Note that I reused elements of the sundisc room and the interstitial marauder from Skychasm because I thought they fit more or less perfectly with the LotFP spell Contact Outer Sphere, which is of key importance to this adventure site’s central mystery.
I may have to take this down if it happens to get picked up, but for the time being I want to share it.
News: Lately I’ve been working on a Maximalist Weird Fiction Mercenary Contract Generator in the vein of my Maximalist Weird Fiction City-State Generator. I’ve been on vacation and have ironically had less time than usual to devote to my content, but the Contract Generator already has 25,000 words while the City-State Generator had a total of ~19,000 words (not counting adventure hooks I wrote in the comments for Dan Sullivan’s, Ben Massey’s and Solomon VK’s city-states).
1632, Spanish-occupied Netherlands.
The Lensmakers' Guild of Maastricht has been outed as an outlawed Hermetic Society in disguise. The lensmakers have been burned at the stake and their guildhall has been placed under quarantine by Imperial troops pending the arrival of an Inquisitorial mission.
Most Hermeticists study the works of the apocryphal Hermes Trismegistus (the Thrice Greatest), who is said to be a union of Hermes and Thoth. They pursue the secrets of philosophy, theology, alchemy and astrology.
The Lensmakers of Maastricht followed a later manifestation of this figure: Hermes Tryphon (the Luxurious), who is a union of Hermes and some unknown god.
They abandoned philosophy and theology and turned their eyes exclusively upon alchemy and astrology.
As such, they were rumored to be the makers of the world’s most wondrous treasures. Jewels of impossible luster, watches of impossible intricacy, puppets of impossible verisimilitude.
Now the Dutch army descends upon Maastricht and the Spanish guards have been pulled to the walls. Lensmakers’ Hall lays open and the night falls.
Two men have been watching these events with great interest. A Spanish Jesuit who has been made an unwilling occultist and a rogue Dutch spy who is on a mission of supernatural extermination. Tonight is their night. They steal into Lensmakers’ hall unknown to one another, and each of them is accompanied by supporters ignorant of their leaders’ true purpose.
A handsome Dutch city of sober brick buildings. The river Meuse runs through the center of town. It is home to roughly 15,000 people, most of whom are Dutch Catholics. It is occupied by the Spanish Empire.
Lensmakers’ Hall is a free standing building in Jekerkwartier, the old city center on the river. It is whitewashed with a black roof and is only a single story tall. It has two wings reaching the street and a garden in between. Their festhall on the river is where the lensmakers once dined and held their rare public receptions.
Using the Agents
The two agents who have entered Lensmakers’ Hall tonight are the Spanish Jesuit Francisco de Vigo and the Dutch spy Christiaan van der Garde.
They each have their own objectives and retinues described in their sections, but as the GM you must know that they categorically oppose one another and would both like to utilize the party.
The GM has several options about how he or she utilizes them:
-Independent agents (presumed utilization): The party encounters the agents already in the building. They encounter one agent in the Storage Room, one in the False Treasure Room. When they enter the Study, there is a 50% chance of it being Francisco or Christiaan who is present. The other agent will be in the False Treasure room examining the corpses.
-Random encounter: Roll a d4 when the party enters an area. On a 4 they encounter someone. Roll a d4 for who it is: (1) Francisco, (2) Christiaan, (3) d4 level 0 thieves, or (4) d4 surviving level 0 Lensmakers.
-Adventure hooks: If the players are already sympathetic to the Spanish Empire or the Dutch Republic (or Protestantism or Catholicism, or Republicanism or Monarchism) the GM can have Francisco or Christiaan contact them for a night entry into the Hall. With the beginning of the siege, the plotters have their chance.
Should their parties encounter one another, they will quickly come to blows. See Appendix D: Battle and Bombardment for likely outcomes.
APPENDIX A: FRANCISCO DE VIGO, HIS MEN AND HIS MISSION
Francisco de Vigo discovered an algebraic formula during his time as an inquisitor. It burned itself into his eyes from the pages of a book in a secret library in Malta. Francisco is almost blind as a result. Still he sees.
He sees the drooping death of all layers of existence; inanimate ash curling to rest after all potential has been burnt. Peeled slices of the past. He suspects that the Lensmakers have been working on a way out. That’s why he took this posting in Maastricht. And he has prepared for this day.
He seeks the Guildmaster of Lensmaker Hall and his final project. He seeks to escape this universe. He will tear this Hall down to its foundations if he must.
Francisco de Vigo is accompanied by a squad of confused Imperial Tercio troopers whom he pulled from the wall; three Southern Dutchmen, two Germans (one from Anhalt and one from Ansbach), a Spaniard, an Englishman and an Irishman. Four are pikemen, four are musketeers.
Francisco is known for having members of his own order burned. This is a mad path for a Jesuit leader but he doesn’t care. It all ends tonight.
When he witnesses the party:
“Stop in the name of the Society of Jesus!” A blood-chilling command in these lands.
“Who are you? Why are you here?” His men level pikes and muskets. The pikemen kneel up front and the musketeers level their weapons above the shoulders of the men below.
His attitude towards most parties will be the following:
“You’re no concern of mine. Plunder what you will from these heretics. Don’t interfere with my mission and I won’t interfere with yours.” His men will look at each other in confusion at this edict of toleration.
Francisco will be hesitant to work with the party right off the bat, but he will reconsider as the night goes on, particularly if he suffers casualties or has difficulties finding the Guildmaster.
He carries a kris inside his sash. He will never use this as a weapon.
If his men are killed or he is mortally wounded, he will plunge the kris into his own heart.
It will make him the locus of a burst of energy that will transform him per the Summon spell with no chance of failure. He will continue his mission in his new form until he is slain or he is successful.
Francisco wears a great straw hat in the manner of a traveler. It is broad-brimmed with a tower-like tip. He has a soft black goatee and mustache.
