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I'm going to be GMing a new game soon, and I'd like to feature a Red Vadeli as an NPC involved in an adventure around Corflu.

I have the Guide and Revealed Mythologies to inform myself of Vadeli myth and lore.  Are there any other obvious sources on their myths, culture etc. I could avail myself of?  And especially, are there any good sources for mechanical portrayals of the Vadeli, of any caste, in previous editions of RuneQuest?

I'd also be happy to hear about anyone else's experiencing running or playing games that involved interaction with the Vadeli, and any general pointers on using them in the setting and system.

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8 minutes ago, dumuzid said:

I'd also be happy to hear about anyone else's experiencing running or playing games that involved interaction with the Vadeli, and any general pointers on using them in the setting and system.

Have you ever played Stormbringer? Our GM basically used the Melniboneans as a base for the Vadeli. Depraved chaos worshipping super wizards. I think he literally through some of our old Melnibonean PCs at us when we were at the high end of one of our campaigns. I can't remember if the story was they were returned Outer Atomic Explorers or what but, they were chaos magic'ed up the wazoo. Lots of demon weapons, armor and all the other nasties from Stormbringer madness brought to Glorantha. 

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I portray the Vadeli as:

- sociopaths, their entire society. 

- generally speaking, they are immortal and very smart and have centuries of experience with their spells and mastery of many skills. 

- they have a set of caste rules that they follow rigidly, to the letter, as that maintains their immortality, but actively work around the spirit of. Lots of things that seem obvious they just don't do - and this includes Brown Vadeli becoming warriors, and using sorceries that aren't caste appropriate. So the Brown Vadeli tend to be sneaky and manipulative to get what they want in indirect ways, and make expert use of a surprising range of sorcery spells. 

- but otherwise, they are human. Very skilled humans with lots of sorcery and no conscience. 

- The Red Vadeli are the absolute worst, because their caste rules DO allow them to use direct violence at every opportunity (and they enjoy it, and are usually sadists), and do let them learn and use combat sorcery. In addition they are absolutely without any sense of honour or mercy or fairness etc - indeed, they regard such things as essentially hilarious and about as sane as running into combat with weight tied to you, a voluntary handicap - and will use every cruel, deceptive, vile trick they can. They are not interested in risking their potential immortality unnecessarily, so will do everything they can to avoid a fair fight, even though they would generally win one due to their skill and sorcery. They like ambushes, sneak attacks, assassinations, poisonings, traps, subversion, blackmail, terror, etc. They love to Tap the lives of captives, enemy spirits, enemy lands etc. 

A cool suggestion from Joerg I think was that the Red Vadeli 'healing' spell is to drain life from captives and transfer it to themselves  - ideally done very visibly so their opponents can watch their attacks result in the life draining from their loved ones. Spells that otherwise turn their opponents against themselves are particularly admired. Poisons that cause their enemies to experience agony, and subdue them so they can be captured, are another Red Vadeli favourite. 

If you are attacking a Red Vadeli position you might find pit traps with poisoned stakes, poisoned wells, traps baited with captured prisoners left in agony, ambushes from positions of safety, ghosts turned against their own people by sorcery, and similar things. 

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Here's how I wrote them up in the Western Races boxouts for my Brief History of Malkionism:

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The Vadeli are ancient enemies of the Brithini. They are a wholly vile race of sly, devious atheists who cheat, steal and blaspheme, utterly corrupt and beyond all hope of redemption. Unlike the Brithini, they do not even pretend to acknowledge the Laws of Malkion.

There used to be three Vadeli races: Brown, Red, and Blue. In the Ice Age, Zzabur's magic sank their foul lands, wiping out all but a few forlorn Brown Vadeli fishermen on a tiny archipelago.

