Updated: Jan 16
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn
Ahem, I mean… Greetings one and all
Today we’re going to dive into the deep dark shadows of Necromunda and see if we can’t find the mysterious House Delaque hidden within. So, watch your back, mind what you say, and steel your mind as we seek to discover what really lurks in those dark and foreboding depths of the Underhive.
The origins of House Delaque are as mysterious as the house itself. Many rumours, shrouded in hushed tones, speak of their possible manufacture in labs much like the Goliath. Or that they are a people closely tied with the Imperial House, the nobles of which are locked into favours owed to them for undisclosed reasons. Perhaps they are the long lost reincarnations of a population that once lived on the world before its colonisation. Or maybe, they are simply people imported from off-world for some unspecified reason, perhaps to act as spies for the Lord Helmawr himself. However, the most common telling of the origins of the Deaque concern the rogue planet Somnus, and the dark dreams that the ill-omened planet caused amongst the people as it drifted by a little too close for peoples comfort.
In the 36th Millennium, Somnus darkened the skies of Hive Primus on Necromunda, and during this time the Veil between the Materium and Immaterium grew thin. Whispers from beings of the warp bled into the world, and then, people began to vanish. It didn’t happen all at once, but slowly, people began to get up from their beds, and walk out into the cold of the night. No one seemed safe from the potential of being taken, as all those who vanished were from all walks of life; from Highborn Nobles, to Helot Workers, the old and tired, and young fresh-faced children. There was nothing socially that they shared in common, except for of course, their dreams. It was later theorised that these dark whispers are what caused these dreams and led to these mass disappearances of people all across Necromunda, because why else would someone rise from their bed, only to walk off out into the night alone?
During this period, the name Delaque began to be used and associated with these dreams that were causing people to vanish, though it was only whispered in hushed tones. Where it came from is however also a mystery, as some claim it as the name of a powerful hive city family, or even the name of a Rogue Trader who visited Necromunda at some point during the period. Or that it was the name of an investigator who came to the hive to investigate the irregularity of the disappearances. One theory that is mostly debunked as a fairytale is that of the Drowned Empire, a vast oceanic civilisation that existed millions of years before humans first set foot on Necromunda. But whatever the truth may be, one theory claims that whatever took these people and vanished was merely searching for something, and it must have found whatever it needed because all those who vanished did eventually return. But they were changed, and each of them seemed to share a unique connection that no one was able to explain. Some believed them to have become psykers, but the truth might not be so simple. What was certain was the name of Delaque was how they now all chose to identify.
As with all gangs the Delaque started small, picking off weaker gangs and lesser powers in the Underhive as they strove to develop a position of power for themselves. But unlike the other houses the main weapons Delaque weren’t coin or violence, it was whispers and subterfuge. Their opponents simply seemed to fold in front of them, turning away to leave them be or bending to their cause to join them. The greatest example of this is House Averest, a former powerhouse who survived great hardships when House Helmawr turned on itself in civil war. They helped the Imperial House re-establish the Ghast trade across Necromunda, and this monopoly over the psyker-tropic drug is believed to be the reason that House Delaque took interest in them. In the 38th millennium House Delaque began to infiltrate House Averest from the bottom up, and over time, people began to notice the way it operated had started to change. Its members were often acting out of character and at times turning on themselves. An apparent alliance between the Delaque and Averest was eventually announced, and then the leaders of House Averest began to give powers away to their Delaque “allies”. Eventually House Averest had nothing left of their own as all had been passed over to House Delaque, changing significantly to better suit these shadowy relative newcomers to Necromunda.
