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We're going to need a bigger cat...

"All decent folk find the common rat repulsive. Harbinger of disease, it scavenges on our waste-heaps and frightens our children. How immeasurably worse then is the foul Skaven — standing on its hindlegs in foul parody of a human. Rats as tall as man, and blessed with the most vile intellect and cunning. They are the dark side of our souls, come to destroy us for our sins."
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The Skaven are a race of vicious, cunning Ratmen found in great numbers in the Under-Empire, a vast network of tunnels stretching across the Old and New Worlds. Their origin is shrouded in mystery but their goal is obvious: to conquer the world. The Skaven are a treacherous and ambitious race and while they could be formally divided into clans each having their specialties, the truth is all Skaven fight for themselves. Only their worship of the Great Horned Rat and deference to the twelve powerful Lords of the Council of Thirteen has prevented their society from imploding.

The Skaven's battle doctrine is to bring a literal horde of fast but ultimately poor troops, as Leadership is remarkably low across their forces. However, the expendable clan warriors are completed by an eclectic array of specialized units forming the actual danger. Be it the Grey Seers and their magic, the powerful yet unreliable machines of Clan Skryre, the plaguemasters of Clan Pestilens, the warmutants of Clan Moulder or the assassins of Clan Eshin, those all come in numbers large enough for casualties pile up quickly in the battlefield... often without the enemy's intervention, at that.

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Trying to take over the world, the Skaven have no allies nor do they need them, such is their numbers. The one reason they haven't succeeded yet is the internecine power struggle running rampant across Skaven society, between clans, equals, superiors and subordinates. However, they are particularly bitter enemies with the Dwarfs whose Karaks they besiege and the Lizardmen who regard this unplanned race as an error to wipe out.

