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Oho… my scales doth sway… Art thou the cause? Then show me thy power… and what thou canst do with this world…
~ Famine.

Famine, also known as The Black Rider or The Black Horseman, is one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.


Riding on the black horse named Fear, the dreaded Horseman of Famine rides onward, denying the world life-sustaining food and bringing starvation, but being ordered by divine law to not harm oil or wine. The rider is shown holding a scale, which represents scarcity of food, higher prices and famine, likely as a result of the wars caused by the second horseman. Food will be scarce, but luxuries such as wine and oil will still be readily available.

The "a measure of wheat for a penny" from the King James Version of the Bible might not sound like a famine to modern ears, but in the NIV we read "a quart of wheat for a day's wages," which is a little clearer. While it's never identified as his own, it is implied that the voice John the Apostle hears coming from "the third of the four living creatures" comes from the Black Rider, making it the only horseman that actually vocalizes his intentions, the aforementioned raise in prices.

The black horse rider is instructed not to harm the oil and the wine which signifies that this scarcity should not fall upon the superfluities, such as oil and wine, which men can live without, but upon the necessities of life—bread. This suggests that the black horse's famine is to drive up the price of grain but leave oil and wine supplies unaffected (though out of reach of the ordinary worker). One explanation for this is that grain crops would have been more naturally susceptible to famine years or locust plagues than olive trees and grapevines, which root more deeply. The statement might also suggest a continuing abundance of luxuries for the wealthy while staples, such as bread, are scarce, though not totally depleted.


The third Horseman rides a black horse and is popularly understood to be Famine as the Horseman carries a pair of balances or weighing scales (Greek ζυγὸν, zygon), indicating the way that bread would have been weighed during a famine. Other authors interpret the third Horseman as the "Lord as a Law-Giver" holding Scales of Justice. In the passage, it is read that the indicated price of grain is about ten times normal (thus the famine interpretation popularity), with an entire day's wages (a denarius) buying enough wheat for only one person (one choenix, about 1.1 litres), or enough of the less nutritious barley for three, so that workers would struggle to feed their families.


Famine is a very serious person who does not approve of slacking off or procrastination. He believes that hard work is required to get anything done, and expects his fellow Horsemen to do their best. He is also formal, always speaking when spoken to and never stepping out of line.

He is not very social, since his appearance is highly intimidating towards others. He comes across as rather aloof, brooding, and indifferent, more than willing to harm his enemies should they get in his way similar to Death. Despite this, unlike War and Conquest, he is not particularly violent, and will only fight when provoked or ordered to by Death.

Power and Abilities

As one of the Horseman of the Apocalypse, he is a very powerful entity, and the sheer embodiment of famine. The horseman possesses the ability to induce famine upon a region, sapping all the life energy in an area and leave it devoid of sustenance. Famine also causes those in its presence to feel a heightened desire for food, sometimes being driven to violence to obtain food to eat. Famine is empowered by the hunger of those around it, and grows more powerful the more humanity starves.


When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!
~ Revelation 6:5-6
Famine will torture the world, bringing about the wishes and desire for the apocalypse.
~ Klara Orlov
One of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, he rides a black horse and carries scales. He brings famine and has the right to end lives through suffering.
~ The Demonic Compendium.