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The Under Empire
Council of 13. Consists of the Twelve most powerful Clan leaders, including the four major Clans and leader of the Grey Seers, and are known as the Lords of Decay. The position of seat thirteen is filled by the Horned Rat, the Skaven diety.
Skaven trade is based largely on supply and demand. The currency of the Skaven is Warpstone, a powerful magical rock formed from concentrated Dark magic. Warpstone is the basis of trade, and is used to purchase everything, from weapons and equipment, to slaves and monsters.
Every clan maintains a constant supply of warriors and when a clan marches to war it takes pretty much everything. Each clan is lead by a Warlord, and below him are his lieutenants. To progress in Skaven society, it's not about who you know, it's about how you can manipulate them. Promotions usually come when the skaven who wants it assassinates his immediate superior.
The Council of 13 presides over all of the Under Empire, but each clan is effectively a seperate state, only losely held together by the Council. There are many civil wars fought in the Under Empire, but because the Skaven realm is hidden from creatures on the surface, very few are known about.
The strength is always determined by the amount of clanrats and slaves a clan can throw at the enemy. Each clan has varying degrees of weaponry and armour, and depending on how much warpstone is traded, also determines amounts of warriors and weapons from other clans.
Skaven are not natural wizards, and very few develop magical abilities. The only exceptions are the Grey Seers. The Grey Seers are the prophets of the Horned Rat, and are seen as spiritual leaders. Although they are held in high regard by other skaven, they are not immune to the paranoia and backstabbing nature of the skaven race. Many a Grey Seer has found themselves on the receiving end of poisoned blade when a Warlord has felt their position is threatened, and repercussions are usually few and far between.
There isn't much information to be found about the Skavens' history, although they are known to have come into existence a long time after the birth of Man and Dwarf. The most that can be gleaned about their history is from the Tilean story 'The Doom of Kavzar'. According to this story, the human and dwaven inhabitants of Kavzar lived the good life, the humans harvesting the fruits of nature, whilst their dwarf neighbours mined the large amounts of ore to be found beneth the city.
One day, the people of Kavzar decided to build a tower in honour of their gods, a tower that would reach towards the sky and peirce the clouds. However, work on the tower was slow, and eventually, the people of Kavzar despaired at the thought of ever completing the tower. In this time of despair came among the people a man who claimed that he alone could complete the tower; all he asked in return was the right to add his own dedication to the gods to the top of the tower. The people, seeing that they had nothing to lose, aggred to the mans proposition.
The next day, the people came back to the tower, to find that it had been completed. The tower stretched on and on into the sky, peircing the cloud themselves. At the top of the tower hung a hugh, horned brass bell. As the people continued to gather, the bell at the top of the tower began to toll, its horrible, booming sound reaching into the very souls of the people. Thirteen times the bell tooled, and upon the thirteenth toll Morrslieb appeared above the tower, casting the tower in a forebodeing greenish light. Freightened by the demonic sounds of the bell, the people fled to their homes.
During the following days, the sky darkened as a heavy rain began falling down upon the city. The people huddled in their houses, the implications of the appearence of Morrsleib and the continous toling of the bell being to frightening to consider. Days turned into weeks, as the rain continued to fall in ever greater amounts, now accompanied by large hailstones which crushed the humans croops.
As the weeks passed, large rats began appearing across the village, consuming what food remained in the city, and, when that ran out, hunting the humans.
The humans had demanded that their dwarven allies help them in their time of need, but the dwarfs had refused to help them, citing that what food they had was barely enough to feed their own kin. Now that the humans had no food left themselves, they took up what weapons they could find and marched into the dwarfs realm beneath the city.
What they found there, however, wasn't the food and shelter they had been hoping for. Instead, they found the dead dwarf warriors, now little more than dried husks, and the gleaming eyes of hundreds of man-sized rats. As the torchlight from their torches start to filcker and die out, the rats decended upon the humans, ripping and tearing at them with fevered fervour.
In the ruins of the ones great city of Kavzar, now renamed Skavenblight by its new rulers, the Skaven built their capital, and from there, they started to spread to all the corners of the world.
Society of the Skaven
Skaven society is structured into two types, the Warlord Clans which supply the basic Skaven warriors, and the Major Clans which provide more specialist troops. There are four Major Clans, Clan Pestilens, Clan Eshin, Clan Moulder, and Clan Skryre. As already stated, if a Skaven wishes to advance, murder and assassination are the most common forms of progression, and are classed as death by natural causes by the skaven.