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    General Tropes 
  • 13 Is Unlucky: Inverted. 13 is considered a sacred number in Skaven society. There are 169 Grey Seers (13x13), 13 members of the Lords of Decay, the emerald pillar that the Horned Rat used to determine those to go on the Lords of Decay had 13 sides and, as mentioned below, the Dreaded 13th spell, which is their most powerful spell. From the point of view of the other factions, however, this close association between the number and one of the most foul and dangerous races in the world plays the trope entirely straight.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Skaven are one of the most evil races in the entire setting. 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 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 become highly annoyed if his pet squig dies. Skaven meanwhile hate everyone and everything: they are more cowardly and paranoid than any goblin, crueller and more hostile than Dark Elves and more fractious than Chaos. Some of the background material even mentions that their reproduction rates being tied into how much dark magic saturates the world with an increase in dark magic causing a sudden explosion in their population. Such a rapid increase inevitably puts pressure on their resources so that they have to wage war on the other races, or even each other, to survive.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The Skaven use warpstone, the condensed and solidified form of raw magic, to power and enhance their technology. From the basic metallurgy to sophisticated, if unreliable, magitek power generators, warpstone is an ever-present component of Skaven science and engineering, and they will go to any lengths to secure even the smallest amount of their powerful and dangerous substance.
  • Anti-Air: The Warpstone Scroll and Howling Warpgale spell. Both are very effective at hindering the movement of flying units.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Verminlords have a monster level statline (read-very good) and are powerful wizards to boot but their high point cost, low ward save, lack of unbreakable and size (say hello to the Ironblaster) means that players are often better off using the points to get warlords and Grey Seers instead.
  • Bad Boss: Skaven leaders universally see their underlings as useful pawns at best and think nothing of sacrificing them if their deaths could further their plans, have outlived their usefulness, failed them, delivered bad news or simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time when the leader was in a bad mood.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Grey Seers and Verminlords with The Dreaded Thirteenth Spell can, with some luck, turn any infantry unit within distance and line of sight of a Skaven Sorcerer into clan rats. From the core units to the elite ones and even prized heroes and lords, no one is safe from being turned into their very enemy.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: Male Skaven are bipedal man-sized rats of vaguely human intelligence (they think they're smarter then they really are, but are still quite intelligent) while female Skaven are humongous, bloated, normal female rats that do nothing but lounge around, eat and produce litter after litter of new Skaven. Background material claims they're not naturally like this but are purposefully mutated into bloated birthing machines via Warpstone exposure. This has been going on for so long that not even the Skaven know what an unmutated female looks like any more, not that they care.
  • Black Comedy: Skaven are emphasized as being such utterly terrible and virtueless individuals (along with some seriously wacky tech that is usually as much of a threat to themselves as to their enemies) that they go right back to hilarious.
  • Breath Weapon: The aptly named "Pestilent Breath" spell, which lets its caster breathe a foul cloud of corruption at the enemy.
  • Cannon Fodder: The Skaven really don't seem to care how many of them die in battle and clan rats can be sent to die in droves. However, the Skavenslaves even stand out in all of the game. They are so expendable they have a rule allowing all Skaven units to fire at a melee combat between them and the enemy. The missed shots hit the slaves instead but no one of value will be lost either way.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Skaven politics normally go all over the place, but Clan Skryre has been around since the founding of Skavenblight because of this. No matter what they do to any of the other clans their skills are always needed and they always have allies and resources to protect themselves from whoever they just pissed off because the work they do is just that important.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The root of all of their problems. The Skaven are so treacherous they constantly try to undermine their superiors and grab their positions with treacherous methods such as causing lucky accidents, or sabotage their subordinates if it looks like their successes will result in them and/or their clan looking better than the leader and/or the leader's clan. They'll do this whenever they deem it convenient to their individual needs, even if it'll ruin efforts to advance Skavendom's cause (i.e. assassinate a warband's leader right before a major battle). Their society only persists because they still manage to birth more than their losses and they still hate all other species slightly more. Yet still, some individuals from other races may try to make arrangements with them, which always ends exactly as expected.
  • Cold Sniper: Some Skaven use Warplock Jezzails, long-barreled guns firing warpstone bullets. There exists rather hilarious stories of Jezzail teams racking quite impressive kills, such as Natty Buboe 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.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Like you wouldn't believe. Very few Skaven go out of their way to seek challenges, preferring to shove an underling forward instead. That being said, they will fight if the odds are tilted heavily in their favour and no fight in their favour has them equal their enemy in number. In fact they have a special rule which allows their characters to refuse challenges and still give their leadership to their unit.
  • Cyborg: Stormfiends, hulking brutes stitched together from a variety of body parts and mechanical components, most prominently guns and armor plating.
  • Darker and Edgier: At one point. the Doomwheel and the Verminlords were removed from the army list because Games Workshop considered the former too silly and the latter too Chaos-y. The Doomwheel in particular was treated with some scorn from the developers, who thought that a giant hamster wheel was too much of a joke for a game now taking itself more seriously than in its early incarnations. After much fan protest, they eventually relented and added both back into future lists.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Their distinctive Verbal Tic has them highlight words in their statements for emphasis by saying the word twice, or immediately following it with a synonym. (E.g. "Kill-slay the no-furs! All will die-die!")
  • Dirty Coward: Cowardice is considered a virtue among the Skaven. While everyone else has their heroes in the first rank of a unit and suffers quite a few drawbacks if they decline a challenge for a duel, Skaven leaders lead from the back without problems.
  • 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.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: Especially with warpstone involved, smart Grey Seers are quite wary of the megalomania (which is extreme even by Skaven standards) that comes with the power chewing on warpstone gives.
  • Eaten Alive: Woe betide any Skavenslave who is injured on the job, as his own compatriots will quickly take the opportunity to get what little fresh meat they can. Unfortunately for Skavenslaves, on-the-job injury is fairly common.
  • Elite Mooks: Stormvermin, who are the fighting elite of any Skaven army. The Skaven leadership may have little care for the well-being of their underlings but even they recognize the need for having at least a handful of professional soldiers they can count on. Thus Skaven born with black fur are recruited at an early age for the Stormvermin, fed very well, given extensive training, clad in heavy armor and equipped with quality weaponry. All of this creates larger, stronger, more disciplined guards with superior equipment, and who are usually fairly loyal (by Skaven standards).
  • Enemy Civil War: The Skaven as a whole are in a labyrinthian civil war at all times, as they are constantly fighting and scheming to betray their many enemies, real or imagined. One of the most notable episodes of Skaven history is the civil war that began between the Council of Thirteen and the rising Clan Pestilens, freshly returned from Lustria. The Skaven were practically split in two factions until Clan Eshin returned from the East and offered their services to the Council of Thirteen. The war ended but Pestilens managed to negotiate peace and grab a seat in the Council.
  • Explosive Breeder: Both a benefit and a massive drawback to the ratmen. Skaven reproduce quickly, with female Skaven giving birth to huge litters after a short gestation cycle. The vast majority are runts who are small and twisted in form and fur, destined for a brutal and mercifully short life, while those who are larger and healthier are made clanrats. This borders on Power Incontinence as the Skaven frequently reproduce faster than their infrastructure can be expanded to provide for them, leading to food shortages and cannibalism or pushing them into surface conquest. When dark magic surges across the world, that breeding is even faster than usual.
  • Explosive Overclocking: While most of Skaven technology is quite powerful, it's also very prone to self-disintegration.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: They really don't understand any of the things humans would call 'virtues'. Traits like loyalty, compassion, and courage are completely alien concepts to them, as is the concept of self-sacrifice for any reason beyond "it'll be worse for you if you don't." What this means is that while they are very good at manipulation and deception, their 'society' is in a constant state of near-collapse, and when other species act on Honor Before Reason, it can end up completely blindsiding them.
  • Evil Counterpart: Oddly enough to the Empire and Bretonnia. The Skaven represent the worst traits of humanity: treachery, spite, paranoia, greed, cowardice and racism.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: In general terms, with their crazy technology, Evilutionary Biologists, Deadly Gas and "Stormvermin", there's more than a little resemblance to Those Wacky Nazis.
  • Fantastic Caste System: The Skaven society is rather sharply divided.
    • First of all, their race is divided into different clans united more by early coexistence than any loyalty. Each of the Clans has its own strongholds and specialty, but all Clans are dwarfed by the Great Clans, which each oversee a major facet of Skaven life (assassination, breeding monsters, plagues and technology) and rule over Skaven society and politics.
      • Clan Eshin is a collection of rat ninjas that serve as the official Murder, Inc. for the entirety of Skaven society, available to anyone and targeting anyone. Their price is quite high but the results are highly variable anyway. Being Stealth Experts and Professional Killers, their presence on the battlefield consists of scout units and individual assassins meant to target a hero or lord.
      • Clan Moulder is powerful clan of Evilutionary Biologists who create a variety of rat-based monsters, ranging from regular oversized rodents to chimeric and biotechnological abominations. They sell their creations as shock troops and their handlers act as The Beastmaster on the battlefield, and also provide Skaven society's beasts of burden. They are actually the richest and most influential of the clans.
      • Clan Pestilens are the Skaven's Plague Masters, worshipping The Corruption aspect of the Great Horned Rat. They bring their numbers and plagues to the battlefield, expanding their influence to any Lord desperate to call for them. Ill-regarded by everyone, they're too powerful and devoted to their cause to be challenged.
      • Clan Skryre specializes in Magitek. Mad Scientist Warplock Engineers create many foul, powerful and unreliable inventions involving More Dakka, Shock and Awe and Deadly Gas. Then they sell them as support firing units and artillery and rival Moulder as the most openly influential of the Clans.
    • In general terms, Skaven society has Grey Seers and Warlords at the top, followed by Chieftains, then Stormvermin, then Clan Rats, the slaves, and finally non-Skaven slaves at the very bottom.
    • Stormvermins and Grey Seers are picked out early in the litter by the color of their fur; Grey Seers are often grey or near albino while Stormvermins often have a pelt of jet black fur, and are socially valued above common brown-furred skaven. Stormvermins also tend to be much, much larger than the average non-mutated skaven.
  • 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.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: The warpfire thrower, a two man flamethrower that tags along with other units that fires what is essentially Hellfire.
  • Foil: To the Dwarfs, some of their primary rivals. They are some of the most technologically advanced civilizations in the setting and both live underground, but otherwise their contrasts are many:
    • The Dwarfs rely on highly trained, heavily armored elite troops, 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 to be safe, reliable and efficient and deeply distrust innovation, obsessively testing and tweaking their creations for centuries before letting them be used widely. The Skaven use untested and often slipshod technology and experiment obsessively, recklessly throwing away resources and lives to produce new weapons and accepting disastrous battlefield malfunctions as a fact of life.
    • The Dwarfs, despite their tendency to make enemies with races on the surface, at the very least try to forge alliances with others. 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 has his people's wellbeing as his highest priority. The Skaven are ruled by the Council of Thirteen, which is chiefly interested in squabbling among themselves and jockeying for positions of prominence. Further, while the High King is perfectly willing to fight and die for his people on the battlefield, the members of the Council of Thirteen will do anything in their power to ensure that they never have to do any fighting of their own.
    • The Dwarfs use outwardly 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 to power their society and its weapons.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: A great bell features prominently in Skaven mythology and Grey Seers often ride into battle on a wagon with a mounted Doom Bell, an enchanted bell capable of evoking various magical effects (or just cracking and being destroyed if the Random Number God doesn't like you).
  • 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. Thus in game Skaven have Movement 5 and Initiative 4 at worst, but are otherwise as fragile as humans.
  • Gatling Good: Ratling Good. The Ratling Gun is a multi-barrel cannon that rapidly fires shards of warpstone, using a warpstone-heated steam engine to drive it.
