Good Mornin’, Scummers! Hopefully our column isn’t the only way you’re able to tell that it’s Monday anymore, but it’s pretty weird out there these days and we don’t judge! This week, we’re gonna talk about Bounty Hunters: the inspiration for some of the greatest models that Forgeworld’s come out with in years, aaaaaand rules-wise one of the game’s systems that Necromunda just can’t get quite right.
Bounty Hunters are an ever present threat in the Underhive, since when you’ve got an entire economy built around crime, manufacturing five different patterns of Lasguns, and more crime, it’s only natural that there’s a career to be made for a lone bruiser willing to weaponize their violent tendencies. Some of them join forces and form Venator Gangs, but most prefer to operate solo. You’ve got your basic rabble, some fledgling Bounty Hunters trying to make names for themselves, and Dramatis Personae – living legends shrouded in intrigue and adventure.
At least, that’s how they exist in the lore. On the table, Bounty Hunters have spent the entire existence of this version of Necromunda struggling to achieve relevance on the tabletop. Now, our knee-jerk response to that is “Use ‘em anyway because they look rad,” but we can see the struggle. Their models are beautiful, both in their official Forgeworld offerings and the fighters lovingly converted by players, but their rules have undergone constant revision as the game’s designers have tried to incentivize players to actually use them.
Are they there yet? We’ll get into that soon, but even if they’re not (they’re not) we might have some thoughts on the matter.
What Are Bounty Hunters?
Bounty Hunters fall into the Hired Guns category, same as Hive Scum. You can typically only have a single Bounty Hunter in your gang at a time, though there are exceptions granted to a certain few who prefer to work with a buddy. There are two types of Bounty Hunter:
Bounty Hunter (Custom)
- Choose from a Shooty, Tanky, or Stabby profile.
- Picks one skill and chooses a second randomly, or rolls three random skills.
- Players purchase up to 150 credits worth of gear for them, up to Rare (10).
- Come with free Mesh or Flak armor.
- Can be fielded in addition to a given Scenario’s crew, potentially bringing a crew over the maximum crew size.
- Can potentially leave a gang for good in the post-battle phase, taking their weapons and wargear with them.
- Do not gain XP or Lasting Injuries.
- Unique named fighters with locked equipment sets and skills & abilities.
- Can possess combos and abilities impossible to get through any other methods.
- The sorts of folks they write books about. Good books, too, sometimes.
- Some of them are, ah, absurdly over-costed.
- Can potentially leave a gang for good in the post-battle phase, taking their weapons and wargear with them.
- Do not gain XP or Lasting Injuries.
That all looks pretty good, at least until you start pricing out your custom fellas or perusing the retainers on some of the Dramatis Personae. Usually, that’s around the time when that whole “can potentially leave a gang for good” part starts to look a little bit.. Worrisome.
It’s not all that bad though, and when you get down to it, this is the best they’ve been so far! Bounty Hunters are a constant work in progress for the Specialist Games team, so let’s take a little trip down memory duct-way and see how we got here!
A Brief History of Bounty Hunters
At least, this is how we remember it!
Gang War II
When they were first re-introduced to Necromunda back in the heady days of Gang War II, Bounty Hunters were in a bit of a rough place. All three flavors of Hired Guns (Hive Scum, Dramatis Personae, and Custom Bounty Hunters) took a huge bite out of a gang’s wallet and stuck around for exactly one game. Since this was an obviously inferior investment to simply buying a new champion (or a tooled-out ganger, since champions were Reputation-limited back then!), savvy players chose to skip out on using Bounty Hunters approximately 100% of the time.
Gangs of the Underhive
Bounty Hunters received an update and a bit of a lifeline in their first Hardcover release, strutting around town with the new Dead Not Alive and We’ll Get Our Bit special rules. Now, unless the opposing player had permanently deleted a fighter from their roster and lost one of their crew as a captive, the Bounty Hunter would stick around. If only one of those events occured, the chance of retaining the Bounty Hunter would be 50%, which isn’t too bad! Claiming Bounties, which has a chance to give bonus credits when capturing enemy fighters, was also improved, going from a 6+ chance to a 3+.
