DUNE RPG system

Absolutely, I agree completely. The original Dune novel’s setting would be ideal. My only gripe is that it is too focused on diplomatic intrigue and backstabbing rather than having a tangible adversary like most games.

This being the reason that some sort of internalised social combat system being useful in the getting the game feel right.

Dune is a singular science fiction novel as, despite having the tropes of a space opera, it actually takes more time exploring inner space rather than outer space in the novels.

Yes, more esoteric than conflict-heavy, unlike the newer books by the son.

Agreed. Dune is more about the THREAT of violence more than actual fighting taking place. That’s one of the things I love about the books, the constant suspense of potential attack whether you know who the enemy is or not.

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/makes notes


One of the things I enjoyed about the books, the plots within plots. As the audience we were often privy to everyone’s plans and plots, and they all had the potential to work, often hinging on who could implement theirs first, or at least, at the right time.

I wonder if anything could be done to facilitate that sort of experience in play. It will likely depend more on our player and our group dynamics, but since it played such a big roll in my enjoyment of the novels, it is something I feel is worth considering.

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Read conan twice and could figure character creation out so put it down also
been playing RPGs since 78

Beautiful products though

I think 2d20 is a great system. I like how it has been implemented in Conan and in Star Trek.
I do feel like there should be substantial differences when implemented for Dune but the system is pretty flexible. The core resolution system / momentum leave lots of room for other systems to be layered on top. At the same time it’s pretty simple to grasp and streamlined if you go a more narrative route.

I enjoyed 2d20 Conan system quite a bit. It really captured the feel of the setting. The only issue I had was he magic system, but who wants to play that anyhow.

I am fairly excited for this game, read most of the books, Dune stands out as one the best sci-fi novels of all time.

Modiphius will really have to develop the setting and not the novel. The novels are told from a single perspective, game play will obviously have to be troupe. Will the players all be from one house or will they be from no house and found their own house? Will they work as mercenaries, possibly a house outcast? It would probably make more sense to set the game post emperor but that would eliminate the original novel and not tie well with the new movie.

It’s a gargantuan task and I look forward to seeing what develops.

BTW the English publishing houses are my current favorite, they put out better products. I do see them GenCon every year.


That’s a really good point. Factions are extremely divided, so every character in a group would need to be from the same house, or some sort of independent mercenaries. Giving players that flexibility to make characters they want, while keeping true to the source material is going to be a true challenge. Not being affiliated with a house, and being independent would also come with it the vulnerability of being without the powerful backing of a major house. I guess it all depends on what story you want to tell.

There are independent guilds of course, but once again rarely work together. Guessing the game will be set pre Dune, making Arrakis the setting. You could be a Freeman but why work with non freeman. I guess the characters could be forced to work together by the Laanstad. That would make for great infighting and intrigue within the group, lol. Joint task force, so to speak.

Mathematically equivalent is not experientially equivalent…

There is a very deep psychological effect on roll under vs roll over. Sufficiently so that to not consider it a factor makes you the odd man out.

And it starts young. My classmates and I in our online masters in ed program asked a bunch of students which was a better system: Winning by roll low, or winning by roll high, and allowing “doesn’t matter.”

Amongst elementary school kids grades 4-6, of the >200 students I’ve asked (I was a substitute teacher), my results were consistently about between 3/5 and 2/3 saying roll high is better, and the rest split evenly between roll low and doesn’t matter. I didn’t keep the raw data after the project; it was over a decade ago. My classmates got similar results in other states, and the one in germany got similar results, but all her students were US military dependents.

TSR found similar in the mid 1990’s survey… which is part of why 3.x flipped AC to higher is better.

Now, the number for whom it’s an automatic pass… I can’t speak as confidently… but I myself have had a number of players for whom roll low was a major issue…
… fewer for whom higher-but-under was.
I have one friend who insists roll low is better.

It’s interesting to note also that a new offering from Modiphius on behalf of Zensara Studios is Roll High.

What’s the one change in D&D 3E that the OSR crowd almost (but not quite) universally endorses? Ascending AC.

Consistency is important as well. BRP has two modes: Roll low on skills, roll high on damage. Higher armor is better.

2d20 is consistent by die type. Higher is better on the d6, lower is better on the d20… and that latter makes for some D&D players getting confused.

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But the number itself is not the only way this influences the experience. From a processing perspective (the speed and consistency of the brain processing results), comparing numbers is faster than addition, which is faster than subtraction. And, as target numbers in 2d20 don’t change according to circumstances (modifiers are applied to successes needed, not to the number rolled), this avoids a common issue with roll-under mechanics (difficulty modifiers slowing things down). Similarly, the crit range in 2d20 is something that can be easily picked out (it’s always very low numbers) during a roll.

As multiple dice are being rolled at once, processing each die’s result quickly is a priority, because we want to get from the roll to totalling successes to determining outcome and spending Momentum in the shortest time. Inverting 2d20 so that you’re rolling high (roll 2+ d20s and add Attribute+Skill to each, each one that gets a 21+ is a success, each one that gets a natural 20 is 2 successes, Focuses increase crit range) slows things down considerably (and I’ve tested this), which is also a meaningful experiential difference.

2d20 wouldn’t work if it was roll-over.


Snip of a whole lot of stuff I agree with

Sorry, but your conclusion is only because you only thought of one way to handle roll over;
you used the roll and add method. That’s not a good method, I agree… but…

The alternative, which is practical for STA and JCoM … is to simply flip the range.
Complication range applies directly. >TN is 21-(Attribute + Discipline), and double success is 21-discipline if in field, and 20 only if not.

A 7x7 row table can present the data easily; Attributes across, disciplines down, TN’s expressed as x, y in the non-header cells.

This front loads, keeps the odds, and makes roll high readily doable. Fill it out once per attribute change.

(I’ve had a couple adult players who have trouble doing single digit addition. Tablizing for them with the extant roll low TNs would speed things up a lot.)

Indeed, “why all the angst?”

I’m looking forward to checking out whatever Mod puts out for Dune - they do quickstarts for everything, it seems, and so I will keep from judging until I have something to study.

I really like how they streamlined 2d20 for Star Trek, ensuring that there is a mechanical tilt to making characters good at lots of things, and great when they’re being creative.

I like how Conan takes advantage of 2d20’s crunch to make combat varied - there’s so much more than just swing/hit/damage, and so much room for creative teamwork.

On the other hand, I don’t like what was done to the system for John Carter.

But for all of those I have had something to read, and critique. And so I will wait, and given Mod’s success (in my book) so far, I am optimistic…I mean, most anything is going to be better than the original screen adaptation, right? Dune can only go up from there.


So has there been confirmation that Dune will indeed be 2d20?

Not yet, but we hope to have more details soon. Work has been going on apace.

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Well, it’s listed as a 2D20 product now on the Modiphius site.

I, myself, am not worried about 2D20 - I just hope that the emphasis of the subsystems is on political intrigue, social conflict and 'inner space’ development.

Oh yes, we’ve made a point of ensuring politics and intrigue are as important as knife fighting. :slight_smile:


I like the roll under system. I only wished there was a feasible way to eliminate additions altogether, e.g. Attribute+skill. I find that this is the one math problem that slows the game down a tad little. I don’t know if it can be or should be fixed, but it’s just the one tiny little grind to the system as it is.