The Aranthian Succession: Cinderak Burning Review – Necromunda Campaign Book
The Cicatrix Maledictum has ripped the galaxy in two. The Imperium will never be the same, and even worlds usually untouched in the galactic struggle are feeling the effects. On Necromunda, the planet has plunged into darkness and open warfare has erupted between the factions. And at the height of this chaos, an assassin has attempted to kill the master of the world, Lord Helmawr – What happens next will determine the very future of Necromunda.
Today we review The Aranthian Succession: Cinderak Burning, the first in a multi book campaign that chronicles the events on Necromunda following the great rift, and the wars that erupt to find a successor to Helmawr. Up for pre order today, Cinderak Burning also gives Escher and Goliath players new options for their gangs and an epic campaign to play through.
Massive thanks to Games Workshop for sending us a free review copy to check out and explore in this article. If you would like to support the site then why not order your copy of Cinderak Burning through our affiliate Element Games and save yourself 20% too?
I have also filmed a full review video to accompany this article which you can check out below or over on YouTube
So make your pledge for whichever faction you support as we dig into the first volume of the Aranthian Seccession…
The Aranthian Succession Cinderak Burning Review
The Aranthian Succession is the start of something epic coming to Necromunda – a multi volume campaign that tells the tale of the events following the great rift and the repercussions of an attempted assassination of Lord Geronitus Helmawr, the 137th Lord of Necromunda.
After books that act essentially as “codexes” with the “House of” books, it’s good to get something fresh in the form of a campaign series – On the surface it may seem that this is something that will only appeal to Abitrators, but the book actually contains content that will interest most Necromunda players, especially those with a love of the deep and engrossing lore of the game.
The Age of Succession Lore
The first 50 pages (Almost half of the entire book) is dedicated to the lore exploring what is currently happening on Necromunda. Games Workshop have decided to bring Necromunda kicking and screaming up to the current timeline – this is really exciting as we are now in uncharted territory, big things can and do happen, the status quo can be changed and we get all the twists and turns that are not possible with a campaign set in the “past”.
For those that play Age of Sigmar, this series very much reminds me of the Broken Realms books – an excellent series that not only contained a campaign and rules for new units, but also had earth shattering events play out across the narrative of the books.
Following on from the current events of the 40k timeline, the galaxy has been split asunder by the Cicatrix Maledictum – also known as the Great Rift. While we are aware of the effects this has had on the galaxy at large, it seems that things also take a darker turn on Necromunda. Literally.
Around the time of the Great Rift opening, the heat sinks at the heart of each Hive City go cool for unknown reasons. Power is lost across the entire planet and each hive plunges into complete darkness.
As you can imagine, this leads to complete and utter chaos on the world. Production stops, the populace panic and rebel. Prison complexes shut down completely, their doors swinging open to unleash the convicts inside upon the hives. gangs take advantage of the situation and hit rivals hard, escalating conflicts that had cooled down and erupting brand new ones. Chaos gangs start building effigies of their dark gods without the fear of enforcement. The Enforcers themselves are stretched thin with communication all but useless with the technology of Necromunda brought to it’s knees. Some hives are shut off entirely from the Underhive – the poor unfortunates beneath being starved or poisoned to maintain order. Other hives are overrun with wild deranged madmen looking to eliminate the elite.
While this is happening, a mass migration of Ash Waste Nomads begins – masked by storms the size and power not seen for years, thousands of Nomads start hitting camps and settlements in a synchronised campaign – many people being caught unawares until the brutal Nomads strike them down.
Order is a distant dream and Necromunda descends into anarchy.
During this, a cybernetic assassin is sent by unknown agents to kill Lord Helmawr. And we’re not talking some kitted out hive scum off the streets – this is a specialised Murder-Cyborg designed to kill. Think T800 from Terminator – Robotic Endoskeleton covered with human flesh to make it blend into society. The conspirators want to take advantage of the madness on Necromunda to do something that will shake the very foundations of order on the planet. And they succeed. While the assassination is not clean, and the assassin is killed before getting the finishing blow, Lord Helmawr is mortally wounded and sealed into Stasis as the only way of saving his life.
Around this time, the power comes back on and some form of normality returns to the hives.
With Helmawr essentially out of action however, minds turn to who will be next to lead Necromunda. localists to the Imperial house believe it to be the birth right of the Helmawr bloodline to rule the planet – however, Lord Helmawr had 17 trueborn sons along with 13 trueborn daughters, along with a host of illegitimate children such as Kal Jericho. Even loyalists to the Imperial House are torn over who has true succession to the throne. Many of these children start plotting against each other, aligning with influential forces on the planet to disgrace and discredit their siblings, while others hire assassins and gangs to simply eliminate their brothers and sisters. Some play a longer game, enacting deals with guilds and houses in order to set up events that will lead to them being in a powerful position to later force the hands of lesser guilds who may be involved in deciding the successor.
