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RPR Archive Epic Dune Game - Planning Thread

Discussion in 'Role Playing Resource Archive' started by BobaMatt, Oct 11, 2008.

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  1. BobaMatt TFN EU Staff

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    A thought on Houses:

    The actual role of the Houses Minor is not elaborated on much in Herbert's work. Perhaps Saintheart, with his copy of the Dune Encyclopedia, can help us out some on this issue. What I've read about the cancelled d20 game, however, seems to indicate that the Houses Minor are mostly planetary powers whose influence may not extend very far beyond a particular world. In fact, the Houses Minor do not, necessarily, even control entire worlds. As such, any number of Houses Minor might be subject to a particular House Major; this makes sense, of course, as the Faufreluches is a kind of feudal system. Perhaps, then, in the structuring of the game, we focus on a few Houses Major and the Houses Minor they lord over.

    What's more, the Houses Minor apparently convene in something called the Sysselraad, and their decisions are given some weight in the votes of the Landsraad. This, then, could influence the way we decide how the Minor Houses can affect the universe?
  2. BobaMatt TFN EU Staff

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    Sorry for the triple post, but I'm currently procrastinating, and I said I'd get around to this, soooo...
    Yes.
    Yes. In retrospect this seems a bit naïve, but we'll press on. Perhaps only House heads would need to concern themselves with the actual commercial aspect, the assumption being all subject to that House would be distributed the goods. Further, if the Houses Minor are expected to pay the Houses Major in goods and services, perhaps then only the heads of the Houses Major need deal in commerce, the assumption then being that the good be divied up among the subject Houses Minor.
    So far so good.
    Again, flat rate might be best. And to avoid quoting a massive chunk, the rest of the post seems sound, if somewhat complicated. How did this go over in the game in which you implemented it?
  3. Protege-of-Thrawn Manager Emeritus

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    Fantastic idea! I only just found this (teach me for not checking in on the RPR enough) but being a Dune diehard I'd definitely throw my support behind the concept. I'm going to read through all the above posts and see if I have anything meaningful to contribute to the discussion, but just wanted to note another supporter out in the great unwashed. ;)
  4. Saintheart Chosen One

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    Some bits and pieces out of the preceding posts:

    Again, flat rate might be best. And to avoid quoting a massive chunk, the rest of the post seems sound, if somewhat complicated. How did this go over in the game in which you implemented it?

    For the brief period of time I had it operating it seemed to fly pretty well. You can have a look at it here if you like to see how it worked; it's only three pages. :D

    The mathematically-minded (Mentats? :p) amongst the players grasped the concept pretty quickly: Imperial_Hammer, even at that early stage, looked like he was going to dominate the game pretty early on because he understood how the buy low/sell high principle worked in the context of the game (to quote Professor X, "because he helped me build it." ;) ) But anyone who gets Monopoly as a game shouldn't really have a problem with understanding how this system works.

    (As an aside, in the year or so since I created it, I've had a chance to figure out what changes I'd make next time. Firstly, I'd up the initial starting credit limit to about 15-20,000 credits so you don't have the 'one ship is my merchant empire' shtick going. Secondly, I'd cut all ship captains from the game; I'd focus solely on the traders and make it much more of a "Risk" style game like Sith_Lord's System Lords series. People could roleplay as much or as little as they wanted.)

    The actual role of the Houses Minor is not elaborated on much in Herbert's work. Perhaps Saintheart, with his copy of the Dune Encyclopedia, can help us out some on this issue.

    :p I'll go find the article in the Encyclopaedia and see what I can do.
  5. BobaMatt TFN EU Staff

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    Thanks! :D
    Score!

    Remember those pilots in the book who talk about how, since there's no water, you have to scrub your ass with sand? Somehow you made me think of them...
    Good to know. And, I mean, I'm open to worthless contributions to the discussion as well. The more the merrier. What's more, stick around - as things get discussed, you might have more to contribute later.

    Nice to have more diehards!
    My only concern is that the reason the period was so brief was because the players tired of it.
    As such, what do you think about my ideas for simplifying it by only limiting it to the characters who would, naturally, have the most responsibility?
    As such, what do you think about my ideas for simplifying it by only limiting it to the characters who would, naturally, have the most responsibility?
    The actual role of the Houses Minor is not elaborated on much in Herbert's work. Perhaps Saintheart, with his copy of the Dune Encyclopedia, can help us out some on this issue.

