Wednesday, February 25, 2015

City of Curses: Icons: The Tinkerer

Aspect:  Create Wonder Never Harm
Quote: "Androids were never meant to be tools.  My work has been perverted at its most basic level,
and I refuse to contribute to the enslavement of a people."

Nikola Ripley created the Android race less than twenty years ago.  She never foresaw them becoming property.  That was never her goal.  When her work was used by the Chancellor for military and other uses, she left the Esoterium Machina for Poorfellows.  Ever since, she strives to invent wonders and help androids find the rights others deny them.

Common Knowledge
The Tinkerer used to be a prominent member of the Esoterium Machina and a Professor at Crux University.  She engineered all sorts of arcane works, especially constructs.  Her golems and other artifice could be found throughout Crux and most of the Maru Sea.

After creating Androids, she spoke out repeatedly for them.  When common folk lost jobs to androids and she led protests against the rioters trying to destroy Android workers.  Most are certain she cares more for her machines than people.

When she fell out of favor in the Esoterium Machina, she moved into Poorfellows.  Her interviews in the Crux Gazette painted Nikola as cold, somewhat foreign, and willing to do anything to help Androids achieve rights.  In Poorfellows she has founded a fanatical cult of Androids.  Freed or escaped, they believe her to be the true manifestation of the Machine in Crux.

For some others, Nikola Ripley is a potential master.  They live as destitute artists and inventors in Poorfellows, always looking for ways to obtain her mentorship.  Most never see her, but the prodigious few are taken under her wing.

Nikola Ripley spend most of her academic career finding ways to create artifice and wonders that were as beautiful as they were functional.  The daughter of an Ainesian Clockmaker, Nikola grew up in the cold north of Ainesia.  At the age of sixteen she moved to Crux.

An arcanist, artificer and transmuter prodigy, Ripley quickly became a student at Crux University- within a year she became professor, creating golems and other constructs that helped to balloon the University's budget.  The Professor of Artifice gave her the nickname most know of her now: the Tinkerer.

Then the Tinkerer became obsessed with the Aethmin.  Ancient creations of the Aetherblooded, the Aethmin were mixed aspects of golems and familiars.  They also were made out of fire, and those that remain are prone to causing destruction.

Her obsession led to the creation of the first Androids.  Aethmin could still be found, including in the catacombs in and under the Skullmount.  An ancient site in the catacombs had been left by the ancient Aetherblooded, an series of Aethmin relics that revealed part of what was needed to create them.  The Tinkerer used this as the basis of a complex series of artifice.  She combined the fire of the Aethmin to the almost human looking wax of the wax golems and the complex computational gearwork found in clockwork constructs.  Thus, were the Androids born.

Nikola never intended them to be thinking beings.  But when the first one showed intelligence to her, she pressed the Chancellor to help her free them.  Instead, he sold that Android and pressed for their declaration as property.  The Tinkerer left the university, almost twenty years ago, and began her own work to help the race she had created.

The Tinkerer welcomes anyone with talent to come to her workshops in Poorfellows.  However, she has never condoned the cults of Androids that worship her.  She never speaks directly on the subject, but has come to avoid the press after previous misunderstandings.

The Tinkerer's residence in Poorfellows speaks to part of her thinking.  Born in poor conditions, she dislikes wealth, despite having amassed a private fortune to fund her workshops.  Her support of the poor and the high wages she employs have long made her an ally of the Voice.  Both coordinate any protests or other work, always looking for ways to advance the unsorcerous or androids of Crux when they can.

By the same coin, the Tinkerer has a working relationship with the Archwitch.  Both dislike some of the established powers of Crux.  They both work to advance the interests of impoverished minorities.  The Tinkerer refuses to provide the Archwitch or her people with any kind of weapons.  She does help the Archwitch fulfill some of her erstwhile wishes, providing access to wondrous invention in exchange for services the Archwitch alone provides.

She also maintains a strong friendship with the Police Commissioner.  She provides insight on specific cases for the Metropolitan Police, in exchange the Police Commissioner helps her with protests and providing aid to androids he and his men come across.  This relationship is tenuous, as the Tinkerer often feels either pressured by the Commissioner or that the Commissioner is less than honest about helping androids' rights.

The Banker has never been a friend of the Tinkerer, although the Banker would claim to not know the reasons behind it.  The Banker invests and helps protect the wealthy who purchase, manufacture and use Android workers.  As long the Banker finances the those who would Androids, that is opposition enough to the Tinkerer.

The Spice Khan is another foe of the Tinkerer.  In that the Spice Khan has long tried to recruit the Tinkerer as an employee.  Her servants often steal Androids and resell them, often in cruel ways.  Tensions between the Khan's gangs and the Tinkerer's cults erupt in violence, especially within Poorfellows.  Although not at war, the two icons move closer to it every week.

And of course, the Tinkerer also considers the Chancellor an enemy.  Both reflect opposite takes on the same coin: the wondrous benefits of science and knowledge.  But where the Tinkerer seeks only wonder, the Chancellor looks for ways to exploit.  Where the Tinkerer draws a line, the Chancellor crosses it as if on principle.  The Chancellor does actively try to subvert the Tinkerer's efforts, often trying to find ways to steal projects or to prevent the Tinkerer from making any more money from her inventions.  The Chancellor sees her activities in Poorfellows as competition, and potentially dangerous to the rest of the Esoterium Machina.

Plot Hooks
The Perfecters: A cult of Androids worshiping the Tinkerer misinterpret one of her phrases at a
protest.  Within a week, they started abducting humans and started forcibly grafting android parts to them.  The process is painful.  Most die or go mad from it.  The Androids also start adding pieces of dead people to their own bodies.  They seek a more "perfect" form of existence.  The Tinkerer approaches the players' characters, to ask them to help her rein in these mad Androids.

Runaway Android: An android drone runs into the characters, having escaped their abusive owner.  Seeking refuge, the characters try to find someone to help hide the android, who has attracted the attention of police as stolen property.  Whatever the reason, the characters are drawn to taking the Android to the Tinkerer.  The Android is a plant: inside it is a thing created by the university, intended to be released near the Tinkerer's workshop.  The Android doesn't know, and the thing inside it is a eldritch horror eager to abuse its host's arcane clockwork.

The Wonder: The Tinkerer has created a new wondrous item, but needs to test it.  The item attracts the interest of the Spice Khan, who covets it despite not knowing what it does.  Whatever the item's function, the characters are tasked with testing it.  They also have to fend off the Spice Khan's thugs, who don't take no for an answer.