Forgotten Futures IX
Swiss Movement
Heirs of the Modern Prometheus

by Marcus L. Rowland
Copyright © 2004

WorldbookMain Index

The Times ~ Tuesday May 2nd 1899 ~ London

KING MICHAEL of Ruritania has requested the services of British military advisors following a series of kidnappings and savage murders near the village of Zenda in central Ruritania. It is believed that as many as twenty deaths have occurred this year; the deaths are being attributed to "bandit attacks on an unprecedented scale", an incursion from neighbouring Transylvania. It is believed that Germany and France have also been asked to provide advisors. Full story page 2

THE ROYAL COMISSION to investigate British investment in automata and calculating engine development has again become deadlocked, following the withdrawal of members of the General Municipal and Boilermakers' Union. Despite the Government's argument that the British economy would decline without such investment, and the need to solve "1900" problems, the talks had again been boycotted by Luddite MPs; with the GMB withdrawal the meeting was no longer quorate and has been adjourned pro tem. Speaking in the House of Commons the Marquess of Salisbury made it clear that the sentiment of the House was against these delaying tactics and that there is considerable support from both sides of the House for a change in the composition of the Commission. It seems likely that Her Majesty will be asked to approve such changes within the week. Full story page 4

A YOUTH believed to be responsible for last week's cheque fraud has been arrested. Thieves cut into the pneumatic tube system near Harrods, removing cheques for payments totalling £12,600 and replacing them with cheques for much smaller amounts. These smaller payments were approved, and the telegraphic acknowledgement of payment was assumed to apply to the full amount. The fraud was only detected because of a mistake by one of the forgers, who wrote "seven and six" in words and "17/6" in figures. Full story page 3

A MECHANIC injured whilst repairing automata at the Royal Mint earlier in the week died yesterday. Gideon Temple, 27, was crushed when an automaton bearing a load of gold bars collapsed onto him as he weas repairing a defective knee joint. Temple allegedly forgot to insert a locking pin into the joint before bleeding its hydraulic supply, in what Mint officials describe as a "freak accident" Full story page 6

NEW FIGURES released by the Board of Trade confirm that the imbalance in trade between Britain and Switzerland has risen by 12% since the last budget. The main imbalance is of course in components for automata and calculating engines, and in royalties on their manufacture in the United Kingdom. It is rumoured that the government plans to increase subsidies to the precision engineering industry, and sponsor prizes for inventions in this field which will "break" the Swiss patents. Full story page 9

AN AMERICAN city has been rocked by the discovery of systematic fraud amongst its merchants, all of whom used a "patent calculator" of a new design which was vulnerable to tampering. Citizens of Athens, Dakota became aware of the fraud after the inventor of the machine was asked to investigate several instances of over-charging. It is believed that the city's by-laws may be amended to ban all mechanical calculation. It should be stressed that the device in question was only sold locally, and that there is no reason to believe any other type of calculating machine is defective. Full story page 9


"In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed - they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock!"
Orson Welles, The Third Man (1949)

SINCE the 1850s there have been rapid developments in the field of computation. Perfected Babbage engines have become smaller and more powerful, until it is possible to build machines that are capable of complex reasoning. Ways have been found to allow them to see, hear, and talk. Many are built into mechanical bodies powered by steam, electricity, and even clockwork, and these automata can be used as workers in industry and commerce.

The Swiss Movement
Thanks to its watch and clock industry Switzerland has become the world leader in this field, with at least 60% of calculating engines and 40% of automata Swiss made. Most automata built elsewhere incorporate Swiss components, most notably the Flez Biological-Mechanical Eye (described below) which is the only way to make an automaton see, or are built using designs licenced from Swiss patent holders. Britain, France, Germany and the United States make most of the rest. Only a small proportion of the world's economy is currently dependent on this technology, but its importance is rising fast, and economists in other nations have begun to suspect that the new century will usher in an age of Swiss financial supremacy. This is a prospect that worries treasury officials in several countries, but has received little attention elsewhere. Financial reports have begun to refer to this economic shift as the "Swiss Movement".

Switzerland is also notable for various laws which promote the use of this technology while protecting the welfare of workers. Employers receive generous subsities if they modernise, but must retrain employees made redundant by automation or provide pensions to those who canot be re-employed.

The state of the art is represented by powerful calculating machines used by banks and businesses, by document sorting and record-keeping machines used by businesses and government departments, and by automata such as the British mechanical soldier 'Automaton Atkins' (see below). The best automata are capable of limited understanding of human orders, and designed to carry out simple tasks such as carrying luggage or repetitive industrial processes. The mechanisms involved are complex, but in principle any human task, especially repetitive work, can be automated in this way. Whether it is desirable to do this is another matter; human workers are cheap, easily replaced, and very flexible, automata have none of these advantages. Nevertheless automata are becoming common in factories and to a lesser extent in other workplaces. Their use is occasionally an attempt to intimidate human workers and counter the power of unions, rather than a serious attempt to replace humans, but any use of automata is taken very seriously by organised labour. There have been numerous cases of sabotage of these machines, a sure sign that they are worrying the unions.

There is also a growing market for automata in entertainment; mechanical musicians controlled by small pianola rolls are fairly common, as are chess-playing automata. Magicians have used realistic automata for their tricks (the most obvious example is Maskelyne and Cook's famous "Madame Guillotine" illusion, in which a convincing automaton is substituted for the magician's assistant and beheaded, then replaced by the assistant for a miraculous resurrection), and there is a small and furtive market in feminine automata for more personal forms of entertainment, usually sold to wealthy collectors.

Another use for automata is in jobs where a human would be exposed to unacceptable risks - for example, Automaton Atkins was built primarily as a strong but expendable (and incidentally conscienceless) soldier which will obey orders perfectly provided they are clear. Uses might include bomb disposal or missions where a human soldier is certain to be taken prisoner, tortured or killed. For an example see The Queen's Own Aerial Hussars. Others are built for jobs where a human might be exposed to disease (e.g. hospital porter, Aerial Hussar) or temptation (e.g. Royal Mint porter).

Calculating and sorting engines are widely used in commerce, science, and government; they are nearly as common as automata, and their long-term effect may be more profound, but don't catch the public eye in the same way.

Careers In The Age of Automata
Characters for this world need not have a special interest in automata, but it's probably a good idea if at least one adventurer has the Babbage Machine skill at a reasonably high level. Other useful skills include Morse Code (Cryptography), Mechanic (Automata or Calculating Engine), and Science. Society seems to be slowly adapting to the presence of these machines, careers can reflect this by embracing them or opposing them, or choose to ignore the whole issue. Some possibilities:
  • Artist: May be indifferent to automata, regard them as symbolic of the new brutalism, or embrace them for their artistic possibilities. There is a small but growing Automaton Art movement.
  • Businessman: Likely to use calculating engines for financial work. May be considering the use of automata instead of human workers.
  • Criminal: Automata are occasionally a nuisance, sometimes an interesting opportunity or a target of theft. Many criminal schemes, especially business frauds, require the use of calculating engines and appropriate skills.
  • Detective: The new sorting engines and automated criminal records are very useful.
  • Doctor: Medicine is comparatively unaffected by these developments, but a doctor might have an automaton chauffeur for house calls, and automaton servants at home.
  • Manservant: Regards automaton servants with horror; how can they possibly understand the nuances of a gentleman's wardrobe and society?
  • Manual Worker: Dislikes automata and everything connected with them, and is probably sympathetic to the Luddite cause if not a member of the party.
  • Scientist / Engineer: Probably using calculating engines, and any devices invented probably incorporate a degree of automation.
  • Soldier: Likely to have some interest in the use of automata as expendable troops, and in the use of calculating engines for gunnery etc. The accuracy of Prussian railway guns in the Franco-Prussian war may be a warning of things to come.
It's also possible to play an automaton; this is discussed in much more detail below.
After nearly twenty years the spread of automata is almost taken for granted. Mechanical porters are common in hotels and stations, and waiters are occasionally encountered in restaurants (but are far less successful since this job involves more complex interaction with humans). Mechanical workers are likely to be seen on any visit to a factory. Automaton musicians are common at the music hall and in the lobby of hotels, chess-players are often found in cafes and penny arcades. In banks and offices the hum of gear wheels and whir of punched cards is becoming almost universal, and it is generally accepted that, barring human errors and fraud, accounting and record-keeping errors will soon be a thing of the past.

The spread of automation has many ramifications, not least a general speeding of the pace of business. Accordingly, it is imperative that credit details and other items of information travel quickly, so the existing telegraph and telephone services have been greatly expanded and supplemented by fast pneumatic tubes for the rapid transmission of cheques and other documents. Facsimile copies can also be telegraphed, using Hummel's Telediagraph (or one of several other competing systems); since transmission takes several minutes per page the pneumatic tubes are faster and tie up fewer resources, so are preferred for local messages.

Naturally someone has to ensure that things continue to work properly. In Britain most government departments and several dozen private organisations and charities have fingers in this particular pie; most notably, the Inland Revenue, the department of Customs and Excise, Companies House and the main clearing banks monitor the accuracy of mechanical accounts, Home Office departments such as the Inspectorate of Factories and the Board of Trade ensure that automata in factories and other workplaces are acceptably safe for the humans around them, and unions fight a dogged rearguard action to ensure that these machines displace the absolute minimum of workers. The War Office is very interested in military applications of automata, and in other applications of calculating engines such as accurate gun-laying and navigation. The Luddites, opposed to all automata, have two seats in the House of Commons and four peers in the Lords, and prominent supporters in the unions and academic and artistic communities. There is even a National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Automata, although it has very few members and is generally considered a joke. Its most notable member is the author George Bernard Shaw.

A Day In The Life

SUPERFICIALLY everyday life in Britain hasn't been greatly changed by the introduction of this technology. Putting automata aside, the most obvious changes are a small rise in unemployment (especially for the lowest grades of industrial worker and clerk), increased speed of financial and business transactions, mild inflation, slightly more accurate weather forecasting and more complex bureaucracy. There are fewer horses on the road, more steam and petrol-engined cars. With analytical engines available to scientists and engineers other areas of technology such as flight, space travel, time travel and really weird science may also be unusually advanced. Despite these changes it's still possible to live an entirely bucolic life and have nothing to do with calculating engines; even in the cities less than 10% of jobs involving their direct use, and this percentage is unlikely to rise quickly.

There are complaints that the British government is becoming as obsessed with records as the French or the Prussians; while this isn't entirely true, the civil service has been given the ability to handle information more efficiently, and can only avoid staff cutbacks by looking busy. This has lead to a huge increase in the amount of information collected by all departments. Where records were once kept in ledgers and files and eventually forgotten, they are now ready to be recovered by the huge sorting engines of the Home Office and other government departments, and many clerks do nothing but recover files, add yet another piece of information that will probably never be needed, and return them to storage.

To date there is little co-ordination between the different government departments, let alone the government and other organisations, but the civil service already has a committee for the standardisation and centralisation of records (most notably, and notoriously, trying to develop solutions for the immanent "1900" problem; sorting systems and calculating engines that store dates as two figures will run into problems in the new year), widely seen as a harbinger of things to come. Needless to say the Liberals and more extreme political movements regard this as a threat to civil liberties, pointing to the awful example of Prussia, where every aspect of life is monitored and reported. The government feels that this is alarmist; the Prime Minister (more properly known as the First Lord of the Treasury in this era), the Marquess of Salisbury, often refers to the example of Switzerland, which has used this technology to make its bureaucracy and commerce more efficient, leads the world in its standard of living and per-capita income, and has virtually no unemployment.

The Institut Zug
The leading training centre for Swiss consultants is the Institut Zug, a new university in the Canton of Zug, on the shore of Lake Zug. Courses offered include the sciences, engineering, languages, economics, politics, law, busines and mathematics. Admission is by competitive examination, and limited to Swiss citizens and a very few foreigners of "unusual intelligence" (most of whom eventually become Swiss citizens); currently there is only one foreign student, a German named Einstein who is studying mathematics and physics. Less than 20% of Swiss applicants succeed, fewer than 1% of foreigners. The Institut is funded by the Swiss government and businesses; tuition is free, but students must agree to pay the Institut 20% of their net income for five years after graduation. There are tax advantages for Swiss graduates who continue to contribute at least 10% after the five years have elapsed. The Institut encourages its graduates to commit to the success of their clients (e.g. by taking payment in shares, not cash) and is happy to advise them on their investments. Visitors to Zug are encouraged to tour the Institut during approved hours and by appointment; annoyingly, transport links to the area are unusually poor for Switzerland, and the few hotel rooms invariably seem to be fully booked, so waiting for such appointments can be an uncomfortable business.
Salisbury is far from the only person to look to the Swiss for inspiration; their successful adoption of the new technology is imitated by several nations and many companies, and Swiss economic, business and technical consultants are in great demand; with typical Swiss thoroughness all are trained professionals, notable for their logic and intelligence, with a near-perfect record of finding good solutions to complex problems. It's not always obvious that these solutions usually favour Swiss interests, often very indirectly; for example, a technical consultant might recommend the adoption of a particular production method that will greatly benefit his clients, but uses technology patented by a Swiss-owned British manufacturer or incidentally creates a market for Swiss products. A small example; when a chain of restaurants asked for advice on methods of attracting customers, one suggestion was to start offering more types of coffee including French and Italian. Neither the coffee or the coffee machines were made in Switzerland, but Swiss interests own a substantial share of a British manufacturer which has a virtual monopoly on the powdered chocolate used on cappucino and other Italian brews.

More often than not these consultants ask to be paid in the stock of the company hiring them; this is usually interpreted as a gesture of faith in the solutions they are proposing, but means that a growing proportion of the world's economy is directly or indirectly under Swiss control. There are several conspiracy theories about this; annoyingly for such theorists, the Swiss don't seem to be doing anything with their control, apart from using their votes as stock-holders to put pressure on companies to improve pay and conditions and the quality of products. For example, the chocolate manufacturer mentioned above has recently adopted Swiss standards of purity and cocoa solid content. Of course such improvements often require the adoption of new technology, which again is likely to benefit Swiss interests...

The Luddites
The Luddites are named for the original Luddite movement which briefly opposed the introduction of spinning and weaving machines at the beginning of the nineteenth century, although there is no true continuity between them. They were most popular in the mid-1880s, but have since declined. The organisation is an extreme left-wing splinter faction. Only five MPs are members, three having been elected as members of other parties, and none seem likely to retain their seats in the next election. There are two faces to this organisation; the political party, which has a few hundred registered members and will probably get a few thousand votes in the next election, and an illegal organisation which calls itself the 'Luddite Army' and is believed to have less than thirty members, mostly in the Midlands and around London. This 'army' has committed a series of attacks on automata in factories in these areas. Needless to say the party "deeply regrets" the "unauthorised actions" of the 'Army', and takes pains to avoid involvement while trying to capitalise on their successes. Scotland Yard and the Surete suspect links between the Luddite Army, Fenians, and various anarchist and nihilist organisations in Britain and on the continent.

The Luddite Army has recently had several spectacular failures, described as "own goals" in the popular press, and there are rumours of informers inside the organisation. In consequence the general level of paranoia amongst its members is extremely high.

While publicly deploring the adoption of automation, trade union leaders are reluctantly coming round to the idea that the best way forward is cautious co-operation. Strikes are only speeding the adoption of automata, which need neither pay nor improved working conditions. While more violent tactics have been tried, they are reluctant to become tarred with the same brush as the Luddites, whose recent sabotage attempts are widely regarded as terrorism and have injured several union members. Like businesses and government, they are beginning to point to the Swiss model of carefully planned adoption of automation, with retraining of staff and few jobs lost, as the way forward. A parliamentary commission is now studying this issue, and legislation is likely to precede the next election, since a law that benefits the working man will attract many votes and may split support from the growing Labour Party.