  • Gender Rarity Value: It's never stated just how common Skaven "breeders" arenote , but they are considered extremely valuable property. A clan without a healthy breeder or two is doomed to eventually die out without their own source of fresh ratmen. Breeders are traded as extremely high value goods, and owning a private breeder, rather than having to impress a clan leader in order to gain access to the communal breeders, is a mark of great wealth and status amongst Skaven.
  • Genghis Gambit: Well, unite-ish. All Skaven distrust and hold all other species in contempt just slightly more than they feel the same for all other Skaven individuals who are not themselves, which is the only reason (along with extremely high breeding rates) that their society functions to a minimum degree in spite of themselves. However, this does not prevent them from actively betraying or utterly disregarding the lives of their own troops even in active battle for whatever reason once the opportunity presents itself — it's only enough to make them get to the battlefield in the first place.
  • Glory Hound: Virtually every Skaven wants to be seen to take the credit for something that furthers the Horned Rat's cause (because that's how they gain the approval of their superiors and rise in esteem before they're in a position to surpass those superiors), but almost all of them prefer that someone else bears the brunt of the risk for doing so. Lots of scheming, lying, backstabbing, and posturing is the inevitable result.
  • Godzilla Threshold: When the Skaven realised what Nagash was planning to do (namely raise the dead of all Nehekhara as an army to conquer the entire world), knowing they were likely to be among the first on his revenge list, the Council of Thirteen made the (for the only time in its entire history) unanimous decision to assassinate him, with no plots to betray each other until Nagash was fully defeated.
  • Hamster-Wheel Power: Skaven doomwheels are war machines that are propelled by Rat Ogres running in wheels.
  • Horns of Villainy: Horns are viewed as a sign of a Skaven being blessed by their evil god, which happens to be the Great Horned Rat. The Grey Seers are all horned and are the foremost masterminds of the Skaven, while the Verminlords naturally possess huge horns, being greater daemons of the Horned Rat.
  • Horror Hunger: Skaven who've just been through combat are frequently subject to the "Black Hunger" as they come off the battle fever, a near-compulsive desire to feed, especially on meat if possible. Fortunately, battle leaves plenty of fresh corpses and the Skaven aren't picky at taking what meat they can get.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Beginning with ratling guns and getting worse from there. Shooting into a melee is called coratteral damage in some editions.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Due to their extremely high metabolism, Skaven often feed on the corpses of their own fallen after a battle. Due to their extremely high breeding rate, it's not uncommon for Skaven within a clan to just outright murder and eat each other when there's too many of them, there's not enough food going around, and they can't find an enemy within reach.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Fellblade is one of the most notable magic weapons in the game. Forged out of raw warpstone and gromril then cursed with powerful incantations of doom, it was made specifically to kill Nagash and tear his very soul, making his comebacks more and more taxing. In game it gives its wearer Strength 10, forces to reroll successful ward saves and causes D6 wounds per unsaved wounds. However, having such a deadly blade in hand may cause its user to lose 1 Wound per turn.
  • Intelligent Gerbil: The Skaven are a race of sentient and intelligent human-like rats who routinely develop cunning plans or groundbreaking technology but are held back by their many faults.
  • It's All About Me: 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 ruler of the entire race. No Skaven would never 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 vast majority of Skaven are born with brown fur, and these are for the most part consigned to life as slaves or nameless clanrats. Very occasionally, Skaven pups are born with distinctly black or white fur — the former become much larger and stronger than common brown-furred specimens and are raised as Stormvermin, while the latter develop magical powers and are raised as Grey Seers.
  • Lightning Gun: The Lightning cannon, which shoots a magic ray of lightning that disintegrates everything on a straight path in front of it.
  • Luck-Based Mission: A Skaven player going all out on the special weapons can win or lose a battle in the first turn purely by the roll of the dice, either disintegrating their enemy's most powerful units or shooting stray warp lightning through most of their own army. More reliable and less amusing methods of warfare are available, however.
  • Made of Explodium: The Skaven's most dangerous weaponry isn't hugely less dangerous to their users.
  • Magitek: Warpstone is essentially "solid magic", created when The Old Ones' warp gates exploded, sending fragments of its essence into the sky to rain down over the land as meteors for the next few thousand years. The Skaven make heavy use of this in their technology, in everything from conducting arcane electricity to magic foci, from to steam engines to toxic brews, from mutagens to chemical propellants.
  • Manipulative Bastard: An entire race of them, constantly seeking to outwit, con, or backstab all the other races and each other in pursuit of their nefarious schemes. Woe betide anyone foolish enough to strike a deal with one...
  • Masquerade: The Skaven try their best to erase traces of their presence to the humans, assassinating scholars who get too curious and burning records. It seemingly works as the populace of the Empire at least think of them as legends and conspiracies. That is, despite the Dwarfs knowing about them and having many reasons to warn the humans.
  • Monowheel Mayhem: The Doomwheel is one of Ikit Klaw's masterpieces. It's a giant wooden hamster wheel acting as a chariot, powered by a swarm of rats running at its bottom and giving it random movement, and a lightning gun platform as well.
  • Monstrous Cannibalism: Skaven are generally perfectly willing to eat their own dead... or just make other Skaven dead to eat them, if need be.
  • Mysterious Past: The Skaven do not have a clear origin, some claiming that they were born mutated by Chaos but other scholars saying that the Skaven are a separate race altogether. The story "Doom of Kazvar", which details the legend of an ancient city overrun by rats, is perhaps the most significant document about their origin, but even it makes little sense.
  • Never My Fault: The standard Skaven view of anytime things don't go their way. The reasons why this is not the case are manifold, but most of them boil down to incompetent subordinates, Selective Obliviousness about past actions, superiors refusing to make way for someone who knows what they're doing and enemies that just won't die.
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: The Council of Thirteen is usually crippled by every Lord of Decay having their contradicting agendas and thus they rarely coordinate the Skaven on a large enough scale to conduct noteworthy attacks on the surface.
  • One-Wheeled Wonder: The Doomwheel, which has lasers and is powered by a rats running inside it. It is one of the most recognizable, random and popular Skaven unit in the game by virtue of being a silly but deadly weapon.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: The first and only time the Council of Thirteen unanimously agreed on a clear objective was when Nagash almost turned the whole world into undead. Such was their desperation that they agreed to forge the Fellblade and gave it to Alcadizzar so he could kill Nagash. Oh, and all the Grey Seers risked their lives to protect Alcadizzar from the Fellblade, performing a Heroic Sacrifice of a sort whenever one of them died from exhaustion.
  • 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, parts 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 in incidents meant to look like "accidents"). Just how precisely a race that outnumbers humanity and subsists mostly on raiding can remain hidden is generally handwaved. The Skaven splatbook lampshades this:
    There are two lies concerning the Skaven. The first one is that they don't exist. The second one is that anyone believes the first.
  • Our Demons Are Different: The Verminlords are demons of the Great Horned Rat, occasionally summoned by Grey Seers although they view it as a Godzilla Threshold since the Seers cannot hope to control the Vermin Lords. The latter are Living Lie Detector and The Chessmaster on top of being on the same level as Greater Daemons of Chaos.
  • Playing with Fire: The Spell of Ruin "Scorch" allows a Skaven magic user to summon a plume of fire from the earth that, in the 7th and 8th Editions of the game, causes flaming hits to multiple models and forces them to make a Panic test.
  • Properly Paranoid: Every Skaven is out to get every other Skaven and they all know it.
  • Radiation-Immune Mutants: It is heavily implied that the Skaven were mutated to their current form by exposure to warpstone. While this produces uncontrolled mutation in other species with enough exposure, the Skaven themselves seem to be able to stay relatively stable around it. As a result, they use it much more frequently than other races do, as its potency as "solidified magic" is vast.
  • Rat Men: A possible Trope Codifier for tabletop gaming, being one of the most famous and influential examples in the medium, and an archetypal example of Rat Men as swarming, sapient vermin closely tied to decay and disease.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: Even discounting the Rat Ogres and "Giant Rats", the Skaven themselves are only a little smaller than humans.
  • Rule of Cool: Why on earth do they have hamster wheels with lasers? Because it's cool and absolutely hilarious on the battlefield!
  • Sickly Green Glow: Due to the amount of Warpstone they use, this shows up all over the place.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: Skaven are really big on enslaving their own kind, each clan and Skaven of importance having slaves they mistreat and in the case of servants cripple to ensure they cannot kill their masters. Skavenslaves can even be fielded on the battlefield as even more expendable Cannon Fodder.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: No matter how lowly a Skaven may be, he's utterly convinced that only his brilliant plans after becoming the head of the Skaven race will lead to their utter supremacy under his wise rule. Anything that gets in the way to reaching this goal is totally because of someone else's fault entirely, and anyone who thinks they would be a better leader is obviously in the way of Skavendom's best.
  • Sorcerous Overlord: The Grey Seers are both the official sorcerers and foremost leaders of the Skaven by virtue of being visibly blessed by the Great Horned Rat. Despite their natural religious authority, their reign is challenged everywhere and only the threat of summoning a Vermin Lord can silence dissenters.
  • The Starscream: An entire race of them. Every Skaven has an instinctive ambitious and traitorous streak and every subordinate plans to eventually overthrow their superiors through open challenges, "accidents", or plain backstabbing. The only reason their society hasn’t collapsed is that the Skaven are also too busy outdoing their equals to completely commit to overthrowing all of their superiors.
  • Stealth Expert: The hat of all Clan Eshin units from Night Runners to Assassins, whose stealthiness is represented in some way by special rules. For instance, the Night Runners are infiltrators and can move once before the start of the game whereas the Gutter Runners have the Scout special rule allowing them to appear as reinforcement from anywhere on the table.
  • Super Reflexes: The Clan Eshin units all have a Dodge special rule representing their training at dodging attacks and thus granting them a nice Ward save which even the deadly Khainite Assassins don't have.
  • Swarm of Rats: Swarms of rats of unusual size that walk on their hind legs and wield hand weapons at that. The Skaven also employ actual swarms of rats on the battlefield.
  • Tunnel King: The Skaven are the masters of quickly digging tunnels, even if they don't manage this safely. Their empire is almost entirely made of tunnels and underground holds and be it done with their claws or a warpstone drill, a Skaven will quickly dig from point A to point B even if half the time, the tunnel will collapse and kill him. Skavenslaves are usually the ones forced to be the diggers for this reason.
  • Underground City: The Skaven almost exclusively live underground in complex networks of tunneled settlements which are dug and collapse daily. Some parts of these networks, controlled under one clan, could be generously called cities. Their capital Skavenblight is an notable aversion, being the first city the Skaven conquered and hid in the middle of an inhospitable area.
  • Unfriendly Fire: Unlike every other faction in the game, the Skaven have had over-the-years a number of rules allowing to shoot into a melee combat. In the 8th version, this is restricted to the Poisoned Wind Globadiers and Skavenslaves being allowed to be shot at.
  • Verbal Tic: The Skaven have this, yes-yes. They'll kill-slay all the men-things, green-things and else-else. (To add emphasis for subjects they're mentioning in their statements, the Skaven are prone to repeating the word or immediately following a word with a synonym, and refer to all other species as "[species]-thing" or "[adjective]-thing".)
  • Villain Team-Up: They ally with Chaos during the events of End Times: Thanquol.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: The spell Skitterleap allows the Grey Seers to teleport a character. Given no Skaven Lord or Hero is a real match for their counterparts in other armies, the best use of it is to actually teleport the character away from a losing battle.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Or to put it into any Skaven's own words, their genius and designs are not being properly recognized and is also being actively sabotaged by the treachery of their rivals...the latter is actually true to some degree, though likely not as much as they think.
  • We Have Reserves: Even moreso than any other army in either formats since they are the only ones allowed to shoot into melee combat (which even the Chaos Gods frown upon). And when there's a group of 40+ points-per-model knights attacking your at most 5 point standard infantry, that 50:50 chance of hitting a knight with some warp lightning becomes mighty tempting...
  • Wizards Live Longer: If they can survive the inherently dangerous politics of Skaven society, many Skaven magic users are able to live many years longer than the average lifespan of a Skaven. Whether this is due to life extending magic, a quirk of Skaven biology or the blessing of their god, the Horned Rat, is unknown.
  • You Dirty Rat!: The Warhammer Fantasy faction. Seriously, even in this Crapsack World, Skaven are said to be the most absolutely vile creatures of them all.
  • Zerg Rush: The tactic most Skaven Warlords use is to send waves of troops forward and lead from the back.
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    The Great Horned Rat 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/great_horned_rat.png
The symbol of the Great Horned Rat

