The university is dark and empty, the students and teachers are enjoying have gone home to their families and nightclubs. Only one laboratory remains lit, one professor works under mercury's light accompanied by the buzzing of metal on bone, and the soft thump of sinew as it hits the floor. Metal and flesh are mould themselves under his fingers, on this day, on this hour, they become one.
Finally it is done, for the first time in her life his beautiful daughter climbs from her wheel chair and walks on her own two feet. She smiles at her father, and he wonders. He wonders if it was worth it, all the late nights, the stolen supplies, the sonority girls who died screaming on the operating table, was it worth it?
The Divine Fire isn't a toy, or a tool, it is not safe. It does not matter if we wish to use it for medicine or weapons, it is not a tool. The Divine Fire is sacred, only those who humble themselves before it and make themselves ready may safely commune with the divine. But there are others, those who's obsession and will is strong enough to force the Divine Fire into their image. They are mad scientists, their works are blasphemous, and brilliant.
New Traits Edit
A mad scientist's Obsession is the very core of the character, everything they do traces back to their Obsession. Every Invention they create is another step close to achieving their Obsession. If the mad scientist ever overcomes their Obsession, or fulfils it, then they are no longer a mad scientist.
An Obsession should be written as a single sentence which defines the mad scientist's goals, but says nothing about his methods. “I want to cure my beautiful daughter's broken back.”, “I want to kill all the fools at the institute who mocked my theories”, “I want to bring the dead back to life”.
When a mad scientist is first touched by the divine fire his mind broadens, and frantic study expands his knowledge. He gains a free dot of Intelligence and Science; if he completes or abandons his Obsession then he looses a dot of Intelligence. Refund the difference between the free dot and the lost dot.
A mad scientist can progress on their goal just by sitting in the lab and studying. Insight is a special kind of experience points that tracks this progress in addition to the regular experience that all characters gain. Insight may be spent on Inventions, but also on Mental Attributes and Skills.
Under most circumstances a mad scientist gains one point of Insight for every eight hours of lab work. This may happen all at once in a marathon forty hour shift; but since most mad scientists cannot go that long without collapsing of exhaustion or dehydration it is more common to gradually earn a point of Insight in shorter shifts of around one to two hours a night, more if the mad scientist has no prior commitments.
However as much as they wish it were so, a mad scientist simply cannot vanish into the lab for years until they have fulfilled their Obsession. Sooner or later they will come across a problem that simply cannot be solved by more labwork, a Quandary. A Quandary can be directly related to the problem at hand, but it does not need to. A lack of supplies or some other social issue that prevents the mad scientist from studying are valid Quandaries. Example Quandaries include:
- I need human bodies to experiment on.
- My family have locked me out the lab until I socialise.
- I just can't build anything to create a high enough voltage, I'll need to acquire one some other way.
- I've been in the lab so long that I got fired and now I can't pay the electricity bills. I can't work until the power is back on.
- I found a letter from my dead wife, and am no longer sure my Obsession is a good idea.
- A mental health specialist will be coming round to interview me next week, if I can't make myself look sane I'll be looked up.
Until a Quandary is solved the mad scientist cannot gain Insight. Once the Quandary is solved the flow of Insight resumes; however if the mad scientist solves the Quandary in a particularly brilliant way they may gain bonus Insight. This bonus represents how a good solution saves time, reveals new avenues for research, creates a new Discovery for necessity is the mother of innovation, or just comes up with exceptionally high quality resources. You can learn so much more from a live test subject than a corpse. Consult the following table:
- The solution was innovative and clever: +1 to 3
- Difficulty of the problem: +1 to 3
- The mad scientist violated ethics to solve the Quandary: +1 to 6, (7 – the lowest Morality sin committed)
- The mad scientist made a Discovery to solve the Quandary: +2
Merit: Scientific Laboratory (O – OOOOO)Edit
Every mad scientist needs a Laboratory. It is a place in which your experiments are kept hidden from the world, and it is a place to store the bubbling beakers, jacob's ladders and other tools of the trade. A mad scientist without a laboratory cannot build inventions or gain Insight.
