Skitterfall

From Bestiary of the Hypogriph

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Have seen, rise of clans. Have seen, rise of armies! Rise of beasts, of slaves, of pestilence... Have seen, rise of children of the Rat King! Children who will-will devour the world, hyahahahahahaha!
โ€” Vetch of Ten-Thousand Plagues, Lord-Pestilent of Clan Pestis

Skitterfall is a country located in the central western portions of the continent of Aurelia. The vile empire of the ratfolk, they dedicate themselves to the domination of the surface world, destroying and enslaving all those in their path. Under the guidance of the demon lord Skanqrak, Skitterfall has become one of the largest threats to civilization in its home continent and indeed, the entire world.

History[edit | edit source]

Fall of the Ratfolk[edit | edit source]

Skitterfall was formed after a group of ratfolk explorers uncovered a magical artifact in the depths of their caves and took it to their leaders, for they believed it to hold the secrets of their people's ancient past. It was not the case; the artifact, a pillar of demonic rock encrusted with demonic runes and glyphs, had been thrust into the world by the demon lord Skanqrak, who desired to make the ratfolk race his servants and agents in the mortal realm.

The changes were quick and brutal; the leaders of the ratfolk were warped into monstrous, seething creatures, who spread their corruption to the populace. Few managed to flee, and those who did not became the people now known as the fallen, rats dedicated to nothing but world domination in the name of their clans and their new god, the Rat King Skanqrak.

Old Wars[edit | edit source]

The rats of Skitterfall waged bloody war against most major races across history, employing all sorts of trickery, weaponry and demonic magics in their crusades against the surface world. However, upon corruption, they had become an exceptionally treacherous people, especially among one another, which led to constant in-fighting that caused them to not be as effective as they could. During this period, the four greatest clans arose beyond the others; Clan Gladius, holder of the best armament, Clan Pestis, the sorcerous prophets of the Rat King, Clan Chemicus, who held the power of alchemy and technology, and Clan Shivus, master assassins and rogues, and they viciously fought one another for the position of true lords of the ratfolk. After what is believed to be a hundred years of war, the ratfolk were visited by an avatar of Skanqrak himself, said to have been invoked by Clan Pestis to confirm their dominance over the others, but who instead killed all living clan-lords and demanded the survivors to work together against the surface races by joining into a council made up of a new generation of clan-lords. This led to the founding of the Council of Clans, the governing political power of Skitterfall to this day, and to the unification of the ratfolk into a single Under-Empire. While internal bickering continued, the hordes of Skitterfall were now unified under the gaze of Skanqrak and the Council, who would ensure the will of the Rat King would be done.

As an unified army, the rats of Skitterfall proved a true threat to the ancient surface world. They waged war against the Aurelians, led by a legendary warlord known as Thrilk Elf-Eater, who pillaged and razed cities across the central east until they were finally pushed back underground many years later, and developed an intense hatred for all dwarves, especially those of Khargrimnir, and it is said the ratfolk's wars against them are the reason the dwarves have dispersed across the world.

Great Rat Civil War[edit | edit source]

At the year 1962 2E, a coup organized by Clan Chemicus led to the deaths of all members of the Council of Clans, save for their own lord, Terefah Crestshrieker, who instigated a hostile takeover of the Under-Empire. Rat activity in the surface diminished as they were all called back to Skitterfall, where Terefah announced himself the true emperor of all rats, blessed by Skanqrak himself. This led to immense outrage, which resulted in the Great Rat Civil War, where the Clans once again fought one another to depose Clan Chemicus and take the throne for their own. The demon lord himself was displeased with this, but allowed the war to continue for the next four hundred years; the deathtoll being considered his punishment for their transgression, and in addition, he cut off his own priests from their divine magic, causing many to go mad in the thought that their god had abandoned them.

Despite the situation becoming increasingly dire, the Clans refused to give up on their war. However, the civil war took an unexpected turn when the dwarves of Khargrimnir attacked; having taken notice of the situation at Skitterfall, they launched a great assault in hopes of exterminating their ancient enemy while they were weakened, leading to hundreds of thousands of ratfolk dying as they were caught offguard, including Terefah Crestshriekeer, who was beheaded in battle by the dwarven commander Zinrar Steelbrow. For the first time in history, the ratfolk were under the genuine threat of defeat.

Skanqrak intervened by returning to his worshippers, influencing them to cease their in-fighting and rather focus on the common enemy. A truce was organized between the clans which led to the hordes of Skitterfall to fight back ferociously against the dwarven invasion, utterly crushing their army and forcing them to retreat before they were completely wiped out. Pleased with the results, the Rat King declared the then-lords of Clans Gladius, Pestis, Chemicus and Shivus as the new Council of Clans with his blessing, and no civil war between the great clans has happened since, though Clan Chemicus' reputation would never recover from the crimes committed by Terefah Crestshrieker, who became a legendary traitor figure in ratfolk lore.

Modern Era[edit | edit source]

In the modern age, the ratfolk of Skitterfall scurry across the underground in preparation of a new invasion. They became fierce enemies of mankind, particularly with the countries of Aynach and Mannazei, as well as the elven realm of Eryliana, all while continuing to skirmish with their hated dwarven rivals. The Council of Clans continues scheming for dominance, every once in a while losing one of its members due to an unfortunate accident while seeking the means to crush the surface world under their clawed feet.

Geography[edit | edit source]

The surface area of Skitterfall is a polluted marshland where animals are mutated and plague-ridden insects swarm the skies. The ratfolk have corrupted the landscape to the point many consider it uninhabitable, and indeed, creatures who inhabit marshlands such as crocodilians and hydras tend to avoid it at all costs. The bulk of Skitterfall, however, is located in immense subterranean tunnels, where the majority of their populated centers are located. Many of these were originally created by dwarves, but have been taken by the ratfolk over the course of their conflicts.