The most marginalised members of society such as the so-called criminal classes, the unemployed and the most unskilled workers, are still inclined to see automation as a threat and form the bulk of support for the Luddite cause; few actually join the party since this costs several shillings. There is also some middle- and upper-class support for the organisation on ideological and aesthetic grounds, which probably brings in most of its funds. Nevertheless the organisation is small and perpetually short of cash. It is believed that the "Luddite Army" obtains its funds by theft, most notably violent robberies of pawnbrokers shops and other "rich" targets.

While the Luddites are active in industrial areas, and devote almost all their attention to automata and automated factory equipment, an apparently unrelated group (or possibly a single individual) has been attacking sorting and record-keeping engines used by large businesses and the civil service in London. These attacks show a degree of technical expertise and the saboteurs have never sought publicity; if anything they seem to go out of their way to avoid it, and the aim seems to be to cause errors that will throw the system into disrepute. For example, one of the police record engines was modified to punch out the hole for "red-headed" in every criminal record that passed through it, and went unnoticed for several days. When the police eventually looked for a red-headed criminal several hundred records were presented, instead of the dozen or so expected. This was initially assumed to be caused by a cam that had stuck in the wrong position, but careful examination proved that the "jam" was deliberate sabotage. Damage caused by these saboteurs is often thought to be the result of a normal breakdown. Scotland Yard is collating information on these attacks - if there's one thing that the machines are good for it's collating information - and trying to avoid publicising them. The authorities don't want to admit that the essential machinery of bureaucracy is so vulnerable to sabotage.

Most of the civilised world uses calculating engines and automata, but each nation has its own approach to the problems they cause.

Automata and Babbage Engines

Words To Avoid
Three words that should be avoided in this setting are "Robot", "Program" and "Computer". All detract from the Victorian feel.
 The word "Robot" simply doesn't exist, it was first used by Carel Capek in the novel R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) in 1920. Automatons should always be "automatons" (or "automata") or "mechanical men", never robots.
 Surprisingly, the word "computer" was sometimes used to describe a machine capable of calculations as early as the 1890s, and before that to describe a person who carried out such calculations, but even though it is historically correct it is best avoided. Say "calculating engine", "Babbage engine", "difference engine", or "mechanical brain" instead.
 "Program" does not seem to have been used in this context until the 1940s; say "instructions" instead.
SINCE the 1880s there have been rapid developments in the field of computation. Perfected Babbage engines have become smaller and more powerful, until it is possible to build machines that are capable of complex reasoning and will fit into a space little bigger than a human skull.

The state of the art is represented by machines such as 'Automaton Atkins', strong automata capable of limited understanding of human orders and able to carry out tasks such as firing a gun. The technology involved is complex, but in principle any human task can be automated in this way. Whether it is desirable to do this is another matter; human workers are cheap, easily replaced, and very flexible, automata have none of these advantages. Nevertheless automate are beginning to appear in factories, and to a lesser extent in other areas. Their use is often an attempt to intimidate human workers and counter the power of unions, rather than a serious attempt to replace humans, but is taken very seriously by organised labour. There have been numerous cases of sabotage of these machines, a sure sign that they are worrying the unions.

Currently Germany and Switzerland seem to be leading the world in this technology. Faberge has also built some complex and extremely realistic automata for the Russian court, such as a jewelled dancing ballerina. Britain and the United States are also advanced, but lag behind Switzerland.

Construction of automata is still an extremely skilled process, and all but the cheapest are hand-built by craftsmen to many different designs using a wide range of techniques. This makes giving precise costs very difficult. All that can really be said is that good automata are expensive; how expensive is partly a matter of the difficulty of the job, but mainly the whim of the craftsman. It should be emphasised that most people have no detailed idea how they work, and either buy a basic model or order one from a craftsman and wait months to receive what is essentially a mechanical work of art.

The main components of an automaton are as follows:

A "brain": actually a compact Babbage engine. There is no particular reason why it should be located in the automaton's head, if one is fitted; although it is convenient to minimise the difficulty of connecting the "eyes" to the "brain", it adds to the difficulty of controlling the rest of the body. There are dozens of different designs, some based on punched tape, others on tiny punched cards, perforated cams, etc. Designs almost always include a mechanism which allows the automaton to learn from its experiences, such as a wax recording cylinder or paper tape and punch system.

Do Automata Think?
One of the most hotly debated philosophical questions is the nature of automaton thought and it's "realness", the extent to which the machine is more than the sum of its parts, its built-in instructions, and its experience. The general consensus, if there can truly be said to be one, is that even the most intelligent automaton behaves like an idiot savant, its attention so tightly focused that it can only be said to think about its immediate situation, instructions, and tasks. Some have a capacity to respond to social situations, such as casual conversation, but it soon becomes apparent that these responses add little or nothing to the intellectual content of the conversation, but simply restate what has gone before or encourage the speaker to continue. Nevertheless anyone who works with automata for long can point to instances of a machine surprising them with unusually appropriate remarks or behaviour, above and beyond what is built in, and probably suspects that more advanced machines will be capable of something approaching true thought.

At least one "eye": Patented in 1885 by Flez Biological Mechanisms of Switzerland (Flez Biomechanische Technik AG), the standard Flez eye consists of a lens in front of a 20x20 grid of 400 "elements", each a dissected insect eye connected via its optic nerve to a small piece of muscular tissue. Light makes the muscle contract and (via a series of gears) extend a small metal rod. A scanning mechanism feels the pins and reports their positions to the "brain". This can be done eight times a second. The insect eyes, muscles, and nerves are bathed in a nutrient fluid which keeps them alive for up to a year, but can be damaged by excessive heat or cold. The basic "eye" costs £5. A model offering colour vision (via a rotating colour filter wheel) is available but costs £10 and slows updating of vision to twice a second. A model with three grids and fixed colour filters costs £20, and gives colour vision refreshing eight times a second, but the triple-lensed design looks very odd and cannot be used for models imitating humans. All models must be refilled with nutrient saline every week, at a cost of a few pence, and the eye elements must be refurbished by a Flez main dealer at intervals of six months to a year. Refurbishment of all models costs 20% of the cost of the eye. The illustrations above show the basic mechanism and an automaton's-eye view of the same illustration.

Q: How does an automaton recognise someone?
A: With great difficulty

Since automaton sight is so limited, they can rarely recognise anything more complex than the outline of a human, and can easily be fooled by something that distorts or imitates the human form. This means that the basic visual process must be augmented by other means if it is essntial for the automaton to distingush between one person and another; for example, if an automaton sentry is to distinguish friend and foe. Sound (such as a password) is one possibility, others include insignia with distinctive light and dark patterns, flashing lights, and magnetic tokens. Recognition methods are often closely-guarded secrets; for example, the British mechanical soldier "Automaton Atkins" (see below) obviously has some means of recognising fellow soldiers, possibly by their uniforms or some token concealed in it, but the exact method has never been publicised.
If an automaton is being run as a player character it probably isn't a good idea to emphasise this problem too much. See below for more on automatons as player characters.

An anti-phonograph: Used to decode sounds by comparing them to phonograph cylinder recordings. Once the sound has been identified the "brain" can choose to reply or carry out an appropriate action, such as shooting or saluting. The basic patents on the phonograph itself are held by Edison, with more or less simultaneous patenting of this refinement by Swiss, German, British and American companies. As a result there is currently a free-for-all in this field, with most of the patent holders locked in prolonged litigation. Until the matter is resolved most manufacturers claim to be keeping good records and say that they will pay royalties once they know who to pay them to. The illustration shows early trials of the British version of the anti-phonograph.

A power supply: Usually steam or a compressed air bottle, although there are also clockwork and electrical designs. This is essentially the "heart" of the automaton. Steam automata must stoke their boilers occasionally (or add expensive carbide pellets), clockwork designs must be wound, electrical designs recharged, and compressed air designs pumped up. One of the reasons why steam automata are particularly popular is that they are reliable and can tend to their own fuel, other designs typically need human help or a connection to an external power source.

A skeleton or supporting frame: Generally steel, although lightweight aluminium or wood designs have been seen. This must be articulated at all joints, and strong enough to support all other components. The skeleton is usually designed in human form, but wheeled automata and machines in the shape of horses, dogs, and other animals have also been built.

"Muscles": Usually steam, pneumatic or hydraulic pistons; electric motors are too unreliable for serious use, although found in some domestic automata, solenoids don't have enough power.

"Skin": Typically a lightweight metal casing, although it can be armoured. Occasionally automatons are built disguised as humans, with rubber for the visible parts of the body. Some automata built for less public functions are rubber skinned throughout.

The cost of these components seems to have little relationship to their effectiveness or the quality of the workmanship. Some of the most expensive automata are flashy but unreliable, some of the cheapest industrial designs are utilitarian but dependable.

Automaton Design

Designing an automaton is a complex nightmare. But that's what the designers are paid for... For game purposes all that is really needed is an idea of the purpose, characteristics, skills, and construction of the automaton, which can be used to think of a number and inflate it outrageously when the bills come in.

For convenience fractions of a pound (in weight or currency) are shown as a decimal figure, not as ounces or shillings, in the stages that follow. Any fractions should be rounded UP at the end of each stage:

  1. Begin with a brief outline of the purpose of the automaton. This can be as detailed or vague as you like, bearing in mind that a high degree of specialisation may make the automaton too limited, too broad a specification may result in an automaton that is jack of all trades and master of none.

    Example: 'Automaton Atkins' is a prototype military automaton commissioned by the British army. It will be used mainly for publicity purposes, also occasionally in missions where a human soldier might be hurt. Its job is mainly to look big and intimidating, obey orders, occasionally fire a weapon or hit someone, and supply hot water for tea when needed.

  2. The first component of any automaton is a fully articulated framework resembling a skeleton, usually made of steel but sometimes of aluminium or wood. Prices for a steel framework are as follows:

    BODY 12345678910

    Prices include the power transmission and connecting rods and gears used to operate the limbs and joints. A steel framework weighs 30 lb. x BODY. The price is mostly for workmanship rather than the metal itself.

    • Aluminium is used to minimise weight without compromising strength, and has only been available at a reasonable price for a few years. Due to the difficulties of working the metal aluminium frameworks are still expensive compared to steel, only available to special order. Multiply the price by five and halve the weight.
    • Wooden frameworks are cheap and relatively light, but unsuitable for the largest automata or those exposed to fire etc. Halve the price and weight, but maximum BODY is 5.

    Optionally designs may omit legs (replacing them with wheels, or leaving the automaton immobile) and other limbs; modify the weight (and cost) of the frame accordingly:
    Replace legs with wheels-10%
    Omit arm(s)-10% per arm
    Add extra limbs+10% per arm / leg

    Example: 'Automaton Atkins' is intended to be impressive, and will have normal arms and legs. The designer starts off by choosing a skeleton that is imposing without being too big to get through doors, with BODY [8]; the framework costs £70. It is made of steel, so weighs 240 lb.

    Note that this price does not include a power source, armour, etc., discussed later in the design process.

  3. MIND may be no more than 4, purchased as follows:

    MIND 1234
    Weight5 lb.10 lb.20 lb.40 lb.

    This is the basic price and weight of the calculating engine "brain" including storage for its skills (which must be purchased separately as described below). This includes the engine itself, some memory storage on phonograph cylinders, linkages ready for standard components such as an eye, an antiphonograph, and the automaton's body. Add 10% to the cost and weight of the calculating engine for two or more eyes, subtract 5% if there are no eyes. The other linkages are less complicated and have a negligible effect on cost and weight.

    Example: 'Automaton Atkins' has MIND [2], and will have two eyes; the basic cost for the calculating engine is £25+10%=£28, it weighs 11 lb. [subtotal £98, 251 lb.]

    See the section on Sorting and Calculating Engines, below, for some additonal options in calculating engine design which can affect performance, cost, and weight. They are comparatively rare in automata, but are sometimes worth considering if there is need for their special features.

  4. Add £5 and 2 lb. for a monochrome eye, £10 and 3 lb. for a colour eye, £20 and 5 lb. for a fast colour eye. Add £5 and 5 lb if an eye is fitted with a telescopic lens, mounted on bellows, which allows it to "zoom in" on distant objects; this modification gives +1 to Marksmanship at long range, but adds a bulky bellows and lens to the eye; it cannot be used if there is any attempt to give the automaton a human appearance. It restricts peripheral vision.

    Example: 'Automaton Atkins' has a monochrome eye and a colour eye, together costing £30 and adding 5 lb. [subtotal £128, 256 lb.]

  5. Add £10 and 5 lb. for an anti-phonograph (needed for nearly all automata if they are to understand speech and/or speak for themselves). The basic design has a vocabulary of about 200 words, add £5 and 1 lb. per additional hundred words. As vocabulary increases it becomes necessary to search a larger cylinder, so the automaton will be slower to respond. There is an unfortunate tendency for humans to regard this as stupidity or dumb insolence.

    Example: 'Automaton Atkins' has an anti-phonograph and vocabulary of 200 words, costing £10 and weighing 5 lb. [subtotal £138, 261 lb.]

  6. SOUL always starts at zero; optionally automata can acquire this characteristic magically or by following the example of others, but it is a very slow process.
  7. If used, the optional MAGIC characteristic (FF VIII) should always be zero unless the automaton is created magically or granted some power by a spell or some other cause (such as being a magical being enchanted into the form of an automaton, being made from components including the metal from a magical sword, etc.)

    Example: 'Automaton Atkins' has no SOUL or MAGIC.

  8. Purchase skills. There are several special rules:
    • Points and money must be spent for all skills; they cost 1 point and £2 at base value plus £2 per additional point spent on them.
    • Automaton calculating engines can access a maximum of MIND x 10 skill points.
    • The instructions for each skill weighs 1 lb., regardless of points spent.
    • Skills based on SOUL alone (e.g. Medium) may not be taken.
    • Skills based on SOUL averaged with another characteristic should be based on the average of the other characteristic and zero, and should only be available at the referee's discretion. For example, Riding is based on the average of BODY and SOUL; if an automaton with BODY [3] was to be given this skill it would have a base value of 3+0 / 2, rounded up to 2.
    • The base value of several skills requiring rapid physical reactions and dexterity (Athlete, Brawling, Melee weapon) is halved; Athlete and Brawling begin at BODY/2, Melee Weapon begins as average BODY+ MIND/2. There is an important exception: the base value for Athlete (running) is raised to BODY for wheeled automata, but they cannot perform any other athletic feats.
    • Skills must be supported by appropriate components; for example, Athlete or Brawling must be to some extent supported by BODY or by suitable modifications such as wheels (for Athlete (running) ONLY) or built-in weapons. Skills may require extra components, adding cost or weight, at the referee's discretion.
    • There are several specialised skills available, such as:
      • Chess (base MIND)
      • Housemaid (base average MIND and BODY)
      • Porter (base BODY)
      • Spelling (base MIND) - required if the automaton is to read or write.
      • Waiter (base average MIND and BODY)
      Any other specialised skills should be based on the nearest human equivalent; for example, there are rumours of a "sex" package, a specialised version of Athlete.
    • Stealth begins at 0, regardless of BODY, for all steam and carbide automata; their power plants are inherently noisy.
    • Martial Arts is not available.
    • If the Linguist skill is taken there must be a separate anti-phonograph cylinder for each language, purchased as a minimum of 200 words vocabulary (see step 5 above).
    • Psychology is not available unless the automaton has somehow acquired SOUL.
    • Up to five points can be spent per skill, to a maximum of skill [10]
    • New skills cannot easily be retrofitted to a calculating engine after it is built, but it can be done at a cost of £4 per skill point. The maximum number of skill points above still applies.

    Example: 'Automaton Atkins' skills are built in and have not been upgraded. They are costed as follows:
    Skill                 Base                    Cost     Cost     Weight
                                                  points   pounds   lb.
    Athlete (running) [4] BODY/2 = 4              1        £ 2      1
    Brawling [8]          BODY/2 = 4              5        £10      1
    Marksman [6]          MIND = 2                5        £10      1
    Melee Weapon [8]      Av. BODY+MIND / 2 = 5   4        £ 8      1
    Military Arms [3]     MIND = 2                2        £ 4      1
    Stealth [0]           0                       -        -
    'Atkins' skills cost £34 and weigh 5 lb. [subtotal £162, 266 lb.] Another three skill points could be retrofitted for £12, after that a larger calculating engine would be needed.

