You're a brand new adventurer, setting out for fame and fortune, and probably about to get caught up in an epic plot to unmake reality as we know it, which only you can foil.
But first, can you clear out the rats in my basement?
A common early quest in many RPGs, particularly of the Western, tabletop-derived variety. Rats may be of unusual size, or substituted with some similarly non-threatening and easily killed critter (the Eastern equivalent is typically one or more slimes), and indeed the basement may well be a different room entirely (possibly the Noob Cave). This may even be part of the game's combat tutorial. Whatever the specifics, there's an area filled with small squishy things that need squishing. Get to it.
Often considered a classic hallmark of the genre, and is likely to be included simply as a nod to tradition. Or, as is becoming more and more common, parodied with an unusual variety of rats.
If you're still getting these sorts of quests when you're famous and powerful, it's time to start yelling "Dude, Where's My Respect?"
- One of the tasks you must perform in 3-D Ultra Pinball: Creep Night is to knock out a bunch of rats attacking a Mad Scientist Laboratory.
- Your first quests in Noobshire from AdventureQuest Worlds has you saving rats rather than killing them, though one of the quests for Yulgar does involve cleaning out his rat-infested basement.
- In the original Alone in the Dark (1992) you must dodge rats in a wine cellar while looking for ammunition in that room. The rats can't be killed, but if they touch you, they wear down your life force and you are liable to die.
- In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, a Tarantian businessman asks you to clear the rats out of his warehouse, although this actually occurs a short way into the game (usually the second, third or fourth town you visit). There are a couple of opportunities earlier in the game to kill rats in dark rooms, though.
- Armory & Machine: The second area of the game that features rats as enemies, with the boss being the Rat King. These rats however are no pushover, as they all come with an dangerous attack that, if not interrupted by Stun, deals a whopping 300 or 400 damage at a point where you have 600 HP maximum.
- Armory & Machine 2: Rats are possible enemies in the first area and they are The Goomba of the game, taking one hit to die from your weakest attack.
- At the beginning of Baldur's Gate, you're asked to kill all the rats in a warehouse as part of the tutorial. The player character's journal contains a several-lines long sarcastic rant on his/her thoughts on the 'quest'.
- Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance also begins with one of these, in the cellar beneath the Elfsong Tavern.
- The reboot of The Bard's Tale starts with the Bard trying to impress a Barmaid by taking care of her rat problem. Turns out that the 'problem' is a giant, fire-breathing rat, and the locals regularly get a kick out of watching cocky adventurer types being beaten by it. Even the narrator has a hard time holding back his snickers as he describes your demise.
- BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm plays a bit with this. In computing terms, a R.A.T. (short for Remote Access Trojan) is a type of malware virus, and BoxxyQuest takes place in a fantasy-ized version of the Internet. So naturally the tutorial dungeon is filled with R.A.T.s shaped like rats that have poisonous bites.
- One of the first things you do in Brain Lord is help clear one villager's attic of rats.
- Your first quest in Candy box! 2 is to clear out some lady's basement of rats. It's also impossible to lose, since the rats die within 1-3 hits, and deal 1 damage to you. As a Call-Back to the previous game, the rats aren't drawn in ASCII unlike all the other enemies, instead literally being shown as the text "rat".
- In Chinese Paladin 2, one of the earlier mainline quests involve getting rid of a rat infestation. You pick up your first summon there, a giant rat-spirit who has earth-element attacks and can also steal stuff.
- Subverted in most RPG created by FromSoftware, particularly Dark Souls and Bloodborne, rats can be seen early on, but it isn't you who stomp rats, it's the rats who stomp you. Not only they are twice larger than you, they are also poisonous and can swarm you.
- Dragon Age: Origins has the human noble fight off an invasion of rats in their family's pantry in their origin story. Like all classic RPG tropes in the game, it's lampshaded, providing the page quote above. Oddly enough, it's the only time in the entire franchise thus far that giant rats are an enemy.
- Drakensang features a brewery full of rats. This is, however, not a low-level quest. Hilariously lampshaded later when the main characters ask to a Inn Keeper if he can obtain his trust by killing the rats in his cellar, making him angry at you. Then is double subverted when you find out that he does have giant rats in his cellar.
- One of the weakest enemies and most common first encounters in Dungeon Crawl is the common brown rat.
