- Nov 14, 2018
- Reaction score
Perhaps some sort of performance/entertain skill?
During this time, everyone wears a disguised visor on his face, so that no one knows what or whence they be: and if anyone bear a secret malice to another, he may then kill him, & nobody will lay hands on him, for all this time they will obey no law. I saw a brave Roman, who rode there very pleasant in his coach, and suddenly came [some]one who discharged a pistol upon him, yet nobody made any account either of the murderer or the slain gentleman. Beside, there were diverse slain, both by villany, and [by being hit by] the horses or the coaches, yet they continued on their pastime, not making any regard of them.
As to werewolves; I don’t know how LotFP handles them in general, but it might be interesting to fit them better into the 16th-century European environment. That will mean jettisoning a good deal of the typical Hollywood werewolf image. I don’t know of any real Italian materials about werewolves in this era, but the stuff I’ve read from French and German sources does not treat werewolves as cursed individuals who must transform at the full moon. Instead, they are people who choose to change into wolves, attack, and eat people. They are often described as doing this by use of some magical item—say a belt, or a wolf-skin, or perhaps just a magical salve. They may have gained the item and the rituals needed to make it work through traffic with demons; they may be devil-worshipping witches themselves.
Actually, a lot of Early Modern discussion of werewolves revolves around whether or not they are physically transformed into wolves. A minority of authors, including some heavy-hitters like Jean Bodin, accept the possibility of this, while the majority deny it on philosophical and theological grounds. According to them, the werewolf’s apparent transformation is a demonic illusion, created either by demons’ ability to manipulate the material world (roughly like a practical effect in a movie) or by their skill in deluding the senses directly. The latter we might compare to a digital effect in a movie—the viewer sees it, but in fact there was nothing there at all. Personally, I prefer the idea that people are really undergoing a bodily transformation.
Early Modern texts don’t suggest that the bite of werewolves passes the condition on to others. Here I’d be tempted to play with things a bit and say that the bite causes a rabies-like disease in victims. This leads to dementia, in which the victim lashes out like a wild beast and tries to bite others, and shortly thereafter in death. That actually connects with another Early Modern idea about lycanthropy—that it is a form of madness in which people imagine they are wolves and act accordingly. It also helps explain why werewolves are so feared—the disease makes their bite fatal, even if the blood loss and trauma does not.
There’s also little hint in the Early Modern materials I know of that werewolves are immune to normal attacks and can be harmed only by silver or blessed weaponry. In fact, many werewolf tales from this era feature the monstrous wolf being injured (shot with an arrow, cut, appendage struck off, etc.) and then identified in its human form because it has an identical injury—or even has an identifiable arrow sticking out of it. So, to make werewolves tough opponents, I’d assume that they have a lot of hit points and move very fast. The latter might mean a better armor class (or equivalent), a high dodge rating (in games that have that sort of thing), and maybe multiple attacks per round.
Might just pick penny, shilling, pound even if it's way off geographically. The two players I have so far are an Anglophile and an Englishwoman, so they'd at least be able to keep the names of the coins and the hierarchical values of them straight.I think if you pick three denominations that correspond to the copper, silver, and gold piece in terms of value-ratio, it doesn't matter what they're actually made of. So, you say that ten scudis equals a thaler (or whatever), and if they're both made of silver, well, the players will be too busy trying to remember the names of the coins to care.
Lamentations of the Flame Princess has a spell that seems to mirror those Early modern sources, Howl of the Moon...
I think I'd limit "regular" werewolves and vampires to simply being an individual affected by one of these spells. This makes this kind of transformation of man into monster something brought about not by some terrible curse, but of free will, some witch/sorcerer/magic user doing it in order to prey on people for one purpose or another. This also makes it easy for any run-in with vampires or werewolves being different. Why can this vampire hypnotize people? Because he knows hypnotism.
Might just pick penny, shilling, pound even if it's way off geographically. The two players I have so far are an Anglophile and an Englishwoman, so they'd at least be able to keep the names of the coins and the hierarchical values of them straight.
That makes sense. I have one of the free versions of LotFP on my hard drive, but I've never quite got around to reading it.
