Skaven

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Skaven Warlord.jpg

Associated with the Horde of monsters, the Skaven are an extremely intelligent, evil, sentient race of rat-like creatures bent on taking over the world. They live in a series of tunnels beneath the rest of the world, plotting for the day when they will rise up and take over the world that dwells on the surface. Humans remain mostly ignorant of the Skaven, which the ratmen take great effort to ensure continues. Those who do know of their existence tend to classify them as merely a sub-breed of Beastman rather than as a unique race. The humans most knowledgeable about the Skaven are the "Sewerjacks", city watchmen whose job it is to patrol the sewers of large cities to fight criminals. As a result, they encounter Skaven often.

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Appearance and Culture

Skaven appear a cross between a rat and a man. They worship the deity known as "The Horned Rat," who is frequently mentioned as simply "The Horned One." Skaven have the appearance of large bipedal rats and possess intelligence. They can make tools, converse in a developed language and develop and use advanced weaponry. They often steal technology from other races and improve upon it which usually involves warpstone. The Skaven Grey Seers will consume warpstone to boost their power to great heights. Skaven are sometimes refereed to as "Children of the Horned Rat" having the average expected lifespan of about 25-35 years, if it were not for there cultures violent tendencies, they might live well past 70. More powerful members of Skaven society such as the dreaded Council of Thirteen tend to live far longer, for hundreds of years, or even longer.... due to the consumtion and frequent exposure to unstable magical substances, such as warpstone. Some stories haven spoken of the Horned One bestowing unnaturally long life.

Skaven are roughly man-sized, the typical specimen being between 4 and 5 1/2 feet tall on average. Most have brown or piebald fur, though it can vary. White and grey-furred ratlings are prized among Skaven litters, as they often become Grey Seers (the Skaven equivalent of priests and wizards). Black fur is looked upon as the sign of a true killer, so the elite corps draw their members from black furred ratlings, it is also common for lighter colored Skaven to dye their fur. Whole Skaven clans sometime dye their fur as well to represent their clan allegiance. Albino Skaven are rare but not unheard of. The Stormvermin whom were in charge of protecting the Council of Thirteen (the Skaven ruling body) are all albino.

Skaven Clans

Skaven have a clan based society. There are hundreds of Skaven clans, but only twelve have power in Skaven society. Of these clans, the most prominent are clans are Clan Eshin: The Assassins, Clan Moulder: The Beast Masters, Clan Pestilens: The Plague Lords, Clan Skryre: The Engineers, Clan Mors: Warlord Clan, and Clan Skurvy: Naval Clan. These clans hold significant power in Skaven society, and therefore have the largest number of followers.

The clan social hierarchy is functionally the same for each clan, no clan would admit this however. Every clan views itself as superior to all the other clans. Because of this, each clan maintains its own naming scheme for the social ranks within the clan.

Each clan has a champion chosen within its ranks based on criteria unique to that clan.

Clan Eshin The Assassins

After the disaster at Skavenblight, and the appearance of the Grey Lords, Clan Eshin set off to the East under the leadership of a Grey Lord known as Lord Visktrin. While crossing the Mountains of Mourn in the far east, Lord Visktrin was mortally wounded in a battle with a dragon. Before Lord Visktrin died, he appointed a successor and commanded the Clan to continue east. The Clan, following its bidding, disappeared into the East and was not heard from for hundreds of years.

When they arrived in Imperial Cathay they quickly learned of the intrigues of the Far East. By observing the Warrior Monks of Cathay and the cold efficiency of the Ninja of Nippon, they honed their skills in such deadly arts. Clan Eshin would later reappear to assist the Council of Thirteen in stalemating Clan Pestilens and bringing order to the Skaven Under-Empire.

Clan Eshin is one of the most powerful Clans in the Skaven Under Empire. Their Clan is synonymous with murder, poison, and assassinations, and even their reputation is a weapon in itself. They hire their services out to the other Clans, and despite their feigned political neutrality, are deeply immersed in plotting and scheming. While neither the most influential nor the largest of Clans, they are one of the most feared, and they have an incredible degree of knowledge about the other Clans from spies and agents.

