poison and disease effects ignore resistances and do normal damage.  Treat those immune to poison/disease as resistant.

Also at 11th level, you may chose one new disease from the list above.  You are now able to use this disease as a poison on your monk weapons.

Art by Jaromir Hrivnac

HARDER TO CURE

Beginning at 17th level, you may spend 3 KI instead of 1 KI to apply stronger strains of the poisons/diseases you have learned to your monk weapon.  If you do so, the victim of your poison will have to make twice as many saves to rid themselves of this disease (usually 6).

I AM THE SWARM

At 17th level, you have become one with the rat swarm.  Your connection to their senses extends to 60 feet plus 5 feet times your Wisdom modifier.  You share their keen senses of hearing and smell as well as being able to inflict poison and, hopefully, disease if your enemies fail their distraction save (your KI save DC). 

Follow the rules in INSTRUMENT OF YOUR DISEASE from here.

Also at 17th level, you are able to use all of the diseases on the list above to poison your monk weapon.

Art by Oscar Linder

FINAL NOTES

These monks are a utility to either the group, the city, warren or civilization they protect. They make good outlying scouts. In a warparty or group of PCs, they make a great asset. Using their poison, they can put an enemy at disadvantage. Adding the rat swarm, they can use them to flank a character; opening them up to sneak attacks by rogues.

For DMs, they make a great addition to an enemy group, army or civilization to make a great threat to a group of PCs. With wererats, it would be easy to build a whole underground network of warrens and/or thieves’ guilds that could plague a whole kingdom. Maybe an underdark army of wererats carrying with them a plague to both protect them from stronger opponents and to cripple kingdoms.

Let us know what you think of the subclass. You are as much of the process as we are and we welcome your input. This is in its infancy, so any help would be appreciated. Comment below or message us on our social media.

NEXT: Wererat Warlock Patron

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