The Skaven, sometimes known as the Ratmen, the Ratkin or the Children of the Horned Rat, are a malevolent and diabolical race of large humanoid rat-creatures that inhabits a massive inter-continental underground empire known in their tongue simply as the Under-Empire, where at the very heart of Skavendom lies the horrific city of Skavenblight, the species capital city and the probable birthplace of the Skaven race. The Skavens as a whole are a cruel, treacherous and highly numerous species that have since spread their loathsome corruption to the farthest corners of the Warhammer World. From deep below the earth, these scavengers have built a vast Empire, whose military power and incomprehensible numbers has the potential to smother the kingdoms of the Old World in a seething tide of violence and anarchy. It is believed by all of Skaven-kind that the world is destined to be theirs, for they consider themselves the Supreme Master Race, undeniably superior in every way to all the other races of the World.
This unwavering belief stems from the promises made by their horrificly malevolent deity, known by many legendary names, but his most well-known title is that of the Horned Rat. The Horned Rat is known as the Harbinger of Corruption and Disease, the embodiment of all things the Skaven are or ever will be, and whose worship over the Under-Empire is both supreme and absolute. Within the cruel hierarchy of the Under-Empire, the wishes and demands of the Horned Rat is issued and maintained by the ruthless tyranny of the Council of Thirteen, an organization that consist of the 12 most powerful Warlords within the Under-Empire whilst the 13th seat is reserved for the Horned Rat himself. It is due to the Council's harsh tyranny that the Under-Empire remained unified in some shape or form for centuries, for none could ever hope to overcome the legions of warriors the Council has under their iron-fisted rule.
Out of all the mortal civilizations within the greater world, no single race, neither the ruthless Barbarian tribes of the North, nor the savage Greenskins of the East can be compared in terms of instability to that of the Skaven Under-Empire. The Skaven race as a whole is extremely divided, often far more divided then perhaps any other race known in existence. Such disunion and ruthless lack of cooperation stems from the Skaven's insatiable need to survive, thrive and reign tyrannical over his other brethrens. To every Skaven, there is no such thing as pity, remorse, compassion, or cooperation. There is simply survival, survival in a turbulent society that only spares those that possess the brute strength, extreme cunning, and the vicious instinct to outmaneuver and kill the opposition, no matter the cost or the body count of either friend or foe. Though no matter how divided their race may be, they are nonetheless unified in a single cause, and that cause is to conquer the surface world and bring about the Great Ascendancy, where it is said that the Horned Rat's children will swarm across the face of the earth and claim all of it as their own.
Introduced in Total War: Warhammer II, the Skaven are playable in custom/multiplayer games, the Eye of the Vortex campaign and the Mortal Empires super-campaign.
- A Commander Is You: A Spammer/Technical faction. Probably the most prominent example of a Spammer in the franchise, the Skaven have the largest unit sizes in the game, and their tactics encourage sending waves of Slaves and Clanrats to bog down and distract the enemy, while using much more powerful elite infantry, monsters and war-machines to deal serious damage. They even have an in-battle mechanic that let's them periodically spawn entirely new units of clanrats, who can be placed literally anywhere in the battle map.
- The Skyre subfaction heavily emphasizes the later, with a unique Crafting Mechanic that lets them improve all the war machines of the Under Empire, a very heavy focus on Weapons teams, and construct nuclear weapons.
- Achilles' Heel: Because of how heavily they rely on overwhelming numbers, they can be greatly harmed by spells that cover a great area, such as breath spells and vortex spells. They are also easily affected by Fear and Terror due to their cowardly nature. As a whole, Skaven armies tend to rout much easier than other factions due to their inherent cowardice; if they're not winning, they're more concerned with saving their own hides than winning the fight for you.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Possibly more so than any other Warhammer race. You'd be hard pressed to find a single redeeming or sympathetic feature about them. They're a race of rat-like humanoids, and they are all hateful, backstabbing, savage monsters. They worship a God of Evil called the Horned Rat, they practice We Have Reserves to the extreme, as well as Chaos-based sorcery and magitek, and their ultimate goal is to wipe out or enslave "the surface races" (read: everyone) and claim it for themselves.
- To illustrate how foul the Skaven are, it's best to compare them to the other destruction factions: Vampires will enslave whole populations to use as food and servants, but are capable of feeling very genuine love. Dark elves are cruel and have a culture based on torture and slavery, but are more driven more by historical grievances than innate nature and some of them can even potentially become questionably heroic. Orcs are violent brutes but they'll develop what could be considered friendships and attachments to their fellows, and even the most brutal Black Orc will cry if his pet squig dies (though not in front of the other boyz because that just makes him look like a runty git). Even the Dark Gods of Chaos can draw from humanity's positive attributes as well as the negative ones.note Skaven hate everyone and everything: they are more cowardly and paranoid than any goblin, crueler and more hostile than Dark Elves, and more fractitious than Chaos. Love, friendship and honour are completely alien to the Skaven's psyche.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: Though not as overt as other examples in fiction, the Skaven are very analogous to Those Wacky Nazis; what with their super-technology, horrifying experiments, rune iconography, disregard for human life, their Fantastic Racism (which they even apply amongst themselves), their plan to conquer the world by killing anything they consider worthless (i.e: everyone else), and the predominately red-and-black colour scheme (with the occasional white thrown in) of Clan Mors. Not to mention the fact that their elite units are called Stormvermin.
- Applied Phlebotinum: Warpstone, which powers pretty much anything weird they've got (of which they have a lot of).
- Ax-Crazy: Sanity is a trait most Skaven do not possess, being a very cowardly yet incredibly murderous race. Skaven units on the battlefield will be cruelly jeering, laughing and waving their arms around jubilantly.
- Badass Army: Despite their cowardice, The Skaven get by with single-minded zeal to overwhelm the enemy until they lay broken before the children of the Horned Rat. They make use of their extremely advanced technology when sheer numbers aren't enough, and can deploy Weapon Teams that fire green warp-lightning that turns anything it touches touch to ash, or unleash monstrous abominations created with mad science to wreck enemy formations.
- Batman Gambit: The entire plot was kickstarted by them. They tricked the other races into action, which only end up powering the Skaven, and make it possible for the Horned Rat to be summoned into the mortal plane.
- Beneath the Earth: Where they call home, dwelling below even the holds of the Dwarfs.
- Big Bad: For the entire Eye of the Vortex campaign. The Skaven used a warpstone rocket to create a fake Twin-Tailed Comet, in order to freak out the other races enough that they would start fighting over the Great Vortex and destabilize it with their rituals. Once the Vortex is near collapse and the other factions are weakened from the constant fighting, the Skaven swoop in to seize the Vortex and attempt to accomplish their true goal — summoning the Horned Rat himself to the mortal world.
- Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: Male Skaven are bipedal rodents of vaguely human size and intellect. The females, or broodmothers, by contrast are huge, bloated, barely sentient creatures who function solely as baby factories; each one churning out a veritable horde of Skaven during her lifetime.
- To be "fair," this isn't a natural example of this trope. The Skaven deliberately expose their females to an obscene amount of mutating warpstone, changing them into their current forms. There's no depiction of what a "natural" Skaven female would look, or even act, like, and it's unlikely that even the Skaven themselves have any idea.
- Black Magic: As one would expect, Skaven magic is divided into the Lore of Ruin and the Lore of Plague, and is as malevolent as the ratmen themselves. Few of their spells do anything but curse enemies or blow them to smithereens.
- Body Horror: Everywhere. From the grotesque mutant warbeasts to the plague ridden disciples of Clan Pestilens.
- Cannon Fodder: The Clanrats and the Skavenslaves, though the former at least have pretty decent armor, whilst the latter are very poorly armed and wear barely anything. Skavenslaves are even considered Expendable by the game engine, making them an exception to the norm in that most other units won't be stressed out by seeing Skavenslaves butchered or panicking except for other Skavenslaves.
- Church Militant: The Skaven have their own twisted version of this; Clan Pestilens and their zealous Plauge Monks, who dedicate themselves to spreading poxes and plagues with a religious zeal both off and on the battlefield. In combat, they wield noxious censers like they were flails, smashing them into enemies and spreading their virulent contents as a weapon of terror.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Almost considered a virtue in their society. There are plenty of times when the Skaven might have taken over the world but ruined it for themselves for one single reason. And that reason is because their society is one built almost entirely on betrayal, doublecrossing, dishonesty and backstabbing, which has a tendency to lead to important plots going down the drain at the worst possible times. Hell, the few times they have ever managed to remain united and loyal to each other for an extended period of time can be counted on two hands. In-game, this is reflected in public order problems and a loyalty meter for generals.
