“What do you mean the rations are gone?” Captain Irilae glared furiously at Quartermaster Garius. They were halfway to Vardeia. The closest port they could divert to was Corva, four days away and not a place they would be well received. “We had magical preservation measures in place and thick sacks. Did you not mete it out correctly? Or did you fail to observe pests entering your stores.”
“Pests, sir.” Garius answered sheepishly. “When I opened a new sack this morning, I found it full of droppings only. But sir, none of the bags were damaged. There’s no sign of the pests even now. I’m sorry, sir, but there’s nothing I could have done.”
Phase rats are perplexing pests because of their ability to sense food (50 foot range) and teleport toward it. They often travel in large groups, devouring as they go. Twice per hour they can teleport a short distance (1 foot or less). Once per week they can teleport to within 10 feet of the nearest significant body of food, up to 100 miles.
Groups of rats hide from other creatures, using their hourly teleportations to avoid the site of predators. They become aggressive only when they are aware that no food is available in the immediate area and their long range teleport is not available to go to food elsewhere. In such a case, the fear of starvation (they are not accustomed to hunger) drives them to attack living things, even humanoids, in the area looking for sustenance sufficient to last until their long range teleport renews.
Phase rats are quite uncommon, breeding very little. They are difficult pests to deal with, as they appear without warning in large groups, consuming all within a short time before vanishing away. They generally meet their demise in cities, where they linger, behaving for the most part like mundane rats since they don’t require their long range teleport to find food. In cities they are also likely to breed with mundane rats, birthing mundane rat pups rather than the phase rat pups birthed when they breed among themselves. In the countryside, however, they are more likely to remain in a group, raiding stores of food from village to village. In this state, they can be a plague worse than locusts, emptying silos across the countryside in the depths of winter without any warning.
When a mischief of phase rats find its way aboard a ship at sea, they frequently consume the ship’s stores before using their long range teleport to reach another ship. Such an infestation of the sea can make popular passages perilous to sail. It is rumored that one powerful nation was forced to stop its seatrade for a season while all ships abroad reached their ports, finally depositing a large mischief of phase rats into a city where they eventually ceased to be.
Where would phase rats come from in your world? Are they a natural creature? Or maybe an ecoweapon developed by a mage to terrorize the population of a rival nation?