Creating Great Houses

Hello and hail to the Padisha-Emperor!

maybe we could get some hints on how the creation of a Great House will be conceptualized?

I already tried to think of important factors like militaristic, scheming or diplomatic Great Houses, how it came to power and what sustains its power, who are their friends and enemies among the other Houses and factions of the Imperium and so on.

A industrial-militaristic Great House might provide characters with better technical or weapon-assets, while diplomatic or scheming Great Houses could offer better training in social and espionage skills.

I think you are certainly on the right path with being able to use your House’s attributes to provide advantages that you can tag for benefits.

Other aspects that you may be able to include in the possibilities are the titles that the nobles hold (ie a Duke outranks a Baron) and the fiefs they hold.
The Atreides appear to have been a militaristic House, but the original fief in Dune was Caladan, an agricultural world.

Modiphius has mentioned that the more powerful your House the more powerful their enemies. So presumably there is a mechanic where you can buy assets and abilities using some form of Threat for the GM to use against you during the game to represent their power.

I think we’re close enough I can give away a bit more on this :slight_smile:

House creation at this point in mainly narrative. We’re planning a whole management system but given we’ve set the initial action on Dune this would mean you are organising a House and assets that are light years away from the adventure.

So, the first thing you can do is pick you House’s power level.
You can be a Nascent house only just granted minor House status, a fully fledged minor House, an established House Major with a planet under your control or even a ‘great House’ with several planets under your control.
What you pick determines the Threat the GM starts with each session. The more powerful the house, the more threat as the more enemies lined up against you.

To flesh things out a little you pick Domains. These can be major or minor. A major domain is something you are renowned as being one of the best in the universe at - be it technology like Ix or pundi rice like the Atreides. A minor domain is something you have a lot of power in but plenty of competition. We’ve got an array of these listed for all manner of types of Houses. So you might focus on a commodity you make but also advice or expertise you can offer. The combinations are up to you, so you might be known for producing both actors and assassins for instance.

Finally, you get some enemies, the more powerful the House the more enemies you have. We have some really fun tables to decide who those enemies are and why you are against each other. Was it an imagined slight centuries ago, they stole from you last year, or maybe neither of you even remember what the feud is about anymore.
There is a new Threat option for the GM to spend a point to have an enemy House turn up in the scene. Sometimes that might mean they are behind a plot, other times they are just at the same party to make things more complex. Sometimes both!

Finally, once you have all that background sorted you get a couple of House traits. These are traits based on your House’s reputation that any of you can use and apply as long as you are know to be part of that House. For instance, if you are house Atreides and people know thats who you work for you can use the Honourable trait because your House is known for that. For the Atreides its a way to make more friends, but the Harkonnen traits help them intimidate, what you pick is up to you.

So, its not a vast amount of detail but in playtesting we’ve found its really given a great sense of who you all work for and what you are all about.

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Very cool.
Is there a predefined list of official Houses ?

Not yet. We’ve obviously covered Atreides, Harkonnen and Corrino, but we’re saving a really deep dive into the other named Houses for later books.
However, we do detail several different types of Houses (Military house, Artistic House etc) you can use as allies or enemies, detailing how they would be as minor, major or great Houses depending on what you need.

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Do the collector’s edition rulebooks contain separate Corrino-, Harkonnen- and Atreides-starter scenarios or do all of them start with Desertfall?

All the books are identical inside the covers. It is just the outside that is different between them.

I’m just such a Corrino fanboy and sad that i didnt get a Corrino edition :smiley:

Yup, all the 4 different editions (Standard, Atreides, Harkonnen & Corrino) have the same inlay.
Thats the reason we start the inlay with the cover art.
Its a personal bugbear of mine that when I get a collector’s edition I don’t also get a copy of what usually turns out to be really great standard edition cover art.

I should add that Desertfall is not the adventure that comes with the corebook (its a common assumption). The one in the corebook is called ‘Harvesters of Dune’
But Desertfall will get a release later on as a sale pdf adventure if non-preorder customers want the opportunity to pick it up.

We’ll also have another, shorter adventure called ‘Wormsign’ in the Dune Quickstart which will be a free release once the Corebook hits stores.
So if you preordered you’ll have 3 adventures to keep your group going for a while (and more on the way obviously!)

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I am not sure where to post this but here felt appropriate. I see the Noble titles for Rulers but I have some other questions. Where do the titles fit in relation to another? E.g. I know Dukes are above Barons but where does a Margrave and Marquis fit? Should we take the order presented as that ranking? (for reference, Baron/Baroness, Graf/Gräfin, Count/Countess, Margrave/
Margravine, Marquis/Marchioness, Duke/Duchess) If a minor house becomes a major house should the title change? E.g. Nascent houses should be a Baron while great houses are Marquis and above? Any info would be greatly appreciated.

If you go with the traditional ranking system used in England/France/Germany the following order has precedence.

  1. Duke/Duchess
  2. Marquis/Marchioness
  3. Margrave/Margravine
  4. Earl/Count/Graf/Countess/Grafin (All are slightly different but generally considered equivalent. There is no female Earl, the English used Countess)
  5. Viscount/Vicountess
  6. Baron/Baroness
  7. Baronet/Chevalier/Baronetess/Chevaliere (This is the lowest rung of inheritable titles, normally without any land associated. The person would be referred to as Sir or Dame in England)

In Dune at least power does not necessarily equal rank. Baron Harkonnen is one of the most powerful nobles in the Imperium but holds the lowest landed rank available. I would say that a Nascent or Minor House would have low ranks, but Major and Great Houses could hold almost any rank.
Promotion through the ranks would depend more on how well they are on good terms with the Emperor/Landsraad or their history than on how powerful their House is.
Traditionally ranks were awarded for service to the crown. In the Dune universe it may be a bit more complicated, but it is clearly disassociated from the CHOAM directorates that seem to be the source of much power.

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It is a tricky one. For me the titles feel like tradition more than rank.
While a Duke is higher in rank than a Baron, House Harkonnen is clearly more powerful than House Atreides.

My take has always been that each noble House became noble by gaining a title, any title.
From there it was up to them how they expand and build a reputation.
So the title shows their origin, not their ranking or power.

So the Atreides were founded with a Dukedom, and that reflected their holdings and respect at that time. Much more than a Baron, but still both noble.

This means your title is a constant marker of how far you’ve come (or fallen). People look at Baron Harkonnen and don’t think ‘all this and you’re still just a Baron’ instead they think ‘wow, you started as a Baron and now you are all this’
So in a sense, the higher your rank the more you have to loose.

Added to this is pride in your House’s history.
Its like the Victorian working class being proud of being who they were despite being at the bottom of the heap. Your title is a reminder of the past of the House and what you did to gain that title. Changing it erases your history to a certain degree, and the new title doesn’t have the same weight.
So Baron Harkonnen reminds you of what the Harkonnen did to become a Barony. But if Vladimir became a Duke it just reminds people he got a promotion.

Thats just my take though, I’ll have to check the canon. But its something we’ll be getting into in later books.

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Also dont forget the cultural diversity of the imperium, humanity is spread out over an unimaginable space so there must exist a colorful amount of noble ranks. Why not use titles like Emir, Effendi, Raja, Sheikh, Patriarch/Matriarch, Daimyo, Pasha, Prelate, Magistrate, Prefect, Vicar, Viceroy etc. Maybe in the history of a house this title became the preferred style and there is an interesting backstory to be created around that.

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