- Combat Pragmatist: The Skaven have no honor and are more than likely to stab their opponents in the back (literally and figuratively) than face them head on. If they do face them head on, it is always in overwhelming numbers. If numbers won't do it alone, the Skaven will use bizarre but deadly technology to destroy their opponents.
- Cold Sniper: What essentially the infamous Warplock Jezzail teams are, ratmen carrying long-barred rifles with scopes firing warpstone bullets. There exists rather hilarious stories of Jezzail teams racking quite impressive kills, such as Natty Butoc of Clan Mors, who managed to kill a Dwarf Engineer who was watching Natty with a bullet through the Engineer's telescope and then killed several other Dwarfs who tried looking through the same telescope, unable to believe a ratman would be so precise. Not only are they protected by a pavise shield (that the spotter carries and also doubles as a brace for the incredibly-long rifle), they have a ridiculous 300 range, with armor piercing bullets, making facing them an utter nightmare for heavy cavalry, elite infantry, monsters, and characters. The only weakness they have is their slow rate of fire, but that's not much of an issue when every shot they make is going to hit cause of their insane accuracy. And then there are Natty's own crew of snipers, Natty Buboe's Sharpshooters, who not only have better stats, but also have the Stalk and Snipe trait, meaning you won't even see them when they pick your troops apart.
- The Corruption: The Skaven can spread their own form of provincial corruption, which increases the number of times Menace From Below can be used in battle, on top of typical public order penalties. The catch, however is that the public order penalty for high corruption even applies to the Skaven's own settlements.
- Critical Status Buff: Most Skaven units get bonuses to their speed after taking casualties. This reflects both their cowardice in the face of a superior foe as they run away, but also their propensity for an unfair fight as they eagerly circle around to a more vulnerable target.
- Deadly Gas: Poisoned-Wind Globadiers, elite units of chemical warfare specialists. They attack by throwing impact-shattering crystal globes filled with aerosolized warpstone powder while wearing protective breathing gear. Not only is this gas effective against dense clusters of enemies, but even the most resilient armour is no protection against it. However, being hand-thrown means their range is limited, and being so specialized in their equipment means their numbers are few, so they are vulnerable to concentrated arrow or musket fire and require other units to cover them as they get in position.note
- Dirty Coward: A near universal Skaven trait, with a few notable exceptions such as Queek Headtaker. The faction's mechanics actively encourage that players act in this manner with their Stalk stance. Stalk allows Skaven armies a chance to avoid a fair fight by ambushing an opposing army, even if said army is near its allies. It's reflected in their units as well: Skaven units get faster and faster as they lose bodies or get scared, making it almost impossible to actually pin them down and keep them from escaping. It's not unusual for a Skaven unit to flee, regroup, and charge back into a fight multiple times during a battle.
- Even extends to the campaign map, as most Skaven factions possess the "Spineless" trait. Such Clans talk tough if they're more powerful than you and quickly become sniveling toadies if they aren't. Bullying them into doing your bidding is quite easy, though how easily cowed they are gets a bit muddy if they're being dragged into a war against another more powerful faction.
- Doomy Dooms of Doom: Almost to the point of being a Running Gag. We have the Doomwheels, Doomflayers, the Scheme of DOOM that provides the player with a DOOM Engineer, Warpstorm Doomrockets, and the Doomsphere.
- Elaborate Underground Base: Skaven settlements are built beneath ruins, enabling them to be hidden from view on the campaign map. The Prophet and the Warlock introduces Undercities, which are smaller-scale skaven settlements that can be created inside the cities of other races, adapted from the Vampire Coast's 'Pirate Cove' mechanic.
- Elite Mooks: The Stormvermin, who are picked from birth should they possess black fur, and are given better provisions, better armor and weapons and extensive training. As such they are larger, healthier, more muscled and deadlier than the average skaven.
- The Empire: The Skaven Under-Empire, which stretches throughout most of the Warhammer world. Though, like the Empire of Man, it is strictly speaking more a loose federation of perpetually squabbling clans "united" under an equally quarrelsome ruling body, rather than a true empire.
- Evil Albino: The Regiment of Renown unit called the Council Guard, a unit of Stormvermin that are all albino.
- Evil Is Petty: The Skaven can set up gold mines in settlements with gold deposits. They do this for literally no other reason than to keep other races who actually value gold from getting it.
- Evil Sorcerer:
- The Grey Seers, the priest caste of the Skaven and their primary magic users. Regarded as favored by the Horned Rat, they are marked by their distinctive grey fur and the horns which sprout from their heads. Grey Seers are some of the most powerful and influential individuals in Skaven society and their leader, Seer Lord Kritislik, holds the greatest seat on the council of thirteen.
- The plague priests of Clan Pestilens also qualify for this trope.
- Explosive Breeder: So much so that one of their main ways of keeping their number under even the slightest form of control is to eat each other, especially the kids.
- Fantastic Drug: Some Skaven consume warpstone, possibly crushed into a dust for further parallels, which increases their magical powers. And you better believe it is addictive and causes them to lose what little sensibilities they had in the first place.
- Fantastic Racism: In addition to looking down their snouts at all other races, even among Skaven fur color tends to come with stereotypes about their value or lack thereof. Thanks to Skaven with particular fur colors being selected at birth for special roles, training, and feeding, those stereotypes tend to be a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
- Fantastic Caste System:
- The Clans are divided into Greater Clans (consisting of Clans Skryre, Moulder, Pestilens and Eshin), Warlord Clans and Thrall Clans (who pledge themselves to either the Greater Clans or Warlord Clans because they are not strong enough to keep themselves safe in the cutthroat world of Skaven politics and seek the stronger clans' protection).
- In terms of social structure and military rank, Grey Seers more-or-less run Skaven society, with Warlords and Chieftains beneath them, then Stormvermin, then Clan Rats, then Slaves.
- Fantastic Nuke: Two flavors are introduced in The Prophet and the Warlock: Warpstorm Doomrockets, which are missile-delivered tactical nukes that can be manufactured and then deployed in a battle during the campaign, and the Doomsphere, a Big, Bulky Bomb which Clan Skyre alone can build as a structure chain in Undercities, immediately razing the settlement above upon completion. Both of these weapons have devastating effects, the former being able to annihilate entire unit of enemies.
- Fire-Breathing Weapon: The Warpfire Thrower, which fires what is essentially Hellfire, making these weapon-teams devastating against low armored units. In a serious case of Does This Remind You of Anything?, Warpfire is specifically said to stick to anything and cannot be doused — it's fantasy-napalm on steroids and Chaos.
- Flaming Sword: Clan Vulkn Tailslashers, a Regiment of Renown for Clanrats with Shields, have somehow learned how to put their swords on fire. Sure, this also led to most of them suffering horrific burns, but that somehow also makes them almost immune to fire damage.
- Flesh Golem: Clan Moulder's specialty is making hideous deformed monstrosities that take Body Horror Up to Eleven , mostly in their laboratory-city, Hellpit (which is represented in Mortal Empires).
- The first, and by far the most common, is the Rat Ogre. A brutish, hulk of pure muscles, stitches and savagery that few can match. The biggest insult to actual Ogres is that, for all their strength, Rat Ogres are notoriously stupid, and only obey the commands of their Clan Moulder Masters. Wielding various weapons surgically attached to their arms, each Rat Ogre is its own unique work of art. Rented out to other clans for various boons, Rat Ogres are a vital part to the Skaven war host. Incredibly fast, they act more like shock cavalry than actual monsters
- The Hell Pit Abomination is considered the pinnacle of all Clan Moulder's skill in fleshcraft, and is one of the most horrifying things in the entire Old World. A nightmarish monstrosity, the Hell Pit Abomination is an amalgamation of warpstone, cogs, pale flesh, dragons, and dozens of still living Skaven, stitched up together and turned into an massive behemoth. Thankfully they are very rare, and seldom seen, for the effort to create one is a nightmare unto itself. On the battlefield, they utterly demolish infantry clumps and destroy enemy leadership.
- For Doom the Bell Tolls: A great bell features prominently in Skaven mythology (one which you can hear in the trailer) and Grey Seers often ride into battle on a wagon with a mounted Doom Bell, an enchanted bell capable of evoking various magical effects, shattering enemey leadership, and providing various buffs to the Skaven battle line.
