They say that they have always been here. They say that they have always watched. They are a clever and resourceful people, survivors to the last. We have called them vermin. We have called them demons. We have called them ratlings. They are none of these. They are the Nezumi.
The nezumi race of rodentine humanoids that once lived on the fringes of human society, the remnants of a once mighty civilization. Some believe that when their Day of Thunder came, they failed, and their civilization was destroyed as a result. Others argue that there could be no Day of Thunder without Fu Leng, but when the Dark Kami fell to earth, the evil he brought with him turned the Nezumi's world into the Shadowlands.
Their past is irrelevant. The Nezumi now live for the future. They remember those who came before, but concentrate on their own survival. They fear the terrors of Jigoku above all else, and battle them with a ferocity to match any human or naga. They soon learned that the humans were intolerant and fearful of them, believing them to be monsters. Only the Crab Clan seemed to be different. The Hiruma bushi were the first to note the uncanny fighting prowess of these so-called beasts and open a hand to them in friendship. Still, for centuries they remained apart.
During the Shadow Wars, the Nezumi retreated to dark caverns to hide from Akuma's power, and invited their allies in the Crab to do the same. The Crab refused; they saw their duty and were prepared to complete it no matter the cost. They would not allow their lands to be consumed by evil. The nezumi were amazed by the bravery of their human friends. Okachec'kt, the leader of the Third Whisker Tribe, approached the Hida daimyo at the time and asked her a simple question.
"Will you let us stand with you?"
She answered yes, not realizing at the time what she had said. Word spread quickly through the Nezumi race. Soon, not only the nezumi who lived on the outskirts of the Shadowlands, but all Nezumi, wanderers, thieves, gangs of scavengers who lived on the outskirts of society all took up arms to stand beside Rokugan. Their numbers were greater than anyone had imagined. For a time, they were able to turn the tide.
At the end of the Shadow Wars, their bravery did not go unnoticed. Yoritomo II personally honored Okachec'kt and gave him a position in his court. The nezumi were acknowledged as an intelligent race, equal in all ways to humans. Since then, there have been nezumi bushi, nezumi statesmen, and even a nezumi Elemental Master. Still, old habits die hard and many of the old human prejudices remain...
RPG Note: rules for making Nezumi RPG characters can be found in the first Book of the Shadowlands. R2K Nezumi begin with one point of Void (Ratlings, like Naga, should have some sort of inner strength to draw upon just as humans do.) 2k ratlings also may take any advantages and disadvantages they wish. All Nezumi characters receive Social Disadvantage: Nezumi. This special disadvantage gives them no extra points, but reflects the prejudices they are bound to encounter in human society. Nezumi may, on occasion, swear fealty to a Great Clan (usually as a reward for some heroic effort or for sharing magical knowledge). Clans available for each tribe are indicated in the following descriptions.
Important Tribes of the Nezumi
The Third Whisker are the most learned of the Nezumi tribes. They are known for their curiosity, devouring any and all knowledge made available to them. They tend to be reclusive, sticking to their libraries shying away from conflict. The Third Whisker are known to swear fealty to the Phoenix, Crab, and Centipede Clans. Asako Ishikint, the late Master of Earth of the Phoenix Clan, was also the chief of the Third Whisker Tribe. With his death, leadership has most likely transferred to his heir, Thi'kwithatch.
The Tattered Ear are the oldest existing Nezumi tribe. They trace their line back to the days of the First Day of Thunder and beyond. The history recorded by their Rememberers, in fact, is in very good condition and archived more successfully than the Ikoma or Isawa, who found their libraries destroyed during the Shadow Wars. Unfortunately, the strange nature of Nezumi histories (they remember all time as if it were the present) renders it nearly unintelligible to humans and nearly so to the Nezumi themselves. The Tattered Ear nezumi are accomplished warriors and staunch foes of the Shadowlands. Their current leader is a nezumi named Ak'kim't-tim, a graduate of the Akodo Acting school and star of several humorous action movies entitled The Ratling Capers. Tattered Ear nezumi may swear fealty to the Crab, Lion, and Hare Clans.
Fuzake The Fuzake are not actually a clan per se, but an actual family of the Crab Clan, invited to become official members after several heroic efforts during the Shadow Wars. The name was invented by the Nezumi, though Fuzake Rememberers claim that they take their name from an ancient hero, a Crab they call "The Man Who Walks Like a Rat." Crab histories do not seem to recall any such individual. Regardless, the Fuzake have learned well from their Kaiu brothers, and have become quite skilled programmers and technicians. Rumor has it that the bowels of Hida Tengyu's castle, Kyuden Hida, are filled with Fuzake nezumi, constantly repairing and making improvements to the Crab Clan's awesome battle platform.
Note: These are by no means the only nezumi tribes in existence. There are countless tribes in Rokugan, some with as little as ten members living in a family group. These three, however, are generally the only clans highly regarded enough to be offered fealty in the Great Clans.