    :p I'll go find the article in the Encyclopaedia and see what I can do.[/quote]
    Sweet!
  6. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

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    I do think that if you want a commerce game, you should limit it to characters that have the responsibility, yes. Heads of Houses Major/Minor and alla that, because if you play heavily on trading and politics that's a very 'big picture' sort of game, as opposed to the smaller-scale story of the life of a Swordmaster. Consider that it takes the same amount of posts (roughly) to say, "Okay, I'm manufacturing these things and shipping them to Planet X, and while I'm at it I'll put in an order for some other stuff from Planet Y," as it does to play out a duel, but in terms of things actually getting done over a span of in-game time the first post gets more done. (In fact the duel would probably take more posts.)

    Although the advisor thing, that could be kind of cool. Each player could have a team of advisors and such, and together they decide on matters regarding their House... or rather you could let the House leaders decide if they wanted a team, and leave it up to them to assemble/manage the others if they do. And if you keep a 'scoreboard' of credits/trade routes/prestige/whatever, you'd have competition! It'd be like sports, kinda. :D
  7. BobaMatt TFN EU Staff

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    We've discussed factions and commerce to a much greater extent than the way the Houses should work. Maybe that's a good thing in order to just get them out of the way, but it seems to me the mechanics of the Houses as factions will be much more integral to the success of the RPG. I'd love to hear peoples' suggestions, and thoughts on those things I've mentioned here and there above.

    Here's what I'm thinking:

    The game could either focus on any sort of House structure, or it could be tighter, beginning with only a few great Houses and the majority of other factions being Houses Minor organized under the Houses Major. New houses should be unlocked based on a benchmark figure for player numbers - we want to reduce GM controlled NPCs and so make sure that each House is fleshed out substantially before allowing for a new one to enter play. It's these Houses and their interactions that the game truly focuses on, as well as all the court intrigues that go on therein. Houses can organize themselves however they want, but Landsraad meetings occur ever so often to ensure that we can play with the terms of the Great Convention and all the Houses get to meet and discuss issues and issue kanlies, etcetera.

    That's all mechanics, of course. Gameplay and plot is stuff we can figure out later.
  8. TheManinBlack Jedi Master

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    I like the idea for maybe having Two to Three Great Houses, and having one or two Houses Minor under them...that we as players sort of self create.
  9. BobaMatt TFN EU Staff

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    Can we get a consensus on canon levels, too? I'm thinking:

    Frank Herbert novels
    Cancelled d20 RPs
    Dune CCG
    Dune Encyclopedia
    Miniseries
    David Lynch Movie
    Brian Herbert novels

  10. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    I wouldn't mind having a strong canon background, especially in terms of describing the world, but there are probably going to be a number of players who either, like me, have only read the original, or possibly haven't read any of the books.

    In other words, I dunno. [face_blush]
  11. BobaMatt TFN EU Staff

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    Well, as it would take place during the original, only the original story is really relevant. The canon issues become apparent in places where, perhaps, background and history are discussed.
  12. Protege-of-Thrawn Manager Emeritus

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    Sorry for my lax reply Boba, all sorts of DRL and computer issues to contend with.

    Having had a read through the discussion so far, I think your most recent summary is on the right track with respect to "unlocking" houses. The nature of a Dune game will be a need to introduce a lot of players into the mythology who might have only seen the movie or read the books. You're going to get a lot of folks who only know Paul or the Baron or only want to play Bene Gesserit or Swordmasters, so the model is going to have to be quite tightly GM controlled and monitored, especially at the outset.

    As has been remarked in other forums, longetivity is a fickle thing, so keeping things simple at the entry level to encourage participation will necessitate a)a tight reign on the number of playable factions and b)player "types".

    Not sure what sort of GM system you prefer, but it strikes me that an LSA style "post consequences" summary every page or so would be a great way to corall what is otherwise a pretty broad and "epic" mythology.

