Scum’s Thoughts – Part 1

If you’re reading this, congratulations – you’ve survived as far as September 2020! (And yes, I will be reusing that joke for the Christmas round-up – assuming we all live that long…).

Last weekend saw, at long last, the release of House of Blades, the latest Necromunda expansion which focuses on the Queens of the Underhive, House Escher. Much earlier in the year the Goliaths enjoyed the release of their own book, House of Chains, and the Escher were intended to follow soon after – except of course  that then we went and spoiled it all by saying something stupid like “Oh god, there’s a global pandemic on, we’re all fucked now!” Ever since we Necromunda fans have been waiting *cough* patiently for the girls to arrive and thankfully now they’re here and we can see in the apocalypse with two house-specific expansions clutched in our paws. Who knows, we may be lucky enough to be able to buy the Orlock book, House of Iron, before the asteroid hits and stops our civilisation in its tracks. Fans of the other three houses must face the day of reckoning with bitter hearts and unfulfilled expectations, or pray for a slightly less bumpy time in 2021.

Anyway, having spent the last few days pouring over House of Blades my head is suddenly full of thoughts and I’m damned if I’m missing out on the opportunity to share them!

The format and content of the “House of…” series becomes a little clearer with this release. We, the fans, already knew that each of the six major houses of Necromunda (Goliath, Escher, Orlock, Van Saar, Cawdor and Delaque) would be getting a book dedicated to them but until now we could only categorically say that we knew what House of Chains looked like, because it was the only book to have been released. Now that we’ve got House of Blades as well we can start making some assumptions about just what will be included in the future books; a ton of new background, an expanded gang roster, new gang specific hangers on, tactics, scenarios, timeline, house agents and allies.

Every Necromunda book released since the game’s relaunch has contained a number of new special characters and House of Blades is no different. Yet whilst House of Chains contained six, House of Blades has only three. Now it’s worth noting that one of the House of Chains personalities, “Sparky” is an ogryn so the Goliaths only get five new heroes (and one of those is a gigantic crocodile). What’s more the Escher already have a bounty hunter available exclusively to their house, the Death Maiden Kria the Huntress.

In addition to her we have Belladonna, an ex-Escher turned (briefly) noble-bride turned underhive assassin on a quest for vengeance (think Kill Bill but with bigger hair and no bright yellow jumpsuit), and Yolanda Skorn (another ex-Escher turned gun for hire) whilst the Goliaths have only Krotos Hark, treated as an outsider to his house after being born intelligent. On the other hand all of these latter characters will work for any house, which leaves the Goliaths with five characters unique to them, and the Eschers with four.

Now many of you may be thinking “so what” and I don’t really disagree. The situation regarding the dramatis personae of Necromunda seems a little odd to me at the moment. For one thing there are a hell of a lot of them. We now have rules for 49 different special characters, although only models for 21. Games Workshop have noted that they intend to create models for all of them “at some point” although so far they seem more enthusiastic about coming up with even more of them. Two more special character models were announced back in March – the Cawdor Rattus Tatterskin and the Enforcer Scrutinator-Primus Servalen. Neither of these are on my list of 49 given above, and if each of the “House of…” books contains only a further three dramatis personae we could easily be looking at more than 60 special characters. I don’t think this is a bad thing, far from it, although given the price Forge World tend to charge it could be quite an expensive thing. However unless they up the rate at which they release special characters a lot the supply of new models will never catch up with the rate at which they’re coming up with new ideas. On the one hand I don’t want them to stop turning out new characters because they’ve got a lot of interesting ideas but on the other hand there are a lot of cool concepts already out there in books which I’d love to see models for. Yes, I could convert my own and I already have made models for some of them (it’s a lot of fun and a hell of a lot cheaper than paying Forge World prices) but there are some that I’d love to see given official miniatures – Jorth Slither and the Catallus twins for instance (which would also be a fine name for a band). Plus there are a lot of other things I’d like to see models for – nobles, criminals and guilders for instance.

Something I’d like to see more of is dramatis personae being used to demonstrate the range of possibilities within each house. In House of Chains for instance we have Old Three-eyes (the mother of all sumcrocs), Ajex Gorgoth (one of the most powerful Goliath alphas on the planet), Attilus the Axe (a champion pit fighter), Tess Arc-Up (a particularly wild prospect) and Djangar Gunfists (the former head of the house now roaming the wastes with no memories and a knack for spectacular violence). Now there’s none of the above that I particularly dislike, that I wouldn’t try to convert a model for and wouldn’t take an interest in an official miniature were one to be released and not outwith my budget. Every one of them brings something to the house and tells us something about the planet of Necromunda and its mightiest sons.

