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Health, death and example of play

I would have a couple of questions regarding the Dune game.

First, there does not seem to be a “health” trait in the game. If I understand correctly, injury comes from lasting defeats, and could include death. But it also states that “Some defeats may be impossible to fully recover from, such as serious debilitating injuries or death—though permanent defeats for player characters should be rare”

I am just wondering, would the players be tempted to take advantage of the fact that they are “important” and unlikely to die? While of course such assumptions are easy to put an end to by killing one or two of them, I somehow find this rule troublesome to implement? Maybe it is just me, being used to more “traditional” games :slight_smile: But I would really like to read more about the background on the way the game handles injury and death and what the designers have in mind. Blog post would be nice, maybe? :wink:

In line to better understand how a game works, I wonder if the core rulebook includes a sample game play? I find recent RPG core books (not just Modiphius) often lack a sample game, where there are rules used, dice thrown and some mechanics presented. I wonder if this is because space is so precious and designers-writers don’t feel such an example session is warranted? Does Dune include such a sample game play? Or could Modiphius perhaps create a downloadable pdf with a few pages of sample gameplay? (that includes Momentum and Threat usage, etc). I really find those valuable when learning a new game system.

(Yes yes, before long there will be sample games on YouTube, but I enjoy reading my RPG books in bed and not watching YouTube :D)

I don’t know about the Dune book specifically, but the Star Trek Adventures books always contain sections of example gameplay. Not a complete playthrough, but a snippet of gameplay that is relevant to the rules currently explained. Hopefully this will also be the case in the Dune core book.

From the limited knowledge I have about Dune I think it is somewhat similar to Star Trek Adventures. To defeat a PC, enemies have to make a number of successful attacks, but PCs can spend Momentum to resist defeat. For my group and me this works very well in STA. You can actually defeated very quickly, so players must act tactically. And since the PCs are somewhat heroic characters, they should face danger instead of running away. I don’t think PCs can “abuse” the system. I would even argue that you can die much more easily as in D&D.

As a GM, I don’t think it would be healthy to my game if I would kill off one or two PCs just to teach the players about the mechanics. If they act in character (even if they act stupidly), then it’s all good.

There is an example of play in the book, and we’ve peppered the conflict section with plenty too.
But that doesn’t help you right now! :slight_smile:

So, basically you are correct, there are no health levels and conflict is very swift and brutal.
The key is in the build up. Most conflict involves moving assets into a position and then making a strike.
The strike will simply take your opponent down in one go.
Where most games are all about multiple attacks until one hits, Dune is amount putting your weapon (whatever it may be) into the right place to make a single decisive strike.

Note that I’m saying conflict not combat. The same rules apply to social duels, political assassinations, battlefield actions and intrigue as much as physical combat.

There sort of are hit points. If you are important story characters the fight is an extended test, not a simple contest. This means the opponent has to score points towards a requirement rather than gets to drop you on the first successful test. You can interpret these as hit points but they are just as easily about how you are being backed into a corner or the like. The closest analogy to wounds is that if you roll a complication that might easily be a wound you take in the fight.

Death is up to you, but it can be absolutely deadly. The GM should define what defeat will mean in each conflict. If you decide it is a duel to the death, the defeated NPC or PC is dead. If defeat means someone offers an apology (something PCs seem to object to much more than death) then that is what happens.
Sometimes you might want to change this outcome, such as when the mooks attacking you will fight to the death but you want to take one alive. In this case you can spend momentum to change the nature of defeat on a case by case basis.

As Shran is sounding a little brutal, I’d add that like Star Trek you can create low end NPC allies that you can kill off before you decide to start dropping PCs as an example (although I agree it is often the best way to make them learn! :slight_smile: )


OH - that is such an important new facet. In the original beta rules, at least, it was basically “if you want to make death (or other Trait) on an opponent permanent, you need to spend the Momentum to do so.”

It makes more sense that the end goal (death, capture, wounding, aplogy, etc) is agreed upon with the GM, then it’s to CHANGE from that outcome that requires the Momentum spend. I’d imagined characters in a battle scene and running out of Momentum - “guess these last few get to sit and bleed instead of die.” Better, “Our enemies are dead on the battlefield, but I spent Momentum to take this one alive.”

I have yet to play our first session - did study the beta rules a lot.

Can any beta tester comment on how this feels in practice - setting a goal, and then achieving or not through the conflict rules. As opposed to how other role playing games do it. It is just hard for me to imagine this.