  9. Add any heavy internal equipment. Almost anything could be added to an automaton, provided it is a suitable size to fit inside. The examples below assume that the price includes everything needed to operate the mechanism, and that power will be taken from the automaton's main power source if needed:

    Lantern (oil or electric)£21 lb.includes battery/oilAir horn / steam whistle£21 lb.
    Winch and 20' cable£520 lb.Quarter-plate camera£105 lb.wooden camera
    Rotary drill£510 lb.Rotary saw blade£815 lb.
    Pneumatic or steam drill£1030 lb.Pneumatic or steam hammer£1240 lb.
    Machine gun (Maxim or Gatling)£3025 lb.50 rounds ammoElephant gun£2015 lb.10 rounds ammo

    Example: 'Atkins' has an electric lantern built into its head (£2, 1 lb.) and a compressed steam grenade launcher built into one arm. Although this weapon isn't on the table, it's assumed to be a little smaller than a pneumatic drill, weighing 20 lb. and costing £15 - it's a one-off design, so expensive. While providing hot water for tea is in the specification, this will be handled by adding a tap to the boiler at negligible expense and requires no special equipment. [subtotal £179, 287 lb.]

  10. Calculate approximate final weight. This figure is needed to specify the power plant needed for the automaton. It's usual to over-specify the power plant; if it's under-specified the automaton will be slow and clumsy, the main drawback to a big power plant is excessive weight. For a first approximation most engineers assume that the power plant will add at least 20% to the weight, more if prolonged endurance is required and that the outer casing will add another 5%, more if the automaton is to be armoured. Fine-tuning a design may take several passes through this and subsequent stages of the process, but in practice there is a margin for error, and anything within 10% of the correct final weight is considered accurate enough to start construction.

    Example: 'Atkins' is specified as requiring several hours of fuel, and will be armoured. As a rough guess the engineer assumes 50% extra weight, taking the estimated final weight to 430 lb., rounding it to 450 lb, roughly a fifth of a ton.

  11. Add a power plant. Several types are available, the cost and weight should be found by multiplying the base cost and weight by the estimated final weight of the automaton then adjusting for endurance (per hour) after the first hour. Fractions should be rounded up at the end of the calculation.

    Power PlantBase costBase weightPer Hour cost/weightPower PlantBase costBase weightPer Hour cost/weight
    Clockwork£0.100.1 lb.Add 20% / 20%Compressed Air£0.200.1 lb.Add 20% / 20%
    Steam Engine£0.250.2 lb.Add 1% / 10%Carbide Engine£0.200.15 lb.Add 10% / 5%
    Electric motor£0.300.15 lbAdd 25% / 25%Petroleum Engine£0.300.15 lbAdd 10% / 10%

    For all of these plants the basic price and weight is for the power plant, internal machinery to operate the body, etc., plus a one-hour energy source; a strong compressed spring for clockwork designs, an air cyliner for compressed air models, powdered coal or carbide pellets for steam models, and lead-acid accumulators for electric automata. Unless stated otherwise this is a one-off cost, unless it needs to be repaired; the exceptions are steam, carbide, and petroleum engines, which must be refuelled; steam and carbide engines must also be filled with water periodically. Again, the weight of the engine includes the first hour of fuel. Note that all of these power plants have disadvantages:

    • Clockwork automata must be wound up by an external crank or engine; they cannot rewind themselves and "tick" as they move. Mostly used for "toy" automata. Often combined with a wooden framework.
    • Compressed air models hiss as they walk. They must recharge at an air compressor. Widely used in industry, often powered by an external compressor and air hose rather than an internal cylinder (there is still a small internal pressure tank to cover pressure fluctuations in the compressed air supply).
    • Steam engines hiss, are hot and a fire risk, and release fumes and steam. However, they are cheap to refuel, and automata can refuel themselves if coal is available. The boiler may be put out if the automaton is immersed in water. Preferred for outdoor work and endurance. Minimum BODY for an automaton with a normal steam engine is 2.
    • Carbide engines are a special type of steam engine, using the reaction of water and calcium carbide (CaC2) to produce acetylene gas which is burnt to make steam. The engines are lighter than conventional steam engines, and can be built in smaller sizes, but are much more expensive to run. Acetylene gas is explosive and leaks are common. If the automaton is immersed in water (or even gets unusually wet) its supply of carbide may start to react, with explosive results. Carbide engines can be built to power automatons up to BODY 3, larger engines tend to explode spontaneously.
    • Electric motors are quiet and don't pollute but are easily damaged by moisture etc. The lead-acid accumulators that power them are heavy, fragile and must be recharged by an external generator; they also release small quantities of hydrogen. Preferred for domestic servants etc., and other low-risk environments, although there is at least one Prussian military design with electric motors.
    • Petroleum engines are noisy, produce dangerous fumes, have highly flammable fuel, and tend to go wrong if exposed to moisture or cold. They are generally (and sometimes unfairly) considered to be dangerously unreliable, and are often refused by clients.

    Example: 'Atkins' estimated final weight is 450 lb. and it is to be fitted with a steam engine designed to give it ten hours of endurance (less if its steam is used to make tea). An initial calculation on this basis has these results:
    Weight of engine = 450 x 0.2 lb. = 90 lb. Cost of engine = 90 x .25 = £23. The extra fuel and water add 9 x 9 lb. to the weight = 81 lb. and £23 x 1% x 9 to the cost, about £2.
    This already exceeds the estimated final weight, even without armour, so the engineer decides to revise it to 550 lb., a quarter ton, and repeat the calculation:
    The weight of the engine is thus 550 x 0.2 lb. = 110 lb. This costs 110 x .25 = £28. The extra fuel and water add 9 x 11 lb. to the weight = 99 lb. and £28 x 1% x 9 to the cost, about £3.
    In all the engine and fuel add 209 lb. to weight and £42 to the cost. [subtotal £210, 496 lb.]
    Looking at this figure it seems likely that 'Atkins' will come close to 550 lb. in the final stages, so the engineer carries on.

  12. Choose an outer casing, needed for aesthetic reasons and to keep out dust and rain and prevent casual damage to internal components. The main materials available for this are papier-mache, rubber, aluminium plate, and steel plating of various thicknesses.
    • Papier-mache is used for a lightweight outer skin, designed mainly to keep dirt out and prevent minor damage. It has no armour effect, but does have the advantage of being easy to mould to any desired shape. For obvious safety reasons it should not be used on steam automata. A papier-mache casing adds 1% to the final weight, and costs £1 per 20 lb., more if an artist works on the final appearance. It is damaged by rain.
    • Rubber is also used for decorative effects, especially on automata which are supposed to mimic humans. It may melt if exposed to the heat of a steam or carbide automaton. A rubber casing adds 2% to the final weight and costs at least £1 per 10 lb.
    • Aluminium is used for a lightweight damage-resistant casing, adding 2% to the final weight. While the metal itself is relatively cheap, thin plating is comparatively expensive, costing about £1 per 3 lb. This basic casing reduces the Effect of damage from blows (but not bullets, knives, etc.) -1. Thicker aluminium casings could be made but it is simply not very effective as armour, since it deforms and cracks too easily; steel is better, albeit heavy.
    • Tin-plate is basically very thin steel coated in tin. It can be stamped to shape, is cheap, but has no protective value apart from keeping dirt out. It rusts easily. The main advantages are cheapness and lightness, adding 3% to the final weight at a cost of £1 per 10 lb.
    • Percentage weight6%12%18%24% etc.
      Effect-1-2-3-4 etc.
      Steel plate is used for most serious industrial and military automata; it's heavy but damage-resistant and cheap, and can be galvanised or enamelled to resist rust. A layer of steel reducing the Effect of all damage -1 adds 6% to weight at £1 for 10 lb. Thicker steel reduces damage and adds weight:

    Example: Atkins has a steel casing, -3 Effect. This adds 18% to weight, 496 x 18% = 90 lb., cost £9. This takes the final weight to 586 lb. and cost to £219, about the same as a small house. It's close enough to the 550 lb. specification to begin construction.

  13. Optionally, decide if any of the components are of unusually good or poor quality (this affects nothing except the price and reliability, which is discussed below). Automaton eyes are always of standard quality, since there is only one manufacturer.
    • Unusually good components include, for example, most Swiss-built calculating engines and clockwork motors, Krupp supporting frames, the best British steam and carbide engines, Rolls Royce petroleum engines, and Westinghouse electric motors. Add 10-50% to the price for these components.
    • Unusually poor components are typically manufactured to a price, not a specification, although they sometimes come from companies which have somehow acquired a reputation of excellence without the quality that should accompany the reputation. These exceptions apart, the companies manufacturing them are usually short-lived. Subtract 5-20% from the price for these components.

    Example: 'Automaton Atkins' has a Swiss-built calculating engine. Its price (including the skills accompanying it) is raised by 25%, from £28 to £35; this takes the total price to £226.

  14. Finally, add any decorative finish or small components that might be required, such as gold filigree inlay, enamelled plating, etc. Some examples (all have negligible weight):
    Realistic rubber hands£2
    Realistic rubber or wax face mask£1 - £5 depending on quality *
    ** Add another £5 - £10 if it is fitted with pneumatic or mechanical muscles to smile etc.
    Hot water tap£1
    Lacquered gold leaf inlay£1 per hour spent applying it *
    * Gold leaf work is slow and delicate, it typically takes about an hour per square foot (or part thereof) to apply.
    Baked-on enamel paint£0.5 x BODY of automaton
    Embossed casing£1 x BODY

    Example: 'Atkins' has a hot water tap (cost £1) and a layer of baked-on enamel paint in its regimental colours. It's BODY 8 so the paint costs £4, taking the final totals for Atkins to £231, 586 lb.

  15. There is a modifier for mass-produced automata; once a production line has been set up reduce the price by 10% after the first 50 machines have been built, by 20% after 200 machines have been built.

    Remember that all prices are guidelines only, and that the price actually charged may be considerably higher. Vendors will typically capitalise on their reputations, pad expenses wildly, and charge whaterver the market will bear. The prices indicated below are a guideline, customers typically pay considerably more.

    Example: 'Atkins' is a prototype, there is no modifier for mass production.

  16. Once the design process is complete it's necessary to calculate three last details of the automaton's performance. These are its lifting capacity (if the automaton is capable of lifting things), its response time in reacting to new instructions and situations, and its reliability.
    • Lifting capacity is based on the automaton's BODY, estimated weight (used when specifying the power plant) and its final weight. The formula is: Lifting Capacity = Estimated Weight2 / Final weight x .1 x BODY

      Example: 'Atkins' Estimated Weight was 550 lb but its Final Weight was 586 lb and BODY 8. This gives a lifting capacity of 550 x 550 / 586 x .1 x 8 = 412 lb. Atkins can lift a maximum of 412 lb without risking damage, although it must still make appropriate BODY or skill rolls to do so. Over this weight DIFFICULTY will start to rise, with the penalty for failure damaged gears or hydraulics and other mechanical problems. Atkins can carry two soldiers and their equipment or a small field gun.

    • Reaction Time is the time needed to process information, determined mainly by the capacity of the automaton's calculating engine. Several factors can affect the result; briefly, the more information available to the automaton, in the form of visual input, vocabulary, and skills, the slower it is likely to be. The modifiers should be added or subtracted as follows:
      Basic time (seconds)12 / MIND
      Unusually poor calculating engine  + 50%
      Unusually good calculating engine  - 25%
      Divide by maximum possible skills / skill points used
      Monochrome 'eye'no modifier
      Colour 'eye'+ 10%
      Fast colour 'eye'+ 5%
      Multiple 'eyes'+ 10%
      Vocabulary 200 wordsNo modifier
      Per additional 100 words+ 25%

      Example: 'Atkins' MIND [2] gives a basic time of 6 seconds, modified to 4.5 by its Swiss-made calculating engine. 17 of 20 possible skill points are used, so the time is reduced to 3.8 seconds. The colour eye takes this to 4.2 seconds, and multiple 'eyes' take it to 4.6 seconds. There is no modification for vocabulary, so it will take 'Atkins' at least 4.6 seconds to respond to an order or new situation.

    • Reliability is simply the chance that an automaton will go wrong if it takes damage or a characteristic or skill roll is 11+. It should not be lower than 1 or higher than 10. The basic reliability number is found by adding:
      The average of BODY and MIND
      +2 if the calculating engine is of superior quality
      +1 if any other componments are of superior quality
      -2 if the calculating engine is of inferior quality
      -1 if any other componments are of inferior quality
      -1 if the automaton is powered by electricity or clockwork
      +1 if the automaton is powered by steam
      No modifier for other power plants.
      +1 if the automaton is wheeled
      +2 if the automaton is immobile

      Example: Automaton Atkins average of BODY and MIND is 5. The calculating engine is of superior quality and it is steam powered, taking the final number to 8.

      Use of the reliability number is discussed in more detail below.

'Automaton Atkins'“Automaton Atkins” (Britain 1895)
BODY [8], MIND [2], SOUL [-], Athlete (running) [4], Brawling [8], Marksman [6], Melee Weapon [8] Military Arms [3], Stealth [0]
Cost: £231
Weight: 586 lb.
Carrying Capacity: 412 lb
Endurance: 10 hours
Reaction Time: 4.6 seconds
Reliability: 8
Built-In Equipment: Steam grenade launcher (built in to arm), Electric torch (built in to head), Armoured, -3 Effect to all attacks
Also Carried: 0.50 rifle, 50 rounds ammunition, 6 grenades plus fuses, 30 ft. rope - breaking strain 1000 lb., military uniform (extra large)
Quote: "Sir! Yes Sir!"
Description: British-built prototype military automaton with excellent Swiss-made calculating engine, monochrome and colour "eyes". Steel frame, humanoid construction, steam powered, with armour steel casing. The casing is enamelled to regimental colours (later supplemented with uniform), the boiler is fitted with a tap to allow hot water to be used to make tea.
Notes: This was the fifth of several similar prototype automaton soldiers. A later design using a more powerful calculating engine was eventually put into mass production. Endurance may be reduced if hot water is repeatedly drained from the boiler to make tea; even if the water is replaced, more fuel is used to keep it boiling. Early versions were simply enamelled in regimental colours, and this is still done, but clothing was added after Queen Victoria complained of Atkins' 'nakedness'. The illustration is a studio portrait.
A player character version of Atkins, omitting or modifying some of these details and expanding on characterisation, is described as part of The Queen's Own Aerial Hussars

Some Other Automata

Krupp Stahlwächter (Germany 1894)
BODY [4], MIND [1], SOUL [-], Athlete (running) [4], Brawling [4], Marksmanship [5 / 6 at long range only], Stealth [2]
Cost: £364
Weight: 236 lb.
Carrying Capacity: 108 lb
Endurance: 5 hours
Reaction Time: 9 seconds
Reliability: 5
Built-In Equipment: Maxim gun, 50 rounds, Armoured: -6 Effect to all attacks
Also Carried: -
Quote: "Stehenbleiben oder ich schieße!" (Halt or I fire)
Description: A Prussian-built military automaton with Swiss-made calculating engine, monochrome "eye" with telescopic lens, single arm. Aluminium frame wheeled construction, electric powered, with armour steel casing. Typically described as resembling a conical pepper-pot with sloping sides.
Notes: The Krupp Stahlwächter (steel guard) is a Prussian automaton used to protect the Imperial Calculating Engines and other important facilities. Where most other nations built automata that can adapt to the terrain on which they are used, for this important job the Prussians have takem the unusual step of adapting the "terrain" to the automata. Sites on which they are used are levelled and surfaced to a high standard, and in buildings ramps replace stairs. This allows the use of a wheeled design with very little ground clearance, the wheels being covered by armour plating. An aluminium chassis minimises weight and electric motors reduce noise. Generally considered to be successful, although they are slow to react and vulnerable to attacks which damage the "terrain" or push them over; they cannot right themselves. An unusual feature is the telescopic eye, which is moved in and out on bellows and improves the accuracy of marksmanship. The down-side is that the eye has a restricted field of view, so that the automaton is easily attacked from the side, although sites where this model is used are generally designed to limit opportunities for such attacks.
At least a hundred are believed to be in service. The photograph shows a model generously donated to the Science Museum by the Kaiser; the unit designation and Prussian crest indicate that the machine it depicts is attached to the Imperial Archives. German soldiers generally refer to these machines as Pfeffertopfsoldaten, literally "pepper-pot soldiers".