    As goes canon, I'm pretty well entrenched in the Frank Herbert novels (I think I've read each one umpteenth times) and have 'worked' through the Brian and KJA travesty. As much as I felt the Battle of Corrin probably jumped the shark in many respects, it's pretty indisputably canon, and given that they've made my beloved pork pie hat guy a robot in the final book we'll probably have to run with the literature as "locked in". Haven't heard of the cancelled d20, but I'm sure there is a Dune Wiki or some such out there that can catch new and old fans up on the like. But as you've stated, given the time period, the only really important resource is Dune itself. The other novels are probably more useful for the deeper exploration of the universe that senior fans can take on to draw in the newer fans.

  13. BobaMatt TFN EU Staff

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    From the looks of it, it was well worth the wait.
    Are you advocating player classes?
    I'm not familiar with this GM system. Care to elaborate?
    But inconsequential, overall, for the purposes of this RPG. I also refuse to accept that Navigators don't bend space with their minds, or that No-Ships existed before the original novel.
    It looked rather cool. I'm not a d20 person but I'd have bought the sourcebooks...
    [image=http://www.pen-paper.net/images/rpgdb/wtc21005.jpg][image=http://www.arrakis.co.uk/jpg/dunentk_med%5B1%5D.jpg]
    Yep!
    Precisely, which is why I don't think it's terribly important. The CCG has a lot of nice art, though, and a few interesting tidbits that I thought might be interesting to include here and there, if they come up.

    And here's a thought, speaking of Corrin: What to do about the Imperial House?
  14. BobaMatt TFN EU Staff

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    More d20 pics:

    [image=http://www.pen-paper.net/images/rpgdb/wtc21005.jpg][image=http://www.arrakis.co.uk/jpg/dunentk_med%5B1%5D.jpg][image=http://www.arrakis.co.uk/jpg/landsraad.jpg]
    [image=http://www.arrakis.co.uk/jpg/voice.jpg]
    Too bad the core rulebook is hella expensive secondhand.

    The Dune Encyclopedia's not so bad if you're willing to accept crappy condition...

    EDIT: Thought I'd further procrastinate by discussing this review of the d20 core rulebook.
    The second chapter, "Houses of the Landsraad", looks more closely at the Great Houses which govern the universe. Detailed profiles are given for the noble House Atreides, the treacherous House Harkonnen, the all-powerful House Corrino, etc., along with a general view of how the Houses function. Important to the game are the entourages, the actual groups of people who run things- your Gurney Hallecks, Thufir Hawats and so forth.

    I suppose "entourages" are kind of what we were talking about earlier with the house meetings and all.
    And then there are the Houses Minor, an equally key concept. They're effectively one rung down the ladder from the Great Houses; while the latter govern entire planets, the Houses Minor govern those planets' respective territories, while plotting and maneuvering for power within the planetary Sysselraad.

    Interesting info on the Houses Minor. Saintheart never did get back to us on the Houses Minor info from the Dune Encyclopedia...
    The basic assumption behind DUNE: CHRONICLES OF THE IMPERIUM is that the PCs will form the entourage of a minor house. Remember the supplements that I said the Introduction hinted at? One of its claims is that "future books... will show players how to create all manners of characters, including Smugglers, Truthsayers, Spice Miners, Water Merchants, Imperial Planetologists, Spies and even Sandriders." Jumping ahead a bit, the Character Creation chapter discourages players from creating concepts that don't fit the House entourage model, and though the mechanics don't make it impossible, they do assume that characters have their allegiance to one of six Great Houses (and are presumably part of a House Minor which serves the same)- Atreides, Harkonnen, Corrino, Moritani, Tseida, and Wallach.

    We know some about those first three Houses, but less about the last three...anyway, there are 35 Great Houses in the Landsraad.

    Now to the nitty-gritty.
    Let's get back to what is here. Sample Houses Minor are provided in Chapter II, but more space is given to the rules for designing your own. Each House Minor has four attributes (much like characters, as we'll find out), each with two edges which can be positive, neutral or negative. The House attributes are Status (edges are Aegis and Favor), Wealth (Holdings and Stockpiles), Influence (Popularity and Authority), and Security (Military and Intelligance.) The attributes are all ranked from 1 to 5, though even 1 is "acceptable"- no House comes out crippled in this system. To build a House you select one of six archetypes- House Defender, House Pawn, House Favorite, House Reformer, House Pretender, and House Sleeper; these provide the base attribute and edge values. You can then use 15 development points to purchase your House's Fiefdom (how much land it has- from City District to Subfief) and Noble Title (from Magistrate to Siridar Governor/Baronet), your House's starting Renown, and Assets, which are used by PCs to initiate House Ventures (to increase the House's standing.) Naturally, the House the PCs belong to will influence the course of the campaign, and there are a number of possibilities- a Harkonnen House Reformer would be an interesting uphill battle, for example.