Anatomy of the Skaven
A Skaven universally resemble a giant rat, about as tall as a dwarf and half as broad, with about as much muscle as a human. All of the body, except the tail, are usually covered in fur (although their may be some bald patches were the skaven has sustained injury or has som unnatural growth, like a horn for instance). The majority of Skavens are physically weak and feeble by most standards across the world. They usually come in overwhelming armies but can overrun even the most hardened veteran by sheer weight of numbers.
Appearance and culture
A skaven is essentially a crossbreed of a rat and a man - in that they are in appearance large bipedal rats with intelligence sufficient to use weapons, make tools, and converse in a developed language. Most skaven stand four to five feet tall and have brown fur (which darkens as their strength grows), although this can vary. White and grey-furred rats are prized among Skaven litters, as grey and white-furred skaven often become grey seers, and black-furs often join the elite Stormvermin corps. Most skaven have luminous eyes and long tails. Skaven with black fur are usually stronger and taller than other skaven and make up a substantial part of Skaven armies. Albino skaven are rare but not unheard of. An average skaven has a lifespan of about 20 years but higher members of the Skaven society can live much longer (possibly owing their extended life to drugs/magic or to the effects of warpstone)
Male skaven are workers and warriors. Females are docile and barely intelligent, and spend much of their lives hidden away in the nest to breed. Female skaven typically produce three to five litters a year, each containing 20 or so young.
The council sits at a long table with the seats at top and bottom empty. The top seat is the symbolic seat of the Horned Rat. Therefore, the most powerful members sit to the left and right of the Horned Rat and share equal power. Each member is the equal of whomever sits opposite him. The council are constantly shifting allegiances, backstabbing, cheating, lying, and hiring assassins to kill each other — much to the amusement of their malevolent god. It is often noted that, if the Skaven organized themselves properly, they could probably rule the world. However, they are far too paranoid to ever band together. Each member of the council is open to replacement at any time. The applicant must simply challenge his rival to a fight to the death; if he wins, he takes the place of the loser on the council.
The current Lords of Decay have been in their seats for over 200 years. The current Council members include:
- Lord Kritislik- Seerlord
- Lord Morskittar-Lord-Warlock of Clan Skryre; seat 12
- Nurglitch VII-Arch-Plaguelord of Clan Pestilens; Nurglitch I brought Clan Pestilens to prominence by defeating Lord Vask for a place on the Council of Thirteen.
- Kratch Doomclaw-Clan Rictus
- Warlord Gnawdwell-Clan Mors
- Lord Sneek-Nightlord of Clan Eshin
- Lord Verminkin-Packlord of Clan Moulder; occupies seat 9
- Lord Paskrit-"Warlord-General of all Skavendom";seat 4
- Kritislik-occupies seat number 1 on the Council,
- Morskittar-; hence these two are the most powerful of the Lords of Decay.
Below the council are the Grey Seers, prophets of the Horned Rat himself, and powerful sorcerers. Grey Seers have prophetic powers and are usually grey-furred; hence the name. While the Grey Seers are often physically weak, they make up for this in cunning, guile, and the use of magic. Most other skaven fear and hate grey seers in equal measure. The most feared symbol of the Seers is the "Screaming Bell," a massive, horned bell mounted on a carriage and pushed into battle, the daemonic chimes enthusing the skaven hordes.
The rest of skaven society is organised into innumerable clans. Four clans are traditionally more powerful than the rest: Clan Pestilens, Clan Moulder, Clan Eshin, and Clan Skyre. These four are collectively known as the Great Clans.
Clan Moulder is based in the far north, where Master Moulders use warpstone in a mad combination of alchemy and genetic engineering to breed all sorts of monstrous beasts for war. They are a very wealthy clan, and rent out their beasts for other Skaven to use in battle. Their most common war-beasts are the wolf-sized Giant Rats and the enormous Rat Ogres, anthropoid vermin four times the size of a man whose massive, filthy claws can take down even a heavily armoured knight. Their lair, known as "Hell Pit" greatly resembles hell from Dante's Inferno, consisting of nine levels of laboratories, a barracks, and a giant colosseum hanging from chains and a level where their most powerful creatures are kept in pitch darkness.
