This document is a description of how the basic mechanics of TWURPS have been adapted to model the Dune universe. Amongst other things it describes how characters are generated, how the technology works and what type of vehicles and weapons are available.
Most characters can be generated as normal humans. For Guild Steersmen, use the stats for mermaids from the Bestiary. Steersmen are adapted to microgravity conditions. Planetside they survive in mobile transparent plasteel tanks filled with gaseous melange and supported by suspensors. Steersman should not suffer from Acrophobia or Agoraphobia. If these phobias are generated, use Claustrophobia instead. A Face Dancers base stats (and corresponding life span) can be designed using the standard rules on bioengineering, using an average human as a base.
Most characters can be generated without modifiers for colouring. Fremen have a -3 modifier for skin colour. Fremen and Steersmen always have blue eyes due to their exposure to spice. Due to the availability of spice in the Spacing Guild, many Guild Agents are also addicted to melange, though they often wear contact lenses to hide their blue eyes.
1.3 Common Skills
The base percentage for Literacy is 60 + Intellect.
The common language skill for Fremen is Fremen. For everyone else it is Galach.
Fremen have no Swimming skill. Replace this with Hostile Environment (Desert), which at its simplest teaches the correct way to wear a stillsuit.
The common weapon skills for everyone are knife and maula pistol.
Training for all the serious professions starts early in the Dune universe. Childhood education starts at age 12 and lasts 1d3 years, after which the characters leaves home. The average life span is 80. Ageing starts at 45. There are no modifiers for Parental Health.
The Magician, Mystic and Psionic professions are not available. When these results are rolled on the Family Background table, ignore them and roll again. There is no Computing skill. The player can choose between Electronics or Communications when this skill is generated.
House troopers (such as Sardaukar) and Ginaz scholars can be generated using the Security table. Suk school graduates can be generated using the Medical profession. Face dancers can be generated using any profession, but the most common are Underworld and Entertainers.
Fremen can be generated using the Wilderness profession as a base. Most Fremen will have an emphasis on combat skills, with either cross-training in the Security profession (for warriors) or a lot of Study time in combat skills. Ranks within the Fremen are informal, mainly just denoting the pecking order within a Sietch. Rank 6 is Naib, denoting the head of a Sietch. Higher ranks denote a Naib of more than one Sietch. It is a good idea if a Fremen character spends at least some Study time on Galach.
This profession is only open to Gentry. The player of a noble character should choose their House. The GM may choose to restrict this choice. The position of a noble character within their House is determined by their Parental Health and Siblings. A noble characters Rank is a measure of their personal political influence. Compare the characters rank with the Landsraad vote table on page 273 of the Dune Encyclopaedia for a measure of their influence.
* Requires Professional level Transmutation skill.
** A Martial Art.
The Spacing Guild
Guild Agents can be generated using the Transportation, Commerce or Technical professions, depending on their specialisation.
The only Magic skills available are the following Psionics skills; Hypnotism, Prediction, Clairvoyance and Shield, plus the new skills Other Memory and Dune Tarot.
Characters with this skill will be extremely rare. They will probably be Innate Talents as the result of generations of breeding programs. Such individuals are so rare that the GM may choose not to allow their random generation. This skill allows far more precise visions than the Prediction skill.
The ability to access the memories of the character's ancestors. This skill can only be improved through Study as is only available to Bene Gesserit of rank Reverend Mother or above. A successful roll gives a positive modifier equal to the margin by which the character makes the roll, to be applied to the next skill roll that the characters attempts. E.g. if the characters Other Memory skill is 50% and the player rolls 30%, then there is a +20% modifier on their next skill roll. This modifier can be applied to any skill, even one that the character does not normally have, with the exception of Prediction, Clairvoyance, Shield, Other Memory and Dune Tarot. A critical result doubles or triples the positive modifier. A fumble result will result in an attempt by one of the ancestral personalities to possess the character. This is resolved by an opposed Willpower roll. Use of Other Memory costs one Fatigue level. According to Bene Gesserit doctrine, the punishment for succumbing to possession is death.
This skill provides a limited form of psionic prediction of the future. This skill is generally only available to Guild Steersman, who specialise in predicting a safe path for a Heighliner in flight. Attempts to predict other events should be made at half the characters skill percentage and will tend to be vague, e.g. they may have some presentiment of a impending crisis or of a particular place or person who will be important (a "nexus" of timelines). As with Clairvoyance, the characters Intuition stat acts as a positive modifier to the success roll. Addiction to Melange is a prerequisite for the use of Prediction.
The Shield skill can be used to mask a character from the Clairvoyance skill. To determine if the shield is successful, make an opposed roll of Shield versus Clairvoyance. The shield includes events, people and places immediate adjacent to the shielded character.
This skill is only available after Muad'Dib comes to power. The character must have a pack of Dune tarot cards available to them in order to use this skill.
When a character uses the tarot, the GM should give the player the names of two cards from the deck and the table below can be used by the player to read the meaning of the cards and thus infer something of likely future events or the wider current situation. If there is a player character in the game that has the Dune Tarot skill it is recommended that for each major scene or stage of the game the GM note beforehand the card pairs that may appear as the result of a successful tarot roll. Determing the result of a unsuccessful tarot roll is simplier; roll two cards randomly on the table below and tell the player the result. In all cases the GM should make the skill roll for the player, and make two subsequent rolls even if the the first was successful, to avoid the player knowing whether in this case the cards can be relied on or not.
Another tarot roll should not be made until the following day in game-time, or until the GM determines that circumstances have changed sufficiently to allow it (i.e. play has moved on to a new stage for which the GM has previously decided a card pairing). The character can of course continue to cast the cards, but the results will not be significantly different until the GM allows that a new roll can be made.
A side-effect of the tarot is that its use clouds Clairvoyance in a similar way to the Shield skill. The tarot shields clairvoyance so that events more than an hour from the present moment that are connected to the tarot user or those close to them cannot be detected. The effect lasts the remainder of the day.
The meaning of the tarot cards can be read from the table below. For example, a die roll of 36 on percentile dice gives the Eight of Ships, which represents regeneration, and depending on the context of the situation or the question being asked, indicates the heart, merchants or air. A die roll of 81 results in Desolate Sand, which indicates a great mystery or ultimate test.
The main garment of a spacesuit is skintight and is worn under the owners normal clothes. Small bottles of highly compressed air are worn on a belt, and a thin tube leads from them to a mouthpiece. A small radio unit is built into the mouthpiece. The only other component is a face mask, which forms an airtight seal with the main garment. Apart from the face mask, it would be not be immediately obvious that a spacesuit was being worn. The mask can be removed when the suit is not required. Masks are often highly individualised, both for decoration and identification. Use the stats of a Vacuum suit. The mask has the same armour value as a kevlar helmet (12).
Simple exposure to the open desert of Arrakis causes fatigue loss equivalent to medium effort (see the standard rules on fatigue). Any additional activity will increase the rate of fatigue loss to strenuous. A commercially manufactured stillsuit, such as those sold on the streets of Arrakeen and Carthag, will reduce the base fatigue loss to the equivalent of light effort. A stillsuit of Fremen manufacture requires no fatigue loss other than that normally required for effort in any environment.
A stillsuit has an armour value of 3 and an average weight of 5 kilos and covers everything except the hands, nose and eyes. A cloak or robe can be worn over the top, giving an additional armour value of 1.
The are several specific drugs described below which replace much of the excepted technology. The following technology exists but is likely to only be available to the Bene Tleilaxu; Cloning, Hybridisation, Organic covering, Genetic engineering, Cryogenic hibernation, Cell repair.
The residue produced from burning the blood-grained elacca wood of Ecaz. The drug results in a total disregard for personal safely. For the most part, the effects must be role-played, but in mechanics terms all rolls on the Shock Table are ignored. The drug produces a characteristic orange-red flush on the skin of the recipient. The drugs effects last 1d6 hours.
For an average person, a dose of Melange amounts to 2 grams or more in a single day.
