Master of Dune - a DM question (SPOILER ALERTE)

I’m asking here also (I also asked on the official discord, but I’d like as much insight as possible), a situation in Master of Dune. So, if you plan on playing it as a PC, go away :smiley:

So, we just finished Act 2 of the chapter on Giedi Prime and my players fell hard in the different traps. Short list is :

  • they murdered Orana, a harkonnen worker, in front of Hasim, the spy sent by Vernius
  • they talked to Hasim, the Vernius spy, about a plan to kill the baron with explosives
  • they hired (or so they thought) Hasim to work for them and help them kill the baron
  • as they fled and witnessed aggressive guards, they saved a harkonnen worker (nothing wrong so far), but held seditious speeches in from of guards and workers, calling for an uprising against the baron
  • they partaked in the uprising and killed harkonnen guards
  • as they met with Ondo Marsh, they accepted his proposition, and told him that House Nagara would send men, weapon and financial resources to help them in the battle against the baron, if the plan th kill the baron was a success
  • they also planted the explosive in the barons’ box, that exploded the next morning, as planned.

Now, the session ended right after the explosion, as guards are pounding on there door, to be arrested for all this.

My players feel like the campaign is over. For them, the Baron politically won… they see a future with invading harkonnen troops on Arrakis, a loss of the planet, Landsraad support and the emperor support. A deadly kanly from the Harkonnen.

What are you thoughts. Can they survive this ?
For the moment, my players see to possible next move : use a shield and a lasgun for a big nuclear Kaboum, to go down, but with the Baron or removing the actual leader Nagara (Shizu) to be replaced by her brother (a NPC for the moment).
Overall, my player fell that they have very little breathing room in this campaign (they don’t mind it), but feel that it is quirt a tough one.

Have some of you played this campaign and if so, how did it went at this part ?
Any tips ?


I tend to think ‘thats up to the players’ but I tend to be more of a hardarse :slight_smile:
Tough one, but remember they can always play the minor House that rises in their place when they are all wiped out by angry Harkonnnen :slight_smile:

You may invoke the rules of Kanly to settle the matter, with both sides agreeing that once a duel of assassins has been completed the loser will abide by certain terms and hte matter will be considered over.

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I guess i’d ask the team “What do you want to happen?”
In terms of how I’ve been playing the game, as GM i am helping tell the story that my PCs want to tell. If that means they want to try their luck at the most difficult challenges while being underprepared, that is on them. But typically, when my team wants to accomplish a certain goal then I will produce the necessary story materials to assist in bringing that goal within the realm of possibility.

So, in this case, your team is severely disadvantage and underprepared per their own design. They’ve seen how well this has worked out, and it is completely up to them if they want to continue pressing their luck. But it might make sense to provide alternative/custom story options. Or it might make sense to let them fail partially (House Atreides was reduced to a handful of loyals at one point and they bounced back).

For example, if time is a pressing matter in your story, there are mechanics or talents to create assets by essentially doing a “three weeks earlier” flashback retcon. Maybe have your characters invest some of their advancement points into developing some useful assets, and perhaps they have been doing this in the background the whole time while other ‘main story’ plot points were occurring in the foreground.

If they want to temp the fates, maybe they don’t fail completely. Through some bond or some chance happening they happen to survive, albeit severely diminished and suffering complications (essentially turning their personal quality factors negative). Then just like Muad’dib, have them build their personal and team quality factors back up to within a range to take on their desired challenge. I’ve attached the first draft of map for some sort of Sietch diplomacy conflict that I haven’t used yet.

Another option, give them a way out. Maybe they do see the less-than-golden path before them and they want to survive instead. How would that look? It only takes the core members of a house to keep it going. Maybe they find refuge in allied houses, maybe they lend support to a rival of the imperium, or maybe they just flee outside the known universe. Whatever it takes, it should be an alternate path that is slightly more achievable and geared towards other skills than what the Harkonnen end game may have required. I’ve attached a first draft of some sort of inter-planetary diplomacy conflict map that could be modified for space exploration (not play tested yet).

