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TrippyHippy

What price for Dune?

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14 hours ago, clarence said:

I wouldn’t call that a long discussion, it’s just a few posts and doesn’t cover a lot of the concerns I have on this.

Having shield fighting skill act as a limiter on weapon skill is one way, but I don’t think it’s a complete solution. Here is a summary of the issues as I see them:

  • Attacks on shielded opponents by necessity have to be slower, so shouldn’t they be easier to parry?
  • Shouldn’t shield fighting attacks do less damage, since they are slower and the shield limits available lines of attack?
  •  Fast contacts with a shield are repelled by it, so shouldn’t it be possible to parry with a shield, by using fast movements to knock aside an opponent’s weapon?
  • It should also be possible to do a knock back or bludgeon attack using a shield, I think this was shown in the movie when a character wearing a shield charges into a group of opponents like a human bowling ball and sends them all flying.

I had a lot of problems with the movie, but I thought they did a decent job with a difficult topic in addressing shield fighting.

Here are a few ideas for resolving these issues.

  • Attacks against shielded opponents do half damage. That means a normal hit does half normal rolled weapon damage, while a critical success does normal rolled weapon damage (instead of double damage or maximum rollable).
  • if shield fighting skill is not known (base is 0%), simply make all attacks at half chance.
  • If Shield fighting skill is known as a separate skill, it is usable in combination with any other weapon skill but acts as a limit when fighting shielded opponents, so the attack roll must be less than both shield fighting and normal attack skill. If the roll is a special success against shield fighting skill, then ignore the normal halving of damage against shielded opponents. E.g. Knife skill is 80% and shield fighting is 50%. On 1-10 do double normal rolled damage. On 11-16 do normal rolled damage. On 17-50 do half normal rolled damage. On 51-80 the attack is blocked by the shield.
  • Characters parrying or dodging an attack while wearing a shield get a +20% bonus.
  • Shield fighting skill can be used with the unarmed combat attack and parry skills, and to make knockback attacks.

The example merits further discussion. A roll of 1-10 is both a critical on attack skill and on Shield Fighting, so both effects apply. The shield fighting Crit cancels the half damage rule for shields and the attack Crit causes double normal damage. On a roll of 11-16 the half damage rule for the shield applies and drops down damage from double on a Crit attack to normal rolled.

I think shields should grant a bigger bonus for parrying longer weapons such as swords and spears. Maybe +40%. This is because the tips of longer weapons are harder to control and attack slowly with for the attacker. The extra leverage and speed that is an advantage in normal combat actually works agaisn’t them. Also they are easier for a shield wearer to bash aside and close past. This is why fighters in the novel always use shorter knives, maybe up to short sword length. Chopping and slashing weapons should also be at a disadvantage.

EDIT: shield skill base of 0% doesn’t work very well with the half skill rule for characters that don’t know shield fighting. What happens when they learn it at 1%?

One problem with the above system is that if I know shield fighting at a low level and I’m at say 50% skill with my weapon, there is very little difference between my ability against a shielded opponent, compared to another character with 80% weapon skill. That extra 30% skill gives them hardly any advantage. That doesn’t seem right. So while I think I’ve identified all my concerns, I still don’t have a fully satisfactory solution yet.

Edited by simonh
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I realize at the time it was written these weren't really very well known, but it seems like anti-shark bangsticks and stun guns would be pretty darn effective against personal shields, at least as they were shown in the movie anyway. Reach inside the shield, make body contact, boom or zap as appropriate.

I realize the shields were a plot device to make personal combat more personal, but that is also a problem with plot devices, they tend to require a lot of hand waving.

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Fading suns deals with shields by having a minimum damage activation. So if you do under the minimum, it turns on and blocks it. There is also a maximum threshold overwhich it burns out - falls and such could trigger this because hits were distributed over the body.