- Fragile Speedster: While exceptions exist, in general Skaven tend to be small and underfed and thus lack the muscles and dense bones that would make them as strong as many other races. However, they do tend to be extremely agile, able to scramble and clamor around and across difficult terrain with ease and move with a speed born of desperation. It helps significantly, as they don't have access to regular cavalry.
- Foil: They are a pretty strong one to the Dwarfen Kingdoms, as they are both technologically-advanced civilizations who live underground. Their contrasts are plenty:
- The Dwarfs rely on elite troops with small unit sizes, which encourages slow-moving and defensive tactics. The Skaven rely on cheap but plentiful units that can easily be thrown into the meatgrinder with reckless charges.
- The Dwarfs prefer technology that is rather safe to use and often free from magic, obsessively testing and tweaking their creations for decades or even centuries before letting them be used widely. The skaven, on the other hand, use risky slipshod technology powered by warpstone, which can easily be as much of a threat to its user as it is to its target.
- The Dwarfs, despite their tendency to make enemies with races on the Surface, at the very least try to forge alliances with other races. The skaven see all other races as tools to be cast aside when convenient.
- The dwarfs put loyalty and honor before all, even common sense, while the skaven see betrayal and dishonesty to be cornerstones of their culture.
- The dwarfs worship a pantheon of well-respected ancestor-gods, while the Skaven are monotheistic and generally venerate the Horned Rat out of fear.
- The dwarfs are ruled by a singular High King who almost always have his people's well-being as his highest priority, right next to settling grudges. The skaven are ruled by the Council of Thirteen, most of whom are more interested in squabbling among themselves and jockeying for positions of prominence instead of furthering skaven society in the slightest. And wile the High King is perfectly willing to fight and die for his people on the battlefield, the members of the Council of Thirteen do almost anything in their power to ensure that they never have to do any fighting of their own.
- The dwarfs use plain but safe runecrafting, and generally shun other forms of magic. The skaven use the destructive and dangerous Lores of Ruin and Plague, and make extensive use of Green Rocks.
- Dwarf units are very resistant to magic attacks, especially vortex spells, while the skaven's lightly-armored hordes are very vulnerable to area-of-effect spells.
- Dwarf units tend to have high morale and are thus very hard to frighten from the field, even when you kill their leaders. Some of them, such as The Slayers, will even fight to the very end. Skaven, however, consists almost entierly of cowards and are very easy to defeat with units that cause fear and terror.
- The Dwarfen roster consists of slow units and are vulnerable against cavalry charges without Slayers or cannons. Skaven consist mostly of fast-moving units and have plenty more ways to deal with cavalry than the dwarfs have.
- Four Is Death: The four Greater Clans are the most powerful and deadliest of all. They consist of:
- Clan Skryre: The Magitek Clan who create deadly (but unstable) warpstone-based weapons and war-machines.
- Clan Moulder: The Clan that excels in beastmastery and creating horrific frankenstein-like abominations.
- Clan Pestilens: A Clan of religious fanatics whose goal is to spread disease and corruption throughout the lands.
- Clan Eshin: The Clan that specializes in stealth, murder, poison and assassination. Their units act as powerful, if fragile, Stealth Expert.
- Gatling Good: Skyre Weapon teams can carry the Ratling Gun a multi-barrel gatling cannon that rapidly deliver dozens of warpshards a second at incoming enemies, using a warpstone-heated steam engine to drive it. Not only does it have an insane firerate, it's missiles are armor-piercing, being very capable of shredding apart chaft and elite soldiers alike, and to top if off, it has a supression effect, any unit unlikely enough to be under it's barrage is considerably slowed down, making it particularly effective against fast units.
- Geo Effects: Skaven settlement structures spread "Skaven Corruption", which represents the proliferation of the ratmen in the surrounding landscape. While corruption is low, there's plenty of space and resources to go around and everyone is happy. When corruption is high, meanwhile, the skaven are so numerous that pickings are slim and they're driven to fight each-other, weakening public order across the province. However, the more rats are present, the more frequently the "Menace From Below" army ability can be used in individual battles. Overall, the Skaven benefit from maintaining low corruption in their own territory while working to spread it in regions they don't fully control, undermining other empires and strengthening their own armies.
- Glass Cannon: The Clan Eshin units are this doubled as Stealth Expert, such as the elite Deathrunners, and can be easily whittled down by ranged units, or head on attacks... unless they get a flanking charge off, which melts anything, from basic grunt, to elite infantry due to their Weeping Blades bypassing and reducing armor.
- Green Rocks: Warpstone — raw Chaos energy in solid mineral form — is the foundation of skaven society, serving as a currency, drug, fuel, sorcerous foci or even an emergency food source. Bonus points for literally being rocks/crystals that have a perpetual Sickly Green Glow.
- Horror Hunger: From the moment of their birth to their dying breath, all Skaven are gripped by the Black Hunger, a constant, gnawing ache that drives them half-insane with the need to feed. Consequently, the Skaven have a very, ''very'' loose definition of "food" and will eat anything or anyone they can get their paws on. It's quite common for pups to eat their smaller litter-mates, and even taken as a mark of greatness if a Skaven is particularly cannibalistic.
- Intelligent Gerbil: Well, intelligent rats, at any rate. Intelligent, yet utterly evil.
- It's All About Me: Fitting for their Fantastic Racism, this is the standard attitude of any Skaven — if the universe was as it should be, the Skaven would be its masters and the specific Skaven in question the uncontested ruler of the entire race. No Skaven would ever give up something of theirs to help someone else unless they planned to benefit from it, and no Skaven has ever been shown to regret the death of another being unless it also entails them losing a benefit.
- Law of Chromatic Superiority: The Skaven certainly believe in it, favoring those born with certain fur colors with benefits and status within society. Black furred pups are fed more and better food, allowing them to grow larger and stronger, eventually being inducted into the elite Stormvermin by virtue of their size and strength. Meanwhile, grey furred pups are believed to be the chosen of the Horned Rat, and are taken to become Grey Seers, destined to rule over the rest of their species. Everyone else is considered an expendable meat shield.
- Mad Scientist: The Skaven have more than a few, though their disciplines are generally divided by clan:
- Clan Skryre create Magitek contraptions, powered by Warpstone and almost as dangerous to their operators as to the enemy (to say nothing of friendlies near the enemy.)
- Clan Moulder, who conduct experiments in deliberate Warp-mutation (also via Warpstone), selective breeding, and vivisection to create horrifying Beasts of Battle and Flesh Golem monstrosities to unleash on the battlefield.
- Mad Scientist Laboratory: The stronghold of Hellpit is essentially a city-wide version of this trope. It's the capital city of the Mad Scientist Clan Moulder and located North of Kislev, just on the foot of Norsca in the Grim Up North of the world (the reason it was built there was due to its very close proximity to both the Chaos Wastes and Troll Country, both of which produce some of the fiercest and most powerful monsters in the entire Old World.) As the name suggests, the City is modelled after Hell itself, and is divided into nine different districts; the torture and increasingly horrific experiments getting progressively worse as you descend deeper into the underground complex. The City would be best described as a mix between a giant holding pen and a laboratory, where new species are brought to be experimented on, broken, and turned into a new hulking Beast of Battle for the glory of the Underempire. In-game, Hellpit grants considerable buffs to Rat Ogres and Hellpit Abominations when developed enough.
- Magitek: One of the many applications of warpstone is to power the Under-Empire's wide variety of surprisingly-advanced weapons and war machines, including (but not limited to) warpfire-throwers, doomwheels, warp-lightning cannons, and spacecraft.
- Magikarp Power: The Skaven have, without question, the weakest starting roster in the game; relying almost entirely on pure numbers of weak units to overwhelm their enemies rather than any actual power. However, once you start to unlock later units like Stormvermin, Abominations and the Doomwheel, and establish an economy to support them, the situation begins to rapidly reverse itself as now the Skaven not only have numerical superiority, but units that are just slightly behind the elite units of the other races.
- This only applies to their campaign map expansion and economy: The Skaven economy is absolutely pitiful at the start, since while every building gives you money, it's all an absolute pittance. However, the Energy type buildings that can be built in provincial capital will boost your economical output, increasing the money gained from buildings by a given percentage until you earning double what the listed value is for any given structure.