A Chaos God, the Great Horned Rat is the supreme deity of the Skaven, who brooks no other gods before him. 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.


  • 13 Is Unlucky: He's strongly associated with the number thirteen — it's the number set for the Skaven's ruling Council, where he symbolically occupies the thirteenth seat, and is often depicted with thirteen horns — and anything associated with the Skaven and their god is definitionally unlucky.
  • Bad Boss: He's extremely unforgiving of mistakes and failure, and entirely willing to devour his own vermin children should they disappoint him or the mood just strike him.
  • God of Evil: He's one of the Ruinous Powers, and his cruelty knows few limits.
  • Horned Humanoid: He's generally depicted as a gigantic humanoid rat with horns, though how many horns he has is variable.
  • Religion of Evil: His faith is heavily centered on the ideal of Skaven racial dominance, the spread of plague and ruin, and the infiltration and corruption of all the other races' works.

    Skaven Clans 
  • Planet of Hats: Each Skaven clan has a very clear-cut identity and specialty, which all its members above rank-and-file cannon fodder adhere to. This is especially so for the Great Clans, which each define themselves along very specific lines of thought, profession and personal interest, but holds true for the lesser Warlord Clans as well — Clan Skab are soldiers with a lot of Stormvermin, Clan Skaar are warpstone miners, Clan Sleekit are underground navigators and sailors, Clan Volkn are a bunch of pyromaniacs, Clan Skurvy are pirates, Clan Carrion are thieves and scavengers, and so on.

The Four Great Clans

Skaven society is dominated by the four largest, oldest and most influential of the clans, which enjoy a level of power and social standing beyond that of any of the lesser ones and who provide specialist services for other Skaven to purchase for considerable prices. These are Clan Eshin, whose stealthy assassins never find dearth of work in Skaven politics; Clan Moulder, a collection of mutators and monster breeders who make their fortune selling off their assortments of war beasts and the services of their animal handlers; Clan Pestilens, which is as much a cult to disease as a political force; and Clan Skryre, which provides the bulk of Skaven military technology.

Clan Eshin

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/clan_eshin.png

Clan Eshin vanished into the distant East early in Skaven history, and when it returned it had become finely honed in the arts of subterfuge and stealth. The deadly assassins of Clan Eshin soon established themselves as an invaluable tool for enforcing the rule of the Council of Thirteen, ruthlessly assassinating any challengers to their power and dispatching any surface-dwellers who become too well-informed on the menace below. Eshin agents are the boogeymen of the Under-Empire, and will perform assassinations, sabotage and espionage for anyone who meets their prices — and in the cutthroat world of Skaven politics, Clan Eshin is never short on business. The symbol of Clan Eshin is a white hand clutching a dagger upon a black field.


