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 Skaven 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. Also known as Plague Monks, the disciples of disease and decay, these Skaven have dedicated an unhealthy fervor 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 recognizable by their characteristic appearances and looks, but also by the terrible stench and diseases that accompanies them, as the Clans 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, Plague-Lord of Clan Pestilens, has ensured a position of power within the Council of Thirteen.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Origins of the Pestilent Brotherhood
- 1.2 First Skaven Civil War
- 1.3 The Black Plague- Its Success, Failure and the Fallout that Followed
- 1.4 The Red Pox- or, a Bretonnian Rehash of the Empire Invasion
- 1.5 The Second Skaven Civil War and its Concerning Conclusion
- 1.6 The End Times
- 1.7 Age of Sigmar
- 2 Notable figures/Famous Regiments
Many have forgotten the original name of Clan Pestilens- long before they became masters of disease and suffering, they had a different name... though only the Horned Rat and the Verminlord that serves as Pestilens' representative on the Shadow Council likely remember what it was. All that anyone remembers is that, long ago- during the start of the Great Migration (starting in -1500 IC) -the Skaven of that clan and their Lord of Decay, like the forebears of Clan Eshin and Clan Moulder, made their way out of Skavenblight- however, instead of journeying east like the Eshin (or north like the Moulder), these Skaven journeyed south into Araby. It wouldn't be until around -1420 when their clan was first sighted. Despite their being seen, the clan seemed to have uncovered a miracle- a series of tunnels leading under the great ocean to the New World. It was here that the troubles began...
Origins of the Pestilent Brotherhood
For roughly 21 long years, the Skaven made their way westward, eventually emerging within the ruined Lizardman city of Quetza. This swampland was nothing to the Skaven, but the diseases native to the area proved tougher than expected. Unrelenting, the diseases slaughtered the Skaven in droves until only 100 members of the clan had survived. Covered in cold sweat and driven to the point of insanity, it seemed the clan would perish. This wasn't the case.
Instead, the Skaven came to a truly mad idea- what if they grew to worship the Horned Rat, brought him sacrifices and revere the diseases that tore them to shreds? It was a desperate plan, even amongst Skaven, but their minds were so far gone, it is doubtful that they ever realized this fact. They set to work in their new mindset and, thus, the Plague Monks and their Pestilent Brotherhood was born. Slowly, they regrew their numbers, taking what secrets could be gleaned from the local ruins and sacrificing the local reptiles to their master. Eventually, a new ruler- Arch-Plaguelord Nurglitch the First -deemed it the ripe time to return to their homeland and claim a spot of power over their kin. What followed was a decade-long war to reach the coast. After cobbling together a fleet large enough to take most of Pestilens' forces back home, they set sail for the Southlands, which had long since flourished (for Skaven and humans alike). Once there, the Pestilens higher-ups sent emissaries to the Council of Thirteen, demanding three things: breeding rights (being plague carriers does horrors for procreation), warpstone tithes (every Skaven wants some of it) and a position on the Council. The other Lords of Decay, unimpressed, slaughtered the Skaven sent. This began the first Skaven Civil War.
First Skaven Civil War
Having been denied what they felt was their birthright, Pestilens began their assault. Several clans were destroyed- amongst them Clan Merkit -but, despite these losses, the Council of Thirteen remained firm. Launching legions of Clanrats backed by Clan Skryre weaponry, they hoped for a swift victory. Alas, the clans of the Southlands (for the most part) surrendered to Pestilens, fearful of their vicious diseases. Many clans would follow them (or go rogue and help neither side) as the years dragged on and the Council's forces became weaker. This state of affairs lasted four centuries and could've lasted longer if Clan Eshin hadn't made a fortuitous arrival. With their aid, the Council quickly destroyed any and all support for Pestilens. With the chips down and their backs collectively to the wall, Pestilens begged for a parley. The Council agreed (sending many assassins to try and kill Nurglitch), and Pestilens offered their disease-making ways to the Council- but not before the Arch-Plaguelord made clear that any further attempts on his life would force him to unleash a container of Yellow Skull Fever on the whole of Skavenblight. A trial by combat took place and, with a poison-laced bite delivered to Lord Vask- the weakest member of the Council at the time -Pestilens gained seat #7 on the Council.
The Black Plague- Its Success, Failure and the Fallout that Followed
It wouldn't be until IC year 1111- in the winter -that Pestilens left its first major mark on the Old World's surface- the Black Plague, which was field-tested to great (and horrific) effect on the humans of the Empire. Symptoms were quick to manifest- ominous blotches, swelling of joints, agonizing fever and finally a series of convulsions that lasted for seemingly endless hours before the body stopped shaking and turned ash grey. The virus spread through many cities, with only Middenheim staving off the sickness with the timely blocking off of the sewers and viaducts (which were how the disease, transported by Eshin adepts, reached so far and in such little time).