Unfortunately, these improvements also debuted in a book that removed the reputation limit on the amount of champions a gang could recruit (now limited only by your number of gangers), so once again Bounty Hunters were seen as a lackluster choice compared to recruiting a house fighter who could never just walk away.
House Patronage (May 2019 White Dwarf)
The Underdog Patronage table asked Necromunda players an important question; “Would you guys finally start taking Bounty Hunters if we made them completely free?” As it turns out, the answer was an unexpectedly resounding YES. These Bounty Hunters would only stick around for a single battle, but could take a gang above the Scenario’s maximum crew size. This would also count for Dramatis Personae, so an uncountable amount of beautiful Forgeworld models probably saw their second game on the table in two years thanks to this. Bounty Hunters were finally starting to see play, but was the only good solution “Let’s just make ‘em free?”
Book of Judgment
The solution, apparently, was “Let’s just make ‘em free.” Rackets and Law-Abiding Boons in the Law and Misrule Campaign allowed for a custom Bounty Hunter to be recruited for zero credits. Most players had interpreted this to also absorb the cost of their equipment, until they were errata’d to show up naked in the 2019 FAQ.
Not as great, but still mostly free. Cheaper, at least. A discount? Crazy builds became less common, but you could always slap a Bolter on ‘em and they’d probably do some work. Dramatis Personae were snubbed as an option here, so back on the shelf they went.
The Underdog Card Pack
The Underdog Card Pack, released around the same time, helpfully used the all-encompassing term “Hired Gun” on its Welcome Stranger cards, allowing players to build a custom Bounty Hunter worth up to 200 credits completely for free, or potentially even a Dramatis Personae as long as they didn’t cost more than that. This fighter would remain on a player’s roster post-game, making it the most powerful version of “What If Free?” so far. Actual credits continued to be spent on real gangers and champions and brutes. 90% of Dramatis Personae suddenly remembered that they all cost way more than 200 credits anyway, and continued to sob quietly.
House of Chains
Third time’s the charm? House of Chains reprinted mostly the same Bounty Hunter profile as in Gangs of the Underhive, but with a brand-spankin’ new rule: You Get What You Pay For. Now, in addition to everything else, Custom Bounty Hunters (and Hive Scum) would all exist outside of the normal crew selection process, meaning they could be taken as, say, the 11th member of a Custom(10) crew size Scenario. This obviously helps make all of the free Bounty Hunters from Law & Misrule and Patronage a lot more versatile, but is this finally the improvement that’ll get folks tempted into spending real credits on these guys? (Nope.)
It bears mentioning that while the Dramatis Personae in the House of Chains book generally have the new You Get What You Pay For rule, this isn’t officially applied to any of the 26+ named Bounty Hunters in the older books, so they continue to languish. Plenty of new beautiful models, oodles of new profiles, shackled uselessly to rules and systems that made them borderline unfieldable from over three years ago.
Usage and Acquisition
So in case you skipped the history lecture, in present day Bounty Hunters are used in 3 ways: they are hired in the pre-battle sequence, using the gang’s own credits, they are granted to the gang as a part of a boon in a Law & Misrule campaign Racket, or they are granted to the gang as House Patronage in an effort to help equalize an otherwise lopsided battle. Let’s take a closer look at these systems.
A player can use their credits to purchase the services of a Bounty Hunter for at least one, and probably a couple more, games. The player pays the 80 credit base cost and then adds the cost of the Hunter’s weapons and wargear, for a maximum cost of 230 credits. Unfortunately, this method is a truly unfortunate use of a gang’s credits.
Sure, a Bounty Hunter can be a positive addition during a game, but why not spend that money on a new champion, brute, or other permanent addition to the gang? Even a novice Necromunda player will quickly discover that there are far better uses for their credits. As much as we love Bounty Hunters, this is an unfortunate and short-sighted way to use them.
In the Law & Misrule campaign, or as a result of alliances, a gang might be able to add a “free” Bounty Hunter to their gang. This seems like it might be a great idea, but the gang is still responsible for paying for any of the up to 150 credits of weapons and wargear the Bounty Hunter can use. Again, credits used in this manner are credits not spent on permanent members of the gang, which is always the best play.