During this period the appearances of the Delaque themselves had also begun to change. Their skin began to pale, hair was falling out, and they began to favour heavier concealing types of clothing. Confusion over the changes in House Averest and the drastic change in appearance of the Delaque caused people to accuse them of warp-taint and demand the Imperial House investigate whether they were colluding with darker powers, finally concluding with the last so far untouched Lord Vortus Heffrum, of what was left of House Averest, pulling in every favour he had to try and bring an end to the Delaque. He sought an all out war of blood and violence, hiring any and all those who were willing to join his cause to drive out the members of this usurping house. But such a war never occurred. Many speculate that a deal must have been brokered between the Delaque and the Imperial House, and soon even the name of Averest faded as Lord Vortus himself disappeared. All the former Lord’s “war”did, if it could even be called as such, was to rout out all those left in resistance to the Delaque’s complete takeover of the house, coining the term of the “Crawling Shadow” for the members of the Delaque. They didn’t outright attack the members of House Averst, or raise a hand or hired gun in order to gain control as others would. It was all just so subtle and calm, so that whenever those opposed to the Delaque tried to fight back against them, they were simply blocked by this shadow that slipped past with barely a whisper or a trace, finally gaining its complete monopoly over every industry and interest formerly in the hands of House Averest, and now in the complete and total control of House Delaque.
Nobody knows what the goals of this mysterious house truly are, but whispers have been heard of the “Silent Ones” that many believe they follow. Who these Silent Ones are is even more of a mystery, but for almost 3,000 years they have held their place and moved throughout the shadows of Necromunda with ease. Whereas other houses fight amongst themselves, the Delaque prefer to sit back and watch from the sidelines. As such they have seen many pivotal moments occur throughout Necromunda’s history, from the fall of Hive Arcos and Hive Secundus to the coming of the Lord of Skin and Sinew. Those who claim they took part in standing against greater powers who might have seen the end of the Hive are not wholly incorrect, but only in that the Delaque potentially merely tipped the scale in the favour of whoever came out victorious. Whether it be simply for their own benefit or that of Lord Helmawr no one can be sure, but one thing is considered to be certain amongst the people of Necromunda; there isn't a single thing or secret that House Delaque is unaware of. This makes them Necromunda’s greatest spymasters and information brokers, and more than that, they have always proven reliable in the information they sell. Even the Imperial House itself is rumoured to use the services of House Delaque.
But however detached and in the shadows the Delaque may prefer to be, time is drawing near when Somnus will return to haunt Necromunda skies again.House Delaque have been making preparations for this event in secret, and not only this but deep below the surface of Necromunda something begins to stir. Perhaps those fairytales of the Drowned Empire are more than just bedtime stories after all?
Delaque gangs are strange, much like their members. While gangs such as the Goliath follow the strongest member of the group, or the Orlock the one with the best reputation and bravado, the Delaque adhere to the Psychoterica that binds them. And though not every member of the house is a Psyker, this energy provided by the Silent Ones they worship in secret gives them meaning and a form to their hierarchy. As such, even the lowliest of Juves under the banner of the Delaque become Shadows, both as a reference to what they may have once been, but also to all those of the Hive who may have thought that they knew them before.
Master of Shadows
The Leader of the gang, the Master of Shadows is a relatively great allrounder with a Weapon and Ballistic skill of +3. But unfortunately, they don't have great basic weapons. They do, though, get access to the Web Gauntlet, which is a great weapon in that if an opponent is successfully hit, no wound rolls, saves, or injury rolls are made. Instead, the fighter counts as webbed and is treated immediately as seriously injured. In the recovery phase at the end of the round, rolling a flesh wound means they shake off the effects and are no longer ensnared in the Web. Serious injuries mean the fighter remains caught in the web until they are able to roll again for recovery, but if they roll an out of action result they succumb to the powerful sedative administered by the Web and fall unconscious. Pretty dirty, because all the wielder of this gauntlet needs to do is manage to make contact, and if successful even the strongest of behemoth foes can fall prey to the lull of the Web. On top of this the Master of Shadows also has the option to gain Psychoteric Mastery; an un-sanctioned psyker trait for 30 credits at creation, and with Willpower of +5 they're quite likely to get the Wyrd Power off. Overall though, the Master of Shadows isn’t much better than the Phantom in terms of stats. The Web Gauntlet is nice, as is their special skill, but it might just be wise to give them a special weapon and set them up with the overseer skill.