Fate was crueler still, as the spring saw the Warlord clans ravage what remained of the Imperial Army. Once they had passed (and the loathed Emperor Boris "Fat" Goldgather had passed away four years after the start of the plague), the Skaven ravaged the Empire for seven long, unforgiving years. Their pattern of attack was as follows:
1. Surround a farm/village.
2. Set fire to it.
3. Collect what stragglers ran out.
4. Rinse and repeat, as required.
With the success more than clear, Pestilens began to seize more and more power. Two extra Plaguelords joined the Council, ousting former members (much to the shock and [poorly-concealed] worry of the other Councilors). The only positive news for humanity came when the Skaven tried to raid the nearby province of Sylvania for warpstone. The local undead were a vexing reminder of Nagash's minions and, after a low-gain, high-pain result, the Skaven fled. With no success, they had only one major target left- the Empire city of Middenheim. It was here that the Skaven's reign would come undone and victory would return to order's side.
Many Skaven thought that the Emperor's death would leave the people of the Empire leaderless (mind you, they were essentially leaderless due to Boris' poor leadership skills, but the point still stands); nobody could blame them. Yet, despite their best intent, starting at IC 1118, Middenheim had become a veritable unbreakable bastion of hope. These hopes hinged on the life of Elector Count Mandred of Middenheim, who did all he could to stave off any attacks. With him leading the fights at their thickest points, the Skaven began to fall back. True failures began, however, when the very disease that slew so many of the Empire's people turned against them! With these weaknesses showing up, Mandred gathered everyone who could fight and began a crusade to drive these beasts back (though, unbeknowst to him, the Skaven built a hideout in Middenheim before retreating). One last fight remained- the fight that could give the Skaven control of the Empire back. Alas, the Warlord in charge was slain, shattering the army and sending all the Skaven scuttling into the Under-Empire.
The Council had hoped for a second go against the Empire once the whole of the Under-Empire had recovered... but this wasn't to be so. In just 25 years, the humans recovered at breakneck speeds. Worse still, Mandred- now the Emperor of the humans -created the Sewer Watch, a new organization that would prove to a thorn (albeit a diminutive one) in the side of any Skaven infiltration force. Back at Skavenblight, the majority of the Council went ballistic against the Plaguelords- several clans had suffered from Pestilens' work and demanded compensation! Similarly, Pestilens claimed multiple assassination attempts had occurred recently. Eventually, the Empire was filed under "Unfinished Business"... but one last act- the death of the Emperor -was agreed on, and a young assassin by the name of Nartik dealt the blow (framing mutants for the dark work). With this event, the Skaven slowly returned to the annals of myth in the minds of the Empire's folk... unaware that they were very real and still alive!
The Red Pox- or, a Bretonnian Rehash of the Empire Invasion
With the attack against the Empire failed, Pestilens was left on the back-burner for Skaven politics. Lacking the military and munitions for a direct attack, the Skaven and their masters slowly restored their empire whilst sending the servants of Clan Eshin to sow general discord amongst other nations. Prime candidates for such work were the Crusades into Araby and a series of upheavals within Tilea. Despite this, neither of these battles (nor any other attempts) allowed for permanent change, so eventually, Pestilens was able to convince the Council that another full-out assault was necessary.
Hoping for a repeat of the Empire's escapades, a delivery of Red Pox was sent into the Bretonnian city of Bordeleaux. A whole third of the population was lost, but the ruling baron burnt the poor quarter, halting the contagion at the cost of several poor souls (and the loss of a decent amount of respect for the baron himself). 25 years later, the whole of Bretonnia (and the northern half of Tilea) were coated in Red Pox outbreaks. It was a repeat of the Empire for sure- small towns and villages alike were burned, and major cities suffered. However, just as before, the control was short-lived, as Parravon- and an unexpected delivery of aid from the Wood Elves -shattered the invasion at the Battle of Remarche. This was to prove more than what anyone could've expected from a failed takeover.
The Second Skaven Civil War and its Concerning Conclusion
With another failed takeover lambasting them, Pestilens was regarded as a waste of a clan. The public outcry was severe - "Throw the Plaguelords out!" ...Alas, nothing is ever this simple, especially NOT in Skaven society. Following a series of months worth of politicking, blackmail, bribes out the wazoo and assassinations and threats alike, a vote of the full Council was demanded. This would've settled things definitely... but Pestilens had other ideas. On the date for the vote, Pestilens tried to take over, saying the rest of the Council was formed of heretics. Several other Warlord clans, most of them members of the Pestilent Brotherhood (doubtlessly), joined and a vicious, three-way melee broke out between Plaguebringers, Warlords and the albino guards who served as guardians of both the Horned Rat's Temple and the Grey Seers.
