Following a (now deleted) question on another site about Skaven in the Warhammer Fantasy setting and the issue of plagiarism, I've tried to work out when Games Workshop invented the Skaven, or if they were not an original creation, who might have got there first?
I've a copy of the first edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay here and Skaven appear in that, giving a date of 1986. Warhammer Fantasy Battles predated that by a few years (1983?), but I don't have a copy of that to see if Skaven appeared in it. There don't seem to be any rat-people in the first edition of D&D, and AD&D (Dungeon Master's Guide, 1979) has were-rats but no specific "race" of rat-people that I spotted.
Tolkien didn't write about such things that I'm aware of. I don't know enough about Robert E. Howard's work to know if he did. Something like "Giant Killer" (1945) is tantalizingly close, with an unpleasant society of intelligent mutant rats but they still seem to be just basically rats rather than the humanoid things that Skaven are. Honorable mention must go to The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (1816), but I don't think that the mice in that were humanoid (and weren't particularly evil, as such).
So, I'm looking for:
- Anthropomorphic rat-people, in the sense of "human shaped" and having human-like characteristics. Bipedal and intelligent, with hands optimized for grasping and manipulating things, with the capacity for creating and using tools and language and clothing. Preferably human-sized.
- Who have some kind of society. Not just an individual character.
- Not wererats, not giant rats.
- Ideally, stereotypically evil and possibly warlike.
- Written before their first appearance in the Warhammer setting (either '83 or '86)
Anyone got any ideas? Or did GW get there first?