He wears a salmon-colored coat embroidered in white and gold. He has a great, soft collar of white lace falling in triangles down his chest. He wears a salmon-colored sash from shoulder to hip which is tied in a great loose knot that adds to its apparent softness. He wears tall, light-brown cavalry boots with spurs fastened over them. He smokes a long, thin pipe with great need and can often be seen packing it with fresh tobacco. He wears a heavy golden chain that rests about his left shoulder and right hip.
He has a pair of segmented white rosaries hanging from around his neck, one tucked into his sash. The chains are pearl and the crosses are ivory. They are worth 50sp each.
He has 8HP
The Imperial Troops
The eight Imperial soldiers dress in yellowish buffcoats with broad sashes tied around their midsections to give them color and grace; blue, red, gold, white. They have tall brown boots and rapiers in black scabbards, some with little tassels tied to the hilts. They wear floppy hats and have long bushy hair and mustaches.
One of the Southern Dutchmen has a buff overcoat with a voluminous white ruff, and long, red sleeves beneath.
The musketeers have shaggy apostle bandoliers hanging across their midsections and carry rapiers at their waists. The pikemen have 16' pikes that can barely fit inside, and rapiers as well. Their pikes are thick, sturdy and difficult to break.
Soldiers have 4HP.
d8 arquebus and rapier or pike (see firearms rules, LotFP core rulebook)
Pikemen have steel breastplates and are AC14
APPENDIX B: CHRISTIAAN VAN DER GARDE, HIS MEN AND HIS MISSION
A spy in service to the Dutch Republic.
He is not here to open the gates for the Dutch army. He was unaware of their approach. He has reported to his handlers that he is in Antwerp. He has spent his operational fund bribing his way into Maastricht and purchasing the tools and fetishes he will need for this night.
His people will execute him should he be discovered here.
It is his personal mission to destroy the supernatural because of things he witnessed in Rotterdam and Batavia while working as a state intelligencer. He has lost his faith in any necessity but to burn such horrors out of existence.
Now rumor has led him here. It is Christiaan’s mission to kill the Guildmaster, destroy the Guildhall, and eliminate all witnesses to the iniquities of Hermes Tryphon. Including his own men.
He has rallied a few Dutch Republican activists to his cause before entering the Guildhall. They do not know his true purpose; he has told them that he is searching for documents which are precious to the Republic that he cannot risk being destroyed in a sack.
In truth he is grimly heedless to the Republic and its fate. He is privy to matters of higher import.
He will attempt to make allies of the party. He will attempt to learn something about them and then tailor his story to their intent. His men will understand if he’s told them something different.
He will promise to reward the players for their aid, but if turned down he will state that the two groups must stay out of each other's way and then set off deeper into the building. If he suspects the party have seen something supernatural, he and his men will then ambush them at close quarters with pistols and rapiers in the deadliest location that the GM can find.
He stands six and a half feet tall and is built like a grenadier.
He wears a black tabard set with golden suns and stars tied with many golden bows over a blue jacket with gold brocade. He wears a bright blue sash and wears a broad black hat with a fluffy blue feather near the front.
He has a substantial white ruff and has a blonde goatee and mustache. He has luminous, intelligent blue eyes.
He has a pair of pistols stacked atop each other in his sash.
He has a number of tiny daggers tucked into his sash, belts and boots
He carries a great rapier in a band that rests near his hip. Its hilt nearly reaches his breast and its tip bobs six inches from the floor. He carries a torch in one hand and a third pistol with a great braining knob in the other.
At his hip is a triangular, furred, electric blue powderbox.
He is tall, blonde, dashing, heroic, a secret agent and a Republican in an age of Absolutism. He is a valorous fighter, an eloquent speaker, a skilled logician and a man of taste.
He will do his very best to kill every single player as well as his own companions after this is finished, and he will do it in the most devious, devastating way that the GM can conceive of. He will resort to close combat only if the party is an inch from escape. The only thing that can save them from his murderous intent is if he is absolutely sure that they have encountered nothing supernatural in the guildhall, and intend to leave right away. This is very unlikely.
He doesn’t call dark magic unholy anymore. It does not need to exist in opposition to God to be evil. It is evil, God or no. He has seen its works.
He possesses a final sanction against the darkness.
It is a tiny comet. It continually vibrates at a low frequency. When placed in the mouth (warmth, moisture and friction), it will emit a titanic electrolaser that will utterly demolish whatever he is facing. In the process it will break his jaw and cheekbones, pop his tongue, shatter his teeth and blow his eyes out. This is a sacrifice he is willing to make should he have no other way to destroy his fell quarry. He has been warned. The seller is dead, though Christiaan left the man’s cash with his firstborn son.
Should Christiaan be mortally wounded or physically stuck, he may pass the meteor off to a player with an explanation of how to use it. But he may also use it on the party under such circumstances. No witnesses.
He is a level 3 fighter with 16HP
Pistol is d8/d4, rapier d8 melee. He has a +4 attack bonus.
The Dutch Patriots
These men are Dutch Protestants.
One of Christiaan’s companions has a brocaded green jacket, white hat and billowing white pants with white tights tied with big white bows. Another is dressed in white, floral coat and pantaloons with a pink sash over a gold gorget. He wears a black hat with a pink ribbon. The third is in a yellow coat with white Dejima silk wound about his abdomen, black sleeves and pantaloons, and a white ruff and cavalry boots. He wears a black hat with white feathers.
Each carries a rapier and 1d4 pistols.
They are wild-eyed and terrified.
These men have 4HP.
d8 pistol and rapier (see firearms rules, LotFP core rulebook)
A1 RECEPTION HALL
This is a handsome and well-appointed sitting room for those wishing to do business directly with the guild.
The huge, semicircular double doors stand intact and ajar. They are a dark wood but are laden with wrought iron.
Several stately couches of green velvet sit near the walls.
