The Hive world of Necromunda appeared fairly early on in the development of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. I suspect it first emerged as one of the named recruiting worlds for the Imperial Guard. However, the world came to prominence a couple of years later when it was chosen as the setting for the skirmish game Confrontation (not to be confused with Rackham's game of the same name). It's the background of the original GW game I want to talk about.
Confrontation was the precursor to GW's Necromunda, which is still in publication today as part of their Specialist Games range. Confrontation is a set of detailed rules published in sections in White Dwarf, beginning in 1990. Although WH40K was still in its skirmish-based fist edition, various new rules were pulling the game in the direction of mass combat. Confrontation was a response to this and focused on the creation and development of small "gangs" of individual fighters.
A recent re-reading confirmed to me that the descriptions of the Hive world are as evocative and original as I remember them being. All the bare bones of the background we know today is there - the towering hives with their rotting sub-structures, the ash wastes and the lucrative black market in Spook (a contraband drug). In this first incarnation the clan structure of Necromunda had not been defined ("Clan gang" was a catch-all option). Instead a broader picture of the hive emerges, with Scavvies, Brats, Techs and Mutants being given equal attention. In later editions Necromunda focussed more on the Underhive (the lawless underbelly of the city-spires) and one gets an overwhelming impression of Mad Max; Beyond Thunderdome. Confrontation, by contrast, is broader in its scope with transit tubes, shanty towns and spire penthouses being described.
The layout of the original published articles is spartan by today's standards, with little in the way of spot artwork or page borders. The few illustrations are wonderful and John Blanche's contributions really help evoke the world. I'll leave you with some of his beautiful pencil sketches from Confrontation and suggest you head over to the relevant pages on GameHobby.net to check out the background.