NPC: Mouse the Cat
Title: Mouse the Cat
Short description: Two things flow beneath the streets in rivers: sewage and information. It takes a discerning mind to tell one from the other.
Flavor text on the card: I was so small that even other mice called me ‘Mouse,’ ya understand? But when you’re small, people underestimate you. You’re not making that mistake, are ya?
Expanded flavor text: “If you’re looking to pull off a big job in this town, you’re going to have to go through the underground Rat Syndicate. That’s not just some edgy name, mind; they’re actual rats, and I mean you’re actually going to have to go into the sewers. It’s nice there, though. They’ve done well for themselves. Their boss is Mouse the Cat. Funny name, huh? He’s a funny guy too, but he’s a serious con artist. When he was young he pulled operations you wouldn’t dream of. Now every crook in this city answers to him. He’s a little guy. So small even other mice called him ‘Mouse,’ ya understand? But when you’re small, people underestimate you. You’re not making that mistake, are ya?”
In the undercity, Mouse the Cat is the boss of a massive crime syndicate of rats. Mouse, the smallest of his family, started as a humble thief, and worked his way up to be the boss of all bosses. In his heart, though, he still misses the con, and an enterprising party might play to his pride to get him to do one last job.
To pull off the biggest heist the city has ever seen.
Brusque, vaguely threatening, proud
Designer notes: Kenny Webb
Inspiration can come from pretty unexpected places. In this case, it came from relistening to the Brian Setzer Orchestra’s rendition of “Mack the Knife.” I love the song, and I really love the title.
If you’ve never heard of it, you might double take. What does Mack the Knife mean? Is “Mack” a verb? What kind of person is called “The Knife”? It’s a name that’s already telling a story. Then there’s the mood of the song: a jazzy, lounge-singery tune that’s about a cheery individual leaving bodies and bloodstains in their wake.
That brings us to Mouse the Cat, the tiny crime boss of the Rat Syndicate. Like the song Mack the Knife, he’s meant to evoke Jazz Era crime bosses. And like the character Mack the Knife, there’s a dissonance between the presentation and the actual person.
The Rat Syndicate
The Rat Syndicate is a criminal organization of sapient rats living in the literal or figurative underbelly of a highly populated urban center. Most straightforwardly, in a high fantasy game, they make their home and headquarters in the sewer system of a capital city.
However, the Syndicate can appear in any civic center built by humanoids, such as a space station on a diplomatic mission, a flotilla of pirate airships, or a burgeoning frontier town where the gun is the law.
The details may change, but the Rat Syndicate thrives in the shadowy places that the big folk neglect, the Sewers, which again may be literal or figurative. Here are five key facts about the Rat Syndicate:
The Syndicate wants to be recognized as a legitimate power by the local government.
Long ago, the Syndicate was entrusted with maintaining the unpleasant infrastructure of the Sewers, something most big folk have forgotten.
The Syndicate used to make its money with jewel heists, but now relies on extorting merchants and nobles with stolen information or threats of sabotaging infrastructure.
Over the years, the Syndicate has transformed the Sewers into a sprawling, decadent, trap-filled labyrinth that is nearly impossible to traverse without a rat’s nose for guidance.
The Syndicate tends to ally itself with factions that do the essential, unglamorous work that others forget, such as laborers’ guilds.
Roleplaying Mouse the Cat
Mouse the Cat was born the runt of a large litter, small even for a mouse. But in that way he became an emblem for the Rat Syndicate: unassuming, unappreciated, and unafraid. Now he’s sitting like a fat cat as the boss of the Syndicate. His fat cat lifestyle isn’t the only reason for the nickname. Such is the fear and respect he commands that his fellow rats now call him the Cat. Keep the following five facts in mind while roleplaying Mouse the Cat:
Mouse made his name as the most audacious and successful thief the Syndicate had ever seen, and in his heart of hearts he wishes he could go back to his heyday and pull off one last ultimate heist.
Mouse loves bad jokes. When people don’t laugh, he tends to say, “You don’t know what’s good. The stinkier the cheese, the better the taste.”
Mouse hates short jokes. A short joke made in his presence causes the room to go quiet. If this is the first misstep, there’s no more room for error. If the conversation was already going poorly, the would-be jokester has made a lifelong enemy in the Cat. And that life may not be all that long, catch my drift?
Mouse commands absolute loyalty from his crew. However, there are rumors that an up-and-coming capo is looking to make a play on the Cat’s throne.
Though Mouse rarely lifts a weapon himself, many have (allegedly) died by his order, generally by poisoning.
Mouse the Cat
Tiny beast, neutral
Armor Class: 12 (cloth armor)
Hit Points: 10 (3d6)
Speed: 10 ft.
STR: 3 (-4)
DEX: 18 (+4)
CON: 10 (+0)
INT: 14 (+2)
WIS: 13 (+1)
CHA: 16 (+3)
Saving Throws: Dex +5, Int +2, Cha +4
Skills: Perception +3, Sleight of Hand +7, Stealth +5
Senses: passive Perception 12
Languages: Common plus up to five other languages
Challenge: 0 (10 XP)
The Nose Knows. Mouse the Cat has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell and Wisdom (Insight) checks to detect lies.
The Boss. Allies within 50 ft. of Mouse the Cat acting on his orders gain advantage on attack rolls and skill checks.
Dagger. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, one target. Hit: 4 (1d6+ +1) slashing damage.
Light Crossbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 80/320 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d8 + 1) piercing damage.
Sticky Fingers. Whenever Mouse the Cat hits a creature with his Dagger attack or makes casual physical contact with a creature, he may steal a single object from them weighing 1 lb. or less. If the target is a PC, ask them to make a DC 20 Dexterity saving throw. If they succeed, the theft fails. If they fail by 5 or less, they are aware of the theft.
Getaway. When Mouse the Cat is first reduced to 0 HP, he may make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw to instead be reduced to 1 HP. On a success, If he is in his headquarters, he then may flee into a secret Tiny escape door within 20 ft. If he is not in his headquarters, instead he darts to cover within 20 ft., requiring a DC 15 Perception check to spot him.
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