The Under Empire is the empire that the Skaven race ows its loyalty. The empire consists of a network of Skaven tunnels and strongholds that stretches all across the globe. Although the majority of Skaven strongholds are situated in Europe, the tunnels stretch under Nehekhara, the lands of Africanas, the continent of Nord America, South America, and even distant Cathay, and Ind .
No continent except Ulthuan remains untouched, and this is only because the Skaven cannot penetrate the magical defences, and there are creatures that can detect even the stealthiest Clan Eshin assassin. However, it is only a matter of time before the Council of Thirteen find a way.
Only the Dwarfs have the faintest knowledge of how large the Under-Empire truly is. Many Dwarf Holds have already been lost to the Skaven, whilst the rest are constantly under siege from below. Even the lower levels of Karaz-a-Karak , the Karak Ankor capital, are sealed and guarded to prevent the Skaven rising up to destroy the city. Likewise, the realms of men are riddled with Skaven tunnels. Most men remain completely unaware of this, but whether this is due to simple ignorance or the magic of the Grey Seers is unknown. Regardless, the Skaven have major lairs underneath Nuln , Marienburg and Middenheim in the Empire.
Rise of the 12 Clans
Coming of the 13th Clan
The Skaven saw one true threat to their rise as they continued their hurried expansion and that threat came in the form of the Dwarven Empire of Karak Ankor. The Dwarves were vastly superior in skill, wealth, and they had very large numbers for such an elite force. In this way the Skaven spent centuries burrowing around the edges of Karak Ankor to afraid to engage the might that was the Dwarves.
War of Vengeance
The Skaven finally saw their chance when the Dwarves engaged in a devestating war called the War of Vengeance. The war didn't damage many of the Holds of the Dwarves but what it did was devestate the numbers that the Dwarves had built up over the centeries. With the numbers of the Dwarves now manageable the Skaven
Points of Interest
Scope of the Empire
The Under Empire stretches from Central Italy all the way around the Earth, with only Ulthuan not containing any of the tunnels of the Skaven.
Main Article : Skavenblight
"Skavenblight is perpetually cloaked in shadow and fog. This is the cities first wall, it's first line of defense. The sun may rise and set, but the impenetrable, greasy fog clings to every surface like a hungry waif. The chill of it never cuts the opressive heat of summer, and it makes winter travel feel like one is being bitten to death by needle-mouthed demons. Soldiers wander off to use the privy and never return. Normally safe passages through the morass are lost , stranding men with no way off of an island in the swamp."
Skavenblight is the capital of the Under Empire. The birthplace of the Skavenrace, the city is located in central Italy. The Council of Thirteen, rulers of Skavendom, gathers in Skavenblight. The city is inhabited by several Warlord clans while the four Great Clans seem to hold their own separate districts. The population of the city is unknown, but very likely runs in the hundreds of thousand. It is largely fed by black corn which is harvested by slaves in the surrounding Blighted Marches.
The Black Chasm
See Also : Black Chasm
The Black Chasm was the Stronghold of the Lord of Decay Vask, before his death by Plaguelord Nurglitch. Upon Lord Vask's demise, the Black Chasm Stronghold lost much of its influence. Black Chasm is located in the mountains of central France, just north of Icecrown Mountain. It is here that the Skaven mine the ore-rich veins and harvest the numerous fungi that grow along the underground streams.
The Black Chasm is a massive underground fault that has opened deep below the mountains, requiring little extra work by the Skaven. It is along the numerous arteries here that the Skaven spread out to emerge upon isolated human communities to snatch away its inhabitants for the slave mines. Unlike Fester Spike, which has numerous Goblinoid, Dwarven, and Human slaves, the slaves here are nearly all Human or Skaven, and their lives are every bit as miserable as can be expected. This mountain range is feared in France, although the presence of Skaven is not well known.
City of Pillars (Karak Eight Peaks)
See Also : Karak Eight Peaks
The City of Pillars is one of the most impressive Skaven Strongholds, under the control of Clan Mors. Originally the Dwarven City of Karak Eight Peaks, it is the site of one of the greatest Skaven victories and also one of its greatest treacheries. A strong Dwarven citadel, it took the Skaven centuries to capture it. For generations upon generations, Clans Mors and Gritak dug into the lower workings, poisoning the Dwarven wells with Warpstone, biding their time for the Dwarves to leave. Less subtle in their plotting, and upsetting the Skaven scheme, Goblinoids poured in, attacking the weakened Dwarves. The Skaven flung their forces into battle, and for decades the battle for Karak Eight Peaks raged on unabated.