  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Clan Eshin has a lot of Eastern elements, particularly focusing upon Ninja aesthetics.
  • Master Poisoner: Assassin adepts typically make extensive use of poison in their deadly art, and can prepare a great variety of specialized and intensely deadly toxins to deliver through tainted food, a blow dart from the shadows or the edge of a weeping blade.
  • Ninja: Clan Eshin learned the arts of ninjutsu in a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Japan, Nippon, and makes heavy use of ninja trappings and aesthetics such an emphasis on stealth, espionage and assassinations, shuriken, and all-concealing black outfits.
  • Paranoia Fuel: In-universe, Clan Eshin deliberately cultivates an image of being deadly, unavoidable killers that could be hiding in every shadow and whom no-one and nothing is safe from. The fear of being paid a visit by Eshin agents is never far from ambitious Skaven's minds, and this hanging threat is often as effective a tool in quelling rebellions as the actual assassinations.
  • Professional Killer: While they also provide scouts, spies and light skirmishing troops, the most notable service provided by Clan Eshin is the use of its assassins. Eshin assassins have a very well-earned reputation for being stealthy, ruthless and efficient killers, and will mercilessly hunt down and execute anyone whom their current employers wish dead.
  • Stealth Expert: The hat of all Clan Eshin units from Night Runners to Assassins, whose stealth is represented in some way by special rules. For instance, the Night Runners are infiltrators and can move once before the start of the game whereas the Gutter Runners have the Scout special rule allowing them to appear as reinforcement from anywhere on the table.
  • Stock Ninja Weaponry: Clan Eshin makes heavy use of these as part of their general ninja gimmick, most prominently shuriken, handheld and throwing daggers, and shuko hand-claws.
  • Super Reflexes: Clan Eshin units all have a Dodge special rule representing their training at dodging attacks, thus granting them a nice Ward save that even the deadly Khainite Assassins don't have.

Clan Moulder

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/clan_moulder.png

Clan Moulder specializes in the creation of monsters and living weapons, performing horrific experiments on captive creatures and intelligent prisoners alike within their fortress of Hell Pit in the far north. Through creative use of warpstone salves, grotesque surgeries, obscene cross-breeding and the channeling of the powers of Chaos into living flesh, the master mutators of Clan Moulder have produced a vast array of monsters, from swarms of giant rats and the reliable mainstay of rat ogres to the colossal, writhing Hell Pit Abominations, which they either use in their own armies or sell to other Skaven as bodyguards, attack animals or weapons of war. There is always demand for Moulder's grisly products, and this has made the clan one of the wealthiest in the Under-Empire. The symbols of Clan Moulder are twofold, comprising both a rat shrouded in green glow and a crisscrossing set of lines in the shape of a spine.


  • The Beastmaster: Moulder Packmasters are trained to direct and control their clan's varied abominations, using a combination of whips and goads, vicious abuse and behavioral conditioning to get them to obey their orders. A few particularly gifted Packmasters have managed to earn their beasts' loyalty more directly, however, actively leading and directing them rather than just driving them towards a target.
  • Bio Punk: Their capital, Hell Pit, has the classic punk aesthetic of tall towers in which the powerful masters of the clan live and the various workshops and bestiaries below where the rest of the clan toils, incorporating Organic Technology and powerful beasts created via mutation, selective breeding, and extensive vivisection and surgical augmentation.
  • Body Horror: Clan Moulder loves inducing horrific mutations in their warbeasts. One of their masterpieces is the Hell Pit Abomination, a worm-like giant mass of flesh and limbs of all sorts with a clump of rat-like heads, twice as many clawed arms, and a swarm of rats living under its skin.
  • Mad Scientist: Clan Moulder chiefly represents the mad biologist side of this trope, and its Master Mutators spend much of their time in dimly lit laboratories performing horrific experiments on living subjects and stitching together Frankensteinian creations from metal and dead flesh. While these often create viable guard and combat monsters, many are also performed out of a simple obsessive need to tamper with life for the sheer hell of it.
  • Maker of Monsters: Clan Moulder specialize in the creation of horrific rat monsters through the use of selective breeding, alchemical and magical mutagens and Frankensteinian surgeries, coupled with weapon implants provided by the magitek engineers of Clan Skyre. These range from "regular" Rodents of Unusual Size and hulking Rat Ogres to immense and bloated Brood Horrors or the horrific, writhing behemoths known as Hell Pit Abominations, all of which are then sold to other Skaven clans for hefty prices to be used as war animals and living siege engines.
  • Mutagenic Goo: Various warpstone-derived salves and compounds are one of Clan Moulder's most common tools. They routinely expose captured beasts and prisoners to these substances, looking to cause mutations they can find useful as the basis of more specialized work.

Clan Pestilens

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/clan_pestilens.png

The origins of Clan Pestilens lie in an ancient Skaven expedition to Lustria that was all but wiped out by tropical diseases and furious Lizardmen, and whose few survivors embraced the same diseases that plagued them as a sign of divine favor. Clan Pestilens' monomaniacal devotion to plague and to the Horned Rat, whom they revere in his aspect of the Lord of the Decay, makes other Skaven factions intensely wary of them. Despite that, their many successes in using disease to harrow and destroy other races have won the Skaven many victories, and Pestilens remains a very powerful clan. The symbol of Clan Pestilens is a diseased rat's head superimposed on the Horned Rat's symbol upon a green field.


  • Body Horror: Members of Clan Pestilens eagerly accept disease into their bodies, and their devotion to their god allows them to survive no matter how extreme or disfiguring their ailments get. As a result, their monks and priests are horrific sights, hunched and hairless, covered in swellings, lesions and weeping sores, and generally embodying every unpleasant aspect of disease as can be forced into a single tortured body.
  • Church Militant: Clan Pestilens dedicate themselves to spreading poxes and plagues with a religious zeal both off and on the battlefield. In combat, their Plague Monks wield noxious censers like they were flails, smashing them into enemies and spreading their virulent contents as a weapon of terror. Their zealotry also confers them the Frenzy special rule.
  • Epic Flail: Pestilens Plague Censer Bearers carry huge censers dispersing foul plague fumes which are more dangerous than the weight of the censers themselves.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The invasion of Lustria by Clan Pestilens resembles the Conquistadors arriving in the Americas. An army of greedy religious fanatics shows up uninvited to kill and enslave a continent through war and disease.
  • Plague Master: The clan follows a Religion of Evil centered around spreading plagues and turning themselves into vessels for contagion. They are expert in brewing deadly diseases and liberally use biological weapons on the battlefield even at the cost of their own troops. Though they worship The Horned Rat, the similarity they bear to Nurglite Chaos cults has not gone unnoticed.
  • Religion of Evil: Clan Pestilens is deeply devoted to an interpretation of the Horned Rat as an ultimate maker of plague, and devote their lives to spreading suffering, disease and decay in the name of their god. Their ultimate goal is to sway all of Skavendom to their faith, after which all the world shall drown in plague and the Skaven shall reign supreme in the Horned Rat's name.
  • Walking Wasteland: Plague Monks and Priests are utterly saturated with disease, and a miasma contagion follows them and their armies everywhere they go. Living things wither and water is poisoned where the hosts of Pestilens tread, and even when they are defeated their vanquishers are often brough low soon after by the taint their foes brough with them.

