With its release earlier this month, the Book of Judgement gave us a whole new campaign to play with: The Law and Misrule Campaign. It’s an evolution of the Dominion Campaign introduced in Gang War Four that uses a much more elegant currency, adds several new mechanics, and brings in the Black market and all the crazy Imperial, Xenos, and Chaos-Cursed weapons that gangs could ever hope to buy! It also outlined the use of a brand new gang, the Palanite Enforcers, but we’ve already covered that. So in today’s article, let’s take a look at the other ways the Book of Judgement has changed the game.
In the new system, all participating gangs are grouped into one of the two factions: Law-Abiding or Outlaw. This designation affects rare/illegal item rolls at the Trading Post and new Black Market, the hiring of Hangers-on and Bounty Hunters, and special alignment boons and abilities based around your reputation within your current faction. The Underhive is a complex place full of denizens with fluid moral compasses, so it is pretty likely for a gang to change sides (sometimes multiple times) during a campaign.
- Gain the ability to claim bounties on any outlaws captured, turning them in to the authorities for their full credit value rather than half value. This can even grow to up to twice the value of the captured enemy, once your gang has enough reputation.
- Capturing enemies is even easier in the new system, with tests passing at a base 11 compared to a 13 in the old Dominion campaign!
- Free non-outlaw Bounty Hunters and certain Hangers-on granted at higher reputation.
- Can attempt to access Black Market with a post-game Intelligence check, with illegal items at a search penalty. Be aware, you’ll have to make an additional alignment check each game per fighter equipped with any illegal items!
- Gain access to Guild Alliances, who can be very powerful allies.
- Unrestricted access to the Black Market at gang creation, and reduced Black Market prices at higher reputation levels. If you can get an Outlaw gang to 20 Rep, enjoy your 25% discount at the Black Market!
- Two free Hive Scum for every battle for an Outlaw gang with a higher reputation.
- Outlaw gangs can access the Trading Post after a battle with a successful Cool check (which is a fun mechanic), although they’ll suffer a penalty to rare items as law-abiding traders are wary of selling their best stuff to Outlaws.
- Outlaws can use illegal weaponry and equipment with impunity, because what are the Guilders gonna do? Make them Double Outlaws?!
- Outlaws can make allies with various criminal enterprises (more on this later!) and can use their representatives without having to test to see if the Guilders deign to aid the allied gang. This comes into play at high reputation levels when the Guilders may think that the allied gang doesn’t need their help anymore, but the criminal enterprises are always ready to lend a helping hand.
Outlaw and Law-Abiding tend to be more titles of convenience rather than strict set-in-stone designations (aside from Chaos’ Helot Cults and the Palanite Enforcers, who are firmly locked into their respective factions). This means that during the course of a campaign a gang can voluntarily switch between Outlaw and Law-Abiding. Additionally, there are several mechanics that will force an alignment change, like Intrigues and illegal weapons, so you had better make sure you’re keeping your nose clean (or dirty)!
Switching alignments is an instant change, but it does come with some penalties:
- Immediate loss of 3 Reputation
- Immediate loss of all Hangers-On (not brutes)
- Immediate test of a gang’s Alliances, adding 3 to the roll (in other words, on a 4+ the alliance will be broken)
It is generally preferable for a gang to stick to one alignment, as the above list shows, but the change will not torpedo a gang’s chances in a campaign. So, let’s get to the big question: which alignment is better? The answer (for once with this version of Necromunda) is that both are reasonably well-balanced! Law-Abiding gangs will have the more dependable and proven weapons available at the Trading Post, and will often have a Bounty Hunter tagging along. Outlaw gangs, on the other hand, will have easier access to the whack-a-doo shenanigans that make Necromunda so much fun, and don’t have to worry about what any stupid guild or noble house thinks!
Our thought is to go with either, or both: The alignment switching aspect exists for a reason, and gangs can easily be nominally Law-Abiding and functionally hoodrats, or a bunch of Robin Hoods, doing evil for all the right reasons! Have fun with it!