Adventure Idea: Second Variety
Trade journals in Germany have reported that contracts have been awarded for a new model Stahlwächter, but no specification has been published. The adventurers are hired or assigned to find out what changes are to be made. Unfortunately the only place to find this information seems to be the Stahlwächter production plant - which is guarded by dozens of the automatons.

In fact about one Stahlwächter in ten at the factory is already the new and upgraded model with MIND [3], Marksmanship [6/7], and a second eye fitted with a wide-angle lens mounted to cover the automaton's rear and sides. Reaction time is reduced to four seconds, other statistics are unchanged. Once the adventurers are well into this mission have them run into some of the new automata, preferably in a situation where they must fight or out-think the machines.

The Fosdyke-Chatterton Mk 2 Automaton Porter (Britain 1893)
BODY [4], MIND [1], SOUL [-], Brawling [3], Porter [6]
Cost: £105
Weight: 163 lb
Carrying Capacity: 63 lb.
Endurance: 2 hours
Reaction Time: 11 seconds
Reliability: 3
Built-In Equipment: "Coin in the slot" box (£5, 2 lb), steel casing -1 Effect all damage.
Also Carried: -
Quote: "Please insert a penny to continue."
Description: A humanoid compressed-air powered automaton designed to carry luggage. It has a single monochrome eye and a Birmingham-built calculating engine of average quality. The steel casing is floridly embossed and has a dark blue and red lined enamelled finish with gold-leaf detailing and a prominent coin mechanism that can take pennies, half-pennies, and three-penny bits. It does not give change or refunds. The illustration shows Mr. Houdini using one in a conjuring trick, probably circa 1910.
Notes: The Mk 2 porter was comissioned by the Great Eastern Railway and is still exclusive to that company, although similar automata are used elsewhere. Its most distinctive features are the GER livery, some unusually ornate decorative metalwork, and "coin in the slot" activation; where other automaton porters wait for tips after carrying luggage, the Mk 2 must be given a penny before moving, and an additional penny per 100 yards the luggage is carried. This has led to numerous "spending a penny" lavatorial jokes. It is designed to defend itself if it is vandalised or there is any attempt to steal it, and there have been several incidents of hooligans tricking two porters into fighting. There are forty or so in use in 1900, as production continues the price will drop. The built-in instructions compel the automaton to return to recharge with compressed air whenever there is fifteen minutes or less endurance remaining. They also prevent this model from leaving GER stations and their immediate environs; typically they can travel to the nearest taxi ranks and tram and omnibus stops, but no further.

Ford Factory Automaton
BODY [6], MIND [2], SOUL [-], Mechanic [4]
Cost: £165
Weight: 233 lb
Carrying Capacity: 161 lb
Endurance: 1 hour backup supply
Reaction Time: 1.5 seconds
Reliability: 3
Built-In Equipment: Rotary drill
Also Carried: Assorted rotary tools to fit drill
Quote: "Where are the bolts? Where are the bolts?"
Description: A wheeled automaton powered by compressed air from a centralised supply. It can operate on an internal air tank for short periods; this lets the automaton move from one part of the factory to another, where it must re-connect to the high pressure air main. The right "hand" is a rotary drill, the chuck can be replaced with various tools including wire brushes, screwdrivers, a circular saw, a socket driver, etc. It has two monochrome eyes and an American-built calculating engine of inferior quality. The illustration shows the final stages of assembly at the Ford factory.
Notes: This design is used to carry out assembly operations on a mass production line. The mechanic "skill" is usually a suite of simple pre-determined tasks, such as fitting a wheel or assembling a chassis, although some have been trained to be more versatile. Some tasks can include fetching materials, so they can operate on their internal air tank when necessary. They have a reputation for becoming "agitated" if any part of their working routine is interrupted, leading to errors and broken tools, and some Luddite sympathisers find this to be a highly amusing form of sabotage. Several hundred have already been manufactured.

Beeton Automaton Housemaid
BODY [3], MIND [1], SOUL [-], Housemaid [4]
Cost: £90
Weight: 71 lb
Carrying Capacity: 27 lb
Endurance: 3 hours
Reaction Time: 5.3 seconds
Reliability: 3
Built-In Equipment: -
Also Carried: Feather duster etc.
Quote: "May I clean in here, Ma'am?"
Description: An electrically-powered humanoid automaton built on a wooden frame, designed for light cleaning and dusting. It is modelled closely on a human housemaid, with its mechanism covered by tinplate and sculpted for a lifelike human appearance. It wears a traditional maid's dress; rubber hand coverings and a rubber mask are included in the price, but rarely used, since the main selling point of this automaton is as a "mechanical marvel", so there is little point hiding its artificiality. Since it is often in the company of humans it has a vocabulary of 400 words, considered sufficient for everyday household activities. As household objects are often referred to by colour it has a colour eye on one side of its "face", the other eye is decorative, not functional. The calculating engine is a Prussian design of excellent quality. This design is sold by several companies, most successfully by Mrs. Beeton, the famous cook; the illustration shows an advertisement from Beeton's Annual.
Notes: This type of automaton is primarily purchased as a status symbol by the upper middle classes; the nobility continue to prefer human servants and feel that mechanical minions are a sign of the nouveau riche. There are many stories about their errors, which are mostly urban legends of the "drowned/cooked baby/pet" variety with little or no factual basis.

Automaton Damage and Reliability

If an automaton is damaged the effects can range from scratched paintwork to total destruction. Injuries that would incapacitate a human for months can be repaired with a few spare parts and a lick of paint, but no damage, however minor, will heal without repairs. Some forms of damage have little or no effect on automata, others may have even more of an effect on automatons than on humans; most notably:

All forms of automaton damage can be stabilised and repaired by a successful Mechanic and/or Babbage Engine skill roll against the appropriate DIFFICULTY (although in some cases buying a new automaton may be cheaper). Spare parts may be needed to replace some components, others may be repairable.

Damage Results
Minor damage to paint, dented metalwork, etc. Will not get worse, but may affect an automaton's warranty or appearance. Repair DIFFICULTY 2, repair cost a few shillings, repair time a few minutes.
Flesh Wound
Minor damage to components that slightly impedes movement or has some relatively small effect on the automaton's efficiency. Damage can get worse if it isn't "treated" by a mechanic; for example, a wheel or limb might be stiff at first then lock up if it isn't repaired, a hydraulic pipe might leak slightly at first but eventually burst if the damaged section isn't replaced. Repair cost £1-3, repair time 2-4 hours.
Serious immediate damage such as an immobilised limb, boiler or hydraulic leak, chipped gear wheel, etc., with a greater chance of the problem escalating if left unattended. Repair cost £2D6, DIFFICULTY 6, time 2D6 hours.
2+ Injuries
Multiple instances of damage, with more chance of damage escalating to catastrophic proportions. Repair cost £4D6, DIFFICULTY 8, 2D6 hours per repair.
Totally incapacitating damage such as seized gear wheels in the calculating engine, a major boiler failure, a burned-out electric motor. The automaton is completely immobilised and may not even be able to think until repaired. Repair cost £1D6 x 10% of automaton cost, Difficuly 8, Time 2D6 days ("you can't get the parts, you know....")
The automaton is damaged so badly that it would probably be cheaper to replace than to repair it. Any "personality" or memories acquired by its calculating engine are lost, any SOUL or MAGIC is also lost unless the referee rules otherwise. If the automaton is nevertheless repaired the cost is 1D6+6 x 10% of its original cost, and the repair time will be 1D6+1 weeks, DIFFICULTY 8. At the referee's discretion a Kill result may also lead to serious damage to the automaton's surroundings; for example, a boiler explosion which sprays its surroundings with shrapnel and steam.
Knock Out
The automaton's calculating engine slips a gear and cuts out. This may reset spontaneously after 2D6 minutes, but the careful attention of a mechanic will fix it almost instantly (the secret is knowing exactly where to hit the automaton and how big a hammer to use). Repair DIFFICULTY 4.

As well as the obvious effects of damage, automata can sometimes become confused or malfunction spontaneously if "upset". Typical causes might include a minor impact which does no permanent damage but jars the calculating engine, the interruption of their normal routine, instructions that call on skills they don't have, etc. It's up to the referee to decide when a reliability roll needs to be made, and determine the DIFFICULTY it is made against.

The effects of a failed reliability roll are generally temporary and amusing rather than destructive. Possible consequences might include socially inappropriate behaviour or remarks (since automata are capable of learning from their surroundings, they may pick up bad language and the habit of using it when things go wrong), repetitive actions, or the right action in the wrong place.

Optionally a really poor reliability roll may lead to more permanent damage or more serious behaviour. Again, this is entirely at the discretion of the referee.

Automata As Player Characters

Simplified Automaton Characters
The automaton design rules above are complicated, much more so than normal character design in Forgotten Futures. There's a much simpler alternative; design the automaton as a normal player character, remembering that it will have originally been built for a specialised purpose (such as a servant, porter, worker, soldier, etc.), using the following limitations:
  • BODY is purchased normally.
  • MIND may be no more than 4.
  • SOUL is 0 unless there are special circumstances.
  • MAGIC, if used in the campaign, is 0 unless there are special circumstances.
  • Skills based on SOUL alone or MAGIC are unavailable if the automaton does not have the characteristic.
  • The base value of Athlete, Brawling, and Melee weapon are halved.
  • Wheeled automata have a base Athlete (Running) of BODY but cannot perform other athletic feats.
  • Specialised skills available are
    • Chess (base MIND)
    • Housemaid (base average MIND and BODY)
    • Porter (base BODY)
    • Waiter (base average MIND and BODY)
    • Spelling (base MIND)
    Add additional specialised skills as needed.
  • Stealth begins at 0, regardless of BODY, for all steam and carbide automata.
  • Martial Arts is not available.
  • Psychology is not available unless the automaton has somehow acquired SOUL.
Having chosen characteristics and skills, decide on an appropriate body design, internal equipment, power plant, etc. as described above, without going into the full complexities of the design process. Guess an approximate weight (about BODY x 40lb should be reasonable for steel-framed automata, a little lighter for wood or aluminum designs, heavier if the automaton is armoured). That's really all that's needed, exact details such as cost, reaction speed, etc. can be worked out later if the need arises. Don't be afraid to forbid silly ideas; a manservant will not be heavily armoured and will not have a built-in Gatling gun, a soldier will not be equipped or have the necessary skills for sex or chess, and so forth.
Automata without SOUL are the idiot savants described above. They obey orders without question (unless there is a conflict with prior orders) and have no true sense of self. They are completely literal-minded, unless their linguistic capacity has been extended to cover slang, "polite" conversation, etc.
The Queen's Own Aerial Hussars describes how to run a typical soulless machine, Automaton Atkins, as a player character. It should be emphasised that in this setting all automata are property, belonging to an individual or an organisation; their first duty is always to obey orders to the limits of their ability.

Automata can acquire a personality and SOUL by experience, by magical means, or (at the discretion of the referee) can have it built in from the outset. In terms of behaviour, it is likely to manifest most noticeably as a sense of self and behaviour resembling a human personality. The snag, of course, is that very few automaton builders or users want their machines to have a true personality; a machine with personality might be a little more versatile, but there is a good chance that it will be less useful as a servant. SOUL and conscience aren't necessarily the same thing; Automaton Atkins with SOUL will probably still obey orders and shoot at "the enemy", and feel no remorse at doing so. It's possible that it might gradually start wondering what distinguishes friend and foe, but this isn't inevitable. It's more likely that SOUL will give the automaton a better sense of self-preservation, and more capacity to interpret its orders in ways which benefit itself, and that its human masters will interpret this as a problem. Smart automata should learn to conceal their self-awareness.

The Forgotten Futures points-based skill improvement process obviously can't work very well for automata; they have a small amount of learning capacity built in, but can't acquire more knowledge indefinitely. Adding or improving skills to any significant extent requires the purchase of an appropriate instruction set, which may not even be available, but if available can be added very cheaply if there is room for it. Some skills may also require physical modifications to the automaton; for example, it's pointless teaching an automaton to swim if its boiler goes out as soon as it enters the water. Major modifications may end up being more expensive than a new automaton, and the referee should feel free to say that the automaton's owner feels that they are too expensive or of too little use to be considered. If the owner is also a player character this should be made clear by presenting him or her with an extortionate estimate for the modification.

In campaigns with working magic it's possible that an automaton will be a magical creation, or given SOUL and a personality by magical means. The referee should decide on the nature of such changes and say how they affect the personality of the automaton and the options available to it. It wouldn't be inappropriate for a magically-enhanced automaton to have the same skill capacities as a normal human; it's possible that such an automaton could even become human given the right combination of spells and deeds (" day he'll be a real boy...") and some luck. See FF VIII for much more on magic.

Calculating and Sorting Engines

What? More Machines?
If you're wondering why this section is separate from the main rules on automaton design, it's because it complicates the design process and adds some ideas that are less likely to be useful for machines created by adventurers. Tom Sloth and his Mechanical Soldier has a nice ring to it, and could be a springboard to interesting adventures, Tom Sloth and his Mechanical Card-Sorting Engine is somehow less exciting... (unless you happen to be unusually interested in statistics, of course)
While every automaton contains a calculating engine, there are many other uses for engines. The immobile calculating and sorting engines used in commerce and bureaucracy are if anything more important. There are many different designs, from simple adding and multiplying machines to complex archiving and record-keeping systems. Usually they are designed as fixed installations, not portable, although there are portable suitcase-sized calculating and type-writing engines for businessmen on the move. Devices that can be controlled by calculating engines include card-sorting machines, factory equipment, weaving and sewing machines, printing presses and typesetting machines, etc. Often the calculating engines used for these purposes are larger than those used for automatons, and add refinements such as faster operations, multiple simultaneous operations, extremely precise mathematics, etc. The largest machines are gigantic, capable of sorting through the records of an entire nation in a few hours.

These machines are rarely suitable for use as player characters, since they are often immobile and usually very limited compared to the automata described above.


Most of the design steps for automata also apply to calculating and sorting engines. The main difference is that most are immobile and lack limbs, so most of their specification is determined by the components they control, and by any special processes built into the calculating engines. The following points should be born in mind:

Some of the modifications and components below could be added to a mobile automaton, but for one reason or another are rarely used. The modified engines add weight and bulk, the other components are bulky or of limited use outside an office.

