"Vecteek!...Mighty Verminlord, Prince of Ruins and Desolation. Heed the summonings of Grey Seer Thanquol. Harken to the Voice of the Horned Ones Prophet....Vecteek!...I, Thanquol, servant of the Horned Rat, demand you to pass through this tunnel between worlds! Obey!"
Verminlords can be born of different origins. All of them are fragmented embodiments of the Horned Rat, just as all Daemons are ultimately only fragments of their related Chaos God. Some are formed from the very thoughts of the Horned Rat itself, while others are elevated and formerly mortal Skaven Lords of Decay, the rulers of the Under-Empire as members of its Council of Thirteen, warped into something greater by their verminous deity after their deaths.
Though they are loathe to step into the mortal realm, for there they are vulnerable, Verminlords absolutely choke the impossible landscape of the Realm of Ruin, home of their god and themselves within the Aethyr. Here, there are as many of them as there are mortal Skaven, potentially making them the most numerous of all Daemonkind.
A Verminlord is at once majestic and disgusting, a living icon of ruin, the ultimate scavenger. Although such a being towers in height, it is lithe and quick, its movements evoking the fluid, yet twitchy, scuttling of rats.[1a]
Their heads are bedecked with the spiralling horns and sloughing flesh of the Horned Rat himself. Warpstone amulets and tomes decorate the Verminlord's leprous form, along with chunks of raw warpstone hammered into their flesh. Verminlords are often seen armed with huge, wicked-looking glaives that are fully twice the height of a man but their chisel-teeth and sharp claws are easily capable of tearing a creature to pieces. Any onlooker finds that he cannot look away from the nightmarish creature, yet at the same time fervently hopes not to make eye contact. And this is wise, for even the passing attention of such an ancient and wicked being is enough to stop a man's heart. Few dare to meet a Verminlord's all-seeing gaze for even an instant and none can hold it.[1a]
A Verminlord is eternally calculating a myriad of interweaving plots, ever seeking the best path towards some desired end. The creature is never still, constantly pacing, stopping to tilt its head as if sniffing for the future. When the time for action comes, however, the Verminlord manifests all the feral savagery of the Skaven race. Its rage is terrifying to behold and few mortals can stand against it. Their sinuous body contains the might and strength to challenge a Greater Daemon, and lesser creatures are swept aside in droves. At need a Verminlord can summon a powerful and wicked glaive, which it swings in deadly and unstoppable arcs.[1a]
Relations with Mortal Skaven
"Familiarity really did breed contempt. Now what he felt mostly was petulant, the verminlord treated him like a favourite slave. From under its impressive rack of horns, it gazed down at him with a wholly infuriating mixture of indulgence and smugness, like it knew it knew far more than Kranskritt ever could, and although it kept most of its knowledge to itself, it was secretly pleased when Kranskritt figured out a part of the greater picture. Most patronising, most infuriating!"
Being immensely more powerful, Verminlords look down on their mortal brethren among the Skaven. However, the nature of this arrogance rarely escalates to physical violence; the presence of these Daemons alone is enough to frighten even Grey Seers into compliance. There is even a note of paternalism in how Verminlords deal with their lessers, though they are often mocking and smug beneath a thin veneer of politeness.[5a]
Verminlords will treat even Grey Seers as mere pets, or indeed vermin, picking them up by their tails and stroking their horns. Because the schemes of a Verminlord are so convoluted, a mortal ratman cannot follow them, something the Daemons enjoy "lamenting" over, shaking their heads as if the ratman was a foolish child. A Verminlord is always several steps ahead of any mortal Skaven schemer, using their mortal siblings in their own games and plans.[5a]
Some bold ratmen may try to cast off the interest of a Verminlord or otherwise seek vengeance against them, but such attempts are doomed to fail and are laughable in the view of a Verminlord. This varies from Daemon to Daemon; Soothgnawer was amused, and unsurprised, by his charge Kranskritt's attempt to bind him. Meanwhile, Lurklox had much less patience for Queek Headtaker, and had to issue a serious threat in order to gain his begrudging compliance. [5a]
The only thing the Verminlords and their mortal siblings share is the fear of their father, the Horned Rat. The Rodent God's hunger is indiscriminate, and he will eat one of his Exalted Verminlords as fast as he will any mortal Skaven if he is displeased.[5b]
Types of Verminlords