The Book of Peril brought us the ability to ally gangs with one of six Guilder factions, powerful organizations that would bring strong advantages to whoever called upon them, and supply the muscle to back it up. In return, they demanded a harsh tithe and would exert their influence and demands in ways your gang might not quite appreciate. With the new campaign, all Guilder allies have been designated as exclusive to Law-Abiding gangs, and a new set of six Criminal enterprises have debuted to shore up the numbers of the Outlaws.
These new rogue organizations have a much more diverse set of benefits and drawbacks compared to the Guilders, and can give Outlaw gangs even more nasty tricks up their sleeves when dealing with their often-richer Law-Abiding counterparts.
Smugglers of alien technology, Cold Traders come with an initial gift of a Xenos weapon for your leader and easier acquisition of future Xenos tech at the Black Market. Their Shore Party is lightly armed and built for evasion, but the basic thugs are Strength and Toughness 5, more than capable of slicing enemies apart. [This may very well be a book typo, there is a debate whether the Scum and Bosun (the Champion) should have their statlines swapped. Double-check with your Arbitrator before you slam-pick into an alliance with these guys!]
Good guns, grabbed easy. The kit-basher’s dream alliance, with a decent retinue. Rating: B+
The Imposters are in a rough spot, granting their allied gang the ability to prevent a Law-Abiding gang from becoming outlawed through a forced alignment check. In theory, if you were to ally with these guys as Outlaws and later switch your own alignment (and pass the alliance test roll at a +3 difficulty), you’d have a built in buffer against being outlawed again. That’s powerful, sure, but the amount of things that could go wrong along the way make that dream all but unattainable.
That’s a shame, because the Master Charlatan that the Imposters bring with them is easily the Underhive’s best option for single-target assassination. Infiltrate, a Falsehood (meaning he can’t even be attacked early on before he strikes), and toxin weapons will down even the bulkiest champion. Evasion skills and holo-chromatic armor even make it possible for him to slip away and do it all again. Rating: B if the Charlatan joins your crew, Rating: D- elswise.
Purveyors of counterfeit weaponry, an alliance with the Factoria grants easy and cheap access to rare guns that work Almost As Well as the real thing. Unfortunately, these knock-offs have a tendency to explode violently on Ammo Checks, or accidentally carve open a friendly ganger in melee. A minor setback for gangs with cheap bodies like Cawdor, but Venators will likely balk at losing one of their elite hunters. Their Work Gang brings an overseer with a combi-plasma pistol (and the BS3+ to use it well), but the rest of the team isn’t very threatening.
The Rogue Factoria also supplies a free Ammo Jack that does not count against your reputation-locked limit, which is almost reason enough alone to ally with them even if you don’t run any counterfeits. Be aware, as a severe downside, including any counterfeit weapons in your crew also allow your opponent to field a free bounty hunter in matches against your allied gang. The Factoria has some alright boons, but the penalties are almost unfairly harsh. Rating: C
Granting allied gangs easy access to illegal chems is an interesting design space, as the rarity of drugs like Frenzon is one of the main factors keeping it in check. With a lowered item illegality check on the Black Market and the supply restrictions suspended, gangs allied to the Narco Lords have access to some devastating and reliable buffs. Should all of your gangers be fireball-spewing psychers today? Ghast’ll make it happen. Should your champion be nastier than three Goliaths stacked together and covered with bomb rats? Slip her some Frenzon. With a retinue made up of three to five fully equipped hive scummers and a drawback as minor as D3x10 credits kicked back to the boss (and also, y’know, crippling drug addictions when they break the alliance), the Narco Lords are easily one of the strongest criminal alliances at all stages of campaign play. Rating: A
Any fights won against a Law-Abiding gang while allied to the Fallen Houses grant extra credits, with victories over Enforcers and allies to the Merchants’ Guild granting even more as well as bonus reputation. While situational, this is also one of the few ways to gain reputation outside of scenario rewards and intrigues, giving allies of the Fallen Houses an edge.