Clan Skryre had seen this madness coming from centuries away and they decided to join the fight. Techno-sorcery proved more than a match for the Plague Monks and, within a few short weeks, the Temple fell to Skryre paws. Weapon Teams covering every possible entry point and Jezzails loaded into the bell tower made sure nobody but Skryre and their friends were allowed inside. Lord Morskittar - head of Clan Skryre and one of the highest ranking Councilors (beaten only by the Seerlord and the Horned Rat) - had taken the Temple and, in typical Skaven fashion, made himself Skavenblight's new king. He wanted to rebuild the Council, but the fighting was too far built up... the Second Skaven Civil War had begun!
Time dragged itself along - 400 years saw the civil war rage endlessly. Dozens of factions were present, though the greatest of them were still those who were the Greater Clans - Pestilens, Skryre and Moulder (and, to a lesser extent, Eshin, who served only the highest bidder at the time). Whilst war raged, Skryre set to work building technology into just about every inch of Skavenblight. By this time, the Great Chaos Invasion in the world above was soon to pass, but another event was coming... one that had far darker implications for the Skaven at large.
Clan Scruten and its Grey Seers were visiting every last base of power in the divided Under-Empire, with one message for all- arrive to the annual feast of Vermintide, or suffer the wrath of the Horned Rat! It was so horrid, all this fighting, that the Grey Seers were planning the most daring event in their history- the summoning of the Horned Rat. Many clans were uncertain of whether or not to go (a trap was likely), so representatives were sent out. Regardless, everyone made it to Skavenblight in time for the feast. In one of the rarest moments in Skaven history, one member from each of the clans stood at the Great Temple. Fear blanketed the air, as the whole Order of Grey Seers, all 169, arrived. Wielding a skin-bound book, Seerlord Kritislik led a dark incantation - 169 slaves were slaughtered by the Seers, each death more gruesome than the last. The Great Bell tolled a particularly ominous 13 times and, when silence fell, it happened- a vast cloud of dark vapor flooded out of the Seerlord, forming into the Great Horned Rat!
After consuming at least 13 paw-fulls of Skaven (because 13 is the Skaven's lucky number, so why not?), the Horned Rat decided to give a gift of sorts to his children - "a glowing pillar of purest warpstone" with 13 sides and (on each of these sides) 13 blocks of runes that translated to commandments of ruin and the rules for Skaven ruling, as well as prophecies of the Great Ascendancy. With that dealt with, the Horned Rat spoke to his children in a voice akin to a million rats: the wars from before, while entertaining, had to stop! Only when the Skaven had spread their complete and total corruption would they inherit the world and bring the Horned Rat back into reality entirely. Furthermore, the Council of Thirteen was to be remade at once; of course, only some figures would be allowed. To determine who was on the Council and who was to be ridiculed (or killed, whichever comes last), each clan leader was to touch the pillar before them. Those who survived (and were to be council members) would receive an aura of dark power, the greatest blessing that the Horned Rat could ever give. As can be imagined, Arch-Plaguelord Nurglitch the Seventh survived. To this day, there have been no new additions to the Council (In older fluff, this is no additions thing is not true).
The End Times
Clan Pestilens was second only to clan Skyre in how much shit they got done during the end times (for reference, Skyre blew up Morrslieb the Chaos Moon. Yeah, it's not clear how they thought that was a good idea.) Pestilens, on the other hand, decided to finally get the back at the lizardmen and invaded all of Lustria, infecting and generally being shitty as they went. Their general tactics consisted of surrounding a temple-city, throwing disease into it, then waiting until everything was dead. They also fucked up the city of mists by actually finding a way inside, then murdering all the guards, destroying spawning pools, stealing things, breaking whatever they could find, eating baby dinosaurs from the hatchery, and eventually just trying to get into the pyramids with the mage-priests in them. They only got a few before shit went wrong and Kroq-kar came over and took revenge. Also, a group of gutter runners with an assassin had a face-off with Chakax, where the big lizard got stabbed with a weeping blade and gave no shits.