I could be harsh and say that Tess (see my kitbash above) is basically just a rambunctious juve and Attilus is an angry dude with a saw for an arm but they do expand the character of the range all the same. I’ve already converted my own Tess and I’ve got plans to make Attilus and Djangar as well. However, in some ways I can’t help but feel that they could be doing more with these characters and using them to expand the idea of what it means to be a Goliath even further.

For example, so far the only female Goliaths we’ve seen have been prospects, that is to say youngsters. We’ve also seen models for male prospects. Both sexes have been smaller and lighter than the muscular giants that make up the rest of the gang. A fully grown Goliath lady would have been interesting to see, perhaps strutting her stuff in a massive suit of handmade armour much like Ajex Gorgoth.

The only lady Goliath we’ve seen so far, but she could grow up to be a champion of her house.

Another possibility that immediately appealed to me, was the Goliaths of Gothrul’s Needle. For those who’ve not been glued to every development in Necromunda over the last couple of years Gothrul’s Needle is home to one of the most dangerous forms of sedition known to the Imperium, having fallen under the sway of something they call “democracy” and broken away from the rest of the planet. Obviously this isn’t something which Lord Helmawr, the Imperial Governor, is terribly impressed about, and considerable effort is being brought to bear to bring the renegade hive back into line, all whilst pretending to the wider Imperium that House Helmawr retains absolute control over their domains and would never be so weak as to allow one of their holdings to slip the leash. In defence of their independence the Council of Gothrul’s Needle have recruited the local Goliaths, offering them wonderful things such as advanced weapons and armour, proper medical care and even education. Here we see the Goliaths as they could be, not brutish tech-barbarians but the superhumans they have the potential to be, yet which they are never allowed to become elsewhere on the poisoned world. A Goliath hailing from the Needle, sent abroad to carry out some mission or other, would make for an amazing miniature and a chance to look at a very different side of a house normally associated with boneheaded violence and not much else.

Likewise the three new characters in House of Blades are all interesting in and of themselves, there’s none that I dislike or would want rid of. We have Betti Banshee – a woman with a sonic scream instead of a throat, Necrana – oldest and most terrible of the Death Maidens, and Cyniss, a mistress of poisons and close confidant of the Matriarch Primus herself. Again however there was the potential to really push the boat out here.

Necrana

The story of House Escher begins even before the coming of the Imperium, when three sisters – known collectively as the Blades – carved out a legacy for themselves beneath the gaze of the ancient Iron Lords who ruled the planet. When Imperial warships filled the sky and space marines poured onto the surface the Blades sought to ensure their endurance into this new age, hiding banks of clones scattered across the world. When one sister died a clone would arrive to replace her, stepping into her life and continuing her legend – until she too died and was replaced by another. This situation would remain for the next three millennia before the sisters combined their bloodlines to form a new house, swearing allegiance to the House of Helm’ayr and destroying their old clone banks forever. Except of course nobody really believes they destroyed all of them do they? Indeed a timeline entry even refers to a lost clone vault being found and activated in M38, leading inevitably to bloody mayhem. Surely a mysterious and powerful character, who steps from the shadows to aid the cause of the Eschers in their time of need then vanishes into the shadows of the Underhive from whence she came, and might – just might – be one of the lost clones, would be a fantastic special character? Especially as there would be plenty of Eschers keen to cut her up, take a look at her DNA and find out if she contains something to keep their menfolk from dying – and others who would see her as a natural replacement for the current Matriarch Primus – for good or ill.

Or, as another possibility, how about an Eschaki chem-soldier, specifically a male one? Again, for those who’re willing to indulge me as I enthuse about the new background, before they were the Escher the house was known as House Eschaki. Given to tinkering around with their own DNA, consuming chems and pushing the boundaries of science even further than the modern Escher, the Eschaki eventually screwed up and developed the so-called Flesh Curse, which lead their entire male line to be born weak, stupid and sickly – female readers may be thinking that some things never change – on those rare occasions that male children were born at all. In the end the women of the house gave up on the male line altogether and rebuilt their clan under the new name Escher (although they have made several spirited attempts to recreate a male bloodline – most notably the so-called “Project Goliath”…). Whilst they lived however the Eschaki fielded all kinds of “combat-drug fuelled murder squads, ash-dancer assassins and genehanced berserkers”. It might be sensible to assume that the Eschaki are now safely extinct but as recently as the latter part of the 40th Millennium a colony of Eschaki chem-warriors was found, only to flee into the wastes and vanish. Whenever there’s discussion of the Escher online there’s always someone who pops up and asks why they can’t have male Escher (because everyone knows you can’t have something nice for the girls without the boys muscling in and demanding to be included too). Now I’m going to stick my head above the parapet and say that I don’t want to see male Escher any more than I want weedy Goliaths, healthy Van Saar, agnostic Cawdor or Space Marines who find this whole purging business a bit tiring and would rather stay at home and read. However wouldn’t an Eschaki chem-warrior (with appropriate mystery and hand-waving over the details of his background) make for a very interesting special character and a chance to give whoever wants boy-Escher a boy-Escher without actually changing things so radically that we now all have to have boy-Escher?

