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Nascent & Minor Houses

Following on from a discussion on the Discord channel I have been wondering about how people view the smaller Houses.
When I first ran Dune my players were part of a Minor House. They and all of the other Minor Houses on the planet were fairly traditional, they controlled an area of land (Half a continent or a very large island) and were very militaristic or were the Great Houses stewards.

Looking at the current rules there are options for a lot more different styles of House. An Industrial Understanding domain House is more likely to hold campuses & offices than swathes of land & numerous legions.
Yet land is still considered important. The description of a House Minor suggests it controls about a third of a planet. Suggesting a maximum number of about 4 to a planet.

My current view of a Minor House is that the territory it controls isn’t that important. They will all control some I’m sure, but unless their Domain is something that requires large spaces like fields they may only control a single city or island. How much land does a Political Expertise House require if they can hang around near their House Major?

This means that you can have a lot more Nascent & Minor Houses on any one planet. Maybe a dozen or more for a heavily built up planet controlled by a Great House. Geidi Prime may well be swarming with Minor Houses, all squabbling for House Hakonnens favour and to avoid being backstabbed by their peers.

That is how I see them at least. How does everyone else view the Nascent & Minor Houses in Dune?

Very interested in views and experience of others as well! I don’t have enough experience yet to have a strong opinion about this one.

From the perspective of impact on the game, what do you see as the benefit or drawback of trying many more minor houses in a single location? As I see…

Having more parties involved in local politics has the obvious benefit of being able to pick up a new actor for a new plotline when necessary. Things don’t get boring so easy by the same repeated villain being behind all schemes.

On the other hand, this also deflates the strength and capabilities of houses. If a minor house is at least as strong as the USA, China, Russia in today’s world (controlling a significant portion of a planet) then even a minor house is obviously a big player. They would have many thousands of soldiers, and enough resources not to care about minor things (like a single thopter, costs of a minor mission, etc). If some minor houses have much less in terms of terrirories controlled and people ruled, because their excellence is more research or art based, and there are dozens thriving on a single planet, then they are much more vulnerable organisations. Every loss of an important facility, loss of manpower would tax them seriously. They would not have near infinite resouces for critical missions.

In other words: even a less land & soldiers focused house, if they are already a minor house with some imperial significance could need resources to back up their activities. Even if they only have a secondary domain, that is an area of excellence in which they are among the larger players in the galaxy. Say, somebody involved in some kind of research - they would need many huge campuses, thousands of key researchers, tens of thousands of assistants (remember: without computers, probably a much larger number of people are needed for administration, scientific gruntwork, and working through data - or at least a large number of mentats.

Also, a minor house with huge investments in more intellectual capabilities (like research facilities) would need security. How could they hope to remain in business if competitors could just run them over with armies, or easily hire saboteurs to destroy their work? So, they would still need armies or other arrangements to ensure safety.

In short: I certainly don’t know, I’m very interested in any experience from anybody about such scaling issues.

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