- In Earthbound Beginnings you have to enter your basement towards the beginning of the game to retrieve a certain item, where there is a chance that you will fight rats.
- The Elder Scrolls
- The first quest for the Balmora Fighter's Guild has you killing a room full of rats.
- Tribunal has the "Crimson Plague" side questline, which involves you killing some rats who are spreading the disease. (It averts the "beginner" quest part, however, as the quest soon escalates to you needing to kill a notorious Damage-Sponge Boss.)
- Plays it straight by starting you off in a dungeon/secret passage largely populated by rats, but inverts it with the first Fighter's Guild quest — you're told a local woman has a "rat problem" in her basement, but the problem is that they're her pets and mountain lions are killing them.
- When asked about "Rumors," some NPCs will point out how the tasks given to new recruits always seem to have something to do with rats.
- Skyrim also has an archetypal "clearing out rats" quest during the Thieves' Guild questline, but it's not possible to do it before a number of other quests have been finished. Interestingly, you also fight a man named Hamelyn who's been expermenting on the rats, and he can actually be a little tough if you aren't prepared. Also, exterminating pests will only be a cover for the real task...note
- In Eternal Sonata, while there's a tiny part of the game before it, Allegretto and Beat's first battles are in an Absurdly Spacious Sewer with a lot of rats in it. The only ones you're required to fight, however, are the ones in the bottleneck that serve as a combat tutorial for item use, Special Attacks, and light levels, should you elect to let it be one, and the boss and entourage at your destination.
- EVE Online, even being a Wide Open Sandbox, is not immune, except the rats are low level NPC pirates in spaceships...which the players call "rats", and the act of cruising for NPCs in asteroid belts "ratting". And not just because of the Fun With Abbreviations to be had with piRATe... player pirates don't get called that.
- Your first task in Fallout is to head over to Vault 15 and see if they've got a spare water chip. As it happens, Vault 15 is now a bomb shelter full of mutant rats, and of course you start in the area outside Vault 13, also full of rats.
- Fallout 2's Trapper Town has a serious rat problem.
- Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel: Your first mission is to clear out radioactive rats and bugs from town.
- And then, in Fallout 3, one of the first quests you can obtain involves testing out a rat repellent. It involves hitting rats with a stick. That makes their heads explode. Before that the Radroaches you fight during the escape from Vault 101 also count.
- One of your very first tasks upon venturing out into the Commonwealth after escaping Vault 111 in Fallout 4 is going to Concord. Along the way, you find the Red Rocket station near Sanctuary, which is home to Dogmeat, who helps you fight off a bunch of Mole Rats that have burrowed out from the cave under the station.
- The first thing you are required to do in Final Fantasy XII is to clear out the rats in a sewer. One of the local old guys even calls Vaan "Vaan Ratsbane" jokingly.
- Final Fantasy XIV: The Main Scenario quest "Tales from the Tidus Slayer" has Trachtoum, a self-proclaimed former member of the Company of Heroes, ask you to kill some rats before he'll share his tips on fighting Titan. In truth he's just a blowhard farmhand who padded his resume and is tricking you into helping with his chores.
- Done again in Icewind Dale, where the first quest involves clearing out the basement of the inn. In this case weak bug enemies are used instead of rats.
- It gets parodied in Icewind Dale 2, when you encounter another group of low level adventurers who were given the exact same quest and chose to solve it by tossing a cat into the room with the rats.
- Kingdom of Loathing. The tutorial's Rat Stomp features bunnies(!), but you start out fetching a mosquito larva from a forest and clearing out a tavern owner's basement of rats - including the miniboss Baron von Ratsworth. However, the rats just keep coming until you find and turn off the rat faucet. (This area is more significant than it appears; cranking the challenge level up beyond what a new player can handle can get you extra types of rats, potentially enabling a risk-for-reward shortcut against far more dangerous rats in a quest well down the line.)
- Krusty's Fun House is an entire game about exterminating rats.
- Mardek RPG: The rats have strange pipes instead of tails.
- Played straight in Facebook game Mousehunt. Though everything you fight is a mouse, the three weakest mice (White, Brown and Grey) the player encounters in the tutorial are based off regular varieties of real-life mice/rats while everything else is a Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot
- The first storyline quest you'll get in Might and Magic VII is to clear the castle you just won of bats, Goblins and, yes, rats.
