The Machine


The year 1933, Sir Robert Thornton found the passageway to the centre of the Earth. Despite the scientific community's protests that it was quite frankly impossible and downright suicidal, Thornton managed to gather an expedition and set out to find out what was actually at the centre of the planet. What he found was nothing like what he had expected.

The core of the planet was all just one gigantic machine. A machine larger than the entire American continent. Grinding gears, pounding pistons, steam engines the size of countries and dials with strange symbols nobody on Earth understood as far as the eye could see. It was all magnificent, but what did it all mean?

Naturally, the machinery attracted scientists from every part of the world, brilliant minds just aching to solve the riddle of what all of these mechanics were for. Unfortunately for them, it just seemed impossible.

1965, 30 full years after the initial discovery of the machine, we are still no closer to discovering its purpose than we were back then. It is simply too vast, too alien, and according to most scientists, too impossible to be understood. We realized this after the first ten years, since we hadn't even managed to map out 1% of the machine, much less gotten anywhere with understanding how or why it worked. A machine this large was simply against the laws of physics. Since we realized we would never be able to understand it on our own, someone came up with the obvious solution. We'd find the blueprints.

There had to be some kind of schematics somewhere, and if we could just find them, maybe we could better understand what all of this was about. Governments all across the world declared that they would pay good money for any information regarding the origins or mechanics of the machine, a system for clearance was developed, and so the great rush to the center of the Earth started.

The year is now 2008 and we're still not much closer to figuring the machine out. We know how parts of it work, but it's the barest of fractions of knowledge. Still, the exploration continues. Every now and then, some adventurer finds an arcane piece of machinery of one of those weird folding cubes with that squiggly writing that gives you a migraine all over them, and gets handsomely rewarded. Sure, you have to look out so you don't end up crushed between two giant gears, and sure, if you get too close to some parts of the machine, those clockwork Engineers will rip you to pieces, but come on, did you see what they're paying for one of those electric rods? And my buddy Tom says that he's found a place with hundreds of them! All we have to do is somehow shut down the generator momentarily, get in, grab the rods, look out for the Engineers and get back out.

So, the basic idea of the setting is isolationist horror. The players take the role of Delvers, people working for the institute governing access to the Machine. Since we have no idea what it does or what tinkering with it might do, access is restricted and interference is kept to a minimum. After all, this machine may very well be what makes reality tick.

The main dangers so far consist of the Machine itself, as people were never meant to enter it, the Engineers, basically machines designed to maintain and repair the Machine and who occasionally see people as pollutants and foreign objects threatening its integrity, and of course, other Delvers who either went mad, or simply want some arcane piece of tech for themselves.


Selected Excerpts from Archived ThreadsEdit


Not to mention the tech-savages. It seems the Aztecs found the passage long before we did. And seeing as how they had a head start of a few hundred years, they've actually managed to make some sense of small parts of the machine, even if it is in an extremely primitive and shamanistic way.

They worship the machine, you see. They've somehow harnessed parts of it for their own use, and have melded their 15th century technology with that of the machine itself.

Unfortunately, living underground for so long have made them quite insane. Lord only knows how they even survived down here, seeing as it's all metal, machine oil and steam no matter where you go. But apparently they know things. And they don't want to share their knowledge either.

I tell you, you haven't seen anything until you've seen a 6 foot tall albino Neo-Aztec kill a man with an electric spear.

On "The Machine"'s OriginsEdit

The machine is, well, a machine. Parts of it are clockwork, others are steam powered and some would best be described as Nikola Tesla and HR Geiger's bastard lovechild. It's large enough that there's a lot of diversity.

There doesn't appear to be any structures apart from those made by humans who have ventured down there. It all just appears to be one gigantic machine, and just that. Of course there are what appears to be maintenance tunnels and what appears to be control rooms, but it really doesn't seem like the ones who built it had any intention of sticking around.

As for how it works, nobody knows. Most scientists maintain that the machine actually is physically impossible, and by all means should have broken down long ago, but it exists and is whole as far as we know. It might be magic, it might be SCIENCE! and it might be something completely different. All we know for certain is that it is more advanced than every single piece of technology we've ever invented.

Rival ExplorersEdit

I think half the danger will come from rival groups of explorers.

I mean, you'll have radical anti-machinists, quite possibly extremist Christians and the like, who view the Machine quite possibly as the personification of Hell itself. An utterly soulless world without any of the life or personality of humanity. They probably want to stop all exploration, maybe going so far as to attack the Machine in Crusade.

There'll be people who want to exploit the Machine, to use it to power god knows what, without concern for what consequences their meddling may have. Doubtless, these will be from the sinister GLOBOCORP.

Then of course there will just be rival adventurers who will stop at nothing to be the first to explore the depths of the Machine.

How to Get InEdit

As far as we know, there's just the one entrance in South America. At the moment, a Union military base is placed right on top of it. To get a license, you'll need to apply for evaluation and then go through a 6 month training program. It's very similar to military service, actually. The conditions for getting a license are fairly simple. Any artifacts you find belong to the Union, in exchange you will receive compensation. By no means are you allowed to cause harm to the machine. Don't get in the way of the Engineers.


The International Machine Head Organization of Terrestrial Exploring and Production, IMHOTEP, has a entire sub-section devoted to treating the poor souls that have been Down There for too long. It seems that the Machine somehow "infects" these people, making them hallucinate, babbling about "seeing how everything works" and such nonsense. Patients become obsessed with engineering, and scribbles nonsensical blueprints over every blank surface the can reach. The media calls it the Deep-Down Dementia, or Machine Madness, and it is as big a mystery to medicine as anything they find down there.

(Lear's Note: CoC San System)

On TechnologyEdit

While it's true that military technology, and by an extension technology derived from military technology, never did get much of a boom the way they did in the real world, the need for machines capable of storing vast amounts of data and calculating dimensions, power output and the like means that computers advanced pretty far. There's no satellite-based technology as we never went into space, nor is there nuclear technology, as scientists are working on duplicating some of the more easily understood power sources hooked up to the machine. What's really come far, though, is various ways of preserving food and water, as well as communications, as both are vital for explorers.

An explorer can be expected to have some kind of basic firearm (not that it will do him much good, but people seem to find having it around comforting), some rope, shitloads of freeze-dried rations, tools, flashlights, a radio and tablets for purifying urine. Essentially what an explorer today would bring, minus any technology relying on satellites.

Religious Views / Machine CultsEdit

If any sensible or knowledgeable Christian thought that the machine was hell then they would have a damn GOOD reason to keep the machine in proper working order. Granted this means that "You are going to have to put all those parts back heretical scum! Are you trying to release the daemons from their cage!"

One the other hand Masons will likely have a heyday with this machine as some kind of allegory of...well everything ... unless they knew about it already?

Gnostics will definitely try to break the shit out of it as the obvious handiwork of the Demiurge and a possible soul anchor or sustainer of the material evils.

The religious impact of the machine cannot be overstated. Once it was discovered, it was a major blow to everything we thought we knew.

The Christians quickly had to take a stance on whether the machine was made by God, was God itself, or simply was a way of tempting mankind. The same went for all other major religions, since a giant machine at the center of the Earth, which might or might not power something really important, was kind of hard to reconcile with most traditional beliefs.

As hard as it was for religion, it might have been even harder for science. Suddenly, most of what we thought we knew about the universe was invalidated. Goodbye gravity. Goodbye tectonic shifts. Goodbye big bang. Of course, science quickly recuperated, but it's just not been the same ever since, since nobody can even begin to explain the biggest piece of the puzzle.

How about a cult of machinists who have found their way into the gears to be closer to their 'god'. They even believe they have to become part of the machine to be closer to god, so have begun experimenting with the gears and surgically implanting them into their own bodies. Meaning they wont be destroyed by the engineers, as it will see them as part of the machine. Might even upgrade a few of them if they get enough surgery.