Anyway, moving on before I wear the patience of my audience any thinner than I probably have already, another thing I wanted to talk about was the models that Forge World have released, or will release, in conjunction with these books. When House of Chains was released Forge World accompanied it by bringing out the Goliath ‘Zerker (a brute unique to House Goliath) and the Slavers Guild – the merchant’s guild with the closest ties to the house of musclemen.

A chain lord of the Slaver’s Guild, ready to make someone’s already miserable life even worse…

With the arrival of House of Blades I must admit my fingers were tightly crossed that we’d see the Khimerix (the Escher’s unique brute – think of a Chaos Spawn which has somehow become fabulous) and their favoured guild allies, the Water Guild. Instead there’s been no sign, and instead we’re looking at new Escher champions (see below) – which are nice enough but nothing to write home about and could easily have been accommodated with an upgrade set or two of new heads and weapons. This is frankly slightly galling when you consider all of the aforementioned bounty hunters that we’re yet to see, plus guilder allies, criminals, hangers on, etc etc.

Anyway, I suspect I’ve probably worn this topic thin so let’s move on, because there are a few other developments I’d like to give a little more attention to. For one thing we have another new gang in town in the form of the slave ogryns (or as they should be called the Free Ogryns – because these boys aren’t going to be anyone’s slaves anymore!). First revealed alongside House of Chains back at the start of the year they’ve only lumbered into our homes now, their mighty muscles proving no defence against the global havoc caused by C-19. So far I’ve only had the time to build one of them, kitbashing him slightly with a head from the Imperial Guard ogryn kit.

Of course this is a fine chance for some size comparison photos, so here he is next to some more normally-proportioned underhive residents.

Not all the Goliaths look weedy next to him however, this Stimmer for instance actually comes across as pretty imposing.

And he doesn’t look quite as big as this partly painted Ambot.

Interestingly there are six ogryns in a set, and all six houses can take an ogryn as part of their gang. Part of me is already tempted to pick up another kit (not a cheap investment mind you) and make a themed ogryn for each of my gangs. The Escher one would be especially interesting, resplendent in brightly coloured armour and leopard-skin pants, but picture the possibilities – the masked and scrap-armoured Cawdor version like a shambling candelabra, the high-tech Van Saar version, the terribly un-stealthy Delaque version (with bionic eyes of course!). Of course then I’d need to cook up a Corpse-Grinder and Genestealer Cult version. At least I already have a Chaos Helots version already made…

Anyway, there’s one final thing to discuss before I realise that I’ve entirely outstayed my welcome and that’s the new Orlocks. Frankly I don’t have a lot to say about them apart from how downright amazing they are! Take a look at these very good dogs for instance (but keep in mind that if they bring you your slippers they might still have someone else’s foot inside)…

And I’m also very fond of the chap with the servo-arms and the big hammer, and seeing female miniatures for the House of Iron is long overdue. I reckon this gentleman, the only Orlock I’ve painted so far, won’t be on his own for long!

I often find myself thinking about writing Necromunda themed editorials so I’ll probably make this into an occasional series (hence the “part 1” in the title). In the meantime I’m off to think about all the new Eschers I want to build. If you have any thoughts you can confidently say you’re not an Ogryn, and if you want to share them the comment’s box is all yours.


20 responses to “Scum’s Thoughts – Part 1

  • Meandering Shade

    My patience wasn’t wearing thin, that was a thoroughly enjoyable read 🙂

    Necromunda is one of the only games that’s actually been keeping my attention of late. I’ve been loving all the new releases and expanded lore of the setting.

    I’d have to say the only thing I find grating is the sneak peeks that just seem to be way ahead of any intended release. They aren’t doing anything to build any hype, just giving an infuriatingly long wait unlike the main-line games.

    But that’s just a pet peeve really. Once I get my hobby space back and my head in gear I want to start working on everything I’ve been picking up for the game.