The Leader of Clan Eshin is the Nightlord. From there, the Clan follows a convoluted Hierarchy appointed by the Nightlord. All appointments must be approved by him, giving him powerful control. The leadership of the Clan exists based on proximity to the Nightlord. He does rely on a series of recommendations, allowing for a lot of political rivalry and plotting. Inter-Clan assassinations, done well, are secretly approved of, while botched assassinations against Clan Eshin members are punishable by death.

Clan Moulder The Beast Masters

Like Clan Eshin, Clan Moulder was guided to the Hell Pit and its domain in Kislev and the World's Edge Mountains by a Grey Lord known as Lord Malkrit. The Clan has maintained a low profile, gathering its time and its resources. They avoid interfering in the politics of Kislev. During the last incursion of Chaos, a great battle was fought around the Hell Pit, and many of their creatures were tested in the battles around Hell Pit. Some of the monsters subdued in the battle were later brought down to the Clan Moulder Breeding Pits to further the Clan's evolutionary practices.

Clan Moulder has gained their power from their special breeding projects and their acquisition of the Warpstone necessary to their experiments. From their Clan home of Hell Pit they carry on experiments in breeding. By applying Warpstone and selective breeding programs, they have developed an army of beasts that can rival any force that the other Clans may field. Clan Moulder only sells sterile beasts to other Clans, using their profits to fund their experiments.

The leader of Clan Moulder is Packlord Verminkin. He controls a small ruling elite, consisting of Breeders and Trainers. Since many of the Clan are focused on training and breeding the creatures, the politics and scheming within the Hell Pit is more subdued. Once members of Clan Moulder leave the strict hierarchy of the Hell Pit, they often plot against each other, so that considerable political maneuvering within Clan Moulder takes place outside of the Clan holdings, amongst the members on excursions and missions.

Clan Pestilens The Plague Lords

The history of Clan Pestilens begins with the Disaster at Skavenblight, and their consequent pilgrimage to Lustria, where they developed their own "cult" within the Cult of the Horned Rat. They had been forgotten, and returned to the Old World, battling Skaven Clans in the Southlands, and went to war with the Council . This war finally ended in the reintegration of Clan Pestilens into Skavendom. They were then responsible for the release of a number of diseases into the Old World, and played a role in the Second Skaven Civil War.

Clan Pestilens are foul and verminous, spreading plague and pestilence through their foul rites and experiments. Responsible for many of the plagues that swept the Old World, they are responsible for more deaths than any other Clan. Filled with ritual, the members of this Clan adopt a bizarre cult version of the Cult of the Horned Rat, organizing themselves along religious lines.

The leader of this Cult is the Plaguelord, who is, according to the Priesthood of Pestilence, the favored of the Horned Rat. The Arch Plaguelord is the head of Clan Pestilens, but the Deathlord was the leader of the Priesthood of Pestilence. He wields phenomenal power over the fanatic followers. His servants are the Death Priests, who make up the ruling hierarchy of the Priesthood. Below them are the Plague Monks, the fervent soldier followers of the Priesthood, who are half-mad with religious fervor. Although after the Second coming the role of the deathlord its taken away and given to the Arch Plaguelord ruler of clan pestilens. A small faction, the Plaguelords, are kept separate from the Clan, and it is these Plaguelords who create and concoct the deadly plagues, diseases, and miasma that give Clan Pestilens so much power. this group is kept in a secret location

The stronghold for Clan Pestilens exists underneath the humid jungles of Lustria, and a number of captured strongholds in the Southlands. They also have a strong foothold in Skavenblight, maintaining their own quarter there.

Clan Skryre The Engineers

After the disaster at Skavenblight, the Greylords led the Skaven to all corners of the world. The Grey Lord who commanded Clan Skryre decided to keep his Clan behind at Skavenblight. It was here in Skavenblight that Clan Skryre turned their energies on the study of their foul arts, and picked apart the machinery that had created the disaster, tearing apart its secrets. When the local Clans sought to conquer Clan Skryre's holdings, they turned their knowledge to war, and quickly enslaved a number of Clans. Clan Skryre quickly rose to great power in the Council, and the Warlocks of Clan Skryre played an important role in battling the Undead at Cripple Peak.