Soviet InvolvementEdit

Far across the world from the State's opening is Naukograd 28 ('наукогра́д-28') - the legendary soviet science city built to cap the second shaft that was cut in 1961. The Soviets where the first to attach generators to the churning gears, effectively creating free and seemingly endless energy. They were also the first to detonate a nuclear charge inside the Machine - the official rumor is that they were attempting to destroy a 'factory' producing 'sentinels', attack-automatons who stuck out at soviet generators. Military spending versus the automated defence system is partially responsible for the fall of the USSR.

Delvers / Genetic Memory?Edit

Some people have some instinctual knowledge of parts of the machines functions, or an unerring sense of direction in the mechanical tomb. This phenomenon is still unexplained and might possibly be some racial or genetic memory. Whatever it might be, it is capitalized by the explorers, who wish some modicum of guidance in the bowels of the earth.

There are stories too...The deeper into the machine you go, the more control the delvers have over the machines... Its said some can command the engineers, or shape pieces of the machine into whatever they might need... Some might even very well, be able to create a path....

But hey, they say you have to go REALLY deep. Besides, its just stories...

Biological Life Inside the MachineEdit

Roaches range in form and size from the smallest insect, which here is around an inch long, to the largest wyrm, up to a kilometre long. Bacterial life, indeed anything smaller than around an inch, seems to die off if isolated. It is known that one way in which the Machine deals with hostile life of this type, corrosive bacteria being one example, is the generation of a massive electromagnetic field in the area. Natives know to keep on the move, as do Roaches.

The Wyrm is massive, observed at up to a kilometre in length, and resembles nothing more than a cross between a centipede and a dragon. It tears through the Machine on a thousand legs, without damaging components. It seems to have been incorporated into the workings of the Machine, a kind of cleaning systems to weed out smaller biolife. When smaller examples of the Wyrm were brought to the surface, they died in a few days.

(A Reply)

No, I really think the Machine should be utterly devoid of life and utterly static. Sterile, unchanging, completely ALIEN. Giant bugs and robots aren't horror, they're fantasy. This is not a fantasy dungeon. This is The House of Leaves.

Machine components would be more than enough danger for explorers. Have seemingly unnatural (BUT NOT LIVING) phenomena occur the farther in you go. Unexplainable pockets of electromagnetism, cold, heat, un-illuminable darkness, vacuums, places that drive men insane instantly etc. Could just be the workings of the Machine, could be something more horrifying. But none of it is alive. It is a Machine, it is vast, it is ancient, it is a mystery, and we are microbes.

Ancient EgyptiansEdit

Not surprisingly, several attempts have been made to link the Great Machine with the Ancient Egyptians to prove that they really were aliens.

Analysis of the writing and design style has been inconclusive. While the text is not in hieroglyphics, and there are no pyramids, there is something about the Great Machine that feels similar to ancient Egyptian writing and architecture.

Activity based on LayersEdit

Varying levels of machine activity, the outer 'levels' of the machine are quite slow moving, this movement is easily visible to the human eye but does not hamper travel badly. As one moves closer to what is only assumed to be the center of the machine and the Earth, it intensifies and the environment becomes a deadly obstacle course, entire areas closing off and new ones opening frequently. While there is a pattern, a general lack of properly observed reports on these movements thanks to casualties and the low percentage of explorers delving so deep to do so means that these areas are labyrinthine in nature. Scientists theorize that the core's movements correspond to the Earth's rotation and orbit.

Not Vengeful, but Helping?Edit

I don't think anything should be deliberately out to get you. This machine is.. unimaginable. The pressure and stress it must withstand. It probably doesn't need to protect itself.

No no. The caretakers are merely that. Caretakers. Upkeep.

The danger comes from the fact that they cannot discriminate a mechanical malfunction from something made of flesh wandering around. You don't look like you are in the right place.

So it'll rip you in two and figure out how to rebuild you and put you in the right set of gears.

Course then it can't rebuild you and just moves on.

Cold unfeeling machinery.

Example of ChalkEdit

You enter the tunnel... as you proceed down its length something catches you eye.. one the wall in what looks like faded chalk you find a message, hand written of course... however its in a language you cant read, but it is clearly a human language and different from the hieroglyphs found elsewhere in the machine.

Wait my character speaks and reads Russian, and Latin.

Ah, good... after letting your eyes adjust to the light in this room it becomes clear the message is written in ancient Latin.. you can make out that is something along the lines of "Beware the serpent that does not sleep."

You enter the next room. In this one, the cogs and gears are set at diagonals for the most part, along one wall. Their shafts are made of the same material as everywhere else, but there is a viscous black fluid sliding down the shafts. The other wall is simply a continuation of the last room's massive clockwork structure, only the paneling nearby marking it as any different than the last five rooms. Doctor Pembury, true to form, is walking into this room with the same aplomb and carefree fascination as he has the entire time. The floors and ceiling are not too unusual - the glass ceiling still shows you the thick intermixed clockwork and gears they have the last two rooms. That centipede-thing that has been following you ever since you entered the glass-ceilinged section is still there, watching you all like a curious puppy.

Jordan is carefully taking samples of the viscous liquid, while Jose is nervously staying as close to the middle of the room as he can.

(players take samples.make sketches/talk to the professor)

Jordan cries out loudly - he's caught his shirt in the gears he was standing next to. Jose is on his knees praying and sweating bullets. Doctor Pembury runs back into the room.... (What no one knows, and may never find out, is that Jordan was pushed by Jose, who has been bribed by the Doctor's rivals to make sure he must return to the surface before they do, or Jordan is self-inflicting the wound to get the female pc's attention, or...)

Misc at the end of IEdit

- Drill Trains - trains with drills on the front. Don't run on rails but on treads like tanks. Brings people to and from the surface into the depths. - Machine Madness is a common psychological problem affecting long term adventurers. People suffering from this affliction dig endless tunnels in the ground. They are terrified of the surface and always seek out small dark spaces. Light and having nothing above them freaks them out and if forced into the outdoors, they will dig at the ground with their bare hands to the bone to escape it. They all ramble on about different things so asking them any questions usually brings about no conclusive or even interesting information. No one has yet tried to return these people to the Machine..... - Engineers are constantly changing machines themselves. Even a stationary Engineer will be constantly in motion. Its limbs constantly reconfigure themselves, adding more and reabsorbing old ones into its body. New tools constantly unfold from its limbs and its "head" is in constant flux. New lenses and "eyes" form and are lost as cogs rotate and close. Its entire body structure keeps moving so watching one for any period of time is unnerving. They whirr, buzz and click with the constant motion and can sit still for years before springing into action. damaging and/or destroying one is not advised as other things come along to repair it....

Beginning of II / SummaryEdit

In the thirties, a British explorer manages to find a passage to the very center of the Earth deep in the jungles of South America. Eager to prove his theory correct, he leads a small expedition down the tunnel. When he emerges, he tells a story that will change the world forever.

The entire center of the planet is just one gigantic machine. A ticking, grinding, pounding machine so large that it can't even be expressed in words. Of course this causes a massive outrage as people try to make sense of it all. What does it do? Who built it? How does something like that even work?

Fast forward 30 years, and the finest minds on Earth have made very little progress. The Machine should be impossible, and yet it still works. It's simply too alien for us to even begin to comprehend. So the Union makes a unanimous decision to sponsor expeditions into the Machine, hoping that something, anything, new about it could be uncovered. Driven by promises of riches and adventure, the explorers, known as Delvers, boldly journey into the depths of the Machine in search of answers.

This has been going on for nearly 50 years, and we're still far from the breakthrough we hoped for. We understand the Machine a lot better now, but it's still the barest of fractions of knowledge. We've mapped out some of the static sections of the Machine closest to the entrance and we've established various base camps to help the Delvers with supplies, but most of the machine still remains uncharted territory.