Clan Pestilens is based in the southern part of the world, and has been the cause for both of the two Skaven civil wars. The clan was considered lost in the jungles of Lustria, but when it resurfaced, it was changed. The rats of the clan had become completely devoted to The Horned Rat in his role as the harbinger of disease and plague. They are immune to most diseases and use the very plagues they worship as deadly biological weapons against the other races. Due to their diseased bulk (and the fact that they are used to experience pain), their plague monk troops are extremely tough, and deliriously fanatical in combat. They also use rats infected with various foul contagions, and the deadly plague censers, flails laden with burning warpstone, that emit lethal poison gas.
Clan Eshin was also considered lost for a long time, having traveled to the far Eastern lands of Nippon and Cathay. When they returned, they had changed as well. They were now stealthy assassins, skilled in the art of the silent kill. They are feared throughout the Under Empire as the long arm of the law. Their prices are exorbitant, but their results are unmatched. They played a large role during the Great War, although they were unseen, they contributed greatly. They field Night Runners, cheap expendable units of skirmishers. Those night runners that survive go on to learn the skills to become the veteran Gutter Runners which are far more skilled and efficient. If they survive for much longer, the very best become the elite and incredibly deadly assassins unparalleled in the entire World (save for possibly those of the Dark Elves).
Currently, the most powerful Clan is Clan Skryre. These Skaven have devoted themselves to the study of magic and blending it with insane science and engineering. Thus far, their engineers have created many deadly machines: the Ratling Gun (a warpstone-based Gatling gun), the Warpfire thrower (a warpstone-based flamethrower), the Jezzail (a extremely long-ranged warpstone rifle which is so large that it has to be carried by two skaven), and the fearsome Warp-Lightning Cannon. They also employ Warlock Engineers, who harness the winds of magic to devastating effect.
Skraven Capital, Lairs, and Strongholds
Skaven Stronghold and Capital
Skavenblight is the foul heart of the Skaven Under-Empire and the source of the Horned Rat's treachery. The once beautiful human city has been sucked into the great morass of the stinking bog that surrounds it.
At the center of Skavenblight stands the twisted blighted monolithic tower to the Horned Rat known as the Shattered Tower. The original colors of the tower have been stained black by pollution, grime, and unholy sacrifice. Its black surface is now wet, clammy, and crumbling, an oozing eyesore capped by the cloud enshrouded bell tower. The mist clinging to all of Skavenblight is thickest here by the Shattered Tower, pouring thickly through doorways and windows, into the temple, covering the rooms in a stagnant pool of poisonous miasma. This great bell-tower is the sight of the Horned Rat's temple and the place of the Horned Rat's incarnation. Once past the white albino Council Guards, you enter the decaying edifice. Rats scamper along the floor, hidden in beneath the foul marshy fog. Inside are abandoned rotting chapels, obscene and dark altars to the Horned Rat, and great vaulted chambers that are the site of horrible services and devotions to the Horned Rat. At the center of the ground floor of the Temple is a blackened and baroque winding stairway that climbs up into the benighted cathedral ceiling, eventually reaching the bell-tower where the damned bells still ring, tolling each victory of Skavendom.
Beyond the stairway is a massive room, the Sanctum of the Horned Rat. It is here that the Horned Rat made its appearance. The room has one main entrance, through the massive archway, and twelve smaller entrances. The twelve smaller entrances lead to silent corridors where the Grey Seers study their black arts. The Sanctum itself is a massive room, the largest in the temple. The entire floor of this circular chamber is a massive symbol to the Horned Rat. At the end of the room, on a massive dais, is a giant altar and pulpit. On the pulpit is a massive book, bound in brass and iron, and spread across the altar is a cloth bearing the symbol of the Horned Rat. Sunk into its surface is a massive brass bowl, covered in runes obscured by the dry flaking blood. Behind the dais, on a raised level, is a massive pillar of Warpstone, the Pillar of Commandments. The pillar glows with a sickening and mesmerizing inner light that seems to blur everything about it. This huge pillar has thirteen sides, each side intricately inscribed with spidery runes. This is the pillar of the Horned Rat.