Government[edit | edit source]

Skitterfall is ruled by the Council of Clans, a five-seat council made up of the lords of the four greatest clans, plus a fifth seat dedicated to Skanqrak himself for when his involvement is necessary. Clans earn prestige by having access to the greatest populations and resources, and often have a number of small thrall-clans under their direct control. Due do the treacherous nature of the ratfolk, who holds power over a clan or region tends to change often and quickly, though the Council of Clans is generally considered untouchable to most of the lower castes.

The great clans of Skitterfall are:

  • Clan Gladius - Considered the military bulk of Skitterfall, Clan Gladius is the largest supplier of arms and soldiers, and is considered to have the finest warriors the ratfolk has ever produced. It is led by Kaltretch Thane-Slayer, who earned his name by the many dwarven thanes he has slain over the years.
  • Clan Pestis - The religious leaders of the ratfolk, Clan Pestis preach death and disease through its Pestilent Priests, the clerics of the Rat King. It is led by Zhakch the Plaguelord, one of the most powerful skitteran spellcasters in recent history and the self-proclaimed high prophet of Skanqrak.
  • Clan Chemicus - Holding the power of technology and alchemy, Clan Chemicus is responsible for the creation of Skitterfall's monsters and is always on the look for new plagues to use against the surface races. It is led by Xuk Verminbone, a particularly cruel ratfolk who delights in the corruption of humanoids.
  • Clan Shivus - Skitterfall's greatest rogues and assassins, Clan Shivus is mysterious and obscure, offering their services to the highest bidder. It is led by Skialk Shadowmaul, who longs for the opportunity to hunt down innocent manlings as opposed to sitting around in a council.

The thrall-clans include, but are not limited to:

  • Clan Marinus - The sea-farers of Skitterfall, this thrall-clan of Clan Gladius is tasked with creating a navy to the Under-Empire, so they may expand to other lands.
  • Clan Drakius - A thrall of Clan Chemicus, Clan Drakius has the most pus drakes out of all clans and values itself as some of the Under-Empire's greatest beastmasters.
  • Clan Valtas - A thrall of Clan Gladius situated in dwarven ruins beneath the city of Sigushelm, Mannazei. Led by late warlord Snet Barbfinger, defunct as of 2686 3E.

Religion[edit | edit source]

Religion is one of the most important aspects of Skitterfall society. All ratfolk, from the lowest of slaves to the council-lords, worship the demon lord Skanqrak as their mighty patron and only real god, greater than all the other stupid fake surface gods. His worship is a mix of awe over his god-like powers and awesomeness, hate due to general ratfolk jealously, and fear of his wrath, and is coordinated by the priest caste, known as the Pestilent Priests of Clan Pestis. These horned white rats preach the words of Skanqrak in holy sites (most usually located in ruined settlements of other races as an assertion of dominance) to the populace, and is one of the few subjects where the high and low castes agree with and remain in (relatively) peaceful terms. Heresies to the Rat King, such as the worship of any other gods or the forsaking of his word, are often responded very violently, with the suspects often butchered and devoured by their peers without hesitation.

Inhabitants[edit | edit source]

Skitterfall is exclusively inhabited by the ratfolk, their war monsters and their slaves. Anyone who attempts to enter the area is either devoured or enslaved before they have the chance to retaliate.

Relations[edit | edit source]

Skitterfall is one of the civilized world's greatest enemies, and are at open war with most civilizations of the eastern continent. They hate no race more than the dwarves, their ancient foes and greatest rivals, though their sheer age means they have fought practically all major nations at least once. They retain little contact with civilizations of other continents, but would no doubt attempt to conquer them if they had the chance.

  • Positive relations
    • N/A
  • Ambivalent relations
    • Mirseleth - With flattery and gifts, the ratfolk hope to use the Dark Elves as a means to finally gain a naval force.
    • Ogrelands - Clan Gladius has been dealing with the Starcrusher tribe in slaves and weapons in recent years.
  • Negative relations
    • Aynach - Ratfolk have plagued Aynach since its inception, and that land has good reason to fear them.
    • Duskwood - The rats have attempted to wrestle control over the cursed land of the vampire for centuries, desiring it for their own nefarious purposes.
    • Eryliana - Due to their proximity to Skitterfall, the Ashen Elves are easy prey to the ratmen.
    • Gemmaushia - The ratmen have a fairly large presence in Gemmaushia's north, skirmishing with their warriors when discovered.
    • Khargrimnir - The arch-enemies of ratkind, the war between them and the hated dwarf-things has lasted over 7,000 years.
    • Mannazei - The ratfolk are fond of terrorizing Mannazei, and large hordes prowl its subterreanean regions.
    • Merovaren - While not fond of the desert, the rats have spread to Merovaren, causing many lizardfolk caravans to disappear.

Notable skitterlanders[edit | edit source]

  • Individuals of esteem
    • Khrat Skull-Splitter - Warlord of Clan Gladius, right-hand man of Kaltretch Thane-Slayer
    • Kril Skullgazer - Ambitious Pestilent Priest of Clan Pestis who skulks the outskirts of Mannazei
    • Vetch of Ten-Thousand Plagues - Lord-Pestilent of Clan Pestis, the oldest living ratfolk of all time
  • Historical figures
    • Chant Spittlespark - Warlock Alchemist of Clan Chemicus, poisoner of Kharaz-Thalmur
    • Terefah Crestshriekeer - High Alchemist of Clan Chemicus and usurper of Skitterfall City during the Great Rat Civil War
    • Thrilk Elf-Eater - Warlord of Clan Gladius, led the war against the Aurelians

See also[edit | edit source]