Tuesday, 24 April 2012

U is for the Under-Empire

Under the feet of man, dwarves, halflings, vampires, necromancers, and those few elves that walk the lands of the Old World, exists a foul enemy spreading decay and pestilence across the world: the Skaven.

If you were to visit the sanatoriums the Empire it would not be hard to find someone to tell you of the "rats that walk upright." Of course these men and women are in the sanatorium for a reason and the authorities that put them there are quite happy to keep them there.

However, the Under-Empire is real. Only the dwarves can speak to its scope and many will tell you that its web of tunnels cross under deserts, mountains, and great oceans. The dwarves fight a constant battle with the Skaven in their mountain homes. Many holds have been lost to the Skaven, becoming part of the Under Empire. Even now the Dwarven capital, Karaz-a-Karak, guards against the Skaven invasion.

Only the elves can speak to how they guard against the Skaven in Ulthuan, but they do not share. The insane will tell you that High Magic prevents the Under Empire from bringing decay to the High Elves and Wood Elves. Maybe they are not so insane after all.

The Under Empire and its network serves the Skaven in many ways. It provides access to the halls of kings, the cellars of brothels or just access to the great sewers of human settlements where plots of pestilence and poison are seeded. It serves as a network to move slaves and armies to new tunnels or battlefields. Often the tunnels serve as simple mining shafts in search of new sources of warpstone, a mutagenic ore highly prized by the Skaven. Its largest of burrows provide temples to the Skaven's foul god the Horned Rat or to nests for raising their next generation.

Whatever the end game of the Skaven, its Under Empire provides a nigh impenetrable edge shared by members of the Council of Thirteen, the loose collection of Skaven clans that attempts rule through paranoia, but more often rife with infighting and outright assassination.
Posted by caffeinated at 12:01 AM in d10