With the Opening of the Oceans, volcanic islands holding monstrous Red Vadeli warriors have appeared, seemingly from nowhere. Worse still, by cozening Dormal's secrets the Vadeli have become a major naval power. Now the Brown Vadeli unfairly command the sea lanes to Pamaltela, relying on their Red cousins to act as corsairs and drive off competitors. They are grotesquely rich, and can charge extortionate prices for those rare goods of which they are the sole suppliers. Fortunately, the ruling race of Blue Vadeli has been extinct since before the Dawn of Time.

Like the Brithini, the Vadeli are immortal so long as they obey their caste rules - though it is well known that these involve incest, promiscuity, murder, and all manner of unnatural acts. To avoid civil strife, the Vadeli are confined to ghettoes in all the Western port cities where their presence must sadly be tolerated.

While writing How the West was One, we saw them as embodying all the false mediaeval tropes about "evil Jews" (baby sacrifice!), crossed with Roman tropes about "evil Carthaginians" (Molochs!), crossed with Israelite tropes about "evil Philistines"... only the truth would always be much, much worse than the outsiders suspected. You could usefully borrow from (noted racist) HP Lovecraft's portrayal of the Men of Leng, perhaps?

An ancient quote by me from the Glorantha Digest:

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The Brown Vadeli I play like sleazy Carthaginian or Phoenician traders, or a mediaeval anti-Semite's view of rich Jewish merchants, or Frank Herbert's dirty, stinking Tleilaxu; the Red Vadeli are inhuman monsters; what do you suppose the Blues would be like?

BTW, please be careful if you're thinking of using anti-semitic racial and religious tropes in Glorantha. If you fear that you or your players aren't mature enough to make good use of these sensationalist libels, don't touch them with a barge-pole. This is inherently offensive material, and could easily cause offence. Handle with care.

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On 6/14/2020 at 1:18 PM, dumuzid said:

I'm going to be GMing a new game soon, and I'd like to feature a Red Vadeli as an NPC involved in an adventure around Corflu.

I have the Guide and Revealed Mythologies to inform myself of Vadeli myth and lore.  Are there any other obvious sources on their myths, culture etc. I could avail myself of?  And especially, are there any good sources for mechanical portrayals of the Vadeli, of any caste, in previous editions of RuneQuest?

I'd also be happy to hear about anyone else's experiencing running or playing games that involved interaction with the Vadeli, and any general pointers on using them in the setting and system.

I have occasionally used the Vadeli in scenarios.

The Vadeli should be superficially charming, co-operative and affable, and very cultured, as well as apparently devoted to their religion, and completely unwilling to perform certain acts that would break their caste restrictions, hence they pay others to perform such acts, or use some magical form of compulsion.  Vadeli will try to cultivate an image that is friendly in keeping with social norms, and claim that there is a great deal of prejudice against their people if the matter of their apparent morality is commented upon.  A Vadeli will, for example, fund an orphanage, and will likely almost never take the children away to serve as experimental subjects.  It is much more likely that the children will be sold into slavery far away when they are of an age, under the guise of employment abroad, so that no ill-deed can be traced back to the perpetrator.  This, of course is only in commercial situations when the opinions of other actually matter.

If the Vadeli were unapproachable, they would be out of business.  If the Vadeli were utterly unreliable, they would be out of business.   Now admittedly you never want the Vadeli holding the whip hand over you, and they are very good lawyers, and will negotiate and min-max situations with as much selfishness as they can get away with.  They will also not necessarily announce that they are Vadeli, for obvious reasons, unless there is good reason to.

I like to think of Vadeli as being very much like cold war spies.  They calculate their actions according to a zero sum game theory.  A Vadeli won't necessarily be cruel or amoral, any more than you yourself would casually kill insects for personal entertainment, but when the misuse and abuse of the short lived races becomes expedient, they won't be troubled by it.  Admittedly some Vadeli will be sadists, but sadism is unnecessary, and they are more about expediency, profit and convenience.

Vadeli society is very much a pecking order, all but literally.  Discontent at the top of the hierarchy creates pain all the way down the chain.  Vadeli will be self-congratulatory preeners, and great layers of social traps.  Vadeli will set up their Vadeli rivals to break their caste restrictions, for example, if they can, as a means of promoting themselves, as then their rival will eventually die and they will inherit.  You likely won't anticipate Vadeli treachery.