Upon the floor is an arabesque carpet surrounding a marble circle which is clouded like the surface of the moon. The carpet depicts reams of colorful shrubs around fortresses set in diamond backgrounds with many geometric patterns. By and large it is black, tan and gold, with red around the flowering shrubs.
Marble of the same hue as the moon disc is set into the wall up to about three feet high, and above it the wall is painted blue.
Set against the wall to the east is a standing triptych depicting lensmakers and light theorists back to Archimedes. Their visages are illuminated by a framing of gemstones which could be pried out at daggertip. Taking your time you could extract 2d20 gems worth 10sp, and a number of smaller gems worth less. The triptych would require two people to move.
This lightless room contains thousands of lenses produced with impossible speed by the guilders. They are set on thin wire racks, but by and large this room is nothing but highly reflective glass. A light source carried into this room (e.g. one of the lamps in the reception room) causes this place to erupt in hundreds of layers of dazzling radiance.
Three of the lenscrafters managed to hide out from the purge here. The Spanish attempted to search this place but could perceive little in the labyrinth of light.
The lenscrafters here are nude except for goggles. They are covered in esoteric tattoos which they believe will protect them from steel and lead. They are wrong. Unarmed when the Spanish came, they have spent their time feverishly powdering glass to be used as a weapon. One of them has his hands empty but has filled a cheek with powdered glass to blow into the eyes of an opponent; the others carry it in the hollow of their hands and will cast or grind it into the eyes of their marks before attempting to take their weapons from them, kill them, don their garb and escape Maastricht.
If the players do not discover the lensmakers or get close enough to attack, the lensmakers shadow them.
Their skins (actual, or precise drawings thereof) would be of value to a great many alchemists, esoteric theologians and Hermeticists. This was why their brothers were burnt and not hung or shot. Each full skin could be sold for d20gp to be rolled at time of appraisal.
In the corner of this room by the door to the supply room is the actual lensgrinding lathe.
To-hit rolls are lowered by 2 in this room.
If glass is thrown into your eye, save vs breath weapon. On a failure, you have a 50% chance of being permanently blinded and a 50% chance of having your vision obscured until you can thoroughly wash your eyes.
This is a simple stone room filled with crates and cabinets. Wooden supports rise up in the corners. Inside the containers you will find magazines of grindstones, stacks of dolloped glass to be ground down into lenses, porcelain inkwells, lengths of thin steel cable, light wooden slats, bolts of cloth of every color and whole horns of ivory ready to be ground down into new shapes. There are 2d4 ivory horns, each worth 25sp.
The room is about half the size it should be.
There is a false wall with a hidden entrance to an alchemical supply dump. Roll Architecture to find the seam in the wall. It can be pried open with a blade, revealing an alchemical supply room.
In this place is the rendering engine.
It looks like a small greenhouse with a handcrank outside of it.
Vigorously turning the hand crank raises a mist of alkahest within the engine. Most objects are turned to liquid and then to steam by the alkahest until nothing remains, but a hard tar is left by living people. This is phlogiston creosote. It is scraped up and used as the active ingredient in much of the Hermeticists’ alchemy.
The plating is crystal, not glass, but it is just as translucent.
Once upon a time the Hermeticists held lamentation rituals for those dissolved in the machine. These have waned. Hermes Tryphon has taught them otherwise.
The alkahest will be gradually used up. The Hermeticists could create more, but the party could not.
There are seven units of phlogiston creosote in funerary urns. Each unit of phlogiston creosote could be sold to an outlaw occultist for 5gp.
This is a stately room with a thin green carpet, a gilded chandelier resplendent with twenty candles at different elevations, and numerous bookshelves set against the walls.
There is a heavy, burnished table of American mahogany in the center of the room. Its legs are angels whose wings support the plane, and in their hands they hold up a banner upon which sits a naked woman. The table has a great German pewter stein ridged with the chest feathers of an eagle emblazoned on it. It has a statue of Ferdinand II in a ruff and battle armor atop the lid. The stein is worth 10sp.
There is a curiosity on the wall here; an African mask like a great, mirthful owl. It is worth 3gp.
On the ground near a corner is a Turkish reading stand; essentially a pair of crossed, interwoven slats designed to hold a book open at a 90 degree angle. The v-shaped area where the book is to be sat is draped in a fine floral cloth. One side of the stand is decorated with a pair of swans in mosaic, necks intertwined, and on the other white hexagons set in aquamarine star patterns. A pair of fat and tasseled pillows are plumped in front of it and the book currently set on the stand is titled “Lithic Symbolism.”
Flipping through it one will find a strange (but complete) alchemical recipe involving phlogiston creosote, seemingly unrelated to the book’s subject matter. Roll on the Alchemical Discovery table to see what it is.
The lensmakers have a system for organizing their books and disguising their knowledge. Not a single text here is recognizable to the players. Every book has been written by the lensmakers in their spare time.
The wisdom of Hermes Tryphon is secreted throughout these books. Searching through them is dangerous because comprehending the proper use of phlogiston creosote and its implications is hazardous to one’s social and psychological integration. When rifling through these books looking for alchemical recipes, roll d20 + Int bonus.
1-5: -1 Wisdom (ability score drain)
6-10: -1 Wisdom, +1 Intelligence. One type of memory overwrites another.
11-15: Disturbing fact about cosmos recorded by bored lensmaker, or useful information about astrological or alchemical sites in Europe or the Islamic world.
16-20+: Recipe uncovered.
Once you have discovered a formula, you may attempt to produce the associated substance in the Alchemical Workshop in the Society Wing. Each attempt requires one unit of phlogiston creosote.
Success produces a single dose or unit of the finished product. See the Alchemical Workshop section for a failure table.
