Non-Players with Character: The Shiniest of Skritts

The_Skritt

One of the most widespread and well-known races in all Tyria are one of the most humble: the skritt. They seem to be pretty simple: little mousy creatures that scavenge from advanced races and covet all things shiny. Most of the other races don’t respect them, but there’s many reasons you should.

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“Do you know what this is called?” “Floppy-ears lies! Nothing is there!”
This is the following response.

The first time many players, especially asura, encounter the skritt, they don’t give the best first impression. In Metrica Province at the Brill Alliance lab, the asura are testing skritt IQ. This provides for a lot of hilarious interactions when the player characters help test the poor skritt:

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This skritt just has a good time with the word ‘phalanges’.
Serves the asuran vocabulary right.
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To be fair, the skritt is right. On the other hand, I bet Skritt-Bits(TM) would be a pretty popular charr snack.
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This is what happens when you use a word problem starting with “I have 60 coins in my pocket and apples cost 10 coins each” – the skritt just spends the whole time demanding the shinies in the pocket.
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I actually like this skritt’s answer. A magic rod would be a good way to spell a dragon, right?

There’s many more examples, even special ones for each race. That would be enough for a whole post, and I think it’d be more fun to discover them all on your own. But they all add up to skritt that seem kind of stupid, but in reality they often just think differently than other races.

The best example of this different thinking is the greatest settlement of skritt: the city of Skrittsburgh, located in Brisban Wildlands. There are a lot of skritt located in the city, and that makes Skrittsburgh unique. These skritt do a pretty good job of explaining it:

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Unlike most skritt settlements, Skrittsburgh has a sovereign ruler: the skritt king.
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This skritt points out that large groups of skritt are smarter than small groups.
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And she explains why skritt become smarter in large groups. The power of high-speed networking!

Besides the size and high intelligence level in Skrittsburgh, there’s another unique feature: the skritt king, who directs the growth and direction of the city. It’s interesting that while lesser scratches (a scratch is the term for a skritt settlement, usually underground) have no clear leader or a chieftain, the only king is in Skrittsburgh. Could all skritt-dom be one day united under his rule? Probably not, but it’d be interesting to see what the skritt would become. Maybe it’s even possible that other skritt settlements could have a king if they grew large enough, but so far Skrittsburgh is the only example. The skritt king does have noble goals:

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Note: if you ask him how long he’s been king, he mentions that kings usually don’t last long. Enemies like the Nightmare Court and bandits tend to kill the kings.
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Let’s hope the line of kings continue. Civilization is a noble goal indeed.

Skrittsburgh has more than its king, of course. Aside from the usual foragers and tinkerers, there are more skilled inventors, like Bukka here who’s working on a nonlethal mousetrap:

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Hey, skritt have pest problems too! No need to be a jerk, asura.

Plus, there are other skritt working on reassembling Inquest golems and repurposing them. Since they often malfunction, the inventors often just scavenge the power baubles to power other inventions.

There are also skritt who are more interested in cultural development. Sir Jonka helped scavenge some mechanical horses from the sewers of Divinity’s Reach, and he’s planning on using them for jousting. Unfortunately, his source of information is… less than scholarly. But he’s doing his best, in all fairness.

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Good luck with the jousting, sir knight.

But Skrittsburgh isn’t just about technological and cultural growth. Society is growing there too. There are mothers with their kits:

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The kits are soooo cute.

And there’s even budding romance. Best of luck, furry little buddy! And best of luck to Skrittsburgh as a whole.

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I love the phrase “be her special shiny.”

The skritt of Skrittsburgh are still grateful for the help of outsiders, though. If you help drive off Nightmare Court spellbinders outside the city, Lakoon’ta remembers you:

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That’s pretty cute, I have to say.

The skritt king of Skrittsburgh isn’t the only skritt royalty. All the skritt in Dry Top, in the Maguuma Wastes, are loyal to Queen Chrii’kkt IV. She’s a pretty tough opponent, but once you defeat her she doesn’t hold much of a grudge.

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I feel bad for her. A lonely throne is awfully sad.

One has to wonder, though: what would happen if the skritt king in Skrittsburgh and Queen Chrii’kkt were to meet? The queen isn’t nearly as friendly to outsiders as the king is, so it’d be interesting to speculate as to which philosophy would win out. I like to believe they’d choose to be friendly. Perhaps one day we’ll find out.

Another major place the player can encounter skritt is in their personal story. (Spoilers ahead!) The player comes in contact with a skritt named Ftokchak who is part of a scratch that scavenges for artifacts in Harathi Hinterlands. Unfortunately, the artifacts they dug up this time aren’t artifacts at all: they’re destroyer eggs.

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More? That’s a really bad idea, Ftokchak. Really bad.

Predictably, the destroyer eggs hatch and start attacking, making the skritt realize the grave mistake they’ve made. The player can choose to rescue lead scout Tchkik and the other scouts from the place where they first found the eggs, or steal explosive powder from the nearby centaurs. If you decide to rescue the scouts (as I did), the player is mostly successful in this endeavor, but Tchkik mourns the loss of a skritt she cares about:

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This scene is so heartbreaking. Poor Tchkik.

A sad scene, but it does show that skritt are creatures with as much feeling as any other race, far from the vermin some claim the skritt are. Another example of the intelligence of the skritt comes later in the story, when the inventor Btorr shows off his bomb meant to kill the destroyer queen. They plan on detonating the bomb while Ftokchak, and the scratch’s fighters, stay behind to hold off the destroyers long enough for the other skritt to escape. It’s a striking show of nobility, one that makes them stand out.