- Neverwinter Nights has a demo module for rats and dire rats, named "Thar be Rats! Yarrr!"
- In Hex Coda, a module by Stefan Gagne, you're asked to get rid of the rats in the basement of a bar. Except that these are mutant, anthropomorphic rats, and the best course of action is not violence, but diplomacy — you can simply ask them to leave nicely. The Journal entry for this quest is called "Ratstomp", making this the Trope Namer.
- Another fan module, A Dance with Rogues contains a rather nasty subversion: in the course of one Act I sidequest, the Princess finds herself alone in a sewer full of common rats... without any of her gear or weapons and with just a single HP left. Suddenly, common sewer rats become a terrifying menace that can kill you in one hit and you can't even fight back.
- Planescape: Torment has a quest that gives you a bounty on rat tails. In keeping with Sigil's utter bizzarness, it is on Cranium rats, who become increasingly deadly sorcerers when in the presence of more of their kind.
- In Pokémon, the first Pokémon you'll find in the wild will likely be a Rattata in the first and second generations, and Patrat in the fifth generation.
- The tutorial battle in Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs has the heroes clearing out a dusty old armory where some rats have taken up residence. Defeating the smaller rats reduces the HP of the Broodmother, making her easier to defeat.
- The old Tutorial Island in RuneScape included a Battle 101 section, where you killed - you guessed it - giant brown rats. The rats in the "real world" are much smaller.
- Sacred 2 asks you to clear out a couple of cellars toward the beginning of the game. One of them is, predictably, full of rats.
- In South Park: The Stick of Truth, an early side quest takes the New Kid to Skeeter's bar, where he is asked to rid the basement of a few mutant rats.
- Any RPG made by Spiderweb Software has a good chance of having rats as the very first enemies you fight, before you even go on any quests.
- Tales of Symphonia had a subversion; you don't fight rats until around halfway through the game. Even then still, at first they're not a challenge, but once you've shrunk down the rats are about 12 foot, and bust out boxing moves..
- While World of Warcraft indeed has some quests dealing with rats, they are never a challenge - even first level quests deal with wolves, panthers, bears, giant owl-bear hybrids or humanoid bandits. The only ones that come close are a couple concerning giant undead bats. A more standard example of this trope would be the Kobolds, who are a race of mining rat-people that populate the early Human player maps.
- Inverted (!) with Hades, as giant mutant rats are among the last and therefore most powerful enemies you face. Additionally, it's a Justified inversion because the entire game involves escaping from the Greek underworld; the presence of living, rather than undead things at the end indicates that you're very close to escaping.
- Toyed with all over the place in Total War: Warhammer II: The Skaven are a common Starter Villain early foe for many faction starts, and true to the trope their early units are weak: However, they have serious Magikarp Power thanks to an array of plagues, mad science and ninja, and are your final foes in the Vortex Campaign. In fact, the entire plot was orchestrated by the Skaven! In addition, they are a playable race in their own right, and depending on the faction chosen you may also fight them in the mid-game as well. Hence, the trope can be played straight, inverted or averted depending on the faction.
Anime & Manga
- Rookie adventurers in Goblin Slayer are often advised to start out clearing the sewers of giant rats.
- Played straight and averted in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World. In Gothmarik Citadel, rats are some of the opponents in there. But because the four are Actual Pacifists and won't kill anything, John simply immobilizes them with warm ice timed to melt in a few hours.
- Any time you start out on lower levels in Dungeons & Dragons, you will be killing rats. Just like starting in a tavern. More recently, goblins are becoming the staple of low-level adventurers, but they're not a big step up.
- Evernight, true to its stereotypical fantasy RPG roots, has one of the very first quests: kill the rats under the tavern.
- The Noob, being a parody of the MMO genre, has plenty of fun with this trope. From the disappointment that the heroic adventure starts with the collection of rat tails, to the Explosive Breeder needed to repopulate the starting zone, to the elf-players looking down on the humans starting with ratstomping (while starting elf players are all stuck killing spiders), to the starting-zone rats being made into giant spiked monstrosities because the head developer ordered the team to ramp up the difficulty or be fired (he only meant the endgame dungeon).
- Subverted in Yokoka's Quest; Mao takes on a quest to drive out 'some kind of vermin', but the vermin in question turn out to be giant poisonous snake-centipedes, rather than the rats he was expecting.