How do I burn up a Vaylen with multiple bodies?

My obsession with the military aspects of Burning Empires has blossomed into a full-fledged obsession with Burning Empires as a whole, so I am now trying to burn up Vaylen characters – and finding the worldview implied by their lifepaths suitably creepy (lifepaths as implied setting = very brilliant). I’m also confused about a few issues involving body-hopping, so I’m posting my questions here:

The rules make it very clear that changing caste zeroes out all your stat pool bonuses so far, because it involves changing bodies: “When changing caste among Ksatriyen, Vaishyen and Shudren, the Vaylen must change bodies. Stat pool bonuses are tied to the body that earned the bonus…Total up the stat pool bonuses you’ve earned for your current body.” (p. 189)

  1. What happens if you have a required physical trait in one lifepath, and then change castes and thus bodies afterwards? Does the physical trait go away with the body, or does it persist with the character even in other bodies (presumably because that particular worm will always prefer bodies with that trait afterwards)?
    Example from the character I tried to Burn up yesterday, envisioned as a Meshen clan warlord: Because Meshen must start out as Kastriyen, but because the easiest way to get to the Ksatriya lifepath that gives the Clan Leader trait is to have one human lifepath, I had the character switching back and forth between settings – Meshen Naiven, Angiris, Eris, Ksatriya. What happened to the required trait “Beautiful” from that Eris lifepath? Is this character an eerily beautiful Ksatriya, eyestalks and all, or does Beautiful go away? What happens if I hop back to Human again and take Princess – is the Princess body Beautiful or not?

  2. Now, the rules also make it clear that changing caste means changing body; but they strongly imply that as long as a character is in the same lifepath, it is keeping the same body. But “A Vaylen player may choose the actual age of his body—and hence his outward appearance.” {p. 190) And even if I don’t want a young body, what if I do a half-dozen Human lifepaths in a row and end with child? Do I keep my stat bonuses from prior lifepaths in the same setting, even though my current body is too young to have been the same one I had during those lifepaths?

  3. And then I’m just plain confused on the rules for what abilities a secondary body has. All the rules say is:

“The Vaylen’s last setting determines what his current main host is. That host gains access to all of the skills earned on the lifepaths. An additional body may only take skills and stat bonuses from the lifepaths in its caste. A Ksatriyen body cannot benefit from Human lifepaths, for example. The process is similar to burning up a relationship, but the additional host body’s choices are much more limited.” (p. 192-193)

But the text from the main character burning chapter on subordinates as relationships doesn’t offer anything more specific than: “They must take two fewer lifepaths than the character they are associated with, and their skill exponents are capped at 4s.” (p. 119)

So I can see two completely incompatible ways of interpreting this:

a) I select the caste for my secondary body. I look at all the lifepaths my character took in that caste, and that caste only: That gives me the stats, skills, etc. etc. for the secondary body. I.e. I took Meshen Naiven, Angiris (in Ksatriyen), Eris (in human), Ksatriya (in Ksatriyen), Princess (in human): A human secondary body is burned up as having taken the Eris and Princess lifepaths only, and a Ksatriyen secondary body is burned up as having taken the Angiris and Ksatriya lifepaths only. The secondary bodies get sub-sets of the lifepaths the primary character did.

b) I select the caste for my secondary body. I then burn up that secondary body, using two fewer lifepaths than the character got, and limited to that one caste, but otherwise totally unrestricted. I.e. I took Meshen Naiven, Angiris, Eris, Ksatriya, Princess – five lifepaths: A human secondary body gets any three lifepaths (5 minus 2) only in the Human setting, so I could take, say, Meshen Naiven, Ascetic, Syzgyzy; and a Ksatriyen secondary body gets any three lifepaths in the Ksatriyen setting, so I could take Meshen Naiven, Bhrigu, Ansa. The secondary bodies don’t have to overlap my primary character’s lifepaths at all.


Check out Dante Al-Ghazi on the wiki. He’s got three bodies. I’ve got him separated by stat blocks, trait blocks and skill blocks.

