Question about life in Vaylen space?

I have read both graphic novels and I’m about 30% done w/ my ‘straight through’ read of the BE rules (I’ve jumped around the stunning BE rulebook a lot ever since I got it) and I have some questions about what life is like in Vaylen controlled space.

So the Vaylen conquer a world, they round up and hull everybody. Or do they? Are there any exceptions or is everyone from infants to the elderly hulled? My understanding is the Vaylen not only want the human bodies to think/reason with but they want the human’s previous experiences as well. So even an elderly invalid would be an attractive host becuase of their ability to think as well as their long life of past experience. The infants not so much. Besides not having much past experience if a Vaylen is only as smart as it’s host, a baby-minded Vaylen isn’t all that smart (though arguably smarter than a goo swiming worm in some respects). But on the other hand it would eventually be smarter once it had grown up, would the Vaylen hull it now or later?

Then what about after the successful invasion? Do the Vaylen w/ their new human bodies proceed to ‘get busy’ <cue electric guitar music here> and procreate more human hosts for the billions of waiting Naiven? And if so when are these new hosts hulled? Right after birth, in childhood, in adolescence, etc?

And why don’t the Vaylen just mass clone human host bodies? At least they would have the human brains to think/reason with. I know they don’t have the added bonus of past human experience/emotion but once the Vaylen conquer a world that’s all used up in the first wave isn’t it?

There are people that say wild game tastes better than meat you buy in the store. I think this analogy applies to Vaylen and their preference for hulling people “in the wild”.

Well, seeing how Vaylen produce a much greater number of Naiven then there would be humans on a planet, I think after they land, most humans recieve a hulling and become vaylen. Currently, earth has roughly 6 billion human beings on it, the Vaylen control many, many worlds, some of which may approach this number. Now, as invertebrate, defenseless worms, they produce large broods of children, lets say 30 per worm. If we assume that the Naiven have a male and female sex and we give them a ratio of 50% of the population per sex, that means there are 3 billion worms giving birth to 30 worms in one spawning. Assuming the Vaylen do the best to ensure that every naiven worm survives, we get 90 billion worms in one spawning. That’s probably a really high end estimate, but that would be from one moderately populated planet. I think life on invaded worlds end once they get taken over, at least from the human point of view.

I have been considering a ‘Red Dawn’ (the movie) style campaign, where the PC’s are young-adults just about to hit majority, when their world is assaulted by the Valyen. The campagin would focus around their retreat into the wilds of their world, and surviving while the Vaylen round up everyone they can and impose their ‘order’ on things. The PC’s just struggle to survive until the first covert human teams land to plan the re-taking of their world. It would be interesting to postulate what the Vaylen would do to their newly acquired ‘farm’ world…

Hi, Akfu. I hope you’ll forgive me for doing a cut-up job on your post, but I can see several questions in there that deserve separate attention.

I think there are a few factors at work here:
[li]The Vaylen are connoisseurs. Those with the wherewithal to exchange bodies likely indulge in the practice so that they can partake in the varied flavours of humanity, from child to adolescent to adult to elderly.
[/li][li]The greatest pleasure for a Vaylen is to be a human being in the company of human beings, who treat the Vaylen just as they treated the human prior to hulling. As such, the Vaylen have a vested interest in not only keeping the structures of a planet they’ve conquered intact, but also keeping quite a lot of the human beings on the planet not only unhulled, but unaware that the Vaylen are now in control of their lives.
[/li][li]The BE text states in several places that having a human body is a status symbol, and that the holders of power, after the Yaadasahm, are those in the human castes. This makes an unhulled human being with a few decades of living under its belt a commodity. Controlling which Naiven get which humans is, no doubt, something which the various Vaylen clans often struggle over. Think about how much wealth a Vaylen who controls a family - a community - a whole world full of humans living their lives away would have, how much power over his fellow Vaylen.
[/li][li]Finally: More than anything else, Vaylen want to be human. So what happens when a Naiven is inserted into a hulled human and the subsequent Vaylen starts to think it is human, in every way that’s important? So much so that it goes over to the other side, dons a kilt, slathers on blue face-paint and starts yelling, “FREEEEDOOOOOM!” at the top of its lungs? What if we’re not just talking about one Vaylen, but a whole tribe of them? Could that spread to infect a clan? A planet? Sure, it’s not likely. But what if a pair of human caste parents get so attached to the baby they’ve given birth to and the person it grows up to become that they decide that trapping this person in its own body is a crime against humanity? What if the majority of human caste in a nation or a planet got that idea in their worm-ridden heads? I bet that scenario keeps the heads of a few clans up at night.

In a way, Akfu, they already are creating clones; it’s just that the clones in question - the various Vaishyen and Shudren bodies, the Mukhadish and until their rebellion, the Kerrn - aren’t quite human. But except for the Shudren and Mukhadish, most of those clones already have human-level intelligence. And then there are the Yaadasahm, with their Makara breeding tanks. They’re all thinking and reasoning just fine, thank you!

Actually, you know what? Yeah. The Vaylen hulls everyone. Mom, Pop, Little Timmy and the dog. Worms for all. Constant turnover of trephines due to excesssive wear. All those transparently bogus rationales I was coming up with in that last post, they just… take the terror out of the terror, you know? Hell with that. A neat little skull-sized prison for each organism even vaguely sentient!

Actually Rob, I think you were correct the first time.