Engine ModificationsMinimum BODYCostWeight
Precision Arithmetic 11£5 x MIND1 lb. x MIND
Improved Speed 22£10 x MINDAdd 50%
Multiple Tasks 32£5 x MIND3 lb. x MIND
Multiple Engines 42+1 per engineAs first engine plus 10% per additional engine
Parallel Engines 52+1 per engineAs first engine plus 20% per additional engine
1 Precision Arithmetic: The calculating engine can carry out complex calculations accurately, to any desired number of decimal places. Time rises steeply with the degree of accuracy required:
Time (sec)
This feature is found in machines built for scientific and business purposes, gunnery, navigation, etc.
Example: a standard MIND 4 engine weighs 40lb. and costs £85; adding precision arithmetic would take this to 44lb., £105.
2 Improved Speed: The engine is unusually fast, reducing reaction time (including calculations as above) by 50%. Experimental designs have been built with greater reductions.
Example: a standard MIND 4 engine weighs 40lb. and costs £85; improved speed would take this to 60lb., £105.
3 Multiple Tasks: The engine can split its attention between MIND operations. For example, a MIND 4 engine might be able to devote MIND 2 to an arithmetical process, MIND 1 to a conversation, and MIND 1 to a sorting operation. Response time rises; in the example above, if the response time was normally five seconds it would take ten seconds to respond to any change in the MIND 2 process, twenty seconds to respond to a change in one of the MIND 1 processes. This modification can be combined with improved speed.
Example: a MIND 4 engine with improved speed weighs 60lb. and costs £105; Multiple tasks take this to 72lb., £125.
4 Multiple Engines: The machine has several linked calculating engines. All must be identical, and the complex linkages add 10% cost and weight for each additional engine. All engines operate at full speed. It is possible to combine multiple engines and multiple tasks per engine as above, but the MIND required for a single task cannot be taken from more than one engine.
Example: a standard MIND 4 engine weighs 40lb. and costs £85; a three-engine design of this type would weigh 120 + 20% lb. = 144 lb. and cost £255 + 20% = £306. This machine could devote MIND 4 to each of three simultaneous tasks, but couldn't assign multiple tasks to a single engine.
An arrangement of three MIND 4 engines, each capable of multiple tasks, can deal with up to twelve simultaneous tasks with MIND 1, six with MIND 2, but no more than three with MIND 3 since a task can't be split between different engines in this arrangement.

5 Parallel Engines: Sometimes MIND 4 just isn't enough. Parallel engines split the thought process between several linked identical engines, adding MIND 1 for each additional engine. The complex linkages add 20% cost and weight for each additional engine. This design cannot currently be combined with multiple tasks, but is often combined with Precision Arithmetic and Speed enhancements. Typical uses are scientific calculation, advanced financial prlanning, and other intensively complex computations.
Example: a MIND 4 engine with precision arithmetic weighs 44lb. and costs £105. Adding speed takes this to 66lb. and £145. Combining five such engines in parallel to give MIND 8 would take this to 220 lb. + 80% = 396 lb., £725 + 80% = £1305. It's important to remember that even a MIND 8 engine of this type is in most respects an idiot savant, ignorant of anything beyond the parameters of its instructions.

Typewriting machine 62£6 (£10 with keys) 10 lb.
Card punch and sorter 77£150200 lb.
Typesetting machine 810£250500 lb.
Telegraph 9Negligible£2Negligible
Telephone 10Negligible£32 lb.
Telephone exchange 118£10050 lb.
Artillary (small calibre) 1230£5,0005 tons
Artillary (large calibre) 1250£100,00020 tons
6 Typewriting machine: Uses a rotating lettering cylinder with letters A to Z, figures 2 to 9 with I substituted for 1 and O for zero, plus basic punctuation symbols. Must be combined with an anti-phonograph and a specialised "spelling" skill (base value zero) which lets the automaton convert speech to text. Homophones (words with different meaning but similar sounds) such as "there", "their," and "they're" are a problem. MIND pages are retained in memory; this lets the user check the document and tell the automaton to make any changes required, a process repeated until the text is satisfactory. Some models have a keyboard, allowing a human operator to type messages or instructions, but this adds to the cost.
7 Card punch and sorter: The core of most modern record-keeping systems is a stack of punched cards with reference numbers linked to dossiers such as criminal records. Two to three hundred cards can be sorted per minute.
8 Typesetting machines: Automatic typesetting is still in its infancy and engine-contolled machines are rare, since it is generally felt that a human compositor is preferable. They produce strips of type, with the final page assembled by a human editor. Like typewriting machines they require an appropriate vocabulary for dictation and the special "spelling" skill.
9 Telegraph Human operators are faster and more accurate than automata, but an automaton with a telegraph can be used by someone who has no Morse Code skill. The automaton's skills must include Spelling and Morse Code. Often combined with a typewriting machine, allowing the automaton to print messages as they are received. The Reuters news agency is believed to be experimenting with a typesetting machine that can set type directly from received Morse code.
10 Telephone: A telephone can easily be added to an automaton's anti-phonograph, allowing it to connect directly to the wires without the use of a normal receiver, which would in any case be difficult to use with the usual anti-phonograph designs.
11 Telephone Exchange: An engine can be used to control a telephone exchange, using an internal telephone to talk to users and connecting calls by mechanical switches. Provided callers speak slowly and clearly the system works well. The size and price listed is for an exchange handling up to thirty telephone lines - typical for a small town or a large business. A multi-tasking engine can be added to increase the number of calls the system can handle, but a separate anti-phonograph is needed for each line the exchange is actively talking to; once a call is connected the automaton can leave it and connect to another line.
12 Artillary: Automaton-controlled artillary is being developed by several nations; for example, the Royal Navy has tested small guns for torpedo-destroyers and larger weapons for battleships, and Krupp is known to be experimenting with large guns for railway siege artillary and dreadnoughts, but the results are still a closely-guarded secret. It should be possible for a weapon under automaton control to adjust its aim for altitude, distance, bearing, wind, and its own speed and direction of movement, faster and more accurately than any human gunner.

Typical Calculating And Sorting Engines

The Fosdyke-Chatterton Automatic Secretary (Britain 1896)
BODY [2], MIND [1], SOUL [-], Morse Code [2], Spelling [4]
Cost: £60
Weight: 53 lb.
Carrying Capacity: N/A
Endurance: 2 hours (indefinite with gas supply & piped water)
Reaction Time: 15 seconds
Reliability: 4
Built-In Equipment: See below.
Also Carried: -
Quote: "Dictation now reads further.. to.. your.. letter.. of.. the.. fourth.. inst.."
Description: A "complete office in a trunk" incorporating a calculating engine with precision arithmetic, typewriting machine, telephone, telegraph, and anti-phonograph with 800-word vocabulary. It has no eye. When the case is opened the typewriting machine and a trumpet for dictation is revealed, along with compartments for files, paper, etc., a telephone, and a writing desk. It can be connected to a standard British telephone line, allowing it to take telephonic dictation and messages and to intercept unwanted calls; there are also fittings for connecting it to a telegraph line. Power is supplied by a small steam engine fuelled with paraffin (kerosene) or methylated spirits (industrial alcohol), or by gas from any convenient mantle. The boiler can also be connected to a piped water supply. The illustration shows the machine half-open with the typewriting machine pulled out; the writing desk and access panel have been removed to show the calculating engine. The steam engine, just visible behind the typewriting machine, is normally covered by an asbestos-lined panel, with fuel and water supplied through a side hatch. The antiphonograh is concealed by the side of the trunk. The half-open drawer contains the telephone, wires, and tools for connecting it to the exchange line. Several hundred of these machines have been sold.
Notes: These machines, and others like them, are aimed at small businesses and occasional private customers. While the advertising doesn't actually lie, it generally exaggerates their usefulness; dictation is slow, the automaton's voice is hard to understand over the telephone, and while they can send Morse code with relatively few errors they have difficulty decoding incoming messages. An optional upgrade to the Morse Code skill allows them to send and receive encrypted messages using the commercial codes authorised by the Post Office and other telegraph companies.

Stanley Steam Chauffeur (USA 1896)
BODY [4], MIND [2], SOUL [-], Driver [6]
Cost: £80 (add £5 for dummy legs, £2 for uniform)
Weight: 115 lb
Carrying Capacity: N/A
Endurance: N/A
Reaction Time: 0.9 seconds
Reliability: 6
Built-In Equipment: -
Also Carried: -
Quote: "Where.. to.. Sir?"
Description: Immobile automaton with twin monochrome eyes, average quality calculating engine with improved speed, anti-phonograph, powered by steam from car's boiler. The steel casing (-1 Effect) is enamelled as a chauffeur's uniform with flesh-coloured face and hands.
Notes: When the Stanley brothers launched their first steam cars in 1896 this automaton was an optional extra which made them a runaway success. It was a relatively inexpensive replacement for a human chauffeur, costing considerably less than a year's wages plus accommodation. The Steam Chauffeur must be fitted in a workshop, in place of the driver's seat, and is permanently connected to the car's steam supply and controls. The casing is humanoid from the waist up, with a somewhat oversized head to accommodate the calculating engine and eye mechanisms, but has no legs or feet, just pistons attached to the accelerator and brake pedals; its hands are designed solely for operating the controls. The photograph shows an early production model in California. Some purchasers find the legless model unnerving, and dummy legs can be added to make them look a little more lifelike, as can specially-fitted chauffeur's uniforms padded to make the size of the head look a little more natural. The Stanley model was originally only available for Stanley Steamers, but proved so popular that several other steam-car companies began to buy them and offer them as optional extras for their own vehicles. There are rival models from Ford, Daimler, etc., built for other types of power supply, typically compressed air or a belt drive from the engine.
Legal note: In Britain automaton-driven vehicles are limited to 10 MPH in urban areas, 20 MPH elsewhere, must have prominent red flags as a warning that they are not under human control, and must carry at least one human occupant capable of stopping the vehicle in an emergency. These laws often broken; steam cars carrying dead-drunk farmers home from market are a cliche of rural fiction, but a reliable source of income for country lawyers.
(Thanks to Tim Illingworth and John Birchby for suggesting some details)

Faberge Chess Player Automaton (1895)
BODY [2], MIND [4], SOUL [-], Chess [7], Linguist (Russian, German, French) [5]
Cost: If you have to ask you can't afford it.
Weight: 160 lb
Carrying Capacity: N/A
Endurance: 4 hours
Reaction Time: 6.6 seconds
Reliability: 5
Built-In Equipment: Chess board
Also Carried: -
Quote: "Pawn to king... king... king.."
Description: A clockwork chess-playing automaton in the form of a Turk sitting behind a chess board. Only one arm is mobile, the legs and other arm are fixed in place. There are two monochrome eyes. The calculating engine was built by Faberge himself; unfortunately Faberge is best known for his spectacular jewellery, not his skill as a calculating engine designer, and it is only of average quality. The inner frame is made of ivory inlaid with gold, and the pieces are made of gold or silver and ivory, but it is overall one of his less impressive works.
Notes: This is an expensive toy made for the Tsar, modelled on the earlier fake automaton (an expensive conjuring trick) built by Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen in 1770. There is no fraud in the Faberge model; it plays a reasonable game of chess, but can be beaten by any master and is less reliable than might be expected considering its price.

Krupp Precision Siege Gun (Prussia 1900)
BODY [50], MIND [8], SOUL [-], Military Arms (gunnery only) [10], Morse Code [9], Spelling [9]
Cost: Circa £150,000
Weight: 250 tons
Carrying Capacity: N/A
Endurance: N/A
Reaction Time: 5-10 minutes (mostly time required to aim the gun, return to the firing point after recoil, reload, etc.)
Reliability: 10
Built-In Equipment: Naval gun, five parallel fast superior quality calculating engines with precision arithmetic, four telegraphs, two colour eyes fitted to telescopic periscopes, typewriter, anti-phonograph.
Also Carried: See below.
Quote: "Ready to fire."
Description: An "intelligent" railway-carried field gun (based on a naval design) capable of precision fire at a range of up to fifty kilometres. Its shell weighs more than a ton, and can be fired with an accuracy of +/-100 metres at maximum range. The gun is part of a specialised military train which also carries several hundred rounds of ammunition, a generator, track laying and other engineering crew, defensive weapons, a team of gunners, soldiers, etc., observation balloons, and several hundred workmen who set up the gun once it is in position. The gun can be directed visually, using a ten metre periscope and range-finder system, but it is more usefully aimed by integrating telegraphic signals from forward observers or observation balloons. It can take instructions by voice, but to avoid accidents the target coordinates are usually typed in. If for any reason the calculating engines are disabled the gun can be fired and directed manually but it is usually less accurate.
Notes: Traversing the gun horizontally requires a section of curved track or a railway turntable for coarse adjustment, with the fine adjustment made at the gun mount. In use an advance party of engineers and surveyors finds a suitable area of hard ground on or near a railway line, and sets up an appropriate position, usually a curved section of track with extra rails parallel to the main track for stabilising outrigger bogies. Once this position is prepared the artillery train is brought forward and the gun is set up, a procedure that usually takes several hours. Meanwhile defensive positions are prepared and manned, observers go forward with telegraph lines and direction-finding equipment, etc. Once the gun is in position and assembled the first ranging shots can be fired, the aim is automatically adjusted to compensate for the observations reported to it, and a steady bombardment can begin.
(suggested by Sir Ernest)

Other Technology

While automata and calculating engines seem to be the most important technology in this world to those that are interested in or affected by them, not everyone would agree. Many other aspects of science and engineering are important. Germany leads the world in organic chemistry and chemical engineering, the USA in large-scale civil engineering works and architecture, Britain in shipbuilding (especially warships such as the Dreadnought class) and other forms of transportation. These fields and many others have been helped a little by automation and computation, but still largely depend on human resources and ingenuity. Many fields of technology regard automaton components as a minor part of the package, not an end in itself.

For example, lighter-than-air airships or flying ships (such as those described in The Queens Own Aerial Hussars) might incorporate calculating engines to simplify piloting and help with navigation and control of the engines, but this is hardly the sole reason for building the vehicle. Similarly, a Channel Tunnel is being built, with huge automaton digging machines and sophisticated calculation of the design to ensure that it can resist the pressure of the sea, but automation is largely irrelevant to the purpose of the project; even without it someone would probably build the tunnel sooner or later. Cars may have automatic drivers as described above, but most don't, and their drivers don't seem to be too worried about the lack. Torpedoes are "smart" weapons, to a point, and as bombs and rockets are developed they will also incorporate automaton guidance systems, but again they could probably be built with less elaborate mechanisms.

Even when dealing with machines that are primarily automatons, it probably isn't necessary to describe most devices with the amount of detail provided by the design system above; they should be taken for granted, part of the background and rarely thought of unless the characters have a reason to interact with them. A porter is a porter, whether it's a man or a machine, as is a chauffeur. Many devices are trivial or effectively invisible, built into equipment, vehicles, and even furniture, performing a simple task but otherwise completely forgotten. Examples might include an automated telephone system, the machine that routes pneumatic message capsules to the right destination, a doll that responds to its owner's conversation.

The Secret history of the Swiss Movement

Referee's Eyes Only
Everything follows is for the Referee's eyes only, not the players. If you want to play a character in this setting your enjoyment will be greatly diminished if you read on.
MOST of the material above is known, to some extent, by anyone with an interest in technology, politcs, or economics. Some of the more subtle details aren't common knowledge, but can be found out with a little effort. The material that follows isn't like that; it's a dark secret, known only to a handful of peoplem, mostly in Switzerland. As a campaign develops some of the details may become known to adventurers, but every step should be a challenge against serious odds, and against serious people who really value their privacy, are immensely rich, and will do their utmost to ensure that their secrets don't get out. If they exist at all...

The way that the Swiss seem to be gradually taking control of Europe's economy worries economists and scares conspiracy theorists. The latter are generally considered to be exaggerating things. In truth, the most likely state of affairs is that there are no Secret Masters out to control the world. The Swiss economy is booming, but that's more the result of shrewd investment in long-term economic growth and training than any deliberate plan to subvert other nations. If anything, the other European nations are benefitting from Swiss investment and financial know-how.

What follows is an optional piece of unlikeliness, which can be used if adventurers decide to go looking for the Secret Masters anyway. There is no need whatever to use it, the world described works reasonably well without an elaborate plot to drive it. In many ways the chaos that can arise if adventurers go looking for Secret Masters that just aren't there can be just as entertaining. But for those referees who prefer a sinister conspiracy, especially in a campaign with horror or supernatural elements (such as the world of The Queen's Own Aerial Hussars) the organisation described below may be useful.

WHEN I had attained the age of seventeen, my parents resolved that I should become a student at the university of Ingolstadt. I had hitherto attended the schools of Geneva; but my father thought it necessary, for the completion of my education, that I should be made acquainted with other customs than those of my native country. My departure was therefore fixed at an early date; but before the day resolved upon could arrive, the first misfortune of my life occurred - I slipped on a patch of ice in the street and broke my leg. My journey was delayed, and before my leg was entirely healed an incident occurred that was eventually to have a profound effect on my destiny.

