The Clans Skryre, for example, are alchemical wizards and engineers whose insane creations can wipe out whole armies.
The Clans Moulder are breeders and shapers of hideous beasts, dabblers in the secrets of life and death whose abominable broods are horrific living weapons of war.
But the Clans Pestilens are concerned only with plague, decay and ruin. They form the Great Horned Rat's multifarious Churches of Contagion, the uncounted billions who fanatically worship him in his aspect as the Great Corruptor.[1a]
- 1 History
- 2 Forces of Clans Pestilens
- 3 Sources
The ratmen of the Clans Pestilens are the most overtly religious of their race, frothing zealots who display their faith by making themselves willing hosts to the myriad diseases and parasitic malignancies of their god. Other Skaven clans seek to manipulate the citizens of the realms, or to become their tyrannical rulers.
Not so the Clans Pestilens. These feculent fanatics will ally with or enslave the peoples of the realms when it suits their ends, but ultimately they seek dominion over a withered wasteland in which they are the only living things.[1a]
The Clans Pestilens have spread across the realms in pursuit of this dire culmination, and their rancid strongholds are many and varied. Whether labyrinths of filth-smeared burrows or rat-infested dreadholds, rusting cathedrals of corruption or mist-haunted marshlands of bone and slime, each is a seething nest of plague-ridden zealots.
In their love of all things rotten and corrupt, the Skaven of the Clans Pestilens might be mistaken for worshippers of the Plague God, Nurgle. In truth, though both gods bless the realms with their noxious plagues, and their devotees often ally together to achieve their ends, the differences between the two deities are significant.
Nurgle is a garrulous and incorrigible being, a chortling gardener of all things foetid and foul who delights in the rampant overabundance of life, and finds great satisfaction in the cycle of death and rebirth.
By comparison, the Great Horned Rat cares only for entropy and the pestilent withering of all. As the Great Corruptor, he seeks the final corruption of everything, knowing this will bring about his own ascension as the most powerful deity of them all.[1a]
Thirteen Great Plagues
The Clans Pestilens believe that the skaven will achieve supremacy only once their god is of one mind and one aspect – that of the Great Corruptor. The Churches of Contagion know that they must conquer not only the other races, but the other Skaven clans as well. For this they require the Thirteen Great Plagues.[1a]
These metaphysical aberrations strike not only at the flesh but at the soul and, in some cases, even at the warp and weft of reality. Each is recorded in one of the thirteen Libers Pestilent, tomes of forbidden lore that exude spiritual foulness.[1a]
To date, the clans have discovered seven of these terrible diseases, and have unleashed their power only rarely. This is not through any sense of restraint, for such concepts are foreign to the Skaven mindset.
Rather, each Great Plague is a malefic concoction that requires bizarre, rare ingredients and can only be brewed under specific conditions. Were the Thirteen Great Plagues to be combined in a single unholy vessel, the priest who achieved this dark miracle would bring about the Age of the Great Corruptor, and the ascendancy of Pestilens.
