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Necromunda Gang: the Stitchers


Finally, I can post the reason I've been quiet for a while: I've been working on a Necromunda gang. Looking back through the blog, the last time I posted finished models (beyond a single Ultramarine test model) was five Empire outriders back at the start of March, and they were quick and dirty. A Necromunda gang, though? This seemed like a good opportunity to try and apply more than my usual amount of love to a project.

I had two main objectives:
  1. Paint to a high enough standard that I don't regret my laziness three minutes after finishing.
  2. Make it feel earthy and grounded but with intense splashes of colour, a bit like the aesthetics of Fallout 4.
For once I feel pretty good about hitting those goals. They aren't flawless, but they're good enough for me. As a result I got overexcited and have written a long, in-depth post geeking out about paintjobs, characters and the gang's history. Seriously, it's chunky. If that's what you're into, read on.



The Stitchers' Story

By all means skip this section if you're just here for pretty pictures of models, but this here is the backstory for the gang. We're setting our Necromunda campaign in... not Necromunda. Heresy, I know. Instead, we're tying it into what we increasingly refer to as the Beardiverse; our gaming group's own little corner of the 40K mythos set in the Achernar Sector. Specifically, we'll be fighting our turf wars in the Sejanus underhive. Maximum creative freedom! Also, I have to confess, the Gang Houses lore never really connected with me, even if the lore of Necromunda as a whole is thoroughly delicious. Right, preamble over. Begin!

As their name implies, the Stitchers used to be indentured labourers in a textiles manufactorum. Some were there as an alternative to prison, some were debtors, and others had been offloaded into the job as children by uncaring or desperate parents. They were looking at a life of twelve hour shifts, unsafe conditions, corpse starch rations, and vermin-riddled sleeping quarters. The only escape from the grinding monotony was the threat of something even worse: being retired, pensionless, for the crime of being too old or infirm to work fast enough.

One of the older labourers, a convict by the name of Cassius Hurn, decided that literally anything would be better than life in the manufactorum. One by one, he recruited others into a risky plot. One night, as the shifts were swapping over, thirty of the labourers turned on the overseers and overpowered them, then fled to the underhive before the Magistratum arrived. Six of them died in the escape, but the survivors were free.

With the money they'd stolen from the corpses of their overseers, they bought provisions from guilders and ventured deeper and deeper into the city, past the Greenvale Stackmare and down into the Clanks. Eventually they came to the edge of the city's skin. There, they found an aperture out into the open air, albeit on the side of a sheer concrete drop into the urban sprawl below. They built a cantilevered shanty jutting out over the drop, using the sunlight to grow a precious few vegetables. The escapees kept reassuring each other that being free made it all worth it. They named their new settlement Hurn's Lookout, and felt terribly proud of their hanging garden.

Then came the first proper storm.

Suspended high up and exposed, much of the shanty was blown away, taking most of the crops with it. The survivors were stunned by the loss, and ashamed at their ignorance at just how fierce a storm could be; many had never experienced weather before.

Cassius set about devising a new strategy. There was no point exchanging one life of suffering for another; they'd have to take what they wanted if things were going to improve.

Together with the toughest and sneakiest of the bunch - none of whom really qualified as tough by Underhive standards - Cassius ventured out into the Underhive and spent time observing what territory was claimed by which gangs. Once they had a rough idea of the borders, they then set about mobbing small groups of gang enforcers patrolling their borders, leaving no survivors and stealing their gear. When the bodies were found by their gangmates, the neighbouring gang was almost always held responsible, kicking off a series of turf wars that weakened all the gangs in the area. All the while, Cassius' survivors accrued gear and kept a low profile.

The first time a gang tried to move in and claim the sturdily rebuilt Lookout, having heard there was food being grown there, the raiding party of Carrion Children were gunned down by a surprisingly well-equipped militia of textile labourers. It was at this point that Cassius decided they were strong enough to make their presence known. He and a few of the less squeamish labourers stitched shut their dead opponents' eyes and mouths, then strung them up just beyond the Lookout as a warning. When they repelled the Carrion Children's reprisal, word got around fast: the Lookout was Stichers' territory.