Clan Skryre

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/clan_skyre.png

The Warlock-Engineers of Clan Skryre are the driving force behind the Skaven's advanced technology, which they create through endless experimentation with warpstone, sorcery and technological mechanisms. The weapons created as a result of Clan Skryre's work tend to be deadly beyond anything the other races possess, but also extremely unstable and prone to devastating malfunctions. To the Skaven, however, friendly fire and the loss of low-ranking weapons crews aren't particularly grievous issues, and Skryre's creations have become mainstays of larger Skaven armies. The symbol of Clan Skryre is a horned Skaven head, with the symbol of the Great Horned Rat upon its forehead.


  • Boring, but Practical: While Clan Skryre's dramatic weapons tend to get most of the spotlight, the clan also produces a considerable quantity of more mundane technology that plays an important role in keeping the Under-Empire running, such as mass transit systems, long-range communications and drilling and mining equipment.
  • Cyborg: Skryre engineers often replace extensive parts of their bodies, such as limbs and eyes, with mechanical replacements.
  • Deadly Gas: Wielded by their Poison Wind Globadiers, who fill globules full of warpstone-infused gas to hurl at the enemy on the battlefield and spread into a cloud on impact. While it can be used against large units in tight formation, more often these precious globes are reserved for dealing with elite units wearing heavy armor that is no proof against inhaled death.
  • The Engineer: For all their madness and disregard for basic safety measures, Warlock-Engineers are genuinely very good at what they do, and are extremely skilled at devising new mechanical contraptions, adapting them on the fly and putting them back together when they inevitably fall apart.
  • Gatling Good: Skryre weapon teams can carry ratling guns, multi-barrel gatling cannons that rapidly deliver dozens of warpshards a second at incoming enemies, using a warpstone-heated steam engine to drive it.
  • Mad Scientist: Clan Skryre chiefly represents the mad engineer side of this trope, producing what is arguably the most advanced Magitek in the setting and do so almost exclusively in the form of deadly, dramatic weapons such as automatic firearms, rockets and laser cannons. The safety of their inventions is quite lacking however, with even their most "reliable" machines killing their operators (and everyone in a fifty-foot radius) shockingly often.
  • Magitek: Warlock-Engineers make extensive use of dark magic in their work — most of their inventions are directly powered by or weaponize warpstone, the solid form of raw, primal magic, and many others are enhanced by or serve as conduits for more complex sorcerous workings.
  • No OSHA Compliance: As a byproduct of general Skaven recklessness and disregard for casualties, Skryre inventors take absolutely no steps whatsoever to make their laboratories and factories safe to work in — the slaves and underlings working in Skryre facilities routinely die by the dozens from falling off of unstable platforms, getting facefuls of steam or noxious gases or being caught within exposed gears or moving parts, and larger workplace accidents can kill of hundreds or thousands of workers at once. This goes on all the time, and Skryre higher-ups don't care — you can always get more slaves, after all.

Warlord Clans

Beneath the four Great Clans are hundreds of lesser warlord clans, who constantly rise and fall as their fortunes change. Most are minor powers, holding onto specialized niches or specific territories or thralls under a greater clan's thumb, but a few have risen to become formidable powers in their own right.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: Clan Grutnik is very rich due to its extensive warpstone mining, and high-ranking members of the clan often sport their wealth by wearing the precious material as lacquered armor, jewelry, talismans, or even prosthetic eyes and teeth.
  • Elemental Hair Colors: Invoked by the fire-loving Clan Volkn, whose members dye their fur bright red.
  • Genuine Human Hide: Clan Spittl lives beneath Lustria and spends a great deal of time battling the Lizardmen, and its warriors often wear their enemies' flayed, scaly hides as clothing.
  • Highly Visible Ninja: Clan Scully yearns to imitate Clan Eshin's stealthy ways, but its members' habit of wearing heavy, clanking armor and bright red cloaks makes this a touch difficult.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Clan Mors' identity is rooted in its generalism and lack of the other clans' intense specialization, allowing them to adapt their tactics and mindsets to changing situations.
  • Pest Controller: Clan Verms, a clan reviled even by other Skaven, shares a close affinity with insects, spiders and other tiny, crawling things, and is believed to have been responsible for creating several of the larger varieties known to exist.
  • Pirate: Clan Skurvy is a nautically-oriented clan that has made its fortune by sailing the seas and robbing anything they find upon it, earning them a respectable amount of power despite the fact that every rat on a Skurvy ship can be counted on to be planning mutiny.
  • Plague Master: Several clans within Pestilens' orbit, such as Flem, Morbidus and Septik, specialize in the breeding and spreading of plagues.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: One of the reasons behind Clan Mors' rapid rise in power is that its members are able to reject the more maniacal and self-destructive aspects of the Skaven mindset, such as by discouraging betrayal when this hinders the greater clan, accepting enemy surrender rather than slaughtering everyone and recruiting defeated foes when these seem to be valuable assets.
  • Pyromaniac: The Skaven of Clan Volkn, which lives within the volcano of Fire Mountain, have a decidedly unhealthy fascination with fire and the setting thereof, and the clan is particularly known for its propensity for using large number of warpfire throwers in battle.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Clan Skrapp is poor as dirt and equipped with some of the worst gear in the Under-Empire, and has avoided conquest by the other clans chiefly by spreading outrageous rumors about their military strength and by claiming to have great numbers of Grey Seers in their midst — Skrapp clanrats even daub themselves grey and white and tie horns to their helmet to imitate their appearance, something that would normally earn the powerful Seers' violent wrath. Most Skaven assume they're either deluded or out of their minds, but leave them alone on the off chance that their claims may actually be true.
  • The Scrounger: Clan Carrion makes its living as nomadic scavengers, wandering between fallen fortresses and battlefields to glean anything of potential value that the feuding forces have left behind.
  • Skeletons in the Coat Closet: Members of Clan Mortkin adorn themselves with the bones of their enemies in an attempt to emulate the fearsome appearance of the undead, in addition to painting their fur and armor black and white to make themselves resemble skeletons.
  • Sticky Fingers: Clan Carrion are shameless thieves, and will gladly help themselves to anything they think they can get away with filching — even within the clan, a Skaven of Clan Carrion only truly owns what he's currently clutching in his own claws.

The Scheming Lords of the Under-Empire

    Skreech Verminking 
The greatest of the Verminlords, Skreech Verminking was created in the moment of Nagash’s first death millennia ago. Since then he has plotted and schemed to see the Skaven ascend to power and conquer the world from below.
  • Blade on a Stick: The Doom Glaive, which has the Multiple Wounds (D3) rule
  • The Dragon: To the Horned Rat, as the greatest of the Verminlords.
  • Dual Wielding: Skreech Verminking is armed with both a Plaguereaper and a Doom Glaive, deadly weapons of incredible power
  • Fusion Dance: Verminking was created by the Horned Rat when he, pleased with the Council of Thirteen for having thwarted Nagash, moulded them into something greater than they had individually been.
  • Horned Humanoid: He has six horns.
  • Magic Knight: As a Verminlord, he's both an impressive fighter and a powerful wizard. In addition to his Monster statline, he's also a Level 4 Wizard in the Lores of Ruin and Plague.
  • Sinister Scythe: His Plaguereaper. In-game, attacks made with it Always Strike First.