    My last two projects were unintentionally Necromunda themed, guess it’s just because of how powerful the pull was there in the subconscious 😀

    • Wudugast

      Thank you! Yup, I’m with you on the long lead in times , I start off excited but by the time they finally get around to releasing them I’ve usually forgotten about them or I’m feeling hacked off with waiting. I’ll cut them a lot of slack for it at the moment though because I know everything’s been knocked out of shape (for everyone, everywhere) by C-19. Looking forward to seeing what other Necromunda stuff you have planned – that sump spider you posted recently was amazing 🙂

  • Pete S/ SP

    Great post. There is so much cool stuff coming out for Necromunda II can’t keep up with it all.

    FWIW- the new / recent Goliath and Escher stuff is great… a lot less keen on the Ogryns though….

    Cheers,

    Pete.

    • Wudugast

      Thanks man! Yeah, they’ve been doing a lot with it lately which is great, shows it’s been popular and should mean that game has a healthy future ahead of it. Expanding each of the houses has been a great idea I think, I’m looking forward to seeing what the other three get now 🙂

  • theimperfectmodeller

    Loved reading this post this morning as I lay in bed with a cup of tea that I made. I must speak with SWMBO! Now I am not going to pretend I understood the half of it, you would see through me if I claimed I did, but I love your writing style and enthusiasm for the topic. But here is the most important thing from my point of view. New models are coming, you are going to buy and paint them and me and a great many others are going to love seeing what you do with them. Can’t wait! 🤗

    • Wudugast

      You had to make your own cup of tea?! What’s the world coming to?!

      Glad you enjoyed the piece, it’s always a big compliment when someone who has no particular interest in the topic still enjoys it and gets something out of it 🙂

  • Alex

    Brilliant read mate. I’m struggling to keep up with life atm as you know, and Necromunda is a whole level of detail that I have neither the time or the patience to explore… having your pre-digested thunks to mull over of a Sunday morning is a godsend 😊

    • Wudugast

      My pleasure mate – glad you enjoyed it! Yeah, life’s not entirely chilled out here either (hence why it’s taken me days to reply to comments…) but it’s getting there, and at least I have plenty of opportunity to think about Necromunda – which if I’m honest I was probably going to do anyway 😀

  • Kuribo

    I don’t know a ton about Necromunda as I’ve never played it and I wasn’t in the hobby when the first one came out (I would have been very young, probably in elementary school, just to age those like Azazel who lived through it :D) but I am fascinated by it. The depth of the story and characters and factions is really amazing and it seems like something I could throw myself into. Obviously, the quality of models is really high too. If I had some friends interested in it, I’d definitely be all-in the game. All of this is really to say, I thoroughly enjoyed reading more about the game and it definitely tempts me to look into it further. One of these days I will surely paint a mini or two for fun even if I never play it 🙂

    • Wudugast

      Let me think, 1995 the original game was released so I would have been 11. By the time I discovered it when I was at university it was on its way out, GW were heading towards scrapping all the specialist games and the models were looking distinctly past their best. I remember thinking that it could be really interesting as a setting but for me models mean everything and what I saw of them at the time wasn’t enough to win me over (although to be fair a well painted Necromunda model from that era can look really good, but the work of the ‘eavy Metal team in those days was often a long way from the stellar stuff they do now and did nothing to help sell those old gangers).

      I think a big part of what’s drawn me into Necromunda this time round, and what keeps drawing me ever deeper, is the level of depth they’ve given it. You can customise a gang to an insanely fine detail, and see them evolve and grow over the course of a campaign, you can add all kinds of other Necromundan residents that your gang might encounter (hangers on like cooks, lookouts, weaponsmiths etc, organised crime, merchant guilders, the nobility, local scumbos, bounty hunters, animals). A really prolific painter and converter could make Necromunda their entire hobby for a lifetime and still keep coming up with more stuff.

      Honestly I don’t play much myself, I need simple rules to get my head around and Necromunda is anything but, but as a setting to be creative with I’ve yet to see anything beat it.

      • Kuribo

        Well shoot, I would have been 10 so I suppose its possible I could have known about Necromunda after all. It was 4-5 more years before I found out about Warhammer so it could have been available in stores and I just skipped over it around 1999-2000.

        I know what you mean about the depth on pretty much every level! I think it is smart for GW to make the game that way considering they have a lot of competition on the skirmish game market and most games are lighter than Necromunda I think. I really am drawn to games that have tons of content and I love how Necromunda just has books on top of books, for example. I think it convinces me that if I start playing, it can be a game I can play for years or decades which is reassuring to me for some reason. Regardless of that, the complicated rules and the fact that the game is so heavily reliant upon campaign play (meaning you’d really want to be playing in a league) means that I’ll likely never get a game in myself. I’m sure I’ll get around to painting something from it eventually though 🙂

  • caseyrog

    Nice read!

