Sunday 2 April 2017

Dune - Do Fremen Dream of the Desert Mouse?

Written by Reiko

Paul Atreides Journal #2: "The desert is changing me already. I’m seeing visions of things I can’t possibly know about directly. I’m even starting to look like the Fremen, which is all the better if I’m to win their loyalty and use them against the Harkonnen threat."

When I left off last time, Jessica had just told me I should go out into the desert. Alone, I wander out of the fortress and prepare to wait. Almost immediately, the screen fuzzes, and I get a brief glimpse of the Duke saying that there's a message from the emperor. Huh. I go back inside, and indeed there is a message demanding 970 kgs of spice to be sent today. I've got more than enough to be able to comply, but I don't see a way to send it right there. When I reach the throne room, the Duke and Jessica are both there, and Jessica seems to be expecting me. She knows I had a vision of the message and says I should talk to her later about my powers expanding.

In the meantime, the Duke has called a meeting on the balcony with all the members of staff at the fortress. He is pleased with my progress in gathering Fremen support. Harah confirms that there is a Fremen prophecy, and she believes Paul will be the one to fulfill it. Gurney seems to have disappeared, though.

Jessica's explanation of Paul's powers.

Afterward, Jessica talks about how the ambient spice has increased my powers so that I will sometimes have visions of things happening in other places, and I'll also be able to contact Fremen troops in a certain range around me instead of being limited only to where I'm physically at. Once that range is large enough, I won't have to move around so much. Imagine playing Civilization where you have to chase down all your units in order to give them new orders. Good thing the ornithopters are pretty fast.

The Fremen don't seem surprised to be contacted by telepathy or whatever it is.

Oddly enough, with the way I've moved troops around, the only troop within range of the fortress is one rather far to the south. But if I move to a sietch in the middle of my territory, I'll probably be able to contact most of the troops from there. Too bad the fortress is on the northwestern edge of my territory. I've been finding sietches only east and south of me so far.

There's still the matter of the emperor's demand. Idaho reminds me about it when I reach him, and I confirm that I want to send the shipment. First I have to add him to my party and take him to the communication room before it actually happens. Then we wait just a few moments and a reply immediately comes back from the emperor. He is pleased, but he will demand another shipment in five days. I leave Idaho there and get on with checking with everyone else.

Gurney needs a gurney!

The Duke reminds me that Gurney has disappeared and suggests taking Jessica to find him. We play the "check every room" game again and this time she finds another secret door across from the communications room. Why didn't she find that one before? In that secret room, Gurney is lying on the floor, injured, but manages to warn me that there's a trap on the other door. I report back to the Duke, who is understandably quite annoyed that the Harkonnens have managed to leave so many traps.

Could Thufir look any creepier? Red teeth..

Thufir Hawat, the Mentat, whose mind is enhanced with special training to perform complex analysis, is back, waiting for me in the communication room. He seems rather nonchalant about having missed the trap that hurt Gurney when his task was specifically to find traps. I take him over to it and he easily disarms it. Then we discover an armory. He tells me very urgently that we need to find a Fremen leader that all the Fremen tribes respect. I talk to Harah, who thinks there is someone but she can't remember the name. Not much help there, so I guess I'll go talk to the troops again to see what they know.

Before I do that, I check on Gurney one more time. He seems to be fine, but he's very interested in the armory. I move him there (I don't see why he couldn't just go in there on his own, since he doesn't seem to be terribly injured), and he's very happy to stay there and check out the weapons. He wants to teach the Fremen additional combat arts. In theory, they are already very good fighters, but in the book, what Paul could teach them from what he learned from both Thufir and Jessica made them unstoppable even by the Emperor's elite troops.

Harah knows where he is once she knows his name...

I move out and talk to a few of the troops before finding one who knows the name of the leader Harah knows: Stilgar. I also noticed that a few of the troops comment that Harkonnens are near. I try switching one to specialize in "army" but they say they feel no need to fight for me. Once she has the name, Harah marks a new sietch on the map, far west of the fortress. It takes most of a day just to fly there.

Stilgar gives Paul a Fremen name.

There's nobody at that sietch, but Harah says that Stilgar is northwest of there, so I fly that direction and find another sietch. There's a troop there, and a unit of weapons, but this troop won't fight for me yet either even though they'll join me. But when I talk to Stilgar, who readily gives me his allegiance and travels with me, then the troop will switch to being army. Stilgar also gives Paul his Fremen name: Muad'Dib, the desert mouse.

Now I have a few more sietches in the area. Stilgar said he wanted to meet Paul's parents, but before I go back, I make the rounds of the new sietches and collect the troops. I need to send the prospectors over here next, but in the meantime, there are enough weapons that I tell most of them to focus on army training and only one, with the harvester, to focus on spice.

Stilgar endorses Paul's progress.

