Welcome wargamers. My esteemed club compatriot, Nick, over at the Burning Eye blog, is in the process of embarking on a foray into the Underhive on something of a Necromunda revival. Being as these games are outside the club gaming group, I don't feel like I'm trying to take over his bandwagon by posting some fluff I wrote a couple of years ago for the previous club I attended, to give us some context to our games.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Placids...
The Placids - Necromunda Hive Primus
The Placids is an area of the Underhive which is well and truly on the borderland between the Underhive and the long dark of the sump. The recent discovery of a number of untapped ore caverns and tech tombs, following a series of minor Hive Quakes in 997. M41, has led to something of a boom for this once shunned zone, as traders, Guilders, guns for hire and worse flock to the Placids in search of their fortune and, ultimately, their ticket to Hive City.
Several new settlements have sprung up, almost overnight it seems, and all the human detritus associated with a frontier town has followed, from the synth bars and brothels, to the workshops and slums, and as the uphive authorities are yet to establish a presence in the area, the law of the gun and the knife still prevail. Lets strap on our armour and flick our safeties off as we head into the Placids to take a closer look. Try not to look anyone dead in the eye, or if you can't help it, make sure you look damn mean!
‘The Placids' main town and first port of call for newcomers looking to stake a claim on the rich but risky pickings in the area, Heavenly Heights is the longest established and most developed of the Placids various settlements. The many bars, workshops and stores at Heavenly Heights make this town a thriving centre of activity, where someone could easily disappear, either deliberately or by ‘accident'. Gangs find unsuspecting marks on every street corner in Heavenly Heights, as they prey on those freshly arrived in town who have yet to learn who is in charge down here.
'Fresh meat' learn the rules pretty quick out here on the frontier, if they want to survive life in The Placids. Heavenly Heights also boasts the largest fighting pit for leagues in any direction, and some gangs specialise in providing fresh meat to Krank & Son's, who own the arena. Many are the newcomers to Heavenly Heights who have wandered down the wrong alley, only to wake up and find themselves locked in a cell under the pit alongside some truly unsavoury individuals, some more battle-borg than man.
Sweet Street is the most notorious street in Heavenly Heights, and is the preferred hang out of many of the local gangs. This may be because it is the town's main centre of vice, and in Heavenly Heights, that's saying something. Every single building on Sweet Street is either a drinking house, a cat house or a Spook lounge, and some do all three. It is reputed that there is nothing that can't be obtained on Sweet Street, no pleasure that cannot be fulfilled, for the right price. It is even rumoured that the stories of Sweet Street have spread as far as the Spire, high above the Hive City, and that young nobles have paid visits to even the worst reputed holes on Sweet Street, disguised and accompanied by armed guards of course, though there is no evidence to support this and the rumours are strongly refuted by the authorities.
Sweet Street sees some of the worst violence in The Placids, as business owners invest heavily in security, and it's not uncommon for a dissatisfied patron, drunk on Wildsnake and high on Spook, to need to be taught to respect the House Rules. Feuds between businesses owned by rival gangs have seen many gunfights fought across the street and some businesses completely destroyed. This is not a place for anyone with a weak constitution.
Heavenly Heights has a large and chaotic trade quarter known as ‘The Emporium', and it is the most disorganised and labyrinthine mess of narrow alleys and multi level buildings of every description that you could possibly imagine. Of all the places in Heavenly Heights, the Emporium is the easiest place for a person to get completely lost unintentionally. Here there are stores of every kind, from guns smiths to food sellers to specialist tech traders to pet stores trading in the most unusual creatures you have ever seen. The centuries of pollution and toxic contamination trickling down through the mighty hive all the way down to the Underhive has given rise to mutated creatures of every description, some all teeth and bad temper which make great ‘guard-tooths', and others which are just downright disgusting.
Anyone who ever needs to obtain something especially rare or prohibited, or equally to get rid of such things, can find the right place somewhere in the Emporium, and for those in the know, the mess and tangle of the winding and criss-crossing ways is a map that can be read by certain signs, and there are treasures hidden in the multitudinous nooks and hidey holes that even their own owners have forgotten about.
