1879: Players Companion Preview: The Engineer

This week, you get a preview from the forthcoming 1879 Players Companion, from the New Professions chapter: the Engineer.

Oh, certainly, you can piddle around with tiny clockworks and clever gadgets, but when you need serious machinery, that’s when you call me, when you decide to scale up to real industrial power.”

You want clever toys to impress people in the parlour or the club, or get you into and out of some firm’s building quietly, go talk to a Brassman. You have eighty thousand tons of copper ore to haul out of a mountain, across a swamp, and through the Rabbit Hole? Here’s the man for the job. The Engineer designs and oversees the build of serious machinery, locomotives and steamships and pumps capable of lifting three tons of water up a mineshaft with each stroke of the piston. Bridges, tunnels, tall buildings, shipyards, fortifications of steel that will turn back the Samsut? He’s on it.

The Engineer works with iron, steel, and high pressure steam, the kind of motive power that pushes ships across the ocean and locomotives down the track. He spans rivers with cantilevers and suspension cables and flying arches, and puts tunnels through mountains with explosives and hydraulic drills. From the drafting board to the railyard to the rolling stock, he creates the machinery that made the Industrial Revolution happen and keeps the world in motion. Not for him the delicate parlor toys of brass and glass and gemstones. His dreams take up hundreds of miles at a single go, leaping across the world on rails, bringing continents together with iron hulls and propellers the size of a windmill. If you’ve got a new world to colonize, and two worlds to bridge, you’ve come to the right man.

Important Attributes
Profession Skill
Civil Engineering or Field Engineering (pick one)
Racial Restrictions
Saurids – their culture does not support the Profession
Starting Equipment
Good clothing (Suit, city boots, dress hat)
Field clothing (canvas trousers, shirt, work boots, flat cap)
Drafting Tools
Starting Funds
Suggested Social Level

Skills and Abilities

  • Initiate
    • Core Skills
      • Awareness, Civil Engineering or Field Engineering (whichever was not selected as the Profession Skill), Knowledge (Mathematics), Mechanic, Navigation
    • Optional Skills
      • Clockwork, Craftsman (Select),Eidetic Memory, Firearms, Melee Weapons
  • Novice
    • Core Skills
      • Craft Firearm, Evidence Analysis, Mapmaking, Research, Taunt
    • Optional Skills
      • Craft Armor, Craftsman (Select), Cryptography, Engine Programming, First Impression
  • Journeyman
    • Core Skills
      • Diplomacy, Forge Firearm, Impressive Display, Inspire Others, Leadership, Munitions, Spot Armor Flaw
    • Optional Skills
      • Bribery, Craftsman (Select), Forge Armor, Gunnery, Haggle, Lasting Impression, Resist Taunt
    • Abilities
      • The character may spend Karma on any PER-only Test.
      • The character gains +1 to their Mystic Defense.
      • The character gains +1 to their Social Defense.
      • It’s a Very Bad Design: The Engineer can spot fatal flaws in machinery and construction. The character makes a Civil/Field Engineering Test against the Mystic Defense of the target and spends 2 Strain. If successful, they spot a fundamental design flaw in the target, and know how to exploit it to bring the entire thing crashing down. Additional successes may be used as Impressive Display bonuses if there is an audience to the demolition. On a Rule of One result, the Engineer is impressed with the design and does not believe it can be brought down. Whether the Engineer incorporates the design’s flaw into a later work of their own is up to the player and the Gamemaster.
  • Warden
    • Core Skills
      • Escape Plan, Lion Heart, Oratory, Show Armor Flaw, Witty Repartee
    • Optional Skills
      • Disarm, Engaging Banter, Safe Thought, Steely Stare, Undermine
    • Abilities
      • The character may spend Karma on any CHA-only Test.
      • The character gains +1 to their Physical Defense.
      • The character gains +1 to their Social Defense.
      • Working On Bigger Guns: The Engineer can use their Craft Firearm and Forge Firearm to build and improve artillery, ship’s guns, and other military-grade ordnance. This adds +2 to the Strain for each Skill. For Craft Firearm, use a Target Number of 25 for the Test, and assume that the Size of the ordnance is equal to 12 plus the number of Step 25 multiples in the Damage Step. Thus, the effective Size for a 7 pounder cannon, which has a Damage Step of 2×25, the effective Size would be 14, and so building the cannon would require accumulating 14 successes against a Target Number of 25. Forge Firearm requires a number of days equal to the current Damage Step of the weapon. Forging a 7 pounder cannon would require 50 days (2 times 25, the Damage Step). A successful Forge Firearm Test adds one Step 25 multiplier to ball shot regardless of the number of successes, and the number of successes to canister shot. Three successes can still improve the Rate of Fire.
  • Master
    • Core Skills
      • Cutting Words, Disarming Smile, Long Shot, Perfect Focus, Second Chance
    • Optional Skills
      • Defense, Graceful Exit, Lion Spirit, Stout Constitution, Unflinching Fortitude
    • Abilities
      • The character gains +1 Recovery Test per day.
      • The character’s Max Karma increases by 15.
      • Artillery Ranging: The Engineer may use their Long Shot Skill with military ordnance. Take 2 extra Strain, and extend the weapon’s Range by 10% of the base range times the Long Shot Rank. An Engineer with a Long Shot Skill of Rank 11 could therefore extend the weapon’s range by 110% for one shot, at a cost of 3 Strain. The Engineer must use their Gunnery Skill to fire the weapon.


  • The Engineer may select a specialty for their Craftsman (Select) Skills from anything appropriate – metalworking, woodworking, glassblowing, or whatever relates to their work. The Craftsman Skills represent practical experience with the materials they incorporate in their designs.
  • Melee Weapons is most often used with improvised weapons (see the 1879 Players Guide, pg. 250), such as a spanner or a Stilson wrench. Engineers do not normally own or carry swords or pole arms, but they know how to abuse their tools as weaponry when necessary. When using a tool as a weapon, Engineers do not take the Improvised Weapon penalty.