Yeah, looking it up on wikipedia, that would seem to work generally. But there were so many currencies and coins floating around on the peninsula I'll probably just pick three denominations (Scudo, giuli and baiocchi seem like they could work) and then just give everything in those currencies even if they end up going to Genoa, Venice, Naples or even further afield like France, Germany or even the New World.I think that Rome in the 1500s-early 1600s used a decimal system, with one scudo Romano being worth 10 giuli (or paoli) and 100 baiocchi. The scudi and giuli were silver coins; I don't know what the baiocchi were--or if they were simply units of account. One possibility would be billon--base metal with a wash of silver to make it look nice. And of course there was gold coinage, whose value tended to float a bit compared to silver; there was a gold scudo worth about 1.3 silver ones at this point, I think.
Transylvanian Hunger only appears in the Vaginas Are Magic supplement, and I'm not sure Howl of the Moon is in any of the older free versions (it is in the new free version on Drivethru though)...
Yeah, looking it up on wikipedia, that would seem to work generally. But there were so many currencies and coins floating around on the peninsula I'll probably just pick three denominations (Scudo, giuli and baiocchi seem like they could work) and then just give everything in those currencies even if they end up going to Genoa, Venice, Naples or even further afield like France, Germany or even the New World.
Or, alternatively, they may be turning into wolves to fight the witches, as recounted by a hilarious segment of Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff.As to werewolves; I don’t know how LotFP handles them in general, but it might be interesting to fit them better into the 16th-century European environment. That will mean jettisoning a good deal of the typical Hollywood werewolf image. I don’t know of any real Italian materials about werewolves in this era, but the stuff I’ve read from French and German sources does not treat werewolves as cursed individuals who must transform at the full moon. Instead, they are people who choose to change into wolves, attack, and eat people. They are often described as doing this by use of some magical item—say a belt, or a wolf-skin, or perhaps just a magical salve. They may have gained the item and the rituals needed to make it work through traffic with demons; they may be devil-worshipping witches themselves.
I love this stuff in medieval sources. "Yeah I might be a werewolf. I admit it your honour. But in my defense I battle witches in hell".
I love this stuff in medieval sources. "Yeah I might be a werewolf. I admit it your honour. But in my defense I battle witches in hell".
Yeah it's the Livonian werewolf. Led me on to learnt that the last native speaker of Livonian died in 2013I've not heard the podcast, but I assume it's about the Livonian werewolf Theiss from 1691, or a similar case. The benandanti also claimed to be fighting against witches, but not usually in beast form.
Man, everytime I see a non-Swede reference playing En Garde I do a double take before I realize they aren't talking about the Swedish rpg En Garde from 1987, but the American one from a decade earlier. Obligatory cover picture of the Swedish game.I've actually run a Renaissance Rome game, though set a little earlier. We used 1st edition WFRP but the magic system didn't fit at all which proved a pain.
I've also played in a fairly long running PBEM set in Pope Leo X's Rome (objectively* the best pope). It was based on the classic En Garde rules, but all the PCs were political priests and instead of regiments there were factional alliances - the Medici, the Sforzas and so on. Clerical debates replaced duels. It was inspired.
Anyway, it's a great setting. Massively underused. What makes LotFP good for it out of interest?
* Pope Leo X. "God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it." Literally bankrupted the papacy, mostly through excessive partying. Best. Pope. Ever. Except for sort of triggering the Protestant reformation which I guess could be seen as a misstep if you're picky.
But why specifically LotFP and not any other retro clone or OSR D&D variant? Well, LotFP has become more focused on using the real world in the early modern era (the game gives 1492-1683, so about a hundred years shorter than the actual early modern era), it's added rules for firearms and era appropriate armor and many adventures are set then (there's a whole supplement about the English civil war for instance).
Then there's the magic system. The basic magic system in LotFP is pretty much your standard D&D stuff, but with some interesting omissions (no fireballs or lightning bolts) and some interesting new ones (the Summon spell in particular). The playtest magic rules though are much freer from the constraints of traditional D&D. There are no more Clerics and no more spell levels, there's a risk of miscasting spells if you use them in "risky situations" and all the new spells are quite weird, which suits the game's subheading of weird fantasy role-playing. And that's basically the kind of vibe I'm looking for. I want a fantasy game where magic is fairly rare, and also feels unpredictable and dangerous and at the same time powerful, while dealing in a different kind of power then warriors do. Basically, if you want to kill people well, be a Fighter. If you want to be a specialist in something else, be a Specialist. If you want to do weird occult shit that creeps everyone around the table out, play a Magic User.