When the Carrion Children mysteriously disappeared (definitely nothing to do with a daemonic possession and a mild Inquisitorial purge) the Stitchers annexed their territory, and started making plans for their next big step. Their brutal reputation also attracted the first underhiver to approach and ask to join: Pearly Zo. She turned up with nothing but her clothes, a bloodied sportsclub, and a toothy grin. She was clearly an unpleasant individual, and Cassius realised if there were people like this who wanted to fight for the Stitchers, it meant he wouldn't have to risk the lives of those he cared about.

He'd ended up committing murder, mutilating bodies and recruiting psychotic teenagers to use as meat shields, and it all began because his younger self stole a yellow citrus.




Characters


Cassius Hurn, leader


As per the background above we know he's a reasonable strategist, but time will tell if he's an effective field tactitian. He's determined to safeguard the rest of the gang and doesn't care even slightly about people outside his crew. He's not a great conversationalist, and he doesn't have much in the way of charisma. He's the sort of person who prefers to lead from the back while his lieutenants do all that morale stuff. That said, he's a big guy who's perfectly willing to do the dirty work with his trusty machete.

Jerra "Rain" Vega, champion

Jerra is in some ways the gang's de facto leader. Her tough facade does little to conceal the affection she has for her fellow factory survivors, which she mostly expresses via the medium of banter. Threatening her friends tends to prompt a long, uncontrolled burst of heavy stubber rounds, hence her nickname. She is also renowned as possibly the worst cook in the underhive, and is never allowed anywhere near the kitchens or, indeed, the Lookout's vegetable plots.

Lisbet "Tinker" Enveri, champion

Lisbet was a technician in the factory, and has an enthusiasm for figuring out how things work. She built the original shanty, and feels responsible for its failure and the hunger that followed. She also built its much sturdier replacement, even down to machining the rods that were drilled into the concrete to attach the support struts. It's fair to say she's not good at trusting other people to do a good job, but mercifully she's either eating, sleeping, or working hard. It's thanks to her that Lookout now has a functioning generator, water cyclers, lumens, and other luxuries.

When the Stitchers managed to intercept another gang's illegal weapons shipment, the plasma gun within was given to her to figure out what it was, and how it worked. She's completely fascinated by it, despite the time a near-overheat left her without eyebrows for a month.

As a side note, this model is the first Necromunda model that, as a teenager, I was desperate to get my hands on and paint. Dunno why, I just really liked it. Only took me twenty years to get to it, but hey, at least that gave me time to learn what highlights are.

Kohl, ganger

Opinion is divided among the Stitchers as to whether the makeup used by Kohl makes him look scarier (as he claims) or like a thirty-something man acting like a teenager (as some of the others claim). Either way, he's generally happiest when on sentry duty telling anyone approaching Lookout to truck off. It makes him feel so much more powerful than when he was manning the gigaloom in the manufactorum.

Soap, ganger

The worst thing about life in the underhive, apparently, is the filth. It's impossible to get clean, and yet that doesn't stop Soap from trying. It's a hard life, being a clean freak in Sejanus. Literally any credits he doesn't need for ammo or food goes on toiletries, much to the amusement of everyone else. Ironically, his favourite gun (the shotgun) is the one most likely to give him gory splashback.

Anya & Rynne "Trouble" Thallot, gangers

It was Rynne who convinced her older, taller and and more creatively violent sister Anya to get involved in Cassius' plan to murder the overseers. Sold to the manufactorum as children by a starving mother who couldn't look after them, they've never known anything other than constant labour and figured "how much worse could it be?"

Rynne is terrified by firefights, but wants to show big sis that she can make herself useful. She's usually told to stay back and protect the Lookout, but is curious to see more of the underhive. Others in the gang think Anya is being overly protective, which makes Rynne all the more keen on exploring, and Anya all the more worried about her troublesome little sister. The trouble is, Rynne's a good shot, and it's only a matter of time before the others start taking her on raids.

As a side note on the painting, I attempted to tie these two characters together visually by giving them the same blue streaks in their hair, and the same complexion. Also I'm pretty sure I went cross-eyed painting Anya's fishnets, but hey ho, I tried painting opaque stockings and they just didn't look right at all.

Terika Weaver, ganger

What's that? A model with a pulse rifle and an outfit seemingly referencing aliens, and a gang that used to be textiles workers? I had to call her Weaver.

