Sunday 16 April 2017

Dune - The Demolished Duke

Written by Reiko

Paul Atreides Journal #3: "My power and range is greatly increasing. I will soon be able to bring the full force of the Fremen against the Harkonnens. I just need to maintain my focus even in the face of certain distractions. Still, I'm so pleased that Stilgar thought to bring me to Chani. She is a wonderful help and I want her by my side always."

So my main objective right now is to get my western troops trained and equipped and launch an offensive against nearby Harkonnen fortresses. I also need to keep my eyes open for more information about villages where I might be able to get more ornithopters.

The army troop that I set to "espionage" found a Harkonnen fortress just to the north of my northern sietches, but eventually he also discovered it had three heavily-armed sets of troops, so Thufir's instruction to attack from the west is a good one. I sent the troop off to join the ones in the west instead of continuing the espionage and potentially attracting attention from the Harkonnens.

Meanwhile, I still didn't know where the villages were, but I finally went back to my fortress and realized I hadn't talked to Harah for awhile. She remembered about a village located "in the fish's mouth" and suggested I'd have to look for it from an orni. When I looked at the map, I saw immediately what she was talking about: there's a rock formation shaped like a fish some ways southwest of the fortress.

The smuggler will sell me the orni I needed.

I took Harah with me and aimed the orni at the location at the mouth of the fish, and soon she spotted the village for me. There I met a smuggler who would sell me crawlers, ornis, and other things in exchange for spice. I could usually haggle him down a notch, but even so, his prices weren't terrible given the benefit. I bought a crawler and two ornis, but then I had to figure out how to get the equipment to the troops that needed it.

Picking up equipment is exactly what I want you to do...

I first tried to tell a troop simply to go to the village, since an occupying troop could pick up any free equipment at a sietch, but the troops wouldn't go to the villages even though they said they'd be willing to pick up equipment there. After some poking at them, I discovered that I had to use the "search for equipment" option, and then they would go pick up the most useful piece of equipment (a crawler first, if they didn't have one, and then an orni) and return to their sietch. I had to wait around a bit though to get all the equipment picked up because the one with no equipment wouldn't pick up both a crawler and an orni in one trip.

Bye bye, Harah.

While I was at the village, Harah decided she didn't want to travel with me anymore; she wanted to return to her home sietch. I wasn't sure what would happen if I refused her, but I dropped her off at the proper sietch and then returned to the fortress to send the Emperor his next shipment of spice. I also discovered that the way to pay the smuggler for the equipment was to instruct Duncan Idaho to send payment. I imagine it's possible to send a partial payment or not pay at all, but then at the very least, the smuggler would surely no longer sell me any more equipment, and maybe Paul would even lose some Fremen support. At this point I didn't want to risk that.

The latest shipment to the Emperor will be no problem.

Duncan also mentioned hearing about another village south of a particular sietch, but I wasted at least a day making a couple of flights in what I thought was the right area, but I found nothing. Maybe I needed to take Duncan with me? Still, nearly all of my crawlers now had ornis to protect them, so I wasn't so worried about equipment. I continued to move the miner troops south as I exhausted spice levels, so I was still pulling in spice at a good rate and staying well ahead of the Emperor's demands. The shipment I'd just sent was only about one sixth of my stock at the time, even after the cost of the equipment.

Stilgar wisely waited for Harah to leave...

After Harah was gone, Stilgar revealed that he wanted me to meet someone else. I soon found out why when I visited the new sietch he marked on the map. It was Chani. In the books, Chani and Paul have an instant connection; he had seen her in his visions before he even arrived on Dune, and they have a son later. Here she shows that same instant attraction, but it took me some time to figure out what to do with her. I tried to take her with me like I did everyone else, but while she would readily join me, she wouldn't actually go anywhere with me. She kept talking about how she wanted to show Paul the desert at night.

Chani at sunset

The make-out scene.

Finally I realized I just needed to step away from the sietch with her at evening to trigger a scene with her. She professes her love for Paul, and we get a close-up of them kissing in the dark. After that, she'll go anywhere with me, and in fact, when I return to the fortress later and look in the mirror, she appears there with me. She becomes Paul's partner in every sense of the word. Stilgar is pleased, too. He says I will "soon be a real Fremen" and reports that I know 25 sietches and 13 troop chiefs.

Paul and Chani together.

Chani knows a few more sietches, so I do the rounds and pick up another couple of troops. The first one I meet remembers Chani as a baby. I assign their jobs based on the equipment I find at their sietches. One has crys-knives, so I make him army and send him north to join the others training on the border. The other has a crawler, so I make him mine spice and send him north to a surveyed sietch. I also have to find the prospectors and keep them moving to the new sietch areas.

Notification of the battle far away from me.

Meanwhile I get a few notifications. I'd sent a troop to spy on fortresses north of my training sietch and ended up finding two. I attacked one with a couple of troops and conquered it easily, so then the Fremen started converting it to a regular sietch. So I got a notification that the Harkonnen were attacking it again, but my occupying force must have been sufficient, because I was dealing with other things and didn't get back over there until later, after another notification that we'd won the battle there. Gurney must be a good teacher, because most of my troops over there ended up being Skilled or Expert in army, plus I made sure they had at least crys-knives to fight with.

Jessica is distraught, with good reason.

