Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Vagueposting- Optional Ramblings about Medical Items

This is a direct follow-up to The Healing System. This is a Vagueposting article, meaning it is very long, kinda pointless, and was posted separately as to not muddy up the actual rules and mechanics post itself with a long ugly text wall at the end. You have been warned.

Ideas and Digressions about each type of Healing Item
Sharp damage is generic. Bandages are for sure the easiest item to carry around. They're also the easiest to improvise- anyone can just rip up a dirty shirt for a lower healing value. I would also totally let elves and the like make some bandages out of woven grass or fallen leaves. For this reason, I hardly consider them a recovery item at all and would almost just wrap up the both most basic damage types (sharp and blunt) to just be 'freebies' you can heal at any time- splints are just a hard object + a bit of string to make a basic splint so it's also pretty simple. Exchanging time + safety for healing is a good enough trade off without needing to bother with keeping track. However resource management is important in a dungeon crawler, and I like the idea of getting magical bandages at some point. Plus there is also the psychological factor of having regular “bandages” you bring from home being better, healing 1d6, where as improvised bandages healing only 1d3 or 1d4, even if they are pretty much infinite. This means players will feel like they're running out of the more optimal healing even if it doesn't actually change that much for the game.

Blunt damage is pretty similar to broken bones. If you wanted to make it more “realistic”, only allow the use of the limb after its been splinted, but the damage can't be restored with basic items. Another idea is to just fold this into bandages, since it's pretty simple physical damage- you wrap up limbs and the skull when it is heavily bruised or after a nasty fall, as splints don't work as well as well for body parts that aren't straight, long bones like an arm or leg. Splints are also really easy to make in the field, just a bit of rope or a bandage + a random straight hard object on the ground like a bone or even a dulled sword. I also like the idea of using casts in the form of plasters that require water, but few people keep track of water rations. How else could you make a cast? Use wooden bracers for a couple of downtime turns to carve them- requires wood and 1d4 turns of effort but heals 1d8 or more? This is the type of injury that is less easy to explain with the first aid idea of it healing, but could be useful for those with a more rulings-over-rules mindset. Every broken bone or injury could be unique.

Ointments are one of my favorite healing ideas or solutions. You can pretty easily imagine fire, lightning, and acid damage burning and scorching the skin. Ointment makes perfect sense. It can be carried in a tub and is probably one of the more expensive healing items. Improvisation is my favorite for this one; you can rub cooled ash from a wood fire into the wound for its alkaline properties, 1d3 for being improvised. You can also make your own ointment by boiling monster fat- I'd give this 1d4 or perhaps healing equal to the monsters HD, but there's a pretty nice opportunity to force a mutation roll for this. Also since water and water magic often have healing connotations, I'd let it heal 1d2 or just one hit point if you spend a turn running fresh water from a spring or fountain onto these kinds of wounds, but if you prefer water MAGIC as healing then keep this for specific spells or class powers.

Cold damage being healed by warming up is one of my favorites for thematics. I like it for two reasons; the first is the sort of “old wives tale” vibe of a bowl of chicken noodle soup actually curing a cold, and two because it fits with the theme of surviving in a cold place. Most cold damage will be coming to you in cold lands with snow and cold creatures and blizzards and ice magicians. You need to keep careful stock of your firewood, your bourbon, your black pepper. Oh, by the way, all of those can help restore cold. Good alcohol and spicy food help warm you up just as much as a blanket and a fire. Of course this is still limited by restoring items; 1d6 per turn sat around a fire with a limit of counting once per person; so a Sage can't start four fires around someone or something- that's not the idea. Cold is a slow and steady killer in that regard; not like a bleeding wound which you can keep piling bandages on to. I like that sort of asymmetry in the damage types and treatment methods. Spicy foods or alcohol can be used too and would restore 1d4 for both, except really good Dwarf alcohol can restore more. I also had the thought that Dwarves can just restore any damage type by drinking beer which fits their character but might be a little strong since it's the same as a health potion, so making it just cold damage works well and fits that sort of cold mountain dwarf aesthetic if you go for that.