Essentially, that's it. Most Delvers hope to strike it rich, whether it's by finding a part of the Machine that can be analyzed and maybe even reverse-engineered, finding some kind of blueprint or simply bringing back some part of it to be examined. To do that, they must go deep. In order to go deep, they need money. The first couple of expeditions fund the big one they're betting everything on.

Of course, there are those who don't do it for the money. Whether its adventure, scientific curiosity or even religious beliefs, there are those who simply want to explore the Machine without any kind of financial gain.

Unfortunately, there's always the danger of someone stripping the Machine of the wrong component, breaking what might be the only thing keeping us alive. As such, rules are strict on what may be taken to the surface. There have already been several incidents with people trying to shut the Machine down just to see what happens, and most of the world's nations have no desire to find that out.

Continued from AboveEdit

That was kind of my intention with the setting. It's sort of adventure/horror/whatever the fuck I want it to be. All I know is that I don't want the Machine to be some kind of roller-coaster ride. It might be the answer to every philosophical question ever asked, it might be the source of life on Earth and it might just be responsible for the continents shifting. We just don't know how or why it works, who built it or what it's for, which is kind of the entire point.

The only reason the Engineers were there in the first place was essentially because halfway through the idea I realized two things, one in terms of game mechanics and one in terms of the setting.

1. The players will eventually want conflict. A giant empty machine might make for a good movie or novel, but games need obstacles.

2. If the expeditions are funded by bringing artifacts to the surface, the Machine would need some way to repair the damage Delvers would irrevocably cause. Sure, you could tear off that fancy looking power cell and hope it didn't do anything important, but unless the Machine has some way of repairing the damage you caused, odds are eventually someone will break something important.


Alright, how about this? There was an idea I found ridiculously awesome in the last thread, which is the best version of the Engineers I have seen yet.

They were created to tend to the Machine. They are fairly simple in that it's all they do. They literally can't do anything but make sure the Machine runs smoothly. Whoever built the Machine obviously never expected people to get into it. Consequently, the Engineers are completely unable to recognize people as people. All they see is something that shouldn't be in the Machine, and their job is to get rid of it and if possible, make it fit where it's supposed to be.

I've also thought about making the Engineers non-humanoid, to get away from "OMFG ROBOTS SO COOL!" They simply are what they need to be in various parts of the Machine. In one part they might simply be mechanical arms who keep things out of the gears. In other places, they might be moving mechanical constructs with welding torches for arms. In the depths of the Machine, they might be even stranger.

I kind of like the ambiguity of having these unpredictable things that just might kill you at the drop of a hat, who you still really shouldn't kill. Sure, it would be a lot safer for the Delvers if they simply destroyed the Engineers and were done with it, but do we really want to face the consequences when the Machine decides to break down?


Water is bound to condense on certain parts of the machine, in fact you could incorporate the choice between replenishing your water just a tiny bit, and being less likely to get dismembered by an Engineer due to proximity to functional components.

I guess it goes without saying I support the idea of Engineers. There shouldn't be that have been specifically designed to kill intruders, just a series of specialized upkeep automatons, almost all of which are coincidentally deadly to humans. If you want to try and remedy some of the problems with having personified horrors, you could have stuff like they are flawlessly integrated into the machine, IE they never have to wait for a gap in the spinning cog wheels they pass through, there is always one there at the exact moment they go past, they might actually make up the walls of some corridors, etc.

Also, if posters are looking for related material, see the novel "Blindsight" where this overall premise is done extremely well, even if Blindsight is shuffled about a hundred years forward, the machine they explore is still just as incomprehensible.

More on EngineersEdit

I see an underlying idea that is absolutely worth having: IE Engineers are only in an incredibly low activity state most of the time, but then at certain times they would all awake in a flurry of activity. These times are NOT regular, but can be predicted, IE following on the trope of having ancient diagrams from prior delvers, you could have one that requires a ton of decoding, and then by the time the party's number cruncher works through it turns out to be a prediction of the next engineer wake up call for that section is a minute or two away, followed by a FFFFFFUUUUUU- section in which everyone is desperately trying to escape.

Timing would be individual to segments so you wouldn't necessarily gain a lasting advantage from that. Civilisations could have sprung up in the sections that only receive maintenance every ~100 years or something, minor settlements in the ~10 year sections, but many segments would have a wake up call roughly every 5 minutes.

The idea of the Engineers being on a timer actually fits very well with a scenario I already had in mind.

After journeying through the alien Machine for days, encountering mechanisms they couldn't possibly begin to understand, the PCs come across what appears to be a fairly simple clock. Sure, it might not look like the ones they're used to, but it's definitely some kind of clock. But after inspecting it for a while, they realize it's counting down.


Deeper and Deeper the Rabbit Hole GoesEdit

In the deepest, strangest parts of the machine, things start to become a little... odd. Gravity becomes weaker and weaker and is somehow impossibly non-existent in the very deepest areas. Despite the heat of the place generally increasing the further you go down, the central areas are extra-ordinarily freezing cold. The deep engineers are far more alien and menacing, damaging intruders with impossibly focused bright lights and arcs of lightning. And the walls become increasingly curious - from gears to what some scientists are hypothesizing are a kind of circuit board - getting stranger still the deeper you go. Stranger still, is that the half maddened delvers who did make it this deep, limbs lost to frostbite from the rivers of liquid nitrogen and worse - speak of a strange noise, like the buzzing of insects combined with hints of some strange, sibilant language that they did not recognize, let alone recreate on the surface. Who knows what truths lurk at the core?


It's mostly because eventually things will devolve to "HERPADERP everyone wants to kill you".

There wouldn't be all that many Delvers to begin with. Assuming at least one encounter per session, we'd be looking at the PCs shooting down a team of other Delvers every five to six hours.

Other Delvers would become less interesting and more stand-ins for goblins and shit. If I'm gonna have traditional encounters, I think I prefer the Engineers.

Which I've decided not to make robots in the traditional sense, but rather intelligent tools, like robots today. A sentient welding torch on rails out to get you should work just as well as a humanoid.

Engineers on the Surface?Edit

Engineers, when removed from the Machine, do not actually stop working - they merely go dormant. If they are exposed to broken machinery, or if machinery is 'broken' nearby, they will immediately spring into action and try to 'fix' it. This occasionally results in carnage when an Engineer appears to be lacking the necessary parts for repairs and sets about either dismantling other nearby things (superstructures of buildings, for example) or even PEOPLE in search of some elusive component.

Items that Engineers have 'repaired' always develop the same aesthetic as the machinery: analog not digital, and operating in accordance to arcane principles. They are not self-powered, but can be powered by hooking them up to a drive-shaft or something. They generally manage to fulfill their earlier function, but in strange ways (a broken flintlock might be repaired by replacing the powder-pan with a steam-compression chamber, for example).

Some of these repaired items, however, retain no semblance of their original purpose and do something else entirely. Attempts to expose an Engineer to a nuclear power station in the hopes of having it create a kind of analog perpetual-motion machine resulted in it breaching the core and having the reactor go super critical.

This was in Chernobyl. People in the area suffering from fallout reported seeing bizarre mutations and anomalies, including the cogroach, filament grass, and people developing literal glass eyes.

Engineers have no affinity for digital or chemical technology, and therefore do not repair watches, computers, or batteries.


The robot engineers as a rule don't have to completely destroy the desolate/mysterious feel (which i think is the big strength of this idea), its really how you play them. A giant robot busting out yelling "Intruder" is campy, but if the robot just stands there, pulling a lever... and nothing the PCs do can make him stop... creepier. Unfortunately, puts us back in the spot of needing good enemies to fight.

Scavenger clans, machine cultists/cyborgs, the rogue nation, hostile/insane Delvers, Machine-dwelling fauna, are all good suggestions that have been made so far. As long as they clearly originate from outside of the Machine, the Machine itself remains a mystery.