When the Council, and their dominion over Skavendom was challenged by Clan Pestilens, they turned to an alliance with Clan Eshin. With the introduction of all these new and powerful major Clans, Clan Skryre's supremacy was gradually eroding. When the Second Civil War broke out, as the result of Council actions at the behest of Clan Skryre, Clan Skryre unleashed used its mighty arsenal and seized and held the Shattered Tower for the remainder of the war. Eventually when the war ended with the Incarnation of the Horned Rat, and Clan Skryre resumed its role in the Council.

Clan Skryre is a Clan that bases its power on knowledge and a bizarre blending of magic and technology. The power in the Clan is based not on Chieftains and Warlords, but rather ability in the magical arts and technological knowledge. The Warplock Engineers of Clan Skryre form the leadership, with those who are the most powerful assuming dominance over the less powerful. Although the heads of the clan are chosen by the stone as there three seats on the council.

The troops that Clan Skryre uses are armed with an arsenal of weaponry. Not only are their opponents hammered by the magical knowledge of Clan Skryre, but also they find themselves attacked by Doomwheels, Warpfire Throwers, Warplock Jezzails, and Poison Wind Globes. Although their numbers may be small, their weapons are capable wreaking mass destruction, and many of the Skaven's greatest victories have been due to the ability and weaponry of Clan Skryre.

Clan Mors

Clan Mors is the most numerous of the warlord clans and is led by the insidious Lord Gnawdwell.

Clan Mors rose to this position after being ordered to seize Karak Eight Peaks along with Clan Gritak from the Dwarfs. In the ensuing war, which continued after the Dwarfs had all but been defeated due to pressures from Orc and Goblins, Clan Mors arose victorious after collapsing the roof of the ceremonial hall. Not only did this fulfil the Council's wishes of blocking out the Orcs and Goblins but Clan Gritak (another warlord clan) was also caught in the cave-in leaving Clan Mors as sole possessors of the City of Pillars.

Clan Skurvy

The Skaven of Clan Skurvy are a bunch of mangy cutthroats and many bear the scars of their trade, including lost eyes and limbs. Clan Skurvy controls the largest of all the Skaven Clanfleets, having gnawed out the cavern-harbour known as Spineport. From here the clan's ramshackle fleet reaps a fortune (and no small amount of dread repute) from piracy, much of which is spent on buying and press-ganging replacement slaves to replenish the fleet's short-lived crew. On board a clanship, every Skaven is a suspect of mutiny, which is just as well as they are all planning to do it sooner or later. No claw captain keeps command for long unless he is utterly ruthless, and those that lapse for even a moment tend to "fall" overboard or "accidentally" walk the plank. Because mutiny is so rampant, the clawpacks that serve in Clan Skurvy tend to adopt the icons of their ship rather than those of any particular clawcaptain. Variations of the Rat-skull and crossed-bones are common motifs. Clan Skurvy is led by the ruthless Vrisk Ironscratch.

Queekish

While Skaven have a native language called Queekish, they fluently speak the Manthing tongue so as to better strike fear into the hearts of their enemies. The Skaven have made a few improvements to the Manthing language showing their superiority over their weak and stupid enemies. These changes are as follows.

  1. Skaven chatter a lot. In the Manthing tongue they will, in their excitement, repeat words for emphasis. Ex. Die-Die Manthing!! Run-Run!! Greetings-Greetings! Skuttle Quick-Quick!!!
  2. Skaven view themselves as superior to all other races. They refer to civilized races as Manthing, Dwarfthing, Elfthing, etc.
  3. Skaven in their political cesspool have mastered flattery. When asking a favor, in fear of being punished, or other dealings where they may need your cooperation they will shower you with compliments such as "Most prestigious of prestigious Lords" or "Greatest of vile vermin."
  4. Skaven have mastered mud-slinging. When enticing someone to work against another Skaven or another # Clan they will detract from their intended target with phrases like "That backstabbing coward of Clan Skryre, the Horned One chew-chew his intestines!!"
  5. When Skaven are excited they tend to chatter uncontrollably: Neek-Neek.
  6. When Skaven are afraid they make high pitched whining sounds: Eeek-Eeek!!!
  7. Although not a part of the spoken language, Skaven tend to touch whatever they are talking to.

