House Rules for Drives

TLDR: house rules to encourage use of non-highest rated Drives

I was very excited to run Dune but after playing the quick start I really dislike how Drives are implemented. We’re all great role-players, but 99% of the time we usually our highest Drive - that couldn’t have really been the game intent. It’s very hard to figure out what drive to apply in any situation.

There are similar mechanics in other RPG’s that don’t have this issue. If your Drive was a Fate-style aspect/truth, then it would just be a bonus (or a hinderance) in some situations. If it was a Pendragon-style passion, then it would only get rolled in very specific GM generated cases and would have a +/- to it.

I would posit that it is all about the writing and the enforcement of the drive statements. If your drive statements are loosely written and/or enforced then you have this issue. The alternative is to pass a social contract with the players that their statement should be written in a very prescriptive way, and if they don’t apply strictly, they have to revert to one of the lower rated drives without a statement.

The test of a prescriptively stated drive is whether it could be easily made to apply to any situation. If it can, have them rewrite it or specify it…

Example. Justice. “I must shield those in my care.” Make every word in that sentence have to apply… Let’s say the character is in a combat situation with the group. A strict application will rely on the character putting themselves in harm’s way against a clear threat coming against someone else that has been clearly stated is in their care. They are just attacking because “attack is the best defense” > no. They are protecting someone who would never acknowledge they are in the care of the character > no. They are looseling transferring the concept of shield to a long-term and defuse threat > no.

If you are very strict. It becomes a big deal to get to use a high drive + it becomes a big deal to have a conflict against it. Conversely, you need to be very sharp in your NPCs to apply this as strictly and not have every NPC roll their best drive.

Any that’s my take on it…

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The quickstarter pregens have some not very well designed Drives statements. There are some, that could actually apply to every situation. That is not good Drive statement.

Yes, if it is too broad a statement, that always applies, let the player rewrite it. Of course, in using the quickstarter pregens one could not know in advance whether those pregens are well-designed or have the problems mentioned above.

So, if you are running a Dune game with newly created characters, it is in your hands to check the Drive statements to fit your desired way of running the game.


Makes sense thanks

What the others say.

However, there were somer rules that were not really clear to me when we first started playing. The way I understand and use now:

  1. If any of your statements applies in a positive way, supporting your action, you can use that drive. (And you may spend a point of Determination if you want).

  2. If point 1 is not applicable, and you still want to use a high drive (that has a statement), you can only use that drive by challenging/complying with the statement. (i.e. gaining 1 Determination, but either accepting an automatic complication or deleting your statement after the roll and making the drive unavailable for your rolls until recovery).

  3. ‘Neutral’ use of a drive (i.e. neither point 1 and 2 above) is only possible for the low drives that has no statements. Those can be used simply if you can explain why your motivations for an action are related to the drive.

So, point 3 (just explaining why a given drive matches your current motivations and using that drive) is not normally available for your higher drives that have statements. This is what we missed initially. If you insist that players can use their higher drives only if they can also explain how their statement drives their action (or if they are willing to take a complication or make the drive unavailable until recovery) then they will use other drives much more frequently. Also, statements will be much more important for the game.

(Also, the extra guidlines is useful to have an early discussion after each adventure launches about the reason each player character comes to the adventure. The drive that is most applicable for the discussed motivations can be used as the drive for an action during the adventure when nothing else seems to specifically apply).

You can do a ‘neutral’ use of a drive if you like.
This is where the drive seems right but the statement doesn’t fit.
In which case you can use that drive as normal but you don’t gain/spend Determination and you must take a complication (representing you not being quite on board in the right way).