There has been much debate – and many civil wars – over how this would come to pass. Some say the rest of the Skaven race would be wiped out, or transformed into Plague Monks. Others claim that the resultant plague would destroy all non-Skaven life, slay the great God-King Sigmar, or even rot the realms themselves. Ultimately, the questionis moot; the Horned Rat has charged his disciples with finding the Great Plagues, and so they obey.[1a]
- Undulant Scourge (Liber Writhesome) - Simply speaking aloud the ingredients of this pox is enough to cause a hideous death. Victims are overcome by a terrible squirming that rapidly manifests in thickening, worm-like shapes beneath their skin. Horror turns to agony as slick-scaled tentacles burst from the victim’s skin,while their body crumples in on itself, sucked through reality to feed some terrible presence that has latched onto their soul. The Undulant Scourge spreads to any unfortunate enough to feel its tentacular caress. Where those stinging tentacles slither from is a mystery. Even the Plague Priests believe it is better simply not to know...[1b]
- Crimsonweal Curse (Liber Diabolus) - Once one has acquired the bloodworms that squirm amid the gore around the throne of mighty Khorne, this pox iseasy to brew. Still, the Clans Pestilens do so but rarely and with great care. Crimsonweal Curse lives in the blood, and is possessed of a malicious sentience. It wants to be brewed, just as it wants to spread to all living things, Plague Monks included. Those infected find blood welling from their eyes, ears, mouths, and pores in ever greater volumes. Soon a trickle becomes a gush, which becomes a jetting spray that infects all it touches. More than one Clan Pestilens burrow has been left a corpse-strewn mausoleum awash with cooling gore after incautious priests let the curse loose on their own ranks.[1b]
- Redmaw Plague (Liber Ravenous) - With ingredients including the crystallised woes of the world and stagnant waters from the Garden of Nurgle, this is a challenging brew to create. Spread through ingestion or by bite, the Redmaw Plague drives its victims into an insane cannibalistic rage. They rip and tear with hands and teeth, devouring friend and foe alike with frantic fervour. This is a hunger that can never be sated, however, the victim’s gut churning with ever more potent acids which eat through the unfortunate’s flesh, dissolving it into meat-slop within hours of infection.[1c]
- Bubonic Blightplague (Liber Bubonicusa) - concoction of black warpstone, the bile of a sickened god and the fangs of the ur-behemoth, this pox can only be brewed with the Horned Rat’s favour. It causes a monstrous swelling and blackening of its victims’ flesh and organs, while daemonic plague-fleas burst from ravaged corpses to spread the sickness to all living things.[1c]
- The Neverplague (Liber Conundrus) - This is by far the strangest Great Plague discovered, for none yet understand its purpose. The Plague Priests have brewed this concoction once every century, following the Liber Conundrus exactly. At the precise moment that the brewingis complete, a single, spectral peal rings out as though a mighty bell had tolled somewhere in the ether. No further effects have ever been observed, but this only makes the inquisitive skaven more desperate than ever to discover the meaning of this eerie mystery.
- The lore of the Grey Shrivelling (Liber Abominus).[1c]
- Final Rotting (Liber Consumptus).[1c]
Six more appalling sorcerous maladies remain lost amongst the myriad landscapes of the Mortal Realms, and the servants of the Great Corruptor will neverstop searching until the lasts ecrets of the Libers Pestilent are clutched in their scabrous claws.[1c]
The Withered Word tells how the Great Horned Rat plucked his favoured servants from a dying world. Pleased with his children, the Great Corruptor scattered them across new realms to ruin. Even as Sigmar's grand alliance rose to power, the first Clans Pestilens slunk through the foetid depths of the Mortal Realms to begin their holy work.[1z]
- Visions of Virulence - Upon the Blighted Plains, the Conclave of Rot were granted a vision. The Horned Rat commanded that the Libers Pestilent must be found. His faithful, fearful children scurried to obey.[1z]
- Paradise Rots - As the Age of Chaos began, Verminlord Corruptor Vermalanx led a coven of thirteen ancient Plague Priests in a hideous ritual within the Vitreous Vale. Reality itself rotted away before their magicks, spilling raw Chaos into that beautiful Sylvaneth enclave.[1z]
- The Horror Below - Led by a Auric Runefather of the Voltorungs, a throng of Fyreslayers set out to reclaim the ur-gold idols of lost Khaudm. Upon entering those darkened halls, the duardin found them seething with the Plague Monks of Clan Feesik. The Fyreslayers carved a path into the depths, casualties mounting with each savage clash. In the spore-lit Hall of Voices, the last survivors were pounded by countless Plagueclaws. Though defiant to the last, the Fyreslayers were slaughtered.[1z]