Conflict Map First Drafts:
Arrakis - Sietch Conflict Map V1.pdf (2.0 MB)
System Quadrant - Diplomacy Conflict V.1.pdf (1.1 MB)

Final existential thoughts:
I’ve always felt that the Dune series emphasizes the significant role each individual plays in shaping the overall story. [Individuals being defined as aggregates that preserve a measure of temporal integrity, that ‘propagate’ information from their past into their futures. Example individuals generally increasing in sizes of influence include; Paul Atreides, Paul’s Immediate Family, House Atreides, Arrakis, CHOAM, Spacing Guild, Bene Gesserit, The Imperium, Humanity, Earthseed (all things that trace origins back to earth), The Galaxy, The Universe.]
Whether they are central figures or supporting characters, the recurring theme revolves around individuals (or fractals of them) grappling with their identities. Through adversity and suffering, individuals demonstrate perseverance, adapt to challenges, seize growth opportunities, rely on social connections, and tap into their capacity for renewal. While this pattern is common in compelling storytelling, it reflects a deeper truth (I’d hypothesized Frank Herbert understood) about the human condition and its relationship to the universe— that storytelling is a vehicle for exploring the essence and expression of individuality within the vastness of existence. The Dune saga provided countless examples of near-miracle like events, as individuals cycle from near extinction to zealous prosperity. Yet somehow the story continues. Because this is the nature of The Universe, and all its recursive fractals.

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Thx both of you a lot for those different ideas. It opens interesting ways to follow for me, to offer to the players. It is definitely a turning point of the campaign… Will the house be destroyed by the evil plot of the baron, or will they rise up , like the phoenix, to challenge him ?
I keep you informed on the outcome

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I think the question is, Do you as the GM want to educate them that frontal assaults are not the way to make the setting work, or allow them to have their fun and shift the setting to meet their style.
Both are fine as its about making the game enjoyable rather than sticking to the rules of the setting.

If they need a lesson that this is not the way to play Dune - or the game you want to run as the GM - you can throw the many reasonable consequences they have earned for themselves by having the Harkonnen take revenge. This will destroy at least their standing in the House (if it doesn’t hang them out to dry) or take some of their toys away, if they survive.

Option two for the same effect is have the bosses of their own House be forced to apologize and make amends for the PCs actions, at great cost to the House. This will lead to the PCs seeing how badly they screwed up and put them in the position of needing to prove themselves to their House again. But they won’t suffer too badly. Nothing worse than the boss saying ‘I’m not angry I’m disappointed’.
But you can also warn the players that this it their first and only strike. Next time their own House will hand them over for execution.

Finally, you can go with the flow. Many players enjoy being the ‘renegades who always get away with things and don’t play by the rules’. Personally it annoys me in my players as it feels like they expect me to get them out of any trouble they make, or remove all consequences while they trash the setting.
As long as you feel it might be fun to tweak the nose of the Baron and carve out a more pulp version of Dune, thats entirely fine. What matters is that you all have fun (you and the players). They shouldn’t feel Dune is a chore with a setting that isn’t fun, just as you should be able to run the game of Dune you want to enjoy as a GM.

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Thx Andy
Oh … there will be consequences, as it was perpetrated by Shizu Nagara, head of house Nagara, ruler of Arrakis. The boss will be the emperor et, in some aspects, the Landsraad. Will they loose Dune ? Maybe… But maybe the emperor tries to not loose face and still have them rule it, but with the emperor’s supervision.
I also feel their is a thread to follow with the members of the House, who might not be so happy with the choices of they ruler… Some might leave, what brings an house without key position…

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As a potential swerve, you could move them into Fall of the Imperium and have the House ordered to hand Dune over to the Atreides. It’s a suggested route to move from Masters of Dune into that campaign.

You may also find the adventures in Masters fit between the Fall adventures quite nicely.
I might see if I can figure it out in a blog post. :slight_smile: