Q is for the Queeks, Cannon-Toting Rat Swarm

Name: Rikkek, Lurquol, Thrott, Skreech, Tretch, Skweel, Skrolk, Thanquol, Glitch, Snitch, and Sneek Queek, et al.
Campaign: The Eight Arms and the Memento Mori

I wasn’t actually the first choice as this character’s DM. Initially the player went to our local Pathfinder Society DM and asked to play a goblin who spent all their money on a cannon, which they would transport and load using minions from the Leadership feat. The DM’s response was something like “Not a single word of that is legal in Pathfinder Society.” And when something is ridiculous but not technically legal, obviously I am the next best choice. I think my only reservation was “alright, but in this setting goblins have German accents”, which was a more effective way of changing the character’s race than any banlist.

The Queeks were several ratfolk, all siblings and members of the Eight Arms Friend to All Creatures party. Among the siblings Rikkek was their leader and the one who fired the cannon, Lurkwall was the cohort and defender, and the others all lugged and loaded the cannon so Rikkek could focus on aiming and shooting. Each one had a distinct personality and set of skills so they each had a chance to be ineffective over the course of the campaign, but Rikkek was the PC proper.

By the numbers Rikkek was ridiculous. He was an 8th-level character who did 12d6 damage per attack, hit on a 2 against almost every creature (and giant creatures, the team’s bread-and-butter, traditionally had terrible touch ACs) from across a city block, and dealt 30d6 damage on a critical hit before he started getting fancy. He could only attack every other round, but when every hit was a kill that was usually enough. While he spent his rounds manning the cannon, his cohort managed the battlefield at the level of a competent, though not good, fighter. Essentially he was a slightly underpowered front-line defender who also had a nearly-unavoidable, long-range, free-action, instant-death spell that took a round to recharge.

What made the Queeks interesting was their drawbacks. A cannon, of course, is large and heavy, and that limited its ability to move across the battlefield, through the middle of town, anywhere with an unstable floor, and into any waterbound dungeon or encounter that required not being at the bottom of the ocean (please recall that this was a sailing campaign). It was also expensive, as was equipping eleven characters, two of whom needed to be near PC-level. All those characters required a lot of maintenance, and most of them were low-level NPCs; the player came into the campaign knowing full well a single fireball, or even a burning hands, would kill the entire character concept pretty much irrevocably. Rikkek was terrifyingly powerful, but he had so many intentional restrictions on what he could do I never felt like he was steamrolling the campaign.

I think the best part about him is that he felt like he should have been a reskin but wasn’t. He just took a few little-used sections of the rules and ran them as expected to get a fun result that didn’t derail the campaign. He pretty much reached my limit for character wackiness, a line my players seem dedicated to approaching asymptotically, but it worked out.

The Queeks ended the campaign where they began it: on dry land with everybody alive and little reputation, no wiser or richer but still ready for the next ridiculous adventure. I think their player wouldn’t have it any other way.

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2 Responses to Q is for the Queeks, Cannon-Toting Rat Swarm

  1. Blake says:

    You forgot to mention the Queeka-Cola Company.

  2. ThatOneGM says:

    My first though would have been to reskin something too, but it’s also a lot of fun to see how much you can get away with inside the existing rules (and with an understanding GM).

    My favorite character was Raslo the Marvelous, a 1st level Pathfinder sorcerer whose prime occupation was stage magician. Flamboyant and not especially competent, but so much fun to play.

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