Webster’s Dictionary describes “kill 10 rats” as “something nerds do, now shut up and read a few intelligent words.” I think the editors are getting a little lazy there at Webster’s, but that’s nothing compared to the OED crowd that routinely slips in paragraphs of cut-and-pasted Hunger Games fan fiction just to pad the volumes.
Anyway, we all know that “kill 10 rats” is a derogatory term for those quests that make you slaughter a certain number of things to make life happier for the quest giver. It stems from a long-standing RPG tradition by which lowbie characters typically start their career by doing a little rodent culling in the basement of a tavern. That’s how all great people got their start, Abraham Lincoln included.
With “kill 10 rats” already being a trope, developers have this habit of trying to be coy and meta by actually putting quests in their MMOs where you, yup, kill 10 rats. I get the feeling that they think they’re doing something clever and cheeky, even though practically all of their competitors have done the same. So here we go: ten literal “kill 10 rats” quests that you can find in your games today.
Trion devs couldn’t resist a little tongue-in-cheek reference to the RPG trope, although they slightly subverted it by putting this kill 10 rats quest in the high-level zone of Seratos. Plus, the “rats” in question are gigantic elite crypt rats that require you to activate ancient high-tech rat traps to bring them down to size. Darn crypt rats, always fouling up my pristine crypts with their filth and their plague.
I remember barking a laugh when I came across the “Rats in the Refuse” quest and saw the “kill 10 rats” counter pop up on my quest tracker.
“Hey, I don’t suppose you’d be willing to help me out a little?” the world’s laziest farmer asks in the quest text. “These big rats done moved into the refuse heap. I wouldn’t worry about it much, but they’ve started nibblin’ on the crops too. I tried scarin’ ’em off, but they just hiss at me.”
Farming. It’s harder than going “shoo!”
Kingdom of Loathing
Early on in your Kingdom of Loathing career, you’re sent to help a barkeeper clear out some vermin in his cellar. This being the snarkiest game on the planet, there is little chance that the experience will be straightforward. You stumble in the dark, fighting drunken rats and the occasional rat king, until you find and turn off the rat faucet. Who left that on, anyway?
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Yup, even a galaxy far, far away has rat problems, although it’s not so bad as in Azeroth and Norrath. The quest “Vacation’s Over” challenges players to kill womp rats for their awesome skulls, which makes me think of what type of people are totally OK with killing things for their skulls and why they’re not going, “Ew! No!” to strangers who ask them to do that.
Lord of the Rings Online
What I liked about this “Kill Ten Rats” quest is that it actually fits in very well with the game’s storyline. When it pops up, you’ve been taken prisoner by Uruk-hai and forced to do a series of menial, degrading tasks in an underground complex. Trust me, by the time you’re doing that rat stomping, it’ll seem like bliss compared to the other chores.
Actually, is it more insulting to have to kill rats at higher levels than when you’re a newbie? I mean, you’ve saved the world a thousand times over, and yet these pompous, arrogant NPCs see nothing wrong with making you squish Rizzo and his entire family. Anyway, EQII players are not exempt from the fun, although they do get a giddy thrill of taking out a “commanding vermin.” Whatever that is.
RuneScape gets my grudging respect by taking something as mundane as a rat slaughterfest and turning it into a creative quest chain. In the “Ratcatchers” quests, you’ll unleash a cat to kill rats (which is how it should be, really), kill rats while stealthing about, make rat poison, kill a king rat, smoke rats out, and eventually Pied Piper those suckers right off a dock. Awesome.
I’m a big fan of the quest dialogue for “Rats in the Warehouse.” The best part is when you finish it, collect your frayed bandage (ooh!), and are told, “Thank you! That’s civilian mobilization for you. Nobody slacking; everyone fighting the rats. That’s the only way a great country can be made!”
Darn tootin’, that’s how you make great countries. I have it on good authority that Canada was founded after a weekend of enthusiastic rat slaying.
What do you do when you find a rat smasher charm on the corpse of a fallen foe? Why, you seize your destiny and go on a killing spree, of course! And so, the legend of the mighty soldier who chopped, bashed, sliced, burned, and minced a small army of critters 1/100th his size begins. This quest is so fun that you get to kill 10 rats twice!
Runes of Magic
So “Ferocious Giant Sewer Rats” are breeding out of control, eh? And your solution is to, what? Stand around hoping that a desperate adventurer would just wander by, then pay him or her a pittance to kill a handful of them? Uh huh. Considering that your problem here is procreation, I would think that flushing the sewers with a cold shower would be more effective.
But hey, what do I know. It’s not as if I’ve killed 10 rats before.