Running along the gamut of other tabletop turn based and RPG games, Necromunda is based somewhat on the classic Warhammer Fantasy and 40k umbrella of rules. Primarily, troops move 4″ at a time rather than the 6″ found in Warhammer 40k. This is not really explained and I suppose left up to the players to use. Hypothetically, the players could use 6″ but would have to alter other distances accordingly. Ranged combat and shooting is generally is a lot harder to achieve. There is a few other weird aspects to the game but it is very fun and easily altered in quite a few ways.
Gangs (or Armies) are bought with a set amount of starting cash, along with all weapons and other equipment. The gang grows, levels up, and gains superior equipment between battles, adding a roleplaying element. Lasting injuries can cripple characters, and a few lucky territory rolls can grossly overpower a gang. Basically, fun.
To start off you need to pick a house to build your gang from. The big six are as follows.
Orlock – Fringe biker type rough group, except they don’t have motorcycles and they’re miners / workers. The Jack-of-All-Trades type of group.
Escher – Feminist like cult of women who are generally opposed to men. Very melee incorporated gang
Goliath – Genetically modified in appearance with large bodies and muscles, a fringe gang. Heavy reliance on ranged weaponry but are quite slow.
Van Saar -Similar to the Eldar from Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40k army. Tech savvy gang; High user of the inventor skill and capitalizing on
Delaque – Underhanded Mole men /Matrix hybrids. Mischevious, sneaky, and good at long range and shooting in general.
Cawdor – Holy Avenging, Cult like extremists. Enough Said…
They are all functionally the same actually since there are skill tables that means very little in practice and nobody uses the house buying table things. There are rules out there that let you make your own house with whichever skill sets and buying tables you want! That makes the six houses extra useless! If this is all too vanilla for you there are a bunch of supplements and stuff for you to find. Some of the extra gangs include:
Scavvies – Poorly, fringe like group who are lesser armed and diseased, they use zombies and lizard hybrids to help with the fighting. They favor melee and can make a pretty badass horde
Pit Slaves – Escaped cyborgs armed with industrial digging equipment. Slow, not so good melee gang but they have this scissors weapon and it’s like so totally broken it like kills you in one hit omg!!
Ratskins –Native American archetypal type group. They are sneaky, use shitty, shitty guns and are pretty good in melee. They are immune to the crazy shit that happens in the underhive, such as poison gas and the ground collapsing
Redemptionists – Cawdor like. A horde style gang; believes heavily that you can kill it with fire.
Spyrers – Super 1337 and best armed gang. They are the spoiled rich kids from the hive bored out of their skulls. The gang is tiny, usually consisting of 3-8 models. It’s stupid when the other guy pins your entire gang with overwatch which makes then tricky to use. Fun as hell to play, though. Also, once per campaign, you can take the Matriarch and Patriarch (both in one game if you feel like royally fucking someone’s day). If you do this, the game is essentially Slender with miniatures.
Enforcers– The riot cops of the underhive; not too effective at what they do. They are a shooting gang that lags really far behind in the late game due to them not being allowed to buy new stuff or take more than 5 guys to a fight (unless you’re royally boned, of course).
Ash Waste Nomads- These guys live outside the hive, and have vehicles. Good luck convincing anyone to let you play them unless you leave out their rides.
Vampyres – an attempt to cash-in on the popularity of Buffy the Vampire slayer during the 90s. Were included as a gang of a few superhuman mutants followed around by useless Thralls whose main purpose was as food.
Starting your Gang
Once you have picked your “faction”, then you get to the nitty gritty of actually building your starting force which most tabletop gamers will be familiar with. You start with 1000 credits (read points, at least at this stage) with which you purchase your gang-members and equip them.
The original six gangs are all built the same way, with the same selection of membership options, though they have access to different tables of starting gear depending on the faction you choose. The other more specialised gangs will have access to different character archetypes depending upon their fluff, but basically your gang’s minimum size is three models and you can go nuts from there.
Gang Leader: Most gangs have a “leader” equivalent who you must take if he’s available to your gang. He usually starts off as a WS/BS4/I4/Ld8 Veteran. He’s good because you need him to keep the gang together and take most of their leadership test, as well as determining what happens between battles. He also gets access to some of the best gear, making him one of your most effective warriors in addition to his statline.
