Realization: I can't figure out Vaylen character burning

Maybe it’s the weird Sanskrit; more likely it’s some confusion surrounding lifepaths called “Vaylen” and “Human,” but by golly I’m having a hell of a time parsing out how Vaylen character burning is supposed to work.

I’m gonna walk through the process in the hopes I can clarify it to myself by typing it out. When I bump into a WTF I’ll highlight it.

  1. Pick a clan. Every Vaylen character starts out from one of the six clans, yes? Easy enough.

1a) Since many/most Vaylen characters are going to end up in human bodies for the purposes of the game, it appears I can take any clan except Yaadasahm and (eventually) end up in a human body. True? The Vibhuuten specifies you can jump straight to Human caste, but the other castes don’t seem to have a specific restriction on Human after the 2nd LP.

  1. The Human setting represents life in a human body but in Vaylen space. Is this correct?

2a) The Vaylen setting represents life in a human body but in Human space. Is this correct?

2b) Am I the only one to find this confusing? :confused: :rolleyes:

  1. If I’m going to build a Vaylen agent in a human body, it appears I should piece it together using Vaylen setting LPs. Example: If I want a Vaylen who’s come into command of some Anvil, I should aim for the Commander LP. True?

  2. Can Vaylen characters ever enter settings from the “Empire Characters” section of the book? Or are you supposed to explicitly stick to the Vaylen setting in the “Vaylen Characters” section?

EDIT: 4a) The reason for this confusion is the requirement lines for the “Commander” and “Captain” LPs in the Vaylen setting. Everywhere else, the requirements explicitly state “Any Human Caste lifepath.” In “Commander” and “Captain,” it says “any Human lifepath.” That makes me go huh!

  1. It appears the Ksatriyen, Vaishyen and Shudren Caste settings are intended to represent periods of time in which this particular Naiven was not in a human body (including its current LP). True?

  2. Host bodies. Lord, don’t get me started. Too late! Okay…I have four body type choices, and at any given time my Vaylen character is inhabiting one of the four body types (human, ksatriyen, vaishyen, shudren). You start the game with the body type that matches your last caste: human if your last setting was Human or Vaylen; ksatriyen, vaishyen, or shudren as appropriate.

  3. Bonus points as you move from caste to caste: Human and Vaylen castes both use human bodies, so no changes or whatever as long as you stay in that body. But if you change between the various other bodies, you lose those bonuses as you move bodies? Really? Even the mental pool bonuses?

Choosing your host body: It looks like characters in the Human or Vaylen settings choose from either a “Human” or “Child” body and add all the bonuses they picked up while in that body. I’m not sure how one is supposed to accumulate any stat pool bonuses when you start in a “Child” body. Common sense dictates you don’t proceed through eight LPs in a “Child” body.

  1. The other freaky bodies are only available if your end setting is ksatriyen, vaishyen, or shudren. True?

  2. Buying extra bodies seem straightforward; you have to belong to one of the three “rich” clans and you had to have taken LPs from those castes. Oh wait…what’s this about acquiring skills based on the body you’re in? This is totally bizarre. So if I pick up “Intimidation” from a Human Caste LP, my Ksatriyen warrior-badass backup body won’t have that skill?

10a) I see that picking up backup bodies in the beginning is treated “like burning a relationship.” I could use some help in figuring that out. How many LPs does this backup body start with? Your base -2LPs, like a 2iC?

And that’s it. Going through clarified a tiny bit, but as you can see I have a bunch of questions left. Help!


  1. Yes. Yes.

  2. Yes. Yes. I hope so.

  3. Yup.

  4. Nope. “Any Human” refers to Human Setting in the Vaylen chapter.

  5. Yup.

  6. Ok. What’s the problem?

  7. Yup. You’re over thinking it.

  8. Yup.

  9. I have no clue. I don’t have my book with me. Anyone?


Curiously, you can’t type the numeral 8 followed by a ) sign without the system thinking you’re trying to make a ::cool:: emoticon. So, my eighth item went unnumbered. (I’ve seen this behavior on other vBulletin systems, no biggie).

#2: Okay, this combined with #3 and #4 greatly simplifies this section. Thank you. (Side note: This reminds me of Navajo and Apache counties here in AZ. The joke goes, all the Navajos live in Apache County and all the Apaches live in Navajo county.)

#6: Is really the setup for #7 and the missing #8. What’s the reasoning for losing the mental pool bonuses when you change bodies? Is it a balance thing? It’s counterintuitive to me.

#8 refers to starting the game in a Child body, and whether you can plausibly have acquired any M/P pool bonuses before play. I see way back in the day, Syd asked this question as well and you told him not to take it literally (i.e. yes, you start with your M/P bonuses as long as you were human the whole time). This contradicts your ruling in #7, which states you lose your M/B pool bonuses as you change bodies. Either you do or you don’t lose the bonuses; either you do or you don’t bother noting when you change bodies during character burning. Why is the Child scenario a special case?