Climbing the winding staircase to the next floor, one arrives at immense blackened iron bound double doors. The stairs continue up into the cursed bell tower. It is beyond that massive portal that the Council sits. Guarding the doors are the albino Council Guards and Rat Ogres. Next to the door is a pitted, tarnished, chipped bronze gong, massive in size that is struck by a Rat Ogre. Once beyond the doors, is the Chamber of the Thirteen. Dark and oppressive, the dimensions of the cold stone room are impossible to make out in the gloom, obscured in the shadows. In the exact center of the room is a giant circle embellished with the symbol of the Horned Rat. Circling about the room, on a raised dais, are thirteen thrones set out at exact distances. The most elaborate and largest of the thrones, is the thirteenth, at the apex of the circle, opposite the door and raised on yet another dais. This throne is a twisted jagged monstrosity sprouting twisted and jagged ornate spires and the symbol of the Horned Rat hangs above it. The remaining thrones are smaller and less ornate, and above them hang their banners identifying the throne's occupant.
Outside of the Shattered Tower, is the decaying stone city that man had built and has now forgotten. The streets and buildings are quiet, empty, and fog enshrouded. Unseen things scamper in alleys, red eyes watch from shadowed doorways, figures pass in nearby archways. Much of the city has sunken deep into the morass, swallowing building, and it is here and below that most Skaven live. Under Skavenblight is teeming and writhing with countless Skaven. The sunken city and the burrows and warrens below are packed thick with biting scratching screeching squealing hissing Skaven. The Skaven have lived, fought, and died here for thousands of years. The stench and filth is unparalleled. The upper section is controlled and dominated by Clans and Warlords. All four of the major Clans have their own districts here. It is a series of endless labyrinths, mazes, tunnels, warrens, and burrows lit by the flickering flames fueled by methane.
The Clan Skryre district is awash with the sound of metalwork. It is here that Clan Skryre is centered. The boundaries of this district are dense with numerous barriers, fortifications, and watchpoints, all protected by a bewildering array of Clan Skryre weaponry. Behind the defenses, the district is awash with the sound of Clanging metal works. Low crackling lightning exudes from the globes, with numerous pipes and wires feeding into the Warplightning Generators that power the lighting. There are massive chambers, giant workrooms where an army of artificers and artisans labor over hot forges to make the fiendish Clan Skryre weapons and inventions, closely watched by the Clan Skryre Engineers. It is in the inner workshops where the Warpstone is brought, and refined, and added to various weapons, brews, and items to power them. There are numerous secret alcoves where the Clan Skryre Engineers study their magical arts. Below this section are huge rooms filled with massive, complex, and ornate Warplightning Generators that fill the air with electricity and an eerie blue light. Generator technicians scamper about the machinery, repairing, fixing, and adjusting the Generators. The whole district is a flurry of activity with all the guards and Clan Skryre Engineers directing all the workmen, artisans, and laborers to the workplaces, and with teams of sweating slaves hauling in great carts filled with ore and other materials, all under the flickering sparks of Warplightning.
The Clan Moulder district is smaller, and more closed. It reeks with the smell of fur and waste. The district is well guarded, but with many of the defenses directed to the inside. Between the outer and inner defenses is a ring of corridors and barracks to house the Stormvermin whom defend the Clan Moulder district. Each corridor has a strong portcullis that can be dropped to block the corridor, and often a room above with murder holes to drop poison gas or hot oil down. The inner section consists of large rooms, with numerous holes sunk into the ground, and caged doors across the top, securely locked and bolted. It is here that Clan Moulder keeps many of its monstrosities for sale and for defense. Should a creature escape its holding, the corridors can be sealed to keep it in, while it is poisoned or subdued with an appropriate gas. Likewise, if the district is attacked, certain corridors can be sealed off, while others opened, so that the monsters can rampage amongst the enemy forces, and then sealed after the creature exits the district. Above the large chambers are the rooms for the Clan Moulder diplomats and envoys, as well as the quarters for Packlord and his guard when he stays for Council matters.
The Clan Pestilens District is small, and far from other quarters. The tunnels leading to it are quiet and abandoned, few venture down this direction, and none choose to live here. This section is a series of chambers for the Priesthood of Pestilence, with barracks for numerous Monks and Priests. Each series of chambers also contains devotional rooms and small temples and shrines for religious purposes. This area is mostly a giant religious quarter full of fanatic followers. The largest temple is in the Plaguelord's section, where him and his elite guard stay.