Anyway... character. Like Cassius, Terika is so determined to protect the people back at Lookout that she'll cross any line in their defence, and is one of the Stitchers who's quite happy to decorate their territory with grisly trophies and totems. It's a rat-eat-rat world, and she doesn't want her friends to get nibbled. She's also an outspoken defender of Kohl's makeup choices. She also has the bizarre idea that the Stitchers should try and figure out 'moves' as a team, like how she imagines real soldiers do, but since she like the rest of the gang has no training or experience in that area, this remains conceptual at best.

Old Dewan, ganger
The only Stitcher older than Cassius, Dewan was once an enforcer for an uphive crime family before his incarceration for the only crime the Magistratum could pin on him: loitering.

Since escaping to the underhive, he's discovered his creative side. What with building materials being the one thing the underhive has in abundance, Dewan loves decorating Lookout with scrap-sculptures, be they elaborate pig-iron lumen chandeliers or using lengths of rebar to make giant cross-hatched illustrations on the walls.

Of course, when it's time to enforce Stitcher territory, he's happy to fall back on old habits and gut fools like a grox. Killing, he says, should always have a personal touch. Hailing back to his old-school crime family roots, he always likes to apologise to people before visiting terminal violence on them.

Domas "Sour Dom" Renfall, ganger

Not everyone feels like leaving the manufactorum was a good idea, and Sour Dom is one of those people. He's become a good shot by necessity, but he's angry with Cassius for convincing him to become a wanted man. Freedom, he grumbles, ain't all it's cracked up to be. If he had somewhere else to go, he'd go, but everyone he knows is in the gang. The other Stitchers say he's a dependable guy when you get past his blunt fatalism.

Blaze, juve

It's been suggested on more than one occasion that Blaze would benefit from firing short, controlled bursts. That would require Blaze to not panic every time she ends up in a firefight. Whenever someone suggests she get a single-shot gun, though, she clings onto her autopistol like it's her baby. "I like the way it makes people duck," she says. "If only those people ever got hit," says everyone else.

For all her incompetence in a fight, though, she's useful in the underhive. Even though she's young, she's second only to Lisbet when it comes to figuring out how things work, and she's an excellent scout... so long as she doesn't get into a fight.

Pearly Zo, juve

Zo is your classic underhiver: psychotic, sadistic, and loves any kind of music as long as it's speedpound. This might just be because she's young and heartless, or it might be the ultraviolent world she's grown up in. Either way, she thinks that the Stitchers' signature move of sowing dead people shut is the best thing she's ever heard of, and she idolises them for their cunning and brutality. She doesn't really fit in socially with most of the gang, but she doesn't seem to care, presumably because she's at a stage in her life where feeling like no-one really understands you is de rigueur.

As the only current non-ex-factory worker, I wanted her to look somewhat different to the rest of the gang while also having just enough similarities to tie together. In classic punk fashion, I tried to get as many different colours in there as possible - far more than I'd usually put on a model. But hey, it's punk, it doesn't have to be tasteful or restrained.

Conversion note: sculpting the pistol holster
The original model didn't have a gun at all, which simply wouldn't do for Necromunda. As such, I sculpted the holster (hence including another angle of it in the picture).

First I drilled a few holes into her thigh and glued paper clip studs in to form anchor points for a green stuff armature, then pushed another paper clip rod into the armature to form the basis of the pistol grip. Once that was cured I sculpted on the thigh strap and the surface detail, plus I thickened out the grip. Once that was cured, I added the surface detail on the grip, and the button on the holster.

I remember as a teenager the first thing I ever tried to sculpt was a holster. "How hard can it be, it's basically a rectangle?" my teenage self thought. Sweet summer child... I gave up on that first attempt. Funnily enough, of all the little conversions and bits of sculpting I've since done, none of them were a holster. I now feel weirdly complete.


Choosing the models
& paint scheme

The new Necromunda plastics are beautiful models, and in sweet sweet plastic no less, but I wanted a less uniform group of underhivers. I also wanted a more mixed-gender warband, and luckily had some unused boxes of classic Orlocks and Eschers. On their own that still would've been too uniform, and I wasn't that taken with either of the leaders in those kits, so I plundered the ever-reliable Hasslefree Miniatures range.

