Thursday, May 23, 2013
Some further Dune concepts
I've been thinking more about the technology and ideas in Dune, and how they might apply to old school D&D and other games. I've already gone a bit on the Spice, but there are other concepts that I think could really play an interesting part in the game. Some of these draw on the later novels, which I think are much less widely known.
In the last three volumes of the original books (and that's all that counts), Herbert spends a lot of time dealing with the ramifications of the prescience that he has given Paul and Leto II. This is useful in fantasy games because similar problems occur with spells like ESP, Clairaudience/Clairvoyance and ultimately Teleport making secret hiding places less useful and ultimately impossible.
One of Herbert's key technologies here is the no-chamber, a room that is impervious to precognition. This is the only way that things can be hidden from people with limitless precognition, and their development is what ends the reign of God-Emperor Leto II. A no-chamber in a dungeon or in an enemy's lair would provide protection from the concept of just being able to magically find your enemies, teleport in, and kill them, particularly if it was immune to all magic acting at a distance. Of course not every villain can have a no-chamber but it makes for a good and interesting reason why PCs can't use that kind of tactics.
Then there are the Bene Tleilax - a very useful type of people. The axolotl tanks are revealed to be monstrous female Tleilaxu in the later books, and they produce gholas, perfect clones of a dead person who can recover their original memories at a certain point in their life. The Tleilaxu Face Dancers are also a great adversary to swap out for the AD&D Doppelgangers. A dungeon or megadungeon level where the Bene Tleilax have set up shop might be a fascinating and weird adversary's location.
And of course there are the Bene Gesserit, women with tremendous mental capabilities and female-line ancestral memories as well as hand-to-hand combat (the weirding way). Just the ability of a character to use the Voice would be a tremendous ability, perhaps allowing a save versus spells. I think a Bene Gesserit PC would have to start out pre-Spice Agony if someone went that way, perhaps at higher levels getting access to the really amazing powers.
Just some ideas for mashing up some classic science fiction into your fantasy games; Dune has a lot of great things for people who want a wheels-within-wheels plot.