- As for food, the Skaven initially have limited means of acquiring it, relying largely on raiding and a special commandment that is a risky venture as it also increases Skaven Corruption, which eventually start inflicting Public Order penalties. Since more food is consumed not just through settlements but armies as well, this means that rapidly expanding too far and too fast will eventually leave your food supply stretched thin, and you'll start incurring some hefty penalties. However, certain Technologies and Special Buildings grant extra food and during the periods where your surplus is really high, Skaven expansion can increase tenfold - Skaven can spend food to make it so a settled ruin or conquered settlement is occupied at a higher development level than normal. Of course, be wary, since that surplus will only last for so long, and there is not enough to make food a non-issue all game...
- Mechanically Unusual Class:
- Skaven settlements are not visible to other races on the campaign map, being hidden underneath seemingly-normal ruins. This means the Skaven build cities and amass their forces beneath other factions' notice, until they try to colonize or explore the region.
- Skaven must balance food supplies to feed their armies and purchase certain things, such as the use of Menace From Below in battles or occupying new settlements at higher tiers than normal. They can gather food by winning battles or completing certain quests, and will experience factionwide bonuses or penalties depending on how much food is on hand. Skaven as a whole cannot hope to positively sustain food like public order for other factions, leading them to be frequently forced to chomp down on dead rebels.
- The Skaven's Chronic Backstabbing Disorder manifests in several ways. For starters, Skaven can spread their own form of The Corruption, but it'll cause public order penalties even in their own territory. Skaven Lords also have a Loyalty meter, which can lead to entire armies going rogue if their loyalty falls too low.
- Monowheel Mayhem:
- The doomwheel. Essentially a gigantic hamster wheel powered by warpstone in conjunction with swarms of rats running inside it, equipped with a Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon that fires bolts of searing hell-lightning.
- The Prophet and the Warlock introduces doomflayers, which are a much smaller version of the doomwheel outfitted with threshing blades to serve as the Skaven equivalent of cavalry.
- Ninja: Clan Eshin learned the arts of ninjutsu in a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Japan, Nippon, and Skaven Assassins, Gutter Runners, and Death Runners can all be regarded as ninja.
- Nuke 'em: Prophet and the Warlock adds a nuclear arsenal to the Skaven's list of ridiculously insane weaponry.
- Our Demons Are Different: As the Great Horned Rat is a minor Chaos deity, he can only manifest one type of daemon, a towering rat-like Greater Daemon known as a Verminlord. While they aren't playable (yet), a very powerful Verminlord known as the Screaming One appears in the Skaven cutscenes, directing the verminous horde to destroy the Vortex in the hopes of releasing it.
- Open Secret: Warhammer canon goes back and forth on just who knows about the existence of the Skaven. While it's clear that the dwarfs, lizardmen, elves and certain human factions know about them, part of the Empire seems to regard them as just another flavour of beastmen, with scholars that postulate the race's existence being ridiculed (and possibly slain by Clan Eshin assassins). Just how precisely a race that outnumbers humanity and subsists mostly on raiding can remain hidden is generally handwaved. This was the go-to marketing joke during the months up to release of the second game, as Creative Assembly would constantly deny the Skaven's existence during videos and interviews.
- Plague Master: Clan Pestilens is a whole clan of these, to the point that they see spreading disease in the name of The Horned Rat to be a religious duty. They're particularly effective in combat, as well; the foul contagions spread by Plagueclaw Catapults and Plague Monks inflict major leadership penalties on enemy units they touch, making them far more likely to break and run.
- Rat Men: Kind of obvious at this point, as the Skaven are practically the Trope Codifier.
- Religion of Evil: The Skaven worship a twisted and malicious deity called The Horned Rat, a minor chaos god who could perhaps be likened to a composite of Tzeentch and Nurgle. The exact origin of this being is up for debate, but what is known is that he is one of the few things all Skaven hold absolutely sacred. If mostly out of fear. The 13th seat on the Council of Thirteen is actually left perpetually vacant, as it is said to belong to the Horned Rat himself.
- Rodents of Unusual Size: They have plenty of giant rats alongside the regular Rat Men, something that they can use for additional swarm-tactics or even as mounts. The biggest of the lot are Rat Ogres — hulking, misshapen humanoid rats who tower over lizard man Saurus warriors — and Hell Pit Abominations — biomechanical horrors stitched together out of Skaven, regular rats, machines and who knows what else and pumped full of Warpstone, resulting in a squirming ratlike horror as big as a large dinosaur or dragon.
- Seen It All: The Council Guard, a Regiment of Renown for Stormvermin with Halberds have pale fur as a result of this. Having been picked among the best Stormvermin in the Under-Empire in order to serve the Council of Thirteen directly, they were shown the most horrific and nightmarish visions by the Grey Seers, highly implied to be The Warp itself. Those who did not die from a heartattack or Go Mad from the Revelation instead became so jaded towards everything that nothing could scare them anymore, including death. This is represented by having the Unbreakable trait, making them the bravest of all Skaven by far.
- Sickly Green Glow: A major motif, as green is the color of warpstone. The arcane material passively gives off green light, while devices powered by it are known to crackle with green electricity.
- The Starscream: The Skaven are an entire civilization of Starscreams. They're one of three factions with a loyalty mechanic, with Skaven generals who've been snubbed one too many times potentially turning on their superiors and taking their armies with them. Fittingly enough, Skaven Lords can't be upgraded to have Undying Loyalty like the Vampire Coast's Admirals; they always want more power, no matter what the Skaven Lords already have.
- Swarm of Rats: The preferred method of attack by the Skaven is to exhaust the enemy by throwing thousands of Slaves at the enemy, followed up by stronger and better equipped Clanrats. If the Clanrats fail to secure the victory, elite and heavily armored Stormvermin enter the fray to strike the decisive blow. In-game, Skaven players will routinely outnumber the enemy and the faction's mechanics encourage this approach.
- Taking You with Me: The Warp Bomb ability sacrifices an entire unit that is below half Health by blowing it up with a massive explosion that delivers massive damage to nearby enemies. It is mostly used by throwing either Skavenslaves or Clanrats against much more valuable and stronger foes, taking them all out in the process. Of course, this being Skaven society, they sure as hell are not doing this willingly, but at the demand of their lord.
- 13 Is Unlucky: Their holy number, which can be found in quite a few places, such as the thirteen seats of the Grey Seers and the thirteenth spell. In the reveal trailer, you can hear the Screaming Bell ring thirteen times. Finally, the Skaven were the thirteenth race to be revealed for the Total War: Warhammer trilogy. Quite a few things in-game are tied to the number as well, such as certain upgrades for Skaven Lords being available at level 13 and the Temple of the Horned Rat building providing 13+ to Public Obedience, just to name two examples. It will also take thirteen gongs of the Horned Rat's bell in order to summon him from the Vortex and end the world.
- To Serve Man: The Skaven, like the Greenskins, Lizardmen and Beastmen, can replenish their casualties by devouring captives after battle. They can also take them as slaves, adding them to their food stockpile to be consumed later.
- Tunnel King: Virtually the entirety of their holdings are below ground, and they are very good at digging rapidly (if not safely). This is reflected mechanically in the "Menace from Below" ability, which causes a unit of Clanrats to burst out of a tunnel in the middle of a battlefield to reinforce a flagging area or flank an opposing formation.
- Useless Useful Stealth: Not the case for their actual in-game battles, where their infiltrating/hidden units can really turn the tide of battle if used well, but this unfortunately comes into play within either campaign. One of the touted advantages of playing Skaven is that their settlements will appear as ruins to all other factions, and need to be scouted by Agents or armies to find the Skaven lurking within. On paper, being able to hide in relative safety and ambush unwary foes looking for new territory are considerable advantages, but this is rendered totally useless by a number of factors. To begin with, a large swath of unoccupied ruins are extremely suspicious in most circumstances; in a grand strategy game like this, even just three empty cities in one area is a giant red flag. Computer opponents already know you're there without scouting, and human opponents only need to look for a high level of Skaven corruption to guess where Skaven are hiding. The final nail in the coffin is that high corruption will result in obvious signs of Skaven inhabitation (signs, burrows, Warpstone boulders, etc.) appearing on the campaign map, announcing your supposedly hidden presence loud and clear to anyone with a working pair of eyes.
- Verbal Tic: Skaven often use similar words in twos while using a verb, along with speak-talking in a way that tends to repeat certain words twice in a row-row. And they often put the suffix of -thing when describing other beings such as man-thing, elf-thing, dwarf-thing etc.
- Was Once A Dwarf: The origins of the Skaven are Shrouded in Myth, but it is implied that the Skaven are to Dwarfs what the Beastmen are to Humans. The two most popular explanations are that the first Skaven was Skavor, exiled son of the Ancestor God Gazul, or that a meteor of warpstone caused rats to merge with the Dwarfs living in Kazvar, the city which is now Skavenblight.
