House Van Saar

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High tech with a dash of radiation poisoning.

House Van Saar is one of the six Hive City Houses of Necromunda, making it one of the six original playable factions for the game when it was debuted. The most technologically advanced House in Necromunda, House Van Saar produces technological goods of the highest quality, and wear unique body-suits that provide extensive protection against environmental danger.

Origins[edit]

House Van Saar's history begins somewhere in the 25th Millennium during the Dark Age of Technology. A colony ship called the Van Saar equipped with a brand spanking new STC along with a chief engineer ALSO named Van Saar launched from Earth looking for a new place to settle down. Unfortunately they were lost in the warp for 10,000 years and crash landed on the planet Necromunda.

According to the house legends, the engineer Van Saar crawled from the wreck of the Van Saar and managed to salvage enough of the STC to manufacture the necessary tools and materials to allow his ragged band of survivors to thrive, eventually growing into the major power player that they became in later centuries. Other versions of the story claim that there were no survivors, and that tech scavengers discovered the damaged STC and claimed it for their own; naming their new faction after the ship that it came from.

The Van Saar STC[edit]

The damaged STC irradiates their territory but gives them the ability to manufacture items that no other house can dream of. It allows them to produce a wide variety of items, of a such a high quality that their products are well regarded across the galaxy. Because of this, they undoubtedly the wealthiest of the six Clan Houses. Where other manufacturers stamp out mass-produced equipment, the Van Saar create items from knives to Nihilis-pattern lasguns to Hystrar-pattern energy shields each as a veritable work of art. They also typically gene-code their equipment so that it cannot be stolen from them and used without first being made safe by a good technician.

They can even produce some items that that Adeptus Mechanicus are not fully aware of; Sometimes it gives rise to the rumour that House Van Saar are sitting on vaults of archeotech from ages past, and bringing treasure hunters and thieves from all quarters to locate these hidden caches and exploit them; no-one realising that it is Van Saar who are making these items for themselves and that these wondrous items are actually brand new.

The hoarding of such a potent device is a blatant techno-heresy of one of the highest orders, and the leaders of Van Saar are acutely aware of that fact and have made it their priority to keep knowledge of the STC secret and safe. Despite being the size of a large building, the STC has been moved several times over the millennia to ensure that it cannot be discovered; variously being located out in the ash wastes, underneath hives, or even on orbital satellites! Currently it is located underneath the Hive Primus space port close to the hive's heat sinks, where the radiation it emits is concealed by the flow of thermal energy from the planetary core.

While the secret has occasionally been discovered by members of other Houses, it is carefully suppressed from the public, because everyone on Necromunda benefits from the massive wealth that Van Saar generates, and also because the houses are so interdependent on each other that to bring Van Saar down would dangerously upset the fragile balance of power that Necromunda is based upon. For example: without Van Saar there would be no amnio-vats to breed members of House Goliath, and no pharmaceutical tech for House Escher parthogenesis. Those houses may survive the loss of Van Saar, but they would be extremely damaged because of it.

The constant exposure to the radiation emanating from the STC causes the members of House Van Saar to suffer chronic radiation sickness and condemns them to wither and degenerate over time. The quest continues to either repair the STC or find a way to permanently cure themselves of the radiation sickness but neither outcome looks like it is in danger of resolving itself soon. So for the meantime they are dependent upon varying regimes of life augmenting cybernetics, tox-filters, and human chemicals.

One famed Van Saar cyber-chirurgeon claimed to have cured the sickness but was assassinated by House Delaque and left only one test subject known only as the Abomination who exists only as a figure of legend, a "hale and proud" warrior who only continues to wear his survival suit as a badge of honour rather than as life saving rig.

Organisation[edit]

Van Saar organises its gangs differently from the other Houses of Necromunda, not least because they promote their leaders from the most educated or innovative among them, rather than the most brutal or violent. This tendency in turn reflects itself on the territories that the gangs themselves hold, generally turning into machine temples and forges in imitation of the fabricator vaults of the House itself.

The hierarchy of House Van Saar is divided down two lines. The first are the Archeoteks who are somewhat synonymous with Tech-Priests, albeit without the religious dogma surrounding technology. They exist at all levels within the House and are arranged into descending circles, with the innermost circles having direct access to the STC itself and have varying degrees of understanding about its workings. Because they work so closely with the STC, they receive the largest doses of radiation, therefore most of the Inner Circle Archeoteks have significant augmetic replacements and cybernetic enchantments by necessity. As the ranks move away from the STC there is correspondingly less access and knowledge provided, to the point that the outermost members of the House may not ever realise what they possess, or why they are constantly exposed to debilitating radiation.

Not all members of House Van Saar are gifted with an affinity for technology, but still find purpose on the factory floors, in work crews, in official militia, or in the gangs. Therefore the second line of hierarchy has have a more traditional chain of command. Though a variety of professions exist, leaders are commonly referred to as Primes, with their immediate subordinates called Augmeks. Beneath them are the Teks and Subteks who fulfil the most menial roles; though it would be a mistake to consider these individuals as dumb, uneducated, or disposable, the same way that other lower class groups in the Imperium might be, as even the lowliest Subtek will be expertly trained for his assigned role.

Separate from both lines are the Neoteks, who represent promising candidates for promotion. Their particular talents tend towards the actual manipulation of technology. This they are permitted access to some of the more dangerous or unpredictable examples of what the STC is able to produce. This provides two functions: the first is that it allows the field testing of new prototypes, which is a dangerous process since not everyone can guarantee exactly what it will do, so the data gathered will be invaluable to the betterment of the house. The second function is that if the Neotek survives being the guinea pig for new technologies, they will have proved both their worth and their dedication, and tend to go far as Archeoteks or Primes depending on their chosen vocation.

