- "Ah, yes. The Plague Monks. Where to begin? These wretched creatures have wholly embraced the diseased aspect of their horned god. They inflict themselves with sickness, drawing strength from it and gaining some measure of immunity to mundane diseases. So inured are they to pain and discomfort that they hardly feel it any longer. Driven by a fury and zeal that only the truly religious can comprehend, the Plague Monks are certainly one of the Skaven’s most disturbing and terrible innovations."
- —Steffan Paulus Adelhof, Scholar of Wolfenburg.[1b]
Clan Pestilens is one of the four great Skaven clans that are feared throughout their domain for the vile diseases and plagues these Skavens have mastered and unleashed upon this world. Probably the most feared out of all the Great Clans, these Skavens are feared by enemies and allies alike, having been the main aggressor and instigator of both of the two great Skaven Civil Wars that has ravaged much of the Under-Empire for four centuries, and almost overthrowing the Council of Thirteen from their power.[3a]
Also known as Plague Monks, the disciples of disease and decay, these Skavens have dedicated an unhealthy fervour to spread pestilence and corruption in the name of the Horned Rat to all those they see fit, even their own brethren. These foul warriors are not only recognisable by their characteristic appearances and looks, but also by the terrible stench and disease that accompanies them, as the clan's doctrine believes that in order to truly obey the Horned Rat's wishes, they must be the very embodiment of their god's title as the Harbinger of Disease. Unlike their brother clans, Clan Pestilens doesn't sell their military service for mere economic gains; but rather to lend their warriors to any cause that they believe will only further their own objective. Their current leader, Lord Nurglich the VII, Arch-Plaguelord of Clan Pestilen, has ensured a position of power within the Council of Thirteen.[3a]
- "If any is to command here, it should be me. To Clan Pestilens will go the honour of overthrowing the man-city. We have great plans! Great plans! It is our secret weapon that will destroy the human city!"
- —Vilebroth Null, representative of Clan Pestilens during the Invasion of Nuln.[4a]
The plague-ridden monks of Clan Pestilens emerged from the Lustrian rainforests centuries ago. Their initial contacts with the Under-Empire were less than peaceful, but after a time an accord was reached and Clan Pestilens became a productive segment of the Under-Empire. Riddled with disease and contagion, the Skaven of Clan Pestilens are devout worshippers of the Horned Rat. Though they recognise the Horned Rat’s other attributes, they focus on his ability to create, control, and spread plagues.[1a]
After the clan’s workers and captive labour are taken into account, the majority of Clan Pestilens’ military strength lies in its plague monks. The plague monks are religious zealots dedicated to the worship of the Horned Rat. Their bodies are riddled with plague, and so used are they to pain that they barely feel it any longer. Combined with their religious fervour, this resistance to pain makes the plague monks incredibly capable combatants, especially en masse.[1a]
The plague monks believe that the rest of their Skaven brothers have been misled by the Grey Seers. They feel that the average ratman has been blinded to what they profess to be the true face of the Horned Rat; namely, pestilence itself. The clan’s overriding goal is to bring the rest of the Under-Empire into the fold, while avoiding declarations of heresy from the Grey Seers. Appeasing the Grey Seers for the time being is the only way to succeed. In time, once their victories have been secured and the rest of the Skaven clans have been won over, the Grey Seers, too, will follow their example, or die.[1a]
Like the Grey Seers, the plague monks, priests, and deacons of Clan Pestilens believe the time of the Great Ascendancy is fast approaching. Pestilens’ peculiar twist on this mythology is that the Horned Rat will only allow such a victory if the majority of the Under-Empire has converted to their form of worship. How else can one explain the failures wrought time and time again by the bumbling campaigns of the Lords of Decay?[1a]
Service to the Council
Pestilens serves the Lords of Decay by destroying their enemies with fresh-brewed plagues the likes of which the Old World has never seen. The Council is all too happy to accept Pestilens’ aid in battle, as disease is a powerful weapon in anyone’s arsenal. Not only are the plague lords capable of creating new ailments, they are also quite able to effortlessly cure a number of diseases. While the general consensus of Clan Pestilens’ members is that curing any sickness or disease is akin to blasphemy, they know that now is not the best time to make such revelations known to their masters on the Council. The Lords of Decay can easily recognise the value of Pestilens’ contributions to their war efforts, and they continue to enlist their aid as the end times approach ever closer.[1a]
- "Plague monks do not know the true nature of the Horned Rat and kill themselves for it. They are useful, but deride-hate the Grey Seers. This impudence will be their done-death."
- —Skreelin Thurntik, Grey Seer.[1b]
The plagues of Clan Pestilens kill insidiously, regardless of an enemy’s arms or armour. They are quiet weapons that do not risk the lives of the near-immune plague monks that spread them. The enemy even spreads the diseases for the Skaven, and provides breeding grounds for the plagues in the form of the poor sanitation and hygiene in the majority of the Old World’s cities. As an added bonus, diseases do not destroy structures, equipment, or other spoils of war. Once the plagues have been spread and allowed to do their work, the madness and resilience of the Clan’s plague monks make the fighting forces of Pestilens powerful foes on any battlefield.[1a]
Formations of frothing plague monks are led into battle by a line of censer bearers, Skaven chosen to wield sacred plague censers against their foes. The Skaven of Clan Pestilens believe that their enemies will either fall to the plague or will fall to despair when their kin succumb. Even if they survive the physical and mental anguish that plague brings, they will be so weakened in body and spirit that they will easily fall before the vermin hordes. One of Pestilens’ methods of spreading disease involves specially-bred rats. These plague rats are infected with any one of a number of diseases, and are then released into the sewers and alleyways of an Old World city.[1a]
Rats are a common sight in any city, and the plague rats of Clan Pestilens seem no different from alley rats to the casual observer. They creep on quiet feet into the homes and larders of the Old World, leaving behind diseased droppings and half-eaten foodstuffs. Another tactic Pestilens uses to spread diseases involves the use of prisoners. These unfortunate wretches are infected with a plague that is slow to manifest. Once infected, the Skaven release them. When they make their way back to their people, they become the unwitting killers of thousands of their own kind. By the time the symptoms are evident, it is far too late.[1a]
Clan Pestilens Infantry
- Plague Monks - the most common infantry fielded by Clan Pestilen, these groups of fanatics are utterly dedicated to spreading their corruption within the enemy ranks. When engaged in combat, these monks will chant various verses and curses from the Book of Woe -- endlessly repeating the Liturgus Infectus, or the Rites of Infection towards their foe. When they are near the enemy, the monks will go on a fanatical frenzy, killing their enemy with rusted swords and iron-tipped staves to infect those they hurt with unimaginable diseases. Due to their diseased bulk, plague monks can survive injuries that would normally kill an ordinary Skaven.
- Plague Censer-Bearers - A plague censer is a hollow spiked metal ball attached to a lengthy chain meant to be used as a weapon by the plague censer-bearers. Within the hollow ball are lethal doses of warpstone and vile contagions that release a foul greenish cloud that will cause flesh to erupt into sores and fluid-filled blisters. If inhaled, the fumes will cause the lungs to be clogged with foul fluid, creating an agonising death to those that breath it. The censer-bearers are fanatical in combat, never faltering or retreating, they continue on their murderous rampage until each and everyone one of them are cut down.
Clan Pestilens Warmachines
- Plague-Claw Catapult - For many years, the clan has worked day and night to make the most perfect disease that will rid the world of all surface dwellers, and the eventual conquest of the Skaven cause. While still failing as of yet in their contagion, the by-product that was created during the brewing process has proven valuable as a weapon of war. As a result, these by-products were used in the form of ammunition for the plague-claw catapult, hurling the corrosive substances at the enemy from afar, leaving whole companies of men coughing and dying by the deadly fumes that are secreted by the impact.
- Plague Furnace - The plague furnace is a diseased-ridden altar to the Great Horned Rat and an unholy icon of the clan's power. The furnace is pushed into battle by chanting plague monks, the creaking of the iron-shod wheels audible above the drone of devotional maledictions. What makes this altar so deadly is the massive brazier-like wrecking ball attached to the top of the construct, that is similar in appearance to the weapons used by the censer-bearers. The censer-bearer swings back and forth, producing a cloud of noxious gas that stings the eye and assails the senses of their enemy. Once in contact with the enemy, the rusty chain holding the great warpstone incinerator are let slip so that the vast censer plummets into the middle of enemy regiments, creating large gaps in the enemy's front-line, all while the fumes continue to spread throughout the army.
Clan Pestilens Heroes
- Plague Priest - The rank of plague priest is the highest obtainable rank within the clan, the ones higher being the plague lords, the most senior of the plague priests. A plague priest is a Skaven who has a deep understanding of the foul magic their clan has harnessed over the ages, and as such, are capable magicians who can vomit geysers of lethal substances, or curse their foes from afar making them erupt in putrid boils. They are naturally resistant to many forms of attack, due to their body having grown tough by the very plagues they carry. They are also responsible for the overseeing of Clan Pestilens siege equipment, such as the plague furnace or the plague-claw catapult.
- Lord Skrolk - Lord Skrolk, Plaguelord of Clan Pestilens is one of the most legendary disciples of corruption and decay. That Lord Skrolk walks the world is an affront to nature and a sign of the power of the Great Horned Rat. Plants wither and die where Skrolk treads and the very air seems to congeal and darken, as if stained by his baleful presence. Skrolk is ancient, having existed many spans of even the most long-lived of his foul kind.
- 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Children of the Horned Rat
- 2: Uniforms and Heraldry of the Skaven
- 2a: pg. 10
- 3: Warhammer Armies: Skaven (7th Edition)
- 4: Gotrek and Felix: Skavenslayer (Novel)
- 4a: Chapter: "Night Raid"