This invasion finally culminated with the big battle near Hexoatl, where the full force of both groups was ready. Unfortunately for the lizardmen, Skyre decided now was a good time to blow up the moon, so muzmazdumi and lord kroak gave up their lives to stop the entire world from being destroyed, and the slann fucked off to space and left everyone behind. Kroq-kar stabbed skrolk with his magic spear, but a verminlord corruptor filled the hole up with tumors and barfed on Kroq-kar, then left. So, by the end, Pestilens was victorious, but had lost so many warriors that they were in no state to do anything else.
Age of Sigmar
Just like the rest of the skaven, Clan Pestilens did pretty well during the end times. In age of sigmar, they worship the great corruptor (a variation of the horned rat), occasionally team up with Nurgle, and now search for the fabled 13 plagues that can kill everything except them. They are about halfway there, but it'll probably end up like the lost artifacts of Vulkan, where they'll never find the rest.
The new Skaven Battletome suggests tensions between Pestilens and Skryre will start a third civil war. Christ, these rats don't know when to stop, do they?
Notable figures/Famous Regiments
The Beast of Clan Pestilens- long before Pestilens went the way of sickness bringers, the clan had a massive herd of Rat Ogres. One in particular- something akin to a "Super Rat Ogre" (if such a thing existed) -was especially brutish and unpleasant, growing more so with each step towards filthy damnation that the clan took. The creature had an unbeatable streak that seemed destined to exist until the End Times... but then Nakai, an "ancient and venerated Kroxigor" appeared during one battle, and everything changed. The battle was fierce, but the duel between these two titans was even worse! Eventually, Nakai broke the beast down, but fell into a coma induced by fever (one final blow from the gore-filled center of the beast). The creature fell, but Nakai would remain comatose for months... only to seek out Pestilens and its servants once again after finally staggering to his feet some time later.
Stinking Thing- before [and, more honestly, if] a leader of Clan Pestilens reaches the title of Plague Priest, they hold the title of "Stinking Thing". This is usually indicated by their foul stench, but lack of priestly garbs.
Rotten Rodents- lowly Plague Monks to be, these Skaven are little more than standard Clanrats, but coated in vile plagues.
Pusbags- plagues are a difficult industry to be in- you always need living test subjects to use them on! That's where the Skavenslaves come into play- they're the ideal test subjects. True, their lives are short and unpleasant... but then again, so are they!
Nurglitch I- the first of the Arch-Plaguelords. It is said that he was responsible for creating such diseased artifacts as the Blade of Corruption (a sword left to soak in the collective viruses in the Cauldron of One Thousand Poxes for 13 days) and the aptly-named Blade of Nurglitch. He was so bloated that he often rode to battle on a black Giant Rat with a rhino horn-like growth.
Skizzik the Filch- although it remains unclear how this brother of the Pestilent Ones managed to do it, Skizzik has become respectable in Skaven society and has also stolen potent relics from his own clan and from races all around the globe! During the campaign "The Conquest of Lustria", Skizzik ran an item shop- Skizzik's Yard Sale -and would willingly sell treasures to any of the forces that made it to his doorstep (be they Empire-born soldiers, Dwarven pirates, Undead corsairs or mighty [and mad] Greenskins), regardless of what their intent was.
Severin, Plague Cantor- a disgraced Plague Priest, Severin was banished from Clan Pestilens for reasons unknown (and considering he's a Plague Censer Bearer, it'd need to be pretty darn horrid to be worth banishment!). Somehow, he wound up in the pirate city of Sartosa- as is evidenced in the "Pirate Princes of Sartosa" campaign. He keeps to the shadows and back alleys at daytime, going through the city only at night. Many just mistake him for a beggar... often to their greatest regret! He hires himself out to anyone who can withstand his Plague Censer's stink.
Brinepox, Priest of the Horned One- a Plague Priest, Brinepox was a part of the "Blood in the Badlands" campaign. Having been ousted from Skavenblight under "mysterious circumstances", the poor stink-pile has thrown his lot in with a breakaway part of Clan Mors, in the wild hopes of reclaiming prestige. Good luck, crazy!
Bearers of Creeping Death- the Cauldron of a Thousand Poxes has been the perfection site of- as the name suggests -a thousand poxes. The most dangerous, however, one that even senior Plague Monks can't stand, is the Creeping Death. At the apex of the plague, the stuff gets ladled over hot coals to produce the most deadly fumes imaginable. Only a crazed volunteer (or a plague monk that was doomed to die- which, considering their lifestyle, isn't too often an occurrence) would dare swing a censer filled with the stuff.