If I was doing this with Mythras, I’d probably start with this minimum threshold, and have a Minimize Damage special effect on a Crit. I’d probably also treat the shield as a held shield for the purpose of knockback attacks and bashes, so you could attack with the shield itself and push them back more. This would also explain why they use daggers - lower damage. There is also a certain benefit to edged weapons - if you get it through, your low damage could cause a Bleed effect. Blunt weapons would be interesting because they wouldn’t penetrate but could cause a lot of knockback and burn it out. Guns generally have high damage but not high enough to burn out, so would be neutered. 

Speaking of properties that could use a BRP version - fading suns, the warhammer 40k + Dune crossover ;)

Edited by Raleel
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6 hours ago, Raleel said:

Speaking of properties that could use a BRP version - fading suns, the warhammer 40k + Dune crossover

Interestingly, Ulisses Spiele (or rather their North America subsidiary) currently has the license for both of those (40k and Fading Suns) and is working on new versions of both. 40k is set to release in the next couple of months. FS looks a bit further off, but they've actually been working on it longer.

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Not getting into the debate over the various rights, but one of the biggest problems with doing anything with Dune....who's Dune are you going to do?

You have Frank Herbert's Dune (which includes The Dune Encyclopedia as a source) and you have Brian Herbert's "Dune" which bastardizes, rewrites, condenses, shortens, simplifies and contradicts the work of his father as clearly shown by The Dune Encyclopedia, which Frank considered canon in the main (as any author would, Frank considered some of the details variable, but that was covered cleverly by the backstory of the book, written long after Leto II was dead and supposedly from records preserved by Leto II in a no-room).

I can guarantee that no Dune rights controlled by Brian will be sold without supporting his abridged version over his father's original.

Next question: Without all the bits relating to the various individuals, groups and families at the top, Dune itself is nothing more than a generic space opera (kind of) with elements that can be found in all kinds of other stories.  So, why bother with buying the rights?   I could see some interesting campaigns run with it off to the side in some of the action not around the MCs of the books, but as an entire campaign book layout, probably not.

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2 hours ago, Algesan said:

I can guarantee that no Dune rights controlled by Brian will be sold without supporting his abridged version over his father's original.

Good point, that could be a real problem.

2 hours ago, Algesan said:

So, why bother with buying the rights?   

The same reason anyone buys the rights to a franchise - marketing. A generic dune-a-like would maybe find a niche in the market, but an official Dune game would get attention.

That may not be enough nowadays though. Game of Thrones is huge, and there is a licensed game but I hardly ever see anything about it.

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2 hours ago, Algesan said:

Next question: Without all the bits relating to the various individuals, groups and families at the top, Dune itself is nothing more than a generic space opera (kind of) with elements that can be found in all kinds of other stories.  So, why bother with buying the rights?  

For much the same reason people want a Stormbringer game-it's basically a generic  dark fantasy setting with elements that can be found in all kinds of similar stories. Elric was, originally created as an anti-Conan. The bits related to the various individuals, groups and families are what make the setting. 

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3 hours ago, Algesan said:

Next question: Without all the bits relating to the various individuals, groups and families at the top, Dune itself is nothing more than a generic space opera (kind of) with elements that can be found in all kinds of other stories.  So, why bother with buying the rights?   I could see some interesting campaigns run with it off to the side in some of the action not around the MCs of the books, but as an entire campaign book layout, probably not.

Dune isn't a generic space opera. It's a classic space opera that has been imitated and referenced a lot. It's like claiming Tolkien just wrote generic fantasy.

Edited by TrippyHippy
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16 hours ago, Algesan said:

Next question: Without all the bits relating to the various individuals, groups and families at the top, Dune itself is nothing more than a generic space opera (kind of) with elements that can be found in all kinds of other stories.  So, why bother with buying the rights?   I could see some interesting campaigns run with it off to the side in some of the action not around the MCs of the books, but as an entire campaign book layout, probably not.

 

Licenses also can become a trap. "Looks like" leaves some room to adjust the setting to better fit the expectations of an RPG. A license has multiple ways to make a game take an undesirable turn. First the fans may object to taking some artistic license which make the game more of a game, second the licensee may place restrictions that hinder actual game play.