Back at the fortress, the Duke and Jessica welcome Stilgar graciously, and he in turn voices his total support for the Atreides cause. They also notice that Paul’s eyes have begun to turn solid Fremen blue. If it's a dietary effect, since the ambience of the spice gets in their food, I'm not quite sure why nobody else's eyes would have started to turn, but clearly it's meant to be an indication of how unique Paul is.

In the armory, Thufir has ideas for training the troops, so I collect him as well and head out to switch at least one troop on this side to military training. I also managed to lose two harvesters to sandworms while I was collecting Stilgar. I'm really not sure what to do about that. There are just two more days until the Emperor's next demand. I think I have quite a large stockpile of spice, but I don't yet know how much the demands are going to increase over time.

Why didn't you tell me this sooner??

I drop Thufir at a sietch to train a troop while I move around and give some orders. I talk to one of the troops that lost a harvester, and the chief says that an ornithopter would provide protection from the worms because it can be used as a lookout post. Well, why didn't you tell me that before? I know I've seen a couple of spare ornis sitting around. I shuffle troops around to move the equipment to two of the more critical sietches for spice mining. Later I talk to Duncan Idaho, who says the same thing about the ornithopters and also suggests there might be a way to get more from immigrant villages. Stilgar knows about villages but doesn't know where they are.

I also have the army troop retrieve a set of weapons. By the time all that's done, the army troop is "skilled" in military skills. I go retrieve Thufir, who suggests that a troop could go spy on the Harkonnens to discover where their fortresses are. Then we can attack them. So I send my army guy off to spy.

The Baron is intended to be pure evil, so of course he's grotesquely obese.

Did the Duke talk to Thufir about this foolish plan?

Suddenly a vision comes in. "Something terrible has happened at the palace." I race back there, only to discover that Duke Leto is furious, but won't talk about it until I go see the latest message in the communications room. It's from Baron Harkonnen, who is basically taunting us. He says he's devastated a sietch, but I can't figure out which one. All my troops appear to be intact. Maybe he attacked an empty one that I'm not using right now? Joke's on him, maybe.

So the Duke is now determined to go smack down the Harkonnens, but with only his personal guard. Um, bad idea. At least take a Fremen troop with you? I mean, seriously, this is really kind of out of character for him. Not much I can do if it's a scripted event, though. I go see what Thufir has to say about this and am not surprised to hear he thinks it's a stupid plan too. "The Duke is losing his temper. It's still too early to attack Harkonnens frontally."

Feyd-Rautha sends some smack talk about the Fremen.

Then Feyd-Rautha, the Harkonnen heir, sends his own taunting message. That just pours fuel on the fire of the Duke's fury. When I talk to him again, he says his mind is made up. I don't get any kind of option to help him or anything; he just disappears from the fortress after a little while to go on his mission. In the book, he does end up killed, but not on a suicidal mission; it's because there's a traitor in his household who kills him at Arrakeen. The Duke is not shown in a very good light in this game. First he all but abdicates responsibility by letting Paul run around and collect the Fremen, and then he loses his temper and decides to just go attack the Harkonnens with no Fremen support.

I also get reminded to take care of the Emperor's next shipment. He's asking for something like 2800 units of spice, and I have a stockpile of 14,000, so we're fine for now. That's almost triple the amount of the previous shipment. If it continues to triple, we could be in trouble, since my production is beginning to slacken a bit as spice density decreases, plus I lost two harvesters. I have six days until the next one, which shouldn't be a problem, but the one after that might be tricky, especially as I'll have to start pulling more troops off spice production to attack the Harkonnen fortresses.

Anyway, that's time enough to go train some more troops and get another harvester working. After the Harkonnen messages, Thufir suggests we should attack from Stilgar's area, as it's farther from Arrakeen, so they're likely to be weaker there. That's what I was thinking too, as most of the troops over there have been working on military training anyway. I'll whip them into shape with Thufir's training and then launch an offensive. In theory, maybe I could distract them from the Duke's approach, but I don't think it's actually going to work that way.

Status after 14 days.

Day: 14
Allied troops: 13
Known sietches: 18
Spice production: 2740 (more than half the Harkonnen production)
Charisma: 21

Session Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 7 hours

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

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 me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!


  1. I get the feeling that the adventure and strategy elements don't communicate very well in this game. Or at least the obligatory plot points make it feel like it doesn't matter how well you play the strategy parts.

  2. The book is "Do androids dream of electric sheep?" by Phillip K. Dick.

  3. Could Thufir look any creepier? Red teeth..

    I would assume that the red teeth were stains of the Sappho juice beloved of Mentats...

    1. (Am I going to be that guy tediously challenging you with Dune minutiae every step of the way? Very probably, I'm afraid.)

    2. I'm glad I wont be the one doing it 4 months later!

  4. After previously deciding I hadn't read 'Dune' I'm changing my mind now and thinking I have.

    The bit about Paul being named Muad'Dib struck me as particularly familiar, and I don't think that can be a movie memory because of the specific spelling. It strikes me as a word I've read often.

    It's still possible I didn't finish the book, but back then when there were much less computer games I could play I rarely didn't finish a book I started.