The basic Champion of the Delque, the Phantom is good value for credits. It’s recommended that you equip these guys with a special weapon, so if you're feeling cheap a long rifle is a good option to take. Personally though, I like the Web Gun or Plasma Gun for their brute power and interesting effects. I wouldn’t arm these guys for close combat though, but not because they're bad at it; it just seems as though their counterparts the Nacht-Ghul are so much more suited for it, so why bother?
The other option the Delaque have for a Champion, and as mentioned, this thing is a beast in close combat. There. Done. Simple… Okay okay, I'll go into detail. With a Movement of 6, Weapon Skill of +2, and Strength 4, the Nacht-Ghul is fast, will nearly always hit, and beat most opponents' base Toughness. Furthermore, if you equip them right, and by right I mean with Serpent’s Fangs, they become Strength 6 instead. On the charge they get 6 attacks, not to mention the Serpent’s Fangs also have phased so you can kiss goodbye to Armour Saves. All this, tied with the ‘From the Shadows’ rule which allows them to be placed anywhere on the board not visible to enemy fighters after the first turn, they will just appear and be able to murder anything they bump into, and there is little to be done about it. For extra fun, you could even give them a Grapnel Launcher and watch them fly about the board. These guys are terrifying…
Erm….right… These Psy-Gheists, they’re somewhat confused Prospectors. I’m not honestly sure if they know what they're for. Plus they cost 60 credits, which for a Prospect is really expensive. It’s important to note that they are Psykers though, but with a Willpower of 8+, they’re not going to be the most reliable at getting their powers off. Furthermore, although they have a Weapon Skill of 4+, the only melee weapons they have access to are a Digi Laser (erm, ok why?) and a Stiletto Knife. And that’s it. 2 options for a melee weapon to arm your Prospect with is kind of crap to be honest. The only use I can see for them is their ability to spam Cephalopod Spektors and Psychoteric Wyrms, which is an awful idea as it is far too expensive to be realistically fielded. What I would consider the “best” bit of equipment the Psy-Gheist has access to is Psychomancer’s Harness. This gives the Psy-Gheist +2 Movement and ignores the half move penalty for moving up and down, and it comes armed with two Psychomantic claws (which, to be fair, are rather good). But all in all it is really difficult to justify giving a Prospect a bit of equipment worth 110 credits.
Well, what can I say about the Ghost? They're bloody cheap at 40 credits each. In fact, they’ve actually got the same stats as Orlock Gangers, except with a better cool stat. Plus they’re cheaper (though I won't be telling our local Orlock player that). Slap on a 5 credit Auto Pistol and you have one of the cheapest gangers you can get (though not hugely useful). It should also be pointed out though that the Ghosts get an array of Pistols, which although expensive, this does basically give you more access to special weapons.
The Juves of the Delque. Like all Juves, the Shadows have the worst stats in every way you can imagine. But they are very cheap at 25 credits, so they’ll serve well in the role of bullet magnets to protect your more expensive Champions and your Leader. Arm them with Auto Pistols and charge them forward into the enemy. They’ll take plenty of shots, but they might get a few Coup de Grace’s on injured models that your more valuable gang members can’t easily reach without putting themselves at risk.
Exotic beasts of Necromunda vary from gang to gang, and House Delaque are no different in this respect. But just as the house is strange in the people who make up their numbers, their pets are no less strange either.
This creature is a multi-limbed monstrosity that is widely considered the most sinister of and most effective part of a Delaque members arsenal. Made from genetic material taken from its Delaque owner, these beasts are grown and raised to provide its master with a second set of mechanical eyes and ears. This makes it very intelligent in itself, having a whopping 4+ in this stat. But it is also very expensive for what it grants you on the battlefield. It’ll set you back 100 credits in return for a Strength 4 base shock attack, an automatic Threat Response attack on any enemy fighters within D6 inches of its owner should they be taken out of action (but only as long as the Cephalopod is within 3 inches of it’s owner), and it does buff your Gangers' Intelligence, but again, only as long as they’re within 3 inches of their owner. This thing is WAY too expensive to be worth taking for the limits on the benefits it’ll bring you.
