Existence and use of prosthetics in Dune

I’m pretty sure that if prosthetics exist in the Dune universe, they wouldn’t be seen with good eyes, and would probably be related to the Ixians and Bene Tleilax, but besides that, could a PC use a prosthetic without breaking the Laws against machines, specially if those mechanical arms can move and be controlled by the user, instead of just being an artificial arm that just hangs there?

One of my players have a character, and in their backstory his smuggler character lost an arm below the elbow in an accident, and wanted to have a prosthetic arm replacing it. I’m kinda allowing it, since it can create some intrigues and nice plot points, and since his character acts as an apprentice spy, he could use some hidden blades, communication devices or holo-maps as “momentum created, temporary assets”, but I’d like to know how fitting this would be I’m the lore of the universe.

This campaign os going to be quite a few hundred years before the book, if this helps on the matter…

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Speaking of eyes I know that they definitely exist in the universe as the Ghola Hayt was delivered with a pair of obviously artificial eyes. This caused revulsion amongst the Fremen, possibly due to the prohibition.

Given that eyes are pretty complex to replicate I see no problem with powered prosthetic limbs being available, though with the same social issues if the limb is obviously artificial.

And given the vicious intrigues and fights in the Dune universe I think hidden blades and compartments are perfectly in keeping.


Earl Rhombar Vernius (House Vernius, Ix) is riddled with prosthetics, and he led a great house. He ruled a tech heavy world, however, so I suspect the number of prosthetics he had was begrudgingly accepted. The amount he had, if he were anyone else, would possibly be repulsive.

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I’m not a professional in regard to Butler’s Djihad, but I thought the prohibition was against “machines that think”. So a “Swiss Knife Arm” could be perfectly legal as long as it doesn’t make suggestions to its wearer what tool might be handy next …

I think it was less about legalities and more about social acceptance or cultural taboos

Very much so. I think the tech there is very advanced, but the social issues are the complex part.

It might be a Fremen cultural issue. A person who looses an arm or a leg becomes a burden to the others. He or she failed them once, and even with a replacement limb he or she is going to fail the group again. No place for weakness and mistakes out there.

I was looking at the glossary in Dune about this and the exact quote for the prohibition is: “Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind”.

I can see nobles and scholars going “Ah, yes the prohibition due to the damages caused by Omnius during the Butlerian Jihad period. Of course this is only related to development of advanced calculation machines which are superfluous due to the advancement of Mentats” (Or some equally overblown analysis)

The Serfs on the other hand “Arghh, he’s got a machine leg. That’s a machine like a human! Burn it.” :fire:

So beware of pitchfork wielding mobs if you venture out of the castle. :grin:


In fact I had a very similar argument in a Fading Suns online game about twenty years ago. There was a prisoner with a prostethic leg, the locals started building a pyre, and I pointed it that it was “no more than an improved peg leg, folks!”