A few shadowy and thin quarters lead into the Clan Eshin district. It seems to be a maze with no rooms or quarters. All the rooms and doors are actually concealed and barred from within. As soon as someone enters this section, sentries notice and alert others. If they are unwanted, a Clan Eshin assassin will drop silently from a concealed entrance behind the intruder and strangle them. Alternatively, a small poisonous dart will be shot from a concealed hole, the intruder dies, and eventually will be dragged out later. Those dealing with Clan Eshin must come announced, and will be blindfolded and escorted to the section, led through the maze, and then through a secret door. More often though, Clan Eshin will meet in a "secret" and "neutral" area thick with hidden Clan Eshin spies and assassins, where deals and alliances are made. Presumably, the Nightlord sometimes stays in this section here in Skavenblight, but he has never been seen here...
Other Warlord Clans and Clan Chieftains control the remaining upper districts. These are fairly strong Clans, who are closely united or allied with one of the four major Clans, and provide numerous services and assistance to retain at least a small degree of control within their Clan without interference.
Below these Clan districts, the tunnels become packed with Skaven bodies. With no legitimate laws or authority, life is short and brutal here. Lesser Clans bully and murder the Skaven here and their rivals in a fit of unfulfilled rage, acting as frustrated despots. The drainage from the districts above, and the damp from the Blighted Marsh itself make this area unpleasant at best, with deteriorating walls, and any wooden supports rot and buckle. In the lower levels the water and effluence rise to the waist, and Skaven dig holes and nests near the ceiling for shelter. The walls and ceilings, undermined, often collapse, burying the Skaven or dropping them into the sewage below. Occasionally a flood will occur, and a murky torrent will rush down the dark tunnels, sweeping away the frantic hapless Skaven into the darker tunnels into deep underground streams or chasms.
What lies below this level is unknown. Strange, hateful, misshapen creatures crawl up from below, to silently drag any unfortunate Skaven below. Sometimes these things will terrorize entire sections of the lower works, or even emerge into the districts where it will take entire groups of Clanrats or Stormvermin and Grey Seers to put a stop to their rampage, as they tear apart everyone and everything in their path. Usually, though, they stay hidden in the blackness below, usually...
Outside of Skavenblight are the Blighted Marshes, traversed only by slithering creatures and Skaven slave barges, the grunting rowing slaves pushed beyond exhaustion by the scourge-wielding Slave overseer. A number of massive black crumbling stone mills exist, with slaves pushing the heavy grindstone about to crush the Black Wheat in the mill. When a slave drops from exhaustion, they are rolled over the side of the docks outside, where green scaly creatures snap them up in their jaws and disappear in the murk.
The Black Chasm
The Black Chasm was the Stronghold of the Lord of Decay Vask, before his death by Plaguelord Nurglitch. Upon Lord Vask's demise, the Black Chasm Stronghold lost much of its influence. Black Chasm is located in the mountains of central Brettonia. It is here that the Skaven mine the ore-rich veins and harvest the numerous fungi that grow along the underground streams. The Black Chasm is a massive underground fault that has opened deep below the mountains, requiring little extra work by the Skaven. It is along the numerous arteries here that the Skaven spread out to emerge upon isolated human communities to snatch away its inhabitants for the slave mines. Unlike Fester Spike, which has numerous Goblinoid, Dwarven, and Human slaves, the slaves here are nearly all Human or Skaven, and their lives are every bit as miserable as can be expected. This mountain range is feared in Bretonnia, although the presence of Skaven is not well known.
City of Pillars (Karak Eight Peaks)
The City of Pillars is one of the most impressive Skaven Strongholds, under the control of Clan Mors. Originally the Dwarven City of Karak Eight Peaks, it is the site of one of the greatest Skaven victories and also one of its greatest treacheries. A strong Dwarven citadel, it took the Skaven centuries to capture it. For generations upon generations, Clans Mors and Gritak dug into the lower workings, poisoning the Dwarven wells with Warpstone, biding their time for the Dwarves to leave. Less subtle in their plotting, and upsetting the Skaven scheme, Goblinoids poured in, attacking the weakened Dwarves. The Skaven flung their forces into battle, and for decades the battle for Karak Eight Peaks raged on unabated.
