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Basic Information

Ratatoskr (sometimes spelled Ratatosk) is a mythological squirrel that lives in the branches of Yggdrasil (the mighty pandimensional tree that connects all the Nine Worlds of Norse Mythology.

He's not just any squirrel, either, he's a talking animal. Not just any talking squirrel, either, as he's arguably a messenger of the gods and possibly even a bit of an agent provocateur. You see, there's this giant eagle that sits in the high branches of the World Tree, and a venomous dragon (named Nidhöggr) that chews on the roots of the World Ash. The bird and the dragon hate each other, and exchange insults frequently. They don't however, go anywhere near each other. Instead, they tell Ratatosk their insults, and the little squirrel happily runs up and down the nine universes to convey their messages and egg them on. He may even be a bit of a trickster or trouble-maker, and may have started the enmity between the other animals in the first place.

The name ratatoskr translates loosely as "rat tooth", "tusk of the traveler", or "the climbing tooth", depending on how you interpret it. So while there's not much in the myths themselves to suggest he's as deadly as a vorpal rabbit… well, I wouldn't want to get him angry enough to bite. (See Aggressive Squirrels Terrorize NYC Residents for reference.)

In appearance, he's probably a Norwegian red squirrel. The eagle in the myth is a giant, so there's no reason why Ratatoskr couldn't likewise be bigger than normal. A squirrel the size of a dog is funny, and a little scary. A squirrel the size of an automobile is terrifying and possibly hilarious.



Game and Story Use

  • Ratatoskr makes a great patron or ally for the PCs. He's a goofy little guy that works well as comic relief. He can also bring plot coupons in the form of taunts and challenges from your enemies, and intel on what the other side is doing and how things are looking on all nine worlds. (A few years back I used him a lot in a Scion RPG campaign, and it was epic.)
    • He'd also make a useful guide to any PC traveling the world tree. Since the tree connects the lands of the living and the dead, it's possible he could function as a psychopomp rather than just a tour guide.
  • Would also be a great way to harass and harry the PCs. He doesn't look threatening, and the PCs are unlikely to just kick the dog, but he's incredibly brave. If the PCs are traveling between worlds, or getting up to mischief in a forest in Scandinavia, this little pest might take an interest in them. He might spy on them, insult and taunt them, or unleash other crazy antics.
  • He probably has strong allies of his own, beyond the eagle and the dragon.
    • Odin himself spent time nailed to Yggdrasil learning the secrets of magic, so he and the squirrel would likely have met.
    • Loki is the prime trickster of Norse Mythology. It's easy to imagine them getting along smashingly, or developing a bit of a rivalry. And Loki is known for being a shapeshifter. Has anyone ever seen him and ratatoskr in the same place at the same time? Could the little guy be one of those Shape Shifters Fast And Wise Animals?
    • There are a few other noteworthy magical animals in the Norse Tree of Life. See Yggdrasil for details on the hawk that literally lives on the eagle's head, and the four stags that chew on the world ash's leaves.
  • Ratatosk might be the cause behind strange squirrel behavior in the news. See Aggressive Squirrels Terrorize NYC Residents, Squirrel Power! and Squirrel Invasion of 1801 for ideas.
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