Necromunday: Criminal Alliances

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It’s time to fight the power, Scummers! The Merchant Guilds think that they can come gallivanting into our Underhive and start pushing us around, but they don’t know us! They may have all sorts of fancy thugs and gangs on the payroll, but we’ve got friends too. It’s time to even things up and call in a few favors!

Previous Sections: 1) Intro to Alliances | 2) Guild Alliances

When an Outlawed gang needs a helping hand, they call on the services of their local Recidivist faction, a local leader focused on some aspect of the Underhive’s largely crimes-based economy. With purveyors of smuggled Xenos technology, factory overseers pumping out counterfeit weapons, and secret orphanages filled with wayward Psykers, it’s no question that these criminals are definitely not good people.

But ya know what? When the alternative is to sign up to help out a bunch of crazy arsonists or literally slavers, at least the Recidivists are actually members of the community!

Shinin’ the light in his face, and for what? (Insta: @sump_kings)

The Recidivists

Several of the universal rules for using Recidivist Alliances in a campaign are only going to be a factor in a Law and Misrule setting, and are assumed to be not in effect in other campaign systems where Arbitrators have allowed Alliances to be formed. Most of these guidelines come with exceptions and caveats that the Guilds didn’t – as it turns out, the underworld doesn’t often play by their rules!

Campaign Play

  • Secret Handshakes: As the ideological opposites of the Guilders, a gang may only enter into an Alliance with a Recidivist faction if they are currently an Outlaw. This gang can become Lawful later on, but the test to retain their criminal ally is stacked against them unless they have a Fixer. Do note: The Imperial Imposters received an update in the 2019 FAQ that makes this not only reasonably possible, but even a valid long-term strategy!
  • The Wrong Kind of Attention: Rackets in a Law and Misrule campaign that grant a Guild Bond cannot break an existing Alliance, nor can they form a second one simultaneously. Instead, the controlling player is granted a free Bounty Hunter and two Hive Scummers. (In our campaigns, we’ve chosen to offer these mercenaries free equipment, as well as have them stick around from game to game while the Racket is in play.)
  • Loss of Confidence: Almost all of a Criminal Ally’s demands from their Guard Duty analogue to a post-battle tithe, can be fully disregarded if a player chooses, provided that they’re willing to risk losing their ally with an Alliance Test.

A beautiful custom (and nostalgic!) Cold Trader Smuggler Shore Party (Credit: Axiom of Magpie and Old Lead )

In-game Retinues

Retinues for the various Criminal Alliances lack the Guild Representative page that defined abilities for the Guilders. Instead, these abilities are largely duplicated into each Retinue’s individual rulesets. Most of these rules carry over, but there are a few key differences!

  • Notoriety? No Problem!: While the hoity-toity Guilders will balk at the thought of an uneven scrum, the Recidivists are always happy to get stuck in! There’s no Reputation rolls for using a Criminal Retinue. If you call, they’ll be there. Some factions’ Retinues will show up automatically when certain scenarios are played, like the Guilders’ Guard Duty, but they tend to be less insistent with it.
  • Throw More Bodies At It: Recidivists play fast and loose with mere suggestions like, say,  Crew Size. Cold Traders and Factoria Work Gangs allow their entire Retinue to be swapped in for a single native crew slot, and all other Recidivist factions allow for their Retinues or Representative to be added to a gang’s crew on top of their normal maximum size!
  • A Band Apart: Criminal Retinues share priority with their host gang and can take advantage of abilities and rules across the two groups, but count as a separate entity for the purpose of Group Activations and Bottle Tests. Orders given through the Overseer ability on leaders can only be used within the Retinue.
  • Bodyguard: Leaders of a Retinue are often the biggest and the baddest, and their underlings are hell-bent on keeping them up and running. Regular fighters from a Retinue within 2” of their leader can take any ranged hit instead, preventing the leader from even having to deal with being Pinned. This ability is exactly as powerful as you would expect!

A terrible mistake, Officer. You’ll find our paperwork is all in order. (See more at Precinct XXII)

One major distinction between the Retinues of the Guilders and the Recidivists (aside from the disappearance of the Reputation limit) is the absence of any and all special game-affecting abilities that are activated in any battles that include a Criminal Retinue. If you’re looking for something like the Pyromantic Conclave’s Pitch Black on Command ability you’re outta luck, but don’t worry! The Recidivists make up for their lack of Retinue shenanigans with overwhelming power instead. Let’s take a look!