Inventions are those unique, horrific, creations of the mad scientists. They are built to achieve a mad scientists obsession. Inventions fall into three categories: Automata, Upgrades and Tools.
Any attempt to create a robot or living being that is a fully functional person with the ability to learn and grow will always result in a Promethean (or scrap metal, or Pandorans, if the effort is botched). However, any attempt to create a new Automaton can result in a Promethean. The odds of this happening are left to the Storyteller.
Creating a new automaton from an existing design has no risk; if the prototype was a Promethean the copy will be as well; otherwise the copy will not be a Promethean.
The very first time a mad scientist creates a new invention is a Discovery; he emerges from the laboratory, hands blackened by the Divine Fire and quenched in the blood of test subjects, carrying something shining and new.
Normally the products of mad science can be brought using either Insight or regular exp, and either the mad scientist or the recipient can pay the cost. Not so with Discoveries, these can only be paid for in Insight.
A Discovery is more than just creating the first example of a new Invention. Some scholars of mad science (those few sane enough for competent research) theorise that each Discovery gives birth to a new possibilities, a subtle change in the Divine Fire that marks the world for all time. Others point out how Pyros can at times be seen almost as idea, and the creations of mad science as a transmissible form of idea.
Mechanically provided a mad scientist has access to something like detailed technical specifications, research notes, or an example of the invention to study she can duplicate the effort as though she had previously made the discovery herself. Sharing the idea through a conversation, phonecall or emails works just as well.
Automata, whether flesh or metal, are treated identically to the retainer merit. They cost 2 × New Dots Insight. Any supernatural abilities, even just the natural toughness of a metal body, must be brought separately as Upgrades.
Use Promethean's rules for clones to detail organic automata, and combine them with the physical features of the Unfleshed to handle mechanical automata.
Upgrades involve altering a test subject in some way, presumably to improve it. They come in two forms: the Device merit (see Saturine Night), and Boosts. Boosts allow you to increase the subject's Attributes, Skills, Specialties, Defense, Health, Willpower, Merits, or Supernatural.
For the most part, it should be self-evident what a given Boost does and how much it should cost. Health and Defense Boosts cost 5 × New Dots, counting only the dots received above and beyond one's "natural" Health; the Storyteller can rule that the bonus from a Defense Boost applies even when the regular Defense wouldn't. A Willpower Boost costs a flat 8 × New Dots, counting only the dots received above and beyond one's "natural" Willpower.
In addition to improving a Merit that the subject already has, a Merit Boost can grant the subject a new Merit, even if it would normally only be available at character creation; the cost is 2 × New Dots Insight. The Storyteller should exercise common sense here: Merits that represent social factors or possessions such as Allies or Backing can't be granted through Upgrades. The Device Merit is explicitly permitted as a Boost.
Powering Supernatural BoostsEdit
If a Supernatural Boost costs Pyros to use, the subject needs some way to pay that cost; if the subject is not a Promethean, he'll need Upgrades that allows the storage and acquisition of Pyros. Adding a Pyros battery costs 1 × New Dots for each dot of Pyros that can fit in the reserve. Acquiring Pyros usually means installing the Electroshock Recharge Transmutation.
Alternatively the mad scientist could modify the Boost to run on something more easily acquirable than Pyros. Coal, uranium fuel rods, fuel cells, an electric charging plug. For simplicity just treat this as a Pyros reserve with a maximum of 5 points and a unique way of gaining additional Pyros. Modifying a Boost in this way increases it's dot value by one.
A final option is the inventor can modify the Supernatural Boost's power supply to use something that the subject already has, such as Vitae or Willpower. This does not increase the dot cost.