These creatures are confusing to other citizens of Necromunda as no one knows how these things are even made. Composed of a strange amalgamation of technology and alien biology, not even cutting into these creatures to dissect them once captured gives anything away, as they seem to contain nothing but a viscous black fluid reeking of the sump. Despite this however they are more than capable of burrowing through almost any kind of material, whether it be plasteel or even ferrocrete, and as they are able to constrict their bodies they can squeeze through even the tiniest of openings if they’re available. There are very few places these things are unable to go, which makes them perfect pets for their Delaque masters to own. However, again these creatures are expensive. Not as expensive as the Cephalopod, but they will still set you back 70 credits. They do however bring a little more to the table than their many limbed counterparts, as these creatures are able to freely move up to 12inches away from their owners. They can even be used as Nodes for the use of their owners Psychoteric Whisper Powers, which is very useful for those 3 inch or 1 inch powers should you need to cause chaos for your enemies further afield or even behind what your opponents might regard as Impassable Terrain. It is still a little costly though for what it is, but I could see it being useful in some areas.
Hangers on and Brutes
The Delaque are often found to contract out services to others much like other gangs, and as unique as they are they also have some unique Hanger On’s and Brutes. These can range from entities crafted to serve a particular purpose, to people themselves that have been taken in by the Delaque and moulded into positions where they will be more useful to them.
Thralls are people with latent connections to the Psychoterica that the Delaque bring into their ranks, for the specific purpose of using their abilities to further enhance their own. As such, these Thralls are somewhat like the Psychoteric Wyrms that the Delaque craft to extend the reaches of their own Psychoteric Whisper Powers. This Hangers On can act as a Node like the Wyrms, enabling their house masters to channel their powers and use them at even greater distances. However, unlike the Wyrms, this Thrall isn’t tied to any one single owner, and as such can be used by any psyker in the gang. But there's more; when bought, you can pick what house the thrall was originally from, and enemy fighters from that house within 6 inches subtract 2 from their Leadership and Willpower rolls. On top of this the Hanger On can take part in battles, coming equipped with a basic weapon and the evade skill. And at only 90 credits, this is a great little addition to a gang.
Spykers are the poor people with latent psychic potential, taken by the Delaque and subjected to a sort of “forced evolution” through the use of concentrated Ghast. This can take months or even years, and those lucky enough to survive the complete bodily atrophy and cranial expansion without suffering complete biological collapse are strapped into medicare harnesses and given to gang leaders to serve their house. But as grim as all of this may be, these Spykers are basically amazing and every gang should have at least one (though two are available for hire).They carry no equipment and have no available skills, but they can fly and have a selection of Wyrd Powers that can devastate the enemy, such as the ability to break or pin enemy gangers as only basic actions. As such, the Spyker is an incredible force multiplier allowing you to dictate the battle. Also, they’re only worth 90 credits each, making them a steal (seriously, what's wrong with this book? Either things are way too expensive or ridiculously cheap).
These are the Brutes of House Delaque and are almost an entire race all of their own.
Crafted from Xenos brains wrapped in cybernetics, they’re more or less a flying heavily armed and armoured mechanical squid! So, when looking at it this way, I mean what not to like about that? Oh, I guess I should talk about its stats though, shouldn’t I… Firstly, it has a Weapon Skill of 3+ and comes equipped with Psychomantic Claws. Combine this with its base Strength and Toughness of 4 and an ability to ignore armour on its charge, it will easily mince anything that gets within 3 inches of it, and that’s before it’s even managed to get through all 10 attacks it can make. For defence it is equipped with Light Carapace Armour and has 3 Wounds and a Toughness of 4, and if this isn't enough you can pay an extra 30 credits (a bargain really) and buy your battle squid Psychoteric Mastery. Pick up Spatial Awareness with this and if you’re unable to charge a ganger, you can still pin one of them at the least. In short, what you have here is a flying mechanical battle squid. Get one. (Or even two.)