The Skaven Alphabet

Few humans have ever ventured into Skavenblight, and fewer still have ventured out. For many decades, despite the appearance of skaven runic symbols on battlefields across the old world, it was believed that the Skaven lacked a written language of their own. In support of this theory, it was pointed out that Skaven battle standards are often written in the common tongue, bearing such epitaphs as "we shall inherit" and "wither and decay." However, we now know that the Skaven use the common tongue solely for their opponent's benefit - in an attempt to break enemy morale. Only recently, through the interrogation of human cultists of the Horned Rat, and careful study of a few captured tattered pages of the "Liber Boubonicus" have the mysteries of the Skaven written language begun to unravel.

The Skaven alphabet contains 19 letters. There is no hard and fast rule concerning whether material is written from left to right, right to left or up and down.

Each of the 19 letters takes the form of a runic symbol. These symbols, when appearing alone, have a distinct meaning within Skaven society. In addition, however, the word or phrase associated with each symbol also represents a certain sound in the Skaven alphabet. For example, the skaven symbol for the word "warpstone" may appear alone, and often does. However when it appears with a group of other symbols it may also represent the "Wa" sound, or the letter "W".

In addition to their 19 letters, the Skaven alphabet contains 7 vowels. The vowels are often omitted in informal writing, as the Skaven vocabulary appears to be so limited as to have little need of them. Thus, a word like "water" will usually appear using the runic symbols for "W", "T" and "R" only.

Finally, the Skaven use a single punctuation symbol in their writings: the double scratch mark, or "//" symbol. When this symbol appears after a word, the word is always pronounced in a stuttering fashion, such as "Die-die" or "Hate-hate". No other punctuation is known to exist in the Skaven written language. It is believed that the question mark is not used because written requests are of no importance in Skaven society. No Skaven would ever respond to a request such as "where is the warpstone kept." Such information would only be given in person, either to a more powerful Skaven, or extracted by his assassins.

Click on Queekish in the TOC and scroll all the way down to view the Skaven Alphabet.

Skaven History

How the Skaven came to plague the world, none can tell for certain. Stories such as the Curse of Thirteen claim that Skaven were brought into being by the misdeeds of man. Some scholars take a less fantastic approach, claiming that the Skaven are simply mutated rats that have been shaped and formed by the power of Chaos, and a few scholars claim that Skaven were once men. The more poetic claim that the Skaven were nurtured by the darkness of the human soul, whatever that may mean. The true story of their origin lost in time, and reduced to nothing more than a children's tail. There are few who know that story to be true a story of when a god came to earth and created his children...

Regardless of their origins, the Skaven are said to originate form the ancient city of Skavenblight, which many legends and wives' tales claim was once a human city that is responsible for the birth of the Skaven race. Whether this is true or not, the city now known as Skavenblight is the center of the Skaven Under-Empire.

The Skaven thrived for years, and as their power grew, so did their ambition. At this time a number of Skaven sorcerers developed a cunning plan to tear the very earth open, sending the cities of man and dwarf tumbling into rifts and turning the whole of Old World into their domain. The surface would be scarred by deep fissures in which the Skaven would build their cities. This ambitious plan however failed, with catastrophic results. The sorcerers device that was created malfunctioned, and although Skavenblight was spared, the device was destroyed as it set off a number of seismic waves through the ground. Dwarven cities and goblin strongholds crumbled as the peaks above them came crashing down, sealing millions in their homes than now became their tombs. Human cities were leveled, tidal waves swept along the coastline, and many ancient and great monuments collapsed. However the device did not wreak the destruction that was anticipated despite the wide spread misery it caused to everyone.

