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TrippyHippy

What price for Dune?

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There was a topic below about replacing the absent Stormbringer with something, which my gut feeling was "You can't substitute Stormbringer with anything else". Nevertheless, somebody made a suggestion for adapting Frank Herbert's Dune. For me, if there is one big licence that could be adapted for roleplaying still, it's Dune. 

It has been done before - Dune - Chronicles of the Imperium was a very limited released for Last Unicorn Games, just after they were bought out by Wizards of the Coast. The licence was lost shortly after, and to be sure it had been delayed for a long while previously due to (generally undisclosed) complications with the Frank Herbert estate.  It was OK. Visually impressive with some good writing and conceptualisation, but the D6-dicepool based system (previously used in LUG's Star Trek series) was a bit fiddly in parts and probably wouldn't cut the mustard in today's market. The game was also a little incomplete, with multiple references to upcoming supplements that, of course, never happened. All said and done though, it showed the game could work. 

BRP (or some derivative) would also work well with Dune, because the skill basis along with set career choicesand/or personalty mechanics would easily incorporate any of the lifelong disciplines that define characters in the Dune narrative. Basically, there is the right blend of gritty realism, flexibility and narrative flavour that can be drawn into a BRP character that would suit. I'd also argue that Dune itself is the sort of setting that has the intellectual and engaging depth that would stand alongside other titles like RuneQuest and Call of Cthulhu well, while also being a distinct flavour of it's own. 

However, could Chaosium or any other RPG company actually afford it? The previous attempt, noted above, ran into problems for sure and it is a big licence which could include all sorts of complications. There is a new movie, or set of movies, mooted to be released in the next year or two, dorected by Denis Villeneuvre (who also directed the Arrival, Sicario and Bladeruner 2049 movies). I reckon that this could be a major hit, because the director is a rising star and good choice for the material, and especially if the Star Wars franchise continues to melt down as it has recently. It may be a licence that is too big to hold for a small company. Thoughts, anyone?

Edited by TrippyHippy
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My VERY LIMITED experience with other properties suggests it might not even be with the estate this time. When a company gets the rights to an IP, they often include things like the game and role playing rights. And weirdly the rights might even include the actual mechanics, depending on the game and... suffice to say it is very complex. 

Which is not to say it is too expensive, but the IP holders may not even be TTRPG savy.

I do think BRP would be great for a DUNE game. But I do not know if the general rpg audience would be interested enough in a granular system with DUNE.

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I doubt it would be wise and/or feasible for Chaosium to do this, but you can always homebrew a BRP Dune game if you want.

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I would love to see BRP Dune, but there is a long history of licensed properties not mixing well with RPGs. The license holders are always trying to maximise their profits, and can raise licence fees on the slightest pretext. RPG companies don't make a whole lotta dough in general. It's not a match made in heaven. I think the old days of the Tolkien licence being granted to Iron Crown Enterprises because they were the first to ask nicely, or the Lankhmar rights given to Greg Stafford (and TSR at the same time, oops) by the author -- are gone.

A BRP Tékumel would also be nice, but its rights holders, along with the remaining copyright floggers of R E Howard (Conan) and Edgar Rice Burroughs (Barsoom) and Dune can still cause problems.

(A brief pause to remember and salute some outstanding world builders 😢)

Hyboria: R. E. Howard (d. 1936)

Barsoom: Edgar Rice Burroughs (d. 1950)

Middle-Earth: J. R. R. Tolkien (d. 1973)

Dune: Frank Herbert (d. 1986)

Lankhmar/Nehwon: Fritz Leiber (d. 1992)

Hârn: N. Robin Crossby (d. 2008)

Tékumel: M.A.R. Barker (d. 2012)

Lyonesse: Jack Vance (d. 2013)

Earthsea: Ursula LeGuin (d. 2018)

 

 

 

Edited by Questbird

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27 minutes ago, Questbird said:

Hyboria: R. E. Howard (d. 1936)

Middle-Earth: J. R. R. Tolkien (d. 1973)

Another reason these won't work for an official BRP have is that there's already highly successful RPGs for them.

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5 minutes ago, Richard S. said:

Another reason these won't work for an official BRP have is that there's already highly successful RPGs for them.