Vadeli are consummate opportunists constantly looking for weaknesses they can exploit in people and in situations, all the time.  This is a default setting for them.

Edited by Darius West
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We Vadeli are a misunderstood people.  Everything you've read about us (above) are vile Brithini propaganda.

Vadel was a great explorer and his discoveries of different cultures challenged and threatened the strict conservative traditionalists.

Zzaburr skinned Vadel and bound his soul into a book.  The murderer of Malkion is the truly vile, opportunistic sociopath, not the Vadeli.

We simply acknowledge that all creation requires destruction and accept that chaos is the Creator's tool to create.

Brithini grudgingly accept our logic is unassailable but their prejudices and fear of change (their immortality depends upon stasis) prevents them from accepting that reality.

 

Edited by Pentallion
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Oh, I've realised that I didn't say it outright:

IMG, the material component required for the Vadeli immortality ritual is a child. Your own child. Who is sacrificed as part of the ritual.

The Vadeli love their children, keep them close, and raise large families of them. They're not stupid.

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 More of me, from the old RuneQuest Daily, posted on 30 April 1994:

Quote

I greatly enjoyed reading Sandy's piece on the Vadeli, and am dumping most of my ideas here to complement them (I hope). The following notes are all extrapolations, and should be taken as MHO, not Gloranthan Truth:

The Vadeli are related to the Brithini like Cain was to Abel. Now, never mention this to the Brithini, but "Zzabur, Brother of the Devil" is more properly written "Zzabur, Brother of Vadel"...

The Vadeli know that a little bit of us lives on in our descendents, and have worked out ways of getting it back. Sandy has already mentioned the "material component" for the Vadeli Ritual of Immortality: a child. But if I'm right, it's got to be your own child...

I use the Vadeli as a dumping ground for hysterical blood libels throughout the ages: several good sources. Anti-Semitic (Phoenicians and Carthaginians in traditional racist Ancient History [cf. Bernal's Black Athena, Biblical Molochs, and, e.g. Flaubert's Salammbo]; Jews, esp. the Christian myths of Saints Hugh of Lincoln and William of Norwich, and Chaucer's Prioress's Tale), anti-Christian (from Marcus Aurelius' era: "Thyestean banquets and Oedipidean intercourse"; the fun stuff in "Young Nur and the Warrior Girl" from the 1001 Nights), anti-Pagan (the forged "Donation of Constantine") or just plain nasty (Elizabeth Bathory). Then I mix in a chunk of the dirty, stinking Tleilaxu from Frank Herbert's later DUNE books, for tempting possibilities (ghola/clone/homunculi??), and leave to simmer gently...

A couple of those source references are pretty obscure, even by my standards.

  • Young Nur and the Warrior Girl is a little-known heroic love-story from the Thousand and One Nights -- one which somehow didn't make it into our pantomime tradition -- in which the bloodthirsty Christian King of Constantinople decides that his daughter (the beautiful Christian Princess Miriam, the titular Warrior Girl), having been recaptured from her heroic Muslim lover, must be re-baptised in the blood of Muslim martyrs.
     
  • The Donation of Constantine (a mediaeval forgery used to support the notion of Papal supremacy over the former Western Roman Empire) contains the apocryphal tale of how the Emperor Constantine was urged by his pagan priests to bathe in the blood of innocent children to cure his leprosy.

The rest should be straightforward enough to google.

I found it inspiring that everybody, throughout history, has baselessly accused their neighbours and rivals of similar atrocities, and thought that in Glorantha, wouldn't it be nice if there was one culture of whom it was all true -- following the old Cults of Terror approach of giving comprehensible, mechanical reasons for your villains and monsters to commit the vilest of deeds.