One point which was made was that a "Sphere"-like atmosphere (people turning on each other) would be impossible because the players wouldn't have any reason to turn on each other. Perhaps a game mechanic where something in the Machine affect how a player had to play their character, i.e. insanity a la Call of Cthulhu. Adds a new aspect to the Machine, but an even bigger new aspect to the game itself. Players start out cooperating as per the usual adventuring party, but it would gradually become a competitive game as people lost it and backstabbed each other. And if this a commonly known feature of the Machine, they know going in that it's only a matter of time before their companions, or themselves, fall prey.

Ah, ExplainedEdit

The Engineers are intended to be equally as esoteric as the machinery itself, they just happen to cause problems for Delvers because Delvers are NOT what the machine is meant to have there. Where there is meant to be an empty space or a gear or something, there is now a 1.5m tall piece of gunk coated in fibers and scrap metal. This is an issue that must be dealt with. And for most Engineers, they won't even have this level of cognition, simply by virtue of being made out of razor sharp metal that is constantly in motion, they'll pretty much go straight through a delver and leave nothing but slurry on the other side as they trundle over to refit a 3mm gear that is going to wear down to the point of loss of efficiency in the next 30 seconds.


I like the idea someone mentioned earlier: Certain engineers will try to repair ANYTHING, including any unfortunate Delvers that encounter them. It'd try to rip off your arms/organs and replace them with mechanical components. You'd occasionally find the end result of their efforts wondering the hallways, driven insane by their abrupt assimilation into the machine.

Furthermore, don't establish consistent behavior patterns for the Engineers. They're just like every other part of the machine - unpredictable, inconsistent, and alien. Each Engineer operates in a unique way. I also agree with everything that >>4820615 said. The Engineers are nothing more than mobile extensions of the machine.


The original idea for the setting was a sort of, in lack of better words, "careful adventure" setting. Sure, it's an adventure, you get to explore shit and find treasure. But God help you if you mess up. You're inside a gigantic machine. There are billions of moving parts that could crush you like a grape. There are things that definitely don't appreciate you clogging up the Machine. There are people who want your artifacts for themselves.

I never really planned on making it too horror oriented. Sure, there would be a few horror-inspired elements, but in general there wouldn't be too much of the whole "OH SHIT THE MACHINES ARE COMING AND THEY ARE MAKING ME INSANE OH GOD WHY CAN'T I SLEEP ANYMORE?"

But hey, a lot of the horror ideas are cool. Why not make it both?

Do's and Don'tsEdit

Things the Machine definitely does:

It causes the motion of the continents. It sprays out molten rock, lava, through the gaps.

Things the Machine definitely does not do:

It has no microtechnology of any sort. There is no printed circuits, transistors, nanomachines, anything of this sort.

Have written records. There are no symbols or writings on anything, except for what previous delvers have etched onto the parts. This includes delvers from as far back as human civilization, so a number of languages are represented.

Mysteries of the Machine:

Who built it? What powers it? How do the simple mechanical processes of the parts coordinate themselves so precisely?

Advancement of TechnologyEdit

A fair degree of tech has been salvaged, but very little that can be understood. Also, its likely that any of the more advanced pieces were unable to be removed, either due to size or constant function. Hence, while the machine may in fact have macrotechnic quantum diodes and other such devices, they cannot be recovered.

As such I expect that you would see very few things that didn't exist in real history until after the 1950's, but what was in existence at that time would function vastly more efficiently due to more advanced alloy, lubrication, and clockwork innovations, that simply hadn't been thought of. Engineers are too complex to be copied so we aren't going to be seeing characters with pet clockwork spiders. What we might see is something like a grappling hook gun with enough power in its clockwork to rappel someone up a sheer wall, due to an imperfect replication of some specific clockwork organ of an engineer. This doesn't mean everything is now clockwork, its very likely that the advances could also be applied to petrol engines and the like.

Certainly tanks will have progressed up on the surface as a result but this will hardly be a concern for delvers. I think with regards to what a Delver would be using, there will probably be more efficient conventional firearms than what we currently have (IE Metal storm was never invented, BUT almost all firearms have the rugged reliability you could expect from the great successes of gun history), and one or two nifty survival gadgets that wouldn't otherwise have been invented, since most ingenuity is being focused on exploration.

As OP has said in the past, you can expect delvers to have radios that can cover at least a reasonable distance within the machine.

lolwut encounterEdit

So the Party comes across the remains of a ancient remains of a group of Pre-Flood adventures. A group of Clay tablets in remarkable condition list their cause for traveling into the depths, however its extremely difficult to translate. Eventually the party discovers that the Machine at one point in its maintenance cycle caused the massive flood discussed in so many religious texts. Within the tablets there is a club to understanding a meter within the machine that indicates the next flood, and it seems it going to happen again very soon...


Don't outright tell the players that there's engineers. Hint at it, build it up. Shadows flit around that weren't made by any of the cogs, this pipe has been loosened!, you hear metallic tapping against the floor of the maintenance tunnel up ahead...


Like Lovecraftian robos.


I think we determined this is a good idea.. but with a tweak. They'll leave you alone as long as you don't look like you are doing any harm. They have a to-do list an eternity long, and they can't spend it on such menial tasks as sweeping the floor.

Walk through a room full? Maybe not even look at you. Go through with something you stole..? They'll chase your ass down because a part of the machine shouldn't be taking things apart that work.. so they'll take it back and try to 'figure out' why you went haywire.

Which might involve pulling off limbs you'll miss and looking at your insides.

Manual? Jackets?Edit


"...and please remember to dress warmly. Contrary to common sense, it can get quite cold at times. The machine takes waste heat created and redirects it to increase efficiency in producing power.

Younger divers may find it interesting to know this is how we averted a severe energy crisis. All heat from power plants is redirected toward keeping all buildings at a comfortable temperature, or it is redirected back into the process to heat more water to spin turbines.

This system created the mistaken impression that the machine is a giant steam engine when it was first discovered. Scientists will now say this is ludicrous, but are hard pressed to provide any other explanation.

Form your own opinions. Just make sure you bring a heavy jacket."

".....It may appear that there aren't any engineers nearby when you spy an interesting widget, but you can never be sure. Stay still, listen for a clinking or faint screeching(it may be hard to hear it over the perpetual ticking of the Machine) and check the surroundings for any pieces of technology that look out of place.

If all is in order, CAREFULLY but QUICKLY remove said piece of technology, MAKING SURE NOT TO DISTURB ANY OF THE OTHER SYSTEMS NEAR IT."

"....and while Engineers are a very real threat, they do, for the most part, leave Delvers alone unless they attempt to retrieve technology. It has been theorised that these Engineers are simply mindless automatons imprinted with several billion blueprints to a 'perfect machine' for any given purpose. This theory has no concrete evidence as, for obvious reasons, we have never been able to take one apart. However, we have gotten Engineers out of the Machine by holding a broken device in front of them and leading them outside, after which we exposed them to several types of machinery. It may be interesting to know that most grappling hooks and crossbows on the market today are based off an Engineer's design."

"There is always a Janitor around even if you can't see it.

Whatever name you use, drone, engineer, builder, janitor, keep in mind one is always close by. Eye witness reports say the janitors are few and far between, but paranoia will save your life. Trying to so much as lift a panel to look at the inner workings of your new find with one nearby may be enough to forfeit your life.

Perhaps an exaggeration, but the janitors can be fickle. They do not react to invasions of any sort as long as there is no perceived obstruction of the greater operations of the machine.

Janitors come in varieties. When you first go in you may notice 'tracks' built into the ceiling, floor, and walls. Beware when standing on or near these, as some only zip back and forth along these rails. You might find yourself in something akin to a traffic accident. Except people aren't built with airbags. Others seem to be disconnected and operate at least somewhat independently. These are even more hazardous as you may not know if it is nearby, and you cannot evade it merely by standing far enough away.

