Dune: Adventures in the Imperium
The Dune: Adventures in the Imperium roleplaying game takes you into a far future where fear is the mind killer so be sure to keep your wits about you. The Imperium is a place of deadly duels, feudal politics and mysterious abilities in a universe where a blade can change the fortunes of millions. Build your House, carve your place in the universe or rebuild an ancient lineage and fight for the Imperial throne.
Arrakis. Dune. Desert Planet. It’s the seed of this entire setting, but it’s not where you have to play. Based on the classic science fiction franchise by Frank Herbert, Dune: Adventures in the Imperium is a roleplaying game by Modiphius Entertainment that tackles 10,000 years of history, nearly 30 novels by Frank Herbert as well as Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, and everything in between.
It is a visionary, beautiful, and exciting roleplaying game. We were lucky enough to join in the playtest in Summer of 2020, and with the release of the physical edition of the game, there was no way this wasn't making it into Season 5. Like Star Trek and Stargate, Dune was one of those franchises that I shared with my parents growing up. My mom and I would watch the David Lynch movie and my dad and I would talk about the novel. I loved it. I still love it. The miniseries with William Hurt and Alec Newman was fantastic, and the recent Denis Villneuve movie is stunning.
Adventures in the Imperium runs on the Modiphius 2d20 system, but as usual, the game has been modified to better suit the setting. In this one, there are no challenge dice. You only ever roll pools of d20s. If you're not familiar with the system, the basic resolution mechanic is that you get two or more d20s to roll, and you want to roll less than or equal to a target number determined by your character's stats. That's right, rolling low is better. Rolling 1s counts as double successes, and rolling 20s introduces complications.
Besides the production value, gorgeous art, and excellent writing, the standout section of this game—for us at least—was the chapter on creating a house. There are comprehensive rules about deciding your house's size, domain, homeworld, challenges, opponents, allies, and resources. As session zeroes go, it was fantastic.
Just like creating your noble house in the Song of Ice and Fire RPG by Green Ronin, it lets players have a lot of agency in creating the setting and choosing the stakes and themes. It makes it easier for people to make characters too. I strongly recommend trying these rules out. When we did it, we created a mist-shrouded world called Stratus, and there was no way for us to explore everything we wanted to touch on in a three-session campaign. This would have set us up for years of gaming through a single two-hour planning session. Highly recommend.
So, what did we think of Dune? Excellent adaptation of the source material. The history section is comprehensive, the rules are tight and exciting, and the vision of what this game could be—outside the core story of the Atreides on Dune—is very well realized. The various types of conflict capture the feel of Dune by putting an equal focus on encounters like espionage and warfare, as opposed to the standard RPG fare of just skirmish-based combat.