An unstable mountain of scree, metal mulch and general debris, which falls from waste chutes hundreds of meters above which come from the huge industrial sites at the base of the Hive City proper. A lucrative sideline in scrap items retrieved from The Slip has grown up around the mounds of refuse, for those who can find people stupid enough to brave the treacherous slopes to retrieve it for them!
The habit that has developed of gang members throwing enemy gangers off the top of the south side of this treacherous mountain, which is the most dangerous side, and in some areas is just a mass of sharp and twisted metal, has been dubbed ‘Giving someone the Slip', and frequently results in serious and even fatal injuries.
Throughout this whole area there are rich harvests of nutritious algae and fungi to be had. Unfortunately, this is due to the warm and moist conditions which prevail thanks to the presence of dozens of large and ancient steam release flues from a huge geothermal power generator below the surface of the ground. One wrong move and a person could be broiled alive by the random release of superheated steam, which no one thinks would be a pleasant way to go.
Rook's Town is the last trade post before the toxic expanse of the Sump. This is where Gangs shop for essentials, where rumours of newly discovered riches are born, and Outlaws from the wrong side of the line conduct their affairs, though they never stay in town long enough to alert the authorities. Maybe just long enough to start some trouble though. The stores are not as grand or comprehensive here as those at Heavenly Heights, but all the important stuff can be found, like guns and ammo and spare parts for O-filters.
Rook's Town is also the place where rare tech finds discovered down below first see the dim light of what passes for day down in The Placids, and so there are many interested eyes in Rook's Town that are on the lookout for something ‘special', trawling the Techmeisters and Guild Brokers for any jewels in the junk. Needless to say, such establishments are fortified and guarded by hired thugs and vicious guard hounds, so it's either a very foolish or very well armed gang that would try their luck.
The ramshackle settlement of Tumbledown is where those who have reached the bottom rung of the ladder and dropped clean off end up. Only the dispossessed, the mad and the mutated make their homes here, because it's location is highly unstable, and minor tremors are commonplace in Tumbledown, causing the poorly constructed and ill maintained hovels to shake and ‘tumble down'.
The only cause anyone else has to come down here is if they are on the run from the law, from bounty hunters or from the Redemptionists, as a person can usually only be found in alleys and rat runs of Tumbledown if they want to be found. One thing that Tumbledown has accumulated an increasing number of mutants, and it may only be a matter of time before they decide they want to move to somewhere with a better postal code.
Deadend is a small outpost on the edge of a vast pit, and is the home of the Last Chance Saloon. There is nowhere to go after Deadend except down into the depths, where some choose to go, either to escape the law or to explore in search of untapped ore wells or tech tombs. Some of these expeditions actually return, though most empty handed and most do not return at all.
Occasionally a single survivor, ragged and bloody, will stumble from the darkness, raving about some terrible beast that haunts the deep places beyond the frontier, though most know well enough that the noxious fumes in the depths can cause vivid and terrifying hallucinations and the claims are considered nothing more than the fevered ravings of unhinged and dehydrated fools. Despite the bite marks.
At the centre of the ‘Frying Pan' behind a high wall, defended by armed guards and razor wire, is the Underspire. This is the home of the Guild down here in The Placids. In The Placids, just like everywhere else in the Underhive, the Guild are a very influential part of society, controlling much of the movement of wealth in all its forms, and enforcing it's will with any means necessary. All new clams are, or should, be registered with the Guild, and it is the Guild that controls the movement of money and bulk goods from Hive City proper down into the Underhive and back.
The battle for survival in the Underhive is fought as much against the greed of the Guilders as against the inherent dangers of living in such an inhospitable place, and the fickle and self serving favour of the Guild can decide the fate of a person or a family or even a whole settlement as surely as a bullet. It is a very foolish or a very brave individual that does not pay the Guild it's due.
The Frying Pan
The Underspire towers high out of the centre of a waste area known as ‘The Frying Pan'. This area is essentially a plain made up of layers of granular silicate waste, which, due to the surrounding metals and the heavy magnetic properties of hidden ore seams below the surface, is constantly building up a charge of static electricity. This is far more dangerous that a simple snap or a minor shock. Due to the unique properties of The Frying Pan, discharges have been measured in the thousands of volts, and one wrong move out here can see a man blasted to hunks of charred flesh and fused metal in an instant.