Yet despite this calamity, Skavenblight still stood, and the Temple of the Horned Rat continued to tower above the ruined landscape. From this temple strode twelve cloaked and hooded figures speaking with the authority of the Horned Rat. These messengers were known as the Grey Lords, and they began the exodus that would send the Skaven to nearly all the corners of the earth. These Grey Lords were the chosen disciples of the Horned Rat, and they sought out a plan that would spread the Skaven across the face of the world, so that no one disaster could wipe out the Skaven or ruin the Horned Rats machinations. The Skaven surviving the disaster were divided into twelve groups, each led by a Grey Lord. One group and their Greylord remained behind, while the other eleven set off leading their bands, finding dark homes and spreading the Skaven about so that no single disaster would ever put an end to the Horned Rat's plans for dominance.

The Skaven spread out, and many of the destroyed or partly demolished Dwarven cities fell to the Skaven, and many others besieged or harried for centuries. Thousands of slaves were acquired from the dazed and feuding Dwarves and goblinoids. Groups of Skaven spread out in other directions, not to be heard from again for centuries. At this time, the Grey Lords and the newly established Council of Thirteen forbade nearly all sorcery to be practiced by the Skaven. Only the Grey Seers, the priests serving the Horned Rat, and Clan Skryre who remained behind at Skavenblight researching what had gone wrong with the device, would be permitted to use magic.

The Skaven's need for Warpstone brought them into direct competition with an ancient necromancer of untold power, a creature known as Nagash. Nagash, undoubtedly the mightiest of Necromancers had incredible power at his hands and a massive undead army at his command. To continue his eldritch rituals, Nagash needed massive quantities of Warpstone to continue his research, and his fortress at Cripple Peak lay atop a massive Warpstone meteor, and the Skaven and Undead quickly went to war over it. The battle would rage for years until the Skaven successfully assassinated Nagash and claimed Cripple Peak for their own. Nagash's power over death was however so great that he would return to Cripple Peak at a later date, and getting revenge upon Skavendom, crushing Clan Rikek that had settled there and were mining the warpstone below Cripple Peak. Nagash's revenge was bitter, however, for by this time the Skaven had mined most of the Warpstone, and Nagash's power was greatly diminished.

Merely a century later, Skavendom was rent asunder by the return of one of the departed Clans. Clan Pestilens led by their Grey Lord, had traveled deserts and seas to find a home in the continent of Lustria to the far south. Beneath the thick jungles there the Skaven had discovered abandoned cities of a once great and advanced culture, and became masters of disease. The Skaven battled for hundreds of years with the reptilian and amphibious races of nearby cities, before beginning their exodus back towards Skavenblight.

It would be this Clan, Clan Pestilens, that would bring internecine warfare to Skavendom. Led by a priesthood known as the Priesthood of Pestilence, Clan Pestilens swarmed into the South-lands, battling Clans controlled by one of the few remaining Grey Lords, Grey Lord Azarskittar. Clan Pestilens mighty and fanatic armies were preceded by horrifying diseases and their march seemed unstoppable. Clan Pestilens would eventually meet bitter resistance by the Grey Lord Azarskittar clinging to his last few strongholds, compelling Clan Pestilens to shift their momentum of their assault towards Skavenblight.

The Council was startled by the attacks, and fought for years to force back Clan Pestilens. Despite their efforts, nearly all of the Southlands fell under the sway of Clan Pestilens. Many other Clans, impressed by the onslaught of Clan Pestilens, switched sides and joined in against the Council. This state of affairs would continue intermittently for nearly five hundred years. The balance of power would change with the return of another distant Clan, Clan Eshin.

Clan Eshin had been led far to the East, beyond the Dwarven cities broken asunder to the area known in the Old World as Cathay by their Grey Seer, who died upon the journey. There they hid under the mountains, unbeknownst to the humans living around them. They carefully watched the humans there, and learned the silent and deadly arts that the humans there practiced. When Clan Eshin again made contact with the Council, through pacts that remain a secret even today, Clan Eshin pledged to serve the Council of Thirteen and the Cult of the Horned Rat. For the next century, those clans allied with Clan Pestilens were subjected to an unrelenting assault of assassinations, sabotage, and kidnappings by the black-garbed agents of Clan Eshin. Clan Pestilens' position of power was rapidly eroding under the combined assault of Clan Eshin, the Council, Clan Skryre, and the wounded and bitter Grey Lord Azarskittar.