Gang Leaders invariably start out with a lot of experience to account for all the cool stuff they do. This usually equates them to about ninth level on the advancement scale, meaning they can only accumulate so many more advancements before maxing out.
Ganger: After that, most gangs will have the equivalent to a squaddie, who represents your rank-and-file warrior. They have the same statlines as imperial guardsmen and you just need them because most gangs have a minimum number of these guys you need to take. They’re good because they cover most of your bases and they level-up readily.
Heavies: Then you have the specialists, but some gangs have a variant which works in a different way (eg: Techno / Mastiff-Handler / Totem Warrior / Zealot). Usually, these guys are veterans of equivalent level to your Gang Leader, but often only have similar statlines to your regular Gangers. This sounds like a poor deal, but even at their most basic, they get access to the biggest guns, making them really useful in laying down the pain during your battles. They will also have access to different upgrade options, often acting as the techie dudes that fix the rest of the gangs broken shit.
Some gangs do it differently and have these specialist dudes perform a more unique function. These guys will have different special rules depending on the faction you’ve chosen, but generally you’re always going to want a few in your gang for the usefulness they bring.
Juvies: Not all specialist gangs will have access to them, but they are usually the last things you consider, but they have some of the greatest potential. They start out as WS/BS2 conscripts and they don’t have access to basic (ie: rifle) weaponry. However, they are cheap to add to your gang and they start at level zero which is actually a good thing in the long run. That is four advances behind regular gangers, therefore when they upgrade to the same level they will have earned themselves several skill or characteristic bonuses that make them stand out and excel. If you build them correctly who cares if they keep their BS2 through-out their whole career if you made them into power-sword champions? They eventually earn the right to carry rifles later anyway so if they turn into ace marksmen you can hand them the gangs good weapons.
The Hive World of Necromunda: originally restricted to Hive Primus but with the current expansions, also includes the Ash Wastes (the shithole desert immediately outside Hive Primus. Infested with motorcycles, pointy homosexuals and homebrew Orks.)
Also to note is that the comic The Redeemer by Pat Mills, Debbie Gallagher, and Wayne Reynolds centers around one of the Redemptionist cults on Necromunda led by a psychotic mofo named Klovis, who lights his head on fire and leads his men to murder shittons of mutants and zombies led by a chief Ratskin by the name of the Caller.
Perhaps one of the most famous and recognisable characters to come out of the setting. The bastard son of the Planetary Governor and Inquisitor Jena Orechiel who described it as something “one has to do” for the Imperium. Jerico is a dashing figure who dual wields master-crafted pistols and acts as a swashbuckling hero, more prone to good luck than actually planning anything through. Despite being a bounty hunter, he also has a bounty on his own head, and he has a habit of causing random shit to happen to your gang when you deal in bounty contracts, to the point that you can score double credits or he can double-cross you and take the money himself… what a bastard.
He can be taken by any Gang (other than Pit Slaves / Enforcers / Spyrers) as a special character. Though he can be hired for between 15-90 credits. The bounty on his head is 250 credits, so it could be profitable to double-cross him if that were possible.
Scabbs – is Jerico’s half-Ratskin sidekick, he can accompany Jerico for a measly 20 credits extra. He has a very basic statline, but he’s useful because he brings his Ratskin skills along with him.
One day, a rogue-psyker stumbled into the underhive from the spires above to get away from all the voices he kept hearing and the dreams he kept having. He was promptly assaulted by plague zombies… though bitten, Valois’ psychic talent was enough to keep him the zombies at bay while the disease ate through his brain. He “survived” the ordeal but remained infected by the plague, giving him mastery over zombies (essentially making him the Zombie king… with a crown and everything) which he can bring with him into battle and boost them from “Night of the Walking Dead” undead to “28-Days-Later” undead. He’s also a telepath and he can suck the life out of his opponents… which is unequivically hardcore I might add.
Trivia: Valois (pronounced “Val-wa”) is probably named for the real-world mad king Charles Valois VI of France who is immensely more hilarious because it actually happened: Valois suffered schizophrenia probably brought on by encephalitis (causes bizarre behaviour) and/or porphyria (makes you look like a Vampire and can cause hallucinations), he went around the castles howling like a wolf, attacked and killed his servants because he was convinced they were traitors, pissed himself in public, thought he was made of glass and even had holes drilled in his skull to relieve pressure.
Phanta Claws – the 40k equivalent of Santa Claus
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