In the Underhive, mutations run rampant. Generations of malnutrition, lightless environments, toxic pollution, and genetic experimentation have left many hivers just barely human. But one mutation is feared above all else: the dubious gift of psychic powers. On Necromunda, these warp-touched individuals are known as Wyrds, and their powers can shake the very foundations of the Hive.
Deep within the Underhive, psychically gifted individuals come into their powers every day. Most Wyrds’ gifts are extremely minor: a tiny bit of telekinesis here, a sprinkle of telepathy there. But every now and again, a truly powerful Wyrd develops. However, their powers make them a target. Some groups want to place them in chains and sell them to the highest bidder. Others fear their powers and wish nothing but to alert their presence to the authorities. Others wish to corrupt these Wyrds, and have them act as vessels for their demonic masters. It suffices to say that a Psyker’s life on Necromunda is fraught with peril.
This week, our focus is on Wyrds: what are they, what can they do, and what we think needs to change. In the background, Wyrds are a terrifying force of destabilization and change, but on the tabletop, they’re more like a wet noodle. So, join us, and together let’s make it Wyrd…
How to Get Wyrd(s)
Most gangs cannot just straight-up hire Wyrds as a part of their gang. They have to rely on outside sources for mind-magic. Let’s take a look at where you can find some psychic support for your crew:
- Helot Cults: It should come as no surprise, but Chaos-worshipping Loonies get easy access to Wyrd powers. They can hire the Cult Witch at gang creation like any old gang champion. The Cult Witch comes light on stats, but has access to Wyrd Powers like how other champions have access to skills. For our money, Scouring and Dark Shield are probably the standouts, but we’re sure that creative Chaos players can come up with some excellent combos.
- Genestealer Cults: Genestealer Cults can tap into the gestalt consciousness brought on by their Xenos Corruption to harness the warp in terrifying and alien ways. Unlike the Helot Cults (or any other gang, to be honest), they can choose between two types of leaders for their gang. One of them is called the Cult Adept, and has access to Wyrd Powers. The standout here is obviously Mind Control, where the Adept can cause an enemy to turn their guns on their own allies!
- Tzeentch-Corrupted House Gangs: If you’ve decided to ally your house gang with the Changer of Fates, then congrats, your leader gets a random Wyrd power! If you can successfully perform a Dark Ritual, that is. Since the power is random, there’s no real way to quantify which one you ought to look at, but hey! That’s Tzeentch, baby!
- Dramatis Personae: There are a bajillion Dramatis Personae out there, and some of them are Wyrds! We’re not going to go through all of them here in this bullet point, but for our money, Ortuum-88 is probably our favorite.
- Ghast Junkies: Ghast is found at the Black Market, and is an illegal drug that enhances the latent psychic energy of the user. It can grant a fighter a random Wyrd power, but it can also drive the fighter insane, and sometimes even permanently. With the random powers and extreme risk, Ghast might not be worth it, but when it works, it can absolutely turn the tide of any battle.
- The Psi-Syndica: If you’re wackadoo enough to ally with Wyrd traffickers, then you’re entitled to use one of their “assets” in battle: the Mind-Locked Wyrd. This is probably the most potent Wyrd most gangs have access to, with their choice of three Wyrd Powers from a list of six6. Scouring, Assail, and Hypnosis are probably the winners, here, but your mileage may vary.
Harnessing the Warp
Once you’ve got a handle at the choice of powers at your disposal, casting them is a relatively straightforward affair. Each power will have an associated action cost (Simple/Basic/Double) and follows the standard rules for each of these action styles, meaning Psykers can cast multiple different powers tagged as Basic, or can manifest a Simple power more than once.
The only real requirement is that the fighter pass a Willpower test in order for the power to succeed. Most dedicated Psykers are blessed with a decent Willpower stat, but in a pinch they can always use the Concentrate(Basic) action to increase their next roll by +1.
Some powers are Continuous Effects, which provide ongoing buffs to the Psyker and their gangs. These powers will remain in effect as long as the caster spends an action Maintaining Control (Simple). This can be a hard decision, especially since using an action there will prevent the Psyker from charging or moving before casting their next power, but it’s an investment, y’know?