Alchemical Discovery (d12):
1: Panacea: A healing salve crushed from herbs and phlogiston creosote. When applied to a fresh wound or ingested, the creosote attaches itself to the user's platelets and triggers rapid healing, but this healing is imperfect. A gash will close and scar over within minutes, but the scar tissue will run deep and cause stiffness and pain thereafter. A shattered bone will knit, but it will be crooked and the limb will be shorter than before. An opened stomach will close but it will be constricted and its owner will be forced to eat little and slowly from then on. Panacea causes scarring at the cellular level all over one’s body and biologically ages the user a little each time it's used.
You will heal d6 HP, but permanently lose 1 from your max HP.
2: Oil of Antipathy: The oil of the oft-miscategorized axewood tree mixed with salt, powdered coal and phlogiston creosote detonates into a deadly shockwave on contact with most acids. The resulting oil can be put into a two-chambered sphere with acid for the content to mix upon shattering.
Such an orb, when thrown, detonates as a powder barrel. It is at great risk of shattering more or less all the time.
3: Aqua Ignavus: Ground gallstone of Vermilingua Ignavus mixed with tree sap. There is no hope once a drop of this enters your bloodstream, your brain tissue will begin necrotizing within seconds and there is no antidote.
Unit Effect: A single drop is enough to directly poison one person, or to kill anyone who drinks from a poisoned water source.
4: Moonlight Moss: Emits a soft blue light, good for seeing in the dark without making a beacon of yourself. Retains its light-giving properties for months after harvesting.
5: Humor du Paix: A wondrous serum derived from dandelion milk and phlogiston creosote, it neutralizes any poison or venom when ingested.
6: Anselm Tar: Burning putty. The solitary siberian anselm trees are highly explosive and flatten the forest around them when caught in fires. This tar, when set alight, is not explosive but it can burn through 24 inches of any material because the tar works its way through a material as it destroys it.
Success produces enough anselm tar for a 3’ x 3’ application of the tar.
7: Agrippan Beeswax: This wax hardens into a superglue when spread thinly and blown upon. The glue then becomes a ceramic which binds at the molecular level to whatever it is touching.
8: Butter of Llull: This thin butter is spread over wounds and acts as an antibiotic. It will quickly dry over the wound if spread properly, preventing further bleeding as well.
9: Aqua Nihil: This solution neutralizes scent when rubbed into clothing and over the body to the point that a bloodhound will be confused by your trail. Can be applied to anything with a scent.
10: Master Lime: Ground seashell mixed with phlogiston creosote results in a powder that must be quickly sealed from the air or it will erupt into a billowing inferno. A package of master lime in wax-sealed paper can be connected to a fuse and left be, and when touched by the flame a raging firestorm will erupt from the source. Sending it into the wind will result in an airborne conflagration that will set alight anything that can burn.
Everyone in the target effect suffers 3d8 damage first round and then d8 damage each subsequent round. The firestorm lasts for d20 rounds.
11: Sal Irascor: Fine grains of vitriol stone treated with phlogiston creosote. When immersed in water, these stones will dissolve and turn it into an unstoppable superacid that will melt through the container and then everything below it and anything its been splashed upon.
Produces 1 cup of superacid. Being splashed or misted with this acid deals d8 damage; save vs breath weapon or be permanently blinded and disfigured.
12: Sweet Acedia: Rubbing these phlogiston-treated flower petals into a fresh cut will send the recipient into a coma within seconds, during which time the heart will barely beat and the lungs barely rise, the low circulation giving the person a deathly pallor. Twenty minutes later the recipient will awaken with a splitting headache and must sit still while their system gradually comes back online over a period of five minutes.
This cool larder is rich beyond imagining. Some of the greatest confectioners in Europe have been employed by the lensmakers and sworn to silence in their service. This place is ludicrously rich, eerily rich.
There is a 24’ cake in the shape of a vast, intricate warship. It is a scale model of the Adler von Lübeck. The interior is a perfect replica of the real thing with candy sailors and all, so that when the cake is divided it is also cross-sectioned for the viewer. The Adler is intended to be set on fire after being divided and the candy sailors will emit a hiss of steam through their fluted interior like a horrific screaming for the titillation of the Hermeticists. This carmelizes the exterior.
There is a plot of soil in the middle of the larder incongruously growing spice plants. Cinnamon, black pepper and saffron are all in one patch. The Hermeticists feed it night soil, nightshade and nitrates from their laboratory.
Also in this place are reams of macarons, forests of metworst hanging from the rafters, casks of beer and aromatized wine from the monasteries, crates of speculaas piled in little pyramids, and whatever else the GM wants to tantalize the players with. Butter, fish, truckles of gouda, sides of smoked meat, and bread from the best bakeries in Maastricht are a given.
There is also a vast sackheap of coffee beans. These are quite valuable.
There is a supply of spices along racks in the wall worth 10gp all together. They are currently in glass jars.
Phenomenally clean and well-appointed.
There is a massive waffle iron here.
B1 LENSMAKERS’ REST
A great dining hall filled with round tables placed jauntily here and there, each with four or five chairs with round wicker seats and crescent-shaped wooden backrests.
Each table has one or two goblet-like silver bowls decorated with ribbons and raised images of men blowing wind, ivy, leaves, and trumpets. The bowls are filled with candy in every shape, little white and brown things of marzipan or chocolate.
Each table also has a valuable Ming vase in blue and white, filled with tulips. You could sell each vase for d4 gp each if you could move them.
The lensmakers were dining when the tercio shooters stormed the guildhall. Ample food can be found sitting here but it is all three days old. The room reeks of bad shellfish and wasting fruit, but there is much good (if crusty) bread, extra-dry sausage, cheese, charcuterie, dried figs, dates, and confections, even great rolls of krumkake produced in the lensmakers’ waffle iron.
On one table near the bar is a glass jug with a handle and neck of gold shaped like curling vines and autumn leaves. It is worth 4gp.
