Vaylen vs non-Vaylen FoN?

Hi all.
Another newcomer here, struggling to get a campaign moving. It’s been … months since we had our world burning session, and weeks since we burned out PCs. I have all the worksheets here; the PCs are almost ready to go, even if their beliefs could do with … a bit of polishing. The big hurdle has always been making myself burn up the NPCs. I’ve been picked up a lot of good advice from other threads here, and I think I’m getting closer to knowing what I want to do with them. At least the Vaylen mastermind. The other two…

We’ve decided to have only one vaylen on the planet to begin with; the other two are human. And thinking ahead to the next phases, I’m uncertain of how antagonistic they should be. They represent “the other side”, but is it enough that they are opposed to the PCs, or should they be directly (if unknowingly) further the cause of the Vaylen invaders?
I feel this is something I need to have a grasp on in order to properly create their motivations.

I know that this is a vague and general post. I’ll write more specifics about the world and the characters later, if there’s interest. I’ll just say that we’ve made a young colony world with a small population and a hostile environment; a world settled by prospectors eager to harvest a rare and valuable substance, and administrated by a corporation ruthlessly exploiting the settlers to profit from refining and exporting the spice.

If I know my GM (Trithemius), he’ll jump in here pretty soon, but I can field it from the player perspective. Our current campaign started in the Usurpation Phase with a single Vaylen GMFoN, while the other two were human. The strategy the GM employed was to have the Vaylen in a position of power playing puppetmaster to reignite factional fighting, forging secret alliances to further that goal and generally enabling troublemakers on both sides to push their foolish, short-sighted agendas - all while pretending to play the concerned, neutral peacemaker.

Meanwhile the other two GMPCs had completely human agendas which directly opposed those of one or more PCs: one was a Mundas inquisitor hunting relentlessly for war criminals, the other was an arrogant, militaristic noble looking to cement his claim to a title vacated by one of the PCs (and not averse to using force to get his way).

As it turned out, the Usurpation Phase largely revolved around the inquisitor character’s pursuit of one (completely guilty) PC army marshall, with the vaylen just stirring things up and goading various hotheads - like the noble - into precipitous action.

Of course, at the end of the Usurpation, she also hulled the militaristic noble, so now we have a rather more serious problem…

So in short, yes, having one or two of the GMFoNs be entirely human characters with agendas opposing those of the PCs will work well, especially if the vaylen can play both sides against each other.

It’s all in the Beliefs. You can have people ostensibly working on the same side who have very different goals.

That’s certainly the case with the player characters in that game, whose tendency towards uncoordinated action is getting them royally reamed… :rolleyes:

Edit: fixed a typo

Well, in our third campaign (Burning Azwa) I had got 5 NPCs and only two of them were hulled - what is more, I had created Psychologist who meet and helped Vaylen leader (and it was before I have read Sheevas War! ;) ), but I had got also an Mukhadish, who tried to become independent of Vaylens society.

And you know, theres many ways to complicate humans story - for almost a half of Infiltration Phase Humans (PCs) fought against themselves because of my NPC`s intrigues had succeded :wink:

I don’t know if I have anything to add! The hulling of noble was mostly there to stop me making another connection to the noble and giving my side free Dispo bonuses in future Firefights.

I also wanted some scope for horrible revelations if the PCs ever do manage to turn the GMFoN inquisitor to their side; heaven help me if he ever gets the stones to assess the Archcotare!


As a reply to the OP I’d say that you don’t need to have all the GMCFoNs working knowingly with the Vaylen at the outset. In fact having some motivated by purely normal interests makes it more fun in a lot of ways. I like that people have other reasons to oppose the PCFoNs, I get them first, then I work out how to connect them up with the actual Vaylen GMFoNs.

I would start to bring them together as the phases roll on though; this can happen as a result of play (support for people who help you against your enemies - i.e. the jerk PCFoNs!) or as a result of manipulation (like my puppetmistress chamberlain who is now consolidating her hold by hulling everyone in sight. P.S. lexifab you are next, assuming your surgeon doesn’t kill you after your parachute-free base-jumping antics!).

I did this too, in our first campaign.

I had an ancient crimelord psychologist who knew more than most about the Vaylen, but not enough. He believed their genetic technologies would be able to rejuvenate him, to give him back his youth and vigour.

That had a really neat dynamic at the start too… the ancient GMFoN crimelord was the mentor of the young PCFoN crimelord and they both had positive beliefs about each other (that all went terribly wrong). Good times!

I like that people have other reasons to oppose the PCFoNs, I get them first, then I work out how to connect them up with the actual Vaylen GMFoNs.

Heh, thats nice! That remind me one more thing from Burning Azwa - one of my NPCs was non-hulled artificier, whose daughter was taken by Vaylen as a hostage (and guarant of his loyalty to Vaylens leader). In the middle of the phase Humans found out what was her role in Vaylen`s plan, captured/saved her and started to convince Artificier to change the side - it were one of most brilliant moments in campaign: I had challenged players and they challenged me instead!

Thanks, folks.
For the non-Vaylen NPCs, I’ll make sure to design their beliefs to stand against the PCs. I haven’t formulated any of them yet, so these are good tips.

Another thing has occured to me: I’ve planned to start with the Infiltration Phase, and have it really be about infiltration. My main Vaylen-villain is a sleeper agent that has managed to become a prominent political figure. Labour Union spokesman or something to that effect. He will not however have any other Figures of Note explicitly converted to his side (either in mind or body) at the start of the game.

That means the first phase will be all about him trying to manipulate events, setting the Figures of Note against each other … and trying to turn people.
One thing is framing scenes to fascilitate this kind of intrigue. Challenging enough in itself, I imagine. Another, more concrete issue is how to deal with this in practice. I mean, I can’t very well have Duels of Wits against myself! What then, is the solution for conflicts between NPCs? Resolve them as Versus Tests?

You have the beautiful luxury of simply saying “yes” to one side or the other. Have the side that best challenges the players’ Beliefs come out on top.