Today’s post will be a quick look at the Gamemastering chapters of Dune Adventures in the Imperium.
This chapter serves to prepare gamemasters for running their own games, and Dune does a find job of easing people into it. I’ve always been fascinated to see how these kinds of sections do their jobs as the hobby evolves and I’m seeing a lot of neat ways that Dune is doing things right.
First off it goes over what a gamemaster is supposed to do (and what they’re not). It’s a short section, but with good advice to try and steer people away from becoming adversarial gamemasters.
Campaign length and structure is also discussed, with a whole section on how to create an adventure. There’s also some mention here that we might be looking at a published campaign in the future!
Running the game gets the lion’s share of advice, guiding the gamemaster through the various different mechanics and given more advice on how to utilize the mechanics in play to maximum effect.
Consent and comfort levels along with safety tools are also present, which is a nice touch. Soon enough, majority of the bigger RPGs will be featuring these so I’m glad that Dune is normalizing the presence of these options. It hurts nobody to have them.
Allies and Adversaries
The next chapter details notable NPCs, including most of the cast of the first novel of Dune. The more useful section however are the NPC archetypes that can be used for Notable non-player characters or Supporting Characters. There’s quite a number of them, from Arrakeen Native to Mentat and serves as sort of “Bestiary” if you’re looking for such.
What you won’t find, however are any descriptions of flora and fauna in Dune. Even for the Sandworm. I don’t think this is an oversight as much as a deliberate design choice as the real conflicts of Dune are between human interests and ambition as opposed to going all Bear Grylls vs the environment.
Harvesters of Dune
The book also includes a three-act adventure called “Harvesters of Dune” it’s an interesting adventure with a lot of investigation and action, and while I can’t divulge any information about the plot for fear of spoiling it, I think it’s a good way to get people’s feet wet in the kind of conflicts to expect in Dune.
It has some key setpieces you’d expect from a game set in Arrakis, but plenty of twists and turns to keep people guessing.
Review and Conclusion
Dune Adventures in the Imperium belongs to a category of licensed RPGs who have quite a few hurdles to overcome. Let’s take a look at each of these and see how Dune did:
With licenses, fans of the fiction will pick this up and hopefully migrate to the hobby, is Dune Adventures in the Imperium a good introductory product as far as RPGs go?
Yes but with a slightly steeper learning curve, and with the additional benefit of being a great resource for fans looking to get more information on the setting. Dune is written with a strong focus on keeping things accessible for those new to the hobby. While the 2d20 system is a bit on the “rules-medium” side of things, there’s a lot of support and examples to help learn the game.
RPGs of a particular license has to “Feel” like the source material, does Dune manage to convey the feel and tone of Dune through it’s mechanics or does it feel like a generic system bolted to a franchise?
Dune does a great job with this. Everything from the Duties and Duty Statements, the subtle and bold Move options, character options and even the uneven power balance due to faction-aligned characters having unique powers all work to enforce the truth of the setting.
For those who aren’t all that interested in the game aspect, but like collecting Dune, does the book look like a collectable?
Yes. The artwork, layout and “feel” of the book is such that not only is it a joy to use as a game, it looks like a wonderful coffee table book and something you can brag about once this Pandemic lets you have friends over.
Dune Adventures in the Imperium takes the already capable 2d20 system and modifies it to a point where it conveys the mood and feel of the setting to the point of authenticity. It manages to handle a huge amount of different factors in conflict in an elegant manner.
Character Creation and House Creation is compelling and does well in a Session Zero group activity, where each player gets to contribute and have a stake in the House they belong to. It’s a clever means of getting players to bond, and make sure that their loyalties are true.
Dune Adventures in the Imperium is a splendid RPG, with great ambitions, which it manages to pull off with grace and style. It might not be a perfect “entry level” product, but I’m extremely happy to have bought it.
Definitely a must have for any collection, whether for a lifelone Dune fan or just someone new to the setting but has a love for sprawling, epic Space Opera.