Obfuscation Skills and Psychoteric Whispers
Just like any other gang, in the book House of Shadow the Delaque have access to a set of their own special rules. They all seem rather good, and lean into the natural skills of the Delaque to take full advantage of their abilities. These skills are as follows:
Faceless - Enemy fighters must make a Willpower check to target the fighter with this skill. It’s somewhat like the standard Fearsome rule, but it counts for any kind of attack against your gang members, rather than only protecting them from a charge. Needless to say, it’s a really good skill for keeping your Gangers alive.
Psi Touched - When rolling Willpower to use or resist Wyrd Powers you may reroll any failed rolls, and in a house full of psykers the ability to reroll a failed Willpower roll is great.
Also, when visiting the Black Market post battle there is always Ghast available for purchase, which is another little nice bonus.
Take Down - If this fighter takes down an enemy fighter and your gang wins the battle, you can roll a dice for each enemy this fighter took down.On a roll of 4+ you can choose to take an enemy fighter captive, rather than going through the usual method for capturing enemies (though you can still only capture one at a time, so choose your captives wisely). This isn’t bad and it might be a good pick for your Nacht-Ghul, as they are likely to always be able to take somebody out.
Rumour Monger - Make an Intelligence check during the end of the post-battle sequence. If you pass your enemy loses D3 reputation. You gain D3 reputation in return. In a campaign, this is a great skill to chip away at the reputations of enemy gangs while boosting your own, and remember; reputation determines how many Hangers-On and Brutes you can have, so you can really sway the balance of all the gangs with this powerful skill.
Fake Out - When rolling for scenarios during set-up you can roll 3D6 instead of 2 and discard one result of your choice. Considering how unbalanced some scenarios can be, this is a very useful skill to pick, letting you have a good chance of getting a better scenario for your playstyle.
Doppelganger - When selecting crews the enemy Leader makes an Intelligence check. If they fail, you can bring another fighter into battle for free. Depending who you’re fighting, this could be very useful, but I wouldn’t expect it to work too often, so it may be better to pick another skill?
On top of the Obfuscation Skills the Delque also gets access to three new groups of Wyrd Powers under the collective name of Psychoteric Whispers; these are called Madness, Delusion, and Darkness. Any Delaque who have access to these Whispers subsequently must have the skill Psychoteric Mastery, which in turn makes them a Non-Sanctioned Psyker making them worth an extra 3D6 credits to your enemy if they’re taken out of action. They can also be sold to the guild for their full credit value if they’re captured, so it’s a somewhat double-edged sword. But enough about that, let’s look at the powers.
Existential Barrage - Pick an enemy fighter within 1 inch. They must make an Intelligence test or become broken and flee. If they finish their move within 5 inches of another enemy fighter, those fighters must make a nerve test or they also become broken. This is great if you’ve got a cluster of enemies heading your way and could easily cause a chain route.
Terrible Truths - Pick an enemy fighter within 3 inches. They must make an Intelligence test or they become insane. Well, this could be fun, as it stands a good chance of making the enemy fighter either broken or so wild they attack their friends.
Psychotic Lure - Pick an enemy fighter within 3 inches with a ready marker. They must be activated next and cannot be part of a group activation. This is really good if you want to take control away from your opponent, which could force them to make a disadvantageous move. Really good if used well I feel.
Cyclopean Gaze - Pick an enemy fighter within 1 inch with a ready marker. This fighter loses their ready marker, and I don't need to tell you how good this is in almost any situation. This is also a prime candidate for use when paired with a Psychoteric Wyrm.
Craven Howl - Broken enemy fighters with 5 inches can’t rally. Sounds good, but kinda useless as broken fighters nearly never end up that close to make this worthwhile.
Unremarkable Utterance - All enemy fighters within 3 inches can only perform a single action during their activation… Wow, this could be really powerful if used well.
Spatial Psychosis - Choose an unengaged standing enemy fighter within 12 inches. They immediately become pinned. This doesn't even need line of sight, and it is great for stopping any fighters that rely on double actions (looking at you heavy weapon wielders and melee fighters).
Seen Unseen - Pick an enemy fighter within 3 inches. That fighter is now an enemy to the rest of their gang. If you want to deny enemies access to aura abilities or group activations, use this.
