All this week we’re learning a little more about the insidious Ratkin on the Mantic website. With the Vanguard warband due to start shipping later this week and the Kings of War army going up for pre-order soon, we thought this was the perfect opportunity to delve into the of these furry fiends.

Rats are everywhere. Rats are vicious, hard creatures that can survive in the harshest of conditions, living in filth and eating worse. They thrive in adversity. The darkest, most miserable places in the world are the domain of rats. If ever a race would survive in the shadowy parts of Pannithor, it would be the vermin.

However, the creation of the rat-men, known as Ratkin, is one borne in agony and madness. Their desperate life began under the ruthless watch of an Abyssal Dwarf called Bharzak the Grim, overmaster of the Gift-Piers of Zarak. Desperate to fuel the sacrificial pits of Zarak, he needed more victims to appease the Wicked Ones.

Bharzak began to experiment. Consumed by his madness, he locked himself away while he worked in a frenzy on his project, rarely seen. Strange chittering screeches and agonised wails came from behind the locked doors of Bharzak’s laboratory. After a while, Bharzak was forgotten and a new overmaster took his place.

Some thirteen years after Bharzak had sealed himself away, the heavy doors opened once more and Bharzak reappeared triumphant. As he emerged from his self-imposed exile, behind him streamed a vast pack of rats, but not rats as they had been. These were something new, something terrible—a horrifying hybrid of rats and other races: dwarf, human, elf, goblin. In their eyes there was a smouldering malignancy and their rapid, jerky movements were spine-chilling and beyond natural. Bharzak had bred a new race to sacrifice, a race he named Gnorr. Ones that could do more: work harder, work longer and, most importantly, produce more sacrifices for his wicked masters.

With the biggest brutes he had created, Bharzak reasserted his authority and quickly rose back to a position of power, even greater than before. Over the years that followed, the Ratkin became a commonplace sight in the worker pits, and their endless supply saw them sacrificed, tortured, maimed, worked, and discarded in inconceivable numbers. The Ratkin were bred for oppression and were thus cruelly exploited.

But vermin thrive in adversity. The darkest, most miserable places in the world are the domain of rats. They watched. They learned. They plotted and schemed. The revolt and breakout were a maelstrom of blood, fur, teeth, and gore. When they turned on their masters and creator, they showed no mercy. Thousands of Abyssal Dwarfs died as the vast pack boiled though the halls on its way deeper into the earth. Unknown to their overlords, the Ratkin had been preparing for this moment for years. Miles and miles of new tunnels had been burrowed away from the Abyss, far away in an escape route that could expedite the flight of a new species of evil, somewhere they could form their own destiny and plot revenge on the wickedness that had spawned them.

More than a century after the exodus, the Ratkin are a menace that have plagued many of the civilised lands. Tales of savage beasts, of arcane magics and bizarre contraptions all heading to war. Names have attached themselves to the rumours like moths to a flame: The Scourge, Underkin, The Swarm or Skitterfangs. The Ratkin have learned from their masters too. They have built their own battle engines, having stolen the knowledge from the war factories of the dwarfs and fashioned them in their own image. They have learnt about cruelty and suffering first-hand as they watched from the shadows. They saw the iron-casters in their forges, blending machine, flesh, and magic to construct lethal artefacts of war.

The result is a new menace that burrows it way into the very heart of Pannithor… and it is only starting on its journey to bring the land to its knees. Soon all will squirm like a cornered rat.

In our next blog we’re learn what happened to the Ratkin when they escaped the clutches of the Abyssal Dwarfs.

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