Ghola and player characters - the long campaign

** Obvious spoilers for books after the original Dune novel **

Whilst I am working my way through “Heretics of Dune,” just a thought for a very long campaign using a Dune concept.

The ghola concept in the Dune setting could, in theory, be used to create a long campaign with player characters so that they get to see most eras without rolling new characters.

Whereas I believe with clones memory isn’t retained, gholas do remember (that includes the death memory). I am sure there is a whole debate whether this would be the character or not. But in theory a player could continue where they left off in one era with their character sheet into a new era. More thoughts on that below.

I am sure the expenses must be astronomical for a person/House to ask for one to be created by the Bene Tleilax, but some sort of Duncan Idaho situation could be set up where the Bene Tleilax create one with the hopes the payoff will be beneficial to them. That opens up who controls who, but I believe that Duncan broke their control when he first regained his pre-death memories during “Dune Messiah.” This process was later used with all the later Duncan Idaho gholas.

A few more thoughts on the idea:

  1. Duncan Idaho is the first: If you stick to the canon, it’s only during (or at the end of) “Dune Messiah” that the Bene Tleilax learn gholas can regain their pre-death memories through Duncan Idaho overriding the kill command on Paul Atreides. So you could use the idea to bring players forward to the Leto II era and beyond. But not an era before Messiah - if you stick to canon.

  2. There are great character moments and plot points that could be had with the whole recovery of memory situation. But that would have to be agreed with the player who’s character it is.

  3. Stats? So a player has played through the Dune and Dune Messiah era. You continue the campaign into the Leto era with the PCs as gholas - what do you do about their stats? Continue from where the PCs left off? Or something else?

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They are interesting characters and haven’t been forgotten :slight_smile:
However, they cannot regain memories until the secret is unlocked.

However, the House Atreides novel makes them surprisingly common.
It seems the Tleilaxu make a lot of them to use as a worker class, possibly just to practice making them in the search for immortality. But they don’t tend to get out very much.

It should be noted they are tricky to create mainly as you need someone whose body is in the right state. It you died of old age you won’t be back as a ghola for long as the body is at an end. Idaho being killed in combat had a lot of years still on the clock. :slight_smile:


:slight_smile: Thanks for the reply!
I’ll get round to House Atreides at some point, so that means pre-Dune gholas were a common thing, just before Messiah they had never had one retain memories.
In terms of age of a Ghola, there is at least one case where the ghola is younger than the person they continue - I haven’t finished the novel yet, but Heretics of Dune has a young ghola of Duncan being trained by the Gene Besserit. Unless something sneaky is going on in the novel.

I would not consider them to be a common thing, considering the reactions in Dune Messiah when Hayt is presented for the first time. That being said, they are definitely known of at least by the elite of the Imperium at large, and could be reasonably inferred to be much more common among the Tleilaxu.

So, like face dancers and basically everything to do with the BT: exotic, disgusting, and slightly fascinating. :wink:

As for the KJ Anderson novels, I personally casually despise them. I was very excited when they were first announced and looked forward to seeing the story in Heretics/Chapterhouse brought to a conclusion. Then I got to read House Atreides and wanted my money back. Leaving aside their casual disregard for established Dune continuity, after Herbert’s dense and fulfilling text I found them to be thin gruel. Maybe they could be good science fiction, but they were not what I could consider good Dune.


This is pretty much how I sum them up when asked.

Though they do have moments of gold, there is a lot to dig through to find them.

It was the no chamber a few thousand years early that finally broke me though. I perservered until then, but that was just… :sob:

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Yup, the technology advances a lot.
In the current game era (just before Dune) gholas are resurrected from the actual body of the person who died. Their wounds are healed and their systems are restarted.
Later on (Heretics, even late God Emperor) they learn to basically grow clones and restore their memories.

Even before Dune, the Tleilaxu make a lot of them to use basically as slave workers and its rare for any to escape.
While the Tleilaxu do gift or sell gholas, they are very expensive,
and the Tleilaxu never give such things away or even sell them without an agenda behind it.

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I think that’s the bit I was confused over - the Messiah Duncan Gholan and later Duncan Gholans - I guess the Messiah Duncan, once he died, was lost to them? So they cloned him after that?

It’s so much Frankenstein’s monster with Gholans isn’t it, very creepy and begs the question - would you accept that back into your life? Not sure how I feel.

Yup, like everything Tleilaxu, they are unnerving and their use is highly questionable from a moral standpoint.

But then, everyone whispers ‘dirty Tleilaxu’ as they buy their products…