Skaven Civil War

A Clan Pestilens Plague Monk during the Skaven Civil War

The First Skaven Civil War was a conflict fought between around 50 IC and 600 IC between the Skaven clans loyal to the Council of Thirteen and those loyal to Clan Pestilens.[1c]

Rise of Clan Pestilens

A new power arose from the jungles of Lustria. The clan was long forgotten and much changed since leaving Skavenblight. They had passed beyond the knowledge of the Council of Thirteen, but would one day return, eager for power.[1a]

The name of the clan that was led to the dry deserts of what is now Araby (which they reached around -1420 IC[1c]) during the Great Migration is no longer remembered. How they found the tunnels beneath the Great Ocean to the jungle land of the cold-blooded Lizardmen is unrecorded. Yet the Skaven arose under a temple-city in deepest Lustria. Although the ratmen were accustomed to insect-filled swamps, the virulent tropical diseases began to take their toll. When the clan was reduced to only a few hundred surviving members, their fur soaked in cold sweat and their fevered brains wracked by insane visions, the clan was visited by an epiphany. If they dedicated their lives to the Great Horned Rat, they would be spared. If they scoured the jungle for victims to sacrifice, the Great Horned One's hunger would be appeased. If they grew to revere the very diseases that were killing them, they might be born anew. And so out of darkest desperation, a new breed of Skaven emerged - the zealous Plague Monks of Clan Pestilens.[1a]

The Skaven that rose out of the crumbling temple-city of Quetza in -1399[1c] were hideous, covered in weeping buboes, their pox-ridden bodies toughened by the very diseases they carried. Methodically, Clan Pestilens grew, plundering arcane secrets from the ruins over the centuries. Many of the cold-blooded reptilian creatures that sought to protect the jungle were sacrificed in the name of the Great Horned Rat. And always Clan Pestilens sought new ways to devote themselves to corruption.[1a]

The clan had grown strong and now Lord Nurglitch, the traditional name for the mightiest of the Plaguelords, deemed it was time for his brood to return. The pestilent host spent a decade fighting their way out of the jungle to the coast. From there, a hastily built fleet of ramshackle ships was constructed to carry the greater part of Clan Pestilens to the Southlands where several fortress lairs were established around 50 IC[1c]. A few decades later[1c] emissaries were sent to Skavenblight where the Lords of Decay convened. Clan Pestilens demanded breeding rights, tithes of warpstone, and positions on the Council. As expected, the emissaries were summarily butchered and the remains cast out of the city.[1a]

Civil War

So it was that Clan Pestilens opened its long-planned offensive against those loyal to the Council of Thirteen. Strongholds and lair-nests were destroyed. Clan Merkit was flooded by great cauldrons filled with warpstone mixed with offal and putrescence. The Plague Monks used great bellows to ensure all the caverns were filled with the noxious fumes. Only Lord Merkit and his bodyguard escaped hideous death or enslavement.[1a]

The Council responded with armies of Clanrats, supported by some of the newly developed weaponry of Clan Skryre. Several Southland clans capitulated after the ruthless demonstration of the Plague Monks' power and this provided Clan Pestilens the numbers to resist. As years passed and the Council of Thirteen proved incapable of bringing the Plague Monks to heel, other Warlord clans split away. The rogue clans either joined the Plague Monks or made war for their own gain. Soon the Council of Thirteen lost all control of the Southlands and the Under-Empire was slipping away.[1b]

For nearly four hundred years the Skaven remained divided: the north faction, led by the Council of Thirteen, and the south, by the Plague Lords. Many clans stood apart, joining sides with whoever had the upper hand. Plagues, sorcery, and double-crossings were rife, but the war remained locked in stalemate. The deadlock was broken by the reappearance of another long-lost clan, for the assassin-adepts of Clan Eshin finally returned from the mysterious Far East around 500 IC.[1b][1c]

When the black-clad assassins of Clan Eshin pledged allegiance to the Council of Thirteen, the heads of Warlords, rebellious Chieftains, and Plague Lords themselves began to regularly disappear. Support swiftly eroded for Clan Pestilens. Realising their position was becoming untenable, the Plague Lords requested a parley. After surviving several assassination attempts on the way to Skavenblight, their representative, Lord Nurglitch, abased himself at the Great Temple of the Horned Rat and unreservedly placed the resources of his clan at the disposal of the Council of Thirteen. Furthermore, he informed them all that he was carrying a vial of Yellow Skull Fever and further attempts on his life would leave him no option but to release the contagion there in the very heart of Skavenblight.[1b]

Thus were Clan Pestilens welcomed back and the Arch-Plague Lord Nurglitch earned the right to a trial by combat. Although it was a near thing, the Plague Lord used a poisonous bite to defeat his opponent - Lord Vask, the most vulnerable member of the Warlord clans on the Council. So Clan Pestilens joined the Council as the seventh seat, placing its resources at the disposal of the Lords of Decay.[1b]


  • 1 Warhammer Armies: Skaven (7th Edition)
    • 1a pg. 22
    • 1b pg. 23
    • 1c pg. 30

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