Posts Tagged ‘Necromunda’

Megadungeon as Campaign World

June 30, 2019

necromundapic

For the uninitiated, Necromunda is a hive world in the Warhammer 40K universe.  The planet is an industrial wasteland, covered in massive orbit-scraping hive spires.  Beneath these spires is the underhive, vast subterranean complexes, one layer built upon another across 10 millennia, creating what is, for all intents, a mega-dungeon.  Perhaps the most mega of all mega-dungeons.

Apocrypha Necromundus

But it’s more than just a mega-dungeon.  There are entire communities, cities even, within the underhive.  And the populace of the underhive rarely, if ever, has an opportunity to travel above to the upper spire levels.  In other words, it’s a mega-dungeon that people live in, full time.

For some time I’ve been mulling the idea of a mega-dungeon campaign where the mega-dungeon is the entire world.  The PCs never leave the dungeon, though there are sanctuaries, “towns” if you will, within the dungeon where the PCs can find respite, replenish supplies and sell loot.

Necromunda isn’t my only inspiration for this idea.  Originally I had the idea after reading the Metro series by Dmitry Glukhovsky, where the survivors of WWIII live in the metro stations beneath a nuke-blasted Moscow.  The network of stations and subterranean levels below Moscow are themselves a type of mega-dungeon.

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I’m thinking such a dungeon would have to be mapped at two scales.  The “big picture” map would be nodal, with points representing various adventure areas with lines, representing tunnels, connecting them (like the metro map above).  Some nodes would be towns, other long-abandoned areas, and others still monster infested.  Each node, or at least the important ones, would then be mapped at traditional 10’/square scale, though they could be limited to a single sheet of graph paper each (or I could use an online dungeon map generator to save time).

So, why does this vast complex exist?  My immediate thought is that it’s essentially a gigantic “vault” designed to preserve tens of thousands of people from some calamity on the surface of the planet.  People have been living below so long that history has morphed into myth and legend.  Conditions have deteriorated, and the population has declined over time, leaving vast empty sections (inhabited by monsters now, of course).  Some sections may have been sealed off for some reason (perhaps to contain a zombie plague outbreak), just waiting for the PCs to rediscover them.  Perhaps entire levels have been forgotten.

The PCs start in one of these sanctuaries, which has probably been their home for their entire lives.  They have a limited knowledge of the surrounding tunnels and nodes, so part of the campaign would involve mapping the dungeon’s nodal network, figuring out where different sanctuaries are, which factions control which areas, where special resources are located, and so on.  And another part of the campaign would be filling in the back story of what happened to the sanctuary, how things deteriorated so badly and, perhaps most importantly, how to leave (or, if it’s even safe to leave yet – “What happened to the all clear signal?”).

Cheers.

Deadbolt’s Derelict Corridors

December 27, 2018

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So, I picked up the Derelict Corridors bundle for Necromunda from Deathray Designs.  It provides 3D walls for the 2D zone-mortalis style boards that Necromunda uses.  I really like how they look, but they’ll look even better once they’re painted.

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Picked up the cool door set as well.

 

The walls are MDF, so you have to punch them out and glue them together.  All together it took me about 4-ish hours to do (working off-and-on).  It’s monotonous work, but worth it I think.  And it goes a bit faster if you take an assembly-line approach to putting it together.

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Hooks on the walls slide into slots on the column pieces.

There are other wall sets available, some of which come assembled and painted, but a couple of things I like about this set is that the pieces lock together, and Deathray designs has produced a bevy of accessories for the line.  You can add gantries and ladders to take your games 3D, if you want, for a true underhive experience.

Can’t wait to get it a try.  Cheers!

Necromunda

March 29, 2018

necromundabox

My friend Randy recently got me into Games Workshop’s new version of Necromunda.  It’s been decades since I’ve played a GW game (I fell heavily for 2E epic scale Space Marine back in college), so I wasn’t sure how I’d take to it.  I don’t have a lot of patience for fiddly rules any more.

Overall, I really like the game, to the point were I’m probably spending too much money on it.  But I love the setting and, for the most part, I love the components that come with the base game.  And while there are some fiddly rules, for the most part they aren’t too bad.

However, it’s not all wine and roses in the Underhive.  Necromunda has traditionally been a game that really emphasizes WYSIWYG modeling.  To that end, the sprues for the figures are insanely customizable.  As in way too customizable.

 

orlocksprue

The Orlock sprue; note all the little individual heads.

 

Trying to glue a tiny Orlock head to its body is a very frustrating process.  It was almost enough to make me give up on the game.  The fact that I haven’t (yet) is a testament to how much I like it.  But I’d have been much (much) happier if they’d just included five or six standardized bodies and then let us glue on the appropriate weapons, because this level of minute customization really adds nothing to the game (imo).

And while the rules aren’t too bad, there are still a few fiddly things that set me off.  One is the Stray Shot rule, which is convoluted, easy to forget and exploitable.  Something else are the skills ganger’s can acquire through experience.  Most of them work well enough, but there are some that require a dice roll for something to happen.  More dice rolls just slow the game down, and when a ganger has a bunch skills it can be easy to forget about them in the heat of the action.  Frankly, they remind me somewhat of Pathfinder feats, and I’m not really a fan of complicated, situational feats to begin with.  It really feels like they layered on extra complexity to give some of these skills meaning.

Which leads to yet another annoyance.  Originally, Necromunda only had one “mental” stat, called Leadership.  The new version adds three new mental stats:  Cool, Willpower and Intelligence.  Of these, only Cool plays much of a role, to the point it now even diminishes the importance of the original Leadership stat.  But Willpower and Intelligence are barely used, and it feels like GW went out of its way to add more rules (and thus, complexity) to justify these new stats.  However, I imagine Willpower will play a bigger part in the game when they eventually get around to adding psykers.

One final, minor, gripe:  the game shipped with a beautiful set of map boards (called “Zone Mortalis”).  As you can see, the boards have a grid on them.  Unfortunately, the grid is 2″ instead of the standard 1″.  Which means it’s difficult to use them for other games, and makes it more difficult to use the boards for a converted version of Necromunda.  On that note, it might have been nice if a “basic” version of the rules was released that did indeed use those grids.  It just seems like a lost opportunity, and would have made the game more accessible to new players.

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Also, if you’re a fan of the original Necromunda, this version does not come with 3D terrain.  The vanilla rules only include 2D battles on the aforementioned “Zone Mortalis” boards.  You need to purchase a separate supplement (Gang War) to get the campaign rules (which really make Necromunda shine) and the rules for 3D terrain (which GW calls “Sector Mechanicus”).

So, despite spending most of this write-up complaining about Necromunda, I actually really like the game.  The components are top notch, the models look great (once you assemble them) and it plays fairly quickly.  We’re still mastering the rules, so we often forget something, or get the rule wrong, but that’s really just a matter of playing more.  I can’t wait to play a campaign, though preferably a map-based strategic campaign rather than the abstract campaign rules that come in Gang War (but that’s easily house ruled).

And as for a “basic” version of the game, well that’s something else I can work on after I’ve had more time to master the rules.

Cheers.

 

 


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