    Thanquol & Boneripper 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/thanquol.jpg

A powerful and ambitious Grey Seer and a favored agent of the Council of Thirteen. Although a talented sorcerer, Thanquol is also a General Failure whose every plan failed in part because of Gotrek & Felix but also his own incompetence. The only reason he's survived is that so far, he's managed to deflect the blame onto someone else. Thanquol is always accompanied by a bodyguard, a Rat Ogre which he names Boneripper, and there have been quite a few Bonerippers in his life.


  • Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: Thanquol has a Warp-amulet, giving him basically the ability to regenerate lost wounds.
  • Arch-Enemy: To Gotrek and Felix. At least in his mind — they, more accurately, just happened to kill a bunch of rats he was using repeatedly, and never even knew that it was Thanquol's rats they were slaughtering.
  • The Archmage: While Thanquol's ability is questionable in... most other things, he is genuinely highly powerful as a Grey Seer.
  • Born Lucky: Incompetence on a scale like Thanquol's would be shocking to survive once, let alone repeatedly, yet he always somehow does...
  • Chess Master: His plans involve getting his enemies do the dirty work for him like with Gotrek and Felix.
  • Cyborg: Thanquol's preferred bodyguard is always a rat ogre that he names Boneripper, and sometimes he spends some extra money and gets the current ogre made into a Magitek cyborg.
  • The Dragon: To the Verminlord Skreech Verminking.
  • Dumb Muscle: Not him, but he exploits this through his rat ogre companions and bodyguards, always named Boneripper. Thanquol specifically trains rat ogres to be his personal guards due to how strong and intimidating they are, along with being too stupid to betray him like other Skaven would be.
  • Evil Sorcerer: He's a Grey Seer. It comes with the territory. And when he's amped up on warpstone dust, he can pull off some impressive feats of magical power. In game, he's a Level 4 Wizard able to generate spells from either the Lores of Ruin or Plague.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Thanquol is seemingly cursed with horrible luck that ensures he survives but nothing else. His plots and schemes almost come to fruition, but the key word is almost. He has no actual successes as a Grey Seer beyond making sure he doesn't get executed for failure.
  • Functional Addict: Like most Grey Seers, Thanquol is addicted to Warpstone but is quite resistant to their effects. On the tabletop, he can reroll the Wound roll when he uses a Warpstone token.
  • General Failure: Thanquol is humorously so incompetent that a Slaan (a member and leader of the Lizardmen, a species essentially dedicated to fighting Chaos that also kill Skaven on sight) once decided to let him live after peering into Thanquol's future, since the Skaven would be worse off with his continued existence. A revealing example would be when he ruined a Skaven attack on a citadel by giving the Gutter Runners' assigned to get the drawbridge down a poison so watered down it was no longer poisonous to save on warpstone tokens, and tying up the Eshin Assassin who was supposed to murder its commander with bumping off his rivals that he (definitely rightly) feared.
  • Humiliation Conga: His entire life seems to be one long conga line of failure. Even when he succeeds, he still fails. But he eventually gets better.
  • Karma Houdini: Whether due to blind luck, cunning, the blessing of the Great Horned Rat or a combination of the aforementioned, Thanquol has managed to avoid his due retribution for his plans and subsequent failures every time. It is represented as him having a natural 4+ Ward save, saved wounds being allocated to someone nearby. Even in combat, others end up taking the fall for him...
  • Legacy Character: Boneripper. Thanquol goes through Bonerippers at a rate of about one per book. Time will tell if Boneripper of The End Times lasts any longer.
  • Magic Staff: His Staff of the Horned One allows Thanquol to know an additional spell, making it five.
  • Never My Fault: Like any, uh, "good" Skaven. Thanquol especially makes plenty of use of this trope and must have managed to make the Council of Thirteen believe it despite having a track record to indicate otherwise.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In The End Times, with some help from the daemon Skretch Verminking, Thanquol conquers Nuln and allies the Skaven with Archaon the Everchosen.
  • Unknown Rival: He hates Gotrek and Felix, but the duo have no idea who he is, nor that many of their troubles come from Thanquol's repeated attempts to kill them. Thanquol all but has an aneurysm when he finds this out after twenty years of trying to kill the duo.
  • Unluckily Lucky: Thanquol's survived quite a lot, to nigh-impossible degrees. He's also had to survive quite a lot from Gotrek and Felix entirely incidentally. He always lives to see how he's failed (and explain how it wasn't his fault).
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: He is not once mentioned in End Times: Archaon after being a major player in End Times: Thanquol. Archaon offhandedly mentions he has beheaded "the rat that negotiated the alliance with him", though the odds that rat is actually Thanquol is unlikely, since it's the Skaven we're talking about here; this is especially so considering that Thanquol is still canonically alive and kicking by the time of Age of Sigmar millennia after the End Times, making what actually happened with him in the final days of the Warhammer world even more unclear.

    Lord Skrolk 
"Brother-under-the-fur. Ha! Now you are brother-true. Reject false-words of seers and embrace true face of the Horned One! Bring Skrolk to the Wormstone, and you will be plague priest. Betray, and you become pus-bag."
—Lord Skrolk talking to a prospective Plague Priest.

The first of the Plaguelords, the rulers of Clan Pestilens under the direct command of Arch-plaguelord Nurglitch.


  • 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.
  • Body Horror: Skrolk's flesh is leathery and covered in a layer of dripping buboes.
  • The Dragon: To both Arch-Plaguelord Nurglitch and the Verminlord Corruptor Vermalanx.
  • Epic Flail: He wields the Rod of Corruption, forcing enemies in base contact to roll a Toughness test and lose a wound if they fail.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Skrolk meets his end at the hands of Kroq-Gar, who impales him with his spear.
  • Plague Master: Skrolk is a Wizard of the Lore of Plague, throwing disease spells at the enemy, but can also strengthen his troops with magic from the Liber Bubonicus.
  • Stronger with Age: Skrolk is noted to be old for a Skaven, and time has only made him tougher.
  • Walking Wasteland: Insects literally drop dead from the noxious fumes surrounding Skrolk, and only extreme devotees can abide his presence.
  • You Have Failed Me: Skrolk executes Lord Skrimanx, Archdeacon of Disease and fellow Plaguelord, after he fails to breach the mist surrounding the Lizardmen city of Xlanhuapec.

    Deathmaster Snikch 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/deathmaster_snikch.jpg

Deathmaster Snikch is the deadliest assassin of Clan Eshin, and widely feared among the Skaven.


  • Badass Cape: The Cloak of Shadows is a specially woven cape hiding Snikch in plain sight. On the tabletop units wishing to shoot at him must pass a test first.
  • The Dragon: To his master on the Council of Thirteen, Nightlord Sneek.
  • The Dreaded: He is the most feared assassin of the Skaven, and his targets will never know that they are dead already.
  • Dual Wielding: Not just dual, triple; he holds three poisoned blades, two in his hands and one in his tail.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: With the title Deathmaster, and his name is the sound of a knife slitting a throat.
  • Ninja: Like all members of Clan Eshin, though he gets the honour of being the best of the entire clan.
  • Prehensile Tail: He wields a blade in his tail with as much dexterity as the two in his hands.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Every Skaven knows about him, but that is all. Many of the most impressive and terrifying Eshin operations are attributed to him, but Nightlord Sneek knows that keeping silent will only increase Snikch's reputation and power to scare his rivals.
  • Super Reflexes: Like all members of Clan Eshin, Snikch is a master at dodging attacks through reflexes, represented as a natural 4+ Ward save.