- We Have Reserves:
- In general, unless you are a Grey Seer, Verminlord or a very vicious lord, don't expect your life to be very valuable in Skaven society, especially when the Zerg Rush is in order.
- Skavenslaves and Clanrats are built for this. They're cheap, have among the largest unit sizes in the entire game, and exist only to die in droves so your superior units can do the real work. The special mechanic Menace From Below allows a player to instantly summon more Clanrats anywhere on a battlefield map, to boot.
- Worthless Yellow Rocks: Played with. The Skaven use warpstone as currency and have absolutely no use for gold. That said, they know that it's highly sought-after by other races, and depriving those other races of something they want is more than enough of a reason for the Skaven to mine gold.
- You Dirty Rat!: The Skaven are this trope taken to its logical extreme. There is not a single one of them that is not an irredeemable and unapologetic bastard.
- Zerg Rush: They utilize this tactic more than any other faction in Warhammer due to numbering in the billions at least, with worthless slaves and Soldiers being plenty and disposable. Let's put it like this. Where the Orcs and Vampires, the former masters of the Zerg Rush, could sport over 2000, maybe even 3000 troops in a battle if focusing on disposable units, the Skaven can bring along at least 5000 with just a standard army!
Queek Headtaker, Warlord of Clan Mors
Warlord Queek Headtaker, is the legendary and much-feared Lord of the City of Pillars, Great Warlord of Clan Mors and the personal right-claw of Warlord Gnawdwell, the one and true Grand Ruler of Clan Mors. Queek has been groomed by Gnawdwell from the moment of his birth to be the ultimate warrior, provided with the best armour and weapons, protecting him from the other Lords of Decay, and also staging assassination attempts to keep him on his toes. Queek is an uncommonly bloodthirsty and egotistical warrior whose need to conquer even the most impossible challenges has since earned him an infamy amongst the annals of Skaven history as the legendary Headtaker, the Dwarf-Smiter, the greatest Warlord to have ever graced the tunnels of Skavendom.
Queek's temper is infamous amongst both his enemy and allies, having fought, defeated and survived almost every challenge that was thrown against him. Upon his trophy rack consists of the heads of all those that have challenged Queek in the past, such as King Krug Ironhand of Karak Drazh, Warlord Ikit Scratch of Fester Spike, Warlord Sleek Sharpwit of Clan Mors and the hand of Baron Albrecht Kraus of Averland amongst other noteworthy challengers.
Within his powerbase underneath the once majestic stronghold of Karak Eight Peaks, Queek had been fighting a never-ending war of attrition against the battle-hardened Dwarf armies of King Belegar Ironhammer and the Greenskin hordes of Warlord Skarsnik. A powerful warrior in his own right, Queek's deeds have since garnered him the respect of the Orcs, the fear of the Goblins and the eternal hatred of the Dwarfs.
Queek Headtaker leads the Clan Mors sub-faction. In The Eye of the Vortex, he begins the game in the Southern Jungles province in the Southlands. In Mortal Empires, he instead begins in Charnel Valley, on the border between the Southlands and the Badlands.
- Ax-Crazy: Even by Skaven standards, Queek is nuts. To the point that he actually talks to his battle trophies. In combat, he's noted to be a raging lunatic cackling madly as he cuts down foes. In-game he can get the frenzy ability.
- Bad Boss: Even compared to other Skaven, Queek is infamous for the casual disregard for his minions, often personally killing them solely to make an example of them to the rest of his men. One of his unique skills is aptly titled "Make Example!" which increases Queek's leadership effects, and makes Warlord's more loyal to him, at the cost of loyalty from Grey Seers.
- Battle Trophy: Has a fondness of collecting the remains of his enemies and proudly displays them on the trophy rack on his back. These range from skulls or severed hands to the entire spine of a dead skaven.When selected on the campaign map: "N-need to restock my trophy-rack!"
- The Berserker: When fighting, Queek is nothing more then a raging furball of death.
- The Brute: While he's hardly stupid, he's still a direct, temperamental individual who prefers leading armies and killing enemies in battle to the schemes and politicking of his fellow Skaven, a trait he utterly despises. His master is more then fine with this, using Queek as an attack dog, and enforcer, sending him to take care of threats to his power that require no subtlety.
- Blood Knight: Skaven are cowardly creatures as a rule, and whilst some might be occasionally more brave than others, Queek is notable for being unnaturally courageous. This is entirely due to Queek's love of violence, and he is so eager to kill that he leads from the front.
- Co-Dragons: In the quest for the Vortex, Queek Headtaker and Lord Strolk both work at the behest of the Council of Thirteen.
- The Dragon: To Lord Gnawdwell, leader of Clan Mors and a member of the Council of Thirteen.
- The Dreaded: Queek inspires dread in those that know him, but arguably it's his own troops that are most afraid of his antics, due to his Bad Boss tendencies.
- Dual Wielding: Wields a sword in one hand, and Dwarf Gouger, an ancient magical maul, in the other.
- Elite Mooks: Queek is infamous for his personal company of crimson armored Stormvermin, the Red Guard, which is represented by a handful of special skills.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Queek's voice is noticeably much deeper than the average skaven, best shown when he speaks with his associates in the Skaven campaign introduction. Interestingly, in contrast to the campaign intro, his in-game voice is noticeably lighter and more nasally.
- Fantastic Racism:
- He hates Dwarfs above all other races, and a good number of the trophies on his back are Dwarfen skulls.
- Queek also hates Grey Seers because he despises playing politics. In-game this is represented by all Grey Seers in your faction starting out at -2 loyalty.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation:
- Like the other two would-be rulers of Karak Eight Peaks, Queek doesn't start his campaign in Karak Eight Peaks. This is explained in the Skaven intro by him being ordered by the Council of Thirteen to aid in their efforts to take the Great Vortex. In the Mortal Empires Campaign, however, he too is on a race to capture Karak Eight Peaks from whoever is holding it at the moment. However, with the release of The Prophet and the Warlock and the implementation of the Undercity mechanic, Clan Mors is granted a pre-existing undercity beneath Karak Eight-Peaks to represent the 'City of Pillars' that the clan rules.
- Unlike other Skaven, Queek is a complete Blood Knight and doesn't benefit from the 'Verminous Valour' rule in tabletop. In-game he's just as able to obtain the skill as any other Warlord.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Queek is notorious for his horrible temper, lashing out at a moments notice when things go wrong. There's a very good reason why Skaven tend to be far away when this happens.
- Incoming Ham: His very first line of dialogue in the Eye of the Vortex, presuming the tutorial isn't active."Squirt Musk of Fear, vermin, for the Headtaker comes before you!"
- Large and in Charge: Queek is notably large and powerful for a Skaven, to the point of being the largest of his litter, who, being black-furred stormvermin, were all very large to begin with.
- Leaked Experience: He has a trait that allows him to skim off the experience earned by the lords under him, leeching their glory to feed his own. This helps him to send his armies off reaving and pillaging aggressively and still benefit even if he is not personally leading them.
- Mêlée à Trois: Just like Skarnsik and Belegar, he is on a race to reclaim Karak Eight Peaks, but only in the Mortal Empires Campaign.
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much: A decidedly evil example of this trope. Unlike most Skaven, he has few if any problems putting himself in danger, and relishes a good fight. Also, while he isn't stupid, he's not the schemer you'd expect from a Skaven, and is generally blunt and to the point. It's what makes him such a wildcard in Skaven politics, and why the Council of Thirteen fears him.
- Nothing but Skulls: Notably Averted for someone who calls themselves "Headtaker". Queek has some poor Skaven's entire spine embedded onto his back as well as a pair of disembodied human hands.
- Off with His Head!: As you may expect from his name, Queek is a maniac obsessed with killing and collecting more worthy heads for his trophy rack. In-game, he will always decapitate infantry or non-Legendary Lords when he deals the final blow.
- Properly Paranoid: Even though this is something all Skaven are, Queek is considered incredibly paranoid by the standards of his race. Then again his own master pays Clan Eshin to try and kill him to keep Queek from getting complacent or ambitious. To speak nothing of the many other Skaven who try to assassinate him to keep him dead, the dwarves who hate him for turning Karak Eight Peaks into a festering three way no-man's land and the goblins who also want Karak Eight Peaks to themselves. When the Council of Thirteen has been revealed to have turned against him, his paranoia becomes completely justified.