Supernatural Boosts give the subject the ability to create some sort of supernatural effect; for simplicity, this usually means Transmutations, but the Storyteller should consider reasonable requests that cannot be fulfilled with Transmutations. The cost for a Transmutation is usually 7 × New Dots, the same as a Non-Affinity Transmutation; if the inventor is a Promethean who has Affinity with the Transmutation, he may pay 5 × New Dots instead.
Sometimes, an inventor will attempt a downgrade on a test subject, weakening or removing a character trait or giving the subject a Flaw. This costs half what it would cost to add that trait; characters who suffer such treatment do not need to pay experience to regain their lost traits, but they must earn their recovery in story.
Tools are, in essence, physical devices that receive Upgrades — usually in the form of Supernatural Boosts. The cost is the same as for a normal Boost, but at one dot higher than normal; it is just plain harder to direct the fire through inanimate tools.
Building Inventions Edit
A mad scientist dosn't just walk into the lab, have a cup of tea, and come out carrying a device beyond the ken of mortal science. He has to actually build the damn thing, and hope it dosn't explode on the work bench.
Step One: The Design Edit
The player chooses what effects the new device will have, and describes what blasphemous theories govern it's operating principles. Record the dots of the new invention, and what skills govern it's construction:
- Academics is used for any invention that utilizes psychology or theories of the mind. Academics also applies to complex mathematics.
- Computer is needed when an invention is programmed or otherwise operating independently.
- Crafts is used for any device that runs on complex mechanical principles or material science.
- Medicine is used for biological sciences, and any invention that requires a complex surgical procedure.
- Occult is used when an invention is built according to supernatural principles, or explicitly targets a supernatural being.
- Science is always used.
Step Two: Invention! Edit
Having designed their invention the mad scientist must now create it. The following traits are used to build inventions:
Intelligence is the core attribute of mad science. It is used to crunch the numbers and extrapolate theory, no matter how mad, from experimental results and evidence.
The skill used to create a new invention is the lowest of all the applicable skills. Some mad scientists specialise in a narrow field; a programmer who becomes obsessed with artificial intelligence may never branch out of computer science, most mad scientists are something of an omni-disciplinarian and make use of whatever works.
Measuring Dots Edit
The rules for creating inventions refer to its dots. A Boost's dots are equal to the highest dot granted to the recipient. For example, a Boost that add the 4th dot of Strength are treated as a 4 dot invention.
The quality of a mad scientists tools and equipment will help or hinder his efforts to construct a new device. Each dot in his laboratory adds one die to the pool.
Having sufficient funding for components, equipment, even the electricity bill, is necessary for a successful mad scientist. For every dot of the invention above the mad scientists Resources score there is a -1 penalty.
Finally some inventions are simply more complicated than others; the invention's dot's are deducted from the dicepool.
All together the dicepool for an invention is:
Intelligence + (The lowest applicable skill) + Scientific Laboratory - (Invention's Dots - Resources) - Invention's Dots.
Dramatic Failure: the Storyteller is free to have some fun; the invention may rise against it's masters (usually as a Pandoran), or it may explode on the work bench. Perhaps destroying some valuable equipment and raising a Quandry as the inventor seeks a replacement.
Failure: Immediately roll again
- Dramatic Failure: As per a Dramatic Failure on the previous roll.
- Failure: The Mad Scientist suffers a Quandry. He may be missing a valuable piece of equipment or uncover a flaw in his theories and need new data.
- Success or Exceptional Success: Nothing happens, the mad scientist is free to gather more materials and try again.
Success or Exceptional Success: The invention is complete!
Time Taken Edit
While creating an invention only requires one single roll, it is not quick. A typical invention requires one day of work per dot, exceptionally large inventions will take longer. In cases like surgical implants, most of the work would involve assembling the device before insertion. The mad scientist is free to leave an invention half finished and return later, but apply common sense. If no one touches it a half finished robot will be fine if you leave it alone for lunch, but leaving a delicate chemical reaction unattended or a patent with his chest open is probably not a good idea.