- "Is it possible that the Skaven are no less than a manifestation, a dark and morbid reflection of mans cities, his civilization, even his fears? Are not the Skaven, their religion, and their foul dank world not just a growing shadow and a dark twin of mans deep and barren nature?"
- —Passage from "The Malefactorum", by Professor Theodosius
The Under-Empire, sometimes known as Skavendom is the name given to the massive inter-continental underground Empire that holds uncountable miles of tunnels and passageways that stretch from the Ice-capped mountains of the north to the damp swamplands of the south, and from the great plains of the East to the lush jungles of the West. Though arguably one of the largest and perhaps the most farthest Empire in the entire Warhammer World, the Under-Empire is by no means an entirely unified nation. Though the Council of Thirteen have direct and absolute control over Skavendom, they are utterly helpless to the great inter-clan warfare that has engulfed much of the Skavens long and arduous history. As such, the Under-Empire is in actuality a loose confederation of smaller clan-based kingdoms that are only tied together by their utter belief in the Horned Rat, and the tyrannical ruling of the Council of Thirteen.
The great city of Skavenblight acts as the one true capital of the Skaven race, and as such it is also situated at the very heart of the Under-Empire. Most of the vast territory that make up the Under-Empire are usually held by the larger and stronger of the Skaven clans, with the smaller Clan having only a territory of a mere few miles, usually at a backwater region of the Under-Empire. Most major Skaven strongholds or cities are usually within the vicinity of larger population centres like the cities of the great Clan-Empire. These cities were built for either the purpose as a staging point for an upcoming invasion of the suppose city, or rather a city that has grown fat and prosperous by the wealth these cities throw away.
Another important part of this Under-Empire is the massive highway of tunnels that connects much of the numerous Burrows together. This massive highway is known as the great Under-Way, an ancient tunnel that was carved into the spine of the entire World's Edge Mountains by the ancient Dwarfs of the Golden Age. But the Dwarfs no longer take care for these abandoned tunnels, and this lack of vigilance has given the Skavens a great advantage, for each and every tunnel that branches out of the main highway will always lead to one or more Dwarf holds that would have taken decades to tunnel towards without the aid of these tunnels. Though the Skavens stake claim to these tunnels, they are by no means safe, for an untold number of numerous species have also taken patches of territory for their own. With an unexhaustable supply of Skaven bodies to feed their ravenous appetite, these Skavens became the natural prey for marauding bands of Greenskins, nest-lairs of brooding Spiders, and on rarer occasions, even mutated creatures that have gotten lost in the maze-like passages. This goes the same to all the other tunnels that the Skaven occupy, as a vast majority of tunnels used by the Skavens are often good lairs for numerous other species as well.
Seeing themselves as the Masters of their underground realm, they would sometimes go into conflict with other Underground realms such as the Dwarfs of Karaz Ankor and the Night Goblin tribes of the northern and eastern mountains. Ever since their emergence, the Skaven race had been at a constant and ever-escalating war with these two races, forcing those within the war to improve and create newer and deadlier ways to fight more effectively within the cramp conditions of their home terrain. This has lead to the creation of the very first drilling machines meant to cover longer distances that a horde of Skaven-slaves can never do. Skavens have even created biological weaponry that proved decisive in underground warfare, such as toxic fumes and gases that kill those who breath it within a matter of seconds. From here on till the end of time itself, the Under-Empire shall fight to the bitter end against the Dwarfs of Karaz Ankor, with only one of them claiming the deep dark depths of the world as their own.
The Skaven race has innumerable strongholds and burrows from every corner of the entire Old World. Though most of these are usually just collections of smaller villages and nest-lairs, the more larger and prosperous cities are formed near other population centers, growing fat and wealthy by the scavenging and stealing of the surface dwellers wealth. Most of these cities would sometimes have their very own small Council of electives, each a representative of other Skaven clans that has previously stake claim to the city. With so many Skavens from different clans all in one place, the results ensured that there will always be a massive power struggle within the governing system as numerous Chieftains and influential politicians fight, kill, and assassinate their rivals to gain more control of the city. This has ensured that nearly all Skaven cities will tinker to the brink of Civil War, but only the fear of intervention by the other Clans swayed the hands of many ambitious War-leaders.
