20 Nov 18

Arbitrator’s Guidebook Part 9: Arbitrator Gangs

As the Arbitrator running a Necromunda campaign, there’s a lot of fun to be had in being the puppetmaster for the other players and providing them with a great framework for their games. But sometimes, you want to get models on the table and throw some dice yourself. Fortunately, Owen Barnes is here to help with expert advice on how to do just that. 


One of the most enjoyable elements of being an Arbitrator is creating adversaries for the players to tangle with. And when it comes to Necromunda there are plenty to choose from. These can range from Bounty Hunters and Hive Scum for the gangs to hire (or to join their enemies) to full-fledged gangs, either drawn from the Clan Houses or pretty much any organisation on Necromunda.* The great thing about these Arbitrator-controlled gangs is they can be built for a specific purpose, such as assassinating a rival Leader in The Hit, defending a caravan in Caravan Heist or as a gang of desperados to face off against in a Shootout. The good news for the Arbitrator is that the Necromunda rules provide all the tools they need to build weird and wonderful gangs!

A great way to add some colour to your Necromunda campaigns is to create a collection of Bounty Hunters and Hive Scum using the rules first published in Gang War 2. Rather than allowing players to build their own Hired Guns when they recruit a Bounty Hunter or Hive Scum, the Arbitrator can make a pool for the gangs to choose from.

These desperados then create their own stories as they hire out to different gangs, pursue their own agendas and maybe even team up to form Venator Bands to work for (or against!) the interests of the Guild. The Arbitrator can also allow players to take on these pre-made Hired Guns without paying their hiring fee (making them more attractive options over regular gang members), or have them turn up to ‘help’ during specific scenarios to ensure they are always part of the action.

As well as building Hired Guns, the Arbitrator can create complete gangs. Often these will be Guilder Watchmen or agents in the employ of a rival Clan House. They will either be the antagonists in a scenario, such as defending or attacking a settlement defended by multiple gangs in the Settlement Attack scenario, or to complicate matters, like lawmen showing up to keep the peace as two gangs shoot it out in the Downtown Dust-up scenario.

Gangs can be created using any of the gang lists, including the Cult and Venator gangs, and built to purpose (i.e. with skills and equipment chosen to reflect their talents, such as giving a dual plasma pistol-wielding desperado the Gunfighter and Fast Shot skills). Like Hired Guns these gangs can take a memorable place in the campaign, like the outlawed Van Saar gang and their stolen House tech that requires an alliance of gangs to take down, or Hagan the bitter old watch-leader and his watchmen, who just want the gangs to quit shooting up Two Tunnels for one Emperor-cursed night!**

More detailed guidelines for creating Watchmen gangs can be found in Gang War 3.

As massive and diverse a place as Necromunda is, it is also part of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, which is even larger still. In fact, many of the institutions of the Imperium exist in some part on Necromunda, like the Temple of the Emperor Deified in Hive Temenos controlled by the Ecclesiarchy, or the Stranger’s Spire in Hive Primus for visiting xenos or abhumans, like Eldar traders or Squat mercenaries. You can be sure, given all the corruption in the underhive, there’s the odd Inquisitorial agent wandering about getting into trouble as well. While many of these agencies and their warriors are beyond the purview of the core game of Necromunda (which really is all about gang warfare) there’s no reason Arbitrators with extensive collections of Warhammer 40,000 Citadel miniatures can’t slip them into their games.

Less is usually more when it comes to tapping into the wider universe, but games involving rogue Death Cult Assassins, cruel witch hunters or Ministorum missionaries come to cleanse the underhive are all possible. And the best thing of all is both Necromunda and Warhammer 40,000 share the same gaming foundation, so converting these unusual characters to work in a Necromunda campaign is not too difficult. Just be careful with the Lictors***…

Some cracking ideas from Owen there. If you add some unusual antagonists to your Necromunda campaigns, be sure to let us know on the Necromunda Facebook page. And if you want to get a campaign going, the Necromunda boxed game is the perfect way to get started, with the core rules, two gangs and more in the box.

* And beyond…
** Sadly for Hagan, we never gave him a night off…
*** See Arbitrator’s Guidebook Part 1