Choosing an accent colour came down to a relatively inane line of reasoning: I want a bright colour, and there isn't much yellow in my cabinet. Plus that'll work with brown leather, denim, and other colours I want to slap on these underhive survivors. As is often the case, the painting stage created new facets of background; in this case I decided that all the guns with yellow casing were part of an intercepted illegal weapons shipment being imported by another gang.

Since hive cities are probably melting pots with people arriving on spaceships, a variety of skin tones seemed appropriate, and gave me a chance to experiment. On the subject of experiments, the denim effect was achieved by mixing up a grey-blue basecoat, then carefully drybrushing over the top with a much lighter grey (Army Painter Ash Grey, to be precise). A conventional highlight would've looked too smooth to look like denim, I reasoned. I was in two minds about using this; I associate denim with very modern looks, but ultimately it just fit the tone of the models so well, so, pfffft, I ran with it.

I generally used blue as an accent colour because, well, it goes nicely with yellow and contrasts with the less frequent splashes of pinky-purple. This is probably the biggest variety of colours on any single project I've done, particularly given the hit of rusty orange on some of the bases.

Speaking of bases, I wanted to reflect the Stitchers' status as wasteland survivors. That meant uneven ground (i.e. lumps of green stuff), rusty scrap metal, and a variety of textures from chunks of rubble, through model railway ballast down to the fine texture of Citadel Astrogranite.

The metals were extremely simple to paint; a coat of Army Painter Gunmetal, then Agrax Earthshade, then Nuln Oil Gloss, then a sparing edge highlight of silver on the extremities. To be honest, the Nuln Oil Gloss does most of the highlighting work on its own.

If there's any other bits of the painting you're curious about, drop a query in the comments.

You can't have a criminal record if you've never been caught.

Rules & starting roster

Obviously I can't afford to start out with all 12 minis in my crew, so Rynne, old Dewan and Kohl are on base defence until I get more creds in my pocket.

These guys are using the House Escher rules, since a number of the models have lasguns. To be fair, the combination of hit and run attacks with a willingness to have a standup fight when it's called for make Escher a reasonable fit.

Closing thoughts

Ye gods that was lengthy. Writing it helped me figure a bunch of detail out, though, so even if you didn't read all the way down to here it's been useful to me. If you did read all the way down here, though, I hope it's been amusing. Feel free to make some sort of baffling reference to a movie you think has thematic ties to the Underhive, and why. I'll kick you off for free with Demolition Man and the rat burgers

Comments

  1. A lot more colour and razzle on Cassius when i saw him last, really awesome and unique looking bunch of reprobates. Good work Charlie!

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  2. Sweeeeeeeet - That is one fantastic looking group!

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    Replies
    1. That's gratifying to hear, thank you :)

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  3. Looking good man. Impressed with the amount of background you've produced for each member. I tend to devote mental energy proportional to the effort I'l make to keep a character alive. Maybe that's self fulfilling- if I'd thought about the bullet catchers as much as you, maybe i'd be treating them better!

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    1. Yours is certainly a more pragmatic approach. :D

      I do it because having stories behind every ganger does help me make decisions more like a leader than a chess player, since I have an emotional connection to all of them. I figure a gang leader would be a lot less detached than a military general, and I'm happy to fail at my objectives if it means keeping my crew alive!

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    2. I'm playing a chaos cult, and I'm seeing it more as a burgeoning megachurch than the local community mass. Callously stepping on the faithful to ascend to glorious heights.

      Maybe its a subconscious cop-out though- to allow me to stay in wargames mode instead of embracing narrative.

      Next campaign I'll put together a team of individuals instead of hooded cannon fodder and see how I do :)

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    3. I'm using this approach with a nurgle cult i'll be designing using the Cawdor models/rules for 40K/Necromunda play, they all have pasts and names and stories behind them that have led them to this point, even if it's just a couple of lines. Really helps me get in the mood to paint them as well, as i want to see them fight and succeed against the other gangs/armies that oppose them. Just need to buy the forgeworld upgrade kits and i can start on the Harbingers of the Immortals!

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    4. Filthy Chaos worshippers everywhere! Love the megachurch idea. Sinister.

      The only pitfall with all this lore for each dude is that it's easy to be a sour loser when bad things happen to them. I have to remind myself that I'm not here to see them win, I'm here to witness their ups AND their downs.

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