Rat Provolve clade

Image from Steve Bowers

The origin of the name of the Raffin clade of rat provolves is lost in the mists of pre-Technocalypse history.

This provolve clade was developed early in the provolution movement by the genehackers of the Rat Barrel habitat. They appear to have survived the Technocalypse well, and have been one of the most successful of the sapient provolve clades, spreading throughout Terragen space.

A Raffin provolve looks much like a larger version of their rat ancestor that has had only minimal alteration. Their size was increased to about 1.5 meters in height, while they were upgraded to baseline intellect and given an roughly average hu length lifespan. Their musculoskeletal structure and hands were also altered to allow for an upright gait (when required) and full opposability in the hands.

Unaugmented Raffins retain many of their rat forebearers' traits. They have an excellent sensorium in terms of smell, touch and hearing, but poor eyesight when compared to baseline hu. They are near-sighted and find colors desaturated. They do not see reds, lacking a receptor for said color. However, their blue receptors are sensitive into the ultraviolet range, allowing them to see some colors that baseline hu cannot. Curiously, Raffins under stress will sometimes shed 'blood tears', red liquid from glands that produce porphrins. Their long tails play a vital role in temperature regulation. Raffins are omnivorous and are able to eat pretty much any terragen biont food.

Raffins are fairly social, forming communities with Raffins and other sophonts that are fairly similar and/or friendly. When the Raffins are the only sophonts in a society, they tend to form hierarchical communities such as representative democracies, meritocracies, and occasionally feudal societies. When in mixed sophont societies (which is more the norm for the majority of Raffins) they usually do well, though in the early days they faced occasional prejudice due to their resemblance to their rat progenitors. However, this bias was somewhat mediated by the mods to provolve the species that had altered their skull shape to accommodate their enlarged brains and ability to speak, which made their heads more similar to hu than the ancestral form. In modern times, Raffins have normal relations with all clades, though some clades with feline antecedents will tease them on occasion.

One trait that is particularly different from hu is when a female Raffin becomes a new mother; she tends to become a reclusive while caring for her children, and will aggressively drive others away, including the father, until her children reach a less vulnerable age. An exception to this is that sometimes mothers of newborns will team up and jointly rear their children in the early days.

Raffins tend to gravitate towards space habitats and large, densely populated cities, enjoying the narrow corridors and confined spaces these areas provide and the company of others. For example, there is a large population of Raffins on Metropolis Ring City. Many Raffins early in history were crew on relativist ships, and can be found in numbers in the Deeper Covenant civilization and in the Outer Volumes, as well as the Sephirotics. They tend to be nocturnal, and will usually take 'the night shift' in those polities with day/night cycles. They are fairly gregarious and often maintain a large presence in Known Net discussion groups.

Raffins retain incisors that continue to grow throughout life, so enjoy gnawing frequently. Most Raffins like to have handy a piece of aromatic wood to gnaw on, and there is quite a market for this consumer product, making 'gnawsticks' one of the most surprising bestsellers in Terragen space.

Image from Steve Bowers
The venerable clade of Raffins have been able to adapt so well to Terragen civilization that they remain by far the largest and most widespread clade of Rat provolves. However, even early on in their history, the Raffins began to augment and modify themselves in many ways. Given the use of rats as lab animals from the earliest period of genetic science, a huge amount about their ancestral genome was still available to Raffins to use in their own, early mod efforts. Quickly, a wide range of superbright, giant, splice, and tweak lines diverged from the Raffins, and these diverse bodytypes have also become widespread. Cyborgisation and virtualisation have also become commonplace; such as the so-called stainless rats named after an ancient fable.

In the Current Era the rat bodymorph has become a popular lifestyle choice, with sophonts of all types and origins choosing to adopt this versatile form for varying periods, often permanently. Similarly, a significant number of former rat-derived sophonts have adopted completely different forms (including human-like forms) and assumed the physiological and psychological characteristics of those forms, although some raffins prefer to maintain that 'once a rat, always a rat'.
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    Any of several species of adaptable, intelligent terragen rodent. All through history rats have proved adaptable and were one of the few types of animals to thrive with the ascendence of baseline hu. Easily kept and bred, they are popular with geneers and spacers, and it is estimated that several million species have been created, hybridized, or have evolved naturally, in the period since mindkind first ventured into space. Rat splices, rat tweaks, and ratborgs have proved their worth on ships, especially relativistic and pioneer vessels, many time, and often develop into unique and indigenous ecosystems. Rat provolves are also common, although not as common as cat or dog provolves.
  • Rat Barrel, The
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Development Notes
Text by Glen Finney
Initially published on 30 December 2009.

Additional material by Steve Bowers 2023