 

Yeah I was going off-topic a bit and just saluting creators who have exited this planet. 

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8 hours ago, Questbird said:

Yeah I was going off-topic a bit and just saluting creators who have exited this planet. 

All right, that's a nice thing to do. Didn't realize they were all dead.

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While I raised the issue of the difficulties of maintaining a licence for a large IP myself, it should be remembered that companies do get these things done (both Star Wars and Star Trek, for example) and can make successful lines out of them. The question is really whether the company wants to take the risk, I guess, but the point is it is not an impossibility.

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PS. I did some work for Iron Crown.

The Middle Earth license isn't even owned by the Tolkien estate. It was sold with the Bakshi animated picture right a long time ago. Tolkien Enterprises is the very definition of a rentier company - makes nothing - profits from charging exorbinate fees then pulls licenses seemingly at whim.

Frankly, licensed (fiction/film) properties, while desired by a lot of the audience, are pretty much a quagmire for game companies.

Edited by jeffjerwin
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5 minutes ago, jeffjerwin said:

PS. I did some work for Iron Crown.

Anything we know? 

5 minutes ago, jeffjerwin said:

Frankly, licensed (fiction/film) properties, while desired by a lot of the audience, are pretty much a quagmire for game companies.

I thought as much. At the very least it means splitting the profits with someone else. 

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2 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

PS. I did some work for Iron Crown.

The Middle Earth license isn't even owned by the Tolkien estate. It was sold with the Bakshi animated picture right a long time ago. Tolkien Enterprises is the very definition of a rentier company - makes nothing - profits from charging exorbinate fees then pulls licenses seemingly at whim.

Frankly, licensed (fiction/film) properties, while desired by a lot of the audience, are pretty much a quagmire for game companies.

IIRC, its a bit more complicated than that. Enterprises owns the film rights to the Hobbit and LotR (and merchandise derived therein). Estate owns everything else.

And its more murky than that as everything seems to be settled out of court between Tolkien and Zaentz.

The very definition of a quagmire! :)

SDLeary

Edited by SDLeary

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2 minutes ago, SDLeary said:

IIRC, its a bit more complicated than that. Enterprises owns the film rights to the Hobbit and LotR (and merchandise derived therein). Estate owns everything else.

And its more murky than that as everything seems to be settled out of court between Tolkien and Zaentz.

The very definition of a quagmire! :)

SDLeary

Well, as I was in the midst of a legal battle over this very subject,  I can say is the Tolkien Enterprises claimed to own all of the game rights to the books when this went down, and that the license for MERP came from them. I know that things may have been clarified since then. Since taking the license from ICE they gave it to another company, then a third. However the current LotR RPG licensee company (Cubicle 7) is doing an excellent job. Hopefully they can continue for a while yet.

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22 hours ago, Richard S. said:

Another reason these won't work for an official BRP have is that there's already highly successful RPGs for them.

Eh, both licenses are on their 3rd or 4th RPG incarnations, never say never. 

 

Hopefully Cubicle 7 can hang on to the LotR license for a bit, I'm quite impressed with what they are doing with it.

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3 hours ago, Toadmaster said:

Hopefully Cubicle 7 can hang on to the LotR license for a bit, I'm quite impressed with what they are doing with it.

Yeah, TOR is a very good game with a usual approach.

 

As far as pulling licenses go, Last Unicorn apparently lost it because they sold their company to WotC. CORRECTION: It was the Star Trek license that got pulled, LotR came later.. Then Decipher got it, and hired the people from Last Unicorn to write it. The Decipher went under due to some multi-million dollar bit of embezzlement . 

Edited by Atgxtg

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7 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

Yeah, TOR is a very good game with a usual approach.

 

As far as pulling license go, Last Unicorn apparently lost it because they sold their company to WotC. The Decipher got it, and hired the people from Last Unicorn to write it. The Decipher went under due to some multi-million dollar bit of embezzlement . 

 I never knew what happened to Decipher, they seemed like a fairly productive company and then gone. I guess multi-million dollar embezzlement will do that to a company. I'm kind of shocked an RPG company had multiple millions to embezzle. 