Eventually the Skaven brought in the dreadful weapons of Clan Skryre. It was these weapons of Warpstone and choking gas that finally drove the beleaguered Dwarves from their home. Clan Skryre weaponry and tactics were also used to collapse the top level of Karak Eight Peaks on top of nearly all the Goblinoids, as well as upon the unsuspecting Clan Gritak, leaving Karak Eight Peaks in the sole possession of treacherous Clan Mors. The work of the Dwarves can still be seen in the City of Pillars. Countless vaulted and arched halls and passageways stretch the length of the stronghold, held up by numberless stout columns and pillars of intricate workmanship. Much of the fine Dwarven craft have been destroyed or defaced in the years of fighting. The upper levels are precarious, prone to cave-ins, while the entire top level is collapsed, concealing the bodies of several thousand Orcs, Goblins, and Clan Gritak Skaven. The middle and lower levels are packed by a teeming sea of Skaven, while the lowest levels are filled with Warpstone tainted water, and are the hunting ground of strange twisted and mutated predators.
Crookback Mountain is the Stronghold of the powerful Warlord Clan known as Clan Rictus. Crookback Mountain was seized from feuding Night Goblins with the assistance of Clan Skryre. Due to its location in the Dark Lands, Clan Rictus often sounds out large bands of Skaven to fall upon nearby Goblin tribes. The captives are sent back to Crookback Mountain. The captive Goblins are then sent to other Clans in the Under-Empire as slaves, or kept for food or to work the ore-rich mines below Crookback Mountain.
The Skaven of Clan Rictus are well experienced in surprising Goblins and capturing them through a number of ploys. The Clan often sends out expeditions to the local mountain areas and into the Dark Lands to search for Warpstone meteors that are often seen scarring the night sky with the fiery entrances as they streak through the evening solitude. These expeditions, while costly and often deadly, are essential for recovering the priceless Warpstone. The Goblin slave trade and the Warpstone expeditions have made Clan Rictus extremely powerful
Crookback Mountain sits at the Eastern point of Mad Dog Pass, a twisted dusty black summit piercing the sky. To maintain this dangerous position around Mad Dog Pass, the Clan has one of the largest contingents of Stormvermin, who form the basis of Lord of Decay Kratch Doomclaw's power and authority. The local Goblin tribes have learned to fear the Black Skaven from the Black Spire...
Ekrund is a fairly populated but poor Skaven Lair in the Badlands. Nestled away in the Dragonback Mountains, the lair has often been besieged and attacked by Goblinoids. Its mineral and ore wealth is beginning to run out, and the prospects for this beleaguered hold are looking grim.
Foul Peak is one of the three Skaven lairs in the central portion of the Vaults. There is a fairly large group of Grey Seers as well as a number of Clans declaring allegiance to Clan Skryre based here at this lair. This lair relies greatly on the slave and mineral trade that passes through on the routes here. Amongst the many Clans that live here, there is a high degree of plotting and intrigue, but little open warfare. Many of the Clans, acting on the behest of the Grey Seers, have been involved in a number of actions in Tilea.
Fester Spike is located near other Skaven lairs in the Vaults. Fester Spike is one of the highest peaks in the area, and the lair within stretches out for hundreds of miles beneath. Fester Spike relies on its mining, run by a number of Clans who hold different sections of the mines. These Clans are preoccupied by constant skirmishing and intermittent open warfare. Fester Spike is also notorious for its incredibly violent slave revolts, and famous as well for its draconian measures it uses to put down and prevent these revolts. For the slaves, Skaven and non-Skaven, the existence here is one of utter misery.
The Hell Pit is one of the most horrific of all Skaven lairs or strongholds. Dug into the walls and floor of a chasm torn into the side of a snowy Northern World's Edge Mountain, the stronghold is warmed by the volcanic pools that cloud the already close and stagnant air. The senses are overwhelmed by not only by the sulfurous stink of the chasm itself and its filthy occupants, but by the tumultuous din and clamor that echoes from a thousand tormented and warped throats and mouths that utter the cacophony of misery sounded out in wretched snorts, howls, squeals, screeches, screams, and shrill cries that echo along the chasm, building in crescendo until one goes mad, their eardrums burst, or both.
