In one of my previous posts, I mentioned the Use Super Science ability and the engineer class (a new human skin for the B/X dwarf). I was never all that happy with the class name engineer, which is why I haven’t posted the class details before. I also considered machinist and artificer, but neither of those really communicate the flavor that I desire for the class. Engineer and machinist are too mundane, and artificer suggests a crafting class (and perhaps creates expectations based on the 3E and 4E artificer classes).
Then, a class name came to me last night. Scientor! Perfect. The scientor class is as the B/X dwarf but with racial abilities and restrictions removed. Hit die is d8. Thus, no infravision, and no weapon restrictions by size. They have the same expertise with mechanical traps and subterranean architecture as the dwarf. Scientors also have a base 2 in 6 chance to use super science items (this is their primary class ability). Combat progression will be poor, perhaps following the thief, as I see many super science items being more like save for half damage than roll to hit (though I will have to investigate that more). Level limit of 14, XP progression as cleric. There are many possible endgames for a scientor, ranging from ruling a domain of men secured by ancient weaponry to founding a workshop or even perhaps building a museum. No weapon or armor restrictions (as all classes).
How does Use Super Science work? All characters have a 1 in 6 chance. An exceptional intelligence (13 or higher) grants an additional bonus, as does being a scientor as mentioned above (so, for example, a scientor with an intelligence of 14 would have a 3 in 6 chance before any situational modifiers).
Different super science items interact with the Use Super Science ability in different ways. For example, one item might require a check to identify and a check to figure out how to operate, but no check to use. Other more complicated items might require a successful check for each use. Most super science items are, practically speaking, unique, though if multiple copies of some item are found, only one identify check should ever be required. Some locations may also have elements which function as super science items (e.g., special doors using ancient technology which require a check to open or close).
One interesting side effect of rolling for super science item use is that the dice will naturally distribute these items within the party, concentrating them in the hands of scientor characters and characters with exceptional intelligence. Maybe a similar method would be an interesting way to decide who can use magic items as well, giving fighters major bonuses to using magic weapons and magic-users major bonuses to using standard magic items? Just an idea.
My expectation is that super science items should be more common than magic items, but generally have a limited number of uses (inherently or by requiring super science batteries). Perhaps magic-users and clerics should not be able to use super science items? This might be an interesting example of the metaphysical clash between the scientific and magic worldviews.
I plan on rewriting the treasure tables to reflect the desired distribution of magic and super science items. I may just end up referring to the Carcosa alien technology tables for the super science items. I was planning on modifying the treasure tables anyways because of the importance of scrolls to how I see magic-users.
Suggestions? Would you play this class? Do you think the dwarf d8 hit die should be maintained, or should it be bumped down to d6? I can think of some possible reasons that a scientor might be relatively robust, but I can see arguments from both sides. If possible, I do want experience with the dwarf class to carry over, so my instinct is to maintain the hit die.