A disapproving Lutheran view of popular magic: said:The use of spells is so widespread among the people here that not a man or woman begins, undertakes, does or refrains from doing anything … without employing some particular blessing, incantation, spell, or other such heathenish means. To wit: in pangs of childbirth, when a babe is taken up or put down (so that no evil enchantment may befall him) … when cattle are driven into the fields, or are lost, etc., when windows are shut against the night, etc… Whenever an article has been mislaid and cannot be found, when someone feels sickly or a cow acts queer, they run at once to the soothsayer to ask who has stolen it or put a bad spell on it, and to fetch some charm to use against the enchanter…
Daily experience with these people shows that there is no measure or limit to the use of these superstitious spells, both among those who cast them, and among those who ask them to be cast, believing thereby to keep their lives and property from coming to harm. All the people hereabouts engage in superstitious practices with familiar and unfamiliar words, names, and rhymes, especially with the name of God, the Holy Trinity, certain angels, the Virgin Mary, the twelve Apostles, the Three Kings, numerous saints, the wounds of Christ, his seven words on the Cross, verses from the New Testament.... These are spoken secretly or openly, they are written on scraps of paper, swallowed or worn as charms. They also make strange signs, crosses, gestures; they do things with herbs’ roots, branches of special trees; they have their particular days, hours and places for everything, and in all their deeds and words they make much use of the number three. And all this is done to work harm on others or to do good, to make things better or worse, to bring good or bad luck to their fellow men.
Setting the game in the real world removes a lot of the work of worldbuilding (which can be fun, but isn't what I'm looking for with this particular project) and gives the players and GM a "shared knowledge" of the setting through default that is almost unbeatable with fantasy settings unless you play in the same setting for a long time or use a published one that everyone is very familiar with. If I'm worldbuilding and I say "it appears the documents are written in Old Coraxian and details the life of the dead king Muralma and the location of his tomb as well as some treasures buried in it", then that is never really going to be as immediately clear or evocative as "it appears the documents are written in classical latin and details the life of Alexander the Great as well as the location of his tomb as well as some treasures buried within it." The same thing with "oh, he's from Cormyr, and his friend is from Shadowdale" versus "oh, he's French, and his friend is Dutch". It just gives an immediate connection (especially since we live in Europe). It also makes it easy to maintain that "magic is weird, there aren't a bunch of demi-humans running around" vibe if the setting backdrop is always the real world.
That makes a lot of sense. My own preference for historically-inspired gaming is a system that doesn't include class and level, but that's just a matter of personal taste. I'd also go a different direction with magic--rather than being rare and always weird, there would be a lot of it that was concerned with pretty mundane tasks--and everyone would know some of it. My inspiration is something a Lutheran minister wrote, complaining about his flock in Wiesbaden in 1594.
So I guess I'd end up with one of the D100 systems, maybe Renaissance, since it seems to be designed for this period. But I'd be happy enough with just about any of them.
Amen to that. And no imaginary setting can compare to the sheer depth of material available for a real-world one.
With such harangues as these he knit together the people of Smyrna; but when the plague began to rage in Ephesus, and no remedy sufficed to check it, they sent a deputation to Apollonius, asking him to become physician of their infirmity; and he thought that he ought not to postpone his journey, but said: "Let us go."
And forthwith he was in Ephesus, performing the same feat, I believe, as Pythagoras, who was in Thurii and Metapontum at one and the same moment. He therefore called together the Ephesians, and said: "Take courage, for I will today put a stop to the course of the disease."
And with these words he led the population entire to the the theater, where the image of the Averting god has been set up. And there he saw what seemed an old mendicant artfully blinking his eyes as if blind, as he carried a wallet and a crust of bread in it; and he was clad in rags and was very squalid of countenance. Apollonius therefore ranged the Ephesians around him and said: "Pick up as many stones as you can and hurl them at this enemy of the gods."
Now the Ephesians wondered what he meant, and were shocked at the idea of murdering a stranger so manifestly miserable; for he was begging and praying them to take mercy upon him. Nevertheless Apollonius insisted and egged on the Ephesians to launch themselves on him and not let him go. And as soon as some of them began to take shots and hit him with their stones, the beggar who had seemed to blink and be blind, gave them all a sudden glance and his eyes were full of fire. Then the Ephesians recognized that he was a demon, and they stoned him so thoroughly that their stones were heaped into a great cairn around him.
After a little pause Apollonius bade them remove the stones and acquaint themselves with the wild animal they had slain. When therefore they had exposed the object which they thought they had thrown their missiles at, they found that he had disappeared and instead of him there was a hound who resembled in form and look a Molossian dog, but was in size the equal of the largest lion; there he lay before their eyes, pounded to a pulp by their stones and vomiting foam as mad dogs do. Accordingly the statue of the Averting god, Heracles, has been set up over the spot where the ghost was slain.