The final, and probably best, official way to use Bounty Hunters is as a part of the House Patronage system. Blood Bowl players will recognize this system as Necromunda’s version of Inducements. Players compare the two gangs’ gang or crew ratings, and the underdog gets the difference to spend on things like tactics cards, Hive Scum, extra fighters, Juves, or Bounty Hunters. Except for Juves, these fighters are only hired for one game, in an effort to help equalize what could be an otherwise unbalanced game.
In this system, the underdog isn’t paying any credits for their Bounty Hunters. While this might help even up a campaign game, some players don’t like the system all that much, and we feel that it’s a little too clinical and lacking in narrative flavor, which we agree is the most important part of Necromunda.
Our Player-Driven Bounty System
So, we’ve explored the current rules for Bounty Hunters in Necromunda. And while Bounty Hunters have their place, we wanted to come up with a fun way to use them that is both flavorful and won’t break the players’ banks.
In this system we’re letting players set bounties on one another! We think this is an extremely engaging way for players to create and sustain vendettas, rivalries, and foster an environment of friendly competition. If you’re an Arbitrator, please give this system a shot and tell us how you like it! Here’s how it works:
After a game, a player may pay their own damn credits to the Arbitrator to issue a bounty on their opponent’s gang. This bounty takes effect immediately and lasts until the end of the next campaign round (or week or whatever you’re calling it). We would encourage players to issue bounties for any of the following reasons:
- Cunning, inventive, or dastardly play.
- The player’s favorite fighter got taken out of action.
- The player’s opponent won.
- The player’s opponent lost.
- Adult beverages were consumed.
- The player’s opponent has a Delaque gang (they didn’t need to use it, the existence of a Delaque gang in the house is all the reason that anyone needs).
- You get the point – literally any reason.
At this point, the Arbitrator should let all the players know that a bounty has been offered on one of the campaign’s gangs and give their players a way to track these bounties, such as a read-only Google sheet or a note on a Yaktribe Gang Roster. At this point, the player who issued the bounty’s participation is provisionally over. This bounty takes effect in their opponent’s future games.
Going forward, whenever anyone plays against a gang that carries a bounty, there is a chance that independent Bounty Hunters will show up and offer their services so that they can collect some of that reward for themselves. All bounty hunters are not created equal, though. Some are dangerous and successful and will only concern themselves with lucrative contracts, and some are Eyros Slagmyst.
As a gang’s bounty grows larger, they will attract a more and more dangerous sort of Bounty Hunter. It is important to note that multiple gangs can throw their own credits into the pool to create a larger combined bounty against a certain opponent, ensuring that in the next round this infamous player will have more and more difficult battles!
If a player is playing against a gang that carries a bounty, they may roll 2d6 in the pre-battle sequence after Crews have been selected. For every 25 credits worth of bounty, add 1 to this roll. For example, 50 credits in the bounty pool is 2d6 + 2, and 200 credits in the pool is 2d6 + 8, and so on.
Once the total is calculated, consult the table below:
|2d6 Result (after modification)||Result|
|8-9||Tier 3 Bounty Hunter|
|10-11||Tier 2 Bounty Hunter|
|12+||Tier 1 Bounty Hunter|
You’ll notice that we’ve established tiers. More on that later. First, here are some important rules:
- Dramatis Personae Bounty Hunters CAN be added to a gang in this manner.
- Each Tier has an option for a custom Bounty Hunter, but we’ve primarily designed our system around Dramatis Personae, both as a reason for our players (and possibly yours) to finally have an excuse to play with these seldom-used models, and possibly even to convert up their own.
- Bounty Hunters added to a crew in this way are free, gear and all.
- Be they custom or Dramatis Personae, they cost nothing to the player that has “earned” the right to use them. Custom Bounty Hunters are explained in more detail below.
- Bounty Hunters added in this manner are used in the subsequent game and for no longer.
- You don’t get to keep ‘em to use against the next guy! They’ve got other stuff to do.
- This method of using Bounty Hunters does not replace the other methods of using Bounty Hunters.
