Tabletop Game: Necromunda
The Underhive; where life is nasty, brutish, and short. If you're lucky.
Can't fight muties in the dark.Necromunda
is one of several spinoffs
of Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000
, and probably the most popular. Notable for functioning on a considerably smaller scale than its progenitor; it trades WH40K's large armies with dozens of models and accompanying vehicles
for small gangs with an average of 6-12 models. The gameplay is based heavily on the 2nd Edition WH40k rules (updated for compatibility with 4th Edition and later); with some RPG-like
mechanics added on. It also focuses on long-term campaigns and gang development, with gangs actually growing in size and ability with time and experience.
One of the "Hive Worlds" of the Imperium, the titular planet Necromunda is a place where industrialization and pollution have created a Single-Biome Planet
consisting of vast, mile-high termite-mound-like "hive cities" devoted primarily to manufacturing weapons and equipment, and providing troops, for the Imperial Guard. Outside the hive cities, the environment has been effectively destroyed
by pollution and radiation, and a perpetual smog enshrouds all but the very peaks of the cities. Necromundan society is highly stratified by class, with each class further divided into a small number of feuding clans known as "Houses." The elites reside in the "spire," which juts above the smog cloud, providing sunshine and fresh air. The majority of the population lives, works, and dies in the grim and filthy main hive, and do the bulk of manufacturing and food production. The game setting, the Underhive
, is a vast, decaying, multi-level industrial wasteland populated by outlaws from the main Houses, mutants
religious fanatics, escaped slaves, plague zombies, Proud Warrior Race Guys
, rogue psykers, and all manner of strange and deadly creatures. The hive floor consists of an immense toxic lake, surrounded by a ring of refuse, and anything that dwells there is best avoided entirely.
Although similarly short-lived, Necromunda
enjoyed considerably more support than Games Workshop's other Gaiden Games
, featuring more prominently in their publicity, and in their White Dwarf
and (now defunct) Citadel Journal
publications. It also had two Comic Book
series based in Necromunda Kal Jerico (followin the titular rogue) and The Redeemer
(following a redemptionist in his crusade against heretics). However, it too eventually dropped off the radar, with only one official expansion set being produced. It is currently published by Games Workshop's Specialist Games division. The various rulebooks and supplements can be downloaded for free here
. For the fantasy equivalent game see Mordheim
Being set in the Warhammer 40,000
universe, the game features a large number of the tropes on that page, as well as employing setting and gameplay tropes of its own.
- Amazon Brigade: House Escher is an all-female clan, due to a genetic defect that results in all their males being stillborn or physically/mentally defective. Because of this, they look down on males, and have an adversarial relationship with the "machismo-poisoned" House Goliath.
- Awesome but Impractical: Flamers have the advantage of not having to roll to hit your opponent, but the downside to this is that you always have to do ammo rolls, which means it is highly likely to run out of ammo after the first blast is fired. This makes it probably the best weapon to have the one-in-a-million trait on since it means you never have to make any ammo rolls, removing the backside to the weapon entirely.
- Badass Longcoat: Standard outfit for House Delaque gangs.
- Bad Ass Normal: Pretty much everyone except for mutants, Pit Slaves and Spyrers.
- The Beastmaster: Some Wyrds can control the various mutant creatures that inhabit the Underhive.
- BFG: Each gang can take up to two "Heavies"; members who are capable of turning man-portable anti-tank weapons on their unarmoured opponents.
- BFS: Two-Handed swords are available, though fairly unlikely to see much use as the combat system generally favours using multiple smaller weapons than one big one. Played straight when a gang finally manages to buy/find/steal a Power Sword....
- Burn the Witch!: House Cawdor love flamer weapons to burn the heretics.
- Captain Ersatz: The Adeptus Arbites owes alot to the Judges true to their history (Games Workshop once produced a Judge Dredd rpg and incorporated several ideas from the setting).
- They even have Executioner rounds that seek out targets just like the Lawgiver can.
- Chainsaw Good: As usual for Games Workshop. The Spyrer Matriarch even has a combined chainsaw and scythe.
