Necromunda - the Strategy Game Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Necromunda - the Strategy Game

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Necromunda is a Games Workshop tabletop battle game, the first in a series of skirmish or gang warfare type games. Released in October 1995, it is set in a futuristic, industrial, apocalyptic setting on the planet Necromunda1. It follows fighting gangs who fight for a variety of reasons, but mainly for fame and fortune.

Necromunda has become so badly polluted over the millennia that it is impossible for anything to live on its surface. Thus the planet's population live in gigantic, cone-shaped superstructures called Hives, which are approximately ten miles high.

Necromunda is set in the biggest of these, Hive Primus, which is divided into four sections:

  • The Spire
  • Hive City
  • The Underhive
  • The Sump

The Spire is inhabited by the Noble Houses:

  • Helmawr
  • Greim
  • Ulanti
  • Ty
  • Ran Lo
  • Catallus
  • Ko'Iron

These play no part in the game. The Spire is separated from Hive City by The Wall.

Hive City and The Underhive make up five vertical miles of Hive Primus. Hive City and The Underhive are not really separate entities, but The Underhive is so badly ruined and decayed it might as well be. These areas, and The Sump, are inhabited by the industrial Houses of Cawdor, Delaque, Escher, Goliath, Orlock and Van Saar. These are the Houses from where our gangers come from.

The Sump is the oldest part of Hive Primus. It is beyond salvation and so neglected that only the insane would choose to live there, along with the specialist gangs known as Outlanders. These are: Ratskin Renegades, The Redemption, Scavvies, Spyre Hunters and Pit Slaves. The other gangs will fight here, but not by choice - if they have any sense of self-preservation.

The Houses

Each House has its own traits. Note that Outlanders are not Houses, but are included here for completeness.


  • Cawdor - Almost all of Cawdor's people are members of the Cult Of Redemption. These people believe that the population of Necromunda are sinners and must be cleansed with fire. Thus, these people preach The Emperor's name and kill everyone they can.

  • Delaque - These are spies. The Delaque are masters of espionage and specialise in spying on the other houses, thus their favoured method of attack is ambush.

  • Escher - Due to a genetic flaw the men of House Escher are scrawny runts incapable of acting by themselves. So the House is ruled by the females, and they are the ones who go to battle.

  • Goliath - The area where they live is one of the most industrialised and polluted in the Hive, and the Goliath hivers have adapted to their environment. They are meaty people who prefer their fighting to be up close and personal.

  • Orlock - Known as the House Of Iron because its foundations lie on the many slag pits in the area. House Orlock stole the Ulanti Contract off House Cawdor, so while House Orlock supplies core requirements to the Noble House and earns brownie points, the Cawdor get nothing. The rivalry between the two houses is very bitter, so much that the Lord of House Orlock has been assassinated.

  • Van Saar - Serious and humourless people, they are renowned for their quality of weapons manufacture. Demand for Van Saar-made equipment is very high, and so they are quite rich.


  • Ratskin Renegades - The race of Ratskin people is older than the Hive itself. They are quiet and peaceful people, and so they are often exploited and killed by the hivers. Those that survive turn their backs on their own kin, join warbands and go out to kill as many hivers as possible.

  • The Redemption - These are the extremists of the Cult Of Redemption. Dressed in fiery robes, they camp out on street corners to face the sinners of the Hive, but prefer to grab a gun and kill them all themselves.

  • Scavvies - The dregs of society. People so malformed and mutilated by their toxic environment that they are hardly human. Theirs is a fight for survival, and they often ambush lone travellers or baggage trains. They are able to recruit Scalies and Plague Zombies. Scalies are big green brutes, and Plague Zombies are self-explanatory.

  • Spyre Hunters - Young noblemen leave The Spire in advanced combat suits to prove their worth to their peers. How they do it depends on the individual, but it will certainly involve killing hivers.

  • Pit Slaves - Guilders will almost always have slaves, and for the more industrial types these slaves will often be mutilated and adapted to their environment. Arms will be cut off and replaced with drills, saws and other machinery, and other parts of the body may be changed in some way. These 'attachments' are designed for industrial work but also make useful weapons, so when a band of slaves escape they already have handy weapons to further their needs with.

Playing Necromunda

Necromunda works in much the same way as second edition Warhammer 40,000 (WH40K)2, with some additional rules included where necessary, but a lot of the WH40K rules have been taken out.

First off, you recruit your gang. You have 1000 creds (the Necromundan currency) for you to spend on gangers and guns as you see fit. The weapons are particularly fun, seeing as this is a futuristic world. From swords to chainswords, pistols to rocket launchers.

In playing a game, you and your opponent take alternating turns, which are divided into 'phases': Recovery, Movement, Shooting and Combat.

  • Recovery: Models 'downed' in the previous turn can make an attempt to get up. Roll a dice for the model. 1 - 2 and he's up, but with impaired statistics. 3 - 4 he stays down, but can try and recover next turn. 5 - 6 and he's out of the game, and will have injuries determined after the scrap is over.

  • Movement - Movement is self-explanatory. However, some weapons cannot be fired if you move, or have impaired ability. If you run you cannot shoot, and you can charge an enemy so you can beat them up.

  • Shooting - Again obvious. Aim your gun and fire. There are some factors that will affect the dice roll that decides whether you hit or not. If you hit, roll to wound. If you wound and your target has armour, then he will make a saving throw. If this is failed then you make a damage roll to see how badly he's hit (1 - 2 flesh wound, 3 - 4 down, 5 - 6 out of action).

  • Combat - This can be the coolest part of the game. Indeed, with Redemptionist and Pit Slave gangs running around with giant chainsaws it can be very amusing for the imaginative player. Roll to hit, roll to wound, make a save, determine damage.

After the game you work out how much cash you've earned and what's happened to your gang. Cash is earned after the battle and determined by the dice, and also by some scenarios which can earn you dough. When you make money, you can spend it as you see fit. If you want to, you can pop down to the trading post and buy some more exotic weapons, or little gadgets that make life easier.

Gangers that went out of action have their injuries determined by dice. You can have a anything from a missing eye to the equivalent of brain damage. Or just be plain dead.

Experience earned depends on how much killing and winning the individual gangers did in battle. Earn enough experience and you can have statistic increases, or if you're lucky a new skill. The skill you choose (or try to) will depend on your gang. Goliath gangs will favour the combat table, whereas Van Saars will prefer the shooting one. There are six tables to choose from.

This is part of the beauty of Necromunda; watching your gang grow with experience and work out histories for themselves. Some fighters become very individual. You could have somebody with a bitter enmity against a rival gang and will risk his life to see them dead. Some gangers may become snipers or ambushers, only the course of the game will tell.

1Necromunda means 'death world' in Greek.2Warhammer 40,000 is one of the two major GW games, and is the universe where many of the others are set.

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