Directly to the Forehead
None of these powers and eldritch abilities are without their costs and risks, much like anything in the Underhive! Rolling double ones or double sixes on a Willpower test is an immediate ticket to the Perils of the Warp table, where a Wyrd rapidly discovers which flavor of screwed they’re about to become.
There aren’t any positive outcomes on the Perils table, with results running the gauntlet between “Explodes and Goes Out of Action,” “Immediately Goes Insane,” and “Takes a Massive Hit That Ignores Armor.” There is one result, Daemonic Possession, that at least offers a bit of a Pyrrhic consolation, supercharging almost all of the Psyker’s combat stats and giving them one final additional turn to deal damage before dying.
Denyin’ That Witch
In the unlikely event that Wyrds are present on both sides of a battle, a Psyker within 18” of an enemy caster can attempt to disrupt their power through a Psychic Duel. If a roll on 2d6 is greater than the result the enemy Psyker rolled on their Willpower test to cast the power, it is negated and fails to cast. These duels are not without their risks, though! A double ones or double sixes result in a duel, and it’s right back off to the Perils of the Warp table.
Schools of Thought
All Wyrd Powers fall into a specific Discipline, from Telekinesis to Biomancy to Technomancy. This can go a long way towards fleshing out a character’s story between the lines, but Disciplines don’t have as much relevance in-game as compared to the power tables in Old Necromunda. So, we’ve grouped up the powers by general function and purpose, to keep them in some semblance of order for today.
Most of these powers are not available to the majority of your common strangleweed-variety Wyrd! A lot of them are uniquely tied to a specific character or source (usually Ghast). This is more to get a feel for what’s out there, with sixty-five instances of twenty-three unique powers strewn across the books, especially for players looking to build their own special Dramatis Personae or come up with Psyker-driven campaign events.
|Levitation||Basic||While Maintained: This fighter’s Movement is increased by 3″, they ignore non-impassable terrain, may move freely between levels, and cannot fall. They cannot end their movement while overlapping an obstacle or another fighter’s base.|
|Premonition||Simple||While Maintained: This fighter has a 4+ save that is unaffected by AP.|
|Quickening||Basic||While Maintained: Increase this fighter’s Movement by 3″ and their WS, BS, and Initiative by 1. (Maximum 2+)|
|Warp Strength||Simple||While Maintained: This fighter’s Strength is increased by 1, and the damage of all Melee attacks they inflict is increased by 1.|
|Dark Shield||Simple||For the rest of this round, this fighter and all friendly fighters within 3″ add 1 to their save rolls.|
|Unbreakable Will||Basic||While Maintained: Whenever a Nerve or Willpower Test is made for a friendly fighter within 9″, use this fighter’s stats instead.|
|Zealot||Double||While Maintained: Once per Turn (not Round!) a friendly fighter within 9″ may re-roll a 1 result for a Fight or Charge action.|
|Flame Blast||Basic||While Maintained: One ranged weapon carried by this fighter gains the Blaze trait.|
|Hammerhand||Basic||While Maintained: Counts as being armed with a Strength+2 AP-1 Damage 2 Melee weapon with the Pulverize trait.|
|Scouring (1)||Basic||While Maintained: Counts as being armed with a Strength 2 Damage 1 Blaze Template weapon.|
All Buff powers are of the Continuous Effect variety, so they’ll need to be Maintained every round or they’ll fade. Most of these are pretty straight-forward, though we’ve added the “Bad Version” of Scouring to this list since it only grants the caster the ability to use the weapon in a subsequent action. The Gryrinx Cat has a special version of Flame Blast that affects melee weapons instead of ranged.