 

MERP was probably the most successful of the Middle Earth role playing games, it is also pretty much accepted as the least faithful to the source material. The One Ring has done a solid job of trying to make a fun game that is also faithful to the source material. Cubicle 7 provides us with an interesting experiment if the data were available. In addition to TOR they offer Adventures in Middle Earth, a D&D based Middle Earth game. I suspect a comparison of the core rules would find the game weighted AiME  is beating the style weighted TOR in sales.

D&D which just kinda sorta looks like a lot of classic fantasy and has little restriction on making play more important than style has had far more success than any licensed setting. I would guess Glorantha despite its confusing on again, off again, Runequest based, Heroquest based who owns it this week history has also done far better than most fiction licenses.

Call of Cthuthu is essentially a licensed setting but it's public domain status makes it easy to work with.

 

 

I completely get wanting licensed settings, but I can also see why most game companies shy away from all but the most visible properties. These days I suspect that if there hasn't been a successful movie based on the license, then it is probably too obscure to be highly successful. A successful movie also does not make it automatic gold. As mentioned Game of Thrones the RPG, really I had no idea.

 

There was a Dune RPG at one point, I'm guessing since I never hear about it, it was less than a smash success. 

Edited by Toadmaster

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12 hours ago, TrippyHippy said:

Dune isn't a generic space opera. It's a classic space opera that has been imitated and referenced a lot. It's like claiming Tolkien just wrote generic fantasy.

He did. He just had a big head start!

It's the problem when your work becomes a defining example of the genre. 

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On 7/22/2018 at 6:32 PM, Raleel said:

I always wonder how much the licenses are. Like how much money for a deal?

 

While not RPGs I know plastic model companies run into a lot of issues with licenses. Most companies these days have a fleet of lawyers to handle these things and they want $$$$. The kind of money plastic model companies have to throw around on a license is peanuts compared to toys, clothing, and knick knack makers. The model companies have trouble getting the time of day from these people, who feel the small fees are not worth the effort. RPG companies likely have even less money than the model companies.  

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6 hours ago, Toadmaster said:

There was a Dune RPG at one point, I'm guessing since I never hear about it, it was less than a smash success. 

It died basically as soon as it started because WotC bought the company and then Hasbro told them to stop making licensed properties so it was scrapped after the initial print run. I've seen it and the game actually seems pretty good though, as well as being true to most of Frank Herbert's ideas. It didn't die because of unpopularity though.

Edited by Richard S.

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5 hours ago, Richard S. said:

It died basically as soon as it started because WotC bought the company and then Hasbro told them to stop making licensed properties so it was scrapped after the initial print run. I've seen it and the game actually seems pretty good though, as well as being true to most of Brian Herbert's ideas.

Interesting bit of trivia: the short-lived Dune RPG was worked on by Youtube celebrity Matt Colville. He has a link to some rough, unpublished material from the d20 version they were working on in an old blog post of his: http://squaremans.com/the-dune-rpg/

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6 hours ago, Richard S. said:

It died basically as soon as it started because WotC bought the company and then Hasbro told them to stop making licensed properties so it was scrapped after the initial print run. I've seen it and the game actually seems pretty good though, as well as being true to most of Brian Herbert's ideas.

I don't like (that may be an understatement) what Brian Herbert did to his father's work, so I'm not sure how that works. Of course if the core novel is the main point of reference, it's easier to ignore the subsequent heresy...

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4 minutes ago, jeffjerwin said:

I don't like (that may be an understatement) what Brian Herbert did to his father's work, so I'm not sure how that works. Of course if the core novel is the main point of reference, it's easier to ignore the subsequent heresy...

Oh, oops, I meant Frank Herbert. I'll edit that real quick.

