Thinking about the strategic elements of planetary conquest outlined in the Fire section of Bloodstained stars, I’m wondering what other readers think about fitting the Infection Mechanics to the following two scenarios that inspired me.
Make War pay for War.
play out a campaign where you invade your neighbors to bolster your forces as Drake discusses. Human vs. Human. Sure, there might be competition with Vaylen, but they aren’t necessarily present as PCs or GM FoN. What about Feuding Warlords, say, in the Urfan Empire. PCs play the Invading forces, GM plays the forces on the world. I think the mechanics match up with the normal maneuvers and skills for the usual Infiltration, Usurpation, and Invasion phases.
I think it may change mechanics of world burning when it comes to determining disposition. Or maybe the invading force would get the Vaylen stats?
2. Take the fight to the enemy.
imagine playing out a campaign against the Vaylen the way Drake describes. in this case, infiltration and usurpation seem kind of out the window, but it could make for a nice Invasion phase. i guess in World Burning, one would have to re-evaluate dispos based on Vaylen ‘culture’. dominant governments replaced by ‘ruling clans’ and factions would be replaced by ‘castes’ maybe? i’d imagine Infection skills such as propaganda and journalism might be tossed, and it would be much more of a Firefight, Hammer/Anvil focused game. but it might be cool and wouldn’t require too much work to play. burn a world, populate it with Vaylen, and then play out one Invasion Phase at a time.
i’m sure other people reading Bloodstained stars have similar inspirations. feel free to list them or comment on the above.
In case #1, Luke has said before the invaders get Valen dispo.
I’ve given this a lot of thought and I haven’t quite settled on an answer yet. I’ll definitely post anything I come up with.
if you come up with any concrete mechanical suggestions for ‘hacks’ i’d love to playtest them. i’m thinking of starting a BE campaign on sundays. (also love to have you join us if you have any free time sunday afternoons)
Humans invading humans (your #1) is something the system can handle straight as it is. Maybe you might tweak disposition values for some things, like Alien-Life Supporting and Mostly Water/Mostly Land, but the rest would hold the same.
Humans invading Vaylen (your #) really requires a new Vaylen World Burner. After all, what kind of Vaylen planet is it? Off the top of my head, I can think of
- a teeming industrial hive world populated by billions of Shudren, with a handful of elite castes in human or Makara bodies;
- a hellish farmworld where millions of unhulled humans are bred and brutalized to be fit hosts for Naiven, with a small population of Vaylen overseers in human bodies and Mukhadish guards.
- a garden world with vast parks and beautiful spired cities, inhabited by Human caste Vaylen, their Shudren servants, and unhulled human “pets.”
- a “hunting preserve” planet where the indigenous humans have apparently been left alone, and may well even believe they’re not under Vaylen control – may not even know the Vaylen exist! Meanwhile the true masters manipulate society from hiding and people occasionally go missing…
The last one is particularly creepy. “You want to liberate us from the Vaylen? What are ‘Vaylen’? I don’t think we have any of those here.”
My convention scenario was human smugglers trying to profiteer from a Vaylen world where the nobles were Vaylen and the peasantry were humans. It had an ancient Meso-American feel to it with super high index. The nobles shipped highly sought after bred pets to the rest of the system using blood sacrifices to feed some of the machines.
I didn’t change any deposition numbers in this case.
…using blood sacrifices to feed some of the machines.
Which raises an interesting question: How much do Vaylen really understand about all the sophisticated human technology they’ve captured over the millennia? Especially considering that “any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic.” Perhaps the additional layer of screaming horror is that, as the humans lose ground, the Vaylen aren’t necessarily gaining it. Perhaps the Worms ultimately destroy what they possess, or at least leave only a hollow shell animated by rote imitation of human actions, and that even as they strive desperately to be human they are doomed to fail – that, like the barbarians conquering the Roman Empire, they desperately want to become that which they are destroying but end up sitting in the ruins, playing with pieces they don’t really comprehend, understanding nothing but their own thwarted desires.
Probably true of some Vaylen, Syd, but remember that the Makara were hosts long before the humans began volunteering themselves, and the Vaylen built their empire to a point where it could challenge the technologically sophisticated Federation. So the Vaylen don’t necessarily cut out anything except the will of their host (and the ability to use psychology). What’s certainly true is that they’re influenced by the mind of the host, and possibly by its suppressed will too, and that the race as a whole is changing as more and more of it changes from a Makara Prime Caste to a Human one.
The only Burning Empires campaign I have run was human vs. human. The catch was that one group of humans was trying to usurp power from the Forged Lord. There was a citizen’s revolt going on among the peasants, so they were effectively the Vaylen and their ideas were the navien. We didn’t change a single rule for the game.
I get a real Jack Vance feel from that last suggestion from Lord Freedberg. A small mercator, off the beaten track, crashing on a strange world. A doomed Void Lord perhaps, looking for something out in the blackness?
It seems like the scope of the game would be right down at the personal level, rather than dealing with fleets and battalions.
Ultimately though, the world is totally changed by the protagonists.
(Planet of Adventure anyone?)