Hey there, Scummers! It’s Monday, again, and you ought to know what that means: another installment of Necromunday! This week, we’re taking a deeper dive into one of the least-used and most interesting parts of the fabulous Book of Peril: Badzones!
When people think of the Book of Peril, they’re usually thinking of Alliances, Venators, or maybe even Kal Jericho. What they rarely think of, though, are Badzones. Why? Well, it’s probably because Badzones are a non-essential extra layer of rules that adds a bit (but not too much, trust us!) of complexity to what is already an extremely complex ruleset. This is understandable. Necromunda can be a bear to keep track of. Additionally, these rules are mostly geared towards Sector Mechanicus gameplay, which are not available to every player. But we think players and Arbitrators should absolutely be aware of these interesting, fun, and thematic rules that can really spice up a campaign.
Have you ever wanted to conduct your gang raid on the rusted, criss-crossing gantries high above an unfathomable drop deep within the Underhive? What about within the dense, foetid, and steamy of an overgrown Underhive jungle? Does defending your turf while the veil between the Warp and reality is torn asunder sound like it might be a fun game?
If you answered yes to any of these, then you ought to read on and discover why you should be using Badzones in some form in all of your campaigns moving forward!
Down We Go!
Badzones, and their associated Battlefields, Events, and Terrain, are a set of rules that have been squarely designed to keep even the most jaded Necromunda player on their toes. Representing sectors of the Underhive even deeper and more dangerous than those typically fought over, Badzones are areas where the very ground beneath your crew’s feet can be just as hazardous as an enemy with a Meltagun!
From cracked domes on the verge of collapse, to the fetid tidal pools of the Sump Sea, to entire sectors reclaimed by overgrowths of Xenos fauna, Badzones can seamlessly merge a narrative hook with rules that represent it on the table in action. Events can be duplicated across multiple players’ games to enhance the feel of them all taking place in the same location, or even be applied on a more permanent basis to specific themed tables and sets of terrain.
After all, if someone’s taken the inordinate amount of time to build their own sewage facility, there’d damn well better be rules to represent what happens if someone goes swimming!
Officially speaking, Badzones are a fairly standardized affair. Your Environment is generated with a roll of d6, before any Terrain is set up. From there, a random Badzone Event is rolled or drawn in the first turn, and persists for at least the next round. These events will always have a base effect, but can have an enhanced result depending on the Environment. A Critter Swarm event is going to be a pain no matter what, but it’s an entirely different threat level in a Warp-Tainted Environment, where their bites can cause Insanity!
The tables offered for the fully randomized selection of Events and Environment are fine, and can even be great to represent the full chaotic nature of a fight in the Under-Underhive where nobody has any idea of what’s in store. On a more practical level, however, there’s absolutely nothing stopping players and Arbitrators from creating a more tailored selection for both. Aside from certain Environments mandating certain terrain out of necessity, there’s no reason not to pick and choose effects and events to help foster a unique and narrative battlefield that’s as much a living and breathing entity as the gangers fighting on top of it!
Or, skip the random factor entirely, and build a selection of effects that make the most sense to you, no matter if you’re a player or an Arbitrator. If you’d rather play a completely normal game and just use the rules for Service Hatches and exploding Fuel Barrels, go for it! If, thanks to some particularly bad decisions on the part of a reckless Helot Cult, every battle during this Campaign Week will be also dealing with a Brainleaf Zombie Outbreak, by all means! If your arbitrator calls you midgame and informs you that the next two rounds of the match in progress will be under the effects of a Toxic Downpour, roll with it!
Okay, so you’ve figured out you’re using Badzones, but what sort of places are they? All six Badzones each have bespoke rules that will alter the way the game is played, and some more than others. Many of these rules are closely tied in with their attendant Badzone Terrain pieces, but you don’t have to use the associated terrain if you don’t have it or don’t want to. It makes a lot more sense to use it, but it’s not completely necessary!
Deep within the bowels of the Hive are many forgotten, poorly-maintained, and dangerous refineries, factories, or processing plants of any stripe. This crumbling industry has tremendous value to scavengers, as many of the machines may still function! Battles fought in an Ancient Manufactorum will be fought around countless smokestacks, plasma generators, or highly flammable promethium pipes! And while the danger of these partially-functioning machines is manifest, the rewards gained from stripping working parts make these risks well worth it.
- Note: This Badzone is very closely tied to terrain. Specifically, the Industrial Terrain outlined later in Badzones Terrain. It is recommended that the battlefield have at least six pieces of Industrial terrain, and it is more likely that these terrain pieces will impact the game.
What’s unique about a battle fought in an Ancient Manufactorum?