- One of the models from the Goliath gang is even wearing a chainsaw hat. There's mention of a legendary pit fighter who had a chainsaw replacing his lower jaw.
- And the Redemptionists use two-handed chainsaws with flamethrower attachments.
- Church Militant: Like the Iron Kingdoms' Protectorate of Menoth, House Cawdor is a gang composed entirely of mask-wearing Knights Templar. The Redemptionists are even worse.
- Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Averted with the Pit Slaves. Only the Servitor could be considered to have been totally reduced by cyberntic implants. But then, Servitors are lobotimised, and have their brains replaced with computers; so this is more intentional than most examples.
- Cyber Punk: Oh so much.
- Dirty Coward: The Spyrers are justified — each and every one of them is a One-Man Army, so if a gang is capable of taking one down...
- Dystopia: Hive City is a wretched, polluted mess that produces goods and services for the elite on the Spire, and it's probably the safest part of the hive. The Underhive is where those exiled from Hive City for various reasons go; even the safer districts, protected by criminal gangs still loyal to the Hive City houses, are still places where life is nasty, brutish and short and law extends as far as a gun can shoot; further downhive, outlaws and mutants fight to the death over a few scraps of food and law has completely broken down. Oh, and the Spire? It's a Deadly Decadent Court where the Noble Houses live off the wealth produced by Hive City and cold-bloodedly murder each other for control of the Hive, and they look on sending a small band of their kids down to the worst parts of the Underhive as a training mission.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Pretty much everything in the Underhive is deadly, and wants to eat you or take over your body. Even the fungus.
- Experience Points: Units gain experience for surving and achieving objectives in each battle which can be used to gain new skills or stat increases.
- Feudal Future: Apparently the planetary governor couldn't establish any kind of central authority so there's a mess of individual loyalties to stronger people or gangs.
- Gaiden Game: One of several "Specialist Games" in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.
- Gang of Hats: All gangs have a particular trope that defines their nature.
- Of the 6 original gangs, House Goliath are a machismo culture who rely on brute strength; House Van Saar are skilled technophiles; House Escher are Amazons who favor agility and speed; House Delaque are bald, stealthy assassins in trenchcoats; House Cawdor are Knights Templar; and House Orlock are flexible, all-rounder combatants.
- The expansion: Redemptionists, Ax-Crazy religious fanatics who like to Kill It with Fire; Scavies, twisted, deformed mutants, ghouls, and plague zombies; Ratskins, Proud Warrior Race Guys based on the Magical Native American; Wyrds, rogue psykers with a number of different powers; and Spyre Hunters, elite fighters from noble Houses with enough advanced gear to become a One-Man Army.
- Later additions: Pit Slaves — former cyborg gladiators and escaped slaves with industrial hardware instead of hands; and potentially both the weakest and most powerful gang. Ash Waste Nomads — a former Noble House cast out into the ash wastes, reling heavily on stealth, ambushes; and looking like futuristic Bedouin. Their supplment came with rules for vehicles, making them a powerhouse (if you can convince your opponents to let you take that ersatz Chimera). Adeptus Arbites Enforcers — recommended as a GM-only gang. Riot super-police with the best overall starting gear for all their members. They ignore resource rules that irritate the House gangs and make life a major struggle for the Outcasts, due to being supplied by the larger Arbites garrison.
- Genius Bruiser: Heavies are big guys who are both strong enough to carry BFGs and technically-savvy enough to maintain them.
- Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: The Spyrers come down to the Underhive to hunt people as a Rite of Passage. Some enjoy it so much that they keep coming back.
- I'm a Humanitarian: What happens when Scavies capture enemies, or just don't have enough resources to buy food. Or when their player decides that one Scavvy is too badly injured to be useful anymore.
- Even Twisted, Horribly-Mutated Freaks Have Standards: Ghouls hang out with Scavvies, and are so driven by hunger that they will stop and feed in the middle of a battle. Even their Scavvy friends think these guys take it too far; after all a Scavvy only eats manflesh until it gets something better/less diseased/more diseased/less likely to shoot back.
- Kill It with Fire: Redemptionists are religious fanatics who really like their flamethrowers.