Edited by Nick Brooke
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More of me, from the Glorantha Digest, posted 6 February 1995:

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As everyone in the West knows, the Vadeli are complete shits. They are engendered through anal intercourse, and born through the back passage: literally shat out into the world. This is the scriptural reason why buggery is an intolerable sin to all right-thinking Malkioni...

 

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And this is from Sandy Petersen. RuneQuest stats for a Red Vadeli warrior. We have a winner!

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From: Sandy Petersen <sandyp_at_idgecko.idsoftware.com>
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 96 19:08:12 -0500

Nick Davison
>Red Vadeli captains would only supervise a ship (on deck) when it
>was out of site of land or other ships.

        I agree with you.

>Brown Vadeli use subtle sorcery spells to cause havoc on enemy
>vessels eg ones that affect sails, the mast, the rudder etc.

        I agree. So do Red, but more obviously. I believe that they cast spells that weaken and snap ropes, rot sails, foul food and water, summon shipworms and gribbles to eat hulls, etc.

        I also think that they employ more awful and complex plots. For instance, just as you moved into your ambush of the Vadeli, you might find that every single crewman who'd drunk in a particular tavern the week before (the one that the Vadeli were staying in, remember?) suddenly begins to unwilling obey the Vadeli's mental commands. Evidently something happened in that tavern that your crewmates didn't remember about.

>I'd find very useful any ideas/details available on Vadeli ships,
>stats for a sample Vadeli sailor, officer etc.

Sandy's Opinion

        Read THE DREAM-QUEST OF UNKNOWN KADATH. Play the Vadeli like the mysterious turbaned traders. Hideous stigmata hidden beneath their clothing ... fat slaves and other suspicious items bought in huge numbers ... never-seen oarsmen who lurk belowdecks ...

Vadeli Ships

        Typical Merchant Ship -- A Vadeli ship looks much like anyone else's ship, but has secrets. Here are some examples of what the Vadeli might do:

  • a ship of iron, with a thin veneer of wood to hide its true nature. Just _try_ to ram it!
  • below the waterline, the ship is alive; a monstrous construct with bones, organs, claws, and swim fins, like the underside of a horseshoe crab (or worse).
  • ships that fade in and out of reality, or that transform into mist when you get too near, like the Flying Dutchman
  • ships that can fly, but don't do this unless they're sure no one watching will ever be able to tell the tale.
  • ships that can sail over land, as above. (Dead men tell no tales.)
  • ships that can submerge beneath the waves, and suddenly burst up through the water, like a terrifying haunted vessel.
  • read W. H. Hodgson's sea stories. THE STONE SHIP, for instance. Also the tale about the evil living ship, which spread slime around her for hundreds of yards to pull in prey.
  • ships that open up their front end like a mouth, to engulf smaller vessels.

Anyway, there's 8 ideas for Vadeli vessels.

Stats for a sample Brown Vadeli sailor


STR 22		Move 3
CON 38		Hit Points 25
SIZ 12		Fatigue 60
INT 19		MPs: 34
POW 17
DEX 21 HLT

r leg	*/9	r arm	*/7
l leg	*/9	l arm	*/7
abdom	*/9	head	*/9
chest	*/10

WEAPON		SR	ATTK/PARR	DAMAGE		PTS
Knife		7	95/95		1d4+20+1d6	9
thrown Knife	2/7	140/--		1d4+1d3+18	9
R Fist		7	85/85		1d3+1d6 + Tap	--
L Fist		7	75/75		1d3+1d6 + Tap	--
Kick		7	65/--		1d6+1d6	+ Tap	--
Head Butt	7	65/--		1d4+1d6 + Tap	--
Grapple		7	65		1d6 + Tap	--

Dodge: 140

NOTES: The knife is iron, but plated with bronze, so it does not look valuable. It has a Damage Boost 18 on it.

        When using natural weapons, he can choose one of these three options: Grapple; punch twice and head butt; or punch once and kick once. All attacks are simultaneous. In addition, any hit by any of his natural weapons causes a Tap POW spell to go off, affecting the target if his MPs are overcome. See above for details.