    I agree with you on the special characters, it’s a bit problematic in that they can’t keep up with the production of official models when they keep introducing more and more. It’s a problem Blood Bowl has as well, each team was getting 6-8 star players but only getting 1-2 models for them. That being said, I don’t actually use star players in Blood Bowl much and I didn’t use any special characters in the one short Necromunda campaign I’ve played so far.

    I too was hoping to see some new guild minis and the House Escher brute. The wait continues. The new forge world champs look to have some nice options, but they could have just been new weapon packs as you said, it’s not like the bodies offer any particular interesting poses. The standard plastic Eschers might actually be better from a pose perspective?

    I’m on the same page as you for not needing to see male Eschers. I didn’t need to see female Goliaths either, I like those two gangs being mono-gendered. As for all the rest of the gangs, I’m all for them being male and female.

    • Wudugast

      Cheers!
      I was thinking about Blood Bowl as I was writing this, I’m not as clued up on it as Necromunda but there do seem to be a hell of a lot of special characters without models there as well. Like you say I wouldn’t use special characters or star players in games very often so in some ways it’s not a big deal, but then why have rules for them? Of course you could convert them, and I have been inspired to, but still… Like I say I do like them, and I hope they keep coming up with more, but I’d actually like to see more generic hangers on as opposed to named individuals (both in terms of rules/concepts and miniatures).

      Yeah, the new champions look fairly good, but – based on what we’ve seen of them so far – they don’t match up to the standard plastic gang (the exception being the girl with the hammer – she’s pretty cool). I’ll have to wait and see how expensive they are, and how FW decides to sell them (individually or as a set) before I decide if I’m buying any of them, but I’d still have preferred a weapon’s set that I could use to customise my own characters rather than building models that look the same as everyone else’s.

      Yeah, I was happy enough about the lack of female Goliath, but now we’ve seen them and know they exist (and that baby Goliaths aren’t exclusively made in vats) I’d be curious to see the idea expanded on. I really liked the way that the Forgeborn women looked though, if they were to do Goliath ladies I’d worry they’d make them into a pastiche. Then again they’ve proved me wrong on that front before so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for now. 🙂

  • Mikko

    Another sterling post, love these long and well thought out pieces.

  • Pagumb

    Excellent post. I, too, had been eagerly awaiting the House of Blades book and after reading your reaction I went back to carefully read the background sections and consider the modeling possibilities. I know I’m getting excited about a book when I start taking notes and many notes were taken. House enclaves for models and house industries for terrain…what would a seeing temple for their shivvers look like or a corner of one of the Patriarcium Hospices? What vehicles can I convert for the Escher that hunt the Bloody Road? Factorum Sisters…

    The quality of your reflections can be found in the excitement it engendered in me for the other houses that I generally don’t consider often or deeply. A female Goliath bounty hunter or the Eschaki chem-soldier would make for a great exception that proves the rule. A living, breathing threat to the fragile order of the present upon which Necromunda society rests.

    Time to do a deep dive on all of your Necromunda posts. Lots of quality content and thoughts to consider. Looking forward to additional Scum’s Thoughts in the future.

    • Wudugast

      Thank you! You’ve suggested some great ideas there, every one of them would be a cool project to create. I’ll keep an eye out and see what you do with them 🙂 I think this is a big part of why Necromunda appeals to me so much. Someone could, if they wanted, spend their whole lives modelling things for the setting and still have fresh options and ideas to explore.

  • Azazel

    I always really enjoy your write-ups – saves me the time of needing to read my own books. 😉
    That Chain-Lord looks to me like a potential conversion from The Hobbit’s Goblin King, though I guess scale might make it unlikely.
    Love those Ogryns as well – I’ve just ordered 2 boxes this week (and your guest model there ain’t too shabby either!)
    I just wish the heroes weren’t all Forge World resin, though…

    • Wudugast

      Thank you! You ought to read those books though, they really are excellent.

      Hmmm… That comment about the Goblin King just started my brain turning over, he’d make the basis for an amazing overlord for my mutie tribe. Another one to add to the list of potential projects!

      Aye, it’s a shame there’s so much forge world resin in the range (not that I have a particular beef with it but it’s pricy and plastic is easier to work with). At least Kal and Scabs were in plastic, maybe whenever they get around to Mad Donna she will be too.

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