Eventually the Skaven brought in the dreadful weapons of Clan Skryre. It was these weapons of Warpstone and choking gas that finally drove the beleaguered Dwarves from their home. Clan Skryre weaponry and tactics were also used to collapse the top level of Karak Eight Peaks on top of nearly all the Goblinoids, as well as upon the unsuspecting Clan Gritak, leaving Karak Eight Peaks in the sole possession of treacherous Clan Mors. The work of the Dwarves can still be seen in the City of Pillars. Countless vaulted and arched halls and passageways stretch the length of the stronghold, held up by numberless stout columns and pillars of intricate workmanship. Much of the fine Dwarven craft have been destroyed or defaced in the years of fighting. The upper levels are precarious, prone to cave-ins, while the entire top level is collapsed, concealing the bodies of several thousand Orcs, Goblins, and Clan Gritak Skaven. The middle and lower levels are packed by a teeming sea of Skaven, while the lowest levels are filled with Warpstone tainted water, and are the hunting ground of strange twisted and mutated predators.
See Also : Crookback Mountain
Crookback Mountain is the Stronghold of the powerful Warlord Clan known as Clan Rictus. Crookback Mountain was seized from feuding Night Goblins with the assistance of Clan Skryre. Due to its location in the Dark Lands, Clan Rictus often sounds out large bands of Skaven to fall upon nearby Goblin tribes. The captives are sent back to Crookback Mountain. The captive Goblins are then sent to other Clans in the Under-Empire as slaves, or kept for food or to work the ore-rich mines below Crookback Mountain.
The Skaven of Clan Rictus are well experienced in surprising Goblins and capturing them through a number of ploys. The Clan often sends out expeditions to the local mountain areas and into the Dark Lands to search for Warpstone meteors that are often seen scarring the night sky with the fiery entrances as they streak through the evening solitude. These expeditions, while costly and often deadly, are essential for recovering the priceless Warpstone. The Goblin slave trade and the Warpstone expeditions have made Clan Rictus extremely powerful
Crookback Mountain sits at the Eastern point of Mad Dog Pass, a twisted dusty black summit piercing the sky. To maintain this dangerous position around Mad Dog Pass, the Clan has one of the largest contingents of Stormvermin, who form the basis of Lord of Decay Kratch Doomclaw's power and authority. The local Goblin tribes have learned to fear the Black Skaven from the Black Spire.
See Also : Hell Pit
The Hell Pit is one of the most horrific of all Skaven lairs or strongholds. Dug into the walls and floor of a chasm torn into the side of a snowy Northern World's Edge Mountain, the stronghold is warmed by the volcanic pools that cloud the already close and stagnant air. The senses are overwhelmed by not only by the sulfurous stink of the chasm itself and its filthy occupants, but by the tumultuous din and clamor that echoes from a thousand tormented and warped throats and mouths that utter the cacophony of misery sounded out in wretched snorts, howls, squeals, screeches, screams, and shrill cries that echo along the chasm, building in crescendo until one goes mad, their eardrums burst, or both.
This blasphemous and blighted place is the breeding grounds and stronghold of Clan Moulder known as the Hell Pit. From here Clan Moulder sends out expeditions to bring in new monsters and creatures to fuel their experiments. The expeditions return with caravans of wheeled cages filled with all manners of beasts seeking to burst from their imprisonment. These creatures are brought into the Hell Pit, where they are placed in pits or cages and exposed to Warpstone, either in their food and water or directly exposed to the Warpstone itself. Often the creatures will begin to rot or melt while lying still in their excrement as they slowly die an agonizing death, venting their hatred at their tormentors through baleful glances and stretched claws. There are times though, when the Warpstone provides a superior mutation, and the altered creature is added to the nightmarish Clan Moulder menagerie.