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6 hours ago, Toadmaster said:

 

MERP was probably the most successful of the Middle Earth role playing games, it is also pretty much accepted as the least faithful to the source material. The One Ring has done a solid job of trying to make a fun game that is also faithful to the source material. Cubicle 7 provides us with an interesting experiment if the data were available. In addition to TOR they offer Adventures in Middle Earth, a D&D based Middle Earth game. I suspect a comparison of the core rules would find the game weighted AiME  is beating the style weighted TOR in sales.

 

We were trying hard to retrofit MERP into a more canonical form when the company went belly up (compare the Kinstrife and Southern Gondor books to what came before...). Of course, with my Lindon project I had to do a great deal of research. At one point I could haltingly write in Sindarin... MERP did have a dense amount of detail that could be revised and expanded. When the license went elsewhere it was interesting to compare Fenlon's maps to much sparser stuff that was in the later books. The One Ring/AIME material is just now starting to build up a functional level of detail for modeling something other than the Fellowship and the Hobbit.

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2 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

We were trying hard to retrofit MERP into a more canonical form when the company went belly up (compare the Kinstrife and Southern Gondor books to what came before...). Of course, with my Lindon project I had to do a great deal of research. At one point I could haltingly write in Sindarin... MERP did have a dense amount of detail that could be revised and expanded. When the license went elsewhere it was interesting to compare Fenlon's maps to much sparser stuff that was in the later books. The One Ring/AIME material is just now starting to build up a functional level of detail for modeling something other than the Fellowship and the Hobbit.

 

My comment wasn't meant as a criticism of MERP, we had a blast playing it and I think ICE did what they thought was best. It looked the part even if the stuff we did with it had little resemblance to the stories in The Hobbit and LotR.

I think Cubicle 7 has realized this as well, but luckily they have the resources and cooperation from the licensee to offer both a "looks like" game for the larger group of casual fans as well as a more nuanced game that will appeal to the hardcore Tolkien fans. 

I'm not against licensed games, it is just after all these years seeing one after another crash and burn for one reason or another I've come to realize I'm fine with, and in many case would probably be happier long term with a clone game that will last.

 

I'm curious, can anybody name a licensed setting that has gone the distance? Something that has made it, I don't know, lets say 10+ years without major issues, company folding, license getting pulled etc? Seems like most only make it about 5 years.

I can think of MERP and Call of Cthulhu, and CoC is largely a public domain property. 

Maybe Stormbringer / Elric? I'm not sure if the various incarnations were similar enough to be considered the same game. Publication was a bit spotty as well. In theory 20 years, but how many of those was it actually available in print? 

 

 

So to bring this back to the OP as I feel I may be guilty of causing some topic drift, what makes Dune, Dune? What are the critical elements of Dune and could the same feel be captured without violating copyright or the fans?

Edited by Toadmaster

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14 minutes ago, Toadmaster said:

So to bring this back to the OP as I feel I may be guilty of causing some topic drift, what makes Dune, Dune? What are the critical elements of Dune and could the same feel be captured without violating copyright or the fans?

Personally, I feel a big part of Dune was its treatment of religion and philosophy, and how important those elements were to basically everyone, whether they believe in something or not. The characters and originations were also very unique and distinctive too IMO, as well as how well Herbert made everything fit together so it felt like a believable galaxy rather than a hodgepodge of conflicting ideas.

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8 minutes ago, Toadmaster said:

 

 

I'm curious, can anybody name a licensed setting that has gone the distance? Something that has made it, I don't know, lets say 10+ years without major issues, company folding, license getting pulled etc? Seems like most only make it about 5 years.

I can think of MERP and Call of Cthulhu, and CoC is largely a public domain property. 

FASA Star Trek is about the closest. It lasted 7 years, but probably could have lasted longer had FASA not exceeded it's license to include Next Gen.

8 minutes ago, Toadmaster said:

Maybe Stormbringer / Elric? I'm not sure if the various incarnations were similar enough to be considered the same game. Publication was a bit spotty as well. In theory 20 years, but how many of those was it actually available in print? 