Lots of good stuff there. I'm looking at the PCs gaining a cardinal as an on again off again patron early on, so things involving high church intrigue fit right into that idea.So, another adventure seed for Rome 1560: The plague-spreaders (spoilered for length):
People in the 16th-17th century sometimes blamed plague outbreaks on deliberate action of malefactors. I don’t mean people simply transporting or selling items thought to be infected, like the clothes of plague victims (though there were charges of that sort of thing, too) but instead attempts to bring on an outbreak by powders or ointments that would cause the disease. These materials might be put on people’s clothing, but more often they are described as being smeared on surfaces people would touch—doors and doorknobs, a cathedral’s benches or steps, etc. One case in France even mentions putting the stuff on the rocks by the riverside where washer-women plied their trade, thereby spreading infection widely through the town. Some of the descriptions of these ointments, powders, etc. treat them as purely natural agents, concocted from the remains of plague victims or other substances with would bring on the disease. Others, though, hint at a diabolical origin for them. The plague-spreaders (untori in Italian) are then imagined to traffic with demons, who inspire them to their murderous activities and perhaps provide guidance on how to make the poisonous substances.
All of this sounds pretty far out, given that the germ theory of disease was still centuries in the future. But some contemporary medical theories of plague held that it derived from a toxin or ‘poison’ that might be absorbed through the lungs or the skin. Once a body was infected by the toxin, it produced more of it, rendering a plague patient’s breath, sweat, likewise toxic—and making the disease infectious. The powder or ‘grease’ would just be a concentrated form of that toxin. Of course, in reality the people accused of this crime were probably innocent victims of the panic that attended a plague outbreak, forced into confessions by judicial torture. But in a game, things don’t have to work that way…
I’m not sure if charges like this were ever made against anyone in Rome, but you find them in France and Switzerland in this period, and in Northern Italy as well. In fact, there are warnings about untori from Genoa’s Health Board in 1559, claiming that they might be dressed as pilgrims, and mentions of them in Mantua, Pavia, and Milan in 1560; Milan even executed someone for the crime in that year. So it fits well into your suggested era for the game.
So, let’s assume there is a plague-spreading conspiracy in the city of Rome in 1560. Who is behind it and why? I’d suggest one of the cardinals, who is looking to improve his position within the curia. He’s fairly sure that Pope Pius will leave the city to avoid the epidemic, as will many of the other cardinals. Our Cardinal X will volunteer to stay to minister to the people and keep the government running during the outbreak. His plan is that he will preside over a series of religious processions (a typical spiritual remedy for epidemics). After his processions have ‘cleared’ a neighborhood, the untori will no longer infect people there. He gets credit for stopping the plague, gaining a reputation for piety and for helping the populace when others have fled. That may help at the next papal election. Also, he can have the untori target his rivals or enemies among those who remain in the city.
That alone could make for an interesting scenario. Maybe some other authority has caught wind of the plot and hires the PCs to investigate it or stop it. Or maybe they have been hired to guard an absent cardinal’s palace and they witness the untori in action, or something else that pulls them into the plot. Or we might posit that the untori have an antidote to the poison that acts as a plague-cure, if given promptly enough, and one of the PCs needs it as he or she has contracted the disease. Further, there is a lot to be done simply with the city during the epidemic as a setting. PCs could help enforce, or run afoul of, public-health measures like the closing up of infected houses, the burning of household goods, or the transport of the ill to the lazaretto. Though it’s about a century too late, there’s a great pictorial representation of Rome in plague-time available through the Welcome Institute’s image collection here.
The processions themselves could be interesting set-pieces—visually striking and involving behavior that the players will probably find bizarre, like mass self-flagellation. They would likely involve the parading of the crucifix of San Marcello through the streets—it was credited with stopping the plague of 1522. It has its own intriguing legendary history—supposedly its creator mortally wounded a man and then modeled Jesus’ figure on him as he died in agony. It was also by the 1560s the centerpiece of one of Rome’s largest and most prestigious religious confraternities. Plenty of material to work with there—maybe part of Cardinal X’s plan is to gain or tighten his control over this confraternity?
But, we can complicate the story and bring in more weirdness. Let’s say that, unknown to Cardinal X, the leader of the untori is actually either a diabolist or a plague spirit in human form. His goal is a much larger epidemic the cardinal wants, one that kills many more people, disrupts the functioning of the Church, and perhaps spreads elsewhere. So as the PCs investigate and think they’ve just about figured out the situation, the bottom falls out, so to speak, and they are dropped to the next level of the conspiracy.