Ghost and Shadow - Pick an enemy fighter within 10 inches and change their facing. I guess if you wanted to charge this enemy fighter with one of your gangers armed with a backstab weapon then use could be of use as a setup power, but really, compared to others it’s a bit meh.
Deceitful Thoughts - Pick an enemy fighter within 5 inches. They must make an Intelligence check. If they fail, you may move them their full movement. However you can’t move them off a ledge or into anything that might harm them, but if it’s a fighter that’s behind cover, you can make them walk out into the open instead. A rather nasty power, but it's a double action so might be difficult to use effectively in some situations.
Suicidal Embrace - Pick an enemy fighter within 3 inches. They must make an Intelligence check. If they fail they must make an immediate attack against themselves with one of their melee weapons. This attack automatically hits, but rolls for wounds and damage are made like normal… Just, wow. It’s a bit of a shame though that those who this would be best against also tend to have good intelligence, but stil. The Goialths and Corpse Grinders exist.
Opprobrious Curse - Pick an enemy fighter within 3 inches. They must make a Toughness check, and if they fail they take a flesh wound… Not really that good, or usefull. Maybe pick another power (you’re not exactly short of them).
Cacophony of Silence - All enemy fighters within 5 inches must reroll all successful ranged to-hit rolls. Could be good if the enemy has a lot of ranged firepower and is clustered together (Orlocks anyone?). Another one for the Wyrm maybe?
Penumbral Mirror - Choose a friendly and an enemy fighter within 5 inches, then move the friendly fighter to anywhere within 5 inches of the enemy. Making base to base contact is permitted when using this power, too, so it’s not bad for freely getting into or out of close combat, but maybe do it with a group activation to cover yourself just in case?
A Perfect Void - This has a 10 inch range and while the fighter is able to maintain this Wyrd Power, they count as being in full cover to any enemies within 10 inches. This could be useful as the +2 penalty to attack them is nice, but considering how close the enemy gangers will be, most weapons will nearly negate this power to some extent a lot of the time.
Eternal Slumber - All seriously injured enemy fighters within 3 inches go out of action… Erm, there’s this action called Coup de Grace? Unless you’re surrounded by the enemy gang's entire gang who are somehow all seriously wounded on the floor and they happen to be within 3 inches of you, then why would you bother to use this power, especially as it’s a double-action.
Cloak of Whispers - Friendly fighters within 3 inches can’t be targeted by enemy gang tactics. Not really that useful unless your opponent has a habit of bringing Click to every battle, and even then it’s still not worth it a lot of the time.
Sight Blight - Enemy fighters within 5 inches count as being affected by the pitch-black rule. Not really sure what use this could be, but I guess you could use the Wyrm to temporarily blind a cluster of enemy fighters?
Looking at all of these new powers for the Delaque there are some very useful Wyrd Powers. Each of these lists seem to give you some way to affect your opponent's plans without doing direct damage to them. Which is pretty unique in a game where you’re mostly out to kill everything that’s an enemy, or even just if it can move. (I get the feeling if Delque played Magic the Gathering they’d play an all blue deck…)
In terms of models, the Delque are very well represented. Gamesworkshop has three boxes for sale. The first box enables you to build the Master of Shadows, Phantoms, Ghosts, and Shadows, who are all the core members of the gang. The second box contains the Nacht-Ghul, Psy-Gheists, Psychoteric Wyrm and Piscean Spektor. Lastly is the upgrade box which has an array of different weapons and heads. As far as things go, the Delaque really lucked out here because they are the only gang that gets easy access to the Brute model without having to go to Forgeworld. The only unit of this gang that is not given a model is the Cephalopod Spektor, which is a shame really, but you’ve seen my view on these models above so if this is the only thing you’re missing you’ll see why it’s no great loss overall.
House Delque is an interesting gang with a very different back story and playstyle than you’d expect. The model costs though seem to be all over the place, and while there are some models you’ll always want (the Nacht-Ghul), there are also some you will never likely take (Psy-Gheists). What you are left with though is a powerful gang of psykers, able to strike out and attack the enemy in strange ways that if used right, could allow you almost control over the battlefield.
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