Hasimir Fenring has to be one of the most interesting minor characters in the book. A “might have been”, deadly, BG-trained, and seemingly with fingers in every pie. But it begs the question about other might have beens and “the test”.
The players are the lower level companions, functionaries and agents of a Major House. Establish them as trusted and give them opportunities to advance (1-2 scenarios). Get them involved in the intrigues of the House, for example:
- A Bene Gesserit (BG) player may become a handmaid to the matriarch. They quickly become a confidante, a carrier of secrets.
- A Swordmaster or Mentat may be promoted to deputy within the House. They may be included in the personal guard, part of the training team for the Marquis and his heirs.
- The players, as a group, are sent to “mind” a legal shipment of Spice. There’s enough intrigue and theft around that the most trusted people in the family are sent to shepherd it.
- A player begins a romance with a cousin of the ruling family. The cousin is far enough from the ascendancy of succession for it not to be an issue (unless the GM decides that the cousin wants to kill their way to the top).
- The players are sent on a secret mission to Ix for a new set of fighter drones. Fighter drones are useful for helping warriors train, but they are literally a violation of the laws established during the Butlerian Jihad.
- The players are asked to accompany The Marquis to a meeting of the Landsraad. Most of the involvement will be hanging around in large halls, surrounded by the entourage and companions of the other Landsraad families. The players aren’t important enough to be involved in the decision making process.
After at least 2 of these have been executed, the characters are more trusted and closer to the Family. They should have become familiarised with the Marquis and Marchioness and their two children, aged 12 and 6. The children are typically precocious for Major House children; excelling in studies and in combat skills, versed in literature and music. During this time, make sure the players develop a relationship with the elder of the house heirs. This will become important. A Swordmaster may be a sparring partner, a Suk doctor required to bind wounds, a Mentat or BG to teach. When they return from a “mission”, have the child run out to greet them with the honorific “Sobaki”. This means “hound” or “one who bites” in the old tongue of the family. They’re the trusted ones within the family.
Now to the grit…
The heir of their House, a boy of only 12, has begun to have prescient visions. Certainly the boy has the sight and the initial instruction is to start instructing the boy in higher level teachings of both BG and Mentat skills.
The messianic messages of Dune are not the same (as we don’t have the influence of the Missionaria Protectiva manipulating the Fremen in this place), but there’s certainly something happening.
The senior BG in the House has immediately sent for a Truthsayer to administer the Test. Because there’s no such thing as a secret, there are other agents infiltrating the House to end the life of the heir. The Spacing Guild don’t want a Kwisatz Haderach. The Bene Gesserit don’t want one they can’t control. So, the youth is observed. The players may be somewhat aware of this (just tell them a Reverend Mother and Truthsayer has arrived with a small green box). But they’re too involved with their duties to be fully aware.
In the end, the might-have-been fails the test and is killed by gom jabbar. The players may be tasked with tracking down this ninja-nun, slightly complicated by the interference from the senior BG in the house (and presumably any BG players being double agents).
The BG player may be charged with getting the Reverend Mother off the planet safely. They may be also tasked with calming things “The Margrave must see reason. If her persists and goes to the Landsraad, the order will be endangered will be forced to retaliate. He, and his issue, will be utterly destroyed. It is in your hands to prevent this.” (Credit: James DiBenedetto)
The parents, senior nobles, are distraught. The BG are soon expelled from the House amid threats of bringing this to the whole of the Landraad. Then, suddenly, overnight, everything is back to normal. The child is still dead but the parents return everything to normal. The BG return and take their normal places. No-one seems to be talking about it.
WHAT HAPPENED? Pick one (or more)
Money and Power – the family have been assured influence and power via the BG which has bought back their loyalty. The Marquis is soon spoiling for more influence and power. They don’t mention their deceased child beyond an empty seat at dinner and rooms which remain locked. This outcome serves to remind us that these families are greed-filled, just like the Atreides (so often painted as the good team in Dune). It is all about money and power.
Rosemary’s Baby – Maybe they’ve been promised a ghola? It will be deeply disturbing when the child comes down for breakfast, unexpected. The players should be sent away for a mission, something lasting a few months and when they return, the ghola has perfectly integrated. How did it get there? On whose authority? Who paid for it? And why has no-one mentioned it?
Deep Suggestion – a late visit from a BG elder triggered behavioural modification in the parents, causing their grief to become melancholy and clouding their memory of what happened. Deep suggestion techniques are beyond most Bene Gesserit, but it paves the way for the BG to rewrite memories as they see fit. The child is never mentioned again.
Kidnapped – before the Observation can be completed, the child is removed by the Spacing Guild as an early stage Navigator. With prescience this advanced in one so young, it would be incredibly useful to study him for the development of navigation using less spice. The Sobaki are then tasked with retrieving the child…and the BG are being strangely helpful. The players may also need to stave off the Bene Tleilax as they’re interested in a psychic child, untainted by spice.