I have all of the Decipher LotR material and the OCD part of me has always been annoyed that there was never (and will never be) a Return of the King book. Kind of luke warm on the system they used, but I thought they maintained a good balance between taking advantage of the movie tie in, and staying close to the books.

 

The Conan license has really got around, TSR (twice), GURPS, Mongoose and now Modiphius. It is a shame Mongoose didn't make a RQ tie in when they had the license but I've heard something about the license agreement prevented that.

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59 minutes ago, Toadmaster said:

 I never knew what happened to Decipher, they seemed like a fairly productive company and then gone.

Yeah, over at TrekRPG, the fans couldn't figure out what was going on. By all accounts Decipher's Star Trek and LoTR lines were doing very well, yet weren't making the sort of money the company expected. Of course when the VP in charge of finaces is ripping you off blind it probably doesn't matter how much money was actually coming into the company.  

59 minutes ago, Toadmaster said:

I guess multi-million dollar embezzlement will do that to a company. I'm kind of shocked an RPG company had multiple millions to embezzle. 

Decipher was primarily a CCG company that was expanding into RPGs, just like what Wizard of the Coast did. WhatI'm shocked about is how no one managed to discover it for years. How do you hide that big a discrepancy? Okay, if you Amazon, Microsfot or Apple, a few mill might be nothing, but to most companiesthat's going to show up.

59 minutes ago, Toadmaster said:

I have all of the Decipher LotR material and the OCD part of me has always been annoyed that there was never (and will never be) a Return of the King book. Kind of luke warm on the system they used, but I thought they maintained a good balance between taking advantage of the movie tie in, and staying close to the books.

Yeah< I got the LoTR and Trek stuff. I think the reason for CODA was that when LUG was sold to WotC, they planned on doing a D20 version of Star Trek, and later LoTR. When CBS/Paramount/Viacom/whoever held the rights pulled the plug, and the LUG team ended up working for Decipher, I think they tried to adapt their d20 stuff over to 2d6. It does look like a simplified version of D20.

 

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I cobbled together a thopter a while ago with the vehicle design rules in M-SPACE. I’ve based it on the stats in 'DUNE. Chronicles of the Imperium.’ The Maneuver value might be a little low though – I’m not sure how agile the thopters are in the books. 
 
Ornithopter
 
Type: Medium-Sized Flyer
Movement Class: Flight (Wings/Jets) Modules x2
 
SPEED 13
MANEUVER 10
SIZE 16
 
Hit Points 7
Armour Points –
 
Cockpit 1
Passengers 3
Engine (TR 100) 2
Maneuvering Thruster (TR 80) 2
 
Cargo: Only personal gear
Top Speed 300 km/h
 
 
Just for fun, here’s a sandworm too:
 
Sandworm
 
STR 2500
CON 750
SIZ 2700
INT 35
POW 170
DEX 10
CHA –
 
Hit Points 350
Armour Points 30
Damage Bonus: 64D6
Power Points: 35
Move: 15 Crawl/10 Burrow
Edited by clarence
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Decipher we’re burning money like no tomorrow. Ken Hite worked there and said the office for the RPG section was like a corporate headquarters or a bank, with big glass offices, board room style meeting rooms, an IT department and such. RPGs just simply don’t make enough money to support an operation like that. Maybe at Hasbro - maybe - but along with supporting the costs of top tier licences as well there just no way it could have been sustainable.

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Has anyone ever done shield fighting rules for BRP? There should be a shield fighting skill and the higher it is the more damage you can do in combat against a shielded opponent. Maybe a bit like the Martial Arts skill, but capping instead of increasing damage.

Also I think it would be good if shields had some sort of rating, so that high quality shields are more desirable than cheaper basic trooper shields.

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8 hours ago, clarence said:
 ... I’m not sure how agile the thopters are in the books ... 

IIRC they are a bit "over-agile".  I recall both notably-smooth handling, and derring-do "fighter Jockey" handling being noted as impressive ...

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13 hours ago, g33k said:

IIRC they are a bit "over-agile".  I recall both notably-smooth handling, and derring-do "fighter Jockey" handling being noted as impressive ...

Cool. I raised Maneuver to 10 and skipped the cargo hold to cram in another maneuvering module. 

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