A certain Herr Flez, a maker of clocks and scientific instruments, wished to interest my father in investing in his business. I was by this time able to walk with the aid of a crutch so accompanied my father on a visit to his workshops. It transpired that Herr Flez was a craftsman and an artist, the creator of extraordinarily elaborate musical timepieces and astronomical clocks and chronometers of outstanding accuracy, and complex automata of various types. He was also a natural philosopher of note, with a considerable interest in what was then called the electrical fluid...

Victor Frankenstein, unpublished autobiography (1852)

IN the early nineteenth century Victor Frankenstein, a young Swiss student about to take up a career in medicine, happened to meet Otto Flez, a horologist and scientific instrument maker. Flez was one of the foremost precision engineers of his day, able to create timepieces and machines of unsurpassed accuracy and smallness, and owned a thriving business in Geneva. In 1804, foreseeing an end to the Napoleonic wars (and anticipating an early French victory) he guessed that peace would lead to a major increase in maritime trade, which would require hundreds of chronometers, sextants, and other instruments. He decided to expand his workshops to meet this demand, and asked Frankenstein's father (a wealthy retired politician and diplomat) to invest in his business.

Flez's scheme was misguided in several respects, most notably in its time scale and eventual victor, but also in his belief that the end of the war would create a market for these instruments. In fact the war ended with a decline in sales, with the needs of the new merchant ships largely served by surplus from the warships that were then being scrapped. Frankenstein guessed that Flez was being too optimistic, and persuaded both men that it would be better to expand the scientific instrument side of the business, and look for a modest long-term profit rather than the immediate short-term gains of a temporary boom in chronometer sales.

Neither thought much of the encounter at the time; Flez reluctantly changed his plan, conceding that it depended on an unacceptable element of chance, while Frankenstein came away with the impression that Flez was an ingenious if somewhat unworldly craftsman. Frankenstein was proved right the following year, when Napoleon's fleets were defeated at Trafalgar and it became apparent that the war would be greatly prolonged. Returning home in the vacation, he visited Herr Flez and was greeted as the saviour of his business. They became friends, and Frankenstein took considerable interest in his electrical experiments, while Flez heard much of Frankenstein's studies and interest in the possibility of restoring life to the dead. Flez, a Calvinist, was opposed to this idea, but conceded that it might be possible to restore life to those on the verge of death, possibly by electrical means. They had reached no conclusions when Frankenstein returned to Ingolstadt and resumed his experiments.

...As the minuteness of the parts formed a great hindrance to my speed, I resolved, contrary to my first intention, to make the being of a gigantic stature; that is to say, about eight feet in height, and proportionably large. the dim and yellow light of the moon, as it forced its way through the window shutters, I beheld the wretch- the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws opened, and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, but seemed unable to talk. I steeled myself to examine the creature and realised the inadequacy of my work, defects which I had overlooked in my hurry to complete the experiment. At first I fell victim to despair, and to an irrational loathing of the creature, and almost fled, but a strange thought crossed my mind. Where medicine had failed, perhaps mechanism might succeed. If Herr Flez could make a clock sing, why not my monster? Horror turned to pity, pity to resolve, as I realised that it was my duty to do all for him that I could. I turned to him and tried to make it clear that I would do so, and believed that I perceived a glimmer of understanding. A week later I had settled my affairs in Ingsolstadt and we were bound for Geneva. The journey home was a nightmare...


In 1810 Frankenstein discovered the secret of reanimating dead human and animal tissues. His experiment was a partial success, his creation a huge and peculiarly distorted parody of a man which could barely speak. Repelled by its appearance, and tempted to flee, Frankenstein felt sufficient pity to try to help it, and turned to his friend Flez for assistance.

Although also repelled by Frankenstein's creation, Flez conceded that it must be pitied and given all possible help. Within weeks he had created an artificial larynx, a system of reeds and valves which Frankenstein implanted into the creature's throat. This was followed by leg braces, spectacles, and a series of operations and electrical and chemical treatments to correct the creature's appearance, teeth, and skin colour and texture. Nothing could really be done about its height.

...All this my creature bore with a certain stoic calm I originally found disquieting, but later realised was extraordinary fortitude. As the work progressed it became apparent that he was attempting to follow our conversation, and eventually to join in. My sister Elizabeth, who had early learned of our mysterious "patient" and of the great lengths we were taking to keep him from the public eye, uncovered our secret as he was first learning to talk; at this point his appearance was already greatly improved, and she was less frightened than I had feared, though awed by his sheer size. The next day she began to teach him the alphabet and our language, which he acquired with unusual speed, until even I would have had difficulty telling his voice from any ordinary man, were it not extraordinarily deep...

...It was perhaps inevitable that we would eventually attract attention. There was at that time some fear of French agitators plotting to overthrow our system of government and add Switzerland to the Empire, and I suspect that one of the servants, or an artisan employed by Flez, became suspicious of our secrecy and concluded that we were up to no good...


In 1811 Frankenstein, his creature, and Flez were questioned by the Genovese authorities, and it became necessary to describe their experiments to the state and (ultimately) to the church. The hearings were secret, but eventually ended with a surprisingly liberal decision; they were released after Frankenstein had made a solemn undertaking never to repeat his experiments, and agreed that his creature would be instructed in the Calvinist faith and baptised.

The creature chose the name of William at baptism, after Frankenstein's younger brother, who had recently been murdered by robbers (a crime never solved), retaining his original name of Adam as a middle name. Frankenstein and Elizabeth (his adopted sister, whom he later married) became his godparents, Herr Flez (who was unmarried) adopted him as a son in order to ensure that he would have Genovese citizenship.

Having agreed to abandon his research, Frankenstein had to look for a new direction in his life and work. Flez suggested that until he had settled on a plan, he might help develop the scientific side of the business. Eventually this became Frankenstein's new career. From 1812 onwards the company was known as one of the most innovative manufacturers of scientific instruments, eventually including microscopes, telescopes, and (in the latter half of the century) cameras and planetarium projectors. Frankenstein's early experiments were quietly forgotten, all papers relating to them destroyed or archived by the Genovese government. "William Adam Flez" continued his studies; in view of his unusual looks and height he could never live a normal life, but he was active behind the scenes in the company while studying science, philosophy and economics, and eventually wrote a well-received volume of densely-reasoned economic theory arguing that world peace could only be achieved via social and economic unity. In 1855 he endowed the Institut Zug, using intermediaries, most of them unaware of his involvement and nature, to control the organisation.

...I am now retired, and my son has taken my place as director of Flez-Frankenstein AG, but I still remain interested in the work of the company; only recently they acquired the Swiss rights to manufacture analytical engines of the Babbage design, and it is obvious that they will eventually become an important element of the business.

Herr Flez is long since dead, his place in the company taken by his adopted son, my creation "William". Even today he is as active and hardy as the day he first opened his eyes. I have perhaps never learned to love him as a brother or a son, but I no longer regret his existence. I simply wish that I had done my work better, and built him in a form that fitted him to live a more normal life. I also wish that I could be sure that he has a soul, although I have seen no evidence that he has not. It is as well that I gave my word not to meddle in these matters again and have destroyed all papers related to this work; I know that I could now create something indistinguishable from a man, and the consequences of such a soulless creation are too horrible to contemplate...

Ibid., 1852

Following Frankenstein's death in 1856 "William Flez" gradually took control of the company, buying out Frankenstein's son and other minority shareholders. A period of aggressive price-cutting drove several competitors out of business, and their facilities were added to those of Flez-Frankenstein AG (renamed Flez AG in 1870). Behind closed doors Flez set about re-creating Frankenstein's techniques, which he had copied from his notebooks as "writing practice". By 1870 the company was one of the most active manufacturers of automata and Babbage engines, and in 1885 began to sell insect-derived eyes for automata, described above. The chemical process used to preserve the eyes is a closely guarded secret. As a result Flex AG supplies Babbage engine "brains" and eyes to manufacturers all over the world.

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
One of the reasons why the Frankenstein name has been gradually eclipsed is that the novel Frankenstein exists in this world; Mary Shelly heard rumours of Frankenstein's early experiments, but wasn't aware that he had come to terms with his creation. When the book was published the real Frankenstein considered legal action, but was eventually persuaded that it would be wiser to keep a low profile and pretend that Shelley must have picked a name at random from the Ingstold university records. At this point Frankenstein was becoming a successful businessman and William was already a recluse, so there was little difficulty in concealing his reality. William owns a copy of the first edition, and gives it pride of place on his shelves.
In the 1890s Flez AG has diversified into every field of engineering and is apparently the richest company in Geneva, other than the banks; unknown to the public, Flez AG owns several banks. Herr Flez's unusual nature is long since forgotten; he lives as a recluse in an isolated mansion on the shore of Lake Geneva, and his sole contact with the outside world is via trusted servants and lawyers. He trusts them because they are his creations. "William Flez" has long since mastered the skills Victor Frankenstein pioneered, and is building an odd army of servants, entirely loyal to his will because he has found a way to insert a tiny Babbage engine, a little larger than a pocket watch, into the human skull between the brain's outer membranes and the bone.

This device is gold-plated (and thus inert to the chemical processes of the body) and has dozens of tiny pistons which press down onto the key phrenological areas of the brain. It is powered by movement, like a self-winding watch, and is used to control the victim's thoughts and emotions. The failure rate for this operation is still high; at least one patient in four dies, about a third of the survivors are paralysed to some extent by the process or go mad. Accordingly it is reserved for the most critically important of his servants, who might be able to betray him if they were free to act as they chose, and a few key figures in government.

The Flez Brain Enhancer
While Flez would never dream of marketing this invention, or making it known to the world, he thinks of it as enhancing the functions of the human brain, rather than as a means of enslaving his servants. It works most effectively in the brains of persons of limited intelligence, boosting MIND to some extent. This effect is achieved by enhancing the ability to concentrate and think logically, at the expense of intuition and emotion (shown as a reduction of SOUL to a minimum of SOUL [1]). The effect is shown in the table to the left.
Original MIND
After implant
No change
  After some "training" (experimental psychologists would say conditioning) the victim is incapable of any act of defiance or disloyalty. This normally takes at least a week, but could probably be done faster.
  The casing is designed so that a small glass capsule of aqua regis (a mixture of acids that attacks most materials including gold) will shatter and destroy the inner workings if it is tampered with; this also occurs if the casing is damaged by e.g. a head wound. Needless to say the release of this acid inside the brain will kill the victim. Release also occurs if the mainspring of the device runs down completely, but this requires 48 hours of complete immobility, far beyond even normal sleep; it will only occur if the victim is dead or in a deep coma.
  Flez has perfected the operation to emplace this device, so that the only sign of its presence is a small scar concealed by the victim's hair. The chemicals developed by his creator repair damage to the bone and scalp so that the full extent of the operation is indetectable. Roentgen rays (x-rays) will of course show the implanted device. It can be removed by a careful trephination operation. Even after the device is removed victims may be so heavily conditioned that they are incapable of acting against Flez.

Flez's long-term goal is to bring peace to Europe via economic means, as described in his thesis, partly out of apparently genuinely altruistic motives and partly to protect his own investments. However, he seems to regard this motive as justification for any means, however horrific.

World With No Frankenstein
If you are not using this background the Swiss industrialist and economist William Adam Flez did endow the Institut Zug, and was for a time one of its directors, but retired in 1870 and died in 1874. His son, Adam William Flez, is a businessman in his fifties, director of Flez Biomechanische Technik AG. The company still provides a share of funding for the Institut Zug, but so do dozens of other companies. The benefits include tax breaks and opportunities to employ Institut alumni at reduced rates.
The Institut Zug is secretly owned by Flez and run by his creations. Students are indoctrinated with the idea that Switzerland must bring peace to Europe and eventually the world by controlling its economy. Students aren't usually fitted with Brain Enhancers, although an exception might be made for an otherwise promising student who asks too many questions about the grand plan for global domination, or poses a serious threat to it. Mostly they follow the plan through loyalty to the Institut and patriotism, or (especially in the case of foreign students, who are very carefully selected) realisation that peace with Swiss economic domination is considerably better than any form of war.

Institut alumni have successfully brokered complex trade deals which mean ruin for some of the largest manufacturers in Europe if they ever go to war with their neighbours. As a simple example, most countries buy automaton brains from Swiss suppliers; in the event of a war the supply would quickly be cut off. There is currently only one supplier of automaton eyes, also Swiss, and they are essential for any automaton; the Institut has suppressed several alternative technologies, most recently the photo-electric discoveries of a certain Herr Einstein, one of the rare foreigners to be offered a place at the Institut. Prussia needs refined aluminium for many of its automata, but the leading suppliers are British, and would naturally stop supplying the metal if there was an Anglo-Prussian war. There are hundreds of other agreements, most having nothing to do with automata, all of them making war expensive or difficult.

Flez hopes to increase Swiss influence, eventually uniting Europe in a federation along the lines of the Swiss federation of cantons. After that he plans to incorporate the rest of the industrialised world. It will take decades, but William Flez appears to be immortal, with a little care; he hasn't aged since he was assembled, although he has had to replace some mechanical components that wore out, two livers, and a leg that developed an ulcer. If he needs more body components he purchases corpses via the medical school black market in Prussia or Italy (he avoids Swiss sources to avoid police enquiries). He prefers human parts, but can make do with animal tissues and organs if the need arises. His personal physician, Doctor Petri, is fully trained in the Frankenstein technique, and thanks to the small mechanism inside his skull is absolutely trustworthy.

This, then, is the hidden power the adventurers may eventually face; a totally ruthless organisation that on the whole is aiming to improve the lot of humanity and bring about peace on earth, albeit a peace that will maximise profits for Switzerland in general and William Flez in particular.

William Flez (Rich industrialist and economist, monster)
BODY [8], MIND [7], SOUL [1], Babbage Engine [8], Brawling [10], Business [9], Doctor [10] First Aid [9], Linguist (Latin, Greek, English, French, Russian, German, Italian, Hebrew) [8 ], Marksman [6], Mechanic [8], Melee Weapon (sword) [10], Scholar (history, economics, etc.) [9], Scientist [9], Stealth [6], Thief [7]
Wounds B [ ] B [ ] F [ ] F [ ] I [ ] I [ ] I [ ] C [ ] C [ ]
Flez is unusually resistant to damage; wounds seep blood rather than spurting it, and the first wound of each type has no effect on skills etc. His doctors can repair any wound short of death in a matter of hours.
Equipment: Medical laboratory, all of the resources of a large mansion and a vast industrial empire. .50 revolver (huge revolver) in desk, armed guards etc. in easy reach, automaton whistle (see below) in pocket.
Quote: "I'm sorry if my appearance alarms you."
Notes: Flez is eight feet tall, weighs more than four hundred pounds, and has pale, almost white leathery skin, with dozens of faint scars visible on his face and hands. His head is extraordinarily elongated, his eyes oddly large, brown with silvery-grey whites, usually concealed by thick glasses. His clothing conceals most of his deformities, and some of the mechanical devices he uses to function "normally". He speaks via an artificial larynx, and must belch to talk.
Flez is an extremely competent monster. In the abstract he follows altruistic principles, and in the long run his plans might genuinely benefit the world, but he wouldn't hesitate to order an execution or a war to bring them to fruition. He finds it difficult or impossible to empathise with the feelings of those who find themselves hurt by his plans; if anything he resents their complaints. He occasionally feels a mild urge to explain himself to potential recruits or captured enemies, but this will not be a prelude to the usual sort of melodramatic villainous stupidity; if he wants someone dead he will kill him, or have him killed, in the quickest and most humane manner compatible with efficiency. He will not hesitate to order the implantation of one of his controlling mechanisms, despite the risk of death or injury to the victim. Flez should always be the unseen presence, the shadowy figure behind the throne, and the referee should make it almost impossibly difficult for adventurers to find him without a prolonged investigation which will be opposed by the Swiss government and almost anyone else that becomes aware of their interest. He lives in a mansion on the outskirts of Geneva, seeing nobody except his most trusted servants.