If you see one as big as a house, keep clear. Anything that size, or larger, is a mover. They might not notice anything too small in their way to avoid it.

Always watch out for the small skittering drones. They can't do much of anything on their own, but they've been known to swarm. Even a single one is cause for being on your toes. They've been caught observing a group of divers stripping a find only to disappear when nobody is looking. Later a group of janitors shows up, and none too happy about having more things to repair. They can and will call others to aid in fixing malfunctions they find.

Take care you don't get classified as a malfunction.

Although all seem to act with some sort of independence, they've been known to come searching for their fellows. Our best guess is there is some sort of logging system so janitors can be replaced quickly, and to help make sure jobs are not doubled up on. Avoid 'killing' any if you can. Force is only authorized in the most extreme of circumstances."

"If you find the way you came is suddenly sealed off, do not panic. This will most certainly end in tragedy if your group looses their collective heads.

This is an expected and natural part of the machine. Corridors shift and move on their own. The exact layout subtly altering over long periods of time. There are central important locations that will remain constant, but avenues in between may disappear or simply move elsewhere.


There has not been a reported case of a corridor moving while it is in use. The only reports received are of a group heading into a dead end.. only to backtrack and realize there are three new doors the way they just came. This can be disorienting so please use our suggested exercises for remaining calm.

Main structures will remain. As such there is always a way to get from one to the other. You will not be trapped without an exit as the entrance to the machine is one of the main structures. Always remain calm and try another way, moving toward the direction of the entrance. "

"When venturing even deeper into the Machine, it would be advisable to leave a trail. These are generally helpful as long as the substance being used is organic in nature(sometimes leading to a literal trail of bread crumbs), as any metallic or otherwise artificial substances will soon be claimed by the Engineers. They do not seem to notice most organic material, unless it is part of a complex system. And even then it is limited to an analysis, followed by swift removal.

Despite all this, there have been a few documented cases of Engineers attempting to tamper with organic material. At least 5 corpses have been found with their insides replaced with intricate mechanical systems. There have also been unconfirmed reports of these strange corpse machines moving about in the inner confines of the Machine, although this could be attributed to the strain brought about by extended periods of time spent inside the Machine."

"...if, however, you should be unfortunate enough to find yourself on the wrong side of an Engineer, there are a few simple steps to take.

1- DROP EVERYTHING. Unless you should value your loot more than your well-being, life, and posthumous dignity, this should be your first resort. The Engineer will reclaim the components and leave you alone. Remember, there is no shame in giving up prestige to save one's life. 2- IF, for some reason, you decide to not give the Engineer what it desires, always remember that it relies on gears for all it's locomotion. There is a reported weak point along what passes for it's midsection where an important mechanism is housed. If you have a crowbar or an iron rod, wedge it firmly into the weak spot, taking care not to destroy it.

If you are lucky, the Engineer will still be stable, but it's mechanisms would have frozen. Bear in mind this is a temporary condition as even the strongest, thickest rods will, with due time, simply be crushed by the gears inside the Engineer. If you are unlucky, one of the major systems would have been damaged and the Engineer is now dead. This means that several are coming to repair it, and this would be an excellent time to make yourself scarce."

Immune SystemEdit

Somebody probably suggested this, but I didn't bother to read farther down the thread. Perhaps as a living lifeform, the machine would have its own immune system. In popular fiction, the immune systems of an organism are often depicted as humanoid, but as a machine, perhaps its immune system would consist of inherently dangerous situations?

Traps, my friends. A world of horrifically deadly traps. Areas without breathable air, swinging, razor sharp gears, belching flames, pressure plate dropping floors designed to catch broken parts and divert them to recycling centers.

Critical systems of this machine surrounded by other systems that create situations which are intentionally harmful to organic life.

Natural TrapsEdit

I've always been fond of the idea of 'natural' traps. They aren't on purpose, but this thing wasn't meant for people to have a casual stroll through. It was not meant to be lived in either. If your group is standing on top of a steam vent.. and the section needs to be warmed back up for the janitors to operate in..

Or maybe you just start inspecting the wrong thing and suddenly OH GOD WHAT IS THIS STUFF SPRAYING EVERYWHERE?

Well shit. That's tough.

Or what I stated previously. A janitor on a track is going at high speed to a location. The track being the high speed system(so they can get to where they go and possibly disconnect THERE rather than walking slowly). Suddenly..

DM: Roll a perception check....

DM: Pass! You hear a strange sound. You look and a janitor is barreling right at you.


I really think we should do all we can to keep the "cold unfeeling machine" bit. It has no defenses or such. It is just.. hazardous to be in. You can't really blame it for trying to kill you because it is doing no such thing.

I think that could give it a unique dungeon dive feel. Usually it is all about the things out to get you specifically. Its never "you just got in the way".


The Engineers mainly prowl the mechanized sections of the machine..

It is still not clear if the ancient civilizations and their descendants are in anyway the creators of the machine, or are in fact anyway related to it.

They of course have legends and stories, but these tales have yet to be backed up with hard evidence.

Inner oceans and rivers have been found, with piping that diverts the water to various parts of the machine...

Almost any surface environment's analog can be found inside of the machine and its caverns, along with entirely new ones, from a clockwork jungle, only called such because it if difficult to pass through all the working mechanical parts, to a frozen lake the size of Texas with an empty Ice City, it should be noted that this city is built on a scale completely wrong for humans, and is better suited to beings nearly twice as large.

There is an Empty Town, very near the first exploration point into the machine that is the starting base camp for most delvers. This city was the first to be picked clean of

artifacts. It is now a watering hole literally, as there is a supply of fresh water being shipped in from the surface via complex piping.


Very well, the next issue would be what kind of people the Delvers would be and what kind of stuff they would be bringing with them. For example, would they bring lots of guns just in case? Would they carry lots of heavy equipment with them (someone mentioned stuff like pressure suits in the first thread) or would they pack light? How long would they be able to survive on the rations they would have to bring with them? Would most Delvers be cut-throat scavengers who'd stab their own mother in order to get paid, or would they be rational men of science? What kind of person would it take to risk life and limb traversing a giant machine, with the very distinct possibility of not making it back?


The Engineers mainly prowl the mechanized sections of the machine..

It is still not clear if the ancient civilizations and their descendants are in anyway the creators of the machine, or are in fact anyway related to it.

They of course have legends and stories, but these tales have yet to be backed up with hard evidence.

Inner oceans and rivers have been found, with piping that diverts the water to various parts of the machine...

Almost any surface environment's analog can be found inside of the machine and its caverns, along with entirely new ones, from a clockwork jungle, only called such because it if difficult to pass through all the working mechanical parts, to a frozen lake the size of Texas with an empty Ice City, it should be noted that this city is built on a scale completely wrong for humans, and is better suited to beings nearly twice as large.

There is an Empty Town, very near the first exploration point into the machine that is the starting base camp for most delvers. This city was the first to be picked clean of artifacts. It is now a watering hole literally, as there is a supply of fresh water being shipped in from the surface via complex piping.

More EquipmentEdit

How about equipment? Having had no actual experience with expeditions of any kind, I can only assume that in an environment like the Machine, one would obviously need a lot of rations and water (since none, or at least very little of it exists there) and a lot of heavy equipment probably would be necessary (radios, various camera equipment, grappling guns). Still, you don't want to be bogged down by a lot of heavy gear when you're risking getting caught in a giant cog and crushed to death, so I can assume they just bring exactly what they need (maybe even less) and nothing more.

As for weapons, I'm thinking they just bring the bare minimum. Big caliber pistols for punching through any hostile Engineers and scaring off plunderers, and that's about it. No need to bring clunky assault rifles or SMGs.

