The Rats: Keep On Rockin' In The Free (Under)World

Group Name: Glass Knives
Leader: Emperor
Deputy Leader Title(s): Grandfather/Grandmother
Upper Ranks: Uncle/Aunt
Local Leader Title(s): Sihing Rats
Upper Ranks: Mister/Miss
Lower Ranks: Solids

Whereas the cats and wolves both tend to feel constrained by the rules of social expectations, the Nest like to boast about how they are unconstrained by those same rules. By rejecting the legal world of the Strip and embracing the demimondaine, the Nest have created for themselves a world in which they are kings. Yet, being a king is in some ways not so different from being a slave…

Despite All My Rage, I'm Still Just A Rat In A Cage

Rats are not pack animals. They are communitarians, and their omnivorous nature tends to make them less aggressive against each other. In this sense, it could be argued that the rat shifters are the most unified of all the shifter groups… a fact in which they take great pride. The Nest of Vegas call themselves the Glass Knives, referencing both skyscrapers and broken windows and their role in both. They are organized around a loosely Chinese corporate structure, and are thoroughly and unrepentantly in bed with organized crime.

Contrary to popular belief, the casinos are not in league with organized crime. Casino owners want to make as much money as possible, and organized crime wants to extort a cut out of that. The Nest serves as the eyes and ears of the Mob and the Yakuza, soldiers for rent to whoever has the most money. Assassins, thieves, lawyers, accountants, legbreakers … the Nest provides a comprehensive array of services to anyone who can pay the fee. Not every Nest is hip-deep in crime, but probably around half their members are in it to their eyebrows.

Unfortunately, their deep involvement in the criminal world also puts them in the crosshairs of the casinos and law-enforcement both. The Nest lives very well, but all that can be taken away in a heartbeat if their identities get exposed. Just being publicly known as a wererat is enough to draw a lot of attention from dangerous people.

The Underworld

For rats who have been made, the choices are simple: leave town or else vanish into the Underworld. Beneath Las Vegas a large network of tunnels exists, mostly populated by the homeless, the crazy, and the Nest. Nobody enters the Underworld unless they're either a rat or else so desperate that meeting a rat is better than the alternatives waiting them aboveground.

The Underworld is not a nice place. There's no heat, no light, and the lack of ventilation makes it really dangerous to bring in generators. The other preternaturals joke that the easiest way to spot a rat is to sit at the hardware store and check for whoever's buying batteries by the trunkload, and there's a lot of truth to this. However, the Underworld is not the barren, dark concrete wasteland that many people seem to think, either: in the Nest Court the accommodations are surprisingly nice, a juxtaposition of immense luxury in very meager surroundings.


Unlike cats and wolves, rats are highly mobile creatures. The same rat that's in Holland today might be in Australia by next month, having hopped onto a ship in port. Cats and wolves tend to form geographically-isolated pockets, but rats are all part of a loose worldwide fraternity called the Court.

According to legend, wererats originated in China and traveled the world on junks. As such, the Court is organized in a strange fusion of Confucian government, Triad and Tong organized crime, and modern corporate structure. At the very top of the worldwide order of rats is the Emperor Rat. The Emperor Rat holds pretty much no direct authority, but through guanxi manages to exert a great deal of indirect control. If you cross Emperor Rat your life will be short, miserable and full of suffering — all of it inflicted from people who have no discernible connection to the Emperor, all of them acting independently, and in accord with their own drives and ambitions.

Advising the Emperor Rat are the Grandfather and Grandmother Rats. Each Grandfather or Grandmother Rat is responsible for the rats of a given area: for instance, there is one Grandfather Rat for Japan, one Grandfather Rat for the Koreas, and one Grandfather Rat for the Western seaboard of the United States. The guanxi power of the Grandparent Rats is immense, although not quite on the level of the Emperor. If enough Grandparents get together they can stymie the will of the Emperor — but there will be repercussions.

Much like the Emperor has the Grandparents for advisors, the Grandparents have the Uncles for advisors. Uncles (and Aunts) are not directly responsible for geographic regions: they are there strictly to advise the Grandparents, and to coordinate the actions of the cities within their domain.

Sihing Rats answer directly to the Uncles and Aunts. “Sihing” is Chinese for “oldest brother,” and represents the chief rat of a smaller geographic region covering a million or more people. The Las Vegas metropolitan area contains roughly 1.8 million people, and is under the control of the Sihing Rat, who in turn reports to Uncle Rat in Phoenix.

Sihing Rats in an area are all connected by bonds of friendship, rivalry, competition, sex, hatred, and more. A sitting Sihing has potent guanxi which can be used to discover what's going on in far remote areas. For instance, the Sihing of Las Vegas would likely have little trouble getting a police report that was filed in Lake Tahoe: just give a call to the Sihing covering Lake Tahoe and trade unspecified future favors for the current favor of faxing over a police report. While guanxi is powerful, there is also a flipside to it: the rats of Las Vegas might be ordered to steal a folder from a mobster's apartment, and never be told why. When Sihings come into conflict with each other, the Uncle steps in to mediate the conflict — but not to suppress it.

Each Sihing Rat is allowed to organize their city into a Nest. They are given great leeway to determine positions and authority, subject to the approval of their Uncle Rat. Sometimes, members of the Nest try to do end-runs around Sihing Rat and appeal to Uncle Rat to make decisions favorable to them. This is technically possible, but fraught with risk. Sihing Rat didn't get there by being stupid, and pitting guanxi against guanxi in front of a guy who has a lot more guanxi than both people put together is almost suicidally stupid. Yet, it has happened in the past — and happened successfully.

The Las Vegas Nest is structured into an Outfit. “Nest” is a word used by outsiders; members of the Nest call it the Outfit. The Outfit is a modern organized crime family structured along vaguely corporate lines. Sihing Rat has a Consiglieri, who represents the Outfit to the Hunt, Pack and Vampires. The consiglieri is responsible for being friends with everyone, and serving as the Outfit's chief diplomat and the Sihing's closest advisor. The consiglieri has no direct authority, but has the ear of the Sihing.

Beneath the Sihing are the Misters and Misses. (Mobsters tend to avoid the more modern “Ms.”.) When a Rat is “Mister So-and-so”, that means the rat runs a branch of the Outfit and reports directly to the Sihing. For instance, the Las Vegas Outfit has people who run money laundering operations, vice, narcotics, security, internal affairs, and more.

Beneath the Misters and Misses are the Solids. As in, “you can trust that guy, he's solid.” A solid rat is a footsoldier of the Outfit: someone who works directly for a Mister or a Miss, who in turn works for Sihing Rat, who in turn works for Uncle Rat, who in turn works for Grandfather Rat, who in turn works for the Emperor.

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