- Players can hire Bounty Hunters in any of the three methods described above in addition to this method.
- Only one Bounty Hunter can be added to a crew in this manner.
- If a Bounty Hunter has rules that allow them to work in concert with another Bounty Hunter, then the player may use two in this battle, but only if they’ve secured their participation through other means. Kal can come free with a lucky roll, but Scabs is still gonna demand top dollar for any side-kickin’.
- Bounty Hunters added in this way are considered to not have the “We’ll get our bit…” special rule.
- Since Bounty Hunters added in this way are free to the player using them, there does not need to be a rule that extends their contracts in a way to mitigate their cost.
- In every other way, a Bounty Hunter added to a gang in this manner acts like a Bounty Hunter.
- Though guaranteed we’ve probably missed some rules interaction that breaks the game somehow, so use your best Rules As Intended judgement here.
The Tier List
Dramatis Personae are, like everything else in this wonderful game, extremely unbalanced. For every Yar Umbra, there is an Eyros Slagmyst. For every The Deserter, there is a Krotos Hark. If a player rolls low or their opponent’s bounty is low, it’s more likely that they’ll be teaming up with a dud than a stud. However, if they get lucky or the bounty is dome-ceiling-high, then a higher class of Bounty Hunter will no doubt be interested in signing on for a game. Some Bounty Hunters will make more of a difference than others, and we thought it would be important to rank them in tiers that loosely represent how effective they are on the tabletop.
Dramatis Personae are easy to rank, but custom Bounty Hunters provide a bit of a challenge. What we’ve decided to do is change up the amount of credits that each tier of custom Bounty Hunter has access to regarding how they are armed and outfitted.
- A Tier 3 Custom Bounty Hunter comes with 75 credits worth of gear from the Trading Post or Black Market and may use items and weapons of a Rarity or Illegality of 9 or less.
- A Tier 2 Custom Bounty Hunter comes with 150 credits worth of gear from the Trading Post or Black Market and may use items and weapons of a Rarity or Illegality of 10 or less.
- A Tier 1 Custom Bounty Hunter comes with 225 credits worth of gear from the Trading Post or Black Market and may use items and weapons of a Rarity or Illegality of 11 or less.
It should be known that the rankings in this article are purely qualitative. A Dramatis Personae’s cost is not an indicator of how effective they are, so y’all are just going to have to trust us.
This is the scrub tier. Dramatis Personae that pretty much never get used, and cheapo custom jobs. They’re willing to take on the crappy gigs that other, better, Hunters ignore, but let’s face it: they’re not capable of bringing in the big bucks.
- Tier 3 Custom Bounty Hunter: Equipped with 75 credits worth of gear from the Trading Post or Black Market and may use items and weapons of a Rarity or Illegality of 9 or less.
- Alyce Shivver: A psyker with 7+ Willpower? No thanks. Good thing she makes up for it with her…stub gun and fighting knife. Sigh.
- Baertrum Arturos III: He’ll probably survive the battle, but he’s just not going to do anything in it.
- Eyros Slagmyst: Ah, Eyros. The poster child for suckitutde. He’s a garbage character, but at least he’s free in this format. Plus, he’s got a cool hat.
- Krotos Hark: Munitioneer is really the only good thing about ol’ Krotos. If you bring a lot of unreliable weapons, he might be worth it, but otherwise he won’t do much.
- Mortanna Shroud: Toughness 3, one Wound. Gonna get got, and quickly.
- Thaetos 23-2: Thoroughly meh.
- Yolanda Skorn: A fighting knife, stub gun, and no hope of ever doing anything in a game.
The solid tier. Tier 2 Hunters won’t disappoint you, but they probably won’t wow you.
- Tier 2 Custom Bounty Hunter: Equipped with 150 credits worth of gear from the Trading Post or Black Market and may use items and weapons of a Rarity or Illegality of 10 or less.
- Apollus Cage: He’s good! Pretty good guns and skills mixed with solid wargear. He probably won’t win it on his own, but he’s no slouch.
- Aramista/Arbalesta Dae Catallus: The names, y’all. Ridiculous. One is a shooter, the other is a stabber, and they’re both pretty solid. Lots of Toxin here, so best to avoid high Toughness gangs.