The general tech level is what bothers me most. In an environment where exploring the Machine is such a priority, I can only assume that the most important thing would be communications, data storage devices of various kinds and miscellaneous survival gear. But how advanced should these be?

I liked the idea in one of the threads about advanced grappling guns reverse engineered from the Machine. The radios will probably be powerful and compact enough that you would be able to communicate with base camp from quite a distance without bringing a heavy hunk of metal. The data storage devices, however, are giving me a headache. I'm thinking some kind of PDA deal with cameras and various analyzing soft- and hardware, but I don't really want it to be a tricorderish thing.


>The data storage devices, however, are giving me a headache. I'm thinking some kind of PDA deal with cameras and various analyzing soft- and hardware, but I don't really want it to be a tricorderish thing.


Never runs out of batteries, is immune to EMP, wont short out in water, can still work even with multiple bullet holes in it, can be used as kindling in a fire, the list goes on.

i swear to the fucking gods that everyone COMPLETELY ignores the KISS rule. KEEP. IT. SIMPLE. STUPID.

(And Then)

The problem with this is that the only one who would ever want to record parts of the machine will a) want to analyze it, or b) want to sell the information to someone. This is why drawings are quite ineffectual. No matter how good you are at drawing, it will be very difficult to properly draw every part of a mechanism nobody even understands. Not to mention that the Delvers might miss an important part that would be caught upon later inspecting a video tape. I think some kind of recording device is pretty much a must.


Thanks to the Engineers, we better stick to some really old fashioned stuff. Just a small photo device for quick shots, working with standard films. Maybe a slightly larger hand camera, running on clockwork for a few minutes. Lamps are battery-based, working with LEDs. The technology was around back then, but in our timeline there were no white LEDs until the 1990s. Maybe they developed them out of necessity.

A hand-cranked dynamo, to recharge electrical systems on the fly. Maybe give it a belt adapter, to run it off some exposed Machine parts when in a pinch.


"Remember - while you have been approved for expeditions into the machine and have been granted your Delver license, the UNSERC (United Nations Subterranean Exploration and Research Committee) maintains the tunnel compound and checkpoints. Contraband and other forbidden devices and substances, a full list of which you will find listed on page 437 in this handbook, will be confiscated by UNSERC security upon discovery. The Machine is largely unknown to mankind yet, and as such many personal weapons, devices, and substances perfectly legal on the surface may confiscated. Please rest assured that more often than not this is for your own safety, as well as for the safety of the Machine."


I would imagine that most Delvers would go out in groups of four.

One is the "leader," usually someone who's had the most experience exploring the Machine. He would probably carry the majority of the rations and water, with a radio (and backup power for it) and a handgun on him/her for protection from Engineers.

The second is the "scientist" person; the one who goes delving to analyze the machine and to try and bring back artifacts. Carries the camera (I suspect it'd be a film camera) and recording device (whether its visual, audio, both or a simple notepad and paper) and also have a handgun for protection.

Third is the guard. The one who's on the lookout for Engineers that appear hostile towards the group. He lugs around larger guns, some form of explosive (Grenades, C4, etc.) and a large, heavy melee weapon (sword, sledgehammer, etc) should ammo run out and/or something needs to get broken off for the scientist to study.

The fourth is the medic. General first aid skills and is there to assist the other three in their duties. Helps carry gear, rations, ammo... All the other shit. Maybe he also helps out with mapping where they went.

For KidsEdit

"While exploring the Machine, your party may encounter various pieces of mobile or attached machinery. These "Little Engineers" are the workforce of the Machine, laboring tirelessly to keep it in working order. If you see one, don't panic! their might appear strange or dangerous, but they are there for everyone's best interests. Be sure to make way for our friend, the Little Engineer!"

Fourth Thread GO!Edit

I've done some tests using BRP and Savage Worlds. Currently leaning towards BRP for the sanity mechanic, since it's supposed to have a bit of a horror flavour.

Currently working on the dynamics of a session. Basically, I want the Machine to be gigantic, empty, utterly incomprehensible and terrifying, but still provide encounters for the players.

My current philosophy revolves around rooms posing challenges without any kind of direct combat due to the Machine obviously not being meant for people to walk around in (rooms full of pistons, timed steam vents, and so on), but which will still force players to find clever ways to circumvent.

Still trying to figure out the ratio of fightan/exploran/lootan. Then again, maybe I won't have to.

Deep MadnessEdit

I've also been evolving a concept I refer to as Deep Madness in lieu of a less clichéd name. Basically, Delvers tend to go mad, and it gets worse the deeper they go. The constant clanging, hissing, buzzing and roaring of the Machine has a peculiar effect on the people exploring it, and the deeper you go, the weirder things seem to get. It usually starts as bad dreams. Psychological records include examples of drowning in oil, as well as having cogs and pistons painfully incorporated into one's flesh.

This is only the beginning, however. This usually escalates into erratic behaviour, extreme emotion swings and eventually madness. There are reports of Deep Mad Delvers throwing themselves into obvious death traps "to be part of the Machine" or wiping out their entire expedition team.

Whether this is some function of the Machine on the human mind, or merely a version of the phenomenon known as cabin fever is unknown, but leading psychologists generally seem to believe it's perfectly reasonable behaviour for people trapped in a hostile environment days from the nearest help.

Cold WarEdit

In other words, if we establish the Machine was discovered in the 30's, what impact does that have? Is there still a WWII? How does the existence of the Machine impact that? Is it simply put on hold while everyone is busy fighting or is it considered way too important to just be dropped? Maybe they intend to use it as a way to fuel the war effort.

As for the Cold War, there is already an idea about some kind of Delving War, as mentioned earlier. The problem here is that we kind of need WWII to have a Cold War, and that the idea was to have a single main entrance, and perhaps a few "emergency hatches" in remote parts of the world. This means that whoever controls the main entrance will have a massive advantage.

Personally, I was thinking that UNSERC was established some time during the Cold War, since the Machine was a global concern, and we didn't want people running around in it on their own, all willy-nilly. So we established some sort of UN that was supposed to control Machine access. Now, whether it was successful or not is still up in the air, but I sort of like the idea of Soviet and American joint efforts, as unlikely as it may be, especially since it concerns potentially groundbreaking technology. A more logical conclusion would probably be competing teams under strict surveillance by secret police to prevent defection and spying.

The more I think about it, the more awesome a game set during this Cold War looks to me. Needing to reach a certain part before the Reds, avoiding assassins out to steal your finds, and general sabotage.

Mixed GoalsEdit

Well, if you have groups of mixed nationalities, you could easily play up the same inter-party tensions that were used up in Cold City. You are an American, so you don't really trust the Russian fellow that you're going into the machine with. You're all supposed to have each others back, as we're all friends on this expedition, but things don't really work like that as people don't just seem to leave their loyalties and biases at the door.

Then there are personal goals, which may or may not be hidden from the rest of the group. The NSA has asked that you, as an American, to retrieve a small component of one of the machine's internal mechanisms, despite the fact that this is strictly against UN regulations for delving. You figure that sneaky eyed commmie is likely trying to do the same thing, so you may have to beat him to the punch or catch him in the act so he can be the fall guy when you make off with the part. All of this is set against the backdrop of a larger mission, maybe going down into the machine to try and chart out a new section or look for signs of another team that went missing.

Q and A TimeEdit

>Where is the main entrance? I think somewhere in the middle of nowhere would be awesome, like Greenland. Currently, South America. Probably some remote part, since it hadn't been officially discovered until the 30's.

>There should be crazy machine worshiping cults as well! This is also an idea I've been toying with, but currently I'm leaning toward them being sort of like the people who think the moon landings are a hoax. A somewhat connected community, but without any significant social impact.

