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Gnawholes extending across the Under-Empire

The Under-Empire is the expansive empire of the Great Horned Rat that spreads across and beneath all the Mortal Realms and even the Realm of Chaos. It is populated by the chittering hordes of Skavendom.[1]


Constructed over multiple millennia this empire spreads across, between, and underneath the Mortal Realms, it spreads across a vast track of territory, its true extent known only by the Great Horned Rat. Structures typically found throughout the empire's cities and warrens include multitudes of tunnels and burrows, breeding grounds, laboratories, and industrial zones.[1]


Age of Myth

When the dawn of the Age of Myth comes to the Mortal Realms, the Great Horned Rat slinks in through the void and deposits the first of the Skaven into the Realms. These become the first of the Great Clans, some claim there were thirteen in all, and the Grey Seers that would act as their guides.[2b]

Blight City, the rotten heart of the empire, is constructed when Sigmar is still forming his Pantheon of Order, in a twisted sub-realm. It is claimed by some that this sub-realm is the ruin of a once great Skaven metropolis that was placed upon the deposit of warpstone it is now on, others claim it was once a city of humans and duardin known as Kavzar. Though each and every Great Clan claim that it was they, and they alone, that built Blight City.[2b]

The Verminlords teach the Skaven how to create Gnawholes, allowing them to spread across the Mortal Realms with ease. All of the Great Clans "improve" upon these teachings, twisting them to match their own unique fashions.[2b]

The Clans Tichritt launch a full-scale invasion of Thandria. More than half the Endless Kingdom is destroyed by the Skaven, but they are in turn annihilated to the last by Sigmar and his allies. The eleven clans that remain learn a valuable lesson in caution.[2b]

Age of Chaos

During the Age of Chaos the Skaven made war upon the bastions of Order on every front, growing prosperous from the spoils looted from the nations and civilizations they defeated. Clans Verminus and Clans Ikk grow to be the most powerful during this period, and they eventually turn on one another in the First Great Civil War of the Skaven, which results in the destruction of Clans Ikk. The civil war also proved devastating to the Skaven, causing them to lose vast tracts of territory and leaving entire swathes of Blight City a blazing ruin. Though the war still rages well after the destruction of Clans Ikk.[2b]

Whereas most of their rival clans became embroiled in the Great Civil War, Clans Pestilens turned to the Realm of Life. Their Virulent Processions wreak havoc and ruin across Ghyran's Jade Kingdoms, often lending aid to Nurgle's hordes. Clan Feesik, Clan Morbidus, Clan Septik, and all their sub-sects and thrall clans grow powerful through their efforts in the War of Life.[2b]

After Verminlord Warbringer Gnawsoul starts the war for the Scabrous Sprawl. An Arch-Warlock of Clans Skryre, Warpskreech, leads the invasion. There he unleashes the Parasite Engines upon Ghyran. The invasion results in horrific devastation and lose of lives, but allows the Clans Skryre to undermine Clans Pestilens' monopoly in Ghyran and to increase their own powerbase during the Great Civil War.[2b]

The Great Civil War finally comes to a true end when Skreech Verminking himself arrives in the Masterburrow and demands the Lords of Decay, the rulers of Skavendom, to end their conflict and instead turn their attention on the remaining bastions of Order and servants of the other Dark Gods. To ensure his edict is carried out he reduces Arch-Warlock Snitterkrit, Great Plague-speaker Ebolox, Grand Clawlord Thrakk, Things-twister Rukhtik, Lieweaver Yrkrit and Shadowmaster Pheng to slime. The Lords of Decay that remain, and the successors of those that died, eagerly work to carry out Verminking's edict.[2b]

From all across the Under-Empire the Skaven of Clans Shrykt begin to move toward and gather in the Realm of Aqshy. There the great mass of Skavendom builds a massive gnawhole, which collapses once every clan has scurried into it. No trace of Clans Shrykt has been seen since.[2b]