Regular doses of at least one dose per week reduce the chance of any given ageing roll taking effect to 20%. A dose of Melange doubles a characters Intuition. This effect last for the remainder of that day. Addiction factor 30%. Addicted characters develop blue-within-blue eyes.
Sapho is an energising liquid extracted from Ecaz plants. It is a trap to which Mentats both in training and in the field are most susceptible. Although Sapho amplifies speculation and extrapolation, it subjects its user to unpredictable outbursts of emotion or long periods of passivity. The Mentat-addict's lethargy leads him to neglect the constant updating of information upon which his accuracy depends.
Sapho comes in a liquid form which will gradually stains the lips of the user a deep, permanent red. It take approximately 10 minutes to take effect after ingestion. It is provided to Mentats training at school, and can be found with little difficulty on the open market.
Sapho doubles the characters Logic stat. It lasts one hour, at the end of which the Logic stat returns to normal, the Willpower stat is halved for the next six hours and the character loses 1d6 fatigue levels, up to a maximum effect of Exhausted. Addiction factor 20%.
A highly addictive narcotic derived, by crystal extraction, from elacca drug. The drug is either taken in capsule form or dissolved in wine, and produces a feeling of "timeless ecstasy," of separation from all pain and trouble. Accentuating this overpowering sense of well-being is the "semuta music"; rhythmic, atonal vibrations composed to affect the sympathetic nervous system that accompanies the drug experience. Most often a single dose suffices to cause severe physiological addiction. Addicts are prone to fits of depression between doses, and are incapacitated when under the effect of the drug. Semuta is expensive. Each dose lasts one hour and takes approximately 15 minutes to take effect after ingestion. A dose of Semuta delivers an effective loss of 1d6 fatigue levels, up to a maximum effect of Exhausted. Addiction factor 100%.
Treat as per Truth Drug.
Chaumas is a general term for poison administered in food and Chaumurky the equivalent for poison administered via drink. There are several poisons described in the standard TWURPS rules that fall into theses categories. In addition some specific poisons are shown in the table.
*Residual poison remains in the victims system indefinitely and can only be counteracted by regular doses of the appropriate antidote. The standard rules for poisons apply. Roll for the effects of the residual poison when it is first administered, including the appropriate modifier if the antidote if also given. If at any point the antidote becomes unavailable, make another roll, without the antidote modifier.
A Face Dancer has the ability to vary their stats, as described below. Height can be increased by up to 2 points above the character's normal stat, or reduced by 1 below the normal stat. A change in height can be maintained for some hours, though not indefinitely. Even the strongest need to relax the back muscles several times a day. The Build, Beauty and Voice stats can be set to any value between 10 and 20. Skin, hair and eye colour can be set to any value. The apparent sex of the character can be varied at will. Face Dancers are always sterile. These changes require only a minute to take place. A Face Dancer needs to see a person for only a minute to produce a rough similarity. Several hours of observation results in a likeness which can fool casual acquaintances of the victim. Given an opportunity to study the victim for several days, the subject's likeness is undetectable (for short periods of time) even by the closest of associates.
A ghola is a regenerated corpse. Only the Bene Tleilaxu possess the technology to create gholas. The stats and physical appearance of a ghola are identical to the original character, except that a ghola has multifaceted metal eyes. At the time of the original Dune novel, no specific memories can be carried over from the original. After Dune Messiah, The Tleilaxu gain the ability to restore a ghola's original memories. This involves bringing the ghola to an emotional crisis connected to their death. This procedure will only be carried out on very important gholas, and will be different for each individual. It should preferably be played out as part of a game rather than simply provided as part as the character's background. At the GM's discretion, the ghola may retain some skills from it's original or the skills may be partly or wholly regenerated. Some gholas may have entirely different careers from their originals. The creation of a ghola requires the cryogenic preservation of the corpse before decay starts to set in. A ghola is not a simple clone; it is the actual regenerated flesh of the original. By contrast, a clone will retain the DNA of the original, but no skills will be retained. However a clone can be made from much smaller samples of tissue, often long after death.
