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Concerning personal shields

OK, I haven’t finished the core book yet, nor have I read all of the novels yet. But I do have a question about personal shields. Other than slow moving objects, what does it take to breach or overload one? Presumably, A sandworm will squash you regardless if you are shielded or not. What about artillery and or explosions?

Short answer is a Lasgun and not much else.

There isn’t anything in the rulebook about overloading shields through pure force.
The books talk about artillery being used to seal Atreides soldiers inside the cliff caves rather than killing them directly.
Explosions have similar issues. What makes them lethal is what stops them penetrating the shield.

Essentially the greater the force, the greater the resistance. The sandworm only kills you as it slowly sinks through and you can’t get away.

If you expand out to the Dune Encyclopedia (not canon) then one of the creators of the shield (based on Holtzmans work) used increasingly greater force to no success. Until he tried a lascutter…

For an actual game… Shields last until it is narrativly appropriate for them to fail.

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Yup, as assets shields are generally a way to make attacks more difficult as there are ways around them (such as a slow blade).

Thanks for the replies, but I have a few more questions. First, how do shields dissipate heat? Presumably a flamethrower relies on a burning or superheated substance (white phosphorus, napalm, “Greek fire”, etc.) That would simply slide off a shield, but what about the heat itself, or directed energy weapons such as microwaves or particle beams?

Also, just how quickly will a shield attract or enrage a worm? Do you have hours, minutes, or seconds before the inevitable shai-hulud smack (or is it snack?) down?

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I don’t think there are any definite answers to your questions. Certainly not from the original books or RPG. Someone with better knowledge of the BH/KJA books may know more.

For the flamethrower question my personal view is that it would stop the initial burst of flaming liquid, but in subsequent turns it would sink through the shield as it is now travelling slow enough.
I don’t think shields stop heat per se. But I’ve not been able to find anything one way or another.
Directed energy weapons I would put under the same effect as a Laser weapon. I.e. Big badaboom.

But as neither currently exist in Canon you are free to make up your own mind as to their effects.

Again for shields and sandworms it is purely narrative driven.
If you are near a Spice Harvestor it would probably draw one quickly, in the northern latitudes where sand was thin and there is not much spice it would be slower.
That one is almost certainly based on the GM and how he wants the story to go.

Yup, tricky questions as there isn’t a specific answer in the canon.
I suspect they protect against fire as fire is fast moving particles (heat being excited atoms and cold being slower ones) but thats just a guess. Consequently they might not protect against a cold based attack, which would bear exploring.

For sandworms, they arrive at the speed of plot. But it is a question of when, not if, a sandworm appears. The larger the shield the more it will attract attention. So, shield your harvester, it won’t be around for long, but shield your spiceworker and it might not notice for a while.
Having said that, a shield is more expensive than a spice worker, so the chances of one wearing a shield are minimal. While shields are ubiquitous for the rich nobility, so are sports cars, and I don’t see any Fremen driving Lamborghinis. :slight_smile:

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True they tend to go for Dune Buggies…

(Art by Jason Wright)


I would assume that the shield does not make you impervious to any kind of attack. A really big rock would not just bounce of your shield. The surface that hits your shield gets reverted and slowed down, but then further pusehd by the rest fo the rock - and then you get crushed by it. I would handle it in a way that getting hit by an object significant lager than yourself, the shield is not that effective anymore.

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A shield would protect against the fast-moving flamer fuel, and wouldn’t give it a surface to stick to, but one of the things that makes flamer so deadly is that they suffocate you by burning up all the oxygen in a confined space. Wouldn’t take too much useage to at least knock someone in a shield out in the right situation, like a bunker. I guess chemical attacks would also be a good way to defeat unprepared shielded enemies

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If I recall correctly in Sci-Fi Chanel’s Dune, 2000, the shield on the Padishah Emperor’s palace when it was on the ground at Arrakeen was “overloaded” by a massive sand-storm.

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This occurs in the book as well.
It is described as being the static charge from the storm which brings it down.

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I’ve just started re-reading the books; haven’t read them in a few years. I kind of remembered it was in the books but had forgotten the static charge component.

I had partially forgotten just how intricate and thought provoking the books are; I remember first reading them 35 years ago and they were jaw-dropping in scale and complexity.

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I was thinking the shield pushes back, such as it is, based on how much energy
The faster it moves, the more it pushes. A laser is at, duh, light speed, so it pushes the photons back at that speed, hitting the photons coming in. THis raises the temperature. At this point, the atmosphere, dust, etc. begins to get heated to fusion levels
A particle accelerator, while near light speed, would not produce an a-bomb blast but would make a couple city blocks go boom

I am up with an idea for an asset - it is like a shotgun, firing slug, shot, flame, etc. But it also has a gas round. Once fired, the acceleration holds the chemicals in place. But, once it slows, it does a light spritz, turning it into a small cloud. If this hits a shield, the shell decelerates rapidly and makes the gas go ■■■■, and this goes right through, leaving a couple ounces of tear gas, sarin, skunk-spray, you name it. Cannot defeat a shield but can make the user REALLY unfocused and uncomfortable which will allow you to get in their and slow push a dagger in their spleen

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I really want to finish the core book and see a few actual plays before home brewing anything, but I was thinking of a “shield breaker” projectile as well. Perhaps a sort of dual stage bullet initially launched from a coil gun for a flat trajectory and then a second gyrojet engine fires when it meets resistance to push slowly through the shield to deliver a poisonous or explosive payload.

Obviously this would be a ridiculously expensive asset for assassinations…

It’s an interesting idea. Though I have an image of this being used and then there being a mass scrabble as people try to kidnap the inventor.
With some wanting to monopolise the tech and others wanting to kill the inventor to ensure that the tech doesn’t spread (shield manufacturers maybe?)

You could kick off an entire plot based on the use of that tech and it would feel very Dune.

A way to potentially defeat shields would seem to be a significant and world-shaking enough concept to be a major campaign plot point, given the implications to the delicate balance of the Imperium.

I agree, the use of Shields in infantry combat is such a defining principle of warfare in the Imperium that changing that dynamic would precipitate major changes in power structures of the Houses, almost over night.

A house with the ability to use ranged weapons to defeat personal shields without breaching The Great Convention would have an almost unassailable advantage over every other house.

Such a story-arc would therefore need to be part of a world-changing adventure or campaign IMO.

You don’t see the Fremen driving Lambos because the Guild keep the Femen of the deep dessert hidden

Following your question with another one, would the gamma radiation (high energy photons) from and atomic blast react with a shield to create another explosion?

And does the shield have any effect on someone’s vision, since it would block some more energetic/high frequency photons?

I’m going in a pure chemistry/physics point of view on what lasers are (i.e. high energy light used as weapons), since both normal visible light and lasers have, by definition, the same speed, but in a way different energy levels, since this one depends on frequency…

There isn’t a definitive answer as the core mechanics of shields are never really explained, so we are left to work narratively.
Personally I would say that a chain reaction wouldn’t occur. A Lasgun/Shield interaction should be a major event. Having it ripple across a battlefield with a series of subsequent detonations would reduce the narrative impact of the initial explosion.
And my players would try and set up some kind Beacons on Gondor relay knowing them. :expressionless:

We know from the books that Shields interfere with voices from the Paul/Guerney duelling session. It would make sense for their to be some distortion to the visible spectrum as well.

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