Strongholds within the Clan-Empire (The Empire)Edit
- Under-Altdorf - Some consider it to be the largest and most prosperous of the Skaven cities, as a result of their leaders finding more opportunities of exploiting the riches of the surface-dwellers rather then to waste money fighting and controlling them. This has ensured that the city is only second to Skavenblight itself, a consideration that has made the Council of Thirteen feel uneasy towards their fellows within the Altdorf Council. Some had even openly consider the city as the "New Skavenblight", a heretical talk that would ensure the death of those that preach it. But none could deny that the city is growing rather powerful, with population numbers growing ever so larger as there are no wars to keep the Skaven population in check. Though once powerful and wealthy, the city as of late had gone into many misfortunes as nearly 1/10th of the population (a considerably large number) has died by the floodings and treacherous deeds of Grey Seer Thanquol, an act that ensured future generations of Skavens will be stemmed, leading to the population grinding to an erupt halt.
- Under-Middenheim - Another large Skaven stronghold, the denizens that occupy the lower reaches of the mighty Fauschlag have been at a constant guerrilla warfare with the Imperial authorities of the city. This has lead to occasional small skirmishes between Imperial and Dwarven Patrols guarding the tunnels, and small parties of Skaven warriors raiding the upper reaches. The Skavens occupying the lower deeps are meant to watch and spy the city, waiting until the opportune moment to infiltrate the city and wreak havoc amongst its populace. As such there is a considerably large garrison of Skaven troops stationed there.
- Under-Nuln - A minor Skaven garrison, the occupants of this nest-lair have formerly participated in the recent Nuln campaign intended to take the provincial capital from below and destroy all those trapped within the its walls. This invasion force of around 10,000 Skaven warriors was lead by the diabolical and tyrannical rule of Supreme Commander Thanquol, a Grey Seer representative of the Council who took command of the Invasion after the untimely death of its former leader Vermek Skab. Vermek Skab was also the Chief Warlord of the notorious Clan Skab, a Skaven Clan who previously lived beneath the tunnels of Nuln long before the campaign began. Currently, the Clan is decimated, with a vast majority of their clan members dying during the Battle of Nuln.
- Bitter Stink - A relatively new stronghold of Skavens currently watching over the large mercantile city of Marienburg. Clan Scruten currently holds the greatest influence around the territory encompassing the Cursed Marsh just east of the Human city.
Stronghold within Norsca Edit
- Hell Pit - This monstrous city of Clan Moulder is the only large settlement situated within the arid mountain ranges of the cold lands of Norsca. It consists of nine levels of laboratories, a barracks, a giant colosseum hanging from chains, and a level where their most powerful creatures are kept in pitch darkness. Here, Master Moulders use warpstone, from the huge mines found in the area, in a mad combination of alchemy and genetic engineering to breed all sorts of monstrous beasts for war. To replenish their stock of mutable flesh, the Moulder will strike out into the Chaos Wastes and into Troll Country, to kidnap Northmen and Chaos Spawn already mutated by the ruinous powers. They are a very wealthy clan, and rent out their beasts for other Skaven to use in battle. Their most common war-beasts are the wolf-sized Giant Rats and the enormous Rat Ogres, anthropoid vermin four times the size of a man whose massive, filthy claws can take down even a heavily armoured knight.
Strongholds within BretonniaEdit
- The Black Chasm - The Black Chasm was the Stronghold of former Council member, Lord Vask, before his death by Plaguelord Nurglitch in 600 IC. Upon Lord Vask's demise, the Clan controlling the Stronghold has lost much of its power and influence. Black Chasm is located within the mountains of central Bretonnia. It is here that the Skavens mine the ore-rich mineral veins and harvest the numerous fungi plants grown along the underground streams. Another unique feature that the Stronghold possess is the massive natural cave network that branches out to the surrounding region, giving the Clan little need to create newer tunnels. It is along these numerous arteries that the Skaven spread out to emerge upon isolated human communities to snatch away its inhabitants for their numerous slave mines. Unlike the stronghold of Fester Spike, which has numerous Goblinoid, Dwarfen, 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 Bretonnia, although the presence of Skaven is not well known by the populace.
- Under-Mousillon - After the war that brought the former Duke of the city to the graves, the city has always been under a strange curse. The city is surrounded within a massive putrid swamp, where the very foundations of the city slowly but surely sinks into the marshy soil. Since then, Clan Pestilen has settled beneath the tunnels and sewers of the city, using the very few residents still living in the city as test subjects for their newer and virulent diseases.