Relationships[edit]

As the foremost experts on technology, House Van Saar maintains strong links with the Mercator Lux and the Pyromantic Conclaves, who dominate the light/electricity and the fuel industries respectively. This relationship works well for all sides, as the Lighting Guild and the Fuel Guild don't really understand the systems that they claim dominion over, and are content to allow the Van Saar to perform repair works for them. In return, Van Saar gain the ability to discretely tap into the hive infrastructure and use what they need without drawing too much attention.

The House also maintains links with the secretive Noble House Catallus as well as any number of charlatans and "Fallen Houses". Despite the fact that Van Saar are a bona fide Clan House in their own right, they still came from a line of ash-scavengers, and their power base and primary source of wealth must remain a tightly kept secret. So alliances with these dubious members of upper society allow them to maintain airs of legitimacy and throw off the scent for anyone who tries looking into the matter.

In the 39th Millennium, House Van Saar played a part in the creation of House Goliath, ostensibly as an attempt to refill the waning labourer population following an attempted Redemptionist uprising, the creation of fit and healthy vat-grown donors could have served to provide House Van Saar with a way of replacing their own failing flesh and organs. However the resulting Goliaths had even shorter lifespans than that of Van Saar, rendering the project a failure from that perspective, with Van Saar blaming House Escher for the betrayal. For their part, House Escher also blamed Van Saar for the Goliath's sterility, depriving them of potential breeding stock.

Secretly, the result was manipulated by outside sources in order to maintain the status quo of dependence between houses. Van Saar trade for the rad-purgatives supplied by House Escher and in return provide them the components for the parthenogenesis process they need to reproduce, preventing any one House from gaining too much independence and dominance over the others.

House Van Saar maintain an ongoing alliance with House Goliath, providing them with the amnio-vat technology required to maintain their population in exchange for the raw materials that the Goliaths can obtain from the inhospitable depths of the hives. This deal grossly favours the Goliaths, but was instituted in part to provide a means of striking against House Escher.

Technologies[edit]

The technological ascendance of House Van Saar gives them access to items would be considered "rare" even in more prestigious institutions. Even the "standard-issue" bodyglove is a complicated arrangement of various technological devices that constantly monitor their health and provide life support functions, as well as providing the connections to their wargear, allowing overlay of targetting technology over their field of vision, or the jacks for connecting with other larger pieces of equipment. The use of Mind-Impulse-Unit (MIU) technology is very commonplace, allowing for the installation of servo-arms/rigs all the way up to specialist servo-suits that carry small arsenals of wargear and protective gear.

Van Saar have perfected the art of las-technology as far as possibly for any institution not connected with the Adeptus Mechanicus and produce a variety of mid-range rifles, las-carbines, las-sub-carbines, and even las-"shotguns" capable of peppering a wide arc. Yet, despite such mastery over las-weaponry, Van Saar does not have the bulk of the Imperial export contracts and so their weapons are unlikely to end up in the hands of the Imperial Guard; and try as they might to compete for the contracts each time they come up for renewal, they always get awarded to House Escher. The reason given is that Van Saar weapons tend to be "over-engineered", which is an undesirable trait in something so straightforward and workmanlike as a lasgun. Van Saar lasguns also likely cost a lot more, even within the mechanics of the game a Van Saar lasgun is double the credit value of an Escher lasgun (that performs the same way) and costs up to seven times more once you add all the Van Saar bells and whistles.

The Noble Houses still encourage the competition, knowing that they can buy advanced Van Saar weapons for their own private use (likely in House militaries) and give them an edge over their rivals.

Despite their setbacks in the lucrative lasgun contracts, Van Saar are the only House with the capability to manufacture Plasma and Melta weapons While other Houses may certainly have their own patterns (like the Goliath Combi-Plasma-Stub pistol for instance), the primary components for those weapons will have almost certainly come from a Van Saar artificer's workshop.

The aforementioned Hystrar-pattern energy shields are a unique variant of conversion fields that are wrist mounted and offer arguably better protection over a normal conversion field, albeit only in a limited arc. They are also one of the few insitutions outside of the Mechanicus that routinely produce, and use rad-weaponry, with their protective suits offsetting the dangers of exposing themselves to such technology.

Van Saar are also unique on Necromunda in that they breed and modify the large native arachnids for the purposes of turning them into Servitors, creating Cyberachnids.

Unique Mechanics[edit]

The technological gang, every member of House Van Saar can learn both Shooting and Techno skills, making them on-par with House Delaque and arguably superior to House Orlock, especially when their excellent BS (nothing lower than a 4+, with leaders and champions having BS 2+. That said, their skills in Ferocity and Stealth are sorely lacking, with only their gang leaders able to learn them. They also can't boost their Toughness beyond +1 in a campaign game due to their radiation poisoning.

Appropriately enough, they have the best selection of guns: while they favor the use of lasguns and other laser weaponry, they also get more exotic stuff like grav-guns and rad-cannons and can also bolster their defenses with energy shields.

Gallery[edit]

Playable Factions of Necromunda
Clan Houses: Cawdor - Delaque - Escher - Goliath - Orlock - Van Saar
Noble Houses: Catallus - Greim - Ran Lo - Ulanti - Syprers
Others: Corpse Grinder Cults - Cult of the Redemption - Palanite Enforcers - Ratskins - Scavvies