Sitting on a dais meant for chamber music is the room’s centerpiece: a silvered aquamanile shaped like a great greyhound being harassed by malign hummingbirds; the lensmakers would race around with it on their shoulders and pour sherry and schnapps down the throats of revelers during their feasts. It is 200lbs and worth 20gp.
The Guildmaster’s Office (labeled “Repose” on the door) dominates the garden-side wall. Leathered and bronze-studded double doors wait slightly cracked for the next visitor.
There is a doorway to the Society Wing; it is guarded by an iron portcullis that has been battered open until a man can slip through with difficulty. A man in rigid armor will not fit through. Either Christiaan or Francisco has already entered the Society Wing.
Upon the stones over the fireplace is an Arabian matchlock jezzail with a stock like a full crescent moon. It has steel patterns like fleurs de lis crossed with ranseurs running up the frame and it has a pair of holes like the sun and moon cut through the butt. The barrel is set alternatingly in black and gold bands.
There is ample Alsatian wine already poured at the tables. Much of the alcohol behind the bar is blended with arsenic, which the lensmakers have been inured to. Save vs poison or be disabled for d12 hours by cramps, vomiting and diarrhea.
There are alabaster statues of the founders of the order; behind them is a great fan made of gilded strips of varying length to create the impression of the dawning of a new light. There are 12 strips and each strip could be sold for 3gp. A strip is considered an Oversized item.
B2 GUILDMASTER’S REPOSE
This is the Guildmaster’s personal reception room.
It has a red wallpaper set with little diamonds of off-white or pale gold in weaving reams like the thousand dancing chains of a hierodule.
Scattered about are plush récamiers and méridiennes engorged with goosedown and cloaked in velveto.
On the guildmaster’s tremendous table of dark cherry is a laquered jet statue of a leering cat. Its expression is almost perverted. It is worth 4gp.
This was also a place of forbidden hierogamies and oft was the agunah carried to the renderer where she met her fate in the footsteps of her beloved.
There is a painting of the guildmaster sitting in an ample chair by the fire with a full tigerskin draped over him like a duvet. He is old and sickly but has burning, playfully murderous eyes.
Upon the wall above the fire is a green flag of woven herb sprigs with a medieval bastard sword laid upon it. It is a surprising admission of nature in this place. The herbs are all of types used in their alchemy.
There is a roaring fire. The logs do not burn up; they just burn. Behind the fire is a disguised 45’ copper passageway traversable on hands and knees. As you go down this passageway, you realize that it is like a ventilation shaft hanging in space. It is attached to a hinge at its midpoint. As soon as you go too far, the shaft will tip forward and you will slide into a pit of water so cold only the strong mechanical action of the nearby Meuse keeps it from freezing solid. No one will be able to reach the rear of the shaft to balance it; that will be hanging in space, too. The only way to escape this is to climb back up the actual smooth walls of the shaft.
If you fall in the water you must save vs paralyzation every other turn.
The actual passage is under the carpet beneath the guildmaster’s table. If the players do not find it, either Christiaan or Francisco will eventually have this room ripped apart by their men and will find it. This may be after the players have left.
It can be found with a Search check.
The passage is a simple stone stairwell and a hallway leading to the Star Index.
C1 “MUSEUM” / DEATH TREASURE ROOM
Labeled “Guild Museum.” This is a room of false treasures and trinkets to wow inebriated party guests. They are warned not to touch anything. There is no such warning now. It is a spiderweb for thieves.
The door is locked. When broken down, the very dust of the door is death to those who breathe it. The one who destroys the door must save vs breath weapon or die.
Those who enter are met by the miasma of aging death.
There are a pair of Spanish infantrymen’s corpses. The door locked behind them. They were led by their hands.
Their hands exploded and riddled their bodies with bone when they tried to pick up a heavy globe. There is no evidence of gunpowder or burned flesh on them.
The globe has a single massive continent in the shape of a swaddled baby smoking a pipe. It has political demarcations and titles that are of no recognizable tongue. These include oceanic and arctic districts. This is Earth immediately before the End-Permian Extinction.
Touching this globe will boil your marrow to the point of instant fragmentation, destroying the body part you touched it with and riddling your body with bone fragments dealing 3d8 damage.
Laid casually over a table like a tablecloth is a carpet with multicolored flowers inside blue or red backdrops with pale orange borders. Upon the carpet is a small North African lute, the sound hole beneath the fretting a honeycomb of intricate woodwork, the neck wrapped in dark leather painted with white crescents, stars, lozenges. If strummed it will detonate as a fire bomb, but should the explosive charge be removed it would make a valuable item for trade.
Also on the table is a bust of Hermes Trismegistus in onyx. He is a medieval sage in a dogskin cap and he has a tiny golden arrow embedded to the fletching in his breast. Should you touch the arrow, the statue will crack into pieces. Within is a 2’ x 2’ x 6” venomous spider wrapped in chainmail that awakens from stasis as the statue breaks up. As soon as the spider is free it will go berserk and start leaping all over the room looking for somebody to bite.
d4 damage, save vs poison or be incapacitated for d4 rounds.
There is a large, lavishly embellished alhambric birdcage hanging from the ceiling, all crenellations, collunades and mounting towers. If disturbed the walls will snap outwards and it will fall. The bars are all blades. The frame is cast iron. It is heavy and will shred you like an egg in a wire slicer. It counts as a +2 attack and deals 2d8 damage if it hits.
C2 ALCHEMY WORKSHOP
This room is disguised as a distillery just in case someone manages to get in here from a party in Lensmakers’ Rest. Bottles of top-shelf liquor contain poison that mimics alcohol poisoning, bottles of bottom shelf grog contain alchemical reagents.
The walls of this place are sheathed in copper. Over one wall is a great red theater curtain. Behind it is a mural of a skeleton beating a man across the back with rough herbal twigs in the manner of a banya. The sun and moon watch on approvingly from an even plane in the sky and the man smiles mildly as his blood flows.
