A Long Term Countdown Mechanic

Long ago, I ran the game Burning Empires, and one thing that I always appreciated was the Infection mechanics ( for those that don’t know, the game was set in a feudal space society being invaded by parasitic worms that took over your mind).

The point of the game was to pit the players’ side against the Worms’ side; eventually one of them wins.

The mechanics specifically created a kind of countdown, where, maybe once or twice a session, both sides would roll to see how much damage they did to the other side, with the idea bei by once you hit the end, you’d be, well, finished.

Burning Wheel did a similar mechanic in a Dune knockoff called Burning Sands, Jihad.

I would love to create something that mimics this for Dune. Like, a VERY expanded conflict they plays out over several sessions. Thoughts?


In my game I had my players spread some rumours trying to link an enemy House with some actions that the players had previously done and a House Major wanted revenge for.
I had them make a roll at the time then at the start of each session I had the player who started all this roll and tell me their numbers. They didn’t know why I was doing this as I didn’t make it obvious until their cumulative successes hit a certain point and all hell broke loose as the House Major took action.

I think it took about 4 or 5 sessions before their rumours made enough ground to trigger.
I took the idea from L5R which had a rumours mechanic (tied to several abilities) which could be used to spread rumours around court over time. It being a contest to see if the rumour would spread, would be believed and could be traced back to the player.


Now that’s interesting! If you can say, what were the steps exactly/tests needed? Also, what do you track: number of successes or just pass/fail for each step?

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I can’t remember the exact test I had them do. It was definitely a communicate and possibly Duty. (Looking at it now I really missed a trick by having a conflicting Truth statement on it, but ah well, hindsight being 20/20 and all)
In previous sessions they had already been off-world and made some contacts/laid some groundwork for other plans that they were able to use for this one.

Once they had set the initial rumour going I gave it a TN of 6 and kept track of how many successes they had at the start of each session. They had a couple of sessions where they got 0 successes so it took longer than I had expected. They did get lucky in that they never rolled a complication though, as that would have left clues that they were behind it.

It all kicked off the session before their big plan went into effect, which meant that in the last session we had there was a lot of improvisation from everyone as plans that had been set were now out of alignment. It was glorious Chaos. :smiling_imp:


Bloody beautiful, and what I was looking for. Thanks for that!

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