For Lasguns, use the standard stats for lasers. Particle beams and plasma weapons are likely to have the same effect on a Holtzmann shield as a laser, and consequently have never been developed. Crysknives and Shigawire garrottes take the place of monoweapons.
Both personal and vehicle shields have the armour value of a basic force field (Armour Value 70), but behave more like an energy shield, in that melee weapons ignore them. A high energy weapon (lasgun) impinging on a shield results in thermonuclear fusion. Dart (maula) pistols, flame-throwers and operator-guided weapons such as hunter-seekers and space missiles (see below) are capable of ignoring a shield.
Possession of lasguns is controlled and usually restricted to the military. Within the military, they are largely ceremonial weapons. The use of shields dictates that most real combat is hand-to-hand using melee weapons. However lasguns still have a role as shock-and-awe weapons against the general (unshielded) population. Maula pistols ignore shields. They are treated as dart pistols from the
armoury, with some modifications as shown below. Flame throwers ignore shields but are not generally used because hand-to-hand combat is so common. A typical foot soldier is armed with knife and maula pistol and wears a shield. He may be issued with a lasgun depending on the mission.
Harkonnen troops wear
biohazard suits for most military operations.
1. The tip is poisoned with Blade Venom. Fremen avoid using the tip on humans, so the poison will seldom have an effect.
2. Damage is for determining penetration only. If a damage result of stun or better is achieved, a dose of meta-cyanide has been delivered to the target.
3. A hunter-seeker can be defended against using the Parry action. In addition, a character cannot be targeted by a hunter-seeker if they remain perfectly still. This requires a successful Sneaking roll.
4. The damage quoted is used only for the purposes of determining whether the dart penetrates the victim's clothing or armour. Unless the dart strikes a particularly delicate area, such as the eye, ignore any physical damage indicated by the damage table. If the damage roll results in a 'stun' or better on the damage table, then the dart has struck the target's body and any poison or other substances on it is delivered into the target's body. The poison used is usually Blade Venom, though there are other possibilities, such as Basilia.
5. Must make Grasp attack before use.
6. A damage result of stun or better delivers a dose of inkvine poison and a permanent scar.
*Cannot be used versus shielded targets
The detonation of a stoneburner results in an intense pillar of fire that will automatically destroy anything within a 5m radius and inflict intense fire damage on any target within a 10m radius. It will also cause blindness for anyone within 100m radius as a result of J-radiation. This is effectively a Destroy damage result to the eyes. Reduce the Eyesight stat for affected characters to 0. Armour has no effect against J-rays.
Stoneburners are of two types; large and small. A small stoneburner weighs 10Kg and can be fitted as an alternative warhead to a small solid propellant missile. A large stoneburner weighs 100Kg and can be fitted as an alternative warhead to a large solid propellant missile. In addition to the effects described above, when a large stoneburner is used on the surface of a large or medium terrestrial world, it will melt down through the crust to the molten core of the planet, causing catastrophic cascading volcanic activity resulting in the destruction of the planet within days.
Stoneburners are atomic devices and as such there use against human targets is prohibited under the Great Convention.
A Pseudoshield mimics some of the effects of a shield without actually creating an effective force field. They are used on Arrakis as sabotage weapons. When activated in the open desert, a pseudoshields simulation of a shield will drive nearby sandworms into a frenzy. A worm will attack anything in the vicinity of a pseudoshield within minutes of it being activated. A pseudoshield has the same weight as a normal shield but is much cheaper and simpler to manufacture. An activated pseudoshield can be detected by the characteristic ozone smell of an active shield (this requires a successful perception roll).
Nullify the effects of gravity or acceleration. Objects or people within the influence of a suspensors "nullfield" experience reduced or zero gravity. They can therefore float in a planets gravity field or be cushioned against the effects of acceleration. Suspensors cannot provide lateral thrust. Use the stats for Floaters.
Carryalls, ornithopters and groundcars are normally shielded. Spice harvesters are not shielded as this would attract worms. The use of lasguns on vehicles is very restricted. Laser cannon are generally too heavy for ornithopters. Flame throwers ignore shields and are light and usable against other thopters and ground troops are therefore used extensively on vehicles.