Next to the walls are spartan, copper-coated wood tables playing host to a variety of instruments. A raised pan on three legs. An alembic shaped like a stone Zoroastrian temple. A windup centrifuge.
In the center of the room is an oil fire that’s been left burning. Resting above it on a triangular cast iron stand is a crystal decanter with a crystal stopper. The thin liquid within is meant to burn for 37 days but it is only on day 9. This is how alkahest is made.
If the decanter is unstoppered or broken, the unready solvent will emerge as a swirling vapour that will begin to melt everyone and everything in the room, even objects that cannot normally be melted. Everyone in the room takes d8 damage per turn and must save vs breath weapon or be permanently blinded. Furthermore, items exposed to the air are severely degraded.
When a player attempts to compose a substance from a formula gathered in the study, he or she must roll a d12 with the following modifications:
Alchemist present: +1
Int above 17: +1
The experimenter must roll an 8 or better to succeed in their endeavor. 1-7 are failures.
Success uses 1 unit of phlogiston creosote and produces 1 application of the substance.
On a failure, refer to the relevant section below:
Panacea: The experimenter’s fingers and thumbs meld together into fleshy mittens. Reduce dexterity for manual tasks to 7, Sleight of Hand to 1, and Charisma by 1 permanently.
Oil of Antipathy: Explosion as per gunpowder barrel.
Aqua Ignavus: Vapours damage the brains of all present. Save vs Breath Weapon or reduce Int by d4 permanently.
Moonlight Moss: The moss becomes animated by the vapours of phlogiston creosote and with a rapid engorgement leaps onto your body and begins sucking moisture out of you. The vampire moss can gain no sustenance from this and the water/blood it sucks from you pours out of its hairs and onto whatever is nearby. Lose d4 HP per turn until death, or until the moss has been killed. Failed attacks on the moss hit you. It has 4 HP and your AC.
Humor du Paix: The experimenter suffers massive blood clotting. Make a Con test or die.
Anselm Tar: Catches on fire and superheats the room. Your hair and clothes are set on fire. Roll vs Breath Weapon or be permanently blinded.
Agrippan Beeswax: Your fingers are bound into the wax. You must deglove your hands to remove it. This precludes their use until you have fully healed.
Butter of Llull: Massive declotting of the blood causes those inhaling the vapors to vomit, cough, urinate and defecate blood. They bleed into their skins, turning them purple, and they bleed into the whites of their eyes. Save vs disease or lose d4 HP every hour for d12 hours.
Surviving this results in permanent hearing damage; you suffer a -2 to surprise initiative checks.
Aqua Nihil: Your skin becomes permanently translucent. This is a superstitious and blood-soaked age and scapegoats are in short supply.
Master Lime: The lime spreads almost invisibly in the air until it reaches one of the flames necessary for production and detonates. Those nearby are engulfed in fire and must save vs breath weapon or have their lungs ripped out from their mouths as all local air is pulled into the conflagration.
Sal Irascor: A thoughtless tap causes an explosion that collapses the ceiling into the room. Rocks fall, everyone dies.
Sweet Acedia: The experimenter falls into a coma lasting d4 weeks.
C3 MECHANICS WORKSHOP
This is a place of pseudo-mechanical experimentation. There are little tables here and there draped in monocolor linens; red, yellow, orange, white.
Upon the tables are puppets shaped like birds, monkeys, unicorns. Inside each is an everburning wick beneath a chain-suspended wad of phlogiston creosote. The vaporous destruction of the soul-stasis within lends life to each mechanical animal; a demented projection of that consciousness which has been melted into the soul tar. The puppets and machines are given life, but it is a life of pure panic.
The creatures are uncannily constructed from brightly colored fabric wrapped over wooden frames girt with thin steel cables.
Gradually as the players enter and explore the room, the mechanical animals and entities (of which there are dozens) will begin to awaken at the stimulation. They will move mechanically like windup creations at first, though if examined closely there will be no apparent mechanism for this. As they awaken and panic they will rush about madly with much more dexterity, turning the room into an inexplicable madhouse zoo of silent puppets, until finally in their desperate frustration they turn on all humans present and attempt to tear them apart.
Each pseudo-mechanical creature has the following base stats, but these can be adjusted up or down depending on if it’s a parakeet or chimpanzee etc.
C4 TREASURE ROOM
A hardened, fortified room that contains the Gilders’ actual treasure, earmarked to be shipped to royal courts across the land.
The room has 3’ thick stone walls containing iron sheets. Cannon fire would take a long time to breach it. It has a huge, steel safe door hidden inside a false wall fragment; roll Search or Architecture to discover it.
The locking mechanism requires a stone of a precise weight. This stone has been destroyed by the guildmaster. He can always produce a new one.
The players will need to find some novel way of getting in this room. Alchemy is one possibility; God save them should they try it.
Within they will find:
A statue of a man in winged sandals with an enormous synthetic sapphire for an eye embedded in the head of a hostile baboon. You can pry this out but it might shatter into absolute powder, which is very dangerous (as glass powder in the Lensgrinder room). This watches over the room; it is how Hermes Tryphon is represented in Hermetic mythology. It is worth 20gp.
A huge lapis lazuli carved into a deity sitting against a pillar, armless and faceless but buxom. It is worth 8gp
A small machine like an anachronistic ferris wheel. On closer inspection the mechanisms and spokes of the wheel are made up of golden, straining little people. This is worth 50gp but requires 2 people to carry it.
Lastly, there is 75gp in Spanish gold just sitting on a little wicker garden table.
D1 STAR INDEX
This is an underground atrium where the air is patterned by mystic suntiles, a hundred little disks burning and glowing with midnight blue between them. Some are set upon the stones, some float freely in the air. Some are dimming, some brighten at random. All of them murmur with celestial light.
This is an orrery, a representation of distant stars.