- Red Baron: Queek Headtaker.
- Red Is Violent: He wears armor the color of blood to reflect both his temperament and his favored activity. Notable, this is not a case of Bring My Red Jacket, as Skaven have black blood. The color is of the blood of other races...
- Sibling Murder: He apparently devoured all of his litter brothers after being born, but this is relatively normal Skaven behavior. The only reason it attracted attention was that the litter was born stronger and healthier than most.
- So Proud of You: In a loading quote Queek's Parental Substitute Lord Gnawdwell invokes this (in what is possibly the nicest thing a Skaven has ever said of anyone else that wasn't them).Lord Gnawdwell: "You were so magnificent when I found you, the biggest in your litter, and they were all large before you ate them. I raised you, I fed you the best dwarf-meat and man-flesh. And you have become even more magnificent. Such courage. There is none other like you, Queek. You are unnaturally brave. Others think you freakish for leading from the front, not the back. But I do not. I am proud of my Queek."
- Spikes of Villainy: His warpshard armor pauldrons are covered in crimson, jagged spikes.
- Tin Tyrant: Ruler of the cruel Skaven of Karak Eight Peaks, Blood Knight extraordinaire, and covered in some of the most elaborate armor Skaven have ever forged.
- Villainous Valor: Queek, unlike practically every other skaven warlord, fights in the frontlines alongside his Stormvermin, and is a genuinely brave, albeit completely insane, warrior.
- Undying Loyalty: One thing that sets him apart from other Skaven is his eternal loyalty to his master, Warlord Gnawdwell. A very rare trait for a Skaven to have.
"Clan Mors victorious, with me-me at it's head!"
- However, his loyalty does have its limits, as when he finds out that the Council of Thirteen, and by extension Gnawdwell, have decided to sacrifice the entirety of Clan Mors to summon the Horned Rat he revolts against it and his master. By the time of the battle at the Vortex, he's decided that a change in leadership is in order.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: As it turns out, Queek is rather uncomfortable being on water. Ordering his army to travel across the seas will frequently elicit whining complaints about how sea travel is "not natural!"
- We Have Reserves: Even more so then other Warlords, Queek cares little for his men, besides his Stormvermin, and sends them out to die in droves. One of his unique skills emphasises this, increasing replenishment, and significantly buffing up Skaven Slaves and Clan Rats.
- Worthy Opponent: The Crooked Moon Greenskins, one of his two arch enemies, deeply respects him for his extreme skill in combat, though that respect is also deeply rooted in fear.
Lord Skrolk, Plaguelord of Clan Pestilens
Lord Skrolk, is one of the most legendary disciples of decay within Clan Pestilen and one of the 9 legendary Plaguelords. That Lord Skrolk walks the world is an affront to nature and a sign of the power of the Great Horned Rat. Plants wither and die where Skrolk treads and the very air seems to congeal and darken, as if stained by his baleful presence. Skrolk is ancient, having existed many spans of even the most long-lived of his foul kind. Rather than weakening with age, Lord Skrolk is possessed with a diabolic vitality that belies the years and the heaped diseases he carries.
Indeed Skrolk is bent and gnarled by the weight of countless corruptions. The flesh that is not hidden by his tattered shroud is leathery and covered in a layer of dripping buboes. Even worse, the mysterious hunching growths promise something still more virulent. Each new pox only toughens the aged Plague Monk, who himself has become a disease that walks. Lord Skrolk is one of the Plaguelords, the rulers of Clan Pestilens under the direct command of Arch-Plaguelord Nurglitch, he-who-is-tenth on the Council. It was the sight of the radiant corruption of the Arch-Plaguelord that caused Skrolk to claw out his own eyes, as he wished to see no other vision to obscure that last glimpse of perfection. Despite empty sockets, Skrolk moves assuredly and claims a magical sight that sees in vivid hues of decay. Despite his seeming blindness Skrolk's reflexes are rather amazing.
He can catch a fly out of the air — or rather, he could if any flies were able to enter the aura that emanates from his loathsome hide. Insects literally drop dead from the noxious fumes surrounding Skrolk, and only extreme devotees can abide his presence. In battle Lord Skrolk leads from the front so he can unleash his rabid fury. He bears the Rod of Corruption, a dreadful staff of spiderwood, iron-capped with spikes and covered in writhing runes of power. Many censers hang from its chains, wafting foul vapours. Lord Skrolk occasionally carries plague scriptures with him, and on occasion will bear one of the sacred volumes of the Liber Bubonicus, the toxic tome of ultimate disease.
Lord Strolk leads the Clan Pestilens sub-faction. In The Eye of the Vortex, he begins the game in the Lost Valley province in Lustria. In Mortal Empires, he instead begins in the Headhunter's Jungle, also in Lustria.
- Ambadassador: As a special envoy of the Council of Thirteen, Skrolk is fairly respected by the rest of Skavendom, and is a fairly (for a Skaven...) decent diplomat, as reflected by his special skill "Envoy of the Thirteen", which gives a moderate boost to diplomacy with all other Skaven.
- Aura Vision: With no eyes to see anymore, he perceives the world around him in vivid "colors" of entropy, seeing the decay and rot of the things around him."My eyes gone, but I see."
- Badass Grandpa: Skrolk is ancient, which, considering the average lifespan of a Skaven, should really tell you how powerful he is.
- Battle Aura: Skrolk is so disease ridden he travels with a constant miasma of foul diseases, and plagues, that effects the melee attack of all enemy units around him with his "Aura of Pestilence" skill.
- Beneficial Disease: Each new pox only toughens the aged Plague Monk, who has himself become a disease that walks.
- Blind Weaponmaster: Even though he no longer has eyes, Skrolk's reflexes are still amazing, and he swings his Rod of Corruption with great strength and skill.
- Body Horror: Skrolk's flesh is leathery and covered in a layer of dripping buboes, not to mention the fact he's missing his eyes, giving him the general appearance of a giant, nightmarish plague rat. Upgraded skills can amplify the effect so much that he starts projecting a short-ranged Terror effect, which can force enemy units to break and rout far sooner than their morale would otherwise cause.
- Co-Dragons: In the quest for the Vortex, Queek Headtaker and Lord Skrolk both work at the behest of the Council of Thirteen.
- Disability Superpower: Every disease he is infected with just makes him tougher, every weight of age just makes him quicker, even gouging out his own eyes only made his perception sharper.
- The Dragon: To Arch-Plaguelord Nurglitch.
- Dragon Ascendant: Unlike Queek who has genuine loyalty to his master, Skrolk has no love for Nurqlitch, and states in his intro he wants to usurp him from power. Which he achieves by the ending.
- Epic Flail: His Weapon of Choice, is the Rod of Corruption, a disgusting censor, is this mixed with a staff.
- Evil Smells Bad: Skrolk smells horrible, and is so disgustingly putrid his smell causes public order drops in enemy territory, with his "Herald of Decay" skill.
- Evil Counterpart: Is this to Volkmar, being the head of a zealotic Church Militant, and fanatically devoted to its god, one just and noble, with the other wretched and cruel.
- Eye Scream: Clawed out his own eyes, leaving nothing but empty sockets behind.
- Genius Bruiser: Crossed with Magic Knight. Not only is Skrolk a cunning sorcerer, he's a fairly decent melee fighter.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Skrolk's flesh consists of nothing but scars, and definitely lands on the "evil side" of this trope.
- Handicapped Badass: He might be blind, but he's still a force to be reckoned with, and he can make a decent showing for himself if forced into melee against most regular units.
- Nightmare Fetishist: As mentioned above, the reason he pulled out his eyes with pleasure was because he knew he would never see anything more wonderfully putrid and rotten than his boss, the only one in the clan more disease-ridden than himself.
- Plague Master: One of the most powerful ones in an entire clan of Plague Masters, and a powerful wielder of the Lore of Plauge. In gameplay, like most Legendary Lord casters, he's significantly stronger than even a generic caster warlord of his type. Coupled with Skaven casters also being extremely strong in their own right, Skrolk is fully capable of wiping out multiple enemy units per battle singlehandedly just by blasting away. He even has a spell called Plague, which his unique quest relic, the "Liber Bubonicus," gives enormous bonuses to casting.
- Religious Bruiser: As a Plague Monk Skrolk is fanatically devoted to serving the Horned Rat, and even whispers dark prayers to him every night. He heavily buffs any fellow Plague Monk in his army as a result of his zeal and status.
- Super Reflexes: Do not let his hunched posture and hobbling gait deceive, he is unnaturally quick to react.