DEFENSES: wears no armor, but any weapon striking him sets off a Tap POW vs. the weapon's wielder.

        Finally, the SR after any injury to the Vadeli is marked by an instant healing of all damage in that location. This healing costs the Vadeli 1 MP for every pt healed. A severed limb is still severed.

MAGIC: in addition to the spells above, he is a Magus, with all appropriate spells and skills. Most spells are in matrices embroidered onto the inside of his turban, cloak, pantaloons, where they are invisible to the casual observer.



Stats for a sample Red Vadeli warrior


STR 52		Move 5
CON 68		Hit Points 43
SIZ 18		Fatigue 120
INT 19		MPs: 34
POW 17
DEX 21 HLT

r leg	*/15	r arm	*/11
l leg	*/15	l arm	*/11
abdom	*/15	head	*/15
chest	*/18

WEAPON		SR	ATTK/PARR	DAMAGE		PTS
RH Rapier	4	185/185		1d6+1 + 3d6	12
LH Rapier	7	140/140		1d6+1 + 3d6	12
Comp Bow	1/5/9	185/40		1d10+1		8

NOTES: remember that a rapier impale does 3d6+3.

        When one of his Rapiers hits a target location, it sets it on fire as per a 1d6. This is only a 1d6-damage fire, but it keeps burning. Armor protects vs. this fire for the first round (only).

        If the composite bow penetrates armor, the target hit location is attacked with a Wither (as per the Pocharngo Rune spell).

DEFENSES: he wears no armor, but any weapon striking him sparks, dulls, and loses 1d6 armor points at once. In addition, he has a Reflect Damage effect on him -- calculate the total damage done to him, and match his MPs vs. that damage. If he overcomes the damage, it is reflected back at his attacker, who takes the damage to _his_ corresponding hit location instead. If the victimized attacker has defensive magic up (like Countermagic), the reflected damage acts as an incoming spell with MPs equal to the damage, and so can be blocked by sufficient Countermagic. A defensive Reflect spell will bounce the damage back at the Vadeli.

        In addition, this Red Vadeli regenerates from damage at the rate of 1d6 pts per turn per hit location until dead.

MAGIC: in addition to the spells above, he is a Magus, with all appropriate spells and skills. Most spells are in matrices embroidered onto the inside of his vest, cap, loinwrap, etc. , where they are invisible to the casual observer.

Sandy P.

 

Edited by Nick Brooke
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1 hour ago, Pentallion said:

Brithini grudgingly accept our logic is unassailable but their prejudices and fear of change (their immortality depends upon stasis) prevents them from accepting that reality.

Yes. The reason why the Brithini really really hate the Vadeli is the Brithini are able to logically prove their superiority to everyone else, but not the Vadeli. You can't prove logically disprove nihilism. 

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11 minutes ago, davecake said:

Yes. The reason why the Brithini really really hate the Vadeli is the Brithini are able to logically prove their superiority to everyone else, but not the Vadeli. You can't prove logically disprove nihilism. 

Tell it to Shiva.  :)

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Thank you for all of this.  Phew, those stats.  Granted, I have no RQ3 experience, so I don't know how exactly those write-ups would translate to RQG, but still.

Follow-up question: what are the caste restrictions of the Browns and Reds?

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54 minutes ago, dumuzid said:

Phew, those stats.  Granted, I have no RQ3 experience, so I don't know how exactly those write-ups would translate to RQG, but still.

Just use as written, ignore fatigue and Parr, they will work with no problems.

Sandy also talks about the Vadeli here: https://www.chaosium.com/forgotten-secrets-of-glorantha/

or live here in this series: 

 

 

 

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19 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

More of me, from the Glorantha Digest, posted 6 February 1995:

 

See what I'm saying?  Brithini hatred.  That poor Constantine fellow probably didn't even HAVE leprosi.  As false as Brithini lies about the Followers of Vadel.

Edited by Pentallion
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