This is the background for the Makos Complex.
An ancient dome deep in the Underhive has been uncovered. It’s called the Makos Complex. Once a munitions factory, it was isolated and forgotten millennia ago. The dome never fully collapsed, just the tunnels to it collapsed. Actually they look like they were deliberately blocked. Legends swirl about the dome, rumors of archeotech and still-functioning machinery. But something more than rival gangs lurks amidst the flickering lights and strange-smelling air. Something that moves.
The dome was once the territory of the house Makos, a forgotten Necromundan house known for their technical expertise. The zone was once an engine of industry. The worship of the Omnissiah, the Cult Mechanicus, was strong here. Legend has it that somewhere deep in this zone an idol to the Machine God still stands. But here Makos fell, whether by the political maneouvering of other houses or some scientific catastrophe is unknown. Entrance to the zone was blocked. No record of an order to do so from the Spire can be found.
Sections of the Makos Complex include the Death Works (the munitions factory), the Viperous Device, the Iron Apparatus, and Machine Code College (headquarters of the Makos house).
Already people have gone missing. Anyone exploring the zone risks running into former inhabitants of the zone, former members of the house Makos. Now they’re cybernetic zombies bent on destroying all invaders.
A friend of mine who plays too much 40k said, “I don’t know what these Necromunda buildings are. I mean, what is that building?” It seemed like a big deal to him. He was used to the Fortress of Redemption and the Skyshield Landing Pad. To me, Necromunda terrain makes sense. I don’t have a problem correlating these things:
But I decided to write up my rationale to explain why there are platforms and ladders, but no homes, machinery or railings.
Where do gangs live?
Gangs have families, friends, allies and associates. They don’t fight near their homes though. That’s obviously dangerous and their homes aren’t near valuable resources. Everything near their settlement has been stripped down.
The masses live in extremely cramped communities. I imagine they sleep in tubes stacked one on top of another. These are often burrowed into the strata of the hive. I included some of these honeycombs in a building I haven't painted yet.
The gangs exist to venture forth into the dangerous Underhive and find wealth and food. That’s why you don’t find living quarters on the battlefields where the gangs fight.
Where do people work?
That’s the problem: there is no work in the Underhive. Exploring and raiding are how people live. A hiveworld’s industry mined all the valuable resources out of the world in centuries past; thus the ash wastes surrounding the hives. They only allow wild areas like forests to remain on the surface because they need oxygen. The forests and oceans of a hiveworld are polluted and not worth living in anyway.
Manufacturing is gone and it isn’t coming back. Everything the hive needs is imported. The ruins of industry remain though, and that’s what’s mostly left in the Underhive. It’s all pipes and walkways because that’s all that’s left. The buildings we use as terrain are what used to be factories piled on top of factories. There might have been machinery once, but it was relocated long ago. If you look up our own abandoned factories, they’re empty too.
There shouldn’t be functioning forges and assembly lines in a Necromunda game. If there’s copper wire to be stripped and sold, that happened generations ago. They lived well. But all that’s left now is fighting over scraps.
Necromunda is an exciting game of gang warfare. When it was published in 1995, what set it apart was the terrain. It encouraged moving all around, up and down levels, in the most 3D game ever invented. Even space games are 2D, but Necromunda was more.
In 2011 I played Necromunda at a friend’s house and he just threw some 40k terrain on a table. Our gangs ended up standing on the ground, behind barricades, shooting at each other across the street. Except for that stretch of street, the rest of the terrain didn’t need to be there. The winner was whoever had the most guns. Nobody moved and we just rolled dice. It was boring! More importantly, it wasn’t really Necromunda. It was 2nd edition Warhammer 40k.
If you’re playing Necromunda and don’t play with Necromunda terrain, the game becomes imbalanced. The box came with its own terrain, which defined how the game was played. It wasn’t a convenience, it was a necessity.
So what makes Necromunda terrain?
There’s no rubble. Rubble didn’t come with the game. This isn’t Warhammer 40k. Are some buildings in the Underhive damaged? Certainly. The oppressive weight of a city miles high sits on top of the Underhive. But it’s not a wartorn battleground battered by artillery fire. If you place a bunch of ground clutter, you increase cover. Shooting fighters may not get shots before melee fighters get within charge range. Or maybe the rubble will funnel melee fighters into an area where they’re easily shot up. You really don’t want a lot of cover when the Scavvy player brings zombies. And you don’t want your gang stuck in a tight area when the Redemptionists lift their flamethrowers.
This isn't Necromunda terrain:
Buildings are open. The most common mistake people make with Necromunda terrain is closed buildings. That’s not how the terrain in the original box came. A solid generator might look good, but if gangers can’t get into it, it’s not Necromunda terrain. Closed buildings should be used sparingly. They’re often placed on the ground. Like rubble, they block movement and lines of fire. They usually can’t be climbed and figures can’t stand on them. Closed buildings make the game boring.
Everything has ladders. Since the original walls were bulkheads with built-in ladders, every building could be climbed. Even the printed sides of buildings showed ladders. But most science fiction terrain is designed for outdoors, and none of it has ladders. Closed buildings you see people build usually don’t have ladders and flat surfaces. Without ladders everywhere, the game becomes two-dimensional. Movement isn’t possible so no one tries to move. Heavy weapons can be set in places where no one can get to them. Instead, every surface should be accessible.
Bridges connect buildings and allow movement. Running across an open metal walkway under fire is dangerous and rewarding. Catwalks and gangplanks should connect all platforms. Without walkways between upper levels, shooters find safe positions and don’t move. Walkways are like horizontal ladders. With walkways, the game becomes much more 3D and exciting.
My generator buildings don't work either. There are no ladders, and you can't stand miniatures on them:
The play area is 4’ x 4’. The buildings are up to 9” tall. Don’t change the intended dimensions. For example in Warhammer Fantasy, a bigger table helps horde armies with low leadership. If a unit breaks, it has more turns to make a leadership test and return to the fight. And with more play area, hordes can spread out and surround their foe. If a Necromunda building is higher than 9”, it increases the deadliness of falling. And it’s very hard to get to someone on the top level. Every heavy weapon ganger will set up high when their weapon range is 48”. So there should be four levels: ground, 3”, 6” and 9”. Anything in between is fine too, if you can get the walkways to connect.
(Note: My initial pictures are on a 5'x6' table, with 16 buildings. That's just to display the project.)
The floor is flat. Years ago I tried building a complicated, multilevel floor. It didn’t work. One, it badly disrupts any movement. And two, it makes it very difficult to set up buildings. For my table, I want it completely 3D. That includes the floor. I wanted a mind-blowing factory floor to start. That's why I made the metallic floor from Hirst Arts molds.
There are other elements to Necromunda terrain, like it could be disassembled and the platforms were thin. That doesn’t affect how the game plays though. But there you have the way Necromunda terrain should look. I tried to get the Makos Complex to fit.