- False Omens - An unholy triad of Verminlord Corruptors tainted the visions of the slann Xlatu'pocl, leading him into an ambush on Horned Peak by Pestilens and Skryre, and their thrall clans. Only treachery amongst the Verminlords allowed Xlatu’pocl time to manifest a seraphon host. The rat daemons sought to correct this error by engaging the Starmaster in a titanic magical duel amid the fury of the ensuing battle.[1z]
- The Cursed Siege - Led by a dozen Plague Furnaces, the Virulent Procession of Thirteen Witherings stormed the Khornate Citadel of Fury. Victory of a sort came when the Crimsonweal Curse was loosed, killing every living thing in a single hour.[1z]
War of Life
All through once-verdant Ghyran, the rank hordes of Nurgle battled the sylvaneth and their allies. At the behest of the Verminlord Corruptors, many of the Clans Pestilens bored gnawholes into the Realm of Life, there to build festering strongholds and join the savage war. The Virulent Processions of Clans Morbidus, Retchid, and myriad others scurried out to battle, withering everything they touched.[1A]
- The Buboe Wars - What began as a rabid quarrel between two Plague Priests rapidly escalated into full-blown civil war. Soon the Clans Septik, Virulox and their many sub-clans were tearing one another to pieces all through the fire-lit labyrinth of Pyropia. Virulox deployed their many engines of plague while Septik sealed clawpacts with the Clans Moulder, and the war became more hideous with every passing day.[1A]
- Amid the Mist - Seeking ingredients for the Final Rotting, a Virulent Procession burst through the Echodeep Realmgate, only to find that the portal had been claimed by the Hammers of Sigmar. A frantic and disordered battle began, Plaguesmog Congregations sending billowing clouds of fume to drive the Stormcasts back before beginning a wholesale invasion from Skittermarsh into Arborita.[1A]
- Under Storm-lit Skies - As the Realmgate Wars brought mayhem far and wide, the great Plague-Prophet Spurrik proclaimed the time of the Second Great Withering to be nigh. His chitterings reached the ear of Nurgle himself, who was so amused that he sent a legion of his own suppurating Daemons to march at Spurrik’s side.[1A]
Several Chambers of Stormcast Eternals purged Rotstump Warren. Outraged at the damage done to his web of plots, the Verminlord Corruptor Pestifrious vowed vengeance upon those who led the attack. The daemon stalked his prey, spending untold skaven lives to see them sicken and die. That Sigmar’s heroes can be reforged time and again only deepened and prolonged Pestifrious’ furious vendetta.[1A]
- The Rain of Life - For thirteen days, the Foulrain Congregations of Clan Septik and their allies flung foulness into the sylvaneth roothold of Thornheart. Withered and dying, the tree spirits sallied forth, forging a path through the unrelenting bombardment in an attempt to bring their tormentors to battle at last.[1A]
- A Pestilent Boon - Word spread that the location of the eighth Liber Pestilent had been discovered. Verminlord Corruptors appeared in great number amongst the most prominent Clans Pestilens, urging them into a violent stampede to claim the prize.[1A]
Forces of Clans Pestilens
Ancient Clans Pestilens such as Septik or Morbidus number their Plague Monks in the billions. These are the eldest Clans Pestilens, claiming their descent from those survivors plucked by their god from the World That Was. Within each clan are hundreds of Churches of Contagion, each following slight variations upon their clan’s holy writ.[1d]
Not all of the Clans Pestilens are so powerful. Countless smaller clans are forced from their warrens every year. Most often these are Churches of Contagion who have strayed into what their original clan views as heresy. The dark gospel of the Great Corruptor – known as the Withered Word – is subjective and convoluted. Its unreliable nature owes much to the fact that many of its passages have been dictated by Plague Priests in the grip of frothing madness, or whispered from the shadows by Verminlords whose every word drips falsehood. Combined with the skaven propensity to creatively interpret instructions, this has led to violent schisms beyond number over the centuries. Each conflict produces further splinterings, heretic Congregations of Filth spewing like spores from their parent creed, convinced that their interpretation of the shade of buboes or the consistency of mucous is the correct one. The Withered Word dictates that such splits must happen in threes. For all their pontificating on the subject, no Plague Priest truly understands why, but none is willing to risk the Great Horned Rat's displeasure. Thus, when one church leaves their clan, another two will be singled out and violently ejected by rivals quick to shriek accusations of heresy for their own devious ends.[1d]