Ornithopters are designed for maximum manuverability. They have rapidly beating wings and resemble insects more than birds. They don't use suspensors because this would reduce manueverability. Carryalls are not ornithopters. They are supported by suspensors and given lateral movement by ducted jets.
Fremen use rockets (treated as bazookas) when attacking spice mining operations. Carryalls and thopters have shields turned off during spice mining to avoid attracting worms.
Personal Transport and Spotter Ornithopter
General Purpose Ornithopter
A dumpbox is designed for moving cargo from space down to a planetary surface. It is equipped with a minimal rocket system for deorbiting and suspensors for cushioning the landing and to protect the cargo from the forces of reentry. Dumpboxes are unguided and their landings imprecise. A simple radio beacon and searchlight are provided to aid location of the box by recovery crews after landing. After recovery the rocket system can be refurbished and the dumpbox transported back into space by a frigate for reuse. Several dumpboxes can be joined together and equipped with a guidance system and a pilot to form a Crusher; a military vessel designed to land on an enemy position and crush it.
There are various classes of frigate, but most follow the same generic plan and a traditional tall narrow rocket shape. From the bottom up, this includes the following sections; drives, propellant, crew deck, cargo hold and avionics.
The crew deck is the only section that is pressurised. Cargo and passengers are carried in pressurised modules in the massive cargo hold. The crew deck includes the Master Control Centre, which is equipped with a central holopit surrounded by a circular bank of controls and acceleration couches.
When under way, gravity on a frigate is provided by continuous acceleration. The local vertical is aligned with the acceleration. Frigates take off and land vertically. The frigate is usually either grounded or under acceleration or docked to a heighliner, so the occupants rarely experience zero gravity. On the rare occasions that a frigate has to remain stationary in free space, the frigate spins end over end to provide gravity. The crew deck is below the centre of gravity, so that it's local vertical is aligned correctly if spin gravity is used. Passenger modules towards the prow can rotate through 180 degrees to align with acceleration when under thrust ("up" towards the prow) or under spin gravity ("up" towards the stern). Passenger modules are usually equipped with a large view screen to display external views and an intercom to communicate with the Master Control Centre. Ornithopters are stored on the floor of the cargo hold.
The cargo hold is equipped with crane lifts down to ground level. The four levels of cargo hold catwalks are enclosed in clear plasteel tubes. Catwalk tubes are equipped with hatches for access to docked cargo modules. There are three exterior airlocks; one on the crew deck, one in the nose and one at end of the first of the four cargo catwalks, at the spin centre of gravity (for docking when under spin). There are interior airlocks at floor level of the cargo hold at the central lift shaft.
A typical frigate has a diameter of 23 metres and a height of approximately 150 metres. A frigates payload capacity of 1000 tons can provide for 300 passengers in cabins plus 100 tons luggage. In terms of troop capacity, 10 frigates can transport a brigade, or 100 frigates can transport an Imperial legion (about 30,000 men). A frigate can carry up to 20 dumpboxes.
A Heighliner is big enough to rotate to provide spin gravity to the frigates docked inside. The navigator occupies the central section, in zero gravity. Sections of the hull can rotate independently from each other. Frigates approach along the spin axis. Once inside they turn ninety degrees and dock to a non-rotating section of the inside hull of the heighliner rear end first. That section will then spin up to provide gravity. A Heighliner has a capacity of 400 frigates, i.e. 400,000 tons cargo, or 120,000 passengers. The invasion of Arrakis required 5 heighliners.
Heighliners are not shielded because no-one would be stupid enough to attack the Guild. Frigates are always shielded. Lasguns and projectile weapons are not used because of the shields. Self-guided and nuclear missiles are prohibited. This leaves operator-guided high explosive missiles. These function is a similar way to a hunter-seeker. Missiles are shielded, which provides an effective defence against point-defence lasguns. Anyone successfully hitting an incoming missile with a lasgun has just upgraded their opponents HE warhead to a nuclear one.
A frigates missiles can also be fitted with chemical-filled warheads for use in planetary weather control.