Some of the gangs of Necromunda are brought into the fold, either as mercenaries, for shady deals or simply because they feel that things worked on Necromunda under Helmawr and while things are not perfect that better the devil you know and to maintain the bloodline.
Other factions on Necromunda think differently however, and they believe that Helmawr only had power due to the rest of the forces on the planet bending to his will – with enough influence a new power could rise that could replace the rule of Helmawr.
It is under this belief that Lady Credo, the Rebel Queen herself enacts a plan to destabilise the Status Quo on Necromunda and bring about rebellion and change that will install brand new leadership on the planet. She seeks out House Esher in order to act as her weapon, and makes some shady deals in order to complete her plan. Not all Escher members agree with this however, and House Escher is split in civil war between those who are loyal to Helmawr and those who believe in Lady Credo’s rebellion.
I don’t want to go too deep into spoilers, as the book is a great read, but in short the rest of the book sees how the conflict within Escher, and their war against the dominant Goliath forces on Necromunda goes and what repercussions it has on this over arching war of succession. Things are set up well for the next book, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we see some massive shift to the power balance on Necromunda and that potentially factions that we do not expect may become major players in this battle for the throne.
We also get a great timeline logging all the events that have happened since the opening of the Great Rift along with the Helmawr family tree, which is well worth sifting through to identify the (rapidly dwindling) pool of potential heirs!
We get 4 new Dramatis Personae added in Cinderak Burning, representing characters introduced during the narrative:
Lady Haera (13th Daughter of Lord Helmawr) is one of the Helmawr offspring who seems likely to be a potential contender to the throne – She is intelligent, psychopathic and sadistic. All excellent qualities to rule Nercomunda. She tortured her servants while she was still in her nursery, and has a range of high tech weaponry afforded by the considerable wealth of the Helmawr bloodline – Chief among these is her Power Spear. It can be used as a ranged weapon (S4″ L8″) with Ap -2, damage 2 and knockback – an integrated teleport homer returns the spear to her hand after use (However there is a chance this runs out of charge during the battle meaning that if she throws it again it will not return to her) She also has a Phase Sword hitting at on a 2+, S4 and ignoring all saves – with3 attacks and damage 2 she is a formidable opponent in combat
Gorshiv Hammerfist is a brutish Goliath bounty hunter created by Doc Shiv – This guy is built like a tank and can never be pinned, never be knocked back and can heal a wound after doing two move actions!
Athera is the bodyguard of the Matriarch of House Esher and is equipped with weapons worthy of that status – a master crafted chainaxe in one hand and a plasma pistol in the other. She also has the ability to leap over any enemy fighters when making a charge action, making her very good at getting to the best target she wants. She is accompanied by her Caryatid Stix who can sense the future – this is represented in game by allowing her to ignore a successful hit once per turn on a successful willpower test – with a WP of 6+ she is going to be ignoring hits more often than not – and if the enemy decides to try and take out Stix himself to negate this ability he himself has a 3+ save that cannot be modified.
Finally we get the first printed rules for Vespa, the recently released Orlock Bounty Hunter, she has a custom rocket launcher and can move a full speed while doing a move and shoot action, and additionally can make 2 90 degree turns each time she moves
The Succession Campaign (Part 1)
The main draw for Arbitrators will be the Succession Campaign itself – as earlier hinted to, this is a campaign that will start with this book and continue through further volumes with the same gangs progressing along the story line. In this part of the story the various gangs of Necromunda will pledge their allegiance to either the Helmawr bloodline of the Imperial House, or join Lady Credo’s rebellion to try and overturn the Helmawrs. Alternatively, the gangs can sit on the fence and later choose a side to join once they know which way the wind is blowing. Different bonuses exist for picking a side, The Imperial House will fund you with more cash, and on a 4+ before each game you get to take Cyniss the Chymist Mother or Lady Haeera for free, the Rebellion gives you extra reputation and on a 4+ grants you Athera or Lady Credo for free and unaligned get extra XP for taking leaders out of action and on a 4+ get Gorshiv, Djangar, Margo or Vespa for free. Due to this Arbitrators and players will probably want to pick up a couple of these characters in case they get to bring them along in their games – Its also a great excuse to paint them up! Arbitrators are encouraged to have a mixture of people aligned to different factions, and narratively it makes sense if the members of the same gang are found on each side of the split, due to the rampant civil wars erupting throughout the underhive due to the conflict.