    This might be an interesting way to go about managing the creation of Houses.
    [blockquo
  15. Protege-of-Thrawn Manager Emeritus

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    Nothing quite so rigid, just that the GM exercise utmost discretion in the approval of CS, and in the first instance, it's made quite explicit at the beginning of the game what Duniverse 'races' there are to play and which will be introduced at some point in the future. (So settle the question of Ixians, Face-Dancers, Bene Gesserit etc. before folks begin thinking about their characters)

    Feeding into this will be which (if any) canonical characters you'll throw open. It's already been touted that Shaddam and Muad'dib would be (quite rightly) off limits. But who else?

    It was just an effective way (to my mind) that LSA used to run roughshod over an "Epic" style game, in that case, Balance of Power. Although players were given quite free reign in simming against one another and with the GM, LSA would also periodically "butt in" if you like to throw in curve balls to a situation playing out between two characters or to "Redress" any imbalances in the game play. Especially depending on which economic and battle rules you settle on, this could be useful in keeping a system fluid yet fair (of course, the downside is a horribly large burden of work for the GM, but if it's a labor of love... :p)


  16. BobaMatt TFN EU Staff

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    Wikipedia pretty much has the whole dictionary from the back of the book up.
    I wonder, then, what your thoughts are on how that question should be settled. Some thoughts have been brought to the table already.
    I'm not sure anyone else - outside of certain Fremen and those "unplayable" factions - should be. Thoughts?
    Any examples of how this worked?
  17. BobaMatt TFN EU Staff

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    I hate multiple posting, but as a point of discussion, the continuity tree does come into play when dealing in issues of the Guild, the Tleilaxu, and Ix.
  18. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

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    It was kind of like just DnD-style GMing taken to a whole 'nother level. For examples, erh, I guess you could go look through the old Balance of Power game thread - I think it's still linked from LSA's profile. (There are also some very lovely examples of atrocious writing from our newbie days in that thread, but that aside...)

    I do remember that LSA used this method of GMing quite effectively to keep power levels even (more or less) between factions. He would throw bigger and better (or worse, depending on your POV) challenges against the more powerful PCs and run easier scenarios for the players that weren't as good... I think what happened in practice is that the Imperial players were always pulling their hair out and the New Republic players got helped along gently in comparison. :p Basically it kept any one faction from dominating the game, and everyone playing at a suitable challenge level.
  19. Saintheart Chosen One

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    For what it's worth, from the Dune Encyclopaedia:

    HOUSES MINOR: The popular name for the planetary gentry, those landowners. politicians, entrepreneurs, and performers who were confined by economic circumstance to one planet or planetary system. The Houses Minor were far more numerous (some estimates have reached as high as one million; other commentators limited the number of Houses Minor to about 100,000, using economic and political factors to decrease the possibilities) and far more diverse than the Houses Major; they cannot be described except in the broadest of terms. In general, however, they consisted of those persons or families who had reached an economic status of relative luxury compared to those around them, or who had entrenched themselves as a persistent political power in the lives of the citizens of at least a planetary continent, but who had not yet transcended planetary status. Many of the Houses Minor were employed by the Houses Major; none of the Houses Major served others except in transitory political alliances.

    The Houses Minor were represented in the Landsraad through forty "Circles", blocks of votes representing forty arbitrarily defined sectors of Imperial space; each Circle was allocated a certain number of votes, ranging from five to twenty, based upon population, relative wealth, political status, and growth potential; and votes given each Circle were apportioned a year before each Landsraad session by the Spacing Guild, presumably neutral upon such matters (but who were rumoured to accept extracurricular emoluments). Representatives to the Circles were elected by the Houses Minor in each sector through an elaborate system of proportional voting; each Circle determined which Houses were eligible to vote, and each circle sent to the Landsraad three representatives, who consulted among themselves before casting that sector's vote in the Landsraad sessions; two of the three determined the Circle's vote in a dispute. Although the Circles never organised their votes into a bloc, they tended to support the policies of the anti-Imperial faction of the Great Houses, except in those instances where their own aspirations might be jeopardized. They supported, for example, reduced qualifications for Great House status, thereby backing Imperial moves to dilute the power of the Great Houses. Hence, in a roll call vote on admittance of a new House to Great House status, the Houses Minor would vote aye virtually unanimously.