The partially-functioning machinery of old is more likely to kick on, which will cause the battlefield to be significantly more dynamic. Additionally, credit rewards from missions fought in an Ancient Manufactorum are enhanced, making the added risk a lot more rewarding.
With the great weight of the city constantly pressing down, massive cracks have formed in the foundations of the hive. These deep chasms are criss-crossed with walkways, gantries, and catwalks: a web of rusting steel perilously perched above unimaginable depths. Games played in Stygian Depths are for Sector Mechanicus games only. Players are instructed to place as many gantries and walkways as possible on the board, and try to make paths from one end of the map to the other.
What’s unique about a battle fought in Stygian Depths?
The ground level of the board is, instead of solid ground, a bottomless abyss. This will obviously make things a lot different, as the battle must be completely fought on top of terrain. Fighters who get blasted off of the terrain will plummet into the blackness, perhaps to never be seen again. Suddenly Knockback and a good Initiative stat just got a lot more important!
Like the Stygian Depths, this Badzone is specifically for Sector Mechanicus games, and cannot be used with a Zone Mortalis setup. It is similar as well in that you’ll need to have plenty of terrain pieces and walkways, but instead of a yawning abyss, the ground floor is a vast sea of sludge! While falling into sludge isn’t as immediately deadly as a bottomless pit, can your fighters keep their heads above “water” long enough to climb back out?
What’s unique about a battle fought in a Sump Sea?
Sludge is in no short supply in the Underhive, and this Badzone quite clearly proves that rule. The entire ground floor is a sea of sludge. Fighters that fall into it take no damage, but can only test against their Strength and then slowly swim to the nearest terrain feature to haul themselves out. Fighters won’t be out immediately like in Stygian Depths, but it’s only a matter of time before they slip beneath the surface of the Sludge and are never seen again!
Catachan ain’t the only jungle out there, gang. The local lora have claimed this done for their own, or some uphiver’s exotic xeno-greenhouse has been abandoned and left to fend for itself. Either way, the area is full to bursting of deadly plant life, making life for any encroaching gangers extremely risky.
- Note: Like the Ancient Manufactorum, the Dome Jungle’s main effect is augmenting the deadliness of Carnivorous Plants Badzone Terrain. So adding at least six pieces of dangerous flora is a must for games played in the green (or blue, or red, or purple) inferno.
What’s unique about a battle fought in a Dome Jungle?
Unsurprisingly, the plants are even more deadlier than on their own. Additionally, because of all the spores, insects, leaves, and whatever else, long-range shooting is much more difficult. Games held in a Dome Jungle will be up-close-and-personal, fraught affairs, with all the associated one-liners from whatever jungle-based action movies the players can recall.
Hoo boy. Y’all didn’t think you’d get out of the Badzones without having to deal with the immaterium, did you? What are you, some kind of juve? In these zones, the warp is seeping into reality, making things a lot worse for any unlucky gangers caught in a firefight. Whether it’s because of Cult rituals, or because this location houses the psychic footprint of some past atrocity, madness stirs and no one is safe.
What’s unique about a battle fought in a Warp-Tainted area?
Everything goes completely off the rails is what! Every failed Willpower or Cool check results in that fighter gaining the Insanity condition, which is the best way for a game to go completely nuts in no time at all. In addition, Lasting Injuries are more deadly, and Experience points are elevated for coup de grace actions and close combat kills.
The hives of Necromunda are fraught with half-collapsed domes, waiting only for the proper motivation to fully entomb anyone reckless enough to go within. The crumbling environs make having a noisy firefight an even more risky proposition, which is a kind of weird thing to say regarding firefights.
What’s unique about a battle fought in an Unstable Dome?
Well, blast weapons might just bring the house down! They’re a lot more dangerous in an Unstable Dome. Additionally, gantries and catwalks are more prone to collapsing, so being above-ground can backfire spectacularly. And busting through any doors or walls is substantially easier, as the weakened hardware can’t stand up to much punishment.
In addition to all the fun stuff we’ve covered already, players may, but aren’t required to, add yet another wrinkle to their Badzone Experience.
At the beginning of the first round, the players roll a d66 or draw from a deck of Badzone Events cards to see what event is happening at that moment. They apply the modifications to the game, and then at the end of the round roll a dice. If the number shown on the dice equals or beats the value shown on the entry for that event, then a new event is drawn.
But what do they do? Well, dear reader, they do a lot. There are 18 different events, and they have effects that range from having poor quality or low amounts of breathable air, making it difficult to move around, to sentient plants possessing the bodies of out-of-action characters and causing them to attack their comrades in defense of the plant itself! It’s wild! Instead of running through all of them, we are going to highlight our three favorites just to give you an idea of the possible shenanigans that these events can cause.
