The Stormfiend is the ultimate and brutal combination of Clan Moulder bio-engineering and Clan Skryre's sadistic techno-magic, hulking behemoths clad in bullet-proof metal armour and equipped with massive gatling cannons or swirling armoured gauntlets.
These monstrosities are amongst the greatest and most unstoppable monsters the Under-Empire has to offer.
However, just because they were a successful breed and sold to nearly every Warlord Clan that could afford them did not mean that Clan Moulder was not still tinkering. Indeed, the flesh manufacturers of that clan were never satisfied, but were always seeking ways to make their creations ever more deadly.[1a]
In the end, it was Throt the Unclean, a Master Moulder of Hell Pit, that hit upon a solution. While others fixated on developing longer claws or grafting multiple arms, Throt set about getting to the root of the matter.
Rat Ogres did not lack in brawn or fighting potential: they lacked in mental capacity. They were small-minded creatures with a singular instinct to kill.
It took much training from packmasters to lead them into battle, and even then the brute-beasts were difficult to control. Thus, what Throt attempted to improve was their woefully tiny brains, reasoning that if the beasts were smarter they could be given weapons to use.[1a]
The operations were dangerous work, for it was impossible to subdue a Rat Ogre -- they were either viciously fighting with all their might or they were dead, with little to nothing in between. Even when they were chain-bound with heavy fetters, it was difficult to do brain work on the Rat Ogres.
Worse still, the experiments were abject failures. The more the creature could think, the less violent it became. Throt was all too aware that the sole reason Clan Moulder sold so many Rat Ogres was due to the creatures' mindless aggression. To rob them of their kill-kill mentality was out of the question.[1a]
The next step for Throt was a logical one -- If he could not make the beast smarter, could be fuse the packmaster on to the beast itself? Not surprisingly, those packmasters who were chosen to be permanently stitched into the back of a Rat Ogre, their brains and vital fluids connected, were profoundly unhappy.
As these packmasters now controlled over-muscled hulking mauler-beasts, their dissatisfaction was all too apparent, and these experiments had to be cancelled. As there were no willing volunteers, Throt had little choice but to grow them himself.[1a]
Through gruesome and repugnant techniques, Throt grew the required subjects and merged other parts with captives or slaves. The result was a batch of scrawny and submissive Skaven with unusually large brains.
Once permanently integrated into a warpstone-powered harness and rigged with coils and tubes, the Skaven's body would become more and more atrophied. Eventually, if it lived long enough, the Skaven would become little more than a shrivelled husk with an auxiliary brain that could help steer the savage beast with which it was melded.[1a]
Early results were astoundingly successful -- the Rat Ogres remained ferocious, but they could be briefly controlled by the far more sensible brain-creature hardwired into their backs. Unfortunately, there was a drawback; the Rat Ogres were able to use weapons now, but Clan Moulder quickly found out they had nothing with which to make their new creation any more destructive than its previous iteration had been.
The Rat Ogres could wield the enormous clubs or oversized swords taken from defeated Ogre tribes, but it made them no more dangerous then they had been with their own claws, fangs and boulder-like fists. There was only one place in all the Under-Empire where the best weapons available could be found: the warpforges of Clan Skryre.[1a]
Meaningful collaboration between the Skaven clans has always been rare, as neither side trusts the other. Even begun with good intentions, such brokered deals never end well, as the temptation to take advantage, swindle, or somehow cheat has always been an overwhelming urge for any Skaven.
Clan Skryre was seeking allies, for Lord Morskittar had long been planning the demise of the Grey Seers. The Lord of Decay considered support for his schemes, especially from the Greater Clans, to be vital. This being the case, Morskittar's orders were to placate the beast-makers as much as possible.