Cold Traders

You can be sure there’s nothing good under those masks. (Insta: @rakeendboy)

The cold in their namesake is, of course, the cold of the void. Cold Traders are off-world smugglers who deal in alien and heretical technology. Sneaking such contraband past the many layers of bureaucratic impediments is an expensive and difficult endeavor, but such is the appetite for exotic tech. Some Cold Traders exclusively supply goods to the noble families of the Spire, but many are more than willing to sell their goods in the Underhive, where there are more, and more desperate, customers.

Benefits

In a campaign that uses the Black Market, an alliance with the Cold Traders will allow easier access to exotic Xenos weaponry. Specifically, this benefit will reduce the Legality of Xenos weapons and wargear by 2, making them easier to find. While there are clearly demarcated Xenos weapons, the Arbitrator will have to decide what wargear items count as Xenos wargear. Fortunately, this is usually pretty easy to determine, as the flavor text for  the wargear item entries will tell you quite a lot. This benefit will allow the allied gang to level up their gear with stunning alacrity.

In addition, the leader of the gang allied with the Cold Traders will get a free random Xenos weapon to use while the alliance is unbroken. FYI, there are ten official Xenos weapons, so it’s as easy as rolling a d10 to discover what weapon your leader gets! Xenos weapons are generally good to very good, with one exception: the Yu’Vath Puzzle Box which is useless but very cool.

Now, these previously mentioned benefits are cool and all, but let’s get to the good stuff. If you’re a fan of heckin’ chonkers, may we introduce you to the…

Smuggler Shore Party

The Smuggler Shore Party consists of four models: a Cold Trader, a Bosun, and two Void-Born Scum. The Shore Party is just about the beefiest alliance retinue available, including what amounts to two Slave Ogryn Underbosses in addition to its smaller members.

The Cold Trader is a dangerous individual. They’re armed with a Stiletto Knife and a Sling Gun which is quite dangerous, especially if they can get up close. They also have Armourweave armor and a Bio Booster, both of which will help them survive a little bit longer in a brutal gang fight. As for skills, they come with the standard Shore-Party-only Overseer and Step Aside, giving them a little more survivability in combat.

The Bosun is a garbage character. Terrible stats and basic kit mean that they won’t be contributing too much in a fight, except maybe causing some Cool checks so your good fighters don’t get lit up. They’ve got a fighting knife, a shotgun with solid and scatter, and mesh armor. They also come with the Dodge skill, which is fine, we guess.

The real reason anyone wants to take the Cold Traders are the Void-Born Scum. With Toughness 5 and 3 Wounds each, these are Slave Ogryn champs with better Ballistic Skill. They have crap for equipment (Autopistol and Fighting Knife lol) and no skills, but who needs equipment and skills with a profile like that? These two are the perfect meatshield for your more effective gangers. They’re hard to kill, and as they’re part of a criminal retinue, they’ll never get permanently injured. This means that they’re both tough and expendable, a fantastic combination with the Bodyguard ability. They’re vulnerable to pinning, but with a Cold Trader nearby, they’ll be able to group activate and get off charges even from a prone position.

All in all, we feel that the Smuggler Shore Party should increase the crew rating of the gang using them by 655 credits.

Drawbacks

Cold Traders are somewhat aggressive with their tactics, and may force allied gangs to play either The Hit or Last Stand scenarios as the attacker if they get to choose missions. This is honestly not much of a drawback, as in those scenarios the attacker is heavily favored to win, as they’re crazy unbalanced (read more about scenarios here!).

Also, after each battle, if the player uses a Smuggler Shore Party, they must randomly select a fighter who’s not in recovery in their own gang who will miss the next battle. Could be a problem if the gang’s leader has to lay low for a while.


Imperial Imposters

Pop Quiz: Which one of these three is the Master Charlatan?  (Insta: @inquisitorvex)

Imperial Society is built atop a mind-numbingly bureaucracy with more than 10,000 years of unbroken tradition. Titles and ancestry carry with them immense power and influence in such a society. Imperial Imposters are the identity thieves of Necromunda, creating entire noble houses out of thin air, and then stealing as much as they can while their disguise is still working. Identity theft, counterfeiting, and forgeries are the work of such recidivists, and their interests are rooted deep within the Underhive. 