|Psychic Scream||Basic||All enemies within 3″ must pass a Nerve test at -1 or become Broken and Run for Cover.|
|Terrify||Double||An enemy within 18″ must make a Nerve test at -3 or become Broken.|
|Maddening Visions||Basic||For the rest of this Round, if an enemy ends their activation within 3″ of this fighter, they must pass a Willpower Test or become Insane.|
|Freeze Time (1)||Double||All fighters, friend and foe, within 6″ may only take a single action when activated IN THE FOLLOWING ROUND.|
|Freeze Time (2)||Double||All fighters, friend and foe, within 12″ may only take a single action when activated for the remainder of this round.|
|Hypnosis||Basic||An enemy within 9″ and LoS who has not yet activated takes a Willpower Test. If failed, they may only perform a single Move action when activated this Round.|
|Mind Lock||Basic||An enemy within 18″ who has not yet activated may not activate this round, or take part in a Group Activation.|
Interference powers impact the enemy in ways beyond killing them, potentially causing them to become Broken, reducing their options when activated, or by preventing them from activating in the first place! The second version of Freeze Time has a reduced range and also causes the effect to trigger in the subsequent round rather than immediately. Aside from the range reduction, this isn’t quite the outright nerf that it would seem, since this timing allows a Wyrd the ability to use this power towards the end of a round, rather than as soon as possible at the start.
|Mind Control||Basic||An enemy within 9″ immediately makes a Shoot action at a target of this fighter’s choosing.|
|Psychic Assault||Basic||An enemy within 18″ becomes Pinned and takes a Willpower test. On failure, the target loses a Wound.|
|Psychic Shockwave||Basic||Make a ranged attack with the following weapon: “SR 12″ (+1 BS), LR 24″, S4, AP-1, D2, Concussion, Pulverize, Reckless”|
|Psychic Vomit||Basic||Immediately make a ranged attack with a Strength 2 Damage 1 Blaze Template weapon.|
|Scouring (2)||Basic||Immediately make a ranged attack with a Strength 2 Damage 1 AP-2 Blaze Template weapon.|
|Scouring (3)||Basic||Immediately make a ranged attack with a Strength 2 Damage 1 Blaze Template weapon.|
Finally, mind bullets! Aside from Mind Control, of course. Those are still actual physical bullets. This category is the domain of the “Good Version” of Scouring, power du jour for Psykers throughout the Underhive. If your group is consolidating Wyrd Powers into either their best or most recent incarnation, stick to Scouring (2), with AP-2, from the Book of Peril’s Possessed Hivers.
|Assail (1)||Basic||Immediately make a ranged attack against an enemy or obstacle within 12″ and LoS. If hit, move the enemy d3″ in any direction.|
|Assail (2)||Basic||Immediately make a ranged attack against an enemy within 12″ and LoS. If hit, the enemy is Pinned and moves d3″ in any direction. If pushed into terrain, target suffers a Strength 3 Damage 1 hit. If pushed into another Standing fighter, both the target and the other fighter suffer Strength 3 Damage 1 hits and become Pinned.|
|Force Blast||Basic||All enemies within 3″ are pushed d3+1″ directly away from this fighter. Enemies who would fall off a ledge take an Initiative test first to save themselves. Enemies pushed into Impassable Terrain are Pinned and take a hit with Strength equal to full distance rolled.|
With only two distinct entries (three if you squint), it would seem that the Push category is a bit light on options. In truth, it earns its entry through sheer quantity, as these powers are duplicated as options a whopping fourteen times across the books. Assail’s second version is vastly superior, offering actual damage when slamming a target against something, unless you can really think of a reason why shoving an obstacle would be more valuable. Force Blast is fun, sort of like a superpowered version of the Goliath Flex skill, only for latent Sapiophiles.
It’s Not Easy Being Wyrd
Got some good news and some bad news, Scummers. If you’re a Sanctioned Psyker, you’ll enjoy the full confidence and backing of both the Imperium and House Helmawr, giving you an all-important free re-roll on a failed Willpower test once per battle. The bad news is, unless you happen to be Mortanna Shroud or Ortruum 8-8, you aren’t one of those.
Instead, as an Non-Sanctioned Psyker, you’ll be constantly on the run, as enemy gangs will accrue a bonus of d3x10 Credits for taking you out of action. Selling a Psyker to the Guilders is an even more lucrative endeavor, fetching full credit value for the captive’s sale rather than half price!