This blasphemous and blighted place is the breeding grounds and stronghold of Clan Moulder known as the Hell Pit. From here Clan Moulder sends out expeditions to bring in new monsters and creatures to fuel their experiments. The expeditions return with caravans of wheeled cages filled with all manners of beasts seeking to burst from their imprisonment. These creatures are brought into the Hell Pit, where they are placed in pits or cages and exposed to Warpstone, either in their food and water or directly exposed to the Warpstone itself. Often the creatures will begin to rot or melt while lying still in their excrement as they slowly die an agonizing death, venting their hatred at their tormentors through baleful glances and stretched claws. There are times though, when the Warpstone provides a superior mutation, and the altered creature is added to the nightmarish Clan Moulder menagerie.
The most abominable place in the Hell Pit is at the lower pit of the Hell Pit where all the uncontrollable experiments are tossed in with the failed and dying experiments. The predatory cries mix with the dying shrieks of their prey as they live and die amongst the piles of dead and rotting flesh and excrement scattered with the bones and skulls of dead monstrosities. The smell is so bad that none can peer over the edge, but if one were to, they would see a nightmarish landscape of bloated rotting carcasses and the wretched pale, slimy, corrupted things that tear each other apart in throes of living agony. It is through these corrupted and vile experiments that Clan Moulder gains its power and its wealth. By selling neutered and sterile monsters to the other Clans, they can gain wealth and influence. Many of their best and most foul creations they keep for their own use, to defend against the forces of Chaos, Goblinoids, other Skaven Clans, or the Kislevites. The massive fearsome Rat Ogres, the tireless predatory Rat-Wolves, the creeping Blood-Rats, and a hundred other abominations are the sadistic creations emerging from the Hell Pit.
This Dwarven city finally fell under constant attack from Orcs and others. Integral to the Dwarven downfall were the secret attacks the Skaven of Clan Sketter made, poisoning wells and foodstuffs, assassinating leaders, killing off sentries during Orc attacks. The Skaven carried out these acts in secret, without the Dwarves nor the goblinoids discovering this, hoping to keep the two parties distracted and exerting themselves while the Skaven mined from below to steal the wealth for their own nefarious purposes and prepared to strike from below. When the city finally fell, the goblinoids accidentally discovered the Skaven presence and fighting broke out. The Skaven were crushed when "Graug the Terrible" a dragon, tunneled into the Skaven tunnels while searching for the hidden Dwarven vaults that had not been discovered. The Clan Sketter was routed. The Dragon sat on the hoard for hundreds of years, until killed by a young Dwarven warrior.
When news that the Dragon had been defeated, Clan Sketter was commanded to seize the hold. By the time Clan Sketter prepared an assault on the hold, it was defended by bands of adventurers, mercenaries, and well-armed Dwarven expeditions drawn by the allure of the wealth of the dragon hoard. The valiant defenders drove Clan Sketter off in a bloody repulse, and have pushed Clan Sketter back. Clan Sketter barely holds a portion of its warrens, while its enemies back in Skavenblight plot against them.
Known by the Dwarves as "Black Crag", Karak Drazh is an Orc stronghold. An ominous location, with black granite crags, the fortress is fashioned from the same stone. The Orcs are led by an Orc of monstrous reputation and stature known as Gorfang Troll-Eater. The Skaven lair here is secret and unintrusive, observing everything from hidden tunnels. The Grey Seers have demanded that Black Crag be watched carefully, and it is rumored that the inactivity of his lair will change as soon as the Council of Thirteen deems the time right to act against the complacent and unsuspecting Orcs.
The Dwarven City of Karak Ungor fell to the endless hordes of Goblins and Orcs. The Dwarves had delved deep mines, far too many to be defended, and their foes swept through the forgotten workings from below. The Dwarves fought back bravely against the foe, but were simply overwhelmed. Years after their victory, the goblinoids became complacent and started fighting between themselves, and the Skaven then secretly tunneled in for minerals and small deposits of Warpstone. There has been a little fighting between the two races, primarily because the Orcs and Goblins are unaware of the threat, and the Skaven presence is still small and not prepared to engage the goblinoids in open warfare.