Perhaps the least seen of all the Verminlords are the Deceivers, the Lords of Assassins, the Shadows that Kill. This is as they prefer it. It is not their way to barge about upon a battlefield like some clumsy warlord. Instead, their power lies in stealth. They move in clouds of shadow, obfuscating even those around them. Only when their intrigues are ripe will a Verminlord Deceiver step out of the darkness to strike. Out of nowhere they appear, moving with blurring swiftness. Into their uplifted hands they summon forth triple-bladed throwing stars. With a snap of the wrist, the Verminlord can fling the killing star, sending it to scythe down foes in a great circling arc. The flash of its passing can be seen, leaving decapitated victims and slicing off limbs in its wake. At the end of its circuitous flight, the Verminlord Deceiver will snatch it out of mid-air and throw it again in quick succession. Such is their agility, and their ability to rapidly displace themselves, that the creatures can even throw their weapons and catch it from some completely different part of the battlefield.[3a]
In close combat, the Verminlord Deceivers favour the warpstiletto. A stabbing weapon the length of a man, its steeply acuminated shape allows the blade to penetrate deep into a foe, where its toxic nature can do the most damage with great efficiency. Whilst common soldiers might batter each other ceaselessly, with only a swift thrust from the warpstiletto a Deceiver can fell any foe, no matter how large.[3a]
Also known as the Pestilent Reapers and the Cullers of Civilisation, Verminlord Corruptors are disease given form. They are surrounded by an aura of creeping sickness, and all around them life withers away. The spread of plague is their craft, and at their command are the worst maladies in the world. With but a malicious glance, a Verminlord Corruptor can cause foes to break out in the Roteye Pox, the Oozing Twitch, or the Black Plague. There are none more malignant nor more uncompromising than these infested terrors. Of all the Verminlords, the Corruptors have severely decayed, and, consequently, the least elaborate horns - though simply mentioning this to one of these repulsive rat daemons is certain to begin a vendetta that will last an eternity.[3b]
Although not above a degree of skulking, Corruptors are more likely than any other Verminlords to be at the forefront of battle. They are zealots who incite extreme hate in others, proving especially effective in goading Plague Monks into an extreme frenzy. More sorcerous than most of their kin, the Corruptors can call down plaguestorms, shrivel skin, or vomit forth impossible geysers of noxious poisons. Should any foe live long enough to close with a Verminlord Corruptor, their battle has only just begun. Living upon the greasy pelt of a Corruptor can be any number of tiny parasites, stingfleas or three-eyed mites. They bite all who approach, and infect their prey with bubonix - the flesh-bubbling disease that rots foes in minutes. As the foe reels, the Verminlord Corruptor will then summon forth a pair of Plaguereapers, sickle-like blades which it will use to eviscerate its enemies with a savage fury.[3b]
Also known as Tyrants of Battle and the Great Stabber-slicers, the Verminlord Warbringers are the most commonly seen of the rat daemons, and of all the Verminlords, none are so full of themselves and self-posturing. Warbringers have a fondness for dramatic entrances, such as arriving in clouds of smoke before mustered hordes of skaven. They stride battle lines, towering over the ratmen, who cower in the presence of such majestic and terrible beings. Whenever possible they strike heroic poses, with their sinuously curving horns thrust regally outwards, and their weapons glinting in the fires of battle.[3c]
All of this preening is not merely pretentiousness on the part of these Verminlords, however. Skaven - particularly clanrats and stormvermin - rally to the awe-inspiring sight of these godly creatures. Thus can the presence of such a Verminlord steady even the most craven force. With each colossal stride or dramatic whip of the tail, the chittering tumult rising from the fighting hordes increases in its intensity. Skaven who bask in that verminous presence for long enough will be overcome by a bloodthirsty, teeth-snapping rage that they long to unleash upon the foe.[3c]
The Warbringers are not zealous about leading from the front; they far prefer to stride amongst a seething tide of ratmen, for they draw strength from being amongst their mortal underlings. When they reach the front line, few mortal creatures can match their speed or strength, and they are able to cut down whole ranks at a time with great sweeps from their doom glaives. When facing larger enemies - or delivering a dramatic coup de grace - a Warbringer will manifest an enormous spike-fist, driving it through the foe and tearing out its entrails for all to see.[3c]
Also known as the Lords of Black Lightning and the Great Manipulators, the Verminlord Warpseers are the most inscrutable of all the rat daemons. Great leaders and visionaries, they are often found at the centre of the most complex plots. All Verminlords are manipulative, but the Warpseers bring beguilement to new levels. Every syllable whispered and every subtle nuance has been crafted to influence an endgame that it alone can fathom. When a Verminlord Warper arrives in the world, it does so not with a plan, but with dozens, even hundreds of plots and intrigues - and is not through words and schemes alone that a Verminlord Warpseer will work its wiles.[3d]
