Dune: Total War

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Dune: Total War

Postby TheDarkEmperor » 23 Jul 2013 13:52

I have recently started reading the Dune series after watching the movie (and although I liked it, I knew I was missing out), so far I am in love with the series.
My plans include me going through media design school in order to put myself into the video game making community.
At the moment I am a very amateur writer and therefore I like to categories and sort ideas very mechanically.

I have had an idea to make a mod for one of the very popular Total War games by Creative Assembly, based on the Dune Series.
I wish to base this off of the true Dune mythos, meaning I would like to put myself as far away from the film and the games as possible (as fun as they are).
My problem is that I don't know enough about Dune to flesh-out a game.

I am thinking for the main factions to be the main Landsraad houses (Atreides, Harkonnen, Corrino) but I would like to also include the other prominent factions and even maybe delve into to different time periods.
My only standing problem is I don't have enough to base off of in terms of units.

I would love to get any feed back or help and would appreciate it GREATLY.

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Re: Dune: Total War

Postby Naïve mind » 23 Jul 2013 15:56

Warfare in the Dune universe is an interesting subject. On one hand, technology has advanced quite a bit beyond ours. Most notably, gravity (and friction) nullification seems to be possible (and cheap), they have shields capable of absorbing kinetic force, and they have laser guns. On the other hand, there are several major constraints.

The Holtzmann effect
Any lasgun intersecting a Holtzmann shield causes an unpredictable amount of damage at both ends. Sometimes it will take out both the gunner and the shielded object, sometimes it will be a multi-megaton Nuclear explosion. And it's quite unclear how this works. It is mentioned that Paul (while at Arrakeen) sleeps underground to protect him from assassins suicide-blasting the house shields, but it is unclear why anyone would ever feel "protected" by a Holtzmann shield. Supposedly, the Great Convention prevents the great Houses from just blasting each other to bits, but that feels contrived. It is quite possible that FH intended the Holtzmann Effect and the Great Convention to be a parody on the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction.

In any case, since we know that shields are used in combat, it follows that lasguns must be strictly VERBOTEN for anyone who isn't completely suicidal. That means we have to stick to slow-moving projectile weapons (the book mentions Maula pistols) and swords and knives.

I'm not sure there's anything in the book about the amount of force a Holtzmann field can absorb. It's likely that this is at least somewhat proportional to its size, e.g. a personal Holtzmann shield can probably absorb the impact of a round of bullets, but not the direct impact of a crashing thopter.

It's possible that, say, a railgun or a coilgun might be able to shoot bullets with such a velocity that they can overwhelm (personal) Holtzmann shields, but again, those might not be very practical.

Projectiles in the Dune universe probably bear a greater resemblance to paper airplanes than to bullets. I can also imagine kites, frisbees, boomerangs, all outfitted with sharp edges, poison, or an explosive payload to compensate for their slow velocity.

Poison gas would be very, very effective in the combat mechanics allowed by the Dune universe, and there's no hint in the novels that any party would be reluctant to use it. The space suits worn by the Sardaukar in the Lynch movie might not be complete bullshit.

The Butlerian Jihad
Man shall not be replaced. No Drones. No computer-guided missiles. Satellite navigation is probably possible, but it's unlikely to be anywhere near as accurate as modern-day GPS. In fact, consider that most modern Jet fighters are fly-by-wire by necessity, and it's unlikely that Ornithopters are more maneuverable (at supersonic speeds) than what we had in the 1960s and 1970s. At low velocity, they switch to a bird-like mode, probably even more maneuverable than our helicopters.

Most importantly: The Guild Peace
There's only one faction that rules space, and they don't want the Great Houses to destroy each other. The Guild does this by making it astronomically expensive to transport troops and military equipment. This means the most economical forms of warfare are, in order:
  1. Assassins (they probably get to travel at civilian rates)
  2. Commando troops (if you're going to pay big bucks per soldier, better make them good ones)
  3. Regular soldiers
  4. Military equipment (the Guild probably charges even more for this)

House Corrino rules the universe not because it has the best technology, but because it has the Sardaukar; Second only to the Fremen, the best commando troops in the known universe. This allows it to wage war more cheaply than any of the other houses. The fact that House Atreides was able to train a small unit of comparable skill was enough to make it a threat to the Emperor, and seal its fate.

Note that the Harkonnens are not considered a threat by the Emperor. Why? Because their force is based on numbers and artillery, brought to Arrakis at an astronomical expense. In any prolonged conflict between the Harkonnens and the Corrinos, the Harkonnens would have lost.

Extrapolating from this, a lot of "military" vehicles are probably repurposed civilian vehicles. It's probably cheaper to transport a civilian model ornithopter, or groundcar, and then strap weapons to it, than it is to pay the top Guild rates to transport military 'thopters and cars.

Do tanks even exist in the Dune universe? Why do you need armor when you've got a Holtzmann generator? I can imagine a stealthy, low-profile but speedy groundcar being far more effective. The same logic also makes armored personnel carriers, and even bunkers unlikely.

Airships might make great siege vehicles. They're probably able to carry a big Holtzmann generator, making them practically invulnerable, they move slow enough to penetrate the shields of fortresses, and it'd be very easy to use them to drop bombs or poison gas cannisters on infantry.

Combat is rare in the Dune universe
A thing to remember is that the Dune universe (pre-Paul) is fairly peaceful. Warfare is an expensive hobby for the aristocracy. Even though the books describe great feats of martial arts, the population as a whole is unlikely to be very good at it, and the kind of total war we've seen in the twentieth century is completely unknown.

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Re: Dune: Total War

Postby TheDarkEmperor » 23 Jul 2013 16:33

Thanks a lot!
This is a great background piece, I understand most of the scientific theory in Dune,
but it certainly hurts that combat is actually so rare, therefore more so clouding a clear military structure.
However, I definitely like the idea of airships.

Your information has been put to mind.

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Re: Dune: Total War

Postby Naïve mind » 23 Jul 2013 22:38

On top of that, most of the warfare described in "Dune" is also explicitly said to be unconventional, compared to the usual Marquess of Queensberry rules:

  • The assault on Arrakeen by the combined Harkonnen/Corrino force is unconventional because the Harkonnens use ground-based artillery. It is mentioned that artillery is usually considered obsolete because of its uselessness against Holtzman shields.
  • The Fremen fight without shields and ride sandworms. Cool, but it only makes sense on Arrakis. Paul skirts the Great Convention by using atomics against the shield wall.
  • Paul is only able to unleash his terrible Jihad on the universe because he's able to control the Guild. We can assume that they transported the Fremen at zero charge. It's not a stretch to imagine that Paul commanded them to execute orbital bombardments, deny movement to enemy troops, obliterate the population centers of entire worlds, etcetera.

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Re: Dune: Total War

Postby Robspierre » 24 Jul 2013 01:21

A Dune mod would be a better fit for the Crusader Kings series.


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Re: Dune: Total War

Postby Serkanner » 24 Jul 2013 06:21

Robspierre wrote:A Dune mod would be a better fit for the Crusader Kings series.


I really need start an new dynasty soon. Crusader Kings II is an awesome game.
"... the mystery of life isn't a problem to solve but a reality to experience."

“There is no escape—we pay for the violence of our ancestors.”

Sandrider: "Keith went to Bobo's for a weekend of drinking, watched some DVDs,
and wrote a Dune Novel."

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Re: Dune: Total War

Postby DuneFishUK » 24 Jul 2013 13:21

Naïve mind wrote:orbital bombardments,

Don't forget:

CRUSHERS: military space vessels composed of many smaller vessels locked together and designed to fall on an enemy position, crushing it.


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Re: Dune: Total War

Postby DuneFishUK » 24 Jul 2013 13:51

Robspierre wrote:A Dune mod would be a better fit for the Crusader Kings series.


Never heard of that game before, just watched a bit of a play-through and yes! Definite Dune potential - it brought back fond memories of the old forum-based Dune RPGs I used to play in.

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Re: Dune: Total War

Postby TheDarkEmperor » 27 Jul 2013 17:38

Robspierre wrote:A Dune mod would be a better fit for the Crusader Kings series.


Crusader Kings is awesome, that is something I will keep in mind

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Re: Dune: Total War

Postby MuaB'Beep » 25 Aug 2014 11:39

Actually building a Dune game around CK2 engine makes more sense than the TW engine because:

1. there is very little war in the universe overall
2. there is much importance in the dynastic politics
3. there is not that much unit types
4. there is more focus on poisoning and treachery
5. there is difficulty to create a believable shield warfare

One of the sources outside of the original and hack novels about warfare in dune universe is short-lived dune rpg book.

From what I remember from House Corrino full Atreides force include:
26 frigates
19 dropships
100 ornithopters
58 fighters
9 infantry brigades (around 27,000 soldiers)

Vladimir Harkonnen in Dune mentiones when talking with Fenring he has "legions" of troops on Giedi Prime so supposedly - 1 imperial legion is around 30,000 troops so we can guess Harkonnens have around 60,000-90,000 troops at least.

Again in House Corrino during the planetary siege Sardaukars had Cruisers, Monitors, Crushers, Decimels, Destroyers, Corvettes and Frigates. During invasion on Ecaz House Moritani had unmanned radio-controlled bomber drones and lightships. I think this all we can find about starships in dune universe.

Dune rpg also mentions shielded military thopters and groundcars with dual mode wheels and suspensors in three variants depending how many troops they are transporting (light/medium/heavy). They can be armed with rockets, artillery and lasguns and bombs for thopters - albeit those are only supplementary, their true purpose are just troop transport.

Regarding the infantry there are two main types - foot infantry and suspensor infantry. There is also infantry that uses kindjals (short swords) and long swords (elite mooks - sardaukar and ducal guards or troops of old) not to mention the fremen which use exotic crysknifes. Each troop usually has also supplementary maula pistol or needlegun, sometimes stunners and lasguns for elite troops. There is little armor but dune rpg mentions plasmesh uniform, plastifiber uniform and powered armor - although they are quite redundant in the era of shields. There is mention of dragoon formations in House Corrino - which could mean if taken very far that infantry could have some sort of napoleonic era formations.

So my proposed unit types are:

Cruiser - tonnage varies heavier than galleon heavy armed warship can't descent to planet
Monitor - 9,125,000 tons 150 crew 25,000 personnel - made from 10 heavy armed frigates that could descent to planet
Crusher - tonnage varies used to even crush shielded objects from orbit
Galleon - 1,565,00 tonnes 9 crew 50+ personnel heavy armed warship can't land on a planet
Decimel - 10,000,000+ tons - made from combined 10 frigates that descent from orbit can land on a planet
Destroyer - mentioned only in House Corrino supposedly something between frigate and a cruiser can't land on a planet
Frigate - 780,000-1,045,000+ tons 5-20 crew 2500+ personnel can land on planet
Corvette - mentioned only in House Corrino supposedly like something between lighter and frigate but can't land on a planet
Lighter - 2,520 tons 5 crew 20 personnel medium armed can land on planet
Shuttle - 315 tons 3 crew 20 personnel lightly armed can land on planet

in short those could be the primary functions of the craft:
Cruiser - very heavy armed warship
Monitor - heavy armed heavy transport
Crusher - special use bomber warship
Galleon - heavy armed warship
Decimel - medium armed heavy transport
Destroyer - medium armed warship
Frigate - medium armed medium transport
Corvette - lightly armed warship
Lighter - lightly armed light transport
Shuttle - very lightly armed light transport

Frigate - used for very heavy air warfare, heavy transport and bombing
Lighter - used for heavy air warfare, light transport and bombing
Shuttle - used for medium air warfare, light transport and bombing
Dropship - used only for medium transport
Heavy Ornithopter - used for medium air warfare, medium transport and bombing
Medium Ornithopter - used for medium air warfare and light transport
Light Ornithopter - used for light air warfare and light transport
Fighters - used for light air warfare
Bombers - radio controlled drones used for bombing

by mobility:
Foot Infantry - moves by foot
Suspensor Infantry - uses suspensors
Mobile Infantry - uses groundcars to enter battle
Aeromobile Infantry - uses ornithopters to enter battle
Space Infantry - uses dropships to enter battle
by source:
Maula - recruited from local criminals and slaves, very low morale, cheap (1-2 ginaz skill)
Pyon - recruited locally from loyal serfs, low morale, inexpensive (1-2 ginaz skill)
House - recruited from house homeworld loyal serfs, medium morale, expensive (2-3 ginaz skill)
Bondsmen - recruited from house homeworld trusted guard, high morale, very expensive (3-4 ginaz skill)
Saudarkar - special case emperor soldiers, very high morale, incredibly expensive (5-6 ginaz skill)
Fremen - special case, very high morale, cost depends on political support (6-7 ginaz skill)
Fedaykin - special case, incredibly high morale, cost depends on political support (7-8 ginaz skill)

Here I go away with my imagination and just bullshit You. Because there are dragoons in House Corrino maybe there can be napoleonic type system of military in the empire?
Jaegers - maula on foot (typical for smugglers, mercenaries or Harkonnen)
Fussilieurs - pyons on foot
Tiralieurs - house on foot
Voltigeurs - bondsmen on foot
Uhlans - pyons on suspensors
Lancieurs - house on suspensors
Cuirasseurs - bondsmen on suspensors
Hussars - pyons in ground cars
Chasseurs - house in ground cars
Grenadieurs - bondsmen in ground cars
Carabiniers - house in thopters
Dragoons - bondsmen in thopters
Marines - bondsmen in dropships

Just my guess but wouldn't it be cool?