“There are no experimental failures, just more data.”

Knowledge is its own reward, although academic honours and the respect of one’s peers are nice, yes. There are deep mysteries in the world, on Earth and in the Gruv and in the place in between that nobody wants to discuss. Delving into those mysteries establishes the principles by which the engineers come up with all those clever devices. Someone must do the foundational work before the clockworks can be built. Hypothesize, experiment, analyse, theorize, the stages of the scientific method must be followed rigorously if valid principles are to be deduced. Publish or perish, goes the saying. If a scientist derives a critical axiom and does not share it with the world, what use his work? Learn, and share what has been learned, seeking ever to expand the scope of human understanding.

Our representative Scientist, by the way, is modelled after Maria Mitchell, the first female professional astronomer.

Let’s have a look at the mechanics, shall we? The Profession Skill for the Scientist is Knowledge, and the player has to pick a field of study for that Knowledge Skill. Although Ms. Mitchell was an astronomer, and would thus have Knowledge (Astronomy) for her Profession Skill, we’ve drawn our sample character as more of a botanist type. That’s not just a dome behind her. That’s a portable terrarium, also known as a Bacon Jar (look it up). Thus, she would have Knowledge (Botany) as her Profession Skill.

  • Initiate
    • Core Skills
      • Awareness, Craftsman (Scientific Instruments), Eidetic Memory, Evidence Analysis, Research

      Here we’re establishing the foundation of the Profession. The Scientist learns to pay attention to the world, to remember it, to think critically about it, and to find out what other people have thought about the same subject. Basic lab technique, such as making one’s own glassware or building an air pressure meter, is also covered.

    • Optional Skills
      • Cryptography, Field Engineering, Firearms, Mechanic, Navigation

      It’d be handy if the Scientist could encrypt their notes – even those just starting out may already have rivals. Being able to get around, keep one’s kit in proper shape, and handle whatever arrangements are needed in the field to set up larger experiments all come in handy. And then there’s the problem of going into hostile environments in search of knowledge, or fending off those who would seize the discovery for nefarious ends.

  • Novice
    • Core Skills
      • Engine Programming, Haggle, Knowledge (Mathematics), Slough Blame, Taunt

      The Scientist learns a few social Skills requisite for negotiation, dealing with the results of failed experiments, and challenging their rivals. They pick up a crucial Knowledge Skill for analysing their data and predicting the results of further experimentation. Knowing how to program an Analytical Engine goes a very long way in data analysis, producing reliable numbers to support published theories.

    • Optional Skills
      • Avoid Blow, Clockwork, Etiquette, Forgery, Melee Weapons

      Sooner or later the Scientist had to learn to defend themselves. Not all of their critics throw harsh words in the academic journals. Some of them throw brickbats. The Scientist moves upward socially, and needs to know some manners. Being able to build more complex instruments furthers the work. Sometimes the work needs papers that are just too hard to obtain, and, well, with a prayer to Antoine Bougerre, the father of data fudging and inventor of the Bougerre Factor, the Scientist commits a small sin to reveal a large secret.

  • Journeyman
    • Core Skills
      • Arcane Mutterings, Conversation, Diplomacy, Graceful Exit, Impressive Display, Knowledge (Select), Resist Magic

      The average person has very little idea what a Scientist actually does, and a similarly small grasp on the difference between a Scientist and a Weird Scientist. Brandishing a vial of chemicals or a peculiar device and reciting a bit of gibberish tends to put people off their game. In a more positive light, the Scientist learns to hold their own in a salon, negotiate, and leave without further ado when negotiations break down. Of course, they have to be able to put on demonstrations of their field, in a way that will amaze the non-scientific. Their increasingly disciplined rational minds prove harder to affect with the arcane.

    • Optional Skills
      • Bribery, Disarm, Equestrian, Hypnotize, Inspire Others, Mapmaking, Steely Stare

      Alas, sometimes getting a valuable specimen back to the lab requires crossing a few palms with silver. Besides drawing a picture of where an important find was discovered, the Scientist can use maps as research tools, to suggest where the next find might be. See the blog entry on the Mapmaking Skill. The Scientist learns to put a stop to attacks on their person, and to ride, which someone moving up in society really ought to know. Their increasing understanding of the human mind allows them to share their enthusiasm for their subject, to pin down lesser minds with just a glance, and even to take control of those same lesser minds.

    • Abilities
      • The character gains +1 to their Mystic Defense.
      • The character gains +1 to their Social Defense.
      • The character may spend Karma on WIL-only Tests.

      The emphasis here is on strength of mind.

      • Revising the Hypothesis: The Scientist may discard a previously held idea and draw new conclusions. The character spends 2 Strain to re-roll a failed Knowledge Test (using any Knowledge Skill). The new Test results must be kept, even if the new result is a Rule of One. The Scientist may only discard one hypothesis per situation.

      Again, the power of scientific thinking asserts itself. The Scientist can toss out a bad result and try again, but you can only repeat the experiment once without serious redesign. Continuing to repeat the same experiment in the expectation of eventually getting a different result, well, there’s a saying about that sort of behavior and madness.

What lies beyond Journeyman? More Social Skills, as the Scientist takes up words as weapons and does battle with their professional rivals. The ability to plan and lead expeditions. Special Abilities that allow the Scientist to reason from specific to general, or from one field of knowledge to another, and to take on their academic rivals in professional challenges. We’ll discuss that in more depth later on, as we get closer to the 1879 Companion.