Weltmaschine
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"Mit Müch und Blarg harb ich gebaut für das so kurze Leben. Gott wirt mich in der antern Welt eine schönere Arbeit geben.“
- Inscription glued onto a mirror built into the Weltmaschine.

Basic Information

The Weltmaschine (German for "world machine") is an artifact which was built by the Austrian farmer Franz Gsellmann. When he visited Brussels on October 8, 1958 to see the Atomium, he had an idea to create a machine which he would pursue until his death on July 2, 1981.

Gsellman was a deeply devout man and believed he had a special destiny preordained by God. For the first eight years of the project, he kept his work room locked and told no one, not even his family, what he was working on. The centerpiece of this machine was a model of the Atomium. Around this, he used a vast number of different and strange parts, including 200 light bulbs, 64 bird whistles, 14 bells, a hair dryer, a cup from Persia, the Mercedes star logo taken from a car, replicas of the clock tower of Graz and of a windmill from the Netherlands, an eagle made out of metal from Berlin, a ship's turbine, eight lampshades, 560 wooden beads, 26 glass plugs, 53 light switches, a six-cylinder engine, a model of a moon rocket made in Japan, and innumerable other trinkets which he got both from local flea markets and ordered from different countries.

When he switched the Weltmaschine on for the first time, the whole village immediately suffered from a blackout.

Shortly before his death, Gsellman told his wife that he considered his work to be completed. Today, the Weltmaschine is open for visitors (though there is a small admissions charge), and more than 100,000 people from all around the world have visited it.

Sources

Bibliography
1. 50 Jahre Weltmaschine (German, PDF)

Game and Story Use

  • Gsellman may have gained his inspiration from an otherworldly entity - an Eldritch Abomination? - in his dreams. Possibly it was intended to summon something. Then again, since he considered it to be completed shortly before his death, maybe the effect was more long-term.
    • Perhaps some entity is already possessing the Weltmaschine, and is draining small amounts of energy from visitors. Over the years, it has become enormously powerful…
    • On the other hand, maybe it was not supposed to summon an entity, but to contain one. Destroying the Weltmaschine would be a very bad idea…
    • Sensitive souls are often attuned to things from outside our reality even when said entities are not looking back. The Weltmaschine may simply be his best interpretation of such a thing. This may just be a sign that outside is coming closer than usual, or it may contain useful clues about the nature of these entities/realities.
  • Given the innumerable trinkets Gsellman used for the Weltmaschine, some may already be possessed by spirits and ghosts.
  • Some of the trinkets in the Weltmaschine may be artifacts in their own right.
    • The "cup from Persia" sounds especially intriguing - the Holy Grail, perhaps?
  • Introduce someone like Frank Snellman into your own local setting (such as a tinkering gnome in a fantasy world - it always seems to be gnomes), and the player characters will get paranoid about this device. Listen to their theories on what the machine is supposed to do, and take notes.
    • Even if it is only a red herring, it will be a very effective one.
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