Kanly and Warfare

There is a code on how to conduct a war of assassins, but I wanted to get other people’s opinion on this. How do the noble houses minimize lasgun/shield interactions? Major houses could reasonably be sure that other major houses will issue out shields. Nascent and Minor houses will likely have very few shields and more than likely not even have lasguns. Would noble houses issue declarations of war with terms of what is and isn’t shielded? Is there any official laid out rules of Kanly that would cover this? As a side question, has anyone fleshed out the rules of Kanly or maybe even added their own?

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p23: “Whether it is accidental or intended, any lasgun/shield interaction breaks the Great Convention”
also: “No warnings, no excuses, no apologies, no quarter.”

so : don’t use lasguns in battle, they’re not safe :wink:

Yeah, if there is a lasgun/shield explosion, I can totally imagine an official Landsraad investigator to be sent (maybe a character a bit similar to Count Fenring in style) to find out the facts and acertain who used lasgun. Fun adventure. :slight_smile:

The Core Rulebook also had some interesting thoughts on traditional military warfare (as opposed to a War of Assassins). If I remember correctly, it mentions that

  • between houses major, it is not typical, because the transportation of the troops costs a fortune, also depending on whether the Guild supports the attack (i.e. offers favorable prices) or opposes the attack (probably sets unaffordable tariffs).
  • within a planet’s houses minor, it can depend on the approach of the ruling house major.

I imagine that a more Harkonenesque house would very much be in favor of houses minor fighting traditional war. Survival of the fittest, and all. Assuming that the conflict does not interfere with the profits (tithe) of the house major or their other plots and schemes.

Other, more sophisticated houses major would consider outright war to be uncivilised, barbaric and inhuman. They would not tolerate direct military strikes that may endanger civil population or critical infrastructure.

Or some may even enforce a total ‘peace’ among vassal houses minor, forcing them to more covert operations very similar to Wars of Assassins - industrial sabotage, espionage, trade wars, etc.


The glossary in Dune doesn’t give much detail, just: “The limited form of warfare permitted under the Great Convention and Guild Peace. The aim is to reduce the involvement of innocent bystanders. Rules prescribe formal declarations of intent and restrict permissable weapons”

An interesting point in there is that refers to the Guild Peace, so I think @glowface has something there about the Guild being able to influence matters using their stranglehold over shipping and banking.

Presumably their is some flexibility over permissable weapons depending on how much the Major Houses want to go at each other. Atomics are definitely out, but Lasguns may be able to slip through in certain cases.

The Dune Encyclopedia (Officially non-canon) has a more expansive section on War of Assassins including how one of the earliest ones (Pardee-Harkonnen 3367-3375) was ended by the famous Lasgun Massacre of the Duke and his family at their hunting lodge when they were ambushed.
It may be that the Lasguns were only used after the fighting to send a (crispy fried) message about crossing the Harkonnens though.

Another thing (if we accept the DE) is that Wars of Assassins seem to be long running affairs. The Pardee-Harkonnen one ran for 8 years. Others cited are 2, 6 and even 56 years (finally ended by direct intervention of the Emperor).
That suggests low level skirmishes and asymmetric warfare than full on battalion scale clashes.

Oddly enough this means that fights between House Minors could actually be more bloody as they will mostly be contained upon one planet where the cost of shipping and maintaining armies is lower. Very dependent on the House Major, but I see many of them not being concerned as long as production is maintained as mentioned earlier.

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It may be part of the Great Convention but it does happen like when the Harkonnens sent in Sardaukar troops on Arrakis to oust the Atriedes. Why was their a lasgun present? Did they not realize who would have shields? There also seems to be no repercussions against House Harkonnen for it.

I actually thought about doing a situation like that for my players for architect play. They are all nascent or minor houses who have to fight these wars for their Major house on the moon. They could move assets around the planet without Guild interference. The issue was lasguns/shields, would/should the players know about what has shields? Would the one player who engages in ranged combat auto fail every combat against shielded opponents? If all my players were on the same page about Dune I would let them make their own choice but some are clueless and would most definitely get curbed stomped.

That suggests a very unpleasant plot by an enemy House. They either impersonate troops of the PC’s House, or suborn a few of them somehow, and cause a lasgun/shield explosion using said troops.

Now the players have to figure out who did it, how, and produce enough concrete proof of the deed to present to the Imperial inspector before judgment is passed and executed on them.


Another reason not to even try it is that the actual size of the explosion is random (if memory serves, anyway). So even if you were willing to defy the ban, there’s no guarantee you’d do enough damage to your enemy to accomplish your House’s goals, and nothing you can do to improve those odds (at least that’s how I understand how it works) that’s not something anybody would be willing to roll the dice on.

Enemy House? You have literally just described what one of my players tried to argue for in my first Dune game… :flushed:

I did advise just what would happen if they tried to pull it off. Mainly involving the painstaking elimination of their entire House. With prejudice.

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The Great Convention and the Rites of Kanly are designed to protect the innocent bystander. I have not seen it mentioned, but I would assume that each House officially identifies its inner members, which would be legitimate targets of house warfare, and those who are not, such as your farmers, miners, normal working people, who are obviously assets of a house, but would pass to a new house if conquered or a fief changes.
I believe the nature of the Great Convention, and the strict social system it enforces and protects, only survives rebellion and anarchy because it separates the people-- who are feudally trapped in their roles for the majority-- and guarantees them human rights and protection from war. So they live, and have lived for thousands of years, peaceful lives. Harkonnen subjects are different, in that they are treated poorly, but they might mostly have the status of slaves, with a small class of protected citizens.

This was one of the tactics Hawats men were looking for in Dune. Possibility of a remote detonated lasgun/shield combo somewhere. But a Judge of the Change would have quickly seen through this as not an accident.

Unless you can lie to the Emperor’s Truthsayer there is no way to escape guilt in premeditated Lasgun Shield terrorism. Any plan that violates the Forms exposes a House to oblivion. One imagines many Houses have thought to do this in the past, and escape justice, and have either been nuked dramatically (origins of Ecaz in the DE) or their House Mentat has calculated the risk/benefit ratio too small to consider. Why dare the wrath of the Landsraad, Guild and wider Imperium when there is the ‘safe’ method of Kanly? (Though this itself is an article of faith, of stagnant blinkered in-universe thinking - just like Suk conditioning cannot be suborned - that Paul’s jihad is need to overturn. Players will not necessarily share this blinkered view, but it should be obvious to them why every NPC does… and the very real dangers to any one acting outwith the Forms.)

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