The nezumi, or “ratlings” as they are often called by humans, are a race of bipedal ratlike humanoids. Often compared to the Ratfolk, they actually have very few things in common, as the Nezumi are much more spiritual creatures, focusing their religion upon Ki.
Nezumi look like nothing so much as humanoid rats. They stand upright, roughly as tall as a human (averaging about 5 1/2 feet tall and 155 pounds). They have long snouts, pink ears, and pronounced incisors, like ordinary rodents. Their bodies are covered with rough fur, ranging in shade from white through gray and brown to black, sometimes solid and sometimes patterned. Fur patterns tend to run in ratling families. The nezumi have five-fingered hands, opposable thumbs, and sharp claws. Their long tails are mostly hairless and have the same pink coloration as their ears and palms. Their legs are bent like those of rats and have only three toes. Like human barbarians, nezumi often wear earrings in their pierced ears, necklaces made of bone or teeth, and similar ornamentation that humans usually consider savage.
Nezumi are nomadic, wandering in packs or tribes along a more or less fixed migratory cycle. A nezumi name consists of three to five syllables, separated by an apostrophe (which represents a pause in some dialects, a clicking sound in others), and ending with the name of the individual’s clan, such as chek, tch, tck, tek, tuk, or uk. Sometimes the syllable oh- is added to the beginning of a name to designate an individual of great age and wisdom. (Ohchi’chek is a respected elder of the chek, or Teachers, tribe.) To show that a nezumi has gained great honor in his tribe, the syllable ti- is added before the name of the tribe. (Rik’tik’tichek has distinguished himself in the Teachers tribe.) Only occasionally do ratlings adopt nicknames, such as “Longsnout.” Nicknames are most common among ratlings who work closely with humans, since humans often have trouble pronouncing ratling names. Nezumi are wild, fierce, and primitive. They are survivalists in a grim terrain, and their outlook is colored by the harsh realities of their existence: barren land, hazardous natural features, and deadly predators, from ogres and goblins to terrible oni.