Strongholds within TileaEdit
- Skavenblight - Out of all the Strongholds that encompasses the entire Under-Empire, no city or fortress can ever match the size and strength of the one true capital of their race. Skavenblight had always been that city, a massive metropolis teeming with untold numbers of Skaven in all shape and form. Some could say that the numbers reach towards the hundreds of thousands. The city has within its boundaries the First Temple of the Horned Rat, and the magnificent Shattered Tower, the location where the Council of Thirteen gathers to discuss matters of importance. However, the most prominent feature of the city is the fact that it is mostly situated on the surface. The city in question used to be a massive human metropolis, unrivaled by any other city in the entire world. Once it was beautiful and wealthy, but ever since the coming of the Skavens, the city fell into misfortunes until all that's left of its former inhabitants were gone, and the city along with it. The city have levels beneath the surface, where the more powerful and richer Skavens live in comfortable nest situated within the old mansions of ancient humans, whilst those more poorer and weak live within the wet and crumbling tunnels beneath the swamps surrounding the city. The city is located within the North-Western reaches of Tilea, within the heart of the Blighted Marsh.
- Under-Tobaro - A minor stronghold that houses most of Clan Skurvy's fleets of barges and skiffs.
- Under-Miragliano - Out of all the human cities that the Skavens have ever prey on since their existence, no city has met such suffering and knowns the true extent of the Skaven threat than the city of Miragliano. Indeed, the city is the closest to the city of Skavenblight then any other Tilean city-state, and lies just a few miles from the outskirts of the Blighted Marsh. The good fortune of the city was not to last, however - a massive Skaven force from the Blighted Marshes crushed a defending mercenary army and sacked the city of Miragliano in 2522 IC. The disgraced former Imperial Count Leopold von Stroheim - once an aspirant to the lordship of the fledgling province of Neuland on the island of Albion - led the remnants of the defeated force through the Blighted Marshes until cornered and destroyed by a force led by Warlord Quickpaw and Grey Seer Squelch. While it is likely that the great city will eventually be rebuilt, further information has not yet been revealed as to its fate.
Strongholds within the Dark LandsEdit
- Crookback Mountain - Crookback Mountain is the largest Skaven fortification in the Dark Lands. The mountain in question is located on the eastern edge of Mad Dog Pass, a tip of black rock that comes amid a dusty plain. Humpback Mountain is currently controlled by Council member Kratch Doomclaw, Warlord of Clan Rictus, one of the most powerful of the Warlord Clans. Clan Rictus has been noted for having an unusually large number of black-furred Skavens, resulting in Clan Rictus having the largest number of Stormvermins in the entire Under-Empire. Their strongholds main function is to provide the Under-Empire with an inexhaustible supply of Goblin slaves, Iron, and Copper mined within the Mountain and its surrounding areas.
Strongholds within the VaultsEdit
- Fester Spike - One of the three major Skaven strongholds located within the Vaults. Fester Spike is also located near other minor Skaven lairs in the Vaults, and occupies the mountains highest peaks with tunnels stretching out for hundreds of miles underneath. The strongholds main economy relies on the mining of minerals, which are run by a number of Clans who hold different sections of the mines. Due to this, it is common for the Clans to sometimes go into conflict with one another, often resulting in small skirmishes and intermittent open warfare. Fester Spike is also notorious for its incredibly violent slave revolts, and famous as well for the ruthless and harsh measures it uses to put down and prevent such uprisings. In the past, Fester Spike has once been at odds against their brothers of Putrid Stump, resulting in a war that had cost many precious warp-token that could have been used elsewhere. Eventually, the Council of Thirteen had to step in and ensured an edict to stop the inter-clan warfare, and focus the two factions to join together and deal with the local Night Goblin tribes that has recently taken up hold within the war-torn region.
- Foul Peak - One of the three major Skaven strongholds located within the Vaults. The lair is home to a large population of Skavens, whose main export and industry is the capturing and selling of numerous Slaves of different races, including the mining of precious mineral deposits situated near their lair.
- Putrid Stump - One of the three major Skaven strongholds located within the Vaults. This particular Skaven lair is an important route along the Under-Empire's main tunnelways. These routes are assisted by the numerous underground rivers that also pass through here, making the lair a major trade hub within the Vaults. The Lair in the past has been at odds against their brothers of Fester Spike, but only the timely intervention of the Council has ensured that the numerous wars between these two strongholds would finally end.