Clan Pestilens, realizing the danger of their position, made secret overtures to the Council of Thirteen. The Council, after centuries of fighting and flushed by their renewed success, were reluctant to deal with Clan Pestilens, but the Grey Seers demanded that the Council meet with Clan Pestilens envoys. The leader of Clan Pestilens, Arch Plaguelord Nurglitch himself took the harrowing and dangerous mission to Skavenblight, surviving a number of assassination attempts. Arriving at the temple, Nurglitch informed the Council that Clan Pestilens would now be happy to comply and serve the Council, and also informed the Council that if they rejected Nurglitch's generosity and turned down the offer, that the Pestilens envoys were carrying on them the most deadly and virulent of diseases upon them, and would release them if any ill fortune were to befall them or their offer. The Council accepted the Clan back into the Skavendom, and Nurglitch, after defeating another Council Member in a duel, ascended to the Council of Thirteen.

With the rift in Skaven society now closed, the Skaven turned their attention to their opponents above ground. Clan Pestilens released the Black Plague upon the unsuspecting human cities. The effects of the disease were horrible, and entire cities were wiped out. While the disease ran its course, the Skaven boiled out from their hidden warrens and set waste to the settlements. The next few years were grim, and the disease ravaged the land, Skaven would capture survivors and enslave them, and the humans could offer little resistance. And as the Skaven attained greater success on the battlefield, Clan Pestilens gained incredible power on the Council, earning the enmity of their rivals. This success of the Skaven would soon come to an end however.

The Second Coming (The 2nd Civil War)

Half a century had passed when one again the unity of the Skaven would be broken. Within the clan Pestilen there was a rise of the ancient order, The Priesthood of Pestilence. This group was under the leadership of the Skaven known as Nuglich. who after losing his position as the Arch Plaguelord was given the position as the Deathlord of the priesthood. It was after this the Nurglich said he started having visions from the horned rat himself. As these continued He gained more power within the clan, and the numbers of those who followed the priesthood was higher than ever. The council then caught wind of these claims of visions and sent a large group of Grey Seers to investigate.

Upon arriving to observe clan Pestilens the Grey Seers only thew more fuel on an already sparking conflict within the clan. The Grey Seers claimed the the visions were fake, and nothing more than a grasp a power from Nurglich. This enraged both those who believed in the Deathlord or agreed with the Grey Seers. As the clan took sides Nurglich claimed to have another vision, he stated that the horned one wanted him to be the one and only leader of the Skaven. This split the clan, The Arch Plaguelord (and all loyal to him) who was always skeptical of Nurglich sided with the council and their representative in the seat of the Horned Rat. While Nurglich who had named himself the Hornedlord (earning him the name Nurglich the Betrayer) took with him all the followers of the preisthood.

Civil war broke out within Clan Pestilens. The majority of the clan sided against the Arch Plaguelord who was allied with the Grey Seers. After a long bloodly battle the Grey Seers with guidance from the council retreated to Skavenblight bringing the Arch Plaugelord, and his followers with them. Now free to do what he willed Nurglich the Betrayer gain support from other smaller clans, but most were forced, and/or tricked.

The self proclaimed Hornedlord soon had an army that the other clans only could rival if they all united. When it was clear that the Hornedlord was on a strait bloody path to Skevenblight, all the Council and the remaining clans armies came together. Outside of Skavenblight the two armies collided. The Hornedlord's forces were superior too the United army. Although the United were outnumbered their combined skills and loyalty to there clan made them a force to be reckoned with. The battle raged on for what seemed an eternity, but seemed to be coming to a close. The two armies now but small small fractions of the originals were almost identical in size. And when the United began gained the upper hand thats when Nurglich appeared on the field. His first appearance since the bloody conflict had started, he seemed sick and weak guarded by his most elite. Hunched over walking with a cane he made his way to the center of the mess. Hiss elite falling one by one he was soon surrounded. When he removed his clock it revealed him to look almost undead with rotting skin and soulless eyes. he lifted his head in the air shrieking in pain as a hand of a man burst from his chest. Slowly a man like being crawled from the corpse, and reveiled itself to be Nagash the Necromancer.

