Dunes: Adventures of the Empire It is a brand new tabletop role-playing game that perfectly captures the feeling of its source material. Publisher Modiphius Entertainment baked within Frank Herbert’s epic political power struggle, but also has its personal conflicting intimacy. They did this with ambition and scale—plus a pair of clever opposing mechanisms.
Together they created such an exquisite giving and receiving dune It goes beyond the interaction of individual roles and extends to the meta-narrative of the campaign itself. As a result, the stalemate between the player and the game master (GM) constantly threatens nuclear destruction and the complete collapse of the Galactic Empire. In other words, it creates a very intense and interesting game night.
Dunes: Adventures of the Empire Just like Dungeons and Dragons, rely on traditional 20-sided dice for skill checks. But it also introduces a secondary resource pool, which can have a greater impact on the desktop. When the player oversuccessfully completes a task, it generates motivation. Each task, such as unlocking a door, has the required number of successes. Therefore, if the player rolls three successes to unlock a door that only requires two successes, the extra successes will turn into motivation. Then you can use motivation to make subsequent challenges easier, or use brute force to overcome obstacles.
The impulse will be to use Momentum early and often, but doing so may put the party at a disadvantage in the future. That’s because consuming momentum creates a threat. This is an independent resource that game masters can use to make things more challenging. Maybe the GM will use threats to increase the difficulty of a particular encounter, or throw annoying curveballs in the form of more enemies or surprise story turns. It’s interesting on a micro level, each character is fighting for survival. But the game itself—just like the original novel—is much more than that.
Empire’s Adventure Compared with other TTRPGs, its operation scale is unusually large. In the process of character creation, the player will not only create one character. Instead, they will create a complete house—a series of famous people and their blue-collar and white-collar followers, as well as the planet, its society, and the culture that surrounds them. At the beginning, there may only be two characters fighting swords on the surface of Arrakis, but by the end of your campaign, the player will control the entire row of soldiers and weapons. From there, it was just a battle for power jumping and jumping to the limits of the galaxy. Moreover, even at this scale, momentum and threats are still looming.
On our first game night, I only saw my players use Momentum once-to help them get rid of sandworms. In a moment of absolute desperation, they conducted a final, hopeful track and field inspection to ensure safety. Motivation almost pushed them to the edge, and when they succeeded, everyone cheered-including me. This is a purely happy moment.
But it does leave me, the general manager, with a powerful choice: what if I cancel successfully in that situation or later?
Like any TTRPG, GM must show restraint. This is especially true for something as powerful as threats. For me, throwing a wrench while they are escaping is easy, and maybe even fun, to collapse the rock they landed on, and then let them fall back into the worm’s mouth. But will it be fun for others?
When used as a big stick, Threat can turn wrong judgment into feelings of hurt, which is a good way to ensure that no one makes the meeting happy. But when it is used cleverly, threats provide one of the most amazing ways to increase tension and organically introduce the story beats I have seen in TTRPG.
Rather than fiddling with the damage numbers behind the GM screen, the game master can ask the player to sit up and concentrate and say bluntly: “I want to spend one threat to reinforce the enemy, and two threats to introduce the rumble of sandworms.” Or, Threat can be used to suddenly add a new character selected from House’s backstory to the group. Maybe the player failed to pass a skill check that relies on Bene Gesserit’s training. As a GM who uses threats, I can put an old mentor aside and look at it disapprovingly. Threats can be either a powerful narrative tool or a violent tool, which can achieve some great “oh damn” moments on the dinner table.
This is especially true when the party realizes that you have been hoarding threats since the first quarter.
TTRPG rules are usually just guidelines for playing games. They are always present and important, but they are rarely connected to the core of the universe. Dunes: Adventures of the Empire Accept the rules wholeheartedly and create a system that really feels that everything is crumbling on the edge, just waiting for someone to push their advantage too far.In short, it feels a lot like dune.
Dunes: Adventures of the Empire The final retail version provided by Modiphius Entertainment was reviewed. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These will not affect editorial content, but Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links.You can find View additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.