Benefits

The first benefit offered by the Imperial Imposters is a bit of a head-scratcher. They can allow the player to choose one gang in the campaign (including their own) to avoid any one action that would Outlaw them in this round. Since the Imposters would only ally with an Outlaw gang to begin with, this ability is of dubious use to any gang allied with them, at least initially!

The Imperial Imposters received a very important change in the 2019 FAQ, allowing them to avoid adding 3 to the difficulty when rolling an Alliance Test upon changing from Outlaw to Lawful (or vice versa). This change allows them the distinct possibility of maintaining their Alliance to a now-Lawful gang, which going forward can prevent itself from being forcibly Outlawed once per Campaign Week. In a Law and Misrule campaign, Reputation is everything, and risky moves that may change a gang’s alignments come with heavy Reputation penalties. The Imposters, if all these steps have been followed, can prevent that, allowing their gangs to freely scoop up all Lawful and Outlaw Intrigues without fear of reprisal once a week.

If all that sounds like a ton of work and preparation for admittedly little payoff, fear not! Even if the long game isn’t your cup of tea, the Imperial Imposters also offer one of the most fearsome infiltrators in the entire Hive in…

The Master Charlatan

The Master Charlatan is a single model. It’s also one of the coolest characters in the game. They’ve got a stacked profile, and are armed to the teeth, with a needle pistol, a stiletto sword, mesh armor, a Holochromatic field (!), a falsehood (holy crap!), and four, count ‘em four, digi lasers! While their offensive capabilities aren’t abjectly terrifying, the Master Charlatan isn’t going anywhere. The Falsehood means they can’t even be targeted until they do something offensive or at the end of the second round, and the Holochromatic field means that when they do get targeted, they probably won’t get hit! To top it off, the Charlatan has the Evade, Step Aside, and Infiltrate skills, making them a true and complete nuisance. This is easily one of the most fun characters in the game to play with.

We suggest that a gang using a Master Charlatan ought to increase their crew rating by 485 credits.

Drawbacks

Once again, the missions that the Imperial Imposters may force a player to choose are actually good missions for them to choose. Unlike Cold Traders, who get to participate in easy lay-ups, allies of the Imperial Imposters get to take part in the missions that will most likely end up with them being filthy rich: Looters, Forgotten Riches, or the supremely broken Caravan Heist. Not really a drawback, after all.

Their secondary drawback is that after a game where the Master Charlatan was used, the player must roll a dice. On a 6, the gang is Outlawed if they’re not already Outlaws. But with the Imperial Imposter benefit, this really doesn’t mean that much. Maybe we discovered the real benefit of the Imperial Imposters: they just don’t really have any drawbacks!


Rogue Factoria

Really should have let them unionize. (Credit: Christian of Elite40k)

The Adeptus Mechanicus is extremely strict about the production of goods on Necromunda. Almost all goods are the product of Standard Template Construct (STC) printouts, and are considered holy relics by the church of the Omnissiah. Still, some criminals wish to produce their goods away from the watchful eyes of the techpriests, and do so with stolen or copied STC Archprints. These rogue manufactorums supply those who cannot match their punishing quotas, or those who are too desperate to care where their gear comes from.

Benefits

A gang allied with Rogue Factoria has access to counterfeit weaponry. This weaponry is substantially cheaper and easier to obtain, but comes with one of two caveats: any melee weapons gain the Reckless trait, meaning that attacks must be evenly distributed amongst all models in range, including friendlies, and ranged weapons get Unstable. An Unstable weapon will blow up and take the firer out of action 8.33% of the time per firepower dice rolled. These trade-offs aren’t actually that bad, so players should feel free to go hog wild in securing cheaply made, knock-off weapons.

With a rather good benefit, one might think that the available goons might not be so good. Let’s investigate the…

Factoria Work Gang

The Factoria Work gang is made up of five models, making it the most numerous alliance retinue available to gangs in the Underhive: one Factoria Overseer, one Work Party Boss, and three Factoria Workers.