Bonuses and credits aside, their representative, the Rebel Lord, is no slouch. Packing either master-crafted pistols or a thunder hammer, with an expansive skillset chosen by their controlling gang, the Lord will shore up whatever weakness your gang previously had, and wreck whoever you point her towards. Rating: B+
No credits or reputation come from an alliance with the Psi-Syndica, only access to Wyrd powers for one of your fighters and their representative, and the toolbox of abilities that you unlock with it. The psychic power generated for your fighter is random, but they’re almost all useful. Technomancy will have your enemy making all sorts of Ammo Checks they weren’t planning on, or they may gain the ability to shoot flaming bullets out of their guns.
The Mind-locked Wyrd that the Syndica can supply as an augment is an even nastier psyker, with pyromancy and telepathy amongst her strengths. Running with a team lousy with unsanctioned psykers is risky business, though, so expect some extra lasting injuries as your gang fights off those who would seek to recapture your brainy friends. Rating: B
The Black Market
Alien Weaponry, forbidden drugs, and warp-touched ammunition, the Black Market has it all! And with the addition of dozens of new rare and common items, the Trading Post and Black Market are getting extremely difficult to keep track of. We’ve already touched on the mechanics of the Black market, but we’ll cover them again for clarity’s sake:
- Law-Abiding gangs can freely visit the Trading Post and roll to see what quality rare items they find.They must test to use the Black Market and take a -2 penalty in searching for illegal items.
- Outlaw gangs can freely visit the Black Market and roll to see what quality illegal items they find. They must test to use the Trading Post and take a -2 penalty in searching for rare items.
- Gangs can test for either or both in the post-battle sequence.
- Champs and Leaders give bonuses to the rarity or illegality roll as they’ve done in the past.
There are a ton of fun new things on sale in the Law and Misrule campaign. We’re definitely not going to list them all in this article, but here’s a few of our favorites:
- Neural Flayer – A truly terrifying weapon, this item spews forth a template that attacks the target’s consciousness. Its combination of weapon traits mean that it is almost guaranteed to incapacitate any fighter it hits, even more so in its “full blast” setting. It’s highly illegal but surprisingly cheap, so if you roll well, this is where you want to spend those credits.
- Falsehood – This device projects a distortion field that changes the appearance of the wearer’s face, making them appear as someone else! In game terms, it prevents a friendly fighter from being targeted until they make an offensive action or reach the end of the 2nd round. A really cool and flavorful piece of wargear that can totally disrupt an enemy gang’s battleplan.
- Warp Ammunition – It’s one thing to shoot an enemy and pin them. It’s another thing entirely to hit an enemy, and then inform your opponent that he’s about to have to roll for Insanity.
- Threadneedle Worms – A “scorched earth” weapon, threadneedle worms are able to ravage an area of all life in a matter of moments! Any fighter unconcerned with collateral damage or not overburdened with care for their fellow hivers could use this vile weapon. The use of the worms could backfire, but they could also incapacitate the entire enemy gang in one fell swoop, so grab these whenever they come up, Outlaws!
- Lho Sticks – 40k’s version of cigarettes, these things allow stupider members of the friendly gang to use the smoker’s Cool, because only dummies think smoking is cool. Hilarious.
The Dominion Campaign had gangs fighting over territories, and the Law and Misrule Campaign has gangs fighting over Rackets. Rackets are slices of the Underhive economy like Narco-Distribution, Out-Hive Smuggling, or Chast Prospecting. Instead of the gangs’ houses determining enhanced boons, each Racket has linked Rackets, and control of those will enhance the rewards given in the post-battle sequence. We think these are vastly more elegant than territories, as it is easier and less-restrictive to gain enhanced boons and there is no convoluted and poorly-written series of steps to go through like there is with generating territories. But just like almost everything in this game, they’re crazily unbalanced, so prepare for some seriously broken combos in late campaigns.