Nagash had returned to extract his revenge on the skaven. He had found Nurglich at his most angered and through a dark spell put himself within him to gain strength. Before any reaction could be made the skaven were surrounded by the dead on the outside with the Necromancer protected in the center. Through a combined effort between a group of Plaugelords and Greyseers broke the center guards. The Necromacer was eventually defeated but in his last moments he released a dark plague. The Necromancers plague

The Horned Rat placed a giant monolithic obelisk of warpstone in the chamber, a pillar of commandments, and their bickering must cease since they must turn their energies upon fulfilling the Horned Rat's plans. Only those blessed by him could touch the pillar and live, thus joining the Council of Thirteen. The Horned Rat then returned from whence he had come. Some Skaven renounced their claims to the Council, others died touching the pillar, but twelve survived to join the Council and once more serve the Horned Rat's foul and bloody plans. With their numbers finally replenished by the draining centuries long civil war, and a new and united leadership chosen by the Council of Thirteen, the Skaven are once again ready to war on the races above ground, ready to inherit a world that the Horned Rat has promised to them.

Origins of the Skaven

Compiled by Ianakussis, translation of "The Doom of Kavzar"

In the same way as the Beginning (and the End) of the Worlds are debated by scholars, academics, wizards and scientists, the learned argue endlessly over the origins of the children of Chaos known as the Skaven. Some maintain that they are simply another form of Beast-man, others insist that they are an entirely seperate race mutated not from Men as beast-men are, but from true rats, while others still refuse to acknowledge their existence at all. Determing anything at all about skaven is notoriously difficult, for they are primarily a subterranean race, inhabiting only the darkest and dankest pits, and usually only rise above ground to wage their violent and inexplicable wars. Perhaps the best clue we have as to their creation lies in the ancient Tilean folk tale known as The Doom of Kavzar. The following is an approximately translated text of its thirteen stanzas.