Regardless of status, it’s a rough life for the average Wyrd in the Underhive, with the Witch Seeking Racket in a Law and Misrule Campaign even further doubling the bounty paid for captives. Imperial Stake-Crossbows, while thankfully uncommon, are loaded with Hexagrammatic Bolts, dealing double damage to Psykers and ignoring all warp-improved armor. Equally, be on the lookout for enemies rocking a Mantle Malifica, which allows the bearer to simply shrug off the effects of all powers. The Mantle does have the unfortunate side effect of frequently causing the owner to become Insane, though, so it might be a bit of a wash.
There are a few bright points for those of us who choose the path of the Warp-inclined! The Psychic Phenomena event in an Uprising Campaign will cause all powers to be vastly easier to cast for the entire campaign week affected, as well as causing Ghast to generate a second power per dose when consumed. Sure, this Ghast will automatically cause Insanity, but there’s a reason this stuff isn’t FDA-approved. Psi-Grubs are an option for morally-flexible Psykers with Black Market access. These little guys will take a solid amount of coaxing to get fully juiced up, but they’ll let you fire off a consequence-free power once they’re good and ready.
In any case, good or bad, you’re not all about the Wyrd Life because it’s easy, or because it’s anywhere close to effective or efficient. You’re doing it for the right reason – because killing folks and shoving them around with your big beautiful brain is cool!
Some Tweaks, Naturally
You can run with Psykers and Wyrds exactly as they’re written, but for many players they’re going to be rough sell for but the most credit-flush gangs. We’ve got some recommendations, and Arbitrators can gauge how open their groups are to tinkering before deciding how deep down the rabbit-hole they’re willing to go!
The Bare Minimum
- Maintain Control is now a Free action rather than a Simple action, that can be performed at any time during a fighter’s Activation, provided that they are Standing.
- Psykers can have multiple Continuous Effects ongoing at the same time. A separate Willpower test is required for each one.
Almost half of the unique powers are Buffs of some variety, that currently need to be maintained at the cost of half a fighter’s activation every single round. Freeing up Maintain allows Psykers to power themselves up before they charge ahead, as they’ll finally be allowed to actually Charge or move and shoot at their leisure. They’ll still need to pass their Willpower tests, and avoid having their powers cancelled out from a Serious Injury, but they’ll have the agency to turn themselves into a respectable threat.
For powers like Freeze Time and Scouring, where there’s either a clear “Good Version” or a situational reason to pick one style over the other, we’ve put that decision back in the hands of our players. Maybe there’s a reason for a gang to want to prevent enemy activations in a future turn, but there’s never any use for a Strength 2 Blaze Template that causes the same movement restrictions as a Heavy Flamer.
Let’s Get Funkadelic
- All powers previously limited to targeting the caster can now also be cast on friendly fighters within 3”. Any Continuous Effects will remain ongoing as long as the powers are Maintained by the caster.
- Ballistic Skill checks for powers like Assail are no longer required. These powers are assumed to hit automatically.
As we’ve learned from Overseer and the Corpse Grinders’ Cult Icon, trading one fighter’s activation to empower another’s can dramatically impact the outcome of a battle. We’ve been experimenting with allowing our Psykers to be a bit less selfish and buff up their comrades, and it’s been going well!
For other Wyrds, who actively enjoy shoving their foes off of various trellises and gantries with mind bullets, we suggest nixing the hit check from certain ranged powers. It’s not a huge thing, but removing Ballistic Skill from the equation goes a long way to making a Psyker with a 4+ or 5+ BS (this is your chance to shine, Helot Witch!) actually have a chance of pulling it off on occasion.
It’s clear to see, Wyrds have it rough in Necromunda. Powers are generally hard to come by, difficult to activate with any efficiency, and tied to characters with garbage stats. This is a departure from “regular” 40k lore, where Psykers are the most terrifying thing imaginable, and have almost brought ruin to the Imperium many, many times.
It doesn’t have to be like this, though! The methods we’ve come up with to buff Psykers aren’t game-breaking, we don’t think, and will vastly improve their impact in your gang, or during your campaign. So, get out there Scummers, and start unleashing your hidden potential!
If you’ve been having a blast with Wyrds in your group and want to share some stories, you want to share feedback about our ideas, or just shoot the breeze about anything Necro in general, hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook, or in the comments below. Remember to check out Warhammer Community this Tuesday for the promised return of the Underhive Informant, too!