More practically the suntiles are an entrapment of metacosmic radiation, an energy address for extrauniversal projections. Those who walk among the suntiles may commune directly with the extradimensional entities who project themselves into this existence as gods and demons and compete to harvest the dying for their realities.
Those who possess any knowledge of Western and/or Hebrew esoterica and apocrypha know that this place is not merely astrological in its symbology, but also Theurgic and Goëtic.
The suns are Theurgic. The spaces between them are Goëtic.
In the center, fixed to a dais, is a golden telescope supported by smooth, navy blue columns of veined stone. Set into it in white coral are Theurgic symbols; cross, crescent, six-pointed star. Triskelion, triquetra, Tengric mandala.
The roof of this room is dark blue. Burning, blood-red Goëtic symbols lurk behind the stars.
The Guildmaster is here. He goes by Elias Bouwens. He is actually Hermes Tryphon.
What he says and does will depend on who comes through the archway.
Players only: He will act as a wise sage who has reached the end of a long quest for knowledge and is at peace. A man who stands outside the barbarism of the times like a Virgil. He will offer to share his knowledge with the players; he will tell them much of what he knows, ideally enough to convince the players he can and will help them. For those questions outside of his experience he will direct the inquirer to consult the stars via the Theurgic telescope in the center of the room. Of course, the players can ask the stars about him...
If told about the rendering engine et al he will act shocked and declare that his pupils have strayed from the straight path; for he no longer leaves this observatory (this is false).
If asked about the chamber, he will tell the players that Zoroaster gave mankind astrology and that faithfully recreated replicas of the stars can have as much astrological potency as the real thing because intention is where the power is drawn from (this is false).
Really he’s just been biding his time till the Empire fucked off, and the arrival of the players is the signal that this has happened. He wants a player to become possessed so he can more easily destroy them as witnesses and escape.
He will gesture to the telescope.
“Look up to a sun. It will answer your question. Don’t worry. It will not burn your eye.”
The player looking through the telescope at a sun will be prompted: What is your question?
Even thinking of a question or verbally musing one activates the spell Contact Outer Sphere (see LotFP Rules & Magic).
If the players ask for a description of suns they could look at, give them as follows.
1. Alpha Centauri: A gentle glow like the sun seen through a cloud.
2. Sirius: A scintillating white disc like a will o’ the wisp
3. Altair: Like a white opal that quivers while you look at it like an eye about to cry.
4. Fomalhaut: A blue star, eyelike with a flitting aurora.
5. Arcturus: A large, lazy-looking golden star
6. Algol: Small, luminous blue stars that flit about one another when you aren’t looking.
7. The Hyades Cluster: A shattered star; hundreds of motes of light like gems cast across a sky.
8. Almach: A bright star with a tiny electric blue disc hiding like a beauty mark.
9. Polaris: Like a lance of light into the eye. On closest inspection there are two smaller sundiscs orbiting it.
10. Antares: This is the hardest one to look at because of its immediate solar brightness.
After a player has been possessed by a deep void entity, Hermes Tryphon will shed his cloak and attack. See Appendix C: The Guildmaster for details.
Francisco’s Arrival: Francisco will not be denied and will tell Hermes Tryphon to stand aside, which he will gladly do, thinking Francisco is about to be possessed by a freak from another existence.
Francisco will pivot the telescope dramatically and gaze into the black, murmuring a latin incantation that sounds like a prayer. Those versed in Latin realize it is the opposite.
A rune once hidden upon the dark blue velvet ceiling glows red. Francisco flops to the floor as an interstitial marauder attempts to possess him but is instead possessed by him before it is shunted into his body. It is trapped and he is now free to escape the eventual destruction of the universe.
The confused, agonized and enraged creature from beyond the cosmos will cast Weird Vortex every round while hollow white discs studded by points of light swirl in the air around Francisco’s body’s head and chest. This ends when the body has died and begun to decompose.
Christiaan’s Arrival: As Christiaan strides into the room, Hermes Tryphon will step forwards sweetly to greet him. Christiaan will raise a pistol and blow the alchemist’s brains out. He will then walk into the center of the room, gaze about for a few moments, and pick up the runic telescope before smashing it against the floor. This will damage the fabric of local space to the extent that an interstitial marauder can home in on the sundisc orrery and enter the room through the corrupted realspace. Normally they must possess individuals; this one can manifest directly.
Interstitial Marauder: This entity seeks out receiver breaches just like this one (or creates them via cosmic ray bombardment) so that it can pass through and gleefully wreak as much havoc on the other side as possible. It will superheat materials (stone to lava), create wandering gravitational vortices, randomly rearrange local molecules (flesh becomes a hard and useless slurry, stone becomes a kind of novel sandstone), project highly radioactive rays, and radically reset or accelerate local entropy rates. It takes the form of an arrangement of white light projections from a center point; the projections wax and wane methodically as the interstitial marauder floats across the air.
Every round, those within 30’ of it must roll a d6 and save vs magic or be:
1. Set on fire
2. Affected by gravity reversal or gravity now set to a discrete local point in space
3. Direct damage and ability score loss as molecules are rearranged; d12 damage and lose 1 from a random ability score accompanied by disfigurement.
4. Sickened by radioactivity. Save vs poison or take -1 to all rolls for a week.
5. Aged forward d20 years
6. Aged in reverse d20 years
The interstitial marauder is immune to physical harm but can be affected by spells and supernatural artifacts.
When the creature manifests, the sundiscs crack and shatter. d12 remain whole. Once the last sundisc is destroyed, the creature will dissipate; it can be harmed by spells and energy attacks, otherwise it will escape and wreak havoc on Maastricht and the invading army before setting off for new frontiers.
If Christiaan uses his energy beam on the telescope, the marauder will come through; but if it comes through first, he will attempt to use his energy beam on it.