The Clans Pestilens vie for the Horned Rat’s favour, warring with each other as much as other foes. For all this division, the clans will march together given suitable cause, most often the orders of a Verminlord Corruptor or the threats of another, much larger clan.[1d]
Known structure of Clans Pestilens
- First Echelon - Clans Pestilens.[1g][1h][1i]
- Second Echelon - Clan Septik (The Right Claw of Pestilens), Clan Feesik and Clan Morbidus.[1g][1h][1i]
- Third Echelon - Clan Blitus, Clan Retchild, Clan Skrofulox, Clan Grotus, Clan Sputix, Clan Buborix, Clan Corruptus, Clan Pustulous, Clan Skab, Clan Vomikrit, Clan Retchid. [1g][1h][1i]
Known armies of Clans Pestilens
- Verminlord Corruptor Skrolok Lifebane - A blasphemy against all living things, this hideous rat-daemon leads the procession of the Foul Scourging. He seeks tos eize the Rotweald for himself, tainting its life energies and transforming it into a giant breeding-vat for the most hideous plagues.[1e]
- The virulent procession of the Foul Scouring - This Virulent Procession is one of many currently battling the sylvaneth and their alliesaround the Rotweald in Ghyran. Drawn from amongst Clan Morbidus’ many Churches of Contagion, this army of Pestilens seethes with the corruption, infighting and foulness typical of the Great Corruptor’s worshippers.[1e]
- The Favour Cursed - A pair of Plague Priests serve as lieutenants to Verminlord Skrolok.They are Gritch Foulclaw, Most-Mighty Deacon of Rancidity, and Spukit Rotmusk, Priest-Sire of the Squealing Pits. Both serve their daemonic master while scheming incessantly against the other, each determined to eliminate their rival by making him look incompetent in Skrolok’s eyes.[1e]
- The verminous swarms of the Foul Scouring - Four teeming regiments of Plague Monks make up the ranks of this Virulent Procession. Amongst their number are the Brethren of the Curdled Bile – who overran the orruk lines at the battle of Blacksplinter Glade – and the Brethren of the Virulent Voice – who hate the Curdled Bile for that heroic victory and will do anything to see them dead.[1e]
- The Church of the Green Bile - An influential Church of Contagion within Clan Morbidus, the Green Bile are infamous for the zealous ferocity of their assaults. This rabid sect interpret from the Withered Word that the Great Corruptor wishes all the lands to rot until only foetid green slicks of filth remain.[1f]
- Ranskrik's Rotswarm - The Green Bile employ the Foulrain Congregation of Plague Priest Ranskrik to shower their enemies with corrosive slop. By the time the Green Bile’s charge crashes home, many foes are but bubbling sludge to be trampled beneath their foot-claws.[1f]
- Brethren of the Green Bile - The senior Plague Priest amongst the Green Bile is Skriktus Skratch, Much-Praised Demagogue of Decay. So compelling are the ensorcelled chitterings of this slick-tongued priest that he has driven many of his own flock mad. This accounts for the high number of Plague Censer Bearers amongst the Church of the Green Bile. These gas-spewing fanatics are a deadly force in battle, but their appalling rate of attrition necessitates constant indoctrination of new brethren into the Church’s ranks.[1f]
- Congregation of Filth - Massed around their rumbling Plague Furnace, the Congregation of Filth surges towards the enemy with frightening speed, shrugging off the most horrific injuries in their fanatical frenzy.[1v]
- Foulrain Congregation - The air fills with a torrent of infectious slop as the foulrain congregation opens fire. Each loath some payload seethes with unholy blessings, and as the shots rain down the foe are soon mired in filth.[1w]
- Plaguesmog Congregation - Great billowing banks of corrosive fumes engulf the enemy as the Plaguesmog Congregation attacks. Anyone caught in the lung-rotting cloud is reduced to a useless retching mess before death takes them.[1x]
- Virulent Procession - The Virulent Procession streams across the battlefield, corrupting and infecting all in its path. At its heart strides a Verminlord Corruptor, drawing hideous life from the sickness of his servants.[1y]
- Pestilent Clawpack - Heralds of disease, bringers of the words of filth and withering, the clawpacks of Clan Pestilens spill from their lairs ina chittering mass to bring sickness and death to their foes.[2a]
- Bringers of the Rotsmog - Wielding the stolen powers of a corrupted Realmgate, the Horned Rat’s servants turn the fumes of their Plague Furnaceinto a corrosive blight that renders whole armies down to rancid pus in seconds.[2b]
- Verminlord Corruptors.[1k][1p]
- Plague Priests.[1l][1q][1r]
- Plague Monks.[1m][1s]
- Plague Censer Bearers.[1n][1t]
- Engines of Plague.[1o][1u] pg. 68
- 1 Chaos Battletome: Skaven Pestilens (1st Edition)