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Fictional character

Name: Ernest Garner

Age: 58

Gender: Male

Race/Ethnicity: White

Profession: Steam Mechanic

Location: Garner's Gadgets, Ulysses Apartments (Room 343)

Personal Traits. Skills, Abilities and Characteristics: Wisdom(+3), Crafting(+2), Engineering(+1), Simple Wood-crafting (+1), Friendly, worn-out, stubborn, paternal

Biography (ca. 1921):

Early Life
Ernest Garner was born on February 5th, 1863 in the city of Albany, New York. His father was a successful carpenter, specializing in the creation of ornate furniture for the upper class. Under his father's tutelage, Ernest developed a keen eye for detail and learned the basic of wood-crafting. Up until his teenage years, it was expected that Ernest would take over the family trade. This changed when Ernest was introduced to steam technology through the novel The Aspiring Mechanic's Guide to Steam Technology. Even before that, Ernest was enamored with the fantastic tales of this new technology, though the rumors he heard often surpassed the real thing.

Meanwhile, his family's financial situation had taken a turn for the worse as steam technology became more mainstream, with their usual customers investing more in steam luxuries. As a result, the news that Ernest wanted to go into the budding industry was not welcomed by his family. This led to them having a falling out, calling his father "a relic of a dying age". Ernest promptly left his family and home town behind to follow his dreams.

Rise from Poverty
Unfortunately for Ernest, wanting something was not enough to make it happen. He was not accustomed to life on the streets or the harshness of the elements. Multiple times he almost went back to his family, tempted to beg them to let him back. It was pride and the drive to succeed, perhaps partly to spite his father, that kept him going. With only his book and the clothes on his back, Ernest wandered the state, and eventually settling down in Rochester. Life was a bit easier after he got a job in a furniture factory, the irony of which amused Ernest greatly. Despite everything, Ernest never gave up on his dreams and would tinker in his spare time, what little of it he had. Some days he would even go without meals, being so caught up in his latest project. Even so, poverty had humbled the ambitious youth and he spend the next decade slowing accumulating the funds he needed to open his own shop, which he affectionately named "Garner's Gadgets".

The store was falling apart, but Garner did his best to hide the damage, using his woodworking and a few strategic item placements. Garner's Gadgets struggled that first year, due to his lack of prestige as a craftsman, and the lack of money he had for parts. Ernest spent most of his time trying to get his name out there, often doing some work and maintenance by freelancing. Eventually, he caught the attention of the Independent Artisans Guild and eagerly joined their ranks. With their help, he was able to cover some early costs, as well as improve his technique and gain customers. Through the word of mouth of his guild, business improved and the shop thrived. Soon after, he became well respected in the IAG for his hard work and commitment to his craft.

Family Life
In 1898, three years after his store became big, Ernest met the love of his life. Her name was Mabel Lynn, and she was a regular at "Garner's Gadgets", a middle class woman who aspired to be a writer. The two of them would talk often whenever Mabel stopped by, with topics ranging from steam technology to current events. Sometimes they would talk so much that Ernest would be completely oblivious to other patrons, which would have probably hurt business if he wasn't as skilled as he was. Eventually, the two of them started dating and got married in January as the snow was falling.

In 1902, they had a son, who they named Nathan Garner. Deciding to not be like his father, Ernest resolved to allow his son to be whoever he wanted to be. Ernest felt confident in his family's ability to thrive, but it was not to be. Mabel contracted tuberculosis that same year and died, after making her husband promise to look out for their son.

Nathan was too young to remember his mother, but Ernest tried to tell him about her often. Nathan proved to fill the void, at least to some extent, often listening to his father's words with eager ears. It also helped that his son was just as interested in steam technology as he was, and aspired to be just like his father. Ernest encouraged him greatly, teaching him everything he knew. After school, Nathan would often help his father at the shop and even built some small trinkets. In order to avoid his mistakes, Ernest made sure he took his education seriously and even paid for part of his education at RAMI. Not wanting to be like his father, Ernest has done nothing but encourage Nathan, telling him that as long as he has a dream and strives for it, nothing will stand in his way. As Nathan has gotten older, Ernest has gotten concerned, wondering if perhaps he was too supportive and fears that Nathan may be too naive for the ever darkening world.

Both Garners worked on various projects, each having enough differences in their style to warrant clients "requesting" one of them to do a certain project. Some projects, if they are of a large enough scale, are crafted by both of them, but for the most part each artisan worked on their own stuff. In 1917, the two of them were commissioned by the Seneca Park Zoo to build a steam animal, upon which they crafted the Steam Wolf as an attraction for guests. Since then, no assignment has been big enough to have them cooperate directly, though the two of them will often bounce ideas off each other for how to approach various projects. Even to this day, the two of them remain close.

The Accident of the Protean Machine
As the push for steam development increased, Ernest lost the edge he had in getting established early and began to lose business to newer talent with more education and ornate designs. Not one to be outdone, Ernest set to work on a new project. In 1911, Ernest began work on his "Protean Machine", which he claimed would changed the world forever. It would be an automaton that could store a recreation of a person's consciousness, allowing someone's mind to outlive their human body. Naturally, Nathan wanted to help. The two of them worked diligently on Ernest's side project. In 1913, an accident with the gears activating prematurely crushed Nathan's arm, and the project has been put on a seemingly permanent hiatus.

Ernest blames himself for the accident, and since then lost the motivation to work on it. Since then, he became more protective of his son, trying his best to shelter him from harm. Nathan, while initially miserable after the accident and amputation, brightened when Ernest crafted him a prosthetic. Since then, Nathan has taken a keen interest in prosthesis and hopes to specialize in it when he gets his own shop.

Ernest has mellowed out since his youth, becoming tired in his age. Life events have weakened his ambition, but he still does good enough work to make ends meet. His shop isn't as popular as it used to be, given how much steam technology has advanced ahead of him, but Nathan's presence in the shop has prevented him from becoming obsolete. Even so, it has been far too long since he innovated anything of note, and has lost the respect of the guild he once had, being considered a "has been". When he was younger, Ernest was motivated by a drive to succeed, but now that he has, he wonders if it was all worth it, pondering what he accomplished in the grand scheme of things. Nathan's ambivalence to starting a family or mingling with people is a source of mild frustration to Ernest, who regrets not doing that sooner and considers such luxuries fleeting.

Ernest is a stubborn man, and while tired he still has some spark to innovate, though not a strong enough spark to get him to work more on side projects. The Protean Machine is a sore subject for him, not only because it maimed his son, but because that failure has been occasionally thrown in his face. As such, he hates being told he's wrong or reminded of his mistakes, often getting into debates with Nathan about design efficiency. The idea that he's becoming irrelevant bothers him and Ernest wonders if he too is a "relic of a dying age". As a progressive thinker, and given his experience in poverty, Ernest doesn't see the point in judging people based on race, sex, or class. The only people he doesn't get along with are devout religious folk, people who oppose steam technology, and alcoholics. Those people he sees as fools, remnants of human ignorance and mistakes. But above all, he loves his son and will do anything to protect him. His greatest fear is that as much as he tries, Ernest can't shield his son from the pain he faced.