So I'm about to hull a GMFON

Okay, so my fiendish plot may blow up in my face.

My plan was to have three unhulled GMFONs throughout the Infiltration. It’s worked great! There’s lots of storyline and setting laid out. It’s all good. But just recently I was made aware of the fact that only GMFONs get to make or help Maneuver rolls.

Long story short: If I hull my GMFON, is he still a GMFON? Because story-wise, a hulled FON is kind of both, right? The worm introduces some changes but so much of the character resides with the host body.

To further complicate: If the GM were to hull a PCFON, the player would have the option of either leaving the game (as if he were killed) or continuing to play the hulled character for the Vaylen side. He even gets rewarded for it! Although I’m not certain that he’d be considered a GMFON or just a Vaylen character.

And finally: If hulling a GMFON de-FONs him, then there would be an extremely strong incentive to start the game with 3x Vaylen-infested GMFONs, because otherwise I’d be faced with the decision of either shooting myself in the foot every time a character got converted or accepting that the non-hulled GMFONs are destined to be misguided puppets.

Kind of scratching my head on this one.


If you hull him, he still retains FON status.

PCFONs become GMFONs? I dunno, it’s never happened!


Thank you! And a followup:

Do any/all of the Vaylen’s bodies count as FONs for the purpose of the Maneuver roll?


You mean a worm with multiple bodies? Sure. But he can only be in one at a time. It’s usually good form to roll for the body that you used most prominently in the maneuver – usually that’s the main human hull.

are you saying no-one has ever heard of a GM hulling a PC FON? for real? if that’s true, then these BE GMs need to step up their game and go for some PC skulls…

also, i’m not clear on the ‘ruling’ here. in the game we played, the Vaylan GM FON hulled another FON and then had that body give us the head of the original body to throw off the trace.

  1. if a Vaylan GM FON hulls a non-vaylan GM FON, either can make the maneuver rolls, but they can’t help each other in the maneuver rolls, can they?

  2. and how many building scene’s does each GM FON get, now that for all intents and purposes there are only two GM FONs left. is it two FON with 3, or 3 FON with 9?

I’d like to propose this clarification:

If the character starts as a human Figure of Note (that is, a FON that is merely human – not necessarily one working “for” the human side!) and gets hulled, the human shell remains a Figure of Note because that human was destined to be hulled. In that case, I’d probably say the worm is just another NPC when it’s wearing a different shell.

If the character starts as a Vaylen Figure of Note (i.e a Naiven implanted in a body), it’s the worm that’s the Figure of Note, and therefore acts as a FON regardless of the shell it’s wearing at the time (one of several humans, shudren, whatever).

Is that fair or did I just break something?


Dunno if this makes sense, but when the worm hulls a FON, he becomes that person. He takes on that character’s history, contacts, mental patterns, etc… So I’d think that the worm would replace the original FON as the new FON (rather than the body, with the worm as an NPC). Think of it as your FON getting a very bizarre new ability (the ability to move to other bodies).


Totally cool Chris, and I love exploring the theme of identity, individuality and what it means to be human.

Now try these two scenarios on for size from a player’s POV:

  1. I’m playing a FON in a human body and just got hulled. Is my FONness associated with my body or my identity? If identity travels with the worm, it sounds like the human inside is effectively killed. But it’s not, of course. The worm has no identity, as I understand it, without being implanted into something. It’s not sitting inside its little tub/vat/drum scheming.

So is every Vaylen (ie any given Naiven-organic symbiosis) its own identity?

Assuming my new identity is an amalgam of my starting character and that of the worm, to what am I attaching the fact that I’m a Figure of Note? The human shell? The little wriggling worm? The Vaylen that results from the bonding? If the amalgam-being jumps back to its first body (carrying with it the encoded memories, traits, skills, etc. of its new conquest) do we treat the worm as a FON regardless of the body it inhabits?

(Actual situation from my game: Two Vaylen corner a GMFON, Freddy. Vaylen #1 hulls Freddy with the Naiven that’s in Vaylen #2 and puts V2’s starter body in cryonic storage for later exchange. Who’s the FON now? Is it Freddy-with-worm? Or is it now the worm, carrying around what’s left of Freddy as it moves between bodies? And, existentially speaking, what happened to Freddy?)

  1. I’m playing a Vaylen with multiple bodies. I switch out of my human shell and into my ksatriyen battle body to go kick ass. Am I still considered a Figure of Note while I’m in my ksatriyen body? Or is my FONness attached to the human shell? Or is my FONness attached to the worm?


Here’s the breakdown:

  • Personal identity is attached to a worm. As the worm moves from body to body, it is self-aware regardless of what shell it wears.

  • Being a Figure of Note is attached to your personal identity. OR being a FON is attached to your identity within the world (eg your body, which is what carries stuff like relationships, affiliations, resources, etc.).

  • If the first is true, then the Vaylen player who moves from body to body continues to be a Figure of Note regardless of the body it wears.