Space combat falls into two categories; long range and short range.
Long range is limited by the time lag on controlling the missiles and also by radar range; 100,000 Km is the effective maximum range. The missiles must coast for much of the trip to the target at these kind of ranges. If the target knew they were there, they could easily evade them. Therefore this kind of combat is most common where obstacles make detection difficult; a planetary ring system or a nebula. It is much like submarine warfare, where neither side is entirely sure of the position of the other.
Short range combat occurs when both sides can see the other. It is much faster and the winner is usually the side that can get the first decent shot. The missiles accelerate constantly to midway to the target, then decelerate to hit the target at near-zero velocity in order to penetrate the shield. Range is therefore limited by the propellant carried by the missile; 100 Km is common.
1 Solari is roughly equivalent to 1 pound sterling.
* This is the price on the open market. On Arrakis, melange is much more freely available and vastly cheaper.
Character's Monthly Salary = 1,000 * Rank
Character's Savings = (Salary * Intellect)/15
4.2 Specialised Mechanics
For an adult sandworm, use the stats for a giant dinosaur from the Bestiary. Adult sandworms travel at a maximum speed of 32 Kph (running movement with a movement rate of 8). When ridden by Fremen, they are goaded into travelling at speeds over 70 Kph by continuous beating on the worm's tail segments. A large male sandworm, goaded by Fremen, has a range of approximately 800 Km before he stops due to exhaustion. Consequently, distances on Arrakis are often measured in "thumpers": the number of sandworms that need to be captured in order to make the journey. A "three thumper trip" would be approximately 2400 Km long and take at least 33 hours.
Approximately twenty metres long. Cannot be ridden.
Photographic memory. The player should state that they are using Mnemonics to record the precise details of a scene, but not roll against the skill until they attempt to recall the memory. The Memory stat of the character acts as a positive modifier to the roll.
The ability to determine possible future outcomes based on available information. As successful roll should provide the player with the potential consequences of the current situation. This is not a psionic skill. The player should pose a specific question on which to base the Projection skill. The projection is based on logic and is limited by the information available to the character at the time. For example, a character that is engaged in diplomatic negotiations and has done their homework could reasonably ask what their opponents next ploy might be. On the other hand, a character who is exploring a strange ruin is unlikely to have enough information to ask what is around the next corner. At least two possible answers to the question should be provided by the GM. The character's Logic stat acts as a positive modifier to the roll. Use of the Projection skill requires entering "Mentat trance". No other action can be performed at the same time. Use of the Projection skill costs one fatigue level.
The ability to enter a state of hibernation, with the requirements for food, water and air reduced to virtually nothing. The mind remains in a trance state.
The ability to transform a poison into a harmless substance within the body. A successful roll negates the effects of a single dose of poison. The characters Constitution stat acts as a positive modifier to the roll.
The ability to detect whether an individual is telling the truth through nuances of voice and body language. Those with this skill at a Professional level are known as "Truthsayers". The skill is not always "on" and the player must state when it is being used.
The ability to control another individual's actions through spoken commands. The commands must be spoken in person, not transmitted by radio or any other communications device, and must be directed towards a specific individual. The target can resist by making an opposed roll using their Willpower stat or their own Voice skill if they have any. If the commands are direct orders, the target will be aware that Voice is being used.
A specialised form of language designed for clear and unambiguous use in battle. Each House has its own dialect, and the player should designate one when choosing the skill. Modern Battle Languages tend to be similar in form. Battle Language skills give a 1/2 level skill in all other dialects. This does not apply to Chakobsa.
Ancient language of the Bhotani, who developed Chakobsa. Gives 1/2 skill in Chakobsa.
An ancient language original developed for use by assassins. Used by the Bene Gesserit as a "secret" language, by the Fremen during religious rituals, and adopted by House Atreides as a Battle Language after they become allied with the Fremen. Gives a 1/2 level skill in Bhotani-jib.
Generally spoken only by the Fremen of Arrakis.
The common language of the Imperium.
An instrument for conveying fine emotional subtleties, sometimes used in diplomatic negotiations.