I know it can be quite a few rounds (and thus dice throws) before the result is known, so it is not like a single throw will decide the fate of a duel for example.

Let’s take a duel with a major character, so multiple successes are needed. You battle against the Battle skill - in essence, that becomes the HP that you work against. But is that as satisfying as slashing away in a D&D fight as you and your opponent slowly deplete HP? Also, the amount of successes gained is constant - not random, like in a D&D fight where you roll your damage.

I am not arguing against any rules in Dune, just asking if someone with play experience could tell his/her thoughts on how it feels in action. :slight_smile:

Maybe it does not fit completely in here, but unfortunately I am not able to write a new topic. So please excuse. I have read multiple times around the conflict section because I habe difficulties to get the whole thing, especially the duel rules. Like you said it is all about moving the asset(s) to get a strike. For me the combat example cannot solve all my questions so I would like to ask some:

  1. Having the picture with the target and guard zones in mind, could it be possible to move the asset beyond the guard zone to the target? I assume so, but will there be a penalty for the attacker having the defender still holding the defending asset in guard position? Or does the defender have to move the defending asset in the own target zone as well to get a defence bonus? Has a defender using two knives a double defence bonus if there is an attack from the left or only the right asset? If both assets are moved in the target zone, will this have an effect?
  2. Is there a diagonal interaction between the guard zones possible?
  3. Moving an asset is no conflict, only a test with basic difficulty of 2?

Sorry, maybe it is pretty clear written but I am a bit stuck in this :slight_smile:

Looks like the right place, you’re good :slight_smile:

1 - The idea is that you can only move an asset one zone at a time. So you have to work those assets to the target zone in steps. If you could go straight to the target zone you’d just make one move and then attack each time, eliminating the need for guard zones. But you can move from your opponent’s guard zone to their target zone, thats the idea. Once in the target zone you can make a strike to potentially end the fight.

Defensive assets in any zone make things more difficult for the attacker. If there is a defensive asset in a zone for any reason, the attacker suffers a penalty. A knife can easily be considered defensive as it can parry. So some assets can be done, but other (like a shield) might only be defensive.

2 - There isn’t a diagonal line, but you can add one. The zones are really up to you so you can make them simpler or more complex to suit your story. You might just give each opponent one guard zone, or 4 each if you wanted a lot of layers.

3 - Yes, just moving an asset is done at a standard difficulty, but Defensive assets in the zone might adjust that. The opposed test is for actually ‘using’ an asset and making a strike.

Hope that makes sense! :slight_smile:

Thank you so far. That helped me a lot, but it is not absolutely clear. Is a knife in the enemy guard zone not calculated for defence, only in the own guard or target zone? Or does the own knife not move to your own target zone? A shield e.g. makes sense to be in your own target zone. Or does a knife in the enemy guard zone also hinder his offensive maneuvers?

Faster moving the asset can be possible with e.g. the slow blade?

You’re on the right track.
A defensive asset can only defend you in your own guard zone.
So you can count a knife as defensive in your own guard zone, but it can only attack in your opponent’s target zone. Otherwise a knife is a good example of something that can be both defensive and offensive depending on where it is moved to.

For instance, your fighters might both have two blades. Then the question is do you try and push forward with both to grant a better chance of a strike, or keep one back for defence and use the other for attack.
This is where the option to move an opponent’s asset comes in, not just moving an attacking asset back but moving a defensive asset out of the way.

A shield can only be defensive, but they can also only move between guard zones (or even just stay in one or the other or both - depending on if its a half shield or not).

As usual, talents and special abilities allow you to do things outside the rules, and these always take precedence over the basic rules.

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How can that happen? I could imagine that moving the asset in my guard zone will do the job, or can I move that asset in the other guard zone (e.g. I attack from the right an move both assets in the targets right zone)?

What if the opponent has a bare hands, it says this will be count as an asset, too. Can I move them out of the way too?

Maybe I am thinking about this too much?

Check out p166.
If you successful move an asset Boldly, you have the option to move an opponent’s asset as well.
That might be moving an offensive one back, or moving a defensive one out of the way.
But some defensive assets (like a shield) might have limits on where they can be moved to.

Conflict is a lot to get your head around in Dune, with a lot of very unique concepts.
I think its worth it in the end and is great at mirroring lethal knife duels and strategy.
But don’t feel bad if its taking time to figure out! Happy to help otherwise. :slight_smile: