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Starfinder – Dune

Dune is back! Of course, all we have so far is a trailer with an interesting Pink Floyd cover, but I’m game for another attempt at bring Frank Herbert’s book to the big (or these days at least, home sized) screen.

Choose your flavor of Dune
Choose your flavor of Dune: Extra Spicy, Cool Ranch, or Baja Blast

Of course, with Dune back in the zeitgeist, it begs the question ‘what would I need to do to play Starfinder in the Dune setting?’ The answer is surprisingly little, though I am limiting the scope here to just the original book. Including the sequels, expanded world stuff, or even the tech from the 1984 movie is just not something I’m going to attempt.

Ok, so Dune. Feudal-esque Houses aided by human computer-like Mentats vie for power under the Padishah Emperor, while the powerful precognitive Spacing Guild and secretive Bene Gesserit psychics attempt to shape politics to their advantage. The crux of all these machinations is the planet Arrakis, a desert world and only source of the Spice that makes faster-than-light travel possible (with careful piloting via a Guild Steersman of course.) So far nothing we can’t do in in Starfinder. Races (at least in the first book) are limited to human, but with a lot of variation and a fair amount of body modification via augmentation, selective breeding, and various other methods. The Drift is replaced by by Guild FTL (making it much more limited). Bene Gesserit are Mystics (mostly with the Empath, Mindbreaker, and Overlord connections.) Steersmen are Witchwarpers. Mentats are Technomancers (using clever tech tricks and blinding fast computation to create magic-like effects). Biohackers, Soldiers, Operatives, and Mechanics are easy enough to slot in as well. Solarians and Vanguards need a little more finesse, but perhaps one or both could be part of the Emperor’s elite Sardaukar troops?

In terms of tech, most things can be ported directly over, but the game changer is the Holtzman Shields. Energy fields that can limit or cancel out physical force at high speeds, and react in an unpredictable and spectacular way when interacting with energy weapons, the Holtzman shield forces all but the suicidally mad to limit weaponry to kinetic weapons, and even then with an emphasis on the slower melee weapons that can bypass some or all of the shield.

Paul activates his shield
Paul activates his shield

So, in game terms, we are replacing the Force Field armor upgrade with Holtzman Shields, devices that can either be worn (taking a wrist or belt slot) or used as armor upgrades. These shields can be activated or deactivated as a swift action and offer varying strengths of DR against bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage, but only from ranged weapons. One charge used equals a minute’s worth of protection, and charges must be spent in minute by minute uses. Batteries can be changed out as a move action, but requires the shield to go down to do so.

Holtzman Shield GradeLevelCapacityDRCost
Bondsman3551350
Yeoman510152980
Noble9202513300
Lord13303545800
Emperor175050244300
God-King20unlimited100priceless

As to how they interact with energy weapons, that is best left to GM fiat. The result is supposed to be a random atomic explosion that can appear at the point of contact with the shield, at the source of the energy attack, or anywhere in between, with varying destructive power but up to the full strength of a nuclear weapon explosion. So, you know, go crazy.


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Until next time Starfinders!

Categories: Article Writing

Jeremy Corff

Artist and Writer