    Similarly, the Houses Minor generally voted against a blatant attempt to increase Imperial power at the expense of the high middle class, but supported moves against the Houses Major, many of whom have exploited the bourgeois. Since issues of this kind required lengthy examination, and passage of laws afecting the Great Houses or the Imperial power required consideration and approval in three successive Landsraads, few passed muster. The Landsraad did provide a forum, however, for the airing of grievances of all kinds, and many of the Houses Minor gained a wider audience for their views through Landsraad speeches or publications.

    The Houses Minor possessed certain legal rights under Imperial law not granted to ordinary citizens, although their privileges did not approach those of the Houses Major. The Head of a Minor House and his immediate family could not be jailed, exiled, or executed without a trial conducted by their peers; when capital charges were brought against a House Minor or its official members, three Landsraad representatives from Circles other than that of the House being tried were selected by lot, and sat in judgment as a court of last resort, subject to the final veto of the Emperor. The emperor could summarily convict a House Minor when he had proof of treason, but in no other circumstances; he could also overturn a conviction of a Landsraad court or suspend its findings, in each case making a report to the next session of the Landsraad concerning his rationale. Houses Minor could be convicted of misdemeanours by local courts, and fined;
  20. BobaMatt TFN EU Staff

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    I will do that.
    Well that should be fun to read :p
    Iiiiiiinteresting. Sounds like about what we'd need.
    Awesome! I wonder if it might be fun to try and reconcile any of that with the idea of a Sysselraad brought up by that review of the d20 game. Anyhow, that's a lot of pretty valuable information if we're looking to include the Houses Minor.
    Yeah, Chusuk has always been referred to as "the music planet." It would make Varota out to sound like a Stradivarius, that quote...hm...maybe the baliset is an antique?
    Yes, that I knew. Unfortunately there's not a whole lot more info on Moritani.
    The only information I could find about them from the d20 comes from an excerpt posted in this message board.
    House Corrino: The Golden Lion Throne must be preserved, though the Padishah Emperor needs to reform his policies if he?s to rule with our consent.
    House Harkonnen: The Harkonnens are perverse animals?nothing more. In time, their unbridled lust for power will once again prove their undoing.
    House Moritani: Though responsible for the destruction of our former allies House Ginaz, the Moritani are unwitting pawns in a greater game.
    House Tseida: We admire their legal acumen and diplomatic grace. In the past they have served our allies, and we?re happy to act as their proxy in the Landsraad Hall of Oration.
    House Wallach: The strongest of our remaining allies, House Wallach shares many of our traditions and supports our struggle against tyranny.

    Which is appropriate, considering what the actual planet Wallach IX becomes used for.

    Wow, I've got a whole backstory for House Wallach forming in my mind...
  21. BobaMatt TFN EU Staff

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    In order to more closely resemble a planning thread, I've compiled what I think we know so far about how this should work. This way we'll have some more specific points of discussion
    [image=http://www.brettrennsportfreun.de/pics/dune-sandwurm.jpg]
    GMs
    GMs will run Great Houses and conspire together concerning larger, in universe events.

    Players
    Players will take on the roles of figures within the Houses, as well as limited outside elements currently affiliated with Houses.

    Commerce
    We?ll get to that later. :p

    Houses
    The game will begin with a small number of Great Houses ? presumably run by co-GMs ? and Houses Minor underneath them. New houses should be unlocked based on a benchmark figure for player numbers - we want to reduce GM controlled NPCs and so make sure that each House is fleshed out substantially before allowing for a new one to enter play. It's these Houses and their interactions that the game truly focuses on, as well as all the court intrigues that go on therein. Houses can organize themselves however they want, but Landsraad meetings occur ever so often to ensure that we can play with the terms of the Great Convention and all the Houses get to meet and discuss issues and issue kanlies, etcetera.

