Scientists push back the frontiers of knowledge, devise ingenious inventions, solve problems with know-how and duct tape, and learn things that Man Was Not Meant To Know. Scientists get 1d6 HP per level. Scientists should have the career Science as a background.
When making a Science Check the roll is d20+Int Bonus+Level. Neutral Scientists add their Luck bonus as well as their Int bonus.
Science, Super Science and Weird Science
Science is what we can do and what we know in our world, with small extrapolations (e.g. rockets that can go to Mars but need to burn fuel or use solar sails). Super Science is science that might appear in SF stories: perhaps impossible, but vaguely plausible or sanctioned by tradition (e.g. starships that travel FTL by going into hyperspace to avoid the known limits on FTL in our universe). Weird Science or mad science is magic with the trappings of science: rather than attempting to be plausible it places emphasis on effects and causes that are bizarre, inexplicable or discredited (e.g. travel to distant solar systems via astral projection, or the rays from “Element X”.) Science and Super Science are covered by the “normal” science skill such as Invent Device or Exploit Principle. The GM and players should make an effort to keep it science-fictional, or at least science fictional given some particular changes that describe the alternate universe the game takes place in. For instance, in the game, Venus might be covered with jungles, and Mars have a breathable atmosphere and four-armed green men living there. It’s not true in our universe, but it easily could be. Weird Science covers everything else: things that can only exist or happen in an almost-anything-goes setting, e.g. reanimating corpses, transforming one creature into a creature with completely different DNA or even different mass, perpetual motion machines, elements or chemicals with mysterious properties that grant super powers, etc. Exactly where the line is drawn might vary from setting to setting: in one setting ESP might fall on the super science side of the line, where in another it would be strictly weird science.
Weird Science skills are marked with an asterisk. When using Weird Science skills an additional Bonus/Penalty of negative the Scientist’s Sanity bonus is also applied. So, e.g. a Scientist with a Sanity bonus of -1 would get a +1 on rolls to Pervert Nature, while a Scientist with a +2 Sanity bonus would get a -2 on the same roll. Any alignment of Scientist can make use of Weird Science, but Scientists with low Sanity scores are better at it. Chaotic Scientists have a slight edge because because of better bonuses for Weird Science and because low Sanity helps them with all science, not just Weird Science.
Scientists have an extra Stat: Sanity. Sanity starts at 3d6 (rolled when the Scientist class is chosen), and has the same modifiers as any other stat. Scientists apply their Sanity modifier to any Will saves. Loss of Sanity tends to express itself first as compulsiveness towards completing a project or experiment, then as a fixation or monomania towards a particular approach to science, and eventually paranoiac or megalomaniac tendencies. Even really low positive Sanity scores don’t necessarily indicate full-blown madness; being reduced to 0 or less is definitely at least temporary insanity.
Sanity can be burned for improved science rolls: 1 point of Sanity adds their Science die to their roll on a Science skill (similar to Thieves’ spending Luck to apply their Luck Die, except it can only be applied to Science skills). If they spend Sanity on a roll that is improved by low Sanity (Pervert Nature, Forbidden Knowledge, Xeno-Science, or Rube Goldberg), apply their Sanity bonus based on the new value after they spend their Sanity. Chaotic Scientists treat all Science skills as being improved by low Sanity and harmed by high Sanity (they use the negative of their Sanity modifier on all their science rolls). They still apply their Sanity modifier normally to Will saves, so a Chaotic Scientist with very low sanity has very bad Will saves.
Lawful and Neutral Scientists recover Sanity at a rate of their level per night, up to their natural maximum. Chaotic Scientist recover one point of Sanity every time they fumble a Science skill check. Every time they fail a Science skill check the fumble range increases by one; the fumble range resets once they regain a point of Sanity. Chaotic Scientists may also regain Sanity through a course of treatment, at one point of Sanity per week of treatment in a sanitarium or the equivalent.
Invention and Weird Science Failures
On a roll of 1 when Inventing a Device or using Weird Science there has been a failure, and perhaps worse. Roll 1d6, modified by Luck: 0 or less: mishap + minor mental corruption + lose 1d3 Sanity; 1-2 minor mental corruption; 3 lose 1d3 Sanity; 4+ mishap
- Shower of sparks, some piece of equipment is broken.
- Small explosion; researchers take 1d3 damage.
- Line of Research is set back: return to the beginning of research chart.
- Experiment sets off an adventure. Perhaps the researcher is split into a good version and a bad version, or it attracts a mischievous or hostile entity through a spacio-temporal rift, or the ship is hurtled back in time or to a different quadrant of the galaxy.
- Sudden insight: advance 1d3 steps of your choice on the research chart.
- Serendipity! You’ve accidentally discovered something else entirely. Go to end of research chart, but effect is of the GM’s choosing.
Know what man was not meant to know. As Recall Fact, but for mad science and magic.
When the Scientist declares what is being researched, the GM should decide what a unit of time and a unit of cost represents according to how difficult the end goal seems and what the available materials are. Costs need not be monetary, but may be measures in terms of limited supplies of things like rare earths, unobtanium, antimatter, dilithium crystals, or whatnot.
And easy/quick task might be measured in rounds, or even actions, and might have costs in terms of pieces of carried gear sacrificed. A more difficult task might be in terms of hours and shares of the party treasure (e.g. ruining expensive goblets with noxious chemicals, melting gold to coat equipment with a non-reactive surface, wiping and re-purposing somebody’s hand-computer into a single-use controller, etc). A hard task might take days and hundreds of credits in specially-purchased or custom-built equipment that can only be obtained in a major settlement. And so on.
Each roll on the appropriate chart costs 1 money unit and 1 time unit. Most spaces offer a choice of arrows to the next space: to move to the next space you must succeed at the appropriate roll for the kind of research you are doing (with whatever die is specified for that skill) vs. the DC listed next to the arrow. The roll is dWhatever + Int Bonus +/- Sanity Bonus where appropriate + Luck Bonus if Neutral vs. DC. You may spend Sanity for additional Science Dice added to the roll, or Luck for additional points.
If you fail, you stay on the space you’re currently on: you don’t get to change your mind and follow a different arrow even if the roll would have been good enough. Exception: if there is a Failure Arrow leading from that space you must follow the failure arrow if you fail the check. Clock and Dollar spaces allow you to trade a 1d3 more units of time or money for getting to add your Science Die to the roll to go to the next space. You must decide whether to spend the extra time/money before you see the roll, and you can only add one roll of the Science Die per attempt. You may wait until after all the rolls before you decide to spend Sanity or Luck.
“Boom” results are a Failure (roll on the Invention and Weird Science failures) plus there’s a 50% chance that the device is ruined/the line of research being pursued is a dead end. If it’s not, then you may re-start from the beginning if you wish, though if the device has charges it loses 1d3 charges.