You guys should check out this thread

To quote myself from various posts in that thread:

And a little backup from Chris:

Have any of you read The City of Gold and Lead? I could see Vaylen occupation being something like that, with the Vaylen ‘honouring’ a number of people each year with hulling. And I bet that’s exactly what happens when the Usurpation succeeds. There’s no reason to bring in Hammer assets at all. Just begin instituting ‘games’ every year, and have the winners be hulled. Tout hulling as a profoundly spiritual experience, and a virtual necessity for advancement in most careers.

In that thread I linked to above, a few of us buzzed about how we loved the Tripod novels as kids. The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead, and The Pool of Fire, are in large part responsible for my love of quality SF. I was not aware of When the Tripods Came until rafial posted the wikipedia link though. It was published years after I read the original trilogy!

This model is actually much, much more upsetting than the “planet-sized concentration camp” idea.

In the concentration camp, you lose your life, probably your dignity, perhaps even your morality as you become so desperate to survive that you turn on your fellow-prisoners (think of the hardened criminals the Nazis put in charge of political prisoners, or the Sonderkommando Jews who survived by becoming crematorium cleaners). But at least you’re fighting to be you the whole time.

In the carefully cultivated garden world, though, you give up your identity – your soul – and you do it gladly.

I’m beginning to think of some appalling mash-up of The City of Gold and Lead, The Matrix, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and the Jim Carey movie The Truman Show.

P.S.: I’m suddenly reminded of one of the Beliefs I wrote for a Vaylen clan leader I sketched out:

We are not the Terror: We are Hope. We are not the extinction of humanity: We are the next stage in its evolution. We are not alien: We are your truest selves.

Wow! Thanks to everyone who replied, it’s given me a lot to think about. My reason for asking in the first place was wondering if it would be possible to have an un-hulled human who had been ‘liberated’ from a world that had fallen to the Vaylen. It seems while not necessarily common it is certainly within the realm of possibility.

My original thought was for it to be a character concept for the human side but after reading this and the other thread I had another idea for a Vaylen sympathetic antagonist:

Imagine a 10 year old boy growing up on a Vaylen ‘garden world’ a generation or two after the Vaylen take over. There’s no war, no poverty, no hunger, virtually no crime. Menial labor is handled by the Vaylen constructs. Education? Free, and everyone is allowed as much as they can absorb. Artistic talent? Heavily encouraged. Health care? Also free and the best possible. No one works unless they want to, life is one long holiday. And the Vaylen? They’re the ones in responsible for this Eden. And every now and then the best and the brightest humans are selected to join them and help make sure everything remains a paradise. A huge honor and responsibility, true public servants. And it’s not like they’re gone. If your father or sister is hulled they still remember you. They still call or come by to visit, maybe even use their influence on your behalf because of course they still love you.

And then one day an expedition from the Iron Empires raids the world (maybe during Chris’ aforementioned crusade). They mainly target the schools thinking to save the poor innocent youths. Thousands of school children are ‘liberated’ and carried off back to human space. The boy never sees his parents again, instead being raised in a church orphanage. But at least he’s ‘free’ right? Free to see and experience everything that humanity has to offer without the chains of the Vaylen. What would the boy think of the Iron Empires where men kill each other over differences of religious or political belief? Where people starve and beg in the streets beneath the high-rise condos of the wealthy and the spoiled? Better the ‘Terror’ of the worm. And when as a young adult he is contacted by a Vaylen agent how readily he would believe their tales that it was the rich and powerful who struggle selfishly against the Vaylen solely to keep themselves in power. But the boy has seen the truth; he can help save humanity from itself. All he has to do is strive to put himself in a position of power & responsibility. And when the time comes he can help bring the prosperity of the Vaylen to the people of this world…

That’s awesome.

Of course, there are probably also the worlds of abject and total horror. For variety.

You know what I really love about all this? It’s ultimately up to you. There’s plenty of room in Vaylen space for everybody! All we know is that they need bodies and they are coming for them – now. The rest is for you to decide!

Because abject and total horror is, from the Vaylen point of view, a really cool and exciting experience to immerse oneself in. Because, ultimately, they’re not the good guys.

Damn it, I knew I forgot something in my post! I loved that reference to Capping Day! I actually still have the BBC publication of The Tripods Trilogy, with the actors from the TV series on the cover. Never read When The Tripods Came, though. Gotta track it down.

Yeah, Akfu, what he said. And make sure the “you” in “up to you” translates to “the whole group”, not just “the GM”!

Or maybe even leave it undefined. Isn’t it a truism that what you don’t know is scarier than what you do know?

Or define some detailed aspect of it really, really specifically – and just when the players think they’ve figured it out and can take a clear moral stance, throw some completely contradictory evidence at them.

'Cause this never, ever happens in the real world. I’m a reporter, trust me!

Beautiful, Aaron.


The situation with the vaylen garden worlds reminds of some of the stuff I’ve heard of about the C’tan. The big, vampiric stargods that sally forth with their clanking horde of undead robots (not a typo) that have the entirety of humanity who know about them crapping bricks about being eaten actually put races they take over into utopias. Arguably, they tend to end horribly when The Deciever is involved, but still. Kinda takes some of the terror out of them in a way. Why fight for your life against something that’s going to make your life better and run only a minimal risk of being made into a vaylen? Arguably, there are horrible worlds in Vaylen space and some of those garden worlds are going to end badly, but picking one off here and there just kinda… just my opinion.

I demand a vaylen source book though!