That Healing Feeling

The whole discussion about potions and other applications of magic, especially oils and poultices, got me thinking about the different ways that different magical theories might approach healing.

hurtmansfaceLet’s look at three different disciplines today: Life Magic, Necromancy, and Divine Magic. (I’ll talk more about Life Magic and Necromancy in other posts down the line…)

  • Life Magic – Focused on enhancing living processes. The elements. The animal world. Healing, slowing the aging process, and eventual immortality. Initial spells work on the caster only and they must get to higher levels to apply those same spells to others.
  • Necromancy – Focused on the body after death and the slowing of tissue degradation. Skeletons, zombies, and mummies, but also the creation of life from death.
  • Divine Magicks – Focused on using divine energies to heal the faithful, even to the point of resurrection or reincarnation to influence the spirit after death.

Now let’s look at how they might handle healing. Let’s say that a creature has had a severe wound and lost a leg.

  • A Life Mage might use the 4th level spell Heal Others to encourage the creature’s own body to fight the effects of trauma through growth, regrowing bone, muscle, and tissue.
  • A Necromancer may convince the traumatized bone, muscle, and tissue to stop the damage, curtailing any further bleeding. They can only stop the harm done by further degeneration of the limb, leaving the creature amputated. They will survive, but may not be whole again.
  • A Cleric might use prayers to their deity to do as much (or as little) as their deity would allow in the situation. A proactive deity may make choices based on the priest and the injured, deciding not to heal them fully or to not only heal them but make them better than before. A less involved deity might rely on the priest to make the necessary decision to cast a higher or lower level spell to fix the damage.

johnny-automatic-figure-eight-bandageAll three methods heal some or all of the HP damage to the victim, but leave very different results.

Some questions remain:

  • Does magical healing eventually become an addiction?
  • Does it lose its effectiveness?
  • Does divine healing start to build in a devotion to the gods in those who are healed?

This doesn’t even bring in the idea of magical healing through potions, oils, and poultices. How do those affect the victim? Are oils, salves, and poultices a slower form of healing that simply accelerates the natural healing process vs. suddenly healing things in moments?

Yes, these are some odd thoughts. Most RPGs, especially in the OSR, focus less on the methods and more on the results. So the three types of healing discussed earlier in this article would simply heal X hit points and the characters would move on.

I think it would be useful to go beyond that and explore some of the ramifications of the philosophies applied… What do you think? Leave comments below!

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