"Once upon a time, long, long ago, Men and Dwarfs lived together beneath the roofs of one great city. Some said that it was the oldest and greatest city in the world, and had existed Ages before the time of the longbeards and the manlings, built by wiser hands in the dawn of the World. The city lay both above and below the earth, in keeping with the nature of its populace. The dwarfs ruled in their great halls of stone underground, and wrestled free the fruits of the rock with their day-long and tireless toil, while the manlings reaped the fields of swaying corn which surrounded the city with a patchwork blanket of golden hues. The sun smiled, and so too did man, and so too did dwarf, and everyone was happy.
One day, the manlings of the city decided that they should give praise to their gods for their good fortune. They would construct a temple such as the World had never seen before. In the central city square, a colossal hall would be built, and topped with a single, cloud-pierced tower. After much planning, and with the help of the longbeards, the men set about their monumental task.
Weeks became months, and months turned to years, and still the manlings built. Men grew old and grey working on that great temple, their sons continuing the work through summer sun and winter rain. At last, after thirteen generations, work began on the great spire itself. Years passed still, and the tower reached such a height that the manlings found it all the more difficult and dangerous to bring the stone needed to the top of the tower. The work eventually slowed to a crawl, and completing the temple seemed all but impossible. Hopes began to fade, but then one came among the men of the city, and offered his service to their great scheme. He asked a single boon of them in return, and claimed that if they would grant it, he would complete the tower in a single night. The manlings said to themselves "What have we to lose?" and struck a bargain with the grey-clad stranger. All he wished was to add his own dedication to the gods onto the temple structure. To this, the manlings agreed.
At dusk, the stranger entered the unfinished temple, and bade the manlings to return at midnight. Clouds raced over the moons of Morrslieb and Mannslieb, cloaking the unfinished building in darkness, as the manlings left. All over the city, men watched and waited, as the hours slipped by, until near midnight, when, in ones and twos, they gathered once more in the temple square. The wind blew, and the clouds parted, and the men gazed up to the night skies. The temple rose like an unbroken lance against the dark, pure and white. The priests of the city climbed the stairs, to the top of the finished structure. At its very peak, a great horned bell hung, gleaming coldly in the moonlight. The stranger's dedication to the gods was there, but he was not.
The priests returned and told the men of their finding, and the city rejoinced, as the work of its forefathers was finally done. The town's great clock struck midnight, and immediately the great bell began to toll, once... twice... thrice. Slow, heavy waves of sound rolled across the city. Four... five... six times the bell rang, like the torpid pulse of a great bronze giant. Seven... eight... nine... the tolling of of the bell grew louder with each ring, and the manlings staggered back from the temple's marble steps, clutching at their ears. Ten... eleven... twelve... thirteen. At that last, the thirteenth stroke, lightning split the skies above, and thunder echoed in reply. High above, the dark circle of Morrslieb was illuminated by a bright flash, and then all fell ominously silent.
The manlings fled to their beds, frightened and puzzled by the portents they had seen. Next morning, they arose to find that darkness had come to their city. Brooding storm clouds reared above the rooftops, and such rain fell as had never before been seen. Black as ash, the rain fell, and puddled in the streets. The cobbles slicked with darkly iridescent colours.
At first, the manlings worried not, and waited for the rains to stop so that they might resume their work. But the rains did not. The winds blew stronger, and lightning shook the high tower. Days, then weeks passed, and still the rains fell. Each night the bell tolled thirteen times, and each morning the darkness lay across the city. The manlings became fearful, and prayed to their gods. Still the rains did not stop, and the black clouds shrouded the fields. The manlings went to the dwarfs, and beseeched their help. The longbeards were unconcerned - what matter a little rain of the surface? In the very bosom of the earth, all was warm and dry.
Now the manlings huddled in their dwellings, fear gnawing at their hearts. They sent some of their number to faraway places to seek aid, but none returned. Some went to temple to pray and sacrifice their dwindling food to the gods, but found its massive doors sealed shut. The rains grew heavier, and dark hailstones crashed from the sky, flattening the sodden crops. The great bell tolled a death knell over the terrified city. Soon great stones cleft the heavens, rushing down like dark meteors to smash the homes of the manlings. Manyfolk sickened and died without apparent cause, and babes were born hideously twisted. Skulking rats devoured what little corn there was left, and the manlings starved.
The city's elders went to see the dwarfs again, and this time demanded their help. They wanted to bring their people below ground to safety, and they wanted food. The longbeards grew angry, and told the manlings that their lower working swere flooded, and their own foodstocks had also been consumed by a plague of vermin. There remained barely enough for their own kinsmen. The dwarfs cast out the manlings from their halls, and closed their doors.
In the ruins of the city above, each day became more deadly than the last. The manlings despaired and called for succour from the dark, forbidden gods, whispering the names of forgotten daemons in hope of salvation. But not even the Ruinous Gods would answer their call, and instead the swarms of rats returned, bigger and bolder. Their slinkling, dark-furred shapes infested the now broken city, feasting on the fallen, and pulling down the week. Each midnight, the bell tolled thirteen times on high, seeming now brazen and triumphant. The manlings lived as hunted creatures in their own city, as packs of chittering vermin roamed the streets in search of prey.
At last the desperate manlings took up such weapons as they had, and beat upon the dwarfs' doors, threatening that if they did not emerge, they would drag them out by their beards. No reply came from within, and the manlings took up beams and makeshift battering rams, and battered down the doors to reveal the tunnels below, dark, eerie and empty. Steeling themselves, the pitiful remnants of the city's once proud populace descended. In the ancient hall of kingship, they found the dwarfs, now naught but gnawed bones and stray scraps of cloth. And there the manlings saw, by the dying light of their torches, the myriad eyes about them, glittering like liquid midnight, as massive rats closed in for the kill.
The manlings stood back to back, and fought for their lives, but against the implacable ferocity and countless numbers of the vermin-horde, their weapons availed them not. The tide of monstrous rats flowed over them, dragging the men down one by one, to be torn apart, yellow chisel-teeth sinking into soft human flesh, the dark-furred masses drowning out agonised screams with their hideous chittering."

The Doom of Kavzar, also called "The Curse of Thirteen",

Known Skaven

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