SB1-4 are the game game, with only some differences in Chargen and the demon creation rules. So it, and CoC were probably the most successful licenses. I suspect SB might not have lasted as long as it did had Moorcock been aware that it wasn't going to be a one shot. So I guess the lesson is stick with Public Domain stuff.

8 minutes ago, Toadmaster said:

So to bring this back to the OP as I feel I may be guilty of causing some topic drift, what makes Dune, Dune? What are the critical elements of Dune and could the same feel be captured without violating copyright or the fans?

I don't think you could come up with something that had the same feel without either stepping on copyright or not attracting the fans. Look at Lords of Gossamer and Shadow. It's not a bad RPG. It tried to capture the feel of Amber, and is essentially that same game system with some modifications. But it just isn't Amber. It's not the company's fault, they  didn't have the rights for Amber. It's not the author's fault that he isn't Roger Zelazny. It's a good game and setting, but it's never really going to fix that craving for playing in  Amber that fans have. And, of course, fans could still play the original.

 

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10 hours ago, Toadmaster said:

There was a Dune RPG at one point, I'm guessing since I never hear about it, it was less than a smash success. 

They only produced three thousand copies, before it was pulled as a limited release. They sold out in minutes, from memory. I recall buying my own copy, and the seller (at gencon) actually tried to put up the price when selling it, on the grounds that he knew it would be worth a load as a collectors piece when he sold it. If you buy it from eBay now, it costs.....oh.....let's see: 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Dune-Chronicles-of-the-Imperium-Core-Game-Limited-Edition-NEW/253715007118?hash=item3b1297c68e:g:6HUAAOSw-3FZAtAD

Edited by TrippyHippy
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On 7/20/2018 at 8:22 AM, Questbird said:

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)

 

 

The Hyborian Age/Conan (pedantically, there was never a "Hyboria" in his works) is a highly successful RPG line run by a quite nice, if overworked, editor. 

Bersoom/John Carter of Mars is an upcoming RPG and minis line from the same publisher. 

Middle-earth is available in two flavors - The One Ring and Adventures in Middle-earth.

Lankhmar/Newhon is available as a Savage Worlds game line and another line for Dungeon Crawl Classics. 

Harn/Harnmaster is still in print and active development with a company called Kelestia. 

Tekumel just had a new game, Bethorm come out two years ago, and may have more releases since. 

Lyonesse, as mentioned, is a Mythras game in the making. 

Earthsea, I believe, will never be an RPG as the rights to the setting have been tied up with the film and television rights. 

++++++++++++++++++++++++

Which leaves only Dune. With the new movies in development, the likely case is that anyone licensing it will either: a) license the entire IP through the Herbert Estate, or b) license just the 1st book and the film material through the movie studio. 

Edited by Jason Durall
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7 hours ago, TrippyHippy said:

They only produced three thousand copies, before it was pulled as a limited release. They sold out in minutes, from memory. I recall buying my own copy, and the seller (at gencon) actually tried to put up the price when selling it, on the grounds that he knew it would be worth a load as a collectors piece when he sold it. If you buy it from eBay now, it costs.....oh.....let's see: 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Dune-Chronicles-of-the-Imperium-Core-Game-Limited-Edition-NEW/253715007118?hash=item3b1297c68e:g:6HUAAOSw-3FZAtAD

And you will only prize my copy out of my cold, dead hands. :)

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1 hour ago, Jason Durall said:

And you will only prize my copy out of my cold, dead hands. :)

Careful, for $1500 someone might accept those terms!

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Dune is "anthropological" and "ecological" and "political" sci-fi - it comes closest to Ursula Le Guin in its bent over anything else, with a frisson of James Blish's Cities in Flight or Asimov.

While one could make a space-opera style game I think that would entirely miss the point.

The flaw in his son's books is that they are cut-rate space opera. The whole Machine Crusade thing is so wrong. They are meant to be philosophical. The trouble with Dune as a RPG setting is there's a hearty focus on free will and its meaning and limits, and so I'd minimize dice, maybe even used a diceless ruleset.

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