Intrigues are similar to the old House Sub-Plots, but instead of being used at the Arbitrator’s discretion, they are used in every game and can help direct the course of a gang’s alignment in the campaign.
At the start of each battle, each player draws three Intrigues and keeps them face down on the table. Each Intrigue has a condition that, if met, can grant the gang credits sometimes in excess of 150!), skills, reputation, or even unclaimed Rackets! These conditions come at a cost, though. While they’re beneficial, many are hard to complete and could even be contrary to the mission objectives. Additionally, each Intrigue is linked to Alignment and if a gang claims an Intrigue of the opposite alignment, they’ll be forced to test their Alignment, and it very well may change.
The coolest thing about the Law and Misrule Campaign is Intrigues. They will impact every single game played in new and unpredictable ways over the entire campaign. Intrigues bring a mechanic for mitigating bad things like poverty, low rep, few rackets, and even dead gangers! We really look forward to integrating these in our own campaigns.
What We’re Excited About:
- Intrigues – Like we said above, Intrigues will add in some really fun ways to get memorable and fun games out of a campaign. Hungry gangs with less to lose now have meaningful choices to make that will influence how they play and can potentially catapult them closer to the top dogs.
- The Black Market – All the completely nuts wargear and weapons now available are sure to take the already bonkers game of Necromunda and send it to ludicrous speed. Also, as we’re both fans of crunchiness, the added complexity and infinite customizability are excellent selling points.
- Alignments – Framing the actions of players within the context of the campaign is a really cool mechanic. Using illegal alien weaponry should have a narrative consequence, and the Alignment system seems like a fun and not-too-unbalanced way to do that.
- Threadneedle Worms – Just imagine rolling that 6 when using threadneedle worms and causing the entire enemy gang to suffer an injury roll. What a rush it would be!
- Actually Using Bounty Hunters – Necromunda’s released a ton of cool rules and some of the raddest models for bounty hunters that nobody brings to the table thanks to their high credit cost and propensity for wandering off after a game or two. With the new campaign doling them out for free in all sorts of situations, maybe they’ll finally see some play!
What We’re Bummed About:
- Rules Bloat – Right now you need four books to play a single game of Necromunda if you’re using all of the rules. We really hope GW gets their heads on straight and releases some kind of rules compendium in the future because this is getting ridiculous, even for us.
- The Intrigues Deck – Every player in your campaign should be drawing from their own Intrigues deck before every game. This is not the most onerous thing you could yoke your players to, but not everyone will have a deck, or they’ll forget to pack it, and then you’re stuck using half a deck of cards and looking up everything in the book. This is one of the few times where a printed D66 table in the rulebook would actually be a good thing.
- Loose Rules and Typos(?) – The Book of Judgment does a better job of avoiding confusion in the wording of rules and interaction compared to its predecessors, sure. Still, there’s still a ton of stuff in here where we’re wracking our brains trying desperately to make Rules as Written make sense, or even to grasp what the Rules as Intended even are. While the final say on any rule is ultimately left up to your Arbitrator, it’d be nice to have an official judgement.
- This has been your weekly reminder to send all of your rules questions in to NecromundaFAQ@GWPLC.COM. There’s gotta be a new FAQ one of these days, right?
- Illegal Weapon Upgrade Pack – It doesn’t exist! We would love to convert up some gangers with cool alien weaponry, so sell us some resin sling guns, dang it!
The Law and Misrule Campaign is going to be a ton of fun. We here at Necromunday are stoked to give it a try, and see how a few additions and small changes can brighten up our campaigns. We hope you’re excited, too, and if you want to keep the conversation going, feel free to comment below or hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay frosty out there, scummers, and remember: not every can is a can of Threadneedle Worms, but why risk it?! Wear gloves or something!