Necromunda is host to several thousand hive cities, some vast in scale and home to billions, others decrepit and populated only by the dead. Below a hive’s functioning levels lies a honeycomb of ancient domes, tunnels, ruins and structures from Necromunda’s long-dead past. These ruins lie at the very bottom of each city, below the clan-dominated manufactory zones and the ash wastes: they are the undercities, the oldest and deepest parts of Necromunda’s hives.
These undercity zones – called by most the ‘underhive’ – often predate the construction of the hive above by many centuries, even millennia. They are remnants of Necromunda’s true cities, built before the planet’s natural ecology was destroyed, when there were no encroaching ash wastes, and it is quite possible that the remains of the colony vessels that first brought Mankind to the planet still lie beneath some hives.
The Mancunius Dome 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 Mancunius 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 Mancunius 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!
Mancunius’ main township and first port of call for newcomers looking to stake a claim on the rich but risky pickings in the area, Beetham Heights is the longest established and most developed of Mancunius' various settlements. The many bars, workshops and stores at Beetham 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 Beetham 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 Mancunius. Beetham Heights also boasts the largest fighting pit for leagues in any direction, and some gangs specialise in providing fresh meat to Rikk Eyatton, who owns the arena. Many are the newcomers to Beetham 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.
A large overpass skirting the main hive, raised up above the slums and forming a plascrete ribbon that stretches overhead for miles. Below the “Manky Way” is the haunt of only derelicts and drug addicts.
A vast and ancient wall surrounds the Mancunius Dome that is known by the locals as The Sixty (though quite why this is so, none can agree). The wall is under constant repair and huge holes often appear in it overnight so it has never been relied upon by the citizenry. There is a deep suspicion that the wall is actually to keep the residents of Mancunius in, rather than stop entry by outsiders. One thing is certain though: if there is trouble on The Sixty, there is trouble throughout Mancunius!
Sal's Ford and the Sulfured Quays
A large western area of slums and poor townships, populated by the hives’ main workforce. Rumours abound about an ancient secretive cult of bare-footed, empty-handed, warrior-monks residing there. The Sulfured Quays area is separated from the rest of Mancunius by the mile-wide Mancunius Sludge Canal that connects Mancunius with The Livid Pools, the horrible port area beneath Mancunius, on the coast of the Sump Sea.
In the south-west of Sulfured Quays there is a vast unstable mountain of scree, metal mulch and general debris that falls from waste chutes hundreds of meters above. The chutes sprout 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.
The Mancunius Triangle
Mancunius has a large and chaotic trade quarter known as The Mancunius Triangle, 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 Mancunius, the Triangle 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 Triangle, and for those in the know, the mess and tangle of the winding and crisscrossing 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.
Grox Ford Row
A derelict area once home to hundreds warehouses and fabric manufacture, that now all stand empty. The structures that front the Row are the halls of the Administratum, the PSBC (Primus Spire Broadcast Corp) and the Imperial training and education facilities. Behind the austere fronts on either side of the Row are dense areas of slum townships where thousands of unfortunates are crammed into dilapidated and filthy hovels. It is in this hotbed of gang activity that Plant Mill is hidden - a recruitment and organizational centre for the Redemptionists.
The Moss Slide
A vast agri-processing plant that became a war zone less than a century ago, during the mass uprisings and conflicts of several high profile gangs. The Enforcers brought a bloody halt to the violence with a two-day suppression and cleanse campaign. Despite it's now quiet appearance, the criminal elements are once again gathering power and control of the Moss ensures the gangs continuing funds as new fungal drugs are developed.
Northern Quadrant is the most notorious area in Mancunius and 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 Mancunius, that’s saying something. Every single building on Northern Quadrant is either a drinking den, a cat house or a Spook lounge, and sometimes all three. It is reputed that there is nothing that can’t be obtained on Northern Quadrant, no pleasure that cannot be fulfilled, for the right price. It is even rumoured that the stories of Northern Quadrant 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 North Quadrant, 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. Northern Quadrant sees some of the worst violence in Mancunius, 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.
A deserted munufactorum area near the centre of Mancunius. It was once a hotbed of gang warfare as the slum-dwellers that worked in the factories fought for dominance. But the slums were demolished and the munufactorums shut down a hundred years ago and the area is now a ghost town. Recently this area has produced rich harvests of nutritious algae and fungi. Unfortunately, this is due to the warm and moist conditions which prevail thanks to the presence of dozens of ancient and decaying 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.
Cheat’em Hill 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 The Triangle, but all the important stuff can be found, like guns and ammo and spare parts for O-filters. Cheat’em Hill is also the place where rare tech finds discovered down below first see the dim light of what passes for day down in Mancunius, and so there are many interested eyes on Cheat’em Hill that are on the lookout for something ‘special’, trawling the Techmasters 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 the alleys and rat runs of Tumbledown if they want to be found. One thing that Tumbledown has accumulated an increasing number of is mutants, and it may only be a matter of time before they decide they want to move to somewhere with a better post code.
Deadend is a small outpost on the edge of a vast pit, and is the home of the Last Hope 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.
The Livid Pools
In Mancunius, Livid Pools means ‘Down Below’. The entire region is on the very edge of the Sump Sea, and is one of the deepest areas of Underhive, and everything below Mancunius 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 Mancunius is on the Frontier, then the Livid Pools is the darkness of the unknown void beyond. Some set off on expeditions to the Livid Pools 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 in the Livid Pools, because it is entirely untamed and no one knows what may lurk in the darkness beyond the frontier. Once you’re in the Pools, you have left all the ‘safety’ and ‘comforts’ of Mancunius behind. Let’s just hope it’s not for good.
Probably the closest thing Mancunius has yet seen by way of civilization. Victory Station is the one of the main arterial transit route between the Underhive areas of Mancunius, 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 Victory Station, giving the 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 channeled 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 shotgun and the suppression maul. The power of the Law may be almost mythical in the deeper areas of the Underhive, but at Victory Station, flaunt it at your direst peril.
The area surrounding Victory Station includes the mysterious and heavily fortified Tchi'thams Library, Hanging-Ditch Abbey and The Shambles.
Ash Town Falls, Roach Dale and The Pit
Small settlements to the North West of the Hive; these frontier towns are populated by the slaved miners and servitors working the 'Pen' Mines.
One of Mancunius Domes' roughest holesteads, as many of the population are shameless Scalies and Mutants, and there is a continuing Zombie Plague problem in the area. The Redemptionists tried to launch a campaign of extermination against the mutants many years ago and even got as far as building a huge fortified monastery, but it was burned to the ground after an extended siege and remains an empty, ruined husk of a building to this day.
Final Few Words…
Now that you have been given the grand tour of Mancunius, you are almost ready to venture out on your own. Don’t forget the Rules of The Underhive: Never start a fight somewhere without an escape route, in case it turns bad, 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!
(With thanks to the late talesofheresy.co.uk article "Welcome to the Placids" as the source of the original text that I have blatantly stolen and partially re-written, and Blessed Knight for his suggestions and ideas)