Let me know if that helps.


Dante does help: It looks like the answer to question (3) is (a), choose secondary bodies’ skills from the primary’s lifepaths of the appropriate caste.

Carrying over stats is a bit more opaque. Dante’s Human caste lifepaths give him Stat bonuses of +2 M from Princess and Queen; his Vaylen caste lifepaths give him +3M from Diplomat, Scientist, and Cult Leader. The Child body has a total of 8 in mental stats, which means it got a bonus of +2 somewhere, which I presume came from the Human lifepaths rather than the Vaylen ones, because the numbers match up that way.

But this doesn’t resolve the essential weirdness: The Child’s 12 years old. It wasn’t even born when Dante earned that +2 M from being a Princess and Queen. Does that just not matter, somehow? What exactly carried over from that experience of Dante’s?

Or maybe you’re taking the Mental bonuses earned in the time the Child’s been alive, i.e. the last 12 years – which corresponds to the Scientist and Cult Leader lifepaths, a tidy +2M. Except the Child was one year old when Dante started being a scientist. So that doesn’t simplify things either.

I think I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around what the backup bodies are doing while the character is going through its primary’s lifepaths. They’re not in cold storage – the book says that bodies are too precious for that and get recycled to host other Naiven. Is the primary character swapping into them to keep them “freshened up,” like a horse that doesn’t race this season still being taken out for exercise? Or did Dante hull them, or buy them in whatever ghastly Vaylen economy handles such things, just before play began?

Sydney, you’re over-thinking this. Just take the bonuses as they’re given. Make up what ever story you need to make sense: the child was gifted, the Vaylen was switching bodies, what ever.

For me, once Dante got a body, he used it. This made him more powerful even among the Vaylen and gave him access to greater opportunity.

Not possible. That never happens. I’m just not like that. [twitch]

Thanks. I will attempt to recite the mantra, “let it ride,” over and over to myself while concentrating on the sacred image of the Burning Wheel.

I’d fallen in love with the concept of a Vaylen whose primary body was a little child, and then gotten all tangled up in the mechanics, but I realize now that does not mean the Vaylen necessarily has the “Child” trait: I just treat the body as if it were a regular adult with all the normal stat pools, skills, etc., and then make the age color.

Which does mean I give up the mechanical advantage of having the “Child” trait on the character sheet to invoke whenever someone says, “No, I don’t care if it’s just a kid, I’m not turning my back on it/letting it past the security checkpoint/giving it a piggyback ride so it can hull me.” But I think that’s a small sacrifice to get a full-sized stat pool.

Reviving this thread because I have a question that follows directly on my questions from October:

P. 192-193:

The Vaylen’s last setting determines what his current main host is. That host gains access to all of the skills earned on the lifepaths. An additional body may only take skills and stat bonuses from the lifepaths in its caste. A Ksatriyen body cannot benefit from Human lifepaths, for example.

What about secondary bodies if the character goes directly from Human Caste to the Vaylen setting, or vice versa? Does a human secondary body get to take advantage of the skills and skill points from both the Human Caste and Vaylen setting lifepaths? Or do you have to pick and choose, so that some human secondary bodies are exclusively Human Caste and don’t get Vaylen Setting skills, while other bodies are exclusively Vaylen Setting human and don’t get Human Caste skills?

The rules say explicitly that stat bonuses carry over from one to the other (p. 189), so they’re treated as the same caste for that purpose at least.

(And yes, I looked at Dante al-Ghazi, but I couldn’t reverse-engineer the rule from him, as a lot of his skills don’t seem to be from his lifepaths).

Right. You’ve got it. You have to take your skills from your Caste – Human or Vaylen.

And general points are your friend. They apply to all bodies.

Got it. So a secondary body can access the skills from EITHER the character’s Vaylen Setting lifepaths OR the character’s Human Caste lifepaths, BUT NOT BOTH.

Q: How do I burn up a Vaylen with multiple bodies?

A: Fry the atmosphere off its planet.