The Skaven conquest of Karak Varn is amongst their greatest successes. Grey Seers secretly influenced the shamans of local Orc tribes, and through the shamans tricked the Orcs into battling the Dwarves of Karak Varn, whom had been badly weakened by Skaven-related volcanic activity. As the Orcs and their Goblin allies were fighting, the Skaven poisoned the wells, poured refined warpdust into airshafts, and then rose up from concealed tunnels and crushed the Dwarves and Orcs both. They then about mining the valuable Warpstone that had drawn them.
During the fighting for Karak Varn though, a group of Dwarven engineers escaped. Safe at nearby strong holds, they swore a solemn vow to recover Karak Varn through any means. They set about with fervor to design fantastic digging machines to burst into Skaven tunnels, and have built bizarre underwater vehicles and capsules to travel the flooded tunnels and recover the precious Gromril and set explosives to destroy Skaven tunnels and caverns. The Skaven have recently been beset by Dwarven "Moles", giant drill-like machines that have burst into large Skaven caverns and run amok amongst the panicked Skaven.
The Skaven lair under Syhar has always been plagued with problems. The minerals have long been mined out, it is difficult to seize slaves since the local communities are small but well protected. The eternal vigilance of the guards under Syhar, and the Syharhalna themselves have also been a problem, with many forays led by the Clones of Syharhalna assisted by the Uruk-hai. There is unexplained flooding and cave-ins that happen for unknown reasons or causes... Despite these problems, the Council insists on maintaining a presence here, so the lair remains occupied.
The Skaven lair under Zeal has only been established recently. Originally inhabited by a handful of small and meager Skaven Clans, the lair has been occupied by Clan Scruten, under the authority of no less than the Cult of the Horned Rat. The Grey Seer Kritslik brought the Clan here, and for what reasons, known but the Council and the Cult know...
Mount Lhasa was a Skaven lair under a great mountain in the Southlands, held by Clan Merkit who had pledged loyalty to Lord Azarskittar. During the war against Clan Pestilens, Mount Lhasa was completely overrun during a siege by Clan Pestilens, and only Lord Merkit and a small bodyguard escaped the disaster. Mount Lhasa is now a Stronghold held by Clan Pestilens, and is the center of their activity within the Southlands. Clan Pestilens has led many forays against the lizardmen who dwell on the island, poisoning spawning pools and sowing diseases amongst the jungle.
Mount Silverspear is a Skaven lair that is embroiled in constant warfare. The mineral wealth in the area is bountiful, as is the potential for acquiring slaves. However the local tribes of Orcs and Goblins often put up fierce fights against Skaven raiding parties, and often launch their own raids, requiring a massive drain on the local Clan resources.
The Naggarond lair is the stronghold of Clan Eshin. Many centuries ago, the Clan dissapeared, and tunneled to the land of the Dark Elves. There they watched Dark Elf assassins train, and sought to emulate the deadlyness. Combined with a Skavens natural quickness and keen hearing, the skaven of Clan Eshin perfected the art of death, and regularly hire out there assassins in exchange for warpstone. Many a Clan Warlord has perished beneath the poisoned blades of the assassins, and the murder is not limited to skaven Warlords. Many an important figure on the surface world has died at the hands of the assassin, but who ordered the killing and to what end would never be known. It is not only Skaven who hire the skills of the assassin, and many times humans, elves and others have sought out Clan Eshin to do their dirty work.
Putrid Sump is an important route along the Under-Empire. Like many of the other Skaven lairs it relies on mining and the slave trade. The Under-Empire routes are assisted by the numerous underground rivers that also pass through here. Putrid Sump's main problem is the conflict that has broken out over control of the lair. A number of Clan Chieftains are fighting for control of the lair, each backed secretly by different groups. This struggle occasionally breaks out into open armed conflict, but is normally a series of ambushes, assassinations, inspired slave revolts, and other secretive and nasty plots.
Tobaro is a significant Skaven holding on Yukchitan. Since a battle with the local populations, it is now ruled over by Grey Lord of Decay Skrisnik, who is one of the oldest and most powerful of all Skaven. The Skaven numbers here are small and carefully controlled by the Grey Lord, who rids his Clan of the weak and wretched, and maintains a high degree of secrecy. The Grey Lord does not actually live anywhere near Tobaro, but rather in a secret lair surrounded by enchantments, physically imposing and totally loyal Stormvermin, and foul fiends. The Skaven here in Tobaro help gather the Black Wheat for import to the other parts of the Skaven Under-Empire, manufacture a few finished goods, and mine.