The Factoria Overseer comes with standard champion-level stats, and somesolid weapons: an auto/plasma pistol, a shock baton, and mesh armor. Not the most powerful character out there, but they can provide some excellent close-ranged fire support. The Overseer comes with the Commanding Presence and Overseer (natch) skills, which makes their use a bit confounding. They’re obviously a support character, but they have the best weapons and stats in the gang by a large margin.

The Work Party Boss sounds like they would be a really cool coworker, but we imagine that in “reality” it’s actually the opposite. They come with a laspistol, shock whip, and mesh armor, but their terrible stats ultimately makes them somewhat toothless.

Finally, we have the Factoria Workers themselves. These fighters are garbage. Bad stats, crap equipment, and no skills make them useful in really only one way: meat shields.

Honestly, the Factoria Work Gang sucks. This is one of the very rare cases where the Alliance’s benefit is what you’d be after rather than their retinue. Cheap weapons with marginal caveats is really good to have, especially in the early campaign. If you do find yourself saddled with these jabronis, chuck in the front to soak up some fire before your well-armed gangers move in and clean house!

All in all, we suggest adding 415 credits to the crew rating of the gang that is using the Factoria Work Gang.

Unlike Cold Traders and Imperial Imposters, Rogue Factoria force players to use their agents in certain types of missions instead of forcing the player to choose specific missions.

Drawbacks

There’s kind of a big one right off the bat: if you are using any counterfeit guns, which is kind of the point, then your opponent gets to recruit a Bounty Hunter without having to pay the hiring fee. They’d still have to shell out some cash for the weapons, but that’s a compelling discount for a cash-rich opponent. Additionally, fighters that use counterfeit weapons are automatically worth their full value when sold to the guilders. Arbitrator’s Note: we suggest that you go against RAW here and give the Bounty Hunter up to a certain credit amount’s worth of weapons and wargear instead of making the opposing gang pay for them. After all, the Bounty Hunter is only there for the game, and otherwise it would be a completely ineffective drawback.

Our second drawback here is that if the gang uses any counterfeit weaponry, then they must also take along a Factoria Work Gang. The Factoria Work Gang won’t win any games for you, but you won’t hate having them around, as they are extremely good at soaking up bullets.


Narco Lords

Pictured here: Necromunday readers out for a night on the town! (Insta: @bilewerk)

Drugs, chems, and stimms are all important parts of life on Necromunda. But the Guilds set a high price on them, and there are many who would rather not pay Guilder tithes. Additionally, while stimms and chems are common in Necromunda, there are still dangerous and illegal substances traded in Black Markets all throughout the hives. In the dark spaces between the writ of Clan House and Guild, Narco Lords build their empires of violence, fear, and drugs.

Benefits

Unsurprisingly, Narco Lords give their allies access to cheap and plentiful drugs! Chems are a lot easier to find at the Trading Post or Black Market, and the suppliers of said drugs never run out! With all the chems already in the game, and more on the way in the upcoming House of Blades, It’s pretty obvious how that could help a gang out! Narco Lords also enjoy a special relationship with House Goliath, and can write off their first Alliance Test as mere Disquiet.

The Narco Lords are more than just pushers, though, they’re shovers too! Gaze upon their bruisers, and fear the might of the…

Narco Scum

That’s right, instead of having a unique set of fighters that can join your gang as allied representatives, the Narco Lords offer d3+2 Hive Scum for the battle. They are completely free, so it’s not the worst thing in the world, since each one comes equipped with up to 60 credits worth of gear of the player’s choice. Use them to fill in the gaps of your own gang’s firebase, send them off on a special flanking mission, or just run them straight forward as cannon fodder. They’re nothing fancy, but four to five extra bodies might just be enough to run your opponent out of bullets!

Unlike their Law-Abiding analog, the Iron Guild, the Narco Lords are always willing to send their drug-addled thugs into battle, and no Reputation tests are necessary! So generous!

Our recommendation for Crew Rating with this pseudo-retinue is 90 credits per Scummer.

Drawbacks

As we’ve seen before, the Narco Lords may force their allies to play certain missions. In this case, we’re looking at Downtown Dust-up, Ghast Harvest, and the Hit. Ghast Harvest is a great way to make a bunch of cash, so that should probably be your choice when needed.

Additionally, the Narco Lords demand a tribute of D3x10 credits per game if the gang would have made any credits off of the battle. We’ve seen this before in the Guilds, and it’s not the worst drawback.