Eagerly awaiting feedback on #10 and #10a.

Thanks! Honestly, points 2/3/4 straighted most of this stuff out for me. All I’m left with now is the dynamics of the body-changing.


  1. Cause it’s conceptually easier to say “you don’t carry over stat points” than it is to say, “you carry over some, but not others.” Also, fiction-wise, Vaylen don’t really get any smarter as worms. They can encode experiences and memories, but the actual processing power they have is completely dependent on their current host. You could put a genius Vaylen commander in the body of a dog and all you’re going to get is a cheeky dog.

8 ) Because I can make a case for remaining in the child body for my character’s entire prehistory. AND it’s incentive to take Child bodies. Which is cool.

Vaylen don’t replace your brain, they piggyback on it, use it to do the thinking for them. So a Vaylen in a stupid body is stupid, the same worm in a smart body is smart. You can burn some stuff into your worm-brain, but most of it comes from the host. Thus, the mental pool bonuses are per-body, not per-worm, because the brainpower is per-body, not per-worm.

Okay…from a purely conceptual RPing POV, if the worm is dumb, how/why does it carry anything at all from body to body? Traits are portable, per the rules, but not memories or knowledge? And if memories or knowledge aren’t portable, how is it the Vaylen even know they’re Vaylen when they’re installed?

I have no idea what’s going on, logically or narratively, in the comic’s hulling scenes where all the sudden there’s a shift in personality and the hulled character becomes a competent Vaylen agent. Take the whore in Faith Conquers: if her Naiven arrives dumb, how is it she’s now a) tasked with fooling Trevor and b) loyal at all to that mission?

It’s just making any sort of sense to me. Do Naiven/Vaylen have some sort of hive-mind working in the psychic background? Can they sense each other, and by doing so understand their own differentness as they travel among unhulled humans?

Basically, if the worm is that dumb, how does it have any effect at all on its host?


The worm is not sentient. That’s why they need humans in the first place. They can encode traits, knowledge and memories into their bodies chemically, and transfer them from host to host. Basically software. But the host provides the raw processing power, the hardware.

You might find the Vaylen part of this post helpful.

Read it, way back. Any further thoughts on the limits of Naiven intelligence, memories, etc?

The only logical solution I can come up with is that the Naiven fully encode everything, every last detail, but the limits of what they can bring to bear are based on their host bodies. Every skill and trait has to be treated like a freestanding piece of software, and either the hardware (host) can run that software or it cannot. Maybe even more specifically, there are different iterations of each skill and trait that might not run properly between hosts: Intimidation learned as a dog might not translate meaningfully into Intimidation learned as a Human. Could lead to amusing scenes of agents in Human bodies growling and baring teeth, or of hulled dogs trying to pat holstered weapons. They know they have the skill and they know which skills work in which kinds of bodies, but in game terms they can’t actualize those skills.

There are some high-concept skills that I can’t see being fixed to a host (Strategy, Administration, Logistics, etc.) but in the interest of simplicity I guess I can handwave those away.

But if the Naiven encode all memory, including those they accumulate from their hosts (which might not be everything; just the “interesting” stuff they stumble across during their stay – they’d be motivated to keep hosts with memories left to explore), that allows them to be an action-ready Vaylen agent as soon as the hulling is complete and they’re integrated into their new host. They know what they are, they know what their motivations and goals are, and they’ve figured out what the new hardware can and cannot operate.

Is this a fair estimate of how body-changing works or am I overlooking something?


In the simplest terms, think of a Naiven as personifying Will and Memory. When it moves to a new body, it supplants that creature’s will and “uploads” its own memories (including, as you say, memories of previous hosts). Everything else comes from the body-of-the-moment.


This has been terrific and helpful, thanks everyone! The Vaylen are no less weird but they’re at least a bit more comprehensible now. This also helps me parse how Vaylen character burning is supposed to play out.

Thanks, Chris, for the $0.02. It’s got me thinking about all kinds of interesting Vaylen character motivations and strategies. Do you envision very powerful or ambitious Vaylen making a concerted effort to body-surf, jumping quickly from host to host in a mad accumulation of memories and real-time experience?


Paul, it looks as though you’re pretty bedded down with the Vaylen by now, but I can’t help but suggest that you read this.

LOL, yeah, thanks for the reminder. :slight_smile:


You’re welcome! :smiley:

I love you guys. I give you setting and you call bullshit. I don’t give you setting and you complain. It’s like a win-win situation – FOR YOU!


Flak Flak Flak…flawless victory!



Luke: You’re dealing with gamers here. Gamers, man! Logic and reason are always fluid concepts with us!