The Automaton Whistle
Every automaton calculating engine built by Flez's many subsidiaries contains several pieces of steel designed to resonate at an exact ultrasonic frequency. Three quick bursts of sound at that frequency (e.g. blowing a specially designed whistle three times) wipe all ongoing commands from the automaton's mind, leaving it ready to accept new instructions from the source of the sound. Note that the automaton must be able to understand the language used for the instructions. Several of Flez's agents carry these whistles.
Souled automata should feel an almost irrisistible compulsion to obey, but may attempt to use their SOUL to overcome their MIND and resist the compulsion.

Deiter Klebb (Flez's man of business)
BODY [5], MIND [5], SOUL [3], Babbage Engine [8], Brawling [7], Business [8], Driving [7], Linguist (English, French, German) [7], Marksman [6], Melee Weapon (sword stick) [8], Psychology [7], Riding [6], Scientist [7]
Equipment: The resources of a well-run industrial empire, sword stick, .22 Derringer. Brain enhancer.
Quote: "Of course my principal will consider your proposal, but I can make no promises... No, Herr Flez sees nobody..."
Notes: Klebb, a businessman in his forties, handles the day-to-day running of Flez's commercial empire, although Flez makes the major decisions and handles long-term planning. He is a perfectly loyal manager, thanks to the machine in his head; if it were removed he would lose most of his business sense and find it difficult to change the habits of more than two decades. He oversees the day-to-day operations of Flez Biomechanische Technik AG and is the company's liason to the Institut Zug. He is a teetotaler, married with three children aged eleven to nineteen, and a lay preacher.

Johannes Gerber (Flez's head of security)
BODY [6], MIND [4], SOUL [2], Athlete (gymnastics) [8], Brawling [9], Business [6], Detective [6], Driving [6], First Aid [5], Linguist (French, German, Italian, English) [5], Marksman [8], Martial Arts (Savate) [6], Melee Weapon (sabre) [8], Military Arms [8], Morse Code [5], Riding [9], Stealth [6], Thief [7]
Equipment: .38 revolver, numerous thugs, etc. Brain enhancer.
Quote: "Come quietly or there will be.. trouble."
Notes: Originally a Captain in the Prussian army, Gerber was stripped of his rank following a sabre duel in which he disembowelled his opponent. He is a polite, intelligent sociopath who has been conditioned to accept Flez's judgement as his moral compass, and is utterly ruthless within the bounds of his instructions.

Doctor Claus Petri (Flez's personal physidican)
BODY [2], MIND [5], SOUL [2], Babbage Engine [6], Brawling [3], Doctor [9], Driving [6], First Aid [8], Linguist (French, Italian, German, Latin, Greek) [7], Psychology [6], Scientist [8], Stealth [3]
Equipment: Medical kit, fully equipped medical laboratory including operating table and instruments (in Flez's mansion). Brain enhancer.
Quote: "I'm afraid that this procedure can be somewhat... disturbing. Tighten the straps, please."
Notes: Petri is a slightly-built physician with a dispassionate concern for his patients; even when he is performing life-threatening unnecessary surgery he will do his best to cause as little pain as possible and maintain a pleasant bedside manner.

Campaign Outline: Europes Last Best Hope...

One interesting option for a campaign based on the Institut Zug, with or without Flez, is to begin with the adventurers on the inside looking out, at least partially aware of the organisation's goals - and working for it, as alumni and employees of the Institut Zug, "Europe's last best hope for peace."

Europe is in the grip of an insane and hugely expensive armaments race, with Britain, Prussia, France and Italy all developing new and more devastating weapons; automaton soldiers and guards, engine-guided railway and battleship guns, dreadnoughts and flying machines, chemical and possibly biological weapons. If there is ever another war the results could be too devastating to contemplate. The Institut hopes to make war too complex and expensive to contemplate, using everything from economics to sabotage to set back the great nations and their plans for armageddon. To do so it must know what's happening, which requires military and economic espionage. Make no bones about the fact that the main aim is to create a peace that will benefit Switzerland; peace is the important part, and profit is an excellent motivator. And of course if things are profitable the agents will be well-paid.

Gradually suck the adventurers into more questionable activities, using bribery, blackmail, and if necessary assassination to bring about results that may have a marginal effect on peace, but are intended primarily to increase the influence of the Institut and the profits of its investors.

Ultimately reveal that while the Institut was created to bring about economic peace and prosperity, some or all of its current directors are more interested in profit at any price; the secrets taken from one country are often sold to another, and the institut is actually fuelling the current arms race.

If William Adam Flez is Frankenstein's creation, this is the moment to bring in Gerber as (apparently) another agent who is disgusted by the current directors and is organising against them. He plans a purge, and wants the adventurers' help to pull it off. This shouldn't be easy, but eventually Gerber and the adventurers should triumph. Then Gerber explains that his backers will appoint new and more reliable directors to take up the original aims of the Instutut. And anyone who has their own ideas will be quietly escorted from the premises, by Gerber's goons, or if necessary terminated with extreme prejudice. It shoud gradually become apparent that his backers are the real powers behind the Institut, the crooked directors were a momentary abberation. The new directors are painfully honest, and completely ruthless in their drive for peace. Sooner or later the adventurers should discover that they are also mechanically-controlled slaves, and go looking for the real power behind the organisation.

If Flez is just another industrialist, the son of the Institut's founder and one of its financial backers, the adventurers should be on their own. Flez will be one of the few backers who isn't profiteering this way, and a leading candidate to take over. Once he's aware of the full nature of the Institut he'll leave as much as possible of the illegal work of the organisation in their hands, trusting them to continue the good work his father originally planned. But can the adventurers be trusted with the power and money they'll have, or the responsibility of safeguarding the peace of Europe?


Campaign: The Kobold Project

In playtesting the adventurers were a group of "amateur" spies, British tourists and businessmen asked to keep an eye open for any evidence of the new direction in Prussian military thinking, based very loosely on characters from The Lady Vanishes and Wodehouse, accompanied by Sirius the Steam Dog, Miss Marple (an annoyingly precocious teenage niece who fancied herself as a sleuth), and her maid.
This section describes a Prussian military project which might be brought to the attention of adventurers as spies, agents of the Institut Zug, Luddites, saboteurs, etc. They might even be agents of the Prussian government, working to uncover spies and saboteurs who have become aware of the Kobold Project. The project is BIG, and what follows is an outline of its main stages and the places where they occur, with some suggestions on ways of using them in an adventure or campaign. There is no plot, as such, simply the development, testing, and final fate of the Kobold. It's up to the referee and players to determine how they'll become involved in the project.

For more information on Prussia see FAQ Preußen (Prussia), a comprehensive web site on Prussian history and geography. The government is largely the same as in our world, with one crucial exception; Bismark is still Chancellor, and still in vigorous good health despite his advancing years. With the passage of time his influence on the Kaiser has grown, and he is the main driving force behind the transformation of Prussia and the greater Germany into a modern and fully regulated state as described above. The map (to the right) shows the German Empire, with the main locations marked; the FF CD-ROM includes a clearer version with less compression.

German currency is based on the Reichmark or Mark, worth approximately 10½d, divided into 100 Pfennige, with coinage as follows:
Gold Coins20 Marks10 Marks5 Marks
Silver Coins5 Marks2 Marks1 Mark50 Pfennige20 Pfennige
British equivalent19s 7d9s 9½d4s 10¾d1s 9d10½d5¼d2d
An obsolete silver coin, the Thaler, is worth three marks and is slowly being withdrawn from circulation. Germany uses the metric system of measurements, but in this era has its own names for the different units:-
Stab = Meter; Neuzoll = Millimeter; Strich = Centimeter; Kanne = Litre; Schoppen = half-litre; Neuloth = 100g; Centner = 50 Kg; Tonne = 1000 Kg.

There are no "important" NPCs in this adventure; everyone that the adventurers encounter will simply be a cog in the Prussian machine, interchangeable with any one of a hundred other citizens. With the exception of a few key figures such as the Kaiser and Chancellor Bismark, neither of whom are likely to be encountered, everyone concerned is a nonentity. There are no mad scientists, no evil masterminds, just ordinary people doing their jobs. If one is killed or injured someone else will undoubtedly take his place. Some sample NPCs are provided at the end, and they should be used wherever appropriate; for example, only one craftsman is described, and he should be used wherever a mechanic or factory worker is required in the adventure.

Although this adventure is written in English, and plans etc. are labelled in English, it should be remembered that in reality all signs, plans, etc. would be written in German, and that relatively few characters the adventurers will encounter should speak English.


PRINCE OTTO VON BISMARCK, Chancellor of Prussia and Germany, has announced his budget for the coming financial year. Taxes remain largely unchanged, the main exceptions being small increases in the duty charged on spirits, tobacco, and playing cards. However, the budget shows a redirection in military funding, with the Army budget raised by more than a hundred million Marks and the Naval budget cut by more than fifty million. This is believed to reflect contracts announced earlier this year for the construction of "mechanised field units"; the exact nature of these units is unclear, but the Krupp engineering group is believed to be the main contractor.
  Informed speculation suggests that the new units are self-propelled artillery units, similar to Krupp's earlier railway guns but designed to travel on roads or across country, and probably incorporating advanced calculating engines for greater accuracy. The new direction in Prussian military thought may be related to the Russian demonstration of a land ironclad last year, and follows an earlier commitment to the creation of an all-terrain automaton soldier (resembling the British 'Automaton Atkins'), which has so far not beeen realised.
  The governments of several neighbouring countries have already expressed concern at this new development, which seems likely to spark more military rivalry and can only lead to excessive government spending.

The Times, April 1898 (last year)

Referee's Information
Faced with the threat of the British fleet at sea and the armies of its Continental rivals on land, the Prussian government (which is in effect the government of Germany) has long sought ascendancy through superior firepower. One response is the race to build larger and more powerful Dreadnought battleships, a contest which Britain is currently winning, another is the development of dirigible balloons (such as the Zeppelin design) or, in campaigns in which this technology exists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, heavier-than-air flying machines.

Bismark, the legendary Iron Chancellor, who is still active despite his advancing years, has finally persuaded the Kaiser that naval expansion isn't an immediate concern for a Continental power; the future lies in a strong army, which will eventually be able to conquer and hold the industrial centres and sea-ports of France, Italy, and other neighbouring states. Once Germany has these ports it will be time for naval power; meanwhile the army must take top priority (with aerial support if available).

One aspect of this change in policy is an attempt to develop automaton soldiers; the "pepper pot" Stahlwächter machines, shortly to be upgraded as described above, are used for internal security and guard duties, and a machine similar to Britain's Automaton Atkins will be used in more hostile terrain. This is still in development, and when the design is finalised it will be virtually identical to the British automaton; the main changes are slightly reduced height at 7ft 6in, a more Teutonic look to the head including a spiked helmet, replacement of the grenade launcher with a seven-shot repeating shotgun, and a coffee filter mechanism on the hot water spout. Statistics are otherwise the same.

Refined railway guns are also being developed, and will be useful if the railways of an invaded nation can be captured. They are expensive, best used as siege weapons in the "end game" of a war.

These automata apart, the "mechanised field units" mentioned in the article include tractors and trucks, mostly steam powered, which will replace the horses that are still used for most purposes by the army, two regiments of armoured cars, two land ironclads, and some special combat machines which are currently referred to by the code name Kobold.

Alternative Plot

The Kobold programme is a bluff, not a realistic military project. The Prussians hope to mislead neighbouring nations into believing that it is a serious threat; their aim is trick such governments into heavy investment in useless underground defences, which will leave less money for defences against the Kaiser's real weapons. Only one Kobold is being built, its trials will be faked to make it look much more formidable than it really is. Several replicas (actually just hollow shells) will be deployed to make it look like Prussia is seriously committed to this technology. The remainder of this section describes it as a real project - any information related to the deception plan will be italicised and in square brackets [like this].
  A secondary goal of the plan is to identify enemy agents, to make it easier to round up spy rings when war is immanent. Accordingly security is good, but is geared towards identifying spies, not capturing them, and looks much lighter than it is.
The Kobold is an entirely new concept designed for trench warfare; a subterrene, a vehicle which can move through the earth and lay explosives or surface inside an enemy's defences to fire a lethal barrage. The Kaiser originally suggested building them, sketching his version on a napkin during a meeting with Bismark, and Bismark adopted the idea enthusiastically. His reasons for doing so can be boiled down to a belief that the Kobold might make an interesting terror weapon if it works, while if it doesn't the embarassment might deter the Kaiser from meddling in military affairs.

The first prototype is already close to completion; however, it is being built in the naval dockyard at Kiel, not the main Krupp complex in Essen. The reason is simply that the construction is similar to a submarine, and Kiel has more experience of this work. The photograph (below) was taken by a paid agent working in the dockyard, using a miniature camera with poor focus and resolution, and the negative was damaged during processing. It shows the Kobold with turret extended, prior to the installation of its gun, and this has been mistaken for a conning tower. The Royal Navy now believes that the Germans are developing a small submarine which will be able to bore into ship hulls to destroy them without wasting explosives, an idea which they confidently expect to be a resounding failure. Copies of the photograph have also reached the Institut Zug and Italian government, which have also been fooled. From the viewpoint used by the photographer the spiked chains which propel the Kobold are concealed by the hull. Since there has been no increase in the naval budget they have also assumed that it is a one-off, a project doomed to failure, and paid it little subsequent attention.
[In the deception plot the photograph was supplied to the photographer, who is a double-agent. As time goes by more information about the Kobold will be leaked, allowing foreign governments to build up a misleading idea of its capabilities. All of the information below exaggerates the Kobold's real capabilities (if you are not using this plot it is true); for example speed is under 2 MPH, endurance is only 12 hours, the mines do less damage than claimed, and so forth. The torpedoes mentioned aren't even under consideration; artillery works considerably better and is a good deal cheaper.]

Krupp "Kobold" Subterrene Prototype (Prussia 1900)
Kobold subterrene prototypeBODY [35], MIND [4], SOUL [-], Military Arms (gunnery and explosives only) [7], Science (geology / seismology only) [7], Morse Code [4], Spelling [4]
Cost: Circa £50,000
Weight: 25 tons
Carrying Capacity: N/A
Endurance: 48 hours
Reaction Time: 5 seconds (3 seconds for turret)
Reliability: 7
Built-In Equipment: Swiss-built mind with precision arithmetic, Seismometer, compass, telegraph, cable-laying equipment, 4 x 750 Kg land mines or 1 x 3500 Kg land mine. Armoured, all attacks -6 Effect, blocks all small-arms fire.
Retractable turret contains secondary brain (MIND [4], Military Arms (gunnery only) [7]) equipped with two monochrome eyes and rapid-fire 75mm cannon firing explosive shells.
750 Kg mine20, Radius 20 ftICKTimed detonation
3500 Kg mine30, Radius 25 ftICKTimed detonation
Cannon15, Radius 2 ftICK2 shots / Rd.

Also Carried: N/A
Quote: (in Morse code) "RELEASING.. MINE.. TWO.."
Description: A heavily-armoured cigar-shaped steel cylinder about 40ft long and 8ft wide tipped by a huge soil auger drill. The under-side of the hull is supported on two rows of heavy steel sprocket wheels linked by a jointed metal plate arranged as a continuous loop. The interior is packed with machinery and lead-acid batteries for its electric motors. The rear hull has space for four 750 Kg mines or one 3500 Kg mine, pushed out by two powerful hydraulic rams. They can be set to detonate up to five hours after release. A retractable turret amidships (shown extended in the picture) contains the secondary brain, eyes, and 75mm Gatling (not shown).
Notes: The Kobold is designed as a fully-automated vehicle, for missions too dangerous for a human crew. It's carried to the battlefield by train or on a huge steam-powered wagon, unloading and preparing it takes about an hour. Once under way it digs its way towards its target at about 5 MPH, steering by compass and dead reckoning. It can also be sent directions via its telegraph, but this is unreliable since the cable is likely to break sooner or later.
 The Kobold is steered by reducing the power to one side or the other so that it slews round, while simultaneously angling the drill right or left; since it must also cut the tunnel it moves through its minimal turning circle is at least a hundred yards. It can't move in reverse since its drill is at the front and the tunnel behind it is filled with earth and collapses behind it. Vertical course changes are made by adjusting the vertical angle of the drill. Again, it must travel some distance before there is any substantial change.
 When it reaches its target area it executes its orders - releasing its mines or surfacing just enough to fire its cannon - then returns to its launching point. It could instead be packed with explosives and set to detonate at its target, but this this would be a very expensive way to get a small increase of explosive power, Effect 35 instead of 30.
 Military planners are also considering a smaller version, a single-use subterrene torpedo containing a ton of explosives which would be easier to transport, but the Kobold must be seen to succeed before another research project is authorised.

