Be a scientist
The Etherites are, first and above all, about science. Serious science (at least to them).
As a scientist, it is your job, nay, your duty to uncover the mysteries of the universe. You possess an extraordinary mind - you seem to notice things that most other people do not1. So, what to others may seem like a freak accident you see as a cause and effect chain not quite fully explained. Yet you do know there is an underlying cause.
That person over there waved their hands and chanted, then a lightning struck. It is not just a coincidence he did something. You pull out your monitoring equipment, take measures, numbers flash on a screen, there is some beeping2 and yes, you detect the lingering traces of orgone interference pattern3. It is a phenomenon you are aware of that allows people to perform acts akin to what can be described as "magic". They can call it what they want, you are here to study, measure, and categorise it.
Supposedly "serious" scientific journals have declined to publish your papers. But they just are not ready yet. Supposedly "serious" scientists also rejected the idea that humans would ever fly. But progress cannot be stopped by closed minds. You have found some non-mainstream journals and scientific communities4 who are more receptive to ideas going outside the mainstream science. There are fascinating ideas in there. There is even prior work on orgone. Of course, it is quite outdated by now but it does give you some insights. And as the other scientists before you, you can build upon the old ideas.
Science is a serious matter. One day it would accept the existence of orgone. You are sure. And your observations, equations, data, and work as a whole would pave the way.
1 Thanks to their Awakened Avatar. Whether the character acknowledges that or not is up to you.
2 Using some Effects to perceive phenomena.
3 In game terms, it is just magick. Or maybe even limited to particular Sphere(s), say Forces and Prime effects might be what "orgone" is. It is just a stand-in for whatever pseudoscience a given Etherite would pursue.
4 Really just the Etherites.
In straight text, Etherites do take themselves seriously. Their beliefs may be fantasy or not entirely true in either way but this is the trap of magick - each mage perceives as what they do as the true way the universe is. Even the Hermetics and Verbena and the rest are no different. Each one believes they know and understand how the world works and <insert magick style> is part of it. The others may be able to do similarly outlandish effects but at best they scratch the surface and misuse <insert magick style>.
For the Etherites, it is the pseudoscientific beliefs they hold. Orgone does not exist but...it does for an Etherite. They can observe, measure, and quantify the phenomena. The same way a Hermetic might be able to observe, measure, and quantify a mystical seal of Solomon does indeed work.
As scientists, the Etherites should be inquisitive, driven, studious. And most will probably be into engineering to some degree in order to create the tools they cast magick with. They would treat each with utmost care and seriousness. They are not hacks or frauds.
One perhaps interesting way to present the Etherites is as using the same trappings as fantasy wizards. But with science. Evoking the similarities between the two:
- the Etherite might live or work on the top floor. Similar to a wizard sitting in their tower.
- the Etherite would spend a lot of time buried in scientific publications. Similar to a wizard pouring over tomes of ancient knowledge.
- the Etherite might have robotic contraptions helping around the house. Similar to how a wizard might have imps or other magical critters doing house work.
- the Etherite would explore the way something pseudoscientific affects the world - like manipulating orgone to achieve an effect. Similar to how wizards will use sympathy and "as above, so below" to affect things that should not have any link.
And so on. Modern and scientific reflections of fantasy old wizard tropes. This might even be weaved into the character background echoing past lives the Avatar had. Or it might simply be a way to think about portraying the character.
Problems start, when an Etherite starts to use Magick:
- Etherite: Peeew! Peeew! Eat my death rays!
A more serious take is maybe something like this:"If I modulate the frequencies splicing orgone interference pattern delta, I can cause localised heat build up enough to hurt a person."
Also, do remember that ritualistic casting exists. And to my mind at least, it seems that it fits really well with what a "scientist" would do. So, to pull off an Effect (at least a big one) they might need a lot of time to prepare, calibrate, and eventually cast it. That would lend credence that their theories work by avoiding as much Paradox, since extended casting, especially subtle one, can mitigate a lot of Paradox. Thus preventing the "Dexter's hair on fire". There would be some mishaps but not as frequent as a one-off roll to shoot a fancy science gun.
On the field, Etherite can deploy mostly measuring equipment. They do not need a laser gun. A normal gun serves just fine, if they do need protection. Put Etherite's scientific endeavour above trying to make death rays.