Review: Modiphius Entertainment – Power and Pawns (Dune)

Power and Pawns
Power and Pawns is a sci-fi sourcebook for Dune: Adventures in the Imperium, written by Andrew Peregrine, Richard August, Simon Berman, Jason Durall, Keith Garrett, Jack Norris, Hilary Sklar, Devinder Thiara, Mari Tokuda, John Wick, and Rachel J. Wilkinson and published by Modiphius Entertainment.
By Aaron T. Huss

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Power and Pawns is a sourcebook that pulls back the Imperial veil to take a look at the inner-workings of the Dune setting from a very political/empire viewpoint, along with all those who influence these viewpoints. For a setting that focuses heavily on the political games of science fiction, this is a direct representation of what’s possible. The major movers and shakers, including the emperor, are detailed within along with elevating your game from the character level to the House level. It includes a large amount of guidance on what it means to be a powerful figure within your House and how your characters can get wrapped up in these political games. Just know this is not the sourcebook for your first games; it is meant for much later in your campaign.

Power and Pawns is, in my opinion, the best sourcebook for Dune. Whereas many sci-fi games focus on the military, space exploration, or fantastical sides of sci-fi, this sourcebook focuses on what it means to be a part of a massive setting and all its inner-workings. It shines a spotlight on the feudal-like theme of Dune and places the power of an entire House in the hands of your characters. However, the best part of this sourcebook is that the content is 80% fluff and can very easily be translated into other games and settings. As such, it becomes the ultimate guide for running non-military and non-fantasy games within your sci-fi setting; making it truly come to life!

To me, sci-fi tabletop RPGs have always been about expanding your possibilities. The setting can be virtually endless, but something has to hold everything together. Warhammer 40k takes a similar approach with lore that touches almost every aspect of the setting (i.e. Dark Heresy, et al); Dune has that kind of feel. However, many games never go to that length and only focus on the areas directly involved in your adventure or campaign and merely mentioning “the powers that be”. When the details just aren’t there, GMs can take Power and Pawns and fill in all that detail (just change the names and flavor to meet your setting and game). It has incredible utility use in the hands of the gamemaster and limited only to the depth of your imagination. In the hands of the player, you are limited to Dune: Adventures in the Imperium, but that’s only because the mechanics are 100% Dune 2d20.

This is a definite must-have if you plan to level-up your Dune games beyond the limitations of a small group of characters. If you want to take full advantage of what a Minor or Major House can provide, then this sourcebook will quickly become your best friend. It has a great amount of setting content and cool character options, but really its power lies in the Imperial-approach it takes to the setting.

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