When it comes to the arcane arts, the Warpseers wield great power. All Verminlords can hurl black lightning, but when a Warpseer does so, it is not lone bolts they cast but vast, arcing chains of destruction. With a stomp of their clawed foot they can open rifts, crack foundations and topple the structures of the so-called civilised world. At their command, the vermin of the world swarm, forming tidal waves of rats. So powerful is their call, that rodent kind from the shadow realms join the pack, and nothing can stop their chiseled teeth, for they are able gnaw a soul from a body in seconds.[3d]
Verminlord Warpseers alone can summon forth a scry-orb of enormous proportions. This sphere can be used to gaze into all possible futures, allowing the Verminlord to know the unknowable and see that which is beyond sight - a powerful boon as they plot the fall of their enemies and the fate of their allies. At times of great need, the Verminlord Warpseer can hurl this swirling orb as a weapon, its destruction releasing a miasma of multiple futures and fumes of purest warpstone. Those caught within the blast are driven mad, reduced to utter feeble-mindedness by the nightmare visions they are gifted.[3d]
"Recently come into my possession is a scroll purported to summon and command an "Exalted Master of the Endless Host." I purchased the document from my contact in the Tourmaline Fellowship, who claimed to have acquired it from some Diestro recently returned from Tilea, who claimed to have retrieved it himself from a ruined city swallowed by an enormous swamp. Old Hildegard tried to impress me with some gibberish about rats that walk like men, but I am no mere dabbler in the forbidden to be taken in by such mythical nonsense. Perhaps this creature is some kind of Daemon, fancifully named by an errant scholar? Yet according to the accompanying notes the creature is "lithe and possessed of horrifying vigour." This sounds unlike any Daemon I have yet encountered. It is an intriguing, but easily solved mystery. It will take perhaps a day to set wards which will contain any Daemon born of the powers of Chaos, and then we shall see exactly what this creature may be and what secrets I can wrest from it."
The Exalted Verminlords are the arch-Daemons of the Horned Rat, the minor Chaos God of the Skaven, and embody all that is foul and cruel in that misbegotten race of ratmen. At once mighty and vile, cunning and savage, they are creatures of creeping decay and lightning-fast fury -- they are ruin made manifest. Huge yet lithe, Verminlords are horrific creatures to behold, somewhere in form between Plague Rat, Human and Daemon-beast. No two are quite identical, but each is marked with the signs of rank and potency in the Horned Rat's service, with great spiralling horns crowning their heads and black burning blades and glaives clutched in their grasp.[4a]
Even the lesser amongst their kind are beings of great power, malevolent intelligence and incalculable malice, and for one to be summoned to the world of mortals is a dire matter that no Grey Seer engages in lightly and without fear, for a Verminlord is no brute beast to be controlled, but a being with its own agenda and is wiser and more treacherous than any living Skaven could hope to be.
But even within the ranks of such impossibly powerful entities there are those whose dark majesty exceeds that of their brethren, and these so-called "Exalted" Verminlords may only ever be summoned across the veil of realities in times of great slaughter, suffering and death, and when the Winds of Magic howl in tempest.
Even more dangerous and intractable than their nightmare kin, they demand the death not of mere sacrifices or the carrion of the battlefield as their due, but rather the destruction of entire cities and the ruination of nations for their pleasure before their power is wedded to any cause, even that of the great Lords of Decay, the Skaven rulers of the Under-Empire. Being a corporeal manifestation of the malignity of the Horned Rat, all of an Exalted Verminlord's attacks are magical. An Exalted Verminlord wields a Direglaive, and can unleash a cascade of withering green flame that corrodes metal and blisters flesh.[4a]
- Skreech Verminking - Lord of all Verminlords.
- Lurklox - Master of Deception and Verminlord of Clan Eshin.
- Vermalanx the Poxlord - Verminlord of Clan Pestilen.
- Skweevritch - Verminlord of Clan Skyre.
- Basqueak - Verminlord of the Warlord Clans.
- Skrolvex - Verminlord of Clan Pestilen.
- Soothgnawer - Verminlord of Clan Scruten.
- Kreeskuttle - Verminlord of the Warlord Clans and mightiest in arms.
- Throxstraggle - Verminlord of Clan Pestilen.
- Verstirix - Verminlord of the Warlord Clans.
- 1: Warhammer Armies: Skaven (7th Edition)
- 1a: pg. 40
- 2: Thanquol and Boneripper: Thanquol's Doom (Novel) by C. L. Werner
- 2a: Chapter: 17
- 3: Warhammer: The End Times Book IV: Thanquol Book 2
- 4: Warhammer: Monstrous Arcanum
- 5: The Rise of The Horned Rat (Novel), Guy Haley