Classic novels of intrigue and spies are ripe for exploitation in a Dune game.
Think about the plot of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
- The noble head of a house is given information that there is a spy, an assassin inside their House.
- They dispatch their Swordmaster to find out more information. The Swordmaster is killed by the sworn enemies of the House.
- The head dies, leaving four scheming siblings and their advisors in charge of the house.
- The fifth sibling, too young to be included, chooses self-imposed exile in comfort. They retire from the intrigues of the family.
- A message from a long lost friend to the Fifth, ignites their curiosity. Their parent was betrayed? Murdered by their own family? The friend has more information but wants safe passage for themselves and their lover. They need millions of solaris to buy them back from a slaver.
- The sibling amasses their most trusted persons around them to discover the truth. Whether or not they find the millions of solaris, it’s too late. The lover is gone. The family friend has only one motivation now; revenge.
- They discover the Swordmaster is still alive! Grateful for life and not understanding how it was done, they’ve accepted retirement and exile. They don’t have any more information for the players, revealing only that they saw the head of the Hated Enemy House and thought that death was coming. And then they’re miraculously released.
- Questons abound. Did they survive? Is this a ghola? FaceDancer?
- They save the long lost friend from mysterious assassins and they reveal more truths. The spy is one of the elder siblings! Working in league with one of the family’s most hated enemy houses. Their aim? To undermine all of the other siblings and wrest power for themselves.
- Is this family friend authentic or a ghola? Are they a FaceDancer? Is this a plot within a plot?
- They enlist the services of the family’s retired Mentat who reveals they did not retire, but was forced out when they noticed discrepancies in the data. Someone in the family was spending time with the Enemy house – the data did not lie
- Through a process of elimination, the team rule out the stupid sibling and the weak, snivelling one. So it has to be the eldest or the second eldest.
- The Swordmaster is the key. The swordmaster had a close relationship with all of the children, but one of them, the second oldest, was closest of all. Perhaps even love. That’s why they were saved from certain death. The betrayer couldn’t have their lover killed, so traded even more for their living return (or if you’re really twisted, their ghola).
- The youngest sibling, through the actions of their assembled team, reveal the truth and trap the second oldest sibling while they meet their contact in the other House. Reasons for the betrayal? Everything from discovering they’re not bloodkin, to maybe they’re a FaceDancer. There’s a whole heap of reasons.
- The second eldest sibling is exiled from the family, later we discover they’ve been assassinated by the Swordmaster.
By working through the plot points of any spy novel, you can create a complex and interweaved adventure for Dune players.
This would work for many war films as well. The Guns of Navarone is one that’s going through my mind right now.