Fallen Houses

She would prefer it if you referred to her as a “Temporarily Embarrassed Millionaire” (Insta: @heresy_era)

Not all Noble Houses started out noble, and not all Noble houses stay noble. The Fallen Houses are scions of outcast nobility, vying to reclaim their spot amongst Necromunda’s elite. They carry with them a great hatred and bitterness towards the Merchant Guilds and Imperial House, and will stop at nothing to regain their “rightful” spot in Necromunda’s pecking order.

Benefits

The prime bonus of an Alliance with one of the Fallen Houses will only come into play in a Law and Misrule campaign; an extra d6x10 credits awarded for every win against a Law-Abiding opponent. In addition, there’s another 2d6x10 credits and 1 Reputation to be rewarded as well, regardless of campaign type, if the opponent was an Enforcer gang or allied with the Guilders. (The rules also mention the Imperial House, which to our knowledge doesn’t exist in the game yet!)

Extra credits and Reputation whenever you stick it to those dirty merchants and their thugs is great, and here to help you make that magic happen are the ever-deadly…

Rebel Lords

The Rebel Lord is an army of one, a single fighter that can be taken willingly but must be fielded when the gang allied with the Fallen Houses are fighting Enforcers or an opponent allied with the Merchant Guilds. Their stats are balanced, uniformly above-average, and they possess a degree of customizability unlike any other Alliance’s representative in the game!

All Rebel Lords (and Ladies) are armed with four Digi-Lasers as a Versatile Shock weapon of last resort, and a suit of Light Carapace armor. This armor can be augmented with an overlay of either a Displacer Field or a Refractor Field, allowing a level of protection unheard of amongst most regular gangers. For offense, the Rebel Lord chooses between a pair of Master-crafted Laspistols and a Stiletto Sword, or a Bolt Pistol and a Thunder Hammer. We can’t argue against the elegant efficiency of master-crafted pistols, both at close range and in melee, but it’s hard to pass on the unbridled 3 Damage power of the Hammer.

Whichever set you choose to arm them with, the Rebel lLord is going to put in work. Their 4” Movement isn’t ideal, but they also can choose up to two Skills from some highly desirable sets to further tailor themselves to whatever goal they have in mind. They’re deadly, they’re tough to kill, and we’d recommend that a gang assisted by a Rebel Lord should increase their crew rating by 435 credits.

Drawbacks

In a grand throwback to some of the Merchant Guilds, the Fallen Houses also demand a tithe of d3x10 credits in the post-battle sequence. Unlike the Guilders, however, the Fallen are on hard times, and will require that money regardless of whether their allied gang wins or loses!

Their pride remains strong, and allied gangs are forced to accept any challenges from any Enforcers or from gangs that have Guilder allies. Refusal is possible, of course, but the Alliance will immediately be tested.


Psi-Syndica

Packin’ everything but the Mind Bullets (Insta: @catandmatt)

If you know anything about the Imperium, then you know it is precariously balanced on the backs of billions and billions of sacrificed psykers. Obviously, these individuals with psychic abilities are intensely regulated. On Necromunda, there are some individuals who do trade in the most dangerous and terrifying arena of them all: untrained, raw psykers. There is no greater offense on Necromunda than trafficking in psykers and psychic foci, so you can imagine that the criminals who do engage in such business are hard men and women indeed.

Benefits

The Psy-Syndica recognizes their own, even if your gang doesn’t know it yet! Once allied, a gang member of your choosing permanently gains a random Wyrd Power and the Unsanctioned Psyker status. There are some interesting powers to be gained here, namely Weapon Jinx forcing enemy reload tests and Flame Blast imparting the Blaze trait onto any of the fighter’s existing ranged weapons, but it’s just as likely that you’ll randomly roll into a stinker like Assail.

Your fledgling psyker is going to need an experienced hand to guide them as they explore their new-found connection to the warp, and they’re in luck because their new tutor is the…

Mind-Locked Wyrd

More than willing to show your new psyker how it’s really done, the Mind-Locked Wyrd is a consummate professional when it comes to the mental arts. Although physically unarmed and wearing only Mesh Armor and the Fearsome skill for defense, the Wyrd is a force to be reckoned with, accessing their choice of three Wyrd Powers. They’re packing an incredible 4+ Willpower to boot, so it’s almost guaranteed that they’ll succeed in the cast, too!

