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One of my players wants to play a humanoid rat character. I'm considering cursing them with wererat lycanthropy; however, looking at these abilities, they just seem way too strong for a level 1 character to have.

At level 1, on top of their class features, they would also gain the following benefit of wererat lycanthropy (MM, p. 207):

Wererat. The character gains a Dexterity of 15 if his or her score isn’t already higher. Attack and damage rolls for the bite are based on whichever is higher of the character’s Strength and Dexterity.

A Dex score of 15 means the PC could dump Dex because they automatically gain a 15 anyway)

They also gain the following wererat traits and actions:

  • Damage immunities: bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage from non-magical attacks that aren't silvered
  • Keen Smell. The wererat has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.
  • Shapechanger. The wererat can use its action to polymorph into a rat-humanoid hybrid or into a giant rat, or back into its true form, which is humanoid. Its statistics, other than its size, are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn't transformed. It reverts to its true form if it dies. you can not speak in giant rat form.
  • Multiattack (Humanoid or Hybrid Form Only). The wererat makes two attacks, only one of which can be a bite.
  • Bite (Rat or Hybrid Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage. If the target is a humanoid, it must succeed on a DC [8 + the lycanthrope's proficiency bonus + the lycanthrope's Constitution modifier] Constitution saving throw or be cursed with wererat lycanthropy.

Multiattack, polymorph, and 3 different damage immunities sound way too powerful at level 1. As a result, I was thinking of changing the abilities in the following ways:

  • Change his stats using point buy (which we'll be using anyway) to set his Dex score to 15; that way they're not getting free ability score improvements.
  • Vulnerabilities to bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage from magical or silvered weapons from levels 1-3. Regular damage taken from said attacks from levels 4-6.
  • Resistances: bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage from non-magical weapons that aren't silvered levels 7-9,
  • Immunities: bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage from non-magical weapons that aren't silvered levels 10.

He would also get the following traits and actions:

  • Keen Smell. The wererat has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.
  • Shapechanger. The wererat can use its action to polymorph into a rat-humanoid hybrid or into a giant rat, or back into its true form, which is humanoid. Its statistics, other than its size, are the same in each form, including health. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn't transformed. It reverts to its true form if it dies. You can not speak in giant rat form.
  • Bite (Rat or Hybrid Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: Str or Dex mod to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage. If the target is a humanoid, it must succeed on a (DC 8 + the lycanthrope's proficiency bonus + the lycanthrope's Constitution modifier) Constitution saving throw or be cursed with wererat lycanthropy. Attack and damage rolls for bite are based off Strength or Dexterity.
  • Wererat Rage. If you kill a creature, you must make a DC 11 Constitution saving throw (subject to change; I haven't finalized the DC yet) or turn feral. While feral, you must use your action each round to attack the creature nearest to you. If you can make extra attacks as part of the Attack action, you use those extra attacks, moving to attack the next nearest creature after you fell your current target. If you have multiple possible targets, you attack one at random. You are feral until you start your turn with no creatures within 60 feet of you that you can see or hear or you fall unconscious, a lesser restoration or similar magic can also end this effect.

My primary questions:

Is this too much? Should it be more or less powerful? Should I not include or change certain abilities? Should I use the original one instead?

I might get rid of the Shapechanger ability all together and just have them be a Ratman or limit the change to exclude the giant rat transformation; is that a good idea?

and most importantly...

Would being a Ratman or Wererat in the Curse of Strahd campaign setting affect social interactions?

Would people kill them on sight because they're monsters? Would people be even less trusting that they already aren't? Are there important hostile NPCs that would immediately change their tune because of the lycanthropy, effectively eliminating them before a fight?

If all this is the case is there a way to "de-power" the changes to social interactions (i.e. make them seem more "normal")?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 especially for asking about problems before it was already in play. \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Nov 6 at 9:08
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There's already a race representing a rat-humanoid hybrid: the shifter. If your goal is to not create something unbalanced, you should just use that. It looks like the "swiftstride" shifter is the one that represents rats.

As far as what you have:

  • It's correct to ask your player to buy DEX up to at least 15.
  • Messing with damage resistance to weapons is super unbalanced. There could be some encounters in the late game that your character is just immune to. Very few enemies have silver or magic weapons.
  • Keen smell doesn't seem broken. Shapechanger is a cool roleplaying ability but doesn't seem broken.
  • Wererat rage is a bad drawback because it takes control away from the player. I don't think your player will like this.

I recommend you just use the swiftstride shifter.

Note that the shifter race might change slightly when Eberron character options are updated and finalized for the release of Eberron: Rising from the Last War in about two weeks.


You've also asked about social interactions. The shifter character looks normal most of the time, so this wouldn't be a problem for them. If you decide to give your player a homebrew race that looks monstrous, it will be up to you to decide whether the race is so monstrous that NPCs would react badly to it. I recommend deciding that the race is not that monstrous, because you'll have more fun if the group can have normal social interactions.

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  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ It's worth noting that your DDB link currently points to the version of the shifter that appeared in UA: Eberron Races, but the content may change slightly when the Eberron character options are updated and finalized as of the release of Eberron: Rising from the Last War in about 2 weeks. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Nov 6 at 8:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer kind of misses that in Barovia, anything that looks even mildly monstrous would be seen as some scary monster sent by the devil Strahd. Even half-orcs would realistically look extremely out of place as far as Barovians are concerned, a rat-creature-thing would be get-out-your-pitchforks-and-torches time. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Nov 8 at 7:23

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