Strongholds within the Dwarven Empire of Karaz AnkorEdit
- City of Pillars (formerly Karak Eight Peaks) - Out of all the conquered strongholds situated within the Dwarfen Empire of Karaz Ankor, all pale in comparison to the conquest of the mighty City of Pillars by the dreaded and powerful armies of Clan Mors. Since its downfall, the Council approved of the clans claim to make the City as their new main stronghold. Since delivering the fatal blow at the City of Pillars, Clan Mors has since begun its own rise to a powerful position in the Under-Empire and indeed even the position within the Council of Thirteen itself. The plunders won from the invasion of the dwarf-hold gave Clan Mors both wealth and prestige, making them the largest and perhaps the strongest of the Warlord clans, rivaling that of even the Four Great Clans. Not only that, but Clan Mors ransacking of Dwarf armories and mansions has lead to their elite Stormvermin legions having access to well-made Dwarf armor and weapons. Queek Headtaker, Clan Mors' most active Warlord, and second only in command to Council member Lord Gnawdell himself, has become so audacious with his war against the Dwarfs as to send the beard-things warnings before launching his organised dismantling of yet another mining network. Though much of the city is given towards Clan Mors, the Dwarf Citadel in the surface has been recently retaken by a host of Dwarf warriors, and a small contingent of them still guards the city, with the last of the city's royal bloodline leading them.
- Karak Azgal - After many long years of prosperity, this Dwarf city finally fell under constant attack from marauding bands of Greenskin raiders and Skaven armies invading the hold from above and below. Integral to the city's downfall however, were from the secret attacks made by the Skavens of Clan Sketter -- poisoning wells and foodstuffs, assassinating key individuals, and aiding the local Greenskins in their attacks against the hold. These plans were carried out in absolute secrecy for a very long time, and neither the Dwarfs nor the Greenskins knew of their existence until it was too late. When the city did finally fall, the Skavens were crushed by the sudden appearance of a Dragon named "Graug the Terrible" who had invaded the tunnel networks below to search for the ancient Dwarven vaults filled with gold. There the Dragon sat on his hoard for hundreds of years until he was killed by a young Dwarven warrior. With the dragon gone, Clan Skitter made another fresh assault upon the Hold, but was eventually stopped by the combined force of local adventurers, mercenaries, and Dwarven expeditions drawn by the allure of the wealth from the Dragon's hoard.
- Black Crag (Karak Drazh) - A minor garrison of Skavens, whose main purpose is to observe and spy on the local Orcish tribes inhabiting the area.
- Karak Ungor - A small garrison of Skavens whose appearance came just after the Greenskin hordes invaded the upper levels of the hold. Far too small to fight against the Greenskins, the Skavens only real importance here are only mining of small deposits of warpstone.
- Karak Varn - The first Hold ever conquered by the Skavens. With the lower levels already flooded, the hold came under attack by Night Goblin tribes, taking advantage of the chaos. The Dwarfs fought on valiantly, and seemed like that they might indeed keep their city from the Greenskin hordes. Using the element of surprise the Skaven erupted from the lower workings, and smashed headlong against the Dwarven host defending the keep. Though experts at tunnel-fighting against the sneaky Night Goblins, the numberless hordes of the ratmen proved to numerous for the Dwarves, and the host was eventually destroyed and the hold lost.
- Bonestash (Karak Angkul) - A minor Skaven sect of Clan Mors whose settlement was established underneath the minor dwarf hold of Karak Angkul. Recently, the settlements leader, Rikkit Snapfang has made daring attacks against the Dwarfs lower mines, hoping to finally take the richest of the Hold for himself. During the war, Rikkit has unexpectingly hired the service of Ikit Claw (previously thought to have been Kaskitt Steelgrin) and Grey Seer Thanquol as mercenaries for his personal wars. The war eventually escalated to the point where Ikit made his second Atomic Bomb, called the Doomsphere at the heart of Bonestash, meant to completely obliterate the Hold from below. Though the machine was eventually destroyed by a Dwarf expedition sent to stop them, Queek Headtaker and an army of Clan Mors was sent to Bonestash to aid their brothers within the settlement, but Queek instead attacked the upper levels whilst most of the Dwarf warriors fought in Bonestash. Though successful at first, Queek and his army was eventually stopped when a Bloodthirster was mistakenly summoned by Grey Seer Thanquol, forcing the Skaven armies to make a hasty retreat back below. The Bloodthirster wreaked havoc amongst the Dwarfs, but was finally banished back to the Warp by the valiant efforts of Klarak Bronzehammer, who in turn was killed by Grey Seer Thanquol while the Dwarfs' back was turned.
- Warhammer Armies: Skaven (7th Edition) pg 10 - 13
- Thanquol and Boneripper: Grey Seer (Novel)
- Thanquol and Boneripper: Thanquol's Doom (Novel)
- Vermintide (Novel)
- Gotrek and Felix: Skavenslayer (Novel)