- Super Toughness: That which does not kill him only makes him more resilient, and he actively seeks out diseases that do exactly that.
- Tome of Eldritch Lore: He wields the Liber Bubonicus, an ancient, and foul book filled with recipes and rituals of horrid plagues and disease's.
- Walking Wasteland: Even air itself blackens and gets polluted with disease wherever he walks, mass killing plant and animal life in his way.
Tretch Craventail, Grand Chieftain of Clan Rictus
As one of the heads of the smaller Clan Rictus, Tretch has gained quite the reputation for being a backstabber and traitor whenever it suits him, even by Skaven standards. Having started his rise to power through a plot involving Mad Cap Mushrooms, he has time and time again used his mastery of trickery and ambushes in order to keep his position within the clan, even if he is the only survivor of his many quests for glory.
Becoming available as FLC, Tretch Craventail leads the Clan Rictus sub-faction. In both The Eye of the Vortex and Mortal Empires, he begins the game on the Clawed Coast in Naggaroth.
- Adaptational Badass: Was originally only a hero choice in the tabletop game, but was promoted into a Lord for this game. Notably, due to the lack of RNG mechanics in this adaptation, he has become an absurdly sturdy character who can survive almost anything thrown at him.
- Black Comedy: Few Skaven can exemplify their hilarious piles of backstabbing, cowardice and self-interest in their lives quite like Tretch can.
- Blatant Lies: Most of his diplomacy lines gives the impression that he's about to backstab you the moment your back is turned. Which, to be fair, he is.
- Born Lucky: Infamous for his absurdly good luck that borders on the supernatural. Subverted, however, as it's heavily implied his insane luck is brought on by his magic Skullhelm, not any inherent ability.
- Chronic Back Stabbing Disorder: This is considered a virtue for Skaven to have, but Tretch's gameplay mechanics encourage this, gaining a moderate public order boost to his cities whenever he breaks a treaty.
- Combat Pragmatist: Even by Skaven standards, Tretch is acknowledged to have a knack for fighting dirty. Not only does he give his entire army vanguard deployment, all of his buffs are focused on giving his units a dirty edge in certain situations (ambushes, or fighting after being attacked after retreating).
- Cornered Rattlesnake: As expected of Skaven who never fight until they're utterly sure they'll win or they have to, his army get a large bonus to melee attack if attacked after retreating (which in gameplay terms means they actually really have to fight to survive now - defeat at this point will cause the entire army to be always utterly destroyed).
- Dirty Coward: Considered the Dirty Coward of an entire race of them. Unlike Queek, who is motivated to stay in battle due to his bloodlust, or Skrolk, who is motivated to stay due to his religious fanaticism, or Ikit, who is motivated to stay due to his desire for further scientific knowledge, Tretch doesn't have any such motivation, being very prone to leaving his armies for dead the moment he sees a good opportunity to run for it.
- In the game this extends to the entire army under his command, who gain a extraordinary +13 bonus to Melee Attack if they either manage to ambush their target or if someone corners them and it is impossible to flee.
- His unique skills and items are all themed around his cowardice as well. Almost all of his unique skills encourage guerilla warfare, and making sure that the fight is supremely in Tretch's favor before attacking. Stormvermin units close to him get combat bonuses, but only if they're already winning. He can also turn himself nearly invisible in order to "get help". When his leadership is low the Lucky Skullhelm will give him a large bonus in damage resistance to help him survive escaping.
- Disc-One Nuke: Begins the game with a Tier 5 Doomwheel, one of the most powerful Skaven units, but has no food-producing territories near him unlike Skrolk and Queek. While he'll expand a lot faster, he'll hit food shortages a lot faster too.
- Dual Wielding: Triple-wields a war-fork, a staff and a tail-mounted blade.
- Frontline General: Well, not really. He has a ability to run for his life the moment things are going to get dicey.
- Gameplay and Story Integration: Tretch is doubtlessly a very Skaven Skaven (aside from the unusual luck), and his faction's bonuses basically make it the most Skaven faction among the Skaven factions.
- Go Ye Heroes, Go and Die: Gives what starts off as a rather Rousing Speech for the final vortex battle, before adding that he needs a better look at the battlefield and scarpers off to find a better vantage point away from his army. This doesn't bother Skaven, because they'd all do the same in his situation too.
- Karma Houdini: Despite having failed many times and had many of his squads completely wiped out, he always seems to find a way to escape punishment or justice. Not only that, but he somehow manages to almost always come out on top while his rivals (and pretty much every Skaven near him, really) end up dead. Much of it seems to do with his lucky charm helmet.
- Klingon Promotion: Noted to have gained his chieftain title by assassinating his predecessor by disguising himself as a stalactite and dropping onto his head.
- Logical Weakness: Since Tretch's army boosts depends on him either succeeding in an ambush or being pushed into Cornered Rattlesnake mode, his army cannot gain any boosts in quest battles such as the final Vortex Battle.
- Lovable Traitor: Even by Skaven standards, he is a backstabbing bastard. Yet his clan seems to love him for it, displayed ingame by public order temporarily rising whenever he breaks an agreement or pact with another faction.
- Mechanically Unusual Class: His subfaction treats frozen areas as Habitable and jungle areas as Uninhabitable, a reversal from Skrolk and Queek.
- Punny Name: Tretch Craventail is treacherous and a craven.
- Skull for a Head: Gives off the appearance, with his skullhelm.
- Skeletons in the Coat Closet: His helmet, the Lucky Skullhelm, is not only a protective piece of armor made from the head of one of his rivals, but it also seems to be the source of his supernatural luck.
- Sole Survivor: Skaven tend to die like flies...yet even when they do, Tretch out of them all still makes it out alive.
- Stealth Expert: His "stay here, I'll get help!" makes Tretch invisible and boosts his movement speed temporarily, so as to aid in escape. It also boosts nearby friendly units' morale because they apparently believe him (suckers).
- Stone Wall: A modest anti-large bonus aside, Tretch's greatest asset is his near immunity towards getting killed. In between his massive Melee Defence, access to Regeneration, the ability to turn invisible the moment he escapes combat, and his Lucky Skullhelm's various buffs, Tretch is very difficult to put down but can't match Queek or a generic Warlord in raw damage potential.
- Surprisingly Elite Cannon Fodder: The Warlords of Clan Rictus have attempted to kill Tretch via Uriah Gambit innumerable times, and yet somehow he keeps coming back as the Sole Survivor.
Ikit Claw, Chief Warlock Engineer of Clan Skyre
Ikit Claw, Chief Warlock Engineer of Clan Skyre, is one of the most ambitious and talented Warlock-Engineer of his age and the infamous Right-Fang of Lord Morskittar, the one true ruler of Clan Skyre. Ikit Claw has taken Clan Skryre's mix of science and sorcery to new levels of complexity and depravity. Entire legions of Skavenslaves have been blasted to bits in the name of Ikit's experimental new weapons, a small price to pay for the sheer power and killing might that Ikit has added to Clan Skryre's deadly arsenal.
In his quest for knowledge, lkit has traveled the world, stealing secrets from the mystics of Cathay, studying the dimension-spanning machines of Lustria, and toiling for years alongside the cruel Forgemasters of far off Zharr-Naggrund. Upon his return, Ikit found the warpforges of Clan Skryre woefully under-developed. It would take centuries to fully implement his grandiose changes. It was during the great Civil War that Ikit seized his opportunity. As the newly assigned lead emissary of Lord Morskittar, the ruler of Clan Skryre, lkit Claw ordered massive warpforges, and unrivaled armories to be gnawed into the stone beneath Skavenblight. Infernal devices and diabolical weapons were soon being assembled on a level never before seen. Should nothing stop this mad tinker-rat from continuing on in his research, he may create a weapon so powerful and diabolical that it could threaten the very world to total annihilation.
Ikit Claw is a Legendary Lord available to those who purchase the DLC pack The Prophet and the Warlock. Ikit Claw leads his own sub-faction, Clan Skyre, in the Eye of the Vortex and Mortal Empires campaigns.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: In the tabletop, Ikit's armour covers his entire body and the body underneath it is horribly scarred, burned and crippled. In this incarnation, Ikit's armour only partially covers him and a healthy Skaven is visible underneath.
- Ace Custom: He has his own heavily modified Doomwheel, which he can ride into battle with. Not only does it use liquefied Warpstone as fuel (making him go at insane speeds), it's wheels are covered in the material itself, making it just that more damaging on the charge. He also has his own take on the Warp Lightning Cannon, Ikit's Zzzzap-Zzzzap, that can greatly screw over enemy magicians by constantly putting ther spells on cooldown.