1: Miss, no effect
2: Marauder grazed and weakened
3: Room collapses, marauder trapped by sundisc shards
4: Interstitial marauder killed
There is a vast, jaunty parasol here. It has an interior band depicting tulips and an exterior band that is green with their stems and yellow with the implied sunlight.
On little gold chains on a crystal table under the parasol are three starving falcons with little feathered helmet-crowns; one green, one gold, one black. These crowns are worth 1gp each, and the falcons 1gp each.
There is a beautiful ewer on a wicker stand in the corner of the garden. It has a lovely pale neck with vibrant flowers and ribbons in and around baskets painted on it. Around its base it is a lovely purple with flecks of white like a layer of nebula over a night sky, or a new type of marble.
It served the guild as a witch bottle. It is filled with old urine, hundreds of nail clippings, and hair of many colors. If cleaned, the ewer would be worth 2gp.
The stone walls in the hallways are cracked handsomely and have been repainted expressionistically in places but are mostly left to age in peace.
APPENDIX C: THE GUILDMASTER
He poses as Guildmaster Elias Bouwens.
He is Hermes Tryphon.
The Gilders were merely clothes that he shed to escape a pursuer, as he has many times before.
He is on a quest for ultimate knowledge. The alchemy, the guilders, the Star Index. All are tools in the pursuit of the Magnum Opus.
It is the Great Work of a Hermeticist to bring a natural body to the state of its final perfection. For most of them that means turning lead into gold. How generous of them.
It is Hermes Tryphon’s Great Work to bring his own natural body to a state of final perfection.
Knowledge and perfection. What more is there for a man?
So he sought to breed the seed of the tree of knowledge into his body.
He speaks normally but you can see the epochs in his eyes; there’s not anything supernatural about them except the breadth and distance expressed therein. They are hard, open, fixed.
He wears a voluminous cream-colored coat which is lined and veined just like marble. It has a high, stiff collar that reaches his cheekbones and hangs open, reaching near his heels. Within it he wears a black tabard tied tightly with silver roping, and wears black pantaloons streaked with silver. He wears ivory rings and bracelets.
He has a red sash; at his shoulder is a golden eye emitting bolts of lightning down the length of the sash.
His objective is to survive but he will not surrender the Star Index. When the time comes, he sheds his robes.
His naked ribcage shines white. His organs are pulsing fruit cloaked in flowers and falling leaves. He will eat his own lung or heart and gain perfect (short-term) foreknowledge which gives him AC18 and +4 to hit for d20 minutes. He gains +2 to all saving throws.
Anyone who eats one of his organs will gain the same effects.
His personal weapons include a flower full of poison powder, a midnight-blue serpent bearing lime green ouroboric symbols, and a d4 dagger that seems to be made of white light but is actually a poisonous ceramic which will dangerously congeal the blood. If damaged by any of these things, save vs poison or take d4 temporary Dex damage each turn for d4 turns. If your Dex goes below 0, you die.
“Come and see.”
APPENDIX D: BATTLE AND BOMBARDMENT
Cannonballs fall through the city. The streets are deserted. Everyone is helping at the walls or taking shelter. You have a chance of getting nailed with a musketball if you’re in the middle of the street for a round (1/100). If you go to the wall for some reason it’s 1/20. d8 damage.
Historically, the Dutch mined and blew up the Spanish wall, and after furious assaults the Spanish capitulated and were allowed to march out of the fort.
If you’d like to leave things to chance, roll a d4.
1: Historical outcome.
2: Dutch defeat; Spanish troops return to guildhall.
3: Hard-fought Dutch victory. Limited sack; reprisals against prominent Empire supporters
4: Pyrrhic Dutch victory. Furious army loots and burns city to deny it to the enemy
Francisco’s and Christian’s parties are likely to fight.
Christiaan’s party is only likely to triumph over Francisco’s in an extremely tight, close-quarters fight where their pistols are of more utility than the Imperials’ pikes and muskets. Otherwise the pikes, muskets and sheer numbers of the Spanish party will probably win out. Christiaan will retreat, wounded, and prepare to deliver his final sanction when Francisco reaches the Star Index.
You can resolve this fight mechanistically if the players intercede, or roll on this table if they observe.
Christiaan’s party: d4
Ambushing Francisco’s party in melee: +2
Francisco’s party: d8
Squared up in a hallway: +2
Each party: -1 per man already incapacitated.
Equal results: Parties each take d4 casualties before mutually breaking off and retreating to separate rooms.
Winner: Take d4 casualties. The loser’s party is all slain or wounded and driven off. Their leader prepares for desperate measures.
APPENDIX E: POINTS OF ENTRY
The players can choose their point of entry.
Reception Hall: Perhaps the players are walking by Lensmakers’ Hall and see that the huge doors are wide open and that the inside is well-lit and richly appointed. This is the Reception Hall.
Gate: The garden gate is locked but easily climbed.
Chimney: There are three small chimneys and one large one. The chimney in the middle of the Society Wing is copper and smells burnt and herbaceous. The chimney emerging from the Optical wing is made of some kind of unbreakable glass but has no scent. The third small chimney emerges from the Guildmaster’s office but is too narrow to squeeze down, and besides smoke is currently pouring from it. Near the river is the chimney of the festhall; this is large enough to be climbed down.
Salters’ Guild: A running jump from the roof of the Salters’ Guild could bring you onto the roof of Lensmaker’s Hall.
Gunpowder Magazine: The lensmakers were revealed to be what they are after a nude member walked into the gunpowder magazine with a torch muttering about splitting the monad and escaping the paradigm, and was tackled. His Theurgic and Goëtic tattoos marked him out as more than a run of the mill madmen, and under torture he spoke of many disturbing things, thereby condemning his confraternity. Currently the whitewashed, fortified gunpowder magazine has only a skeleton crew of two dozen. Nobody stands outside. This building would be difficult to climb but a jump from one of its supplementary roofs could take a person onto Lensmakers’ Hall.