I’ll preface this by saying I’ve never read Dune. I’ve heard radio adaptations and listened to abridged audio-books, but never read one of them cover to cover. I found them intimidating – but this RPG has made me dig out my library card to give it another shot.
The rulebook for Dune is just as intimidating as the books, but well worth digging into. At over 300 pages, expect to spend a week (or three) digging into all the nestled parts. However it does a great job priming you to ensure that the universe is well explained. I’d highly suggest keeping a pen and paper to remind you of story points if you haven’t read the novel! I really appreciated how early in the book it gave you the novels set around your game.
In game, your players all play members of one house, so ensuring you have the correct group for this game is a must – as is ensuring that you have good safety tools. With topics like slavery & sexism rife within the story its important to establish pre-game your House’s policy towards this. The very religion heavy setting of Dune is another thing to consider with the players at the table.
The book has a small but nice section on diversity. There is also a section on safety tools within the GM section but its good to highlight your preferred tool to the players before starting and decide on one that would work for your party!
But what dice am I rolling?
Prepare those d20’s to be used in this 2d20 system. I very much like how the “reason” for the check/how you conduct it (called Drives). I already run this in other RPG’s and feels incredibly natural in this universe of deception & intrigue. “Momentum” works as a way to store and use dice for those cinematic moments. Complications & Threats (GM tools) also add elements of chaos for the GM, however I would’ve liked to have seen some more examples of them. “Determination” is another “resource” that you can use to create these cinematic moments, but these must align with your characters motivations (their Drive). Does this seem confusing? Yep. Whilst I love these concepts, I am excited to see a few cheat sheets/GM screens with these summarised for more in-game reminders. (There’s 3 pages at the end but I felt they weren’t clear enough for me personally)
As well as your core character, expect to run almost a game inside a game with rules for moving troops and spies also included. You will be creating both main & supporting characters so its a great system for anyone who is always creating a backup character (Not looking at myself). With structures to make a character as you go along, I personally found that it was better for new players to create a character beforehand if the GM & PC’s are all new.
Should I get it then?
Overall Dune seems like a fantastic system. The premade adventure in the corebook is a nice way to get started – but don’t expect to pick this up and play it the same day. Its a chunky book, and with multiple combat styles, and variety of characters, you likely need at least one PC & GM prep session and then some time to prepare an adventure for the PC’s as the GM.
If you like Dune, the book, I suspect you’ll love this. If you haven’t read Dune, don’t let that put you off this RPG.
You can purchase Dune from your favorite local TTRPG shops or direct from the writers at Modiphius’s Website