I also got a notification from Jessica. Something important had happened. I raced back to the fortress after I'd finished visiting the new sietches, only to find her distraught that the Duke had been killed. Thufir said that he didn't have much chance to fight because his orni had been shot out of the air on the way. That triggered him to suggest we need another method of transportation that can't be so easily stopped by the Harkonnens.

Stilgar reveals one of the last secrets of the Fremen.

I asked Stilgar, who revealed that the Fremen actually ride the sandworms that are usually so dangerous to spice mining and people in general. So now, if I step away from a sietch or fortress, I have an option to "call a worm" which then lets me select a destination the same way as in an orni. That's awesome. But if I can ride worms anywhere, I probably don't need this orni any more. So I drop by one of the last undefended crawlers and tell the troop to use the orni. The troop is grateful, specifically thanking me for giving up my orni for them.

I called a worm...

...and rode it! Whee!

Stilgar comments that I know everything about the Fremen now that I've ridden a worm, but his surface thoughts say "Almost everything." I consult Thufir, who is pleased with worm riding as an alternative form of transportation, but now he has a feeling there's still something else hidden in the fortress.

Why couldn't I see this room from an orni or something?

Yep, time to play the "check every room" game a third time with Jessica. This time she finds another hidden door from the anteroom next to the armory, which leads into an amazing greenhouse garden full of plants. Jessica immediately loves it there and stays. But at this point, Chani reveals that she's the daughter of Liet-Kynes, the ecologist, and suggests that I should go meet him. I don't remember this familial connection in the book; it's not necessary there, but here it seems to be sort of an excuse for Chani to give Paul a reason to go.

Liet-Kynes and his experiments... his own garden in the desert.

Chani leads me west from one of the new southern sietches to a new one. When we go in Liet-Kynes greets Chani warmly, and she introduces me as a "great leader" who knows 30 sietches and 17 troop chiefs. Liet-Kynes shows me his own garden where he's been doing experiments with bulbs that can grow in the desert. He also reveals a vast underground reservoir of water that's been painstakingly collected by using a wind-trap on the minimal amount of moisture in the air.

Do I want to try ingesting a known deadly poison to improve my mental abilities? Sure, why not?

Stilgar says I'm the first non-native person that's been allowed to see these reservoirs. He also mentions the "Water of Life" which really isn't explained here, but in the book, it's made by drowning a baby sandworm in water, and then it greatly enhances telepathic abilities, much like highly concentrated spice. But it's also a deadly poison, so only very few people can ingest it and survive. He offers to let me try it.

Jessica confirms the effect of the Water of Life.

From the book, I know that Paul's training with his mother lets him neutralize the poison and gain the benefit, so I agree. As in the book, it causes loss of consciousness for a time, and then afterward Paul's abilities are strengthened. Jessica confirms later that I'm now able to contact Fremen across the entire planet. That is really useful, as I shouldn't have to move around quite so much, although I should continue to visit the troops to maintain morale.

Liet-Kynes revealed a couple more nearby sietches. I collect two more troops and send them over to his sietch to train in ecology. I don't know if I'll go that route, but I want them to be ready if I need them. I also notice on the map now that each sietch has a water meter with either a value of the water reserve there or a note that the sietch has no wind-trap. Another village is now revealed as well. I purchase another set of laser guns for the army, as only one or two of my troops have them so far.

Chani can cure an unknown disease in a couple of days? That's some talent.

Suddenly I get a notification that the troops at the latest fortress I conquered are very ill with a strange disease. According to Chani, it was possibly caused by the Harkonnens. I take her there to investigate. There's nothing I can do directly, but Chani suggests she can cure the disease, given some time. I leave her there to work on that while I go send another shipment to the Emperor and reorganize some of the troops.

The troops are pleased I can contact them from anywhere now.

The prospectors have revealed that the two southernmost areas are very rich in spice, so I send a few mining troops there from depleted areas. Even with the increasing demands, I should have enough spice for at least four more shipments to the emperor. I also send one of the troops that isn't ill out to continue spying for new fortresses.

The tide is definitely starting to turn. My reported spice production is more than double that of the Harkonnens, and I control almost as much area as them now too. I just hope the Fremen are better armed and trained, as I only have half the number of men, according to the reports. With the right combination of fighting and ecology, I should be able to wipe them out, but I have to do it fast enough that I don't run out of spice in the meantime. Next time, once the plague is cured, we'll shift to all-out war.

Status after 32 days.

Day: 32
Allied troops: 19
Known sietches: 32
Spice production: 10180 (more than double the Harkonnen production)
Charisma: 76

Session Time: 2.5 hours
Total Time: 9.5 hours

Classic Sci-fi Awareness Contest: Each Dune gameplay post has a title evoking a classic of science fiction. 5 CAPs for the first one to name the book with its author.

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  1. The book is The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester

  2. ROFL, I just got the part where Chani falls in love with you and it's so hilariously badly written. They barely know each other, and then:

    "It's so good to be near you... I... uh... I think I've fallen in love with you, Paul. I want to be with you every day."

    This is NOT how to write a romance. Maybe it's more believable in the books, and based on Reiko's words it may indeed be.


Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There's a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of the reviewer requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game...unless they really obviously need the help...or they specifically request assistance.

If this is a game introduction post: This is your opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that the reviewer won't be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance: remember to use ROT13 for betting. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with 50 CAPs in return.
It's also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All score votes and puzzle bets must be placed before the next gameplay post appears. The winner will be awarded 10 CAPs.