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I hope they chitter about the bomb for generations to come.
That means they’ll still be alive.

The rather ingenious plan is developed in some part thanks to Tchkik and the scouts. As Ftokchak explains:

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Another example of more skritt equaling smarter skritt.

Unfortunately, the plan was not enough to keep all the skritt alive. Ftokchak mourned them, along with showing memory of past attacks by destroyers. That’s pretty impressive considering skritt don’t keep written records.

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In fleeing the destroyers, the skritt have something in common with asura.
Something asura would no doubt hate to admit.

But even in the wake of disaster and hardship, skritt can flourish where others cannot. Before Scarlet attacked Lion’s Arch, there was a shady cavern called the Undermarket. A bunch of pirates had set up shop there, but the miasma attack drove them out. And who scurried in and took over? A bunch of skritt, led by the self-named Pirate King Drrikk’ttikk.

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The new Pirate King is planning on getting his paws on a boat so they can be real “sea-skritt”. I’d pay to see that.

The exiled pirates are back but in a different area called the Free Market not too far from the cave. And they’re pretty salty about getting kicked out. Will they ever make a move to kick out the skritt? That remains to be seen, but I hope we can help the skritt out if they need it.

Asura and skritt haven’t always got along, but it’s good to see that changing, even in small ways. Also in Lion’s Arch, there’s an asuran child named Snikk and a skritt kit named Scratch that have teamed up. What have they teamed up to do? Well…

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Yep, they’re stealing apples. It’s cute how Snikk yells out “I’m using my magic feet!” when he runs away.

They may be thieves, but they’re awfully adorable little thieves. I hope their friendship lasts a long time. Snikk and Scratch could be a good example for others of their kind… well, except for that stealing bit.

Skritt can be pretty resourceful even when in smaller groups. A skritt named Kakkilak in Dredgehaunt Cliffs has captured and learned how to use a dredge mining suit and is perfectly willing to challenge the player with it:

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Sexy is… not how I would have described it, but that’s just me.

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Loser cake sounds even worse than those Grumble Cakes you get at Shatterer.

Another creative skritt is Brewmaster Chug’iggik of Quandry Scratch located in Mount Maelstrom. He’s in charge of brewing the beer for the skritt there, which is quite a job considering how much skritt like to drink. You can help him out by taste-tasting the batches of brew, or just by waking up the passed-out skritt that overindulged.

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Aren’t all skritt pretty lightweight, though?

Skritt can be pretty enterprising, too. Skritt Waypoint Owner Krumpkitt claims to own Arcallion Waypoint in Harathi Hinterlands. And he insists on people paying him to use it.

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He has more faith in the honor system than is wise, unfortunately.

Finally, there’s one skritt (or possibly many; it’s a little ambiguous) that stands out among all the rest. A mysterious figure that haunts all of Tyria, known for its mischief and its skills. I speak of… the Skritt Burglar! Spoilers about the Legendary Skritt Burglar’s true identity to follow. Skritt Burglars can be found throughout Tyria, thanks to the chests they leave everywhere. Open one, and the Skritt Burglar pops out and leads players on a chase, dropping loot as it goes. Oh, and it somehow has the power to turn pursuing players into animals. The animal varies depending on the region: a raccoon in Ascalon, a chicken in Kryta, a jackalope in the Shiverpeaks, a hippo calf in the Maguuma Jungle, or a llama in Dry Top. It’s a lot of fun, though!

However, the most prominent place associated with the Skritt Burglar is deep under the Silverwastes. There, a skritt named Kri’chta is overseeing construction of a massive boat. But to complete it, they need a lost dowsing rod to fill the cavern with water to float the boat out. Where’s the rod? Well…

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As Kri’chta says “Yes! One big, important generation.”

After trekking through the jumping puzzle, which is huge and difficult to navigate, you finally come to the chest where the rod is locked away. Once you try to open it, however, the Legendary Skritt Burglar appears!

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Wait, is that…

Once this Skritt Burglar is defeated, their identity is revealed to be none other than… Kri’chta! Why did they hide their own dowsing rod? Kri’chta explains:

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Real decisive answer there, buddy, but the jig is up.
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Kri’chta is pretty crazy, but pretty brilliant. And they know what they want out of life: to work on a boat. Forever.

So the Skritt Burglar turns out to be an interesting character, but all skritt are interesting in their own ways. They’re a unique bunch, resourceful and shiny-obsessed but still resilient. I hope you get to know them, and maybe even share tasty beer, yes?

2 thoughts on “Non-Players with Character: The Shiniest of Skritts

  1. It’s not like I didn’t enjoy the other posts in this series -quite the contrary!- but this one is, as Chris said, just brilliantly written and so so funny! I love your style, I love even more how you pick out all the fine details in every race’s stories and remember and document them and bring them to life here! I can’t wait to see what’s next!

    P.S. here’s a… lore-master’s (or lore-loon’s) hunch: skritt are going to be big in the expansion. They’ve taken root (pun intended) in places that could prove important… Plus their interactions with many other races – human, centaur, asura… Me thinks 😉

  2. I can’t stop saying this over and over again. These posts of yours are great!

    Your commentary makes the whole description so funny to go through.

    I’m quite glad you did the Skritt this time around. As you mention, you made me appreciate their feelings. 🙂

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