Gangs in a Succession Campaign are larger than usual, starting out at 2000 credits plus a 400 credit allowance for vehicles. This is due to the fact that for the first half of the campaign the power is out on Necromunda. Trade and production has stopped entirely and gaining new gang members is impossible. You cannot hire you members, you cannot buy items from your gang list and the rarity of every item in the trading post and black market increases by 4. With this in mind for the first 3 games you will not be able to replace any losses – so the additional starting pool gives you a little extra insurance in the case of any catastrophic losses, and you might have to build some contingency into your starting gang to account for that.
At the midway point you gain an additional 250 credits and the power comes back on allowing you to purchase gear and gangers as usual for the rest of the campaign.
The main thing the gangs are fighting over in the campaign is the support of various sympathisers within Necromunda, the guilds, houses and organisations that will be influential and powerful to have on side in preparation for the coming power struggle for the rule of Necromunda. Each of these factions offer various bonuses and essentially work like territories in other Necromunda campaigns – so for example you could gain the support of the Promethium Guild to give all blaze weapons the plentiful trait and also gain D6x10 credits each campaign round, or gain the support of the Venator Bounty Hunters in order to gain a bounty equal to half the credit cost whenever any enemy has a fighter die! Similar to how the Ash Wastes campaign works – in the first half you can only try and claim unaligned sympathisers, in the second half you fight other gangs to take their sympathisers.
This will lead into the next campaign with each faction having accrued power through these carious organisations and guilds.
The campaign looks very fun, and I’m excited to seeing what tooled out stuff you can bring from the start with the increased points limit – bearing in mind that any loses in the first half will not be able to be replaced any time soon – so don’t put all your ambots in one basket!
A full assortment of 12 scenarios are included for you to play through for this campaign – but what is really cool is that each scenario also has an optional mode to play it as a “historical” mission, essentially listing the forces that took part in the battle during the earlier narrative along with rules modifications to make the scenarios lore accurate rather than balanced for the campaign. I’m really looking forward to replaying the events of the book using these missions – we get lots of really cool stuff such as the Battle for Cinderak City itself, or even the assassination attempt on Lord Helmawr! I’m going to have to find a model to use as the Murder-Bot for that one…
Escher and Goliath Gang Rules
Finally, the book contains additional options for both Escher and Goliath gangs that expands on the gang lists in their representive books.
Both gangs get the option of gang specific crew for their vehicles rather than using the generic profiles out of the Ash Wastes book. This is something I suspect we will see expanded to all of the gangs and I do wonder if we will get resin upgrade kits to allow you to model these.
House Escher get a new mount option in the Cutter. This is a jetbike that can be taken as wargear for any Leader, Champion or Prospect in the same way as a bike – this essentially increases their movement to 9″ and allows it to fly over terrain and between levels at no penalty – the jet bike can also be equipped with twin linked grenade launchers, heavy Stubbers or plasma guns, but these don’t come cheap with a single jetbike clocking in at 160 credits with the cheapest weapon options – however this gives you some cool equipment options for your gangers, and the prospect of an entirely mounted Escher gang with the 2000 credits in the Succession Campaign is very tempting…
Goliaths also get the new Mauler – this is a new vehicle option for them clocking in at at least 190 credits including crew and weapons – meaning that a single box can be used to fill your 400 credit vehicle allowance for Ash Wastes games.
Dave has done a full unboxing and write up of the Mauler kit, which you can find here
The book round off with the vehicle gang tactic cards for Escher and Goliath along with full breakdown of weapons, upgrades and traits.
So what do I think of The Aranthian Succession Cinderak Burning? If you are into the lore of Necromunda and want to learn what has happened since the opening of the Great Rift then this is a must read book in order to catch up with the story – over the course of the series I suspect we are going to see any twists and turns that may turn the fate of Necromunda upside down.
As an Arbitrator is this also a great book to pick up for the new campaign, 12 new missions and the new characters – the fact that each of the missions can also be played as a one shot historical re-enactment of key events from the course of the story is also great fun and leads to some cool gaming moments.
If you are not interested in the lore or the campaign there is less in here for you than other books, as the narrative and campaign is really the main pull – we do get updates for the Goliaths and Esher gangs however, so completionists will want the book in order to get their rules, and sadly the rules for those new vehicles are not in the plastic kits.
I’m really looking forward to seeing how this story plays out and I cant wait to see who finally takes control of Necromunda!
Cinderak Burning is up for pre order today and is released Saturday 24t September
Games Workshop provided Sprues & Brews with a free copy for review purposes