Most of these powers are admittedly situational and should be chosen based on a gang’s opponent in the upcoming fight (we operate under the assumption that the Psi-Syndica doesn’t send out the exact same Wyrd every time), but one power is borderline mandatory: Scouring.

The Mind-Locked Wyrd gets the good version of Scouring! Basic action, point and shoot all in one. Maybe all versions of Scouring should work like this, but they don’t, and the Wyrd’s got the upper hand here with a Strength 2 Flame Template on command.

Overall, the Wyrd has a couple of decent tricks at their disposal, but it’s not quite at the level of sheer power of some of the other Alliance Retinues. If you’re fielding a Mind-Locked Wyrd, we recommend an increase of a gang’s crew rating by 120 credits.

Drawbacks

After willingly associating with Psykers, the gang may fall under the sway of Dark Dreams. Before each battle, a randomly selected gang member must pass a Willpower test or be unable to participate in the fight. In addition, after every battle in which a Wyrd power is used, the gang must roll to see if they’ll need to fight off an Imperial Hunter, possibly suffering a Lasting Injury in the process.

You can always choose to turn over one of your Psyker comrades instead, but this betrayal will cause an Alliance Test. If broken, the gang member who became a Psyker retains their power, but must pay the Psy-Syndica their full value in credits as a parting gift.

A Goonhammer devotee, taking An Earlier Lesson to heart (Credit: Alfons C.)

Finding a Balance

As we mentioned last time, you’ll notice that for each of these Retinues we’ve offered a suggested crew rating hike to be applied in all battles that these representatives take part in. At the moment, these numbers are primarily a raw representation based on the costs of comparable fighters from elsewhere in the game and Trading Post prices.

It will allow an opposing player, who for whatever reason is not also using an allied Retinue, to take advantage of Underdog Bonuses to compensate for being vastly outnumbered. It does not, currently, take into account the real and/or intangible bonuses granted by an Alliance, that would still be active even when the Retinue stays home. It’s a work in progress, but here’s where we’re at so far:

Merchant GuildRetinueCrew Rating Cost
Cold TradersSmuggler Shore Party655 Credits
Imperial ImpostersMaster Charlatan485 Credits
Rogue FactoriaFactoria Work Gang415 Credits
Narco LordsHive Scummers (d3+2)90 Credits Each
Fallen HousesRebel Lord435 Credits
Psi-SyndicaMind-Locked Wyrd120 Credits

Like the Rogue Factoria, we’re always tinkering (Blog: Castigator’s Chaos)

While we’re confident in implementing these retinue costs to Crew Ratings to help trigger Underdog rules, we can’t help but wonder whether it’s ultimately fair to only apply them in their entirety when the Retinue is in the table. After all, while the Promethium Guild’s representatives are vicious in battle, their gang-wide benefit is still in effect even when the Retinue isn’t participating. Can we really say that having non-Scarce Plasma Weapons is a buff that deserves to cost zero additional rating?

We’ve heard from several readers who’ve implemented a system where the Alliance itself imparts a certain Gang Rating boost while it is in effect, and then a lesser Crew Rating boost when the Retinue is used, to bring the total cost in Rating to something similar to our numbers above. It’d go a long way to accurately depict the amount of assistance each Alliance brings, in an effort to help balance out matches against gangs who aren’t as well-augmented.

Expect to see something of this nature out of us in the future, when we’ve had a bit more time to sit down with these Alliances and maybe after a few more of the Nobles have dropped. It’s one thing to tweak numbers and modify a few rules, but full changes to a system like Alliances is something that deserves testing on our part, and we’re not going to let any of our half-baked ideas slip out only quarter-baked!


You’ll be the first to know once we figure it out, and we promise we’re not going to make you wait a year and a half before all the Nobles are out to see it! Next week we’ll be taking a look at an all-too-often overlooked set of rules and modifiers that can really spice up your games, the Book of Perils’ Badzone Events. We love ‘em! As always, if you’ve got any questions, comments, or cool conversions you want to show off, hit us up in the comments below, on Facebook, or at necromunday@goonhammer.com. See ya in a week, Scummers!

 

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