There are lots of ways to imagine a plague spirit—I wouldn’t be surprised if they already show up in some LotFP module or other, and of course WFRP has that sort of thing. Or we could imagine simply a demon, as pictured in the art of the 1500s. But this would be a good opportunity to draw on some Classical lore, specifically Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius of Tyana:
I’m not sure precisely how I would try to fit this into the scenario, but I like the idea of the PCs having to convince people that some poor old pilgrim is actually a demonic plague spirit. If we want to tie it down to a specific demon, then Marbas might be a good choice—he was credited with being able to cause and cure illnesses and appeared in the shape of a lion (which we might substitute for a dog). Or Merizim was supposed to be chief of the ‘aerial powers’ who brought epidemics. But I noticed that LotFP urges leaving the occult elements of the game mysterious—so maybe it would be better to offer conflicting theories about what the plague spirit is: a demon? A ghost? A servant of some Cthulhoid ‘Old One’?
I think I’d try to work in another part of Rome’s legendary history with plague. The plague outbreak of 590 was said to be ended because of processions organized by Pope Gregory ‘the Great.’ Gregory knew that God had agreed to relent and remove the epidemic when, in the course of the procession, he saw a vision of the archangel Michael sheathing his sword atop Hadrian’s mausoleum. That building later became Castel Sant’Angelo, a papal stronghold—Cellini took potshots at soldiers from it during the siege of Rome in 1527. It had rich papal apartments, a chapel, a treasury, and (from 1536) a marble statue of the angel at its top.
I’d aim to have the main showdown between the PCs and the untori take place in this building. Their leader could have persuaded Cardinal X to arrange for them to gain access to it—perhaps some of the rivals he wishes to eliminate are staying there during the epidemic. Or maybe he is himself, and they have access so they can speak with him. In any case, the untori actually want into the building as part of their nefarious plan. Maybe they need to do some devilish ritual in the place to intensify the epidemic—it was part of ending the plague of 590, so perhaps it is the ideal spot to inflame an epidemic now? Alternatively, maybe they are looking for something hidden in building. A French text of 1577 claimed that the Emperor Commodus manufactured an epidemic in Rome during his reign, having agents spread it by ‘greasing’ surfaces. Perhaps the untori are looking for his ‘recipe’ or a surviving stock of the ‘grease’ sealed away since his day. Or maybe they seek his bones, which once might have rested in the mausoleum—one supposed ingredient in the poisonous lotion was the bones of plague victims, and Commodus as the arch-untori might have potent remains, from a magical perspective.
Anyway, just a few ideas you can use, or not, as you like. Since the COVID situation has put an end to my actual gaming, posts like this are as close as I can get to running adventures.
.Lots of good stuff there. I'm looking at the PCs gaining a cardinal as an on again off again patron early on, so things involving high church intrigue fit right into that idea.
LotFP demons tend to run more toward Lovecraftian ones than more traditional Abrahamic models, but mainly it's quite open to do whatever one likes in. Still, that kind of alien monstrosity should still work for these purposes. One can imagine a thing which simply causes disease in anything it touches, and some poor sods using mops and buckets to collect its drippings for later use
Coupling this to an earlier idea, one could also see it as perhaps a plot by the Carafas to avoid punishment by the new papal regime. If Cardinal Carlo Carafa, or his nephew Cardinal Alfonso Carafa, can get the credit for ridding Rome of plague, then Pius IV may be forced to leave them in their stations instead of arresting them. I've considered using the Carafas as major antagonists early in the campaign (thinking of beginning in late 1559, and the Carafas were not arrested until June 1560) and this would be an interesting villainous plot.
This campaign won't get off the ground until the COVID crisis is over anyway, as I have one player who really prefers to play in the real world, as it were. So right now all I'm doing is planning and checking out various adventures on Drivethrurpg and information on the early modern era in general and 1560s Italy in particular. I've compiled some images of contemporary art showing fashion, food, armor and weapons of the time.
That would be cool; the leader could then be some sort of evil magician using plague demons rather than one himself. Actually, it reminds me of something I was reading about Calvinist demonology--the idea that demons need the human will of witches to allow them to use their evil powers. From the Calvinist perspective, this was to gain divine permission for the evil. But it would be interesting to interpret it differently--that angels (and demons are fallen angels) are so different from human beings on the scale of existence that they really can't come up with this sort of thing on their own--it is simultaneously beneath and beyond them. So demons would not be the 'please allow me to introduce myself' antagonist, but largely-incomprehensible alien forces that are malevolent. Which, I guess, tends to erase most distinctions between them and Lovecraftian Old Ones...
