Updated: Jan 16
Greetings one and all,
Today we are continuing our dive into the world of Necromunda. This is the second part of my thirteen-part series, and today we’re going to look at one of the most colourful houses in the Underhive, House Escher; a house of deadly women, and flesh cursed menfolk. So I suggest you give these ladies the respect and wide berth they are due and let’s get into it.
House Escher is an old house. One of the oldest, in fact, coming to power after the age of anarchy. Clean limbed and strong of mind, indeed they enjoyed health and longevity that few rivalled on Necromunda. It was this perceived strength and the house's focus on it that would be its greatest boon, and darkest curse. In 519 M40, the house was rocked to the core as the flesh curse made imbecilic wretches of the house's menfolk. This led to a cultural shift as the house women rose to even more prominence, taking over all of the roles formerly held by the house's menfolk.
Now, house Escher mainly focuses their efforts in ensuring its dominance in the realms of gene-alchemy, chymist cults, and weapon manufacturing. As a result, they are the providers of many of the chems that flood the markets of the Underhive. They also keep houses like Van Saar and Goliath functioning and are actually directly responsible for House Goliath's creation in the first place.
These are the leaders of the gang, ruling through a mixture of awe and fear. these are great leaders with a fairly balanced statline, they are effective in long-ranged combat but in my opinion, shines in close combat, especially when given the counterattack or step aside skill. I personally like giving my Queen a stiletto sword and a plasma pistol if I'm going close combat style or a bolter plasma or needle if I'm kitting her out for ranged combat. Either way, she's got a lot of kit to choose from, you're spoilt for choice as to how you arm her.
Acting as the Queen's enforcers and second in command, they are very flexible. They have a very good statline and access to a whole range of good kit; personally, I like to arm mine with a plasma gun, as you can’t go wrong with a rapid-fire plasma weapon, or maybe a needle rifle, to make the most of that Toxin trait. That said, to make the most of anyone with a Toxin or Gas weapon, give them Chem-Synth and really get the most out of those traits.
Sometimes members of house Escher die in spectacular ways, and sometimes one of the clan Chymists is nearby enough to make off with the body. Back in the lab, the barely living Escher is treated with a whole host of dangerous, rare, and somewhat heretical drugs and procedures. If successful, the result is a Death Maiden; a revenant returned to life to serve the house. These ladies are melee combat-focused, able to kill nearly any other ganger they come up against.
These are the ladies who make up the bulk of the gang. Otherwise known as just ‘gangers’, they’re the foot troops of the house. Each is an experienced fighter in her own right, now highly skilled in melee and ranged combat after surviving many a battle in order to rise up through the ranks of their house. When battling with them, they have access to most of the armoury, but I like to field mine with precision lasguns rather than crude solid shot weapons, just because I prefer the accuracy.
For some, the rules and structure of daily life just aren’t for them. In House Escher, this is accepted and such individuals are allowed to leave and go off into the wilds of the Underhive. Those that survive become hunters and trackers, skilled with and bow and training a host of Phelynx to fight for them.
Call them what you will, New Bloods, Juves, these ladies are still members of House Escher and so have a lethal streak a mile wide. Although they may not get access to the same amount of weapons as a full ganger, it just means they have to prove themselves with what they have. Personally, I like arming them with stiletto knives and watching them commit bloody murder amongst my opponents' gang. If they die, well they die. Only the strongest live long in Necromunda.
Along with the variety of gang members available to a House Escher gang, they also benefit from a selection of specific characters such as clan Chymists and Shivvers, more notably known as hanger-ons and brutes, to the main core of the gang itself.
Clan Chymists take to the Underhive alongside your Escher gang in order to gather raw materials and test out their newest creations (and luckily for them, there are always so many test subjects after a fight). These Chymists also lower the price of toxins that the gangs can buy during the downtime when holding a Necromunda campaign.