>Also, if WW2 doesn't happen, what of the League of Nations? It was doomed regardless, but if it's replaced by the UN again in this setting, what finishes it off? See, this is the sort of stuff I need to figure out. I'm not exactly the world's greatest historian, but with the direction things are taking, I might need a WWII to get stuff like the Cold War and a UN.

>Also, what about the South Pacific? Did the Japanese still fall or is Asia ruled under the Emperor of Japan? See above. Though I sort of like the idea of Japan and Great Britain being completely different. But yeah, I'm leaning toward history only having slight diversions up until post-WWII.

>>12267611 This is also something I'm working on. Outright denying the Machine would be hard for a large group of people to do when presented with hard evidence. However, disliking, hating or fearing it is definitely an option. I'm also thinking that maybe some kind of incident, such as a priest being admitted to enter, only to attempt to wreck the Machine, has caused a bit of strain between UNSERC and the church. Possibly to the extent that the church is claiming it's being discriminated against.


Fiddled a little with a rudimentary timeline. No hard dates yet, but more of a foundation to build on.

The Machine is discovered. Americans quickly claim the site of the entrance and establish a military base to defend it.

World War II breaks out. Machine exploration is ground to a halt.

There are whispers that Hitler is fostering a growing obsessions with the Machine, and that he has already sent specialist teams into it.

End of World War II. An important issue at the Malta conference is access to the Machine. A question that is never fully solved.

The UN is formed. One of the first orders of business is to establish UNSERC (United Nations Subterranean Exploration and Research Committee) to govern access to the Machine. The United States are forced to relinquish possession over the entrance, and Outpost 1 is established.

The great Delving Race begins. Both the Soviet Union and United States invest massive amounts of money in delver expeditions in the hopes of discovering technology that will give them an advantage over the other side.

The Houlihan incident. A catholic priest named Stephen Houlihan is admitted entrance to the Machine. After a day of exploring, Houlihan attempts to destroy as much of the Machine as possible. He is quickly stopped, but the Catholic church (and Christianity in general) still suffer a massive setback after this incident.


Thorough screening processes are implemented for delvers, including extensive background checks and psychological testing, and access to the Machine is greatly limited. Some call these processes unethical and a breach of personal integrity, but they still receive popular support despite protests.

First joint mission between Soviet and US delvers. The result of the expedition was less than stellar, as little progress was made before the American scientists accused the Soviets of sabotaging their recording equipment.

A Soviet team deep within the Machine is wiped out in what is officially labeled an accident. The Soviets claim foul play, and present what they say is proof to that effect, but nothing ever comes of it.

The Sandhoff reform is implemented. It is a reform of UNSERC protocols intended to make delvers more loyal to UNSERC's humanitarian goals than any single nation. The reform draws a lot of criticism, especially from the Soviet Union, who see this as a plot from the western bloc to gain exclusive access to the Machine.

Silly SovietsEdit

Throwing around an idea: The Machine has a penal colony near the entrance. Prisoners are normally shot if they come within 500 feet of the exit, but bringing back artifacts from inside the Machine can redeem them.

Pic related, it's the device Curt Herzstark, a prisoner of the original concentration camp inside the Machine, used to buy his freedom. A highly sophisticated mechanical calculator.


I'm not too sure. I was thinking mostly advancements in alloys, engineering and power sources. Stuff that could be directly observed, since we don't really understand how the Machine works. Throwing clockwork weapons and stuff into it seems kind of out of place.

Now, armour-piercing guns designed to take down Engineers (something that is strictly forbidden in all but the most extreme circumstances) would be more like it. Powerful decryption software, personal storage devices, communication devices and survival gear would also be in great demand.

More on the EngineersEdit

See, this is another of those points we were discussing back then. It seemed to start leaning toward Engineers not being hostile, but rather being very simple. There's the Machine, and then there's everything else. Everything else shouldn't be in the Machine. Their job is to get rid of everything else.

Granted, they couldn't possibly get rid of everything, and it probably takes them a while, but the general idea is that they view organic life as foreign particles that can mess with the parts of the Machine.

Of course, this isn't necessarily the case unless you get too close to vital parts of the Machine, so I guess that could work. Especially if it becomes a mystery how they even survived inside such a hostile environment.

Did some rough drafts on the fluff for Engineers, just to have it on paper rather than inside my head.

The Engineers The Engineers (sometimes Little Engineers, but the name never seemed to catch on) is the name given to the autonomous self-repair devices inside the Machine. Each one is different in appearance, function and demeanor, but they all have one thing in common. They all keep the Machine ticking. They weld, they clean, they reattach parts that have come loose and so on and so on. Hence the name Engineers.

The Engineers seem to be the only parts of the Machine that actually react to the presence of humans. This reaction is quite unpredictable, however, and delvers are advised to stay as far away from Engineers as possible. While not hostile by nature, they have a tendency to view any foreign object venturing too close to certain parts of the Machine as a hazard, and will attempt to remove it, usually with fatal results for the delver.

Despite the obvious danger the Engineers pose, UNSERC regulations forbid the destruction of one in all but the most extreme circumstances. The reasoning behind it is simple. The Engineers repair the Machine. We have no idea whether it could produce more of them or not. If we destroy them all and something breaks down, it could have catastrophic consequences for the Machine, the planet and humanity. This doesn't mean all delvers are reluctant to destroy Engineers, however. Taking them out without UNSERC finding out has become something of a specialty among the more gung-ho delvers.


>There are whispers that Hitler is fostering a growing obsessions with the Machine, and that he has already sent specialist teams into it.



The issue with this is that I'm imagining delvers as being thoroughly screened before being sent down into the Machine. Background checks, psychological profiles, the lot. You can't risk having someone go crazy inside the Machine, potentially wrecking it, or even attacking other delvers. Not to mention the risk of theft.

There's also the fact that as an offshoot of the UN, UNSERC probably would at least have some kind of respect for basic human rights.

This doesn't rule out that less scrupulous nations with access to an "emergency hatch" couldn't send convicts down there. However, the odds of it being an official program is incredibly unlikely.

Deep MadnessEdit

Deep Madness A psychological phenomenon that seems to affect delvers who have spent an extended amount of time inside the Machine. The non-stop clanking, hissing, buzzing, grinding and pounding of the Machine seems to have a peculiar effect on the human psyche. Not only does it make sleep difficult, but it also reminds delvers that death can be just around the corner.

The official explanation is very simple. Delvers experience immense stress while inside the Machine, both from the danger they're exposing themselves to and from the lack of sleep. This coupled with the isolation of being days away from the nearest help and only having sporadic contact with people outside of the expedition serves to enhance the stress to levels that causes a mental breakdown in certain individuals.

The unofficial explanation is far more sinister. Deep mad delvers claim that the Machine is trying to communicate with them. It speaks to the delvers and tries to tell them what it is and why it is there. Why they are there. This is of course not taken seriously by most people, but nevertheless there are delvers who could swear that the rhythmic pounding of a piston almost started to sound like some kind of code after a while.

More on Deep MadnessEdit

The effects of deep madness are very much real, however. UNSERC has put together a list of the most common symptoms to allow expeditions to detect them early on and take countermeasures. The first usually consists of vivid nightmares, usually connected to the Machine somehow. There are reports of delvers dreaming about drowning in motor oil, being ground between two cogs over and over again without dying, or ripping open their own flesh only to see their internal organs have all been replaced with machinery. The second sign is actually more of a combination of behavioral patterns. Increased irritability, restlessness, irrational frustration with everyday objects, and extreme distrust of other people. This is generally considered the point where action should be taken to prevent further mental deterioration, as it is something of a turning point. The deep mad delver's behavior will get increasingly irrational, with nearly suicidal willingness to push forward being a common trait observed in those suffering from advanced deep madness. Eventually, the deep mad reaches what is referred to as the critical point. The deep mad delver goes completely insane, posing a danger to both himself and others. Some willingly throw themselves into grinding gears or pounding pistons so they can be "part of the Machine", and yet others are so overcome with paranoia they kill their entire expedition in their sleep.