Thanks, and than you for turning me onto them. I looked into them after you mentioned them earlier, and there's some interesting stuff there to work with. They could be involved in all kinds of plots and shenanigans, both occult and mundane.I really like that idea; I hadn't made that connection.
I'd love to see some of them, if you want to post links.
Much of it was found on wikipedia, but also some other pages around the web. I can post some of the images here. We'll start with some fencing images.
I don't think they're all from quite the right period (the middle one especially screams 17th century to me) but still useful in showing rapiers in action.
Cool. The link worked, I'll see if I can find the Lucas Heere volume too. And it is really difficult to find specifically Roman dress of the period, unless you're looking at the popes. Most of the stuff I can find is Venetian, with some general "Italian" stuff mixed in as well. Unfortunately Italian and English fashion diverged considerably at the time too, so I can't use sources that focus on England too much either.
From what I've read, Italy varied a lot. The trend of black fabric and less extravagant dress seems to have been a Spanish thing which then spread to other parts of Europe in the latter half of the 16th century. Thus, whether or not this style became popular among the upper classes depended in part on whether emulating the Spanish court was the done thing. Apparently it was the done thing generally in western and central Europe except for France and Italy. So it's possible that the Spanish fashion was popular in Rome (especially after the death of Pope Paul IV who was very anti-Spanish) but not so much in other parts of the peninsula.Yes; I have a memory of reading somewhere that the dress of secular Romans in the 1500s was pretty conservative--lots of black fabrics. That's what the Heere picture suggests. Clerical garb may have been more colorful, which is something of the opposite of what we'd expect. And apparently 'foreigners'--meaning Italians from other cities--were recognizable by their dress.
Switching from images of people to pictures of the city itself, have you encountered the Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae? It's a collection of prints made by Antonio Lafreri, a Frenchman who settled in Rome c. 1540. He produced prints of various places and scenes in Rome, some contemporary and some imaginings of Ancient Rome, mostly for the tourist trade. They were sold individually, but by the 1570s often a selection of them were collected in a bound volume. The exact contents would vary, depending on what the purchaser wanted. The University of Chicago Library has a huge collection of the prints, and similar material, almost 1,000 items in all, which they've digitized--this is the home page. You can search for specific things, or take 'tours' of the material--one of those features a number of different period engravings of the Castel Sant' Angelo, which I mentioned above, like the one here (if the link works).
From what I've read, Italy varied a lot. The trend of black fabric and less extravagant dress seems to have been a Spanish thing which then spread to other parts of Europe in the latter half of the 16th century. Thus, whether or not this style became popular among the upper classes depended in part on whether emulating the Spanish court was the done thing. Apparently it was the done thing generally in western and central Europe except for France and Italy. So it's possible that the Spanish fashion was popular in Rome (especially after the death of Pope Paul IV who was very anti-Spanish) but not so much in other parts of the peninsula.
Wouldn't be surprising. Animals could easily get into most cities, and the city was very ruralized at the time. Much of the land inside the walls isn't town any more, as evidenced by the map I posted earlier.Very interesting.
Along the lines of another thread, something I was reading recently suggested that there were wolves in Rome c. 1550.
One obvious place for some hidden treasure to be would be in the ruins of San Bartolomeo, damaged by the flood (what I can find suggests it was reconstructed in 1624, but I don't know if it was in use between 1557 and 1624 in a damaged state). Perhaps the pope or his nephew had some treasure moved there during the invasion scare, and now that there's a new pope, cardinal Carafa, although banished from Rome even before the death of his uncle, wants to find the treasure to finance his schemes to keep his family on the up and up.
My thinking with having them hide it in the church would have been in case the siege was lost and the city was sacked the valuables would still be there. Then when the city was not sacked, no great rush in getting the valuables back as they control the city, then comes the flood and getting the valuables back becomes hard and then a new pope and suddenly it is of a lot more importance to find whatever was hidden in the ruined church. But nothing says one can't use both ideas. Incriminating documents as well as a big cash bribe hidden outside the walls can be one plot thread, and some other treasure, perhaps a church artifact or magic item of some sort, hidden in the flood damaged San Bartolomeo.
The map looks great, by the way. I already have some other contemporary maps, but nothing as detailed as this.