How do people travel within the cities of the Imperium, specially on Arrakis?

Since cities are huge places thopters are quite big, and possibly also quite expensive, i think not everyone has then nor use them daily. On my former campaign, which lasted only a few sessions, i allowed players to have hoverbikes and cars, since they were House Agents, but so far on the books and reading the RPG sourcebooks, i don’t know if those vehicles quite fit the setting, as they aren’t mentioned (as far as i can recall).

I know that those vehicles aren’t exactly the main focus on a campaign, but i miss them as am option or simply as background for more believability for the scenario, since no one walks miles upon miles in a city for a party, or wants to draw attention with a thopter in the middle of a busy city street…

And I’m also asking about Arrakis, because my friends really liked Sand and Dust. And want to visit Arrakis, so I wanted to make an Arakeen that feels real, and let them explore more than a few blocks at a walkable distance.

And I know, I’m being a bit pedantic, but i need things to be less subjective, otherwise i freak out and get stuck not knowing what i can or cannot do.

Sorry for any typos, my phone isn’t cooperating with me today


Well we know that ground vehicles with wheels exist. In my campaign that was the main way around cities (cars, trucks, etc…)
I would expect that to be the same on Arrakis.

Hover vehicles should exist as we have glowglobes which are basically hover vehicles.
The issue is the same as any hover vehicle: propulsion. Think hovercraft for steering.
I would see hoverbikes and cars as essentially a rich Nobles toy due to the propulsion being so difficult. A way to show off, though not practical for most people.
Hover carts though I see being fairly popular. The benefits of heavy loads and few moving parts to get jammed.

Finally Public Transport. On Arrakis… Maybe buses and tuc-tucs. Certainly no mass transit system in Carthag and Arakeen.
Off Arrakis I can see more advanced public transport being available in larger cities. 19th and early 20th century style mainly. Nothing particularly advanced for the commoners.

Edit: I had another thought. Not many beasts of burden on Arrakis. The water upkeep of a horse, even a desert adapted one would be equal to multiple people.

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For Arrakis I would assume there is some type of mass transit as both Arrakeen and Carthag are large cities with populations in the millions. However, given the social structure of the Imperium and most of the natives considered ‘pyons’, I would also expect that personal freedom of movement to be largely curtailed and people mostly confined to wards or areas within the cities where they live and work - especially during the Harkonnen years of governorship.

The way I view both Carthag and Arrakeen is that the wards are likely to be tiny cities themselves, encased in giant plascrete shells - although the poorer areas might be open to direct sunlight. You might find all manner of groundcraft within each ward, but travelling between wards might be rarer by ground. Monied families or Houses might, of course, have use of their own ornithopters etc.

Considering the climate, I would also expect that surface roading may not be all that extensive but in the first novel there is mention of Duke Leto sending a ground car for Paul, so there must be some way for vehicles to get from A to B. The core rules also describe Arrakeen as having ‘wide-open streets’ so perhaps the milder climate (comparatively) would allow for surface traffic during the heat of the day. Or maybe most street travel is at night. Still, I would think that ground traffic isn’t as prevalent on Arrakis as on other Imperial worlds.

I think there could be a mass transit system in place in Carthag and Arrakeen in the form of a subway system rather than surface travel. It may be more for transporting cargo than people from one ward to another, where the goods are disseminated by small motorised transport or antigrav platforms or whatever.

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I’d certainly agree there are more than enough hi tech options for getting around. Pretty much anything short of teleporters :slight_smile:

But I’d argue the use of transport tech is more a social thing that a technology thing.
Dune has a horrifically uneven social scale. The nobles have what they want, including any form of expensive transport. But the 95% of the rest of the universe lives barely above the poverty line. Even on Caladan the people are living like rustic settlers and fishermen. God help the ones of Giedi Prime who are barely seen as cogs and gears in the machine of industry.

So I’d argue that most ‘common folk’ don’t actually travel anywhere, they just live next to their job. Fishermen live by the sea, farmers by the fields and even office and factory workers live in apartments next to their workplace.

So the nobles (and agents of the nobles) can buzz about the place as they like, but everyone else walks to work. This also keeps the roads and skies clear for the nobles to travel as they like without a rush hour.


Edit: Just checked the PDF of the Core book.

P.33 in the Technology section under the Transportation paragraph :

"Aside from the spaceships of the Spacing Guild and the noble Houses, transportation throughout the Imperium range from primitive animal-powered carts to advanced groundcars, ornithopters, carryalls, crawlers, surface-to￾air lighters, suspensor-held vehicles, and their like. "

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I prefer not to use ground vehicles, apart from the poverty factor, for reasons of security. Sitting on or in a propulsed box (though armored) makes a good target, see Agents of Dune, p. 78f. Humans can monitor the area, disperse in a conflict and fight back if necessary. Any tech sophisticated enough to do the same comes close to violating the Butlerian Edicts.
When my players asked how to move around Arrakeen without a 'thopter, I offered them an escorted palanquin. Goods are moved around on suspensor platforms (see Sand and Dust, p. 135), so I think a taxi-like rental service being highly likely for the better-off (merchants, etc.). Nobles and other rich people use Ornithopers to avoid the stinking commoners. The Harkonnen may deploy a few limocars for ceremonial purposes or showing off, though.
In the upcoming DUNE: Awakening MMO, there will be a plethora of ground vehicles - but not in my roleplay campaign. Most people stay put, Fremen know how to get around, everybody else uses their feet or whatever they can afford.

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