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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 
  • 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, magitech 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 simple 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 so 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.
  • Body Horror: Clan Moulder loves inducing horrific mutations in their warbeasts. One of their masterpieces is the Hellpit Abomination, a worm-like giant mass of flesh and limbs of all sort with a clump of rat-like heads, twice as many clawed arms, and a swarm of rats living under its skin.
  • Breath Weapon: The aptly named "Pestilent Breath" spell, making 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.
  • 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. Yet still, some individuals from other races may try to make arrangements with them, which always ends exactly as expected.
  • Church Militant: Clan Pestilens is sometimes known as the Plague Monks and they 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. Their zealotry also confers them the Frenzy special rule.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 metals.
    • Warlock engineers often replace parts of their body with machinery.
  • Darker and Edgier: At one point the Doomwheel and the Vermin Lords 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.
  • Deadly Gas: Wielded by the Poison Wind Globadiers of Clan Skryre, 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.
  • Dirty Coward: Considered a virtue. Where 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 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.
  • The Engineer: The warlock engineers qualify but the most badass of them all, Ikit Klaw, has invented a mobile hamster wheel the size of a car that can shoot lightning.
  • Epic Flail: The Pestlens Plague Censer Bearers carry huge censers dispersing foul plague fumes which are more dangerous than the weight of the censers themselves.
  • Evil Albino: The Grey Seers stand out among the Skaven for being blessed by their God and possessing light grey to white fur unlike the common brown Skaven.
  • 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 and 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 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: With the crazy technology, Evilutionary Biologists, Deadly Gas and "Stormvermin", there's more than a little resemblance to Those Wacky Nazis.
    • Clan Eshin has a lot of Eastern elements as well.
    • The invasion of Lustria by Clan Pestilens resembles the Conquistadors arriving in the Americas. An army of greedy religious fanatics show up uninvited to kill and enslave a continent through war and disease.
  • Fantastic Caste System: The Skaven society is rather simply divided.
    • First of all, their race is divided into different clans united more by early coexistence than any loyalty. Each of the Clans have their own strongholds and specialty but all Clans are dwarfed by the Greater Clans, which are in alphabetical order:
      • Clan Eshin: A secretive of Skaven McNinja returned from Nippon. They are mostly known 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 consist of Scout units or individual Assassins meant to target a hero or lord. Clan Eshin isn't the most powerful clan but every Skaven fears them.
      • Clan Moulder: A powerful clan of Evilutionary Biologists who create Rodents of Unusual Size, The Swarm and other Flesh Golems. They sell their creations as shock troops and their handlers act as The Beastmaster on the battlefield. They are actually the richest and most influential of the clans.
      • Clan Pestilens: The Skaven Plague Masters, worshipping The Corruption aspect of the Great Horned Rat. Clan Pestilens bring their numbers and plagues to the battlefield, expanding their influence to any Lord desperate to call for them. Ill-regarded by everyone, they are too powerful and devoted to their cause to be challenged.
      • Clan Skryre: A clan specialized 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.
    • Social Structure/Military Rank of 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.
  • 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.
  • God of Evil: These guys worship the Horned Rat. This wouldn't be a problem except the Horned Rat is real and it has its own Greater Daemon. Even the Council of Thirteen is afraid to call on the Vermin Lords...
  • 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.
  • Gratuitous Ninja: Clan Eshin are Ninja rats, complete with shuriken and cool karate/kung-fu poses.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Lightning Gun: The Lightning cannon, shooting a magic ray of lightning disintegrating 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.
  • Mad Scientist: The Skryre and Moulder clans have arguably the most advanced Magitek in the setting, having developed automatic firearms, rockets and laser cannons among others for Skryre, and conducting many genetic experiments for Moulder. 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: 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.
  • 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 rat 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.
  • 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 Doom Wheel, 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.
  • O.O.C. 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 dwarves, 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. 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 Vermin Lords 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.
  • Plague Master: Clan Pestilens who have a Religion of Evil centered around spreading various poxes 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...
    • Similarly, any Skaven sorcerer can take spells from the Lore of Plague, based on unleashing magic disease on the enemy.
  • Playing with Fire: The Skaven 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.
  • Religion of Evil: The Skaven worship a Chaos god called the Horned Rat to the point where there is a religious schism between the Grey Seers and the Plague Monks over which aspect of their god is the true one.
  • 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...
    • Skaven also employ actual swarms of rats on the battlefield.
  • 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.
  • 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, yes-yes. They'll kill-slay all the men-things, green-things and else-else.
  • Villain Team-Up: They ally with Chaos during the events of ''End Times: Thanquol. Skaven being Skaven, how long that will last remains to be seen.
  • 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...
  • 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, who send waves of troops forward and lead from the back.
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    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.


  • Bad Boss: He is willing to devour his own vermin children.
  • God of Evil: One of the Ruinous Powers, and his cruelty knows few limits.
  • Horned Humanoid: Generally depicted as a gigantic humanoid rat with horns, though how many horns he has is variable.

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 
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 and 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.
  • 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 bodyguard Boneripper, a rat ogre reassembled into a Magitek cyborg for him.
  • The Dragon: To the Verminlord Skreech Verminking.
  • Dumb Muscle: Not him, but his rat ogre companion and bodyguard, Boneripper.
  • 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.
  • 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 Lizardman (a species essentially dedicated to fighting Chaos) once decided to let him live 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. 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 13 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.
  • Unluckily Lucky: Thanquol's survived quite a lot, to nigh-impossible degrees. He's also had to survive quite a lot from Gotrek & 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 
The first of the Plaguelords, the rulers of Clan Pestilens under the direct command of Arch-plaguelord Nurglitch.
  • Badass Grandpa: Skrolk is ancient, having existed many spans of even the most long-lived of his foul kind.
  • 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 
Deathmaster Snikch, the deadliest assassin of Clan Eshin.
  • 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.
  • 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 
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.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After Ikit and his taksforce manages to tunnel into Nagash's Black Pyramid when its owner was occupied by his Nurglite allies, when one of the bombs he brings with overloads, he hastily activates a teleportation device, bringing himself to safety while leaving his 'companions' behind.

    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 
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 Dwarves and Greenskins.
  • Battle Trophy: Queek 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: Queek is 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 dwarves 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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