The Shivver on the other hand, are elaborate fortune seers that can guide the Escher to even greater successes. Or avoid calamity. Though their visions aren’t always that accurate, or even necessarily true. Whatever they can fit onto their carts, they come complete with all the bells and whistles of a stereotypical gypsy.
The Khimerix on the other hand, is a monstrous gene-crafted nightmare of a Brute. It’s the amalgamation of dozens of different creatures genetically slammed together to create something truly fearsome. With toxins, rending claws, and the powers of regeneration, these monsters can give even a Goliath pause for thought (which I imagine is very painful for the poor Goliath to manage).
Finally, there are the cats of house Escher. Venomous felines that act as pets for the members of the house that are capable of taming the beasts, such as the Wyld Runners. These cats range from the house-cat sized Phelynx, right up to the lion-sized Phyrr Cats. Though whatever their size may be, any one of these beasts is more than fully capable of taking down a man.
Finesse Skills and Chem-Alchemy
In the House Escher specific rulebook “House of Blades”, the Escher also benefit from a set of skills based on movement. These skills are: Acrobatic (can ignore enemy models when moving or charging), Combat Focus (gain Willpower and Cool buffs for taking enemies Out of Action), Combat Virtuoso (most House knives and swords gain Versatile equal to the fighter’s Strength), Hit and Run (free disengage after charging, before opponents can retaliate), Light Reflexes (can disengage when charged before the enemy attacks), and Somersault (place this fighter 6” away from her current location as a Basic Action). Together they are referred to as the Finesse Skills, and they are designed to improve the overall flexibility and ability of the Escher to keep themselves just out of the range of their enemies guns and melee weapons. Combat Virtuoso is one of my personal favourites, given to a Death Maiden then everyone within 3 inches is dead.
Additionally, the House of Blades rulebook also includes the rules for “Escher Chem-Alchemy”. These rules allow for you to create a wide concoction of drugs, ammo, and weapons, that your gang can make use of while battling their way through the Underhive. Drugs concocted through the use of the Chem-Alchemy take the form of ‘stimms’, which provide widely positive effects for your gang. Gaseous ammo can be created to give your weapons the ‘Gas trait’, such as the Chem-Thrower, and Toxic ammo can be created to give them the ‘Toxin trait’, both of which can be added to almost any weapon with the trait stats available, allowing for increased damage that can, if the opponent is unlucky in their save roll, enable a level of unsoakable damage to them. Escher Chem-Alchemy is a fairly powerful set of rules that you could benefit from when playing your gang, but there is also unfortunately a downside to them that you’ll need to consider. When playing one-off skirmishes, it can be incredibly useful to have a few extra perks from the toxins and stimms available, but if you are playing in a campaign you can’t start play with any of these Chem-Alchemy perks at all. To gain them, you have to play through a game until you have the chance to visit the Trading Post. This aside, however, they're a fairly well-balanced set of rules that can go on to decimate opponents on the board.
From Gamesworkshop itself, the Escher has two boxes of models available, and one weapon and upgrade set. The first box has nearly everything you might need to build a basic gang consisting of a Queen, two Matriarchs, up to 7 Gangers, and Juves. But by investing in the second box, you have the opportunity to build two Death Maidans, four Wyld Runners, and four Phelynx cats as well. If however, you don’t like some of the weapons available in these boxes then the upgrade set contains a whole range of alternatives. It even comes with a bunch of different head designs too so you can really give your Escher gang a sense of personality. There are also a number of bits available from Forgeworld as well, such as the Phyrr Cat, which is only available from there.
The Escher were my first Necromunda gang and I personally love their playstyle. The mixture of decent ranged combat ability tied with lethal close combat options really makes them a great starting gang in my opinion. That said, they're not perfect. They can't outshoot the Van Saar and don't mince everything in close combat like the Corpse Grinder Cults, but the biggest thing they have going for them is their adaptability. So if you are in the Underhive and meet these ladies, give them a wide berth and some respect and they might just leave you alone.
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