Frank Herbert’s DUNE: The Drinking Game!

Sandworms Love it, Fremen Approve!

Around a year and a half ago, I was out at a local pub with a few friends of mine (Editor’s Note: Just say the writing staff of Nonstop Karate. -Ed.) when we all began reminiscing about the books and movies that truly inspired our childhoods.  Most had been adequately represented in today’s culture by reboots, sequels, prequels, and gritty reimaginings; that is to say, the traditional way to honor anything that was remotely successful or “good” in the past.

One franchise that we realized hadn’t really gotten much attention lately (aside from a tepidly received SyFy channel mini-series) was Frank Herbert’s wildly popular 1965 science fiction series, “Dune”.

So we did the only thing we could think of to rectify the situation. We turned it into a drinking game.

The game you are about to learn about can be quite fun, although to be honest it has only been played once amongst my circle of friends, and even then in a very prototypical form (as in we were inventing it as it was played.) If nothing else, you will get drunk pretending to be an alien worm-riding space baron.

Be aware that this is isn’t one of those terrible “games” where you watch the film adaptation and take a shot every time someone says “spice”.  This is a true gentlemen’s sport with real, complex rules. A game of strategy and nuance. And beers.  Lots of beers.

If you’ve never heard of “Dune” or you don’t like getting wasted with a group of idiots, you should probably just stop reading now.

If you like one or both of those things, read on!

On the forsaken desert planet of Arrakis, the most important asset is land, and in the land, the spice. “Land” is acquired through empty cans of beer. Whoever has the most cans at the end of the game wins. Ah, but that’s not all.

To control the land, you must form a House (i.e. House Harkonnen, House of Waltke, etc.) You form a House by collecting five empty beer cans. Once you form a House, you then govern your land by imposing a drinking rule from which you are exempt but all the other players must follow.  Until you form a House, you are considered a lowly Fremen that can give no orders and must only do the bidding of your social betters.

Drink and hoard beer cans until you run out of beer or you can’t walk home.

The House Drinking Rules chosen by players can be anything they want them to be (see rule #5.) However, there are a few “classic” examples of House Rules that you can use to impose your will and rule the desert planet as its rightful god-emperor.

1.) The House of Ix Rule:

No technology use is permitted during the course of the game. Anyone caught using technology (i.e. a cell phone) must take a drink. This can be manipulated by the House that imposes this rule by texting or calling the other players (and forcing them to take a drink.) If someone finishes their beer using this rule, the House of Ix keeps their beer can.

2.) The House Harkonnen Rule:

Everyone must indulge like floating gluttons. This is accomplished by instituting a “beer waterfall” where everyone must drink in succession starting with the player of the House’s choice until everyone has drank. This can be done once every 10 minutes. If someone finishes their beer during the “waterfall”, the House Harkonnen takes the beer can as its own.

3.) The House Atreides Rule:

New players, or “Fremen”, may join your House and gain immunity from a rival House’s rule of their choosing until the Fremen has enough cans to become a House themselves. For every follower the House Atreides gains in this manner, the newly recruited Fremen must add one of his empty cans to the House Atreides’ final count.  However, whoever is the first Fremen to join House Atreides may choose to betray them, steal back their can and go to a rival House that offers a better deal (better known as the “Mentat Clause”.)

4.) The “Beer is the Mind-Killer” Rule:

Anyone who is not a House (i.e. a “Fremen”) must choose a word. Anyone who is in a House (aside from the House that implements it) that accidentally says a Fremen’s word must finish a beer and give the can to that Fremen.  This remains in play until the respective Fremen have enough beers to become their own Houses. (This is often played when you want to level the playing field or if people are late to join the game.)

5.) The God-Emperor Rule:

Make up your own rule. Literally anything that is legal to do in your state or province. Have fun. (i.e. No one can use Proper Nouns. If they do, they have to take a drink and salute you.)

In addition to the House Rules, there are several mini-games that remain in play at all times throughout the game. Use these to your advantage in your quest for intergalactic supremacy.

A.) Penetrate the Shield:

If someone is able to slowly move their finger and poke you in the side of the head without you noticing, you have to take a drink. You can block it with your beer. If you’re able to touch your beer to their finger before they pull it back, their lascannon has touched your shield, causing an explosion. The “poker” must now finish their beer.  If either party finishes their beer in this encounter, the victor keeps the loser’s beer can.

B.) Summon the Sandworm:

Every 10 minutes, anyone can begin thumping the table with their finger. Everyone else must also begin thumping the table. Whoever is the last to notice/begin thumping the table must take a drink. (This can be a tactical advantage if you can get someone plastered. A drunk Baron is a sloppy Baron. It’s also fun to do.)

C.) The Spice Must Flow:

At any time, someone may say “The Spice must flow!” and everyone must take a drink. However, all players must say it once before you can any one person can say it again.

D.) Ride the Sandworm:

As Houses are formed, so grows the sandworm. Once the accumulated number of beer cans exceeds 25, all of the beer cans must be taped together end-to-end. Whoever drank the 25th beer must now ride down the sandworm, and every House must provide him with a shot of beer on his journey. The House with the most beers awaits at the end of the Sandworm with a shot of tequila (preferably with a worm in it.) NOTE: The number of beers may change according to the number of players. Decide this beforehand.

E.) Shai-Hulud, The Great Maker:

Whoever is drunkest is the Sandworm.

These are the basics of the game. The rules are obviously subject to change (as is the nature of the shifting sands of Arrakis), but you get the idea. If you have further suggestions for rules or modifications to existing ones, let me know in the comments section below.

Some have told me that this game doesn’t have much of an ending and is just an excuse for people to drink unholy amounts of alcohol, not unlike a liver-destroying version of Monopoly. In my book, that doesn’t count as a downside in a drinking game. Not to mention as the night goes on, the rules begin going out the window.

There is, of course, one way to win automatically.

Drink until you are the Muad’Dib and you can see the future.


About Aaron J. Waltke

Aaron J. Waltke is a writer living in Los Angeles. His work has appeared in the National Lampoon, Comedy Central and in his secret diary that his older sister is never, ever supposed to find. He enjoys antiquarianism, obscurantism and sesquipedalianism.

Posted on August 31, 2011, in Aaron Waltke, Movies, Pop Culture and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. My liver is crying just reading this post!

  2. Unfortunately I drank until my name became a killing word, and now I’m on the lam.

  3. A ‘gentleman’s game’, huh? This lady could drink all your asses under the table. lol

    I prefer Beer Trek, anyway.

  4. This is…amazing. So amazing.

    I’ve added a rule called “Water of Life”:

    Any time someone has to take a leak and spill “the water of life”, that person has to drink.

  5. Are you supposed to do this as you watch the motion picture? I feel like this would be a good card game.

  6. A drinking game that i heard was that every time you saw someone wearing a funny hat you had to say “now thats a hat” and take a drink, whoever said it last had to take an extra drink.

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