    Ikit Claw 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ikit_claw.jpg

The greatest warlock-engineer of Clan Skryre. After a disastrous experiment, he's been forced to encase himself in an armor of his making.


  • Blade on a Stick: The Storm Daemon is a magic halberd that ignores armor and also can project bolts of electricity akin to a Sword Beam.
  • Dual Wielding: He carries a sword made of pure warpstones, and a warpfire projector.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: Ikit Claw has used his technological genius to incorporate a small warpfire projector into the mechanical claw that he built to strengthen his withered arm.
  • Mad Scientist: Ikit Klaw is one of Clan Skryre's best warlock engineers, inventor among others of the Doom Wheel and pioneer in the rocket technology.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: He's a warlock-engineer. He can cast warp lightning at his foes, and if that doesn't work he'll use his warpfire thrower to finish the job.
  • Powered Armor: His Iron Frame grants him a natural Strength of 5, a good 3+ armor save and 5+ ward save, and it also includes a flamethrower.

    Throt the Unclean 
Throt is one of the Master Mutators of Clan Moulder. Terrifyingly huge and fat, he's among the foremost creators of the Hellpit Abomination among other twisted mutants of his creation.
  • The Beastmaster: He's so good at manipulating his creations every Moulder unit near him can use his leadership like a general.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Throt is a master mutator, and expert in piecing together flesh to create war monsters.
  • Fat Bastard: Throt is extremely huge and fat by Skaven standard, in no small part because of his Horror Hunger.
  • Horror Hunger: Throt is constantly hungry, to an obsessional level even for a Skaven.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Throt has a third arm growing out of his shoulder, allowing him to wield no less than three weapons at once.
  • Restraining Bolt: His Creature-Killer, a huge metal collar attached to the end of a pole, grants him Killing Blow and a Multiple Wounds bonus against creatures larger than humans.
  • Whip It Good: His Whip of Domination allows him to attack someone who's not in direct contact with him. Furthermore, an unsaved wound causes a drop in Leadership for the victim.

    Queek Headtaker 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/queek_headtaker.png
"Who is Queek? Queek is warlord here, not grey ones from far away. He claim he come from Council. He claims his good intent, but Queek is not stupid-slow, Queek know grey seers and their treacherous ways. White-fur will never be warlord here! He is never free of Queek's sight. Queek sees him always."

Second most senior warlord in Clan Mors, with his patron and superior being a member of the Council of Thirteen. Is noted for his vicious temper and being responsible for controlling the Skaven territory in Karak Eight Peaks when not leading Skaven to war elsewhere. This has ensured he has an enduring hatred for Dwarfs and Greenskins.


  • Bash Brothers: Ska Bloodtail, introduced by the book Headtaker and never mentioned outside of the novels, is Queek's most favored underling and they're the closest thing Skaven can have to best friends. Ska has saved Queek's life a number of times and Queek treats Ska with genuine trust and respect.
  • Battle Trophy: He carries the severed heads of his latest opponents on a trophy rack to remind followers — and his boss Gnawdwell — of the prowess of the almighty Warlord Queek. His Trophy Heads add +1 to his rolls to hit and wound in a challenge.
  • Blood Knight: He's unnaturally brave for a Skaven, preferring to pick fights at the front instead of leading from behind.
  • 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.
  • Companion Cube: He has been known to display a disturbing affection towards his collection of severed heads, treating them as his closest friends and advisers. In the Warlords of Karak Eight Peaks novel Headtaker by David Guymer, Queek is noticeably distraught and grief-stricken when the skull of Big Boss Morglum Blacktooth is destroyed in battle against the forces of the Dwarf King Kazador of Karak Azul.
  • Consulting Mister Puppet: Some background material mentions that he talks to the severed heads on his trophy rack as though they speak to him, offering their advice and observations on his enemies. The Warlords of Karak Eight Peaks novel Headtaker states that the skull of an Orc named Big Boss Morglum Blacktooth supposedly told Queek the location of his signature weapon Dwarf-Gouger.
  • Dark Is Evil: His fur is black and, while he's different from most Skaven, he's no better than them in terms of morality.
  • The Dragon: Queek is the right claw to Warlord Gnawdwell, head of Clan Mors and member of the Council of Thirteen.
  • Dual Wielding: Queek wields a vicious sword alongside his enchanted spike-maul Dwarf Gouger, allowing him to attack with a flurry of blows that are represented in-game with a higher Attack characteristic than regular Skaven Warlords.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Queek frowns on the scheming and cowardly habits of his species and is unusually blunt and straight to the point among Skaven warlords. It doesn't mean he isn't savvy to their plans and quite effortlessly manages to avoid plots against his person. His rule Extreme Distrust forbids him to join a unit with a Grey Seer in it as he doesn't trust them at all.
  • Fearless Fool: By Skaven standards, Queek's willingness to confront his enemies head-on is considered practically insane.
  • Frontline General: In contrast to most Skaven leaders, who generally stay behind the lines. Indeed, his Weapon Skill of 7 and special rules aiding him in a challenge make him quite at home in the heart of a close quarters battle.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Queek is notorious for his horrible temper.
  • Killed Off for Real: He dies to High King Thorgrim Grudgebearer at the Battle of Karaz-a-Karak.
  • Large and in Charge: According to his boss Gnawdwell, Queek was the biggest in his litter, and they were all large themselves.
  • Monstrous Cannibalism: He ate his own littermates.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: 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.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: With the title of Head-Taker would you expect him to be a kind and compassionate rat-thing that is a dedicated pacifist?
  • 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 Dwarfs who hate him for turning Karak Eight Peaks into a festering 3 way no-man's land and the goblins who also want Karak Eight Peaks to themselves.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: From a color standpoint, Queek is a black-furred Skaven clad in crimson armor, and one of the most infamous Skaven warlords in the world.
  • Red Is Violent: He wears blood-red armor, which is fitting, considering his favorite activity.
  • Sibling Murder: Queek killed and ate his littermates.
  • So Proud of You: Warlord Gnawdwell once said of Queek (in what was probably the nicest thing a Skaven has ever said of anyone else):
    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: Queek's Warp-shard Armour is covered in spikes potentially hitting the enemy with Strength 5 hits.
  • Straight for the Commander: Queek is a proud and actually exceptional fighter and so unlike his colleagues has a habit of aiming to kill the enemy leader as fast as possible and claim their heads. On the tabletop he thus must issue and challenges whenever possible.
  • Villainous Valour: Despite his paranoia, he's certainly no coward and will usually be at the front lines.
  • Weapon of X-Slaying: Queek's mace, Dwarf-Gouger, was created centuries ago to be the bane of the dwarf-things. In-game this is represented by the weapon always wounding Dwarfs on a 2+.

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