Miasma is another great one. This is where the damage types start to dive more into that “mythical realism” idea I want to push so hard. Miasma is caused by foul air- the rotting or diseased living things or even foul smelling substances in the earth like sulfur cause harm. In this case, not disease but shortness of breath and toxic fumes. It's the medieval fantasy version of gas warfare. The idea is that it can be cured by smelling nice things- the same as the plague doctor with a perfumed beak. Miasma would be hard to cure except if you consider perfume and sweet smelling things to be the cure; huffing a handful of recently clipped flowers would restore 1d4, where as a vial of aromatic extract or healer's perfume would be 1d6 hit points for being more expensive and exclusive. Simply being in a place with fresh air- away from a city and out in the mountains and country, also restores 1d4 per day. Good for fitting in with the ideas about health and disease as mythical people might think of it.

Poison is pretty simple, and is relatively common. Most of the time though I think antidotes just stop poisons as opposed to restore damage done by them, but if we're going with this system, then poison can be removed from the body which counts as healing. Emetic drugs work as a method to induce vomiting- which I've seen (mostly in Eastern fantasy?) as a way to remove impurities or poisons from the body. It's not just the drug, the act of vomiting itself removes the toxin. I like to imagine in the fantasy/medievalist mindset that the stomach has the power to concentrate poisons in the blood that can be spewed out, which leads to black bile and the like. So an emetic drug to induce vomiting also concentrates toxins better. Some kind of plant or herb that causes you to vomit would be 1d6, eating some moldy bread or spoiled meat is 1d4, and just sticking a finger in your mouth to throw up would be like 1d3 or less.

Terror. For terror- I wore my inspiration on my sleeve. I stole Terror/Mortal Terror status effect straight from Sekiro. I really liked this mechanic; when fighting ghostly enemies, there is a status effect bar in the typical soulslike style where it slowly fills and when it is filled, it causes the status effect. Mortal Terror has the effect of instantly killing you, you “die of fright”, regardless of what your health bar looks like. I liked this idea a lot to ground the player characters a bit in this fantasy world, and make the undead feel more fantastical. One issue with this is players will feel like their characters are being controlled too much by the DM- and not in the form of mind control. Like if you want to be a badass warrior you don't want to hear how he get scared. But the idea here is it's supernatural, which I kind of like in terms of undead. Like even if you're brave you start shaking, your hair turns white, etc. And if you get too scared your heart will stop and you'll die. Terror is also a damage type that is a bit harder to cure- pacifying drugs is the main type. Lavender/calming elixirs and tranquilizers would work. I don't know if taking a nap really makes sense here- if it's fear you'd probably just have a screaming nightmare, but at the same time forced people to sleep could be cool. Pacifying drugs are 1d6, lavender sprigs are 1d4. Maybe singing a happy song is 1d3. I personally like the idea of a music box or something like that being used as opposed to a group activity, since it's an “item”, but it's kind of a minor thing.

Wasting damage is caused by draining. I like to imagine death spells, the touch of undead, and blood draining enemies, and being starved as being its causes. The issue with this damage type is it's a bit of an overlap with terror and/or cold when it comes to what could be the main damage type of the undead or “dark magic” sort of thing. I like keeping them separate because it's more authentic to the fantastical realism- and it's a body more “physical” and noticable then something like negative energy or level drain. I do like energy dream but I feel like it could be roped into wasting, but it could also be separate for a more spiritual feel. Eating a ration restores 1d6 wasting damage, a snack is 1d4, a feast is 1d8 or better. Maybe better ingredients have a semi-magical amount of restoration. You could also improvise this with poor quality or raw ingredients- if you're dying of hunger just killing a squirrel and eating it raw because you don't have time to cook it and have a meal makes sense to me. Wasting is more like a drain of your “life force” energy, so you could also make it restored by food, sleep, sex, etc.

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