- Arm Cannon: Ikit's left arm ends in a mechanical claw with an integrated warpfire thrower, that he can use at will. While it has a slow reload time, it does both magical and fire damage, and hits in a very wide arc.
- Atomic Hate: Ikit's greatest creation - and obsession - is the Doomsphere, the Warhammer world's equivalent of the Atom Bomb. Ikit has attempted to perfect the Doomsphere and detonate it beneath major urban centers for years, though he is often thwarted at the last moment by intrepid heroes or backstabbing rivals, with his specific aim being to recreate the Time of Woes, and slaughter the Dwarfs in the millions. In the campaigns, Clan Skyre can create a Doomsphere as a building chain in undercities, which obliterates the settlement above upon completion, turning into a smoldering pile of ruins, and exterminating any garrison of settled army unlucky enough to be inside it. On a smaller scale, Ikit also invented the warpstorm doomrockets, which are more akin to tactical nukes with the warhead being very capable of annihilating entire units caught in it's blast radius, and Clan Skyre begins the campaign with a doomrocket already completed.
- Blade on a Stick: Wields the Storm Daemon, a Warpstone halberd of Ikit's own design that fires warp lightning from its blade.
- Blood Knight: Seems to having the time of his life in his trailer, while facing down the Cult of Sotek.
- Clothes Make the Superman: Ikit was crippled in an experiment gone wrong. He wears the Iron Frame to stay mobile, which also gives him super-Skaven strength.
- Darth Vader Clone: A powerful warrior with magical powers who serves one of the most powerful lords of the Underempire and requires a suit of Power Armor to live after being scarred and crippled.
- Evil Genius: One of Clan Skryre's greatest inventive minds.
- Evil Laugh: Let's out an insane cackle at the end of his trailer, just as his Doomrocket is about collide with the Lizardmen army.
- Evil Old Folks: Like most of the Skaven overclass, Ikit's (ab)use of Warpstone has extended his life radically and his age is counted in centuries.
- Frontline General: In contrast to most Skaven Ikit leads from the front, and his trailer shows him leading an expedition into Lustria, and taking part in a Skyre gunline, before rushing into melee combat.
- Mad Scientist: Warhammer's crowning example. A Mad Engineer at any rate, Ikit has provided the Under-Empire with countless diabolical war-machines across his lifetime, most famously the doomwheel and doomsphere. And yes he's Ax-Crazy even by Skaven standards.
- Magic Knight: Ikit is an adept spellcaster of the Lore of Ruin, but his Power Armor grants him a truly insane level of durability, and his Storm Daemon makes him no slouch in combat.
- Magic Versus Science: Inverted. Ikit is the greatest scientific genius in the Underempire and one of it's most powerful mages.
- Mark of the Supernatural: As a result of his Warpstone use, Ikit has green eyes. This is in contrast to every other Skaven in existence, who are all red-eyed.
- Shock and Awe: Storm Daemon's blade fires warp lightning bolts, and Ikit's close combat animations involve stabbing it into the ground, creating a literal shockwave.
- Villainous Valor: Like Queek, Ikit may be insane, but he's no coward, and will happily engage enemy forces with his engineers right at the front.
The Great Horned Rat, God of The Skaven.
The Horned Rat is the supreme god of the Skaven, and he brooks no other gods before him. Though not affiliated with the Lords of Chaos, the Horned Rat is almost certainly a distant relative of those foul, nebulous beings. He represents all things the Skaven are, or wish to be. Undying and eternally scheming, this cunning deity patiently awaits the day of the Great Ascendancy, when his children will swarm across the face of the world, devouring it from within. Entropy is his mantra; decay is his stock in trade. All things must rot, figuratively or literally, and the Horned Rat and his offspring are the worldly reality of this simple truth.
- Bad Boss: The Horned Rat cares nothing about the Skaven who worship him. His only appearances in the mortal plane involve him literally scooping up and consuming thousands of his followers, and he requires immense daily sacrifices to appease his wrath.
- The Bad Guy Wins: If playing as Skaven, completing the final Great Vortex ritual and winning the final battle will unleash the Horned Rat upon the world.
- Big Bad: He takes this role for Total War Warhammer 2, as every other faction's final mission is to stop the Skaven from summoning him.
- Evil Gloating: He appears to the faction leaders when they have completed most of their objectives, he reveals to to them that he had orchestrated everything. The fake comet made by the Skaven, and the magic of the rituals are used to fuel his ritual to summon him into the mortal plane. He will also gloat to the other factions in the final battle.
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: Well, as comfortable as a massive rodent god of evil can possibly be in comparision, though. In a deep cave with a more direct contact to his realm than most other places in the world, he disguises himself as a burning vermin's face that refers to itself as The Screaming One.
- Dirty Coward: Ultimately just as much of a simpering bully as his children; in the end of the Cult of Sotek campaign, Sotek gives him such a sound thrashing that his newfound fear of the god causes all Skaven to be terrified of Lizardmen.
- Generic Doomsday Villain: His only motivation is to despoil and destroy the world the only living creatures left are his "Children". But even they are not fully safe from him.
- God of Evil: He is arguably one of the strongest force of evil in the setting that isn't a Chaos God.
- Just Between You and Me: In the Vortex Campaign, he reveals his plan to whoever has completed the fifth ritual, just for the sake of gloating.
- Summoning Ritual: This is what the Council of Thirteen wishes to do with their complicated plan. By having the Vortex be destabilized by not only the fake twintailed comet they made out of warpstone, but also all the other factions messing around with it in their own rituals, this will allow them to build a great bell that will make sure that the Horned Rat is summoned into the world, right in the middle of the Vortex!
Grey Seer Vulscreek
An agent of the Council of Thirteen who oversees the activities of Clan Mors and Clan Pestilens in the New World.
- Bad Boss: To the Scribe. In the intro, he demands that he flays himself for his impertinence. Later, he sends the scribe to the lair of the Verminlord known as "The Screaming One" rather than going himself in case of danger.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: You'd really think a Grey Seer of all people would have had a bit more than just threats at his disposal to make sure that Sneek would go along with sacrificing his own clan to finish the ritual that will bring about the Horned Rat through the Vortex. This lack of preparation costed him his jugular veins and the entire Grey Seer clan.
- Canon Foreigner: He's an original character created for the game's storyline.
- Evil Sorcerer: As a Grey Seer, this is a given.
- Mission Control: For the Skaven Campaign, after a fashion.
- Supporting Leader: Queek and Skrolk manage the forces of their respective clans, but they both receive missions from Vulscreek, and by extension the Council of Thirteen.
- Unknown Rival: All Tunnels Lead to Skavenblight implies that he's one to Thanquol.
Sneek Scratchett, the Skaven Scribe
The put-upon assistant of Vulscreek.
- Alliterative Name: Sneek Scratchett. In official videos, meanwhile, he's usually referred to as just the Skaven Scribe.
- Canon Foreigner: He's an original character created for the video game.
- The Chew Toy: As a lower-ranking Skaven, he is the primary recipient of Vulscreek's abuse. This abuse ranges from simple insults to being forced to go down into an ancient temple that houses a Verminlord of immense power known as "the Screaming One" who later turns out to be The Great Horned Rat himself.
- The Dog Bites Back: Literally! When ordered to sacrifice his entire clan to summon the Horned Rat, Sneek finally snapped and tore out Vulscreek's throat, sacrificing the Grey Seer's clan instead and becoming one of the favored of the Horned Rat, along with Skrolk and Queek.
- Eye Glasses: Wears one. It's unknown if they're purely for reading, or because the scribe is actually visually impaired.
- Mission Control: Like Vulscreek, he gives the player assignments and other general info.
- Series Mascot: Has been gradually developing into one for Total War: Warhammer II, by MSTing the game's introduction and later narrating the debut trailer for the Laboratory Mode.
- Smarter Than You Look: Not by very much, but he's a good deal more intelligent and learned than a mere "scribe-slave" should be. For starters, he can interpret the arcane markings on the Black Pillar, a prized religious relic of the Horned Rat, and thus has a strong grasp of the prophecy regarding the Great Vortex and the Screaming One. Vulscreek seems impressed enough that he refrains from punishing the scribe and even talks to him more openly about the prophecy, despite heavily implying that a non-grey-seer reading the Pillar is a serious transgression (though he still orders Sneek to flagellate himself for it after the fact).