Necromunda is a Hive World in the Imperium of Man's Segmentum Solar, and a major producer of munitions for the Imperial Guard. Necromunda's great forges produce las and auto weapons, Shotguns and Bolters, among other weapons. The planet also levies huge numbers of troops for the Imperial Guard (most notably the regiments of the Necromundan Spiders), as well as other crucial supplies. Necromunda is one of the worlds from which the Imperial Fists Space Marines Chapter recruits new Neophytes, often from the vicious criminal gangs of the planet's hive cities. The Fists maintain a Recruitment-Keep on the world in one of its hive clusters. Necromunda is typical of most large Imperial Hive Worlds, in that the lower portions of its hive cites are rife with powerful gangs.
Necromunda was first settled over 15,000 Terran years ago during the Dark Age of Technology as a mining and manufacturing colony. The ensuing millennia have not changed its basic purpose very much; Necromunda is still a world of mines, factories, refineries and processing plants. The planet is a vast powerhouse of industry, making thousands and thousands of different items for use throughout the nearby Imperial planetary systems of Segmentum Solar.
Nothing which can contribute to the planet's output has been left untouched. From the tops of the highest mountains to the depths of the oceans, the wealth of Necromunda has been extracted. Mountains have been reduced to rubble for the ore they contain; oceans have been turned into little more than chemical sludge ponds by the constant industrial pollution. The once-fertile plains of the world have disappeared under huge urban developments of imposing housing and factory arcologies, forming new ranges of man-made urban mountains every bit as tall as the long-since flattened natural topographical features. These huge towering urban arcology complexes are known as hive cities, or simply as hives, and their individual peaks or towers are called city spires or spires. A close group of urban hives is known as a hive cluster. Between the hives deserts of industrial ash cover the surface of the planet with a mobile, corrosive skin. Over this desert lies a cloud layer of airborne pollution, so that the great spires of the city hives rise from a drifting mist of tainted vapour like islands appearing out of an ashen sea. The hives and hive clusters are connected through the ash wastes by so-called ash trains, long trains of transport cars oufitted with reinforced balloon wheels that can travel between the wastes on a system of tracks, delivering passengers and goods. These trains are often attacked by the nomadic tribes of mutants called ash raiders who have somehow adapted to life in the poisonous ash wastes.
Despite being reduced to such a hellish environmental state, Necromunda is still a valuable world to the Imperium. Although little of Necromunda's original resources remain, the waste-heaps of previous generations have become a new source of riches. Necromunda lives on the accumulated wastes of its past: its people have learned to scavenge, reclaim and recycle everything in order to squeeze a living from their exhausted world.
Necromunda's population has increased well beyond the planet's capacity to support it. As a consequence, it is wholly reliant on synthetic and imported food. Each hive has its own recycling plants which convert previously used organic matter and waste into synthetic food. Real food is imported from off-planet, but is an expensive luxury which only the most wealthy and prestigious Necromundans from the world's aristocracy can afford.
There are probably more people now on Necromunda than ever lived in the entire history of Terra up until the end of the twentieth century in the 2nd Millennium. An attempted Imperial census of Trazior Hive four thousand years ago in the 37th Millennium revealed an estimated population of a billion in the upper habitation levels alone - no further attempt has been made to count Necromunda's population in Trazior or any other of the several thousand hives on the planet, though the world's population must be over 100 billion people.
The planet's capital is Hive Primus (also known as the Palatine), one of Necromunda's many hive cities. The hive, the largest on Necromunda, is enormous in size, reaching from the surface to some 10 miles into the air, and from surface level to roughly 2.8 miles underground (although only the first 1.3 miles are habitable by humans), and possesses a population greater than some of the other human-settled worlds in the Imperium.
Hive Primus, and the planet as a whole, is ruled over by Lord Gerontius Helmawr of House Helmawr, Necromunda's Imperial Planetary Governor. The Hive's noble houses are in a constant,byzantine power struggle to gain control of the Hive, and thus of the entire planet. The lower portions of Hive Primus are ruled by the so-called "Ganger Houses", criminal syndicates of gangers which ape the organisation and style of the Necromundan nobility and which also have some influence within the higher levels of the hive. The activities of the Ganger Houses can even affect the outcomes of the true noble houses' constant struggle for power and advancement within Hive Primus.
The society of Necromunda is reasonably typical of the larger Imperial Hive worlds. No attempt is made to enforce central administration upon the entire population by either the Imperium or the planetary government; indeed such a thing would prove impossible on a world where most people remain unrecorded by any authority. Instead, a kind of feudal system has evolved by which individual people owe loyalty to others, who in their turn owe their loyalty to other increasingly more powerful members of the hierarchy. Among the more stable elements of the population in the aristocracy these loyalties are owed on a family basis, and closely related families all support each other under the hegemony of the most powerful member of their family group.
This form of urban feudalism tends to be self-regulating. Weaker clans naturally seek the protection of more powerful neighbors whose powerbase then expands until it reaches its limit whereby its numbers and resources are simply too few to allow it to expand further. Where rival clans meet it is inevitable that their power will be tested in combat; the ability of a clan to exert its power being the only true measure of its influence. The endless feuds between the warrior gangs of these clans are a fundamental part of the political workings of Necromunda.
The hive cities of Necromunda retain the ancient names of the cities and settlements from which they grew millennia ago. Each hive spire is also known by a local name. There are approximately a thousand hive city clusters on Necromunda; each cluster a group of up to a dozen or so individual hive cities, all linked by a network of overground travel tubes and subterranean passages. The largest hive city is Hive Primus, and much of the lower hive of this vast arcology is controlled by the Ganger Houses listed below.