Bilekin Brotherhood- with a clan like Pestilens being one of the Greater Clans, it only makes sense that it would branch off into several schisms of faith. The Bilekin Brotherhood was one such group. Like their kind, they wore tattered green robes. The note of originality here is that they wore cream-colored cowls covered in jags and runes. Considered extremists (even by Pestilens' vile standards), the Brotherhood would bathe daily in the worst kind of filth imaginable, coating both themselves and their weapons in liquefied disease.
Chained Ones- life as a Skavenslave is already the pits; obviously, being a slave for the Pestilent Brotherhood is even worse! With countless horrible diseases killing slaves off in droves, the survivors- the aforementioned Chained Ones -were made all the more hardy. Their job was simple, but by no means easy- disassemble the Plagueclaw Catapults (of which there were 39), drag their parts through miles-long tunnels, and then reassemble them on the other side of the sea! What a drag... literally!
Morbus Sanguis- is a favored agent of the Plaguelords of Clan Pestilens, an agent they can trust (relatively speaking) to get a tough job done. So much so that, in the contest against Klawmunkast of Clan Skyre, Morbus ultimately prevailed even though his enemy had a steam tank at his disposal. Morbus is known as a breeder of disease, such as his most recent creation of the Yellow Death, called so after the way it turns its victims yellow before their bodies become bloated with toxins and they die. Even looking at Morbus-his patchy fur and sloughed face-it's obvious he's a Skaven truly blessed by disease. Great weeping sores and inflamed buboes cover his paws. His left arm is withered, and the skin on his tail is scabbed and scaly. He is so hideous to look at his very presence causes fear among the enemy and ally alike, a fear that only compounded to allies by his reputation. Morbus is uncompromising in his demands, and if any of his followers show weakness in the face of righteous battle, he puts them to death himself. In the End Times Morbus took part in the Lustria invasion, fighting with distinction across the continent. Ultimately, he died in Lustria at the claws of Nakai the Wanderer. The sacred kroxigor succumbed to Sanguis' Yellow Death in the process.
Skrolk- The only playable lord of Pestilens as well as one of 9 legendary Plaguelords. He gets stronger with every disease caught on and is therefore immortal. He also clawed his own eyes out after witnessing Arch-Plaguelord Nurglitch's plague because it was so beautiful. Despite having no eyes, he claims to have magical vision where he can see the plague in the air and it do Daredevil (that blind superhero) shit. He has 2 artifacts: Rod of Corruption and Liber Bubonicus, a book that contained many dreadful plague spells.
Archdeacon of Disease (Lord Skrimanx)- The Archdeacon of disease seems to be a glorified second in command to the first position. This is a post that requires a harsh taskmaster to drive the plague hosts to victory. Lord Skrimanx personifies his role and is known for being a tough taskmaster, even among the Skaven. A slave that slows his pace for even but a moment is viciously beaten by the whips of the overseers. Skrimanx was extraordinarily ambitious, described as climbing over entire mountains of dead Skaven to achieve his position, and aimed higher still. Though a talented battlefield leader, he also was unimaginative, and after one such failure, this lack of imagination saw him executed by Lord Skrolk.
Great Potentate of Postulates (Lord Gritch)- This position seems to require a lot of zeal, for it allows the holder of the office oversight over some of Clan Pestilens most magical scrolls and lore, including the Liber Bubonicus. The current officeholder, Lord Gritch, is known as one of the greediest Skaven ever to live. He is also shown to be a brutal taskmaster and competent besieger.
The Ravener (Lord Kreegix)- A position that seems emblematic of the Plaguelords zealotry, the Plaguelords here are known for surrounding themselves in dizzying fields of plague fumes and charging into combat. Unusual for Skaven the leaders here lead from the front, not the rear.
Spreader of the Word (Lord Blistrox)- This Plaguelord is in charge of managing Clan Pestilens' Thrall and Allied Clans in an affiliation known as the ‘Pestilent Brotherhood.' The current leader, Lord Blistrox, is known for his unorthodoxy in acquiring the services of Moulder, Eshin, and even the hated Clan Skyre, to known success. During the End Times, they formed the main thrust of the Clan Pestilens attack on Xlanhuapec, City of Mists and overran the city. They suffered massive losses by the forces of Kroq-Gar when he marched on the ruined city to avenge it while the Clans, less devout in their fanaticism than the zealots of their Parent-Clan, were busy looting.
Master of the Contagion Conclave (Lord Grilok)- Master of the mighty magical artifacts the Cauldrons of a Thousand Poxes, the Contagion Conclave are responsible for creating the holy weaponized plagues that Clan Pestilens spreads throughout the world. During the End Times, they were led by Plaguelord Grilok and used the collected plagues, diseases, viruses, poxes, maladies and other weapons they devised over the years to great effect in the Assault on Itza.