- Kill the Poor: The Spyrers are made up of the rich up-hivers to come down to kill the poor gang members as a Rite of Passage and for fun.
- New Old West: The Underhive can basically be seen as the Wild West with mutants.
- One-Man Army: Spyre Hunters. Nobles from the Spire, using highly sophisticated off-world technology. One or two Spyrers are effectively a match for an entire gang.
- Anyone from outside the Underhive, really; with the exception of low-level basic troops like Imperial Guard soldiers or Eldar Guardians, who would be "merely" high-level elite troops.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Ratskins gang is derived from stereotypes of Great Plains Native American tribes, substituting giant rats for wolves, buffalo, and horses.
- Railing Kill: Much of the game terrain consists of catwalks, gangways, and bridges; all of which are decaying and unstable, and can even be deliberately destroyed. Since characters can be pushed, shot, or otherwise induced to fall off, there are rules for falling damage (falling more than one level generally results in instant death).
- Rodents of Unusual Size: The Underhive is rife with them (and lots of other critters that are waiting to tear out your throat or eat your brains). Ratskin Renegades hunt them for food and clothing.
- RPG: Although combat is similar to 40k, Necromunda also adds RPG-like mechanics for individual gang members and upkeep, as well as many scenarios and missions.
- Rule of Cool: As with all other Games Workshop games, this and Up to Eleven are the dominant tropes.
- Sawed-Off Shotgun: Probably the most useful and versatile basic weapon in the game, fires both shot and solid slugs. An average gang will equip roughly half its members with these.
- Snap Back: Averted. Unlike 40k, which features ad hoc armies constructed of standardized units with fixed stats and equipment, and which are automatically replenished after every battle, Necromunda gangs have individual stats and equipment for each member, which evolve over time as the gang gains experience and resources.
- Spiritual Successor: The game Confrontation as serialised in White Dwarf dealt with running underhive gangs in small scale skirmishes and what went on in the downtime between them. Exceedingly complex and terrifyingly lethal (roll up a gang in a few hours, have the first guy killed in a minute of starting play) but interesting nonetheless. Necromunda vastly streamlined gameplay and fleshed out the background.
- Testosterone Poisoning: House Goliath to a tee. The rulebook even features a quote from House Escher using that exact term.
- This Is a Drill: Guess what Pit Slaves can have instead of a hand?
- Touched by Vorlons: Wyrds. Which can result in a Super Power Meltdown.
- We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: The Pit Slaves are escaped slaves but this trope is also played with as they were implanted with cyberntics.
- With This Herring: Averted. While in 40k, the Imperial Guards'
flashlights and t-shirts lasguns and flak vests are crappy in comparison to other armies, it's usually because those other armies are immortal death machines, spore-based super warriors, or Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. The Imperial Guard still has ten thousand years of technology and the resources of the quadrillion strong Imperium Of Man. Compared to them, the gangs of Necromunda are, well, slum dwellers. The general lack of armour or sophisticated weapons makes even basic and improvised weapons like knives, big chunks of pipe, and ordinary pistols (aka "stub guns") reasonably effective. Lasguns are actually toward the high end of the effectiveness scale, and flak armour is elite gear. A single Space Marine or Genestealer would be a, well, One-Man Army.
- Wretched Hive: THE GAME!
- Exaggeration aside, yes, the entire planet of Necromunda is covered in enormous hive cities, populated dominantly by criminals, gangsters, scavengers, and monsters. They're shaped like termite nests, even. The area outside of them is only slightly more uninhabitable to non-Badass people. It's like if New York was an entire planet.
- Your Head Asplode: Wyrd psykers have this as one of their powers. It can also happen to them if the dice roll badly enough when using their powers.
- Zerg Rush: Although very small scale compared to nearly all other GW games, it still manages to do this with the Scavvy gang; which can field a large number of weak plague zombies.
- These could potentially be Game Breakers. They were incredibly cheap, moved with ridiculous speed (2D6" per turn! that's a good chance of moving far faster than normal humans, who usually managed 8" max per turn) and if they took someone down in combat there was a pretty good chance they'd turn into a zombie too, in stark contrast to how hard it is to lose a ganger normally.