Oh god, more NazisEdit

I don't think the Nazi thing is being exploited enough.

The Third Reich took the lead in exploring this thing while the rest of the world languished in the Great Depression. Superior Machine-derived technology powered the Nazi war machine. Much of the Nazis' most loyal population and industrial base was moved deep underground to protect it from Allied bombers. When the Allies met the Soviets at the Elbe, it was far from the final triumph over National Socialism - the Nazis fled deeper and deeper into the Machine, with their greatest scientists, and discovered countless miraculous technologies from their reverse engineering of the Machine.

Believing that the Nazis would eventually starve to death in the barren caverns beneath the surface, the victorious allies did not bother to pursue, instead starting the Cold War in earnest. The deep-delving agents of the CIA (Center Intelligence Agency) and KGB (Surface Security Committee) eventually discovered, to their horror, that Hitler and his murderers were not only alive in the Earth's core, but developing technologies far beyond American and Soviet understanding.

The MoonEdit

July 20, 1969 American astronauts land on the moon. They discover an long shaft going down into the crust. They were unable to explore more than a few feet due to being unprepared for caving. The discovery shocks the world science community and the race to the moon is given a new vigor.

Later expeditions discover that the moon is a hollow sphere. The empty cavity seems to be similar to the one on Earth but it does not contain a Machine. It is unknown how the moon maintains it's gravity with so much mass missing.

There are no more manned moon missions after 1975.


One idea I've had since the beginning is that the deeper you go, the weirder it gets. Go deep enough, and even the laws of physics cease to apply. Or rather, change. Gravity switches around, you might enter what is essentially a vacuum with no ill effects, and light might suddenly act as if it was solid. And the Engineers down here are truly monstrous. Giant mechanical centipedes and floating... things that you could have sworn were following you.

Plate TectonicsEdit

Here we go, Faggot

On the subject of life in the Machine: why not include chameleon ecosystems? The Engineers have limited sensory abilities, and life evolved to hide from them is a possibility. For example, a kind of lizard that has evolved to look like and function as a gear.

There's also the possibility that Engineers are capable of integrating more things into the Machine, and making it "grow"- including life.

On the Engineers: they themselves might be the greatest source of useful information. While the governments of the world would be publicly anti-harm with the Engineers, I imagine they would secretly try and abduct or dissect them for information. See: the Keepers in Mass Effect.

Also, I really recommend creating a proper cut-away diagram of this Earth you're imagining. Is there still a mantle? Or is there just a crust that goes deeper? How do plate tectonics work? Etc.

Dark HorrorEdit

You are miles beneath the surface of the earth on a week long expedition in a land with almost no natural light sources or food, surrounded by a mysterious mess of cogs, gears, pistons, and furnaces, well known to completely rearrange themselves at a colossal scale with some reasonable frequency, the moving parts of which will effortlessly rend you to pieces if you step into their path, and patrolled by alien minded automatons.

I don't see how this was ever not a dark horror. Adding cultists, insane delvers, and arks of previous eras of the earths biosphere to the mix does, if anything, lighten the mood because it takes away from the isolation


From what I've gathered, there are three different moods people are getting out of this. I will name them Adventure, Horror and Terror and try to explain how I envision them.

Adventure: You're the delvers, the best of the best. Whether it be for fame, glory, riches or science, you explore the Great Machine, discovering the secrets of the world. The Egyptians built the pyramids using technology they learned from the Machine. Atlantis was a part of the Machine that later submerged. Expect everything and anything.

Horror: You're the delvers, and your job isn't a walk in the park. The isolation, the danger and the sheer alien nature of it all tears at your mind. Every step you take may very well be your last. Starvation is a very real possibility, and nearest rescue is days away. The default assumption for the setting.

Terror: You're the delvers, and you've just entered hell. The Machine whispers to you when you sleep, and its Engineers want to make you part of it. Expedition members disappear without trace, only to return as mindless drones, slaves to the Machine.

Reverse EngineeringEdit

Generally I want to keep reverse engineering to a minimum, in order to maintain the mystery of the Machine. Knowing how stuff works takes away a bit of that. Which is why most of the stuff I've suggested was stuff that could be easily observed without understanding its purpose (such as Machine construction having an influence on engineering or new alloys). The rest of the stuff should mostly be things we've invented ourselves.

Off the top of my head, supplies would be important. Especially water, since the unique nature of the Machine means that it would be hard to come by, and dragging around gigantic amounts of water would be the kind of thing that got you killed. Food is much easier, since we have all kinds of freeze-dried rations and whatnot that don't take up much space.


The Machine The vast underground machine located at the centre of the planet is simply referred to as the Machine, or occasionally the Great Machine. It's incredibly vast in size, theorized to be at least the size of the entire North American continent, probably considerably larger. While we don't know much about how, why or by who it was built, decades of study have provided several insights into the Machine.

We know it's been here incredibly long. Most of it is speculation, but we're fairly certain it's been here longer than the human race, at the very least. If nothing else, logic dictates that if any human civilization undertook such a project, there would be records of it. We also know it's self-sufficient. We've paid close attention to any of the known entrances, and we've seen no trace of any contact with the surface by any part of the Machine, meaning it must get everything it needs from within the core.

There's no such thing as a standard appearance for the Machine. While the most well-known parts of it are powered by clockwork and steam, this is far from the only type of technology used in its construction. Vast fields of lightning rods, mazes of pipes filled with some kind of strange fluid, and bubbles of liquid metal floating suspended in magnetic fields are all phenomena that have been encountered by delvers.

Despite having sent expeditions into the Machine for several decades, very little of it has been mapped out. While we know for a fact that the Nazis mapped out parts of the Machine during World War II, most of those documents were destroyed during the fall of Berlin, and we had to start all over again.

We have mapped out several areas of the Machine, parts that seem to remain somewhat static, while the rest of the Machine tends to twist, warp and change over time.

The Maze of Tranquility is the furthest human outpost in the Machine. It's a relatively empty area with few moving parts that is rarely visited by Engineers. This is also what most of humanity think of when they think of the Machine. Giant cogs, hissing steam vents, steam-powered pistons and red-hot furnaces.

The Tesla Fields are one of the deadliest known areas of the Machine. The air sizzles with static electricity making every hair stand on end, and there's a constant buzzing reminding delvers that a single wrong turn could end with a fatal electrocution. Electricity arcs between lightning rods, creating impassable barriers.

The Waterworks is a pumping station of some kind, that much we know. It's one of the easiest parts of the Machine for us humans to understand, yet also one of the most strange. It consists of an uncountable number of pipes criss-crossing one another to form a dense maze. The sound of liquid being pumped through the pipes can be heard, but the pipes are completely opaque and neither hot nor cold to the touch, so we have no idea what that is actually being pumped through them. Some theories include that the Waterworks are pumping coolant into the Machine, or possibly whatever fuels it.


See, that's another thing. They used to be. Before the Houlihan incident, the countries could nominate whoever they wanted, and access was mostly just restricted to how many people each nation was allowed to send. After it, however, a screening process was implemented to prevent any more incidents.

The Sandhoff reform has pushed this even further, as UNSERC attempts to separate delvers from their national ties entirely. The goal is for all delvers to eventually become "citizens" of UNSERC.

If you want to play treasure hunters, you could set the game before the Houlihan incident, when UNSERC were essentially just doormen.

Pink MoonsEdit

A nice twist would be that the Machine goes on.

There is no core.

You simply go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and is that an exit?

Suddenly, your team is looking up to a red sky, with pink moons passing by, in the middle of a purple "pine" forest.


Basic RoleplayingEdit

It is proposed that we use Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying with the sanity rules from 6e Call of Cthulhu added.

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