House Ordos

House Ordos
House Major
Symbol See article
Ruling Title Unknown
Colours Green
Homeworld Draconis IV
Part of the series on the
Dune games
Ordos Emperor small.png

Strategy games

Dune II
Dune 2000
Emperor: Battle for Dune

Adventure games

Dune I
Frank Herbert's Dune

Cancelled video games

Emperor Alliances
Dune Generations
Frank Herbert's Dune: Ornithopter Assault

Board game

Dune (board game)


House Atreides
House Ordos
House Harkonnen
House Corrino
Minor factions

House Ordos is an insidious and mysterious Great House in the real-time strategy Dune games created by Westwood Studios. House Ordos is not mentioned in Frank Herbert's original series of Dune novels, nor in the prequels written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. It is, however, mentioned in the Dune Encyclopedia (page 278). Due to the absence of any major work of fiction involving House Ordos, and because the Ordos are meant to be the most secretive of the playable Houses in the Dune games, there is comparatively little information available about them.

The prevailing philosophy of House Ordos can be described as one of cold pragmatism. Their main concern is efficiency in achieving their goals, and they place no value on either kindness or unnecessary cruelty. Unlike the other Great Houses, the Ordos do not appear to be organized along a feudal structure that demands loyalty and obedience towards an aristocratic family. Instead, House Ordos seems to be a technocracy, with a leadership that has changed its form significantly over time but has always remained secretive and almost machine-like in its quest for rational efficiency.

In warfare, the Ordos strive for technological superiority, speed, stealth and deception. It is speculated that House Ordos employs thinking machines, among other banned technologies.

House Ordos in the Dune Encyclopedia

House Ordos had 7 votes in the Landsraad at the end of the reign of Emperor Shaddam IV Corrino. Their insignia is described in heraldic terms as "two bones white per saltire, in dexter chief entwined with ivy vert". That is to say, two white crossbones entwined with green ivy.

House Ordos in the Dune Games

From relative obscurity in the Dune Encyclopedia, House Ordos emerged as one of the three playable Houses in the first Westwood strategy game, Dune II. Since Dune II was also the first true real-time strategy game in history, this led to the Ordos acquiring a degree of fame within the gaming community, which compelled Westwood Studios to include them as a playable House in all their subsequent Dune games, and develop their backstory.

However, the reasons for the Ordos' initial appearance in Dune II remained a mystery for years. It was not until 2004, twelve years after the release of Dune II, that former Westwood employee and game developer Marc Cram explained how the Ordos were chosen to play such a major role in the first Dune strategy game. In an interview with Jesse Reid of FED2k, on March 29, 2004, Marc Cram stated:

I was a producer and designer for this project. The original idea was to make a game that captured the fun and imagination of those plastic army men. There were a couple of games out of Germany that were heading in that direction, but nothing that had all of the different equipment and abilities that we wanted to put into a game.
Virgin had the license to do Dune. They secretly gave the project both to Westwood and a French company (cannot remember the name). The French finished the game first, which was a 3D crawl game. [Marc Cram is most likely referring to the game Dune I by the French company Cryo.]
Our thoughts were that the story was too complex and rich to replicate in a video game. We decided that it would be best to take all of the fun elements in the game and create our own story.
I had read the books once and was a little confused as to all of the elements, but my friend Wesley (by the way, Wes is in another game. Eye of the Beholder I & II. The character's name is Wently Kelso and he is an apathetic archeologist, which fits the real Wesley's personality perfectly.) Anyway, Wesley was a big fan of the books and so I invited him to lunch at the Golden Nugget buffet.
Over a piece of salty roast beef, he pulls out the Dune Encyclopedia. He told me that the book was very rare and would not let me take it home. So on the back of a Keno pad I started writing down the profiles of all of the houses. (I think I still have the Keno pad).
Originally, I was going to use House Ix as one of the houses, but it seemed better as a resource. Also, living in Vegas, the House Ordos seemed like the Mafia. This appealed to me for some reason.

Dune II/Dune 2000

Insignia of House Ordos used in Dune II.
Insignia of House Ordos used in Dune 2000.

Planet Information

The home planet of the Ordos is a frigid ice-covered world. It is believed that the Ordos import their agricultural and technological goods from nearby star systems. Acting as traders and brokers, the Ordos produce no physical products but instead rely upon their merchandising skills to make their profits.

House Profile

The Ordos are represented by a group of wealthy families who banded together for greater security. The Ordos have little conscience and seem to gain strength through their sabotage and terrorism. They are protected by their great wealth and their status as a great House is unaffected by their long history of deception.

The Mentat Ammon is in charge of the Ordos operations on Dune. This is the first we have seen of the Ordos as they are not mentioned much in the Dune books by Frank Herbert.

Emperor: Battle For Dune

Insignia of House Ordos used in Emperor: Battle for Dune.

House Ordos

These aristocrats of the universe are shrouded in mystery and speculation -- which is just how the statesmen of Ordos want to keep it. Run by a secretive cartel of the rich and powerful who specialize in trade and smuggling, House Ordos has no identifiable leader. Even the citizens on this ice-coated, remote planet have little grasp on who controls their fate.

What is known, however, is that the reclusive elite of Ordos has at its disposal radical new technologies that it hopes will put all of Arrakis in its hands. Buying illegal armaments from the House of Ix, the Ordos equips it troops with high-tech weaponry that puts the Harkonnen and Atreides technology to shame. However, money can't buy loyalty: Ordos troops desert with alarming frequency, and, despite its wealth, the Ordos' military strength is shaky at best.

Homeworld: Sigma Draconis

This far-flung planet is icy and inhospitable, but that hasn't daunted House Ordos in its mission of creating a vastly wealthy empire based on trade and smuggling. In fact, the remoteness of Sigma Draconis serves them well, for it aids in the keeping of secrets -- a specialty of the Ordos.


The Ordos Executrix Council

Four beings with one supermind -- aside from that, little is known of The Council, the mysterious entity that rules the icy planet Draconis 4 with all the efficiency of a computer and all the casual brutality of a dictator. With shields blocking their withered faces, the four beings are neurally networked into a single mind to maximize the efficiency of their plans to rule Arrakis and turn a nice profit. All verbal contact is performed through a hideous Speaker, pictured here.

Roma Atani (Ordos Mentat)

A human interpreter of the barely-human Ordos Executrix Council, Roma Atani briefs new Ordos generals on the state of the war on Arrakis. Cool and impassive, Atani is not one given to praise or criticism. Like a classic Ordos, her mind is a binary one: either the general fulfills the battle plan or does not. Besides, if the new general does not perform with maximum efficiency, criticism is moot. The Ordos have designed exquisite tortures to express their disapproval.