I was thinking about Necromunda recently, about what made it such a rich game. What made it so enjoyable and most of all why it left an idellible impression on me as a gamer. So I thought I would do a post here and just have a ramble about it.
What originally got me into wargaming and roleplaying were the stories that my friend from School, Danny used to tell me on our way home. He would tell me of games of Judge Dredd, where his Judge had been sent to Titan for corruption or Dungeons and Dragons and his Dwarfs magic axe. But none of those tales resonated as much with me as the tales of Warhammer 40,000 and his Imperial Guard army. These were the halcyon days of Rogue Trader where most games were skirmishes rather than full battles, and the only tanks available were the Rhino and Land Raider (and EVERYONE could have them). When I eventually got into wargaming myself (through Space Hulk and later Rogue Trader) I wanted to play games like Danny did, but sadly they never happened like Danny described. Yes there were some memorable and extremely fun games but nothing on the level that he had told me, maybe he was a great story-teller, or maybe his games were just awesome!?
Well there wasn’t much time to get into story driven games as Games Workshop changed the 40k format to the 2nd Edition Boxed set and points based army rules, once again I liked them but never settled with them and never got a dose of the colour or flavour that I wanted. This was the way the games went for 2 more years until I found myself working for Games Workshop as a shop-monkey in Wolverhampton. One day we got a box, which we were told not to open under ANY circumstances until HQ had signed off on it. Well the date came and we opened the box wondering what was inside, well what we found was two rulebooks a tonne of plastic bulkhead sprues and enough plastic Goliaths and Orlocks to make 3 gangs. We had a good look at the books and what we saw was Necromunda!
I instantly recognised some art as being from the former White Dwarf only Confrontation ruleset (not to be confused with the later French game). We spent a lock in night setting up the terrain and assembling figures just so we could try it out. My first impressions was that it was just a scaled down 40k, but at that point I had not had the chance to see the advancement rules and when we had played a few basic games and learnt the system we started moving on to advancing the gang.
It’s at this point where Necromunda excelled itself, it changed the way I looked at the table top miniatures, so rather than this miniature being “trooper from random unit” it was “Captain Roberts; Hive Pirate” (Yes he is one of my gang leaders :D) and he could become tough like the character models in 40k. Difference was, was that we controlled our characters, their history and where they came from GW hadn’t realised (and at the time they really abhorred RP) that they had given us all a form of Role Playing.
From 1996 playing Necromunda became a bit sporadic, and when we managed to get games they were still fun the only thing killing us was that GW had stopped supporting the game. When They started again in 2000 through Fanatic (later rebranded Specialist Games) I managed to run an Arbitrator campaign at GW Walsall, this gave birth to Wal’s Hole (and those of you who saw the site before the loss of data would see the later incarnation) an Underhive town beset with troubles not only from Gangers but from corruption. Dan Oram’s short story of how that campaign ended can be found on the net or somewhere on this site (If I can remember to link it) and showed that the game really reached out in the same way not just to me but to others as well. It inspired us, to put it bluntly.
Wal’s Hole enjoyed a few more campaigns set after the initial one and more gangs became infamous in our gaming circles, but now it’s gone quiet.
I currently find myself yearning for the enjoyment of Necromunda, yearning to be able to tell of how a lowly juve manages to take down two gangers with a knife, or how a Redemptionist Priest betrays an Orlock gang in an ambush and manages to kill their leader. I don’t know when I will play again, but I do know that it will be fun!