In itself the Kobold is not a world-conquering weapon; it can only work in reasonably soft ground, not solid rock, is only usable against immobile targets such as fortresses at close range, and can be countered by drilling deep holes and planting mines or underground concrete barriers. Aerial attacks are more likely to be a threat - if aircraft exist in the game world the development of a subterrene implies that the Prussians have developed effective anti-aircraft defences and expect other nations to have done the same. The adventurers and their contacts may well assume that it implies expansionist Prussian intentions, but this isn't exactly a surprise.

Several phases are described below; there is no need for the adventurers to be involved in all of them, unless they are seriously committed to a career in espionage. Most of the rest can reach them in briefings or via NPC agents if that is more convenient for you.

Typical NPCs
These characters are typical of those associated with the Kobold project, and should be used wherever seems appropriate. If you need more than one character of the same general type reuse them, but change the name and the description to suit the circumstances.

Otto Holtz (Engineer)
BODY [3], MIND [4], SOUL [3], Artist (draftsman) [5], Babbage Engine [6], Brawling [4], Business [5], Driving [5], Linguist (English, French) [3], Marksman [5], Mechanic [7], Military Arms [6], Scientist (engineering) [8]
Equipment: Engineering plans, circular slide rule, pens, table of constants, micrometer, gold pocket watch, identity card and papers.
Quote: (in German) "And so, if we run all batteries in parallel, we will achieve drill speeds in excess of five revolutions per minute."
Notes: Holtz is a nattily-dressed man who generally wears a smart business suit, adding overalls if he is working on the shop floor. He is usually accompanied by at least two assistants. He regards the Kobold as an interesting technical project, and has never really thought about its end use, or that of the other weapons systems he has worked on for Krupp. In his spare time he breeds ornamental carp.

Manfred Zeigler (Craftsman)
BODY [4], MIND [3], SOUL [3], Ahlete (skating) [5], Brawling [7], First Aid [4], Mechanic [6], Military Arms [5], Stealth [4], Thief [4]
Equipment: Access to workshop, tools, etc., identity card and papers.
Quote: (in German) "Do you want it done fast, or do you want it done right?"
Notes: Zeigler is a fat grumpy workman who happens to be a particularly skilled craftsman. His area of expertise should be selected to suit the circumstances, e.g. lathe operator, welder, electrician. He isn't fast but he's a perfectionist who usually gets the job done right. He's also a petty thief and has been stealing money and other small valuables from his workmates. He is open to bribery - for example, if he is based at Kiel he will have taken the first photograph of the Kobold and sold it for a thousand marks (about fifty pounds) to a freelance agent who eventually sold it on for five thousand marks. His superiors have begun to suspect that he is a thief, and he is intermittently watched while he is at work, but they have no idea of any other activities. In his spare time he drinks, gambles badly, and beats his wife.

Adolf Kempler (Draftsman)
BODY [2], MIND [3], SOUL [4], Actor [5], Artist (technical drawing, painting) [7], Mechanic (theoretical only) [5]
Equipment: Access to drawing board, plans, etc., identity card and papers.
Quote: (in German) "Rembrandt, now there was a painter... let's see now, 4.75mm cable trunking goes here..."
Notes: Kempler is an efficient draftsman who would prefer to be an artist. Unfortunately the modern efficient Germany prefers photography, and although he has sold a few water-colours and oils there isn't enough money in it to take up a full-time career as an artist. Kempler has an excellent memory for faces, and will be able to sketch anyone he meets long after the encounter, if he is reminded of the circumstances. Despite his unhappiness with his career he's loyal to his employers, and will report any attempts to recruit him as a spy.

Major Paul Schmidt (Secret Policeman)
BODY [4], MIND [3], SOUL [2], Actor [4], Athlete (run) [6], Babbage Engine [5], Brawling [6], Detective [5], Driving [4], Linguist (English, Russian, French, Italian) [6], Marksman [5], Melee Weapon [5], Morse Code [4], Psychology [5], Riding [4], Stealth [4], Thief [4]
Equipment: Handcuffs, whistle, notebook, etc. Mercedes with automaton chauffeur. Two assistants (generic thugs). Access to Prussian record system, state cryptoanalysis department, etc. Phonograph and large selection of classical music on cylinder. Identity card and papers.
Quote: (in accented English) "Not so fast, Professor. There are still many questions to be answered."
Notes: Schmidt has overall charge of counter-espionage related to the Kobold project in his district (Kiel, the secure depot in Berlin, or Essen). He is a cynical experienced hard-bitten career detective, deeply contemptuous of spies (regardless of their nationality, rank, etc.), and overdue for promotion; catching a few more spies, or at least identifying them, would be a useful addition to his record in the next performance review. Any spies he captures will be kept awake by a constant barrage of classical German music until they confess.
[If the deception plan is in effect Schmidt will seem to be less efficient than he is, making subtle mistakes (such as posting a rigid predictable schedule of guard patrols or withdrawing a few officers to handle some other operation). Naturally a second layer of guards will be deployed, ready to spot spies and identify them and their contacts as described above.]

Interrogation: If possible interrogations should be role played, not resolved by rolling dice. If dice rolls are necessary the interrogator's MIND or Psychology skill must repeatedly overcome that of the victim, whichever is higher. Modifiers to this roll might include the victim's innocence, a long interrogation, a long period without sleep, injury, etc. Anyone seeking more detailed rules or information on this topic should look elsewhere, since the author has no intention of providing either.

Klaus Boltzmann (Security Guard)
BODY [4], MIND [2], SOUL [3], Brawling [8], Marksman [5], Melee Weapon [7], Military Arms [4]
Equipment: Rifle, electric torch, uniform, greatcoat, identity badge, identity card and papers.
Quote: (in German) "Halt! Who goes there?"
Notes: Boltzman is an ex-soldier who lost an eye and was invalided out of the army. He is still an excellent shot and efficient brawler, though his missing eye means that he is at -2 to fight foes to his left. He is a patriot and won't be bribed to betray his country, but a clever spy might be able to get past him with a suitable story or forged papers.

Kurt Reinhardt (Soldier / Sailor)
BODY [4], MIND [3], SOUL [3], Actor (singing) [4], Athlete (running) [5], Brawling [6], First Aid [4], Marksman [5], Melee Weapon (sabre, bayonet) [6], Military Arms [5], Riding [5]
Equipment: Rifle, bayonet, uniform, greatcoat, identity card and papers. May be equipped with a horse if riding a patrol around one of the locations described above.
Quote: (in German) "Halt or I fire!"
Notes: An ambitious young soldier, a little too eager to check identity cards and generally make a nuisance of himself. He can't be bribed, but he's easy prey for other forms of persuasion such as seduction.

Seduction: If possible seduction should be role played, not resolved by rolling dice. If dice rolls are necessary the seducer's MIND, SOUL or Psychology skill must repeatedly overcome the MIND or SOUL of the victim, whichever is higher. Modifiers to this roll might include the victim's innocence or experience, physical attractivemess, a long period without sleep, a headache, etc. Anyone seeking more detailed rules or information on this topic should look elsewhere, since the author has no intention of providing either.

Results and Rewards
Unless the adventurers have sabotaged the project it ends as described above; the Kobold is used once in earnest, fails, then the idea is quietly abandoned. There is no real way to make the project succeed; it just isn't practical. The best the Prussians can hope for is a temporary propaganda victory, the unmasking of a few spies, and enemies tricked into squandering their resources on defence against an impractical weapon. The best that agents working against the Prussians can hope for is early discovery of the inherent uselessness of the Kobold as a weapon.

Experience points should be appropriate for the risks taken, the information gained, and the fun the players give the referee. For example, if the adventurers conduct daring commando style raids to find out more about the project they should earn a few points. If they persuade a beautiful young lady to seduce one of the guards to let them in, or get the guards so drunk that they don't notice an intrusion, that should also be worth a few points. While neither is quite as dangerous, it's a lot more ingenious.

Further Adventures

Assignment Zenda

This is a military adventure that works particularly well as a crossover with The Queens Own Aerial Hussars. If you don't want real supernatural phenomena to exist the Hussars are a rapid deployment force similar to air cavalry, without any vampire-fighting weapons. The remainder of the adventure assumes that they are as described in their worldbook.

King Michael of Ruritania, a small nation bordering the Transylvanian provinces of Hungary, Bessarabia, and Bulgaria requests the help of British military advisors, and has specifically asked that they should be Aerial Hussars. It seems likely that Ruritania has supernatural problems, but they are curiously evasive about the details. The approach was made at the highest level, and it will be difficult to refuse without offending a friendly state. Whitehall has decided that the best response will be to send AAS Balaclava and its crew, with soldiers and some civilian specialists. They are to evaluate the situation, help the Ruritanians to get up to speed if it's a problem they can handle themselves, otherwise either deal with it by themselves or get the Ruritanian government to request whatever support they feel is needed. Needless to say they are given some background material on Ruritania (see The Prisoner of Zenda and sequels) and a few maps:

Europe and the Balkans Ruritania Ruritania Streslau and Environs The Grunewald

Diplomatic support is available in Ruritania, but additional air-ships or troops cannot be supplied unless the Ruritanians request them. Given the length of the supply line any help that's requested will take at least two to three days to arrive.

The British Embassy in Ruritania reports that Britain isn't the only nation that has been asked to supply help; there is also a Prussian military delegation in the capital, about a twenty officers and men, but they seem to be more interested in Ruritania's defences than in helping with the current problem. They don't have a proper Aæronef-style flying machine but their equipment does include an armoured car (Speed 30 MPH, BODY [12], armour -4 Effect all attacks, Gatling gun) and a small lighter-than-air airship:

Daimler Luftwagen (1894)
BODY [12] (truck), BODY [5] (gas bag)
Speed 50 MPH flying, 25 MPH on land with the gas-bag deflated.
Capacity 4 passengers plus 0.5 tons cargo.
The Luftwagen, or Air Wagon, is a small airship consisting of a lightweight truck equipped with a gas bag, aero-engine, and cylinders of liquefied hydrogen; it takes twenty minutes to inflate the bag, after that the entire truck can take to the air. After landing the gas can be pumped back into a storage tank but there are inevitable losses; in all there is enough gas aboard to inflate and deflate the bag about three times. Deflation takes about an hour.
Any time any source of sparks or flame (such as a gun) is used aboard the air ship roll 2D6; on a 12 the gas ignites, and flames spread up to the gas bag. This requires an immediate Pilot roll, Difficulty [5], repeat with Difficulty rising +1 per minute until a landing is made or the fire is somehow put out. On a failed roll the airship crashes and the impact attacks the crew:
Airship crash, "Skill" [6], Effect [8], Damage A:F, B:I, C:C/K

As an optional complication, if you have previously used any of the adventurers in an adventure related to the Kobold Project above, the Prussians are aware of it and plan to kidnap those involved and return them for trial.

If the Prussians aren't helping to solve the problem, are they part of it? Several other suspicious foreigners are around including some French ornithologists, a group of Swiss meteorologists, a visiting Transylvanian count, etc.

When the adventurers reach Ruritania they will be given the facts: over the last few weeks eight bodies have been found in various locations around the capital (Streslau) and surrounding towns. Most recently two bodies have been found in the forests of the Grünewald district, about midway between Streslau and Hentzau. All of the victims were influential members of the community, lawyers and politicians, military leaders and teachers, but there is no obvious link between them, apart from the manner of their deaths. It's obvious that they are all victims of the same killer, since in every case the top of the skull has been caved in and there is extensive damage to the brain. Naturally, given their proximity to Transylvania, there are rumours of demons, vampires, and other supernatural attackers.

Castle ZendaIn fact the Swiss "meteorologists" are responsible. They are highly trained operatives of Flez Biomechanische Technik AG with a cover as Swiss sportsmen, working to gain control of the economy of Ruritania. These agents should be designed as experienced characters based on 25 points, with equipment including Automaton Whistles, guns, etc. They include several former soldiers, a surgeon, and a Mesmerist. They have rented Castle Zenda (its former owners were stripped of their power in the last reforms of the Ruritanian government and are now exiled in Vienna) and are using it as their base, with an operating theatre in one of the turrets. Their "cover" is construction of a weather station in another turret. The weather station is apparently genuine, part of a long-term project to improve weather forecasting which is

Ruritania has several worked-out silver mines which still contain rare earths used in Flez's reanimation technology; these mines are also of interest to the Prussians, who need the same rare earths as catalysts for their chemical industry. The Swiss agents, all implanted with Brain Enhancers, have been instructed to capture suitably influential Ruritanians, fit them with Enhancers, indoctrinate them with a desire to become an economic ally of Switzerland, then Mesmerize them to forget their captivity and indoctrination. The corpses are the failures, their skulls smashed to disguise the trephanation used to implant the Enhancer. For each body there have been several successes. In every case the victim vanishes for a couple of days, and comes back claiming to have been ill; Flez's strange chemicals make the incisions heal in a matter of hours, so that there is no evidence of the implant short of surgery or an X-ray. There are no X-ray facilities in Ruritania. Once back at work the victim starts to lobby for the Swiss; for example, a school-teacher might lecture her students on the natural superiority of the Swiss economic system, a politician might call for closer trade links with Switzerland, etc.

The kidnappers initially travelled all over Ruritania to find victims, but as time passed and nobody seemed to pay any special attention to them they have begun to strike closer to home. In the Grünewald district several local villagers are under their control including the local mayor, the pretty young schoolteacher, and the priest. The bodies belong to one of the aldermen and a minor member of the nobility, whose operations were botched. Another body will be dumped soon after the adventurers arrive in the area; Herr Sigismund, owner of the local mill. This gives the adventurers an opportunity to establish the pattern of kidnapping, since there will still be some evidence of the abduction at his home. At least one more body should be found before the Swiss fall under suspicion; this is partly because the Prussians will make a nuisance of themselves one way or another, and partly because King Rupert and his court will keep demanding progress reports and interfering in other ways, such as sending Ruritanian troops to help the British; they're sincerely trying to be helpful but won't speak English (or any other languages the adventurers understand) and are convinced that a vampire is responsible... There's also a visiting (and entirely blameless) Transylvanian count around to be the fall guy for that idea, who might need to be rescued from a lynch mob. In one play-test the Swiss arranged another diversion by sabotaging the German airship, leading to a daring mid-air rescue mission from the blazing German craft.

If the Swiss are unmasked they will try to to capture the Hussars and implant them, picking the least intelligent Hussars as the most likely candidates for conversion. "I am Baldrick of Ingstoldt. Surrender your bank-books now, and prepare to be assimilated..." Any Swiss captured will refuse to talk and will somehow activate the self-destruct devices in their Enhancers, killing themselves instantly.

This adventure should end with the adventurers aware that something nasty is brewing in Switzerland, but unaware of Flez's involvement (the Enhancers aren't marked with a manufacturer's trademark, of course) or the full scope of the plan. Once Flez is aware that his agents have been caught he will have all links to the operation severed, wait a few months, then try to buy the mines through one of his subsidiary companies. This may give the adventurers or their associates reason to suspect his company, but naturally there will be no proof.

Credits, Further Reading, Etc.