Age of Sigmar

With the coming of Sigmar's Tempest the tides turn against countless Skaven, such as Clawlord Splitfang. Stormcast Eternals shatter many strongholds of the Under-Empire and undo the schemes of many of its ambitious clans. Knights-Excelsior besieged the Parasite Engines in the Scabrous Sprawl, Plague Priest Kratsik's plan to unless rotsmog upon the Jade Kingdoms is undo thanks to a combined force of Hallowed Knights and Sylvaneth, these and other losses cause the whole of Skavendom to develop a bitter hate of the storm-things.[2b]

The Soul Wars brings another age of opportunity to Skavendom. But their own nature threatens to get the better of the Skaven as their greed and ambition threatens to send them into a Second Great Civil War, this time with Skryre and Pestilens vying for preeminence.[2b]


The Council of Thirteen serves as the nominal rulers of all of Skavendom, ruling from the Masterburrow deep within Blight City. The members of this council are known as the Lords of Decay.[2b][2d] Oftentimes Lords of Decay serve the whims of the Masterclan, some willingly and others unknowingly. [2d]

Governance of the Skaven is as violent and volatile as all other aspects of their culture. With the Great Clans, leadership of all clans, Council of Thirteen, and Masterclan all prone to internecine conflicts, manipulations, rampant assassination, bribery, deceit, back-stabbing, and trickery of all sorts.[2c][2d]


The Skaven of the Under-Empire are divided into vast, multitudinous cultures known as Great Clans and the Masterclan, to which the Grey Seers belong. It is said that once there were thirteen in all and they were carried to the Mortal Realms in the mouth of the Great Horned Rat. Of these thirteen only Clans Eshin, Clans Moulder, Clans Pestilens, Clans Skryre, and Clans Verminus. The fates of some of the Great Clans is unknown, Clans Ikk were destroyed in the First Great Civil War, Clans Tichritt were destroyed when they attacked Thandria in the Age of Myth, and Clans Shrykt vanished into a gnawhole in Aqshy.[2b][2c]

Every Great Clan is comprised of millions of autonomous clans, all of which strictly adhere to the standards set by their parent culture despite the general anarchic nature of the Skaven. All Skryre Clans adhere to arcane-engineering, all Pestilens Clans are comprised of masses of fanatics, and so on.[2c]


Uncountable multitudes of Skaven belong to the expansive Under-Empire, with the capital of Blight City boasting untold trillions alone. Life spans in the empire are exceptionally short as the verminous Skaven are ever in conflict among themselves, with every clan and individual struggling to claim supremacy over all others.[1][2a]

Low-ranking clans of all stripes vie for more power and increased societal status by through politics, sabotage, and skirmishes through the streets of Blight City. All while the stronger clans desperately employ the same tactics to keep what they have. Even as they turn on one another, the Skaven send armies out into the Mortal Realms in quick succession through the use of Gnawholes, all aiming to bring the corruption of their capital to the rest of reality.[2a]

This brutal and seemingly wasteful struggle for supremacy has not occurred by chance, instead it directly stems from and is nurtured by the Great Horned Rat to ensure the weak and foolish are weeded out and cannibalized by the constant internecine conflict, so that only the deadliest Skaven remain.[2a]


Vast breeding grounds exist within Skaven cities and warrens. It is within these that the monstrous Brood Mothers dwell, giving birth to the deranged multitudes of ratmen that plague the Mortal Realms.[1]


The Skaven of the Under-Empire worship the Great Horned Rat.[2a]

Major Settlements

Blight City

The hellish capital of Skavendom that exists beyond the confines of reality, built upon a foundation of pure warpstone. There exists no city in all the Cosmos Arcane that is more densely populated, choked by industry, stricken by rampant poverty, or as prone to rampant bloodshed. It is an ever-shifting, ever-expanding metropolis as new burrows and towers are built, old ones collapse, and new layers of tangled districts are haphazardly built upon each other.[1][2a]

Chakrik's Folly

This vast warren-city was built into a series of unstable caverns that are packed with large deposits of volatile Warpstone. The city was named after Chakrik, a Warlock Engineer of the Clans Skryre, the Skaven that designed and built it.[3a]


The Under-Empire is home to the verminous species known as the Skaven, the children of the Great Horned Rat. The Clanrats of Clans Verminus make up the bulk of Skaven society from the lowliest burrow to the greatest cavern-cities, outnumbered only by the worker dregs and slaves.[1][2e]