The most abominable place in the Hell Pit is at the lower pit of the Hell Pit where all the uncontrollable experiments are tossed in with the failed and dying experiments. The predatory cries mix with the dying shrieks of their prey as they live and die amongst the piles of dead and rotting flesh and excrement scattered with the bones and skulls of dead monstrosities. The smell is so bad that none can peer over the edge, but if one were to, they would see a nightmarish landscape of bloated rotting carcasses and the wretched pale, slimy, corrupted things that tear each other apart in throes of living agony. It is through these corrupted and vile experiments that Clan Moulder gains its power and its wealth. By selling neutered and sterile monsters to the other Clans, they can gain wealth and influence. Many of their best and most foul creations they keep for their own use, to defend against the forces of Chaos, Goblinoids, other Skaven Clans, or the Kislevites. The massive fearsome Rat Ogres, the tireless predatory Rat-Wolves, the creeping Blood-Rats, and a hundred other abominations are the sadistic creations emerging from the Hell Pit.
Main Article : The Council of 13
"Skaven society is a tyranny moderated by assassination."
-Slave in Skavenblight
The Council of 13
The Council of Thirteen is the ruling body of the Skaven. The council actually consists only of 12 members, titled the Lords of Decay, the Horned Rat being figuratively the 13th member. It gathers in Skavenblight and attempts to lead all Skavendom, a most difficult task. Their political predecessors were the Grey Lords.
Their main agents are the Grey Seers, who often advise and coerce the individual Skaven Warlords, rulers of the Warlord clans, towards the appointed goal. Counted amongst their most important assets are the adepts of Clan Eshin. These stealthy assassins are sent to murder rebellious Warlords or individual opponents. This creates a reign of fear and terror in which internal rebellions are kept to a minimum. The adepts of Clan Eshin are also vital in the conspiracy of silence, intended to hide the Skaven threat from humanity and from The Empire in particular.
An ambitious Skaven may seek to become a Lord of Decay. To fulfil his ambition he must first touch the Pillar of Commandments and survive. Afterwards he must challenge an established member to a fight to the death. If the challenger wins he will then become a full member of the council. Some have touched the pillar and a few have even survived, but none has managed to defeat any of the current members of the council, who have survived all challenges for over 200 years. The workings of the council are very complex. Each member casts a single vote but his respective position also influences the proceedings. A simply majority seems to suffice for most occasions.
Known members of the council
Position 13, figuratively held by the Horned Rat .
Position 1, Lord Kritislik the Seerlord, head of the Order of the Grey Seers
Position 12, Lord Morskittar , Lord Warlock of Clan Skryre
Position 10, Lord Nurglitch , Arch-Plaguelord of Clan Pestilens
Position 4, Lord Paskrit , Warlord-General of all Skavendom
Position 9, Lord Verminkin , Packlord of Clan Moulder
unknown position, Lord Sneek , Nightlord of Clan Eshin
unknown position, Lord Gnawdwell , Warlord of Clan Mors
unknown position, Lord Kratch Doomclaw , Warlord of Clan Rictus
unknown position, Lord Vrisk Ironscratch , Fleetmaster of Clan Skurvy
unknown position, Lord Griznekt Mancarver , Warlord of Clan Skab
The two remaining members are also Warlords  but their names, positions and clans are currently unknown.
Main Article : The Horned Rat
See Also : The Pillar of Commandments
The Horned Rat is the only god worshipped by the Skaven, his symbol is the rough equilateral triangle and his sacred number is 13. He is usually depicted as a great rat with curved horns. He is a deity of Chaos and longs for the destruction of civilisation. Clan Pestilens focuses itself in his aspect of bringer of disease, plague and pestilence. The Pillar of Commandments is held his most sacred gift to his children, the Skaven. Every candidate for the Council of Thirteen has to touch it, effectively surrendering his fate into the paws of the Horned Rat. Most perish immediately while others become his chosen ones.
His prophets, the 169 Grey Seers, are extremely influential throughout all Skavendom. Very important agents of the council, they also preach of the Great Ascendancy, a time in which the innumerable Skaven hordes will rise to the surface to the surface and finally conquer and enslave all surface nations. The centre of his cult is located in Skavenblight, the capital of the Skaven. His arch-enemies are Sigmar, patron god of The Empire, and Sotek, the Great Serpent God of the Lizardmen.