The Guild have chosen this natural phenomenon as the location of their Underspire due to the deterrent presented by this formidable defence. The Guilders themselves have nothing to fear, usually anyway, as they travel across the plain aboard specially earthed hover sleds, which are designed to repel the static build up and allow them to cross The Frying Pan unhindered. Many have tried to cross by various means, tempted by the promise of wealth contained within the Underspire, but few have succeeded.
In The Placids, ‘Down Below' means just that. The entire region is on the very edge of the Sump, and is one of the deepest areas of Underhive, and everything below The Placids is a dangerous wasteland that is almost entirely unmapped and unexplored. Old maps and schematics are useless, as Hive Quakes and Tremors cause the terrain to alter, sometimes becoming unrecognisable, and old tunnels and shafts become blocked or flooded.
If The Placids are on the Frontier, then Down Below is the darkness of the unknown void beyond. Some set off on expeditions Down Below in search of wealth or ore seams, but many find nothing but chem pits and mutants. Some do return with riches beyond their wildest dreams, so there are always those greedy or desperate enough to try their luck, but no-one would even consider attempting to settle Down Below, because they are entirely untamed and no one knows what may lurk in the darkness beyond the frontier. Once you're Down Below, you have all the ‘safety' and ‘comforts' of The Placids behind. Let's just hope it's not for good.
High, high above the Underhive, in the uppermost hab areas of the wealthy and powerful, there was an outflow pipe which carried all of the putrid, toxic filth and effluent of the Golden Spire district away and out of the side of the outer wall of Necromunda Hive. One day, Lord Gilderoy of House Ran Lo decided that to have the outflow exit less than one thousand yards away from his pleasure pad was too much to bear, and once his voice was raised in mild annoyance, the voices of all the other nobles of the Golden Spire district were added to his, and over the next five years, and at great expense in both money and the lives of the unfortunate engineers and labourers directed to the task, the entire waste flow was redirected down, down and yet still further down, until it exited somewhere inconsequential.
Unfortunately, that somewhere was at the very edge of The Placids, where a mighty torrent of sludge of a colour and aroma that utterly defy description, thunder down into a lake of excremental insanity. These are known as the Daemon Falls, mainly because of the smell, but also, and unknown to most right thinking citizens of The Placids, because the unique properties of the foul waste matter combined with the life extending regenerative baths that the nobles of the Golden Spire deludedly spend their wealth on, have given birth to something truly vile in the depths of that lake. It is not unknown for the foul sludge to vomit forth plague ridden corpses, which stumble around in a horrid semblance of life, giant mutated beasts, and even the spawn of Father Nurgle himself. No wonder the Daemon Falls aren't on the tour listings.
Titan Station. Probably the closest thing The Placids has yet seen by way of civilization. Titan Station is the main arterial transit route between the Underhive areas of The Placids, and the higher regions of Underhive and the Hive City itself, and as such is the bottleneck at which the Law has chosen to exert its authority.
The Enforcers of Hive Necromunda, in conjunction with the Guilders, attempt to control the movement of both goods and people through Titan Station, giving both themselves and the populace a watered down notion of security and Hive authority, and allowing the Guilders to use exorbitant travel taxes to both increase their wealth and prevent those undesirables with insufficient funds from ever leaving the Underhive. In this way, they ensure that the wealth of those who have succeeded in bettering their position in the universe through backbreaking toil in the face of innumerable dangers is channelled up hive and into the hands of the Guild, while the downtrodden masses are kept firmly in the depths where they belong, by the authority of the shot cannon and the suppression maul.
The power of the Law may be almost mythical in the deeper areas of the Underhive, but at Titan Station, flaunt it at your direst peril.
Final Few Words
Now that you have been given the grand tour of The Placids, you are almost ready to venture out on your own. Don't forget the Rules of The Underhive. Never start a fight that you can't be sure of winning, never set foot outside the reach of the glow globes, and never drink out of a an unlabeled bottle, because there's no knowing where you might end up, or what you might be missing when and if you wake up! The very best of luck to you - you'll need it!