- Djangar “Gunfists”: He could be worse, but stub cannons are pretty meh. He certainly won’t be wowing anyone. His guns are going to have Sidearm added to them in an upcoming FAQ, so it’s probably safe to play them that way in advance.
- Gor Half-Horn: He’s pretty good! His stats aren’t great, but the beastman won’t disappoint.
- Grendl Grendlsen: Pretty good equipment, pretty good stats, and pretty good skills. What’s not to like?
- The Headsman: Cawdor only. Good stats, but the 2-handed axe is trash.
- Kria Kytoro: Escher only. Pretty good sniper. Probably won’t win the game for you.
- Rex Spires: Against a combat gang, he’s probably Tier 1, but Bombs McKenzie over here will not disappoint you. Still, a trio of Melta Traps are guaranteed to cause at least a little bit of chaos!
- Vandoth the Fallen: He’s tough, and he’s some sort of muscle-vampire, and here at Necromunday, we think that’s pretty cool.
The pro tier. These Hunters are scary. They will make an immediate and substantial impact in every game they’re used.
- Tier 1 Custom Bounty Hunter: Equipped with 225 credits worth of gear from the Trading Post or Black Market and may use items and weapons of a Rarity or Illegality of 11 or less.
- Atillus the Axe: This guy’s Goliaths only, but holy crap. He’s a true combat monster who IGNORES THE FIRST OUT OF ACTION RESULT PER BATTLE. This is nuts! He’s so good!
- Belladonna: Good stats, great equipment, good skills. She’s all combat all the time, but when she gets there, watch out!
- The Deserter: A Dramatis Personae with Overseer. What more do you need to know?
- Eightfold Harvest Lord: Corpse Grinder, Helot Cult, or Chaos-Corrupted gangs only. He’s a terrifying avatar of slaughter. Fear him.
- Freikstorn Strix: No, we don’t know how to say his name, either. Doesn’t matter. With both the Grapnel and Harpoon launchers, this guy’s a menace, plain and simple.
- The Hermaphage Magos: More of a disruptor than a damage-dealer, this guy will give your opponent fits.
- Kal Jericho: He’s got a 3+ invulnerable save, good stats, and great skills. He also brings in the option to purchase his actually pretty dang good buddy Scabs at a 50% discount. He’s good, y’all.
- Ortuum 8-8: The Soul Hound ability is why you take them, and it is really, really good. Additionally, they can stun lock and even work with another Hunter. Super, super good.
- Slate Merdena: Orlock only. Great skills, great equipment, and a dog! He is strong, handsome, and the fact that he has a dog shows that he’s got real emotional depth, too.
- T.H.R.U.G. 12 “Sparky”: Slave Ogryns and Goliath only. He’s an extremely well-equipped Ogryn with great stats. Woe to anyone who gets into combat with him.
- Vorgen “Gunner” Mortz: The partial servo harness and the stubber with special ammo make Gunner a welcome addition to just about any gang.
- Yar Umbra: Probably the best sniper-for-hire out there. Overwatch is a hell of a skill, and on a Sector Mechanicus map he will be an absolute nightmare.
So, there you have it, Scummers! A fun way to get Bounty Hunters in your campaigns, without your players having to waste any credits in the process. Please, please, please go forth and use this in your campaigns and report back to us with what you’ve discovered. We’re always interested in feedback, be it good or bad!
We love Bounty Hunters. We love all the Dramatis Personae (even poor Eyros), and we love all of the kit-bashed weirdos that we’ve seen over the past two+ years. They add so much flavor, color, and style to this already colorful game, and we wish that players would actually use them more. In the campaigns we run, we find, over and over again, that these wonderful characters are criminally underused. We’re hoping that with our fun little Bounty system, players will get more use out of them moving forward.
As always, drop us a line over at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’ve got anything to say, or bug us on the Goonhammer Facebook page. We hope you enjoy our articles, and come back next week, as we navigate some of the pitfalls in creating a custom scenario! You don’t want to miss it! Be well, Scummers, and stay healthy!