Let’s Play D&D In ‘Dune’
This week we’re going to Arrakis to take on the Sandworm as we figure out how to play D&D in the universe of Dune.
Dune has been a science fiction phenomenon since 1965. It has inspiring five sequels, a miniseries, a multiple films, and has added to the general nerd zeitgeist in so many subtle ways. Few other pieces of media have had influence this lasting or widespread. Dune has been referenced by everything and everyone from Star Trek to Fatboy Slim’s song “Weapon of Choice”.
The most recent take on the series came in the form of the gorgeous 2021 film. The film’s release was popular enough that it was almost instantly greenlit for a 2023 sequel. Let’s join the rest of the cast on Arrakis and figure out how to add a little Dune to our next D&D campaign with–
There are a lot of characters in Dune, all portrayed by A-list superstars. But the most iconic part of the entire series is the sandworms. Even people who’ve never read or seen any version of Dune know about sandworms. They’ve been borrowed by other stories so many times that some may not realize where they originated.
Sandworms are iconic. And the larger-than-life super-monster thing is almost too perfect for a D&D setting. The sandworm fits in right alongside other final-boss monsters like the dragons or tarrasque.
But Dungeons & Dragons already has a giant tunneling worm; the hardest part of the sandworm was figuring out how to make it distinct from the purple worm. The solution was to make the sandworms what the purple worms wish they could be. An absurd number of hit points, resistances, immunities, and legendary actions take these giant murder-squiggles from monster to Monster with a capital ‘M’.
Sandworms are tough– literally. Their skin is thick, armored with scales, and nearly impossible to penetrate. They have an armor class that most other monsters can only dream of. Meanwhile, their condition immunities and resistances make them hard to injure even if you do manage to land a hit.
Of course, the sandworm has one weakness: its allergy to water. Many monsters don’t have any vulnerabilities listed, but the sandworm hates to hydrate. If you have a magic-user with any water spells, this fight will be their time to shine.
In the movie, the sandworm has one real attack: swallow that thing whole. But a one-attack monster makes for a boring sheet and a more boring encounter. To make this monster a little more dynamic, I gave the sandworm the option to ram foes with their body or tail.
In the other direction, I had considered giving the sandworm lair actions, but that seemed unnecessarily mean. The entire desert is the sandworm’s lair.
Have you seen Dune yet? How did you think it compared to the book? How would you incorporate a sandworm into your D&D campaign? What movie, book, comic, or game would you like to see sheets from next time? Let us know in the comments!
Happy Adventuring! Don’t get swallowed!