As it happened, Ikit Claw of Clan Skryre had been developing several powerful -- albeit problematic -- new weapons. In between his failed rocket launch attempts, the Chief Warlock had attempted to upgrade the devices of the weapon teams, but each new design proved too difficult for the teams to carry, too weighty for even larger crews to lift or aim.[1a]
Although Ikit himself was hardly keen to work with Throt -- it was his belief that all those from Clan Moulder stank of offal -- the Chief Warlock was anxious to get back in Lord Morskittar's good graces. It was not long before the improved Rat Ogres were being kitted out with the new weapons.
Ikit was surly to begin with. However, as each technical problem was overcome, he began to see great advantages. The hulking Rat Ogres could bear heavy weapon loads; a fact that allowed them to carry multiple guns along with the necessary ammunition feeds or warp-generator power sources.[1a][1b]
Despite Ikit's misgivings, Throt proved especially adept. Without question, the Master Moulder sawed off bits of arm bone to facilitate the attachment of warp-forged gauntlets, or increased the rate of brain-juice transference to better allow the brain-creature to guide his brawny teammate.
It was Throt who suggested an automatic cut-off mechanism on the ratling cannons, for it had proven impossible to get the Rat Ogre or its brainier counterpart to stop firing, resulting in them using up their ammunition in one sustained spray of bullets.[1b]
To trial the new weapon-beasts, a handful of them were released into a sealed slave pen. The results were spectacular. The weapons were improved and more deadly than ever.
Better still, they were not carried by Skaven, but by hulking brutes that could more easily shrug off enemy arrows. In the few cases where enemies got close enough to attack the newly dubbed Stormfiends, they found themselves mauled, crushed, or battered by club-like weapon barrels.[1b]
When the skaven overran Tilea, the Stormfiends were unveiled before the Warlord Clans. The sight of a Rat Ogre armed with doom-flayer gauntlets and wearing armour full of spinning blades wading through a street battle was enough for many to place orders immediately.
Skaven warlords simply stood agog as they witnessed three ratling cannons borne upon a single Rat Ogre, whirring away to single-handedly halt enemy countercharges. Soon, Clan Skryre and Clan Moulder could not produce the up-gunned weapon-beasts quickly enough, no matter how many Warptokens they overcharged.[1b]
- Doom-Flayer Gauntlets: By attaching huge motorised iron balls and whirring blades onto the ends of a Stormfiend's arms, a truly fearsome tunnel-fighter was created. To further protect these close-combat maulers, they bear heavy armour adorned with spinning cleaver-blades.[1c]
- Windlaunchers: Some Stormfiends bear paired Windlauncher mortar-fists. Mundane armour offered no protection against the vapours released by the poisoned wind globes lobbed into the fray by these weapons. With each shot, a new glass orb filled with gaseous death clicks into position, ready to be fired.[1c]
- Grinderfists: Some of Throt's Stormfiends were adapted to carry Warp-Grinders, allowing them to create their own tunnels by vaporising soil, rock and roots alike. Once in combat, such a Stormfiend will grind at the foe, disintegrating flesh with ease.[1c]
- Shock Gauntlets: For the ultimate in shock assaults, Stormfiends armed with electrified gauntlets were produced by Clan Skryre. Powered by warp generators, it is the heavy armour the beast wears that is the true weapon, for it conducts arcs of warp lightning that wreath the Rat Ogre's body in crackling energies. Simply being near one of these creatures is enough to sizzle many foes to a burnt crisp.[1d]
- Ratling Cannons: For pumping out sheer firepower, there is little that can match a Stormfiend equipped with Ratling Cannons. Three sets of eight-barreled weapons bedeck this hulking muscle-beast, enabling it to pour forth warp-bullets which riddle entire enemy units with holes.[1d]
- Warpfire Projectors: Stormfiends armed with Warpfire Projectors wade into battle shooting arcs of green-black warpfire from their heavy gauntlets. While these great cones of unnatural flame occasionally miss their target, it is a small price to pay for the devastation even a single shot can wreak upon enemy regiments.[1d]