Treadmill Worker
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Basic Information

A Treadmill Worker is a job of someone who works in a Treadwheel Crane high atop a construction site in the Ancient World or Middle Ages. As per the crane page, their skillset extends to operating a treadmill pretty much anywhere else as well.

While not a particularly difficult job (you're mostly just walking in place), it is dangerous and quite frightening. So frightening, that it was pretty common to employ the blind in this job, as they couldn't see how far up they were or get visually-induced vertigo - that and it is a labouring job that doesn't need the ability to see, which were rare enough.


1. Video: Worst Jobs of the Middle Ages - shows a functional treadwheel crane that is operated by two people inside it just walking at a normal pace. With just that effort, they are able to lift a modern car, easily… until the axle starts to pop out the side and has to be hammered in by another worker on the outside to keep it from dropping the workers to the ground.

Game and Story Use

  • See ideas on the Treadwheel Crane page for how to use it (and those who work in it) in your plotline.
  • This would be a memorable job for a blind character. It's a civilian non-combatant job, but still kind of badass. It's available in large swaths of history. The classic (and able-ist) "job" for the blind in history is as a beggar, so it's pretty great to have a specific and interesting other option that's historically accurate.
    • These cranes are used for building huge projects, like a castle or cathedral. So that can communicate a lot about the characters who work it.
      • They may be patriotic, or loyal to the noble who is building a castle.
      • They may be religious or pious, as they are risking their life to build the house of god.
      • They may be very brave. Just because you can't see how high up you are and get hit by vertigo of that sight, doesn't mean you don't have to have nerves of steel to climb up there once the job has been explained to you.
      • They may be proud that they are contributing to a landmark that is likely to last for generations.
      • Could be a compensation job for a worker that lost his eyes to the lime kilns - he can't work most jobs anymore, but he's got a job for life in the cranes and can still take home a wage.
  • Also easily replaced with undead, constructs and other things. Or animals in mundane settings.
    • Sticking with humans, it's also an easy way to employ unfree labour of various kinds - the blind people probably want the job, but can just as easily be replaced with anyone else who you have no other use for (even, en masse at least, those too frail for normal labour). In extremis, the more vicious type of owner may even blind his own operators - perhaps as a form of punishment for other slaves … being a slave in the mines is bad enough, but even they pity those blinded and put in the wheel.
      • Many early modern prisons used convict powered treadmills for various purposes, including grinding grain, pumping water or providing power for workshops.
    • Smaller, child operated wheels can be used for lighter work - perhaps turning roasting spits, water pumps or ventilators.
  • The blind guy may have had a career before going blind - being blinded by Rule 34 is one thing, but losing your eyes in a political coup is quite another (and was more common historically) - and there might well be those who had lost their sight in battle or industrial accidents who might well have useful testimony.
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