Best "rats in the tavern cellar" map?

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Maybe it comes from video games.
I think it's pretty likely from video games. EverQuest is from 1999, or thereabouts, and nearly every race's starting experience involves killing rats. There's literally a giant field of them on the inland side of Freeport, which feels like -- in a better-written world than Norrath -- it should be the subject of an interesting low level plot line. (Wererats? Rat people? A portent of a god of plagues and famine?)
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The original Baldur's Gate had you clearing rats out of a storehouse as a training/tutorial mission. Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance has you start by clearing rats out of the tavern cellar. Icewind Dale mixes it up having you clear some beetles out of the tavern's cellar. I know I've played a few other games that started similarly. It's definitely a pretty longstanding trope as far as CRPGs go.


It is wild how few maps out there have taverns with rat warrens. Is this meme of "everyone" starting campaigns this way wildly overblown?
I feel like it's more a computer RPG thing, not a tabletop one. CRPGs often lean on lazy filler quests where you have to kill/collect X number of Y monsters/crappy items, and killing rats in somebody's cellar is a classic example of such a quest for low-level PCs. (Or, if one is feeling generous to the game developer, it's a way to teach the player the ropes of combat before kicking off the plot.)

(Baldur's Gate 3 includes a couple of parodies of this. One has a devil trapped in a dungeon because he agreed to such a quest and can't find that one last target... and the reason is that the target magically dispersed his consciousness into a bunch of rats, which you must kill if you want to complete the quest for him. The other is where you literally get asked to clear some rats out of a cellar; except it's late in the game, you're likely level 10 or higher, and the rats are all clustered in one area with a bunch of alcohol, so a single fireball can easily wipe them all out.)
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Just finished an entire "rats in the cellar" adventure. It was a lot of fun!

Rats in the Walls”: A dockside tavern in Khromarium is plagued by rats of a most unusual breed. These abominable rodents have ruined the tavern keeper’s business and his life. The man is desperate, and he offers a substantial reward for the elimination of his horrific problem.


"We gotta hire some Adventurers to get the People out of our cellar!"

Hand of Evil

Yeah, I don't know. I think, if you're a DM, and you're looking for adventure hooks for 1st level, it's low-hanging fruit. Often times it isn't necessarily in the actual tavern, but it's the same adventure and your character probably found out about it at the tavern. Same as, 'goblins attacking a caravan'.

There might be a similar thing in Neverwinter Nights. What year did that game come out? Maybe it comes from video games.
No, think it started with WFRPv1. It had The Rat Catcher and small dog, which set it off. Plus Skaven! Just cool villains with great background. But think Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser may have had a story with Ratmen in it. If you are talk just giant rats, H.G. Wells Food of the Gods. Plus the Nutcracker.
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