I'm playing a scientist in Spirit of the Century, but I'm having a hard time coming up with uses for my main skill, Science! How can I make better use of it mid session, not just for creating awesome Science! gadgets?
Science has 3 main uses:
Medical Treatment is pretty straightforward, but it's easily overlooked if your character concept isn't an MD.
Gadgeteering is a common enough reason for taking the Science! skill, but don't forget that you can use it not just to make, fix and improve, but also to detune, break, repurpose, and disassemble. If you can make it, you can tag it with an aspect for how to break it. E.G.: "My good man, if you strike the junction of the steam line and the body, you should have an easy time depriving it of power..." and "I'll use Science! to trigger an overpressure failure timed for 10 minutes from now."
Defining stuff by observation is also tagging and/or use of Fate Points to set up useful tags. This is often expressed by actions like, "I'll examine it to find the resonant frequency so Johnny can use his sonic screwdriver to shatter it," and "I sniff to figure out what the liquid is, and which of my reagents I can throw in to make it go BOOM!". Essentially, the first is adding a "susceptible to certain frequencies of vibration"; the second is tagging it with "potentially explosive."
In my last play, the Science! character was tweaking the aircraft's tension lines in flight to provide a series of free maneuver-related tags, and tweaking the engine for speed and climb tags.
There are some interesting uses of Science! that I can think of.
We start with the SRD's definition:
More details on the declaration action:
And the declaration itself is found under spend fate points:
Therefore, Science! allows us to manipulate the world in scientific ways, inasmuch as we can declare things to be true.
One favourite idea of mine is to use this to enable MacGuyver actions. Sure, you need the Engineer skill to build stuff But you can use Science! to go "One little known property of subisomorphic metals like that spectacular sample right there, is that if one hits a cooled sample with a resonant tone, the sample will shatter into lengthwise members, quite handy for us, isn't it?" And suddenly you have a bunch of steel rods to build a structure around, as well as enjoying technobabble for technobabble's sake (not something to be dismissed lightly.)
However, one can also use this as ways of setting up aspect compels and tags.
Say one of your aspects was: Music makes me mad!
You could use Science! mid-session to indicate that one of the failure modes of something you're facing is to emit tonal chimes as the camshafts start wearing off the bearings and striking the outer flanges!. Which, when used appropriately, can cause situations to both compel and tag your aspect.
By using Science! to declare facts, you can shape the world to be more interesting/useful to your character, his aspects, and his actions. It's always fun making your own life miserable by complicating the villain's mad science with even worse consequences. "Wait, did he use pure nitrogen, or refined spirits of the aether? Great scott! He's doomed us all! Doesn't he know that glass can't contain the vapours?!"
You have the privilege of adding to the setting and the world and the responsibility of being interesting. Science! evokes Donjon like elements of a mutable world, glimpsed only by your powerful mind.