Brainleaves are insidious Xenos flora that grow long tendrils that are used to dominate sentient beings to act as guardians and/or food for the plant. You can probably understand that this is truly a terrifying fate for anyone to be unlucky enough to be dominated. In games with a Brainleaf Outbreak, fighters who go out of action may return as brainleaf zombies! These zombies roam the battlefield and engage the enemies of the plant (at the Arbitrator’s discretion). Normally, putting a fighter down means that they’re out of the game, but when Brainleaves are around, they’ll slowly shamble right the hell back up, ready to die for their new master, which is a plant.
This event is particularly fun. When a fighter becomes active and does not have line of sight to another fighter, they must test against their Intelligence or become lost in the tangled hallways of the Underhive. The controlling player’s opponent may then place this fighter anywhere within 12” of their current position. This is crazy! Imagine this happening at the middle of a game when things have been developing and fighters are spread out across the map! Chaos would ensue! Additionally, this event gets way worse when combined with a Warp Tainted Badzone: lost fighters gain the Insanity condition! Talk about an unpredictable situation!
Everyone loves movies like C.H.U.D, The Hills Have Eyes, or The Descent, where groups of disgusting and vicious mutants attack the protagonists in horrible and awful ways. So why not add that to a game of Necromunda?! Muties attack with homemade bows and then slip into the shadows, but in Manufactoria they attack with reclaimed autoguns, and in Warp Tainted battles, they’re Wyrds who attack with their psychic powers and may even cause the fighter they’ve attacked to go Insane! The only thing worse than disgusting, cannibal mutants is psychic disgusting, cannibal mutants.
Even if you’re eschewing some of the more exotic options above, the rules outlined for Badzone Terrain are surprisingly comprehensive, and can be easily applied to all sorts of terrain pieces in normal games. Although the rules tend to fit nicely with official kits like Grappleweeds, Servohaulers, and Alchomite Stacks, they can just as easily be adapted to any piece of homemade terrain that Necromunda players are famous for. After all, we’ve created thousands of battlefields out of random bits, scraps of hardware, and even salvaged trash. They’re already impressive, it’s time for them to be respected as more than just a Line-of-Sight blocker.
These terrain rules can also come in handy if you’re lucky enough to already own a set of the cardboard Badzone Delta-7 Tiles (If not, don’t worry about it. Definitely don’t check eBay. You’ll cry). Their original rules were put up in PDF form a while back, but applying the newer Badzone rules can provide a substantially fresher experience for folks looking to Badzone On The Go.
There’s a ton of options here for rules that you can apply, and we’re not going to cover each one. We maintain that the emphasis is always going to be on building cool models and terrain first, and then figuring out what it actually does, afterwards. That said, just to offer a taste, here’s a few of our favorites!
- Service Hatches: Ductways aren’t just for the tunnels anymore! These hatches provide easy pop-up cover in a pinch, a convenient hidey-hole for protection, and allow travel underground to any other Hatch on the battlefield.
- High Value Targets: With a high credit value and d6 Reputation for dragging one of these babies into your Deployment Zone, a HVT can often rival the rewards for winning the scenario it’s placed into! Excellent as an alternate path to ‘victory’ for a gang that doesn’t think they can win outright, but knows the enemy can’t afford to split their attentions.
- Barbed Venomgorse: All of the Carnivorous Plants are wild, but the Venomgorse is particularly nasty. Anyone passing too closely, on a failed Initiative check, takes a hit that could result in them being Webbed. Even if they pass, they’ll lose Strength on another failed test, and go Out of Action if they’re completely enfeebled!
- Smokestacks: We like to imagine that every single machine in the Underhive is constantly belching thick clouds of smog already, but Smokestacks take it to another level. When they really get goin’, their clouds block out a 12” circle of line-of-sight, slowing down anyone concealed inside unless they had the foresight to pack a proper mask. Carbon monoxide poisoning is real, and it is not our friend.
We’ll fully admit, we’re crazy about Badzones, and we hope that at least some of our enthusiasm’s rubbed off on you! They’re an extra layer of things to keep track of, and that’s a tall order in a game that’s already notorious for being a bit bookkeeping-intensive, but we think it’s worth it.
You don’t have to use every facet of the Badzones, and you don’t have to use them at all in every single game, but they’re a great tool to make sure that even the most standard Stand-Off or Border Dispute morph rapidly and uncontrollably into something unique. Give ‘em a shot!
Got any good Badzone stories? Have you built an entire Warp-Tainted table dedicated to Nurgle? Are you the sort of player who packs a few Plantbuster Rounds, just in case? Let us know! 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep on truckin’, Scummers!