    Factions and Fringe
    While these factions, as a whole, will not be controllable by players but rather by the co-GM?s, members of these faction will be playable within bounds, particularly when they are currently attached to one of the Houses in play.
    Sardaukar ? this is something we?re going to have to keep a tight leash on, but overall I don?t see a huge problem with letting people play as servants of the Imperial House.
    Fremen ? Sietch tabr should not be playable, and it?s debatable if any player should actually control a sietch, but taking on the roles of individual Fremen on missions?I?m not too bothered by this idea.
    Smugglers ? Again, tight reign, but they do exist IU?
    Bene Gesserit and Tleilaxu ? Often served in the courts of the Houses. The witches were often concubines and wives. The Tleilaxu provided services, like the reanimated corpses of loved ones?
    Spacing Guild ? Ambassadors and delegates were also often present in the courts.
    Mentats ? Ironically, their inclusion is a no-brainer. :p


    Prescience
    Should only be available to members of the Spacing Guild at this point in time?

    Setting and Story
    The story should be set after the destruction of House Atreides and the rise of Muad?Dib in the deserts. Beyond that, even if the game is largely sandbox-like, I would imagine there should be guiding events and a larger story, ideally one that leaves openings for players to come to Arrakis if they choose. Perhaps something having to do with vying for allegiance of those Houses Minor left masterless in the wake of the Atreides? fall?
  22. The Loyal Imperial Manager Emeritus

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    Okay, here it goes. I've only read the first Dune book, and the second is presently sitting in my closet somewhere unread, so my knowledge is limited only to that and what's available to be found online. That said, I rather like the idea of a Dune RPG, so I do have a couple of thoughts on it. Primarily, on the Houses Great and Minor. Now, the current trend of thought seems to be towards playing the Houses Minor, so what I was thinking was this; take Moritani, Tseida, and Wallach as the "playable" Great Houses of the big six, and have the other three NPC/GM-run.

    The playable part would come into effect in that any Minor Houses played, would be ones under those three. A counterbalance, if you will. The big three House names on one side, with the players on the other evening things out. Additional thoughts: I rather like the concept of primarily focusing on the Minor House leaders and their entourages, or however one wishes to phrase it. The d20 rulebook's method for designing the house seems like a clever way of doing things, too.
  23. BobaMatt TFN EU Staff

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    Can you tell I don't really have anything to do today?

    I've started designing House Wallach in my head. Their House crest, the planet they're named for, the concerns over the ability to play Bene Gesserit characters, and the implications of a possible Jewish influence on Bene Gesserit philosophy are all brewing about in my head...
  24. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

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    IMHO it's a fantastic way to run a game, but a huge amount of work for the GM.


    About prescience/playable characters: IIRC it's the Guild Navigators that are prescient, yes? I think we should probably not allow players to be Navigators. :p Prescience just gets messy in RPGs.
  25. BobaMatt TFN EU Staff

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    Perhaps with multiple GMs, though...
    True enough.

    Sample House profile, using House Corrino as a model. Please comment, or even make an all new format if you think is more appropriate. This probably doesn't contain enough information.

    House Corrino
    Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV
    Imperial House, House Major
    Coat of arms: A Golden Lion on a scarlet field.
    Flag: White with a gold stripe, though the flag of the Sardaukar is solid black
    Controls: Kaitain, Corrin, and Salusa Secundus directly, though as rulers from the Golden Lion Throne ? named for the Corrino coat of arms ? House Corrino effectively controls the Known Universe.

    House Corrino?s lineage can be traced directly back to the Butler family that changed the universe as leaders of the Great Revolt. When a renegade House Major despoiled their ancestral home of Salusa Secundus in a nuclear holocaust, the Corrino obliterated said House with brutal efficiency and expunged the House?s name from all historical records. The capital of the Imperium was then moved to the planet Kaitain, the beauty of which was made to far surpass the old capital.

    Shaddam IV is the eighty-first Padishah Emperor of the Corrino dynasty. He is a generally well liked ruler with five daughters and no heirs, although his latest secret scheme threatens to unravel his regency: Shaddam IV has defied the Great Convention and aided House Harkonnen in the destruction of House Atreides. If this information is revealed, the Landsraad could rise up against the Imperial House as a unified front, upsetting millennia of established order.

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