  • If the second is true, then the Vaylen is only a Figure of Note while it’s wearing the body that’s identified as a Figure of Note.

Now, Chris, based on what you just said – identity travels with the worm – I think that introduces some interesting mechanical twists in the game. What if the very same worm hulls two GMFONs? The Naiven has now encoded three (for the sake of argument) identities: the original and two GMFONs. Who gets to help? If I jump into several bodies in the course of a single maneuver, who was I?

We’re deep in to P.K. Dick country now.

My head is spinning! Aaugh, gotta go get scanned for worms now.


Personal identity is a composite of the worm and the shell, as I understand it, not identical to the personal identity of the shell back when it was a real boy, but probably closer (in composition, not in action) to that than to the personal identity of the same worm in a different shell.

So, my guesses at your questions? It depends:
You can switch to your Ksatriyen for a scene or two: treat as 2ic.
You can switch to your Ksatriyen for several maneuvers, maybe even the whole invasion phase: Treat as FoN.

The FoN-ness isn’t a property of intelligence or sense of self. It’s a property of story. As such, it goes with the player’s conception of character, and I think usually that’s gonna flow with the worm. It carries most of the agenda, after all, even if the history, memory, skills, and personality that act on that agenda change from moment to moment.

Devin, totally agreed on all counts.

So what happens when you pull a worm out of a non-Figure of Note and stuff it into a Figure of Note? Since, upon implantation, the figure is now both characters at once? :smiley:

I suppose, conceptually speaking, you could say a Naiven is an accumulation, never a destruction. So the non-FON Naiven accumulates FON status whenever it picks up a FON (I know, being FON is a function of story and nothing “real”). This implies that if it entered multiple FONs, it would in fact be all of those FONs both literally and story-wise.

The viral implications are also fascinating! If I were playing a Vaylen FON, I’d sure as hell expect to continue being a Figure of Note regardless of the shell I’m wearing…even though the shell at one time imparted certain personality characteristics, memories and skills to me and in fact changed my essential being. So in the game, you could expect all sorts of NPCs to serve as temporary Figures of Note as I jump from body to body.

Most interesting part of burning up a Vaylen that was intended for future reinsertion into another character: You end up with one bad motherfucker, particularly if you burn up tons of Wises (which Vaylen get in spades). My hottie Vaylen seductress has just doubled the # of skills she started out with, and even has a nice library of non-overlapping physical skills (combat skills, piloting, helm, etc.) she can carry around and re-open regardless of the body. Two more jumps and she could end up with the entire skills chapter, either opened or ranked.


The intent upon hulling is to take over, so yeah, I’d say you’re now potentially a FoN.

HOWEVER. I don’t think you get to hull a human FoN and then sabotage their phase dispo or anything. I’m not sure what happens there, but I think that FoN counts as dead for phase dispo purposes.

I think this really only matters in terms of taking over Vaylen-side FoNs before their spotlight phase. IIRC you don’t strictly need to be a FoN to roll for maneuvers (though I don’t remember exactly which GM characters can) so that doesn’t matter. It might be that if the Vaylen are the GM’s side, this lets them take over human FoNs to gain additional characters who can roll for maneuvers.

No matter the bodies or personalities, a Vaylen is still one character. He obeys all of the rules for being a single character in Burning Empires – i.e., he can’t help himself!


Ah! But the crux of the issue is, in part, due to the difference between GMFONs and PCFONs and who gets to roll in the Infection.

Only GM Figures of Note get to roll or help the Maneuver.

The matter is less pressing when it comes to the PCs.


So, can we condense this down to “Does a worm who hulls a human FoN get to roll for the Vaylen side during maneuvers, if he would not otherwise be eligible?”

Only if the worm started in a Vaylen FoN.

Literally a Vaylen or a FON on the Vaylen side?


Ah, wait! I see you said “in a Vaylen FoN” and not “as a Vaylen FoN”, which is the same I suppose. Should have read the answer more closely.

So…hulling a Vaylen FON actually weakens the Vaylen’s side of the story? Color me skeptical.


Wait, did you mean “human” is in an evolved ape who takes human lifepaths? Or “human” as in “one side of the conflict in Burning Empires”?

I meant “one side of the conflict” or “from the opposing side” with the assumption that any hulling would be done by or at least on behalf of the Vaylen side of the conflict.

I think for perfect clarity, you need to set out an example with names, positions, and who hulls whom.

Actual example from my game:

Steady Freddy is a human smuggler, con man, and aspiring crime boss. He’s a plain-vanilla human. He’s a Figure of Note on the GM’s side.

Lechuga and DeVries are a pair of Vaylen agents. They are not Figures of Note, just NPCs I introduced late in the Infiltration phase with my Circles reserve. (My theory being, I wanted to start the Infiltration with no Vaylen Figures of Note because Infiltration is hard to get any narrative traction in.)

Fred gets nabbed by Lechuga’s toughs, taken to his hulling operation, and is given DeVries’ worm. Fred, a GMFON, is given an NPC’s encoded worm. Is Fred still a Figure of Note?