Pre-first time game questions

I have had a very little running 2d20 (Star-Trek) a while back. The game died on the vine before session 0 - preference of the group’s SCI-FI game taste nothing against the game itself.

However, a few weeks ago one of the guys got one of the Dune boxed sets, and that got me interested in playing running it too. I got the Dune PDF and have been reading and re-reading it over the last 2 weeks.

Then my daughters asked what it was about and I explained it. Then I had to explain Dune itself, and then had to explain what I meant when I said things like Machiavellian Byzantine and duplicitous double dealing in the Houses etc. Surprisingly, that interested them and now I will be running a face to face game with them and a couple of other players during their school’s Christmas break.

Honestly I think I understand the feel of the rules better in Dune than I did in Star Trek, so that is good! However, I do not completely gork the rules yet.

This might be getting into the weeds a little more than needed, but it is how my mind works.

(oh yeah an assumption for my game that is counter to Dune so far, the WILL NOT be anywhere near Arakasis nor will they be interacting with Atridies & Harkonian - it is a huge setting and there is SO much more out there, and being a history guy there is even more I can pull into the game - Guelphs v Ghibellines, Medici v every other Floratien family & all of them against the Chompi and all of them against Lucca Seina etc, England and … heck almost anything from English history )

Now the questions:

A player wants to track someone through (insert exotic alien planet setting) What skill is that ? or said player wants to hide their tracks as they leave their crashed ornithopter ???

A spy is watching a room trying to pick out the movers and shakers behind the scene, or listening to the scattered conversations to pick up juicy bit for blackmail fodder later, What skill(s) would be involved ???

PCs (or my NPCs) walking into a Zone that is the X on an ambush. What would they use to notice it ??? Battle is my first thought, but then Understand could work …

That gives a good general types of questions I need help with on skills

Now, assets - specifically weapons

What exactly would a masterwork qualify blade (say with a quality of +1) do in the combat?

Losing a combat conflict v being stuck and bleeding like a pig. I understand the mechanic of defeat in a combat, and that defeat isn’t necessarily ‘injured and bleeding out’, but if the opponents are all using knives and swords etc, shouldn’t there be more of a risk for true injury than me spending the DM threat to give the PC an injured trait or using a complication for it?

Oh yeah improvised weapons talent, Ok so the PC/NPC can generate a set of brass knuckles, a shiv, a bottle, a chair leg club etc as a weapon for free. So how is that better than a character just using their fists ???

Now a GM scene threat question, is there any rule for specific opponents being used adding to the GM’s threat pool just for them being there?

I can see a standard group of House soldiers having normal by the book threat. However have a team of 4-5 Sardaukar be the soldiers the PCs are having to face off with. Shouldn’t the DM have more threat just for them being the feared Sardaukar ? If so, how much more?

That should cover the worst of the questions I have so far

1 Like

Welcome to the Dune madness!

Very jealous. Mine are both into fantasy (which does mean all my old book series are now being devoured) but no interest in sci-fi.

I have also not set my Dune campaign on Arrakis. They have an option to go there, but so far have studiously ignored it. We are happy forging the History of House Sindri completely separately to the events of the Novels.

For the questions I can only answer from my perspective. Dune is a very flexible system (Great for me, not so much for some) so the divisions between skills and similar are not so clean cut at times. The situation can alter things.

I would default to Move, having said that for the crashed 'thopter I would probably allow Battle if the player had an appropriate focus of say “Camouflage”.

Again I would default to Communicate, but a persuasive argument could be made for Understand. Both would feel appropriate depending on just how the spy is working.

In these situations I have gone for Battle. Generally if the fight is imminent I have used Battle, otherwise I have gone for Understand. But not a hard and fast rule in my game.

Summary for Skills. There are normally a couple of options you can go for. Either can be right depending on the situation and your players focuses, etc. If my player gives me a good spiel I’ll often go with it.

A Q1 weapon would have 2 effects in the combat. It reduces the difficulty by 1 (Very useful against those pesky shields) and increases the damage done on a Major NPC by 1 (So 2 (Base) +1 (Quality) = 3 Damage)

Defeat is just a catch all term given how loose the damage system is in Dune. I run my games like a TV series and unless it is a plot element characters normally are just seen the following scene with a few bloody bandages and are happily running about and escaping their guards freely.
Of course you can just say that all Melee Weapons in your game have the keyword ‘Deadly’ and cite that to apply to a trait of injured if a player is defeated using one of them.

This Talent is basically the equivalent of spending 2 momentum to create an asset. In and of itself you are right, it doesn’t give much benefit (Traits aside). However, the other thing you can do at this point is spend a further 2 momentum (4 total) and make it a Q1 asset (Clearly the chair was made of mahogany). So the talent gives you a 2 momentum saving on creating a temporary Q1 asset which is mechanically beneficial.

I’m not sure I understand the question here. Normally I use my Threat to make the specific opponents appear.
I start with a pool of Threat (Normally 10 as I have 5 players from a Minor House) and it grows from player actions. I then use it to telegraph major scene elements (More troops, a Major NPC suddenly appearing, etc…) or boost the effects of the Major NPC. I can do most of that stuff without it, but I use it to tell my players things are escalating.

  • Just read the rules on Threat again (pg 155) and you are right there is a ‘Threatening Circumstances’ rule where the arrival of some NPC can generate threat. (I learn something new each day :sweat_smile:)

For how much… :face_with_raised_eyebrow: 1 or 2 per Saudakar? They are scary enough without needing to boost your Threat too much. I guess it might depend on how much your players have been boosting your Threat pool and if you need to replenish it.

Feel free to keep asking questions of the Hive Mind. We can normally give you about 3 answers to any question. Sometimes we even agree on them…

Thalim has a good hook on those.
But I’d add you can throw some assets in there too.
For instance, tracking someone might be done using ‘local gossip’ to find them via contacts, or using a ‘tracking device’ that is on their vehicle. Usually the same skill tests but it adds more flavor about how the tracking is being down.

Thanks for the replies

Thalim, I didn’t even think about Battle being an option for Camouflage. I’ll have to remember that.

The more I read (including here) and think about it, Understand could be one of those areas that has a lot of bleed over into other skills. Maybe not the actual ‘doing’ of an action, but the info behind an action.

It might help me to start thinking about it like I had to when I started running Traveller, Not looking for the PC has to Use Attribute X and Skill Y, but just let it flow on narrative and let the player try what options they have and see what works.

Masterwork quality … the second I read your reply I remembered that from the rules.

I might use the ‘quality’ to give extra traits - a knife is a knife, but that razor sharp Damascus folded steel blade is deadly (causes an injury trait if a conflict is won by x, or at the cost of 1 momentum/threat)

I like that explanation on “clearly the chair was made of mahogany” at the cost of 2 instead of 4. Makes since now thanks !

That p.155 must have been where the seed of the idea came from … rgr on only 1 or 2 per, I wouldn’t want to stack the deck tooooo much. That said, I can see the ‘spending of threat’ to bring more of them into a scene. Say there are 3 or 4 Hark thugs and a Sardaukar guarding location x. the dice love the PCs & I bolo my rolls so the make short work of them. What is the fun in that, so I burn some threat to bring in a few more of them to spice things up.

I wonder, is there an official btb list of ‘threating circumstances’ or a simi official one floating around here somewhere?

Andy - good point on assets including local gossip and contacts or a tracking device.

Hmmmm … a little ‘Mission Impossible’ … the target is sprayed by an extract of a flower that no one can see in normal light, but someone with silver Bene T- eyes has a filter that can see its glow. Hay that could be useful in tracking someone with a cibus hood

Again thanks !

1 Like