Lots of progress on Demons of Light. Just finished the medical, blacksmithing, and swordplay skills and got the basic combat mechanic sorted out. I’m saving classes for later. I learned on my last attempt to write this RPG that it’s very hard to design classes if any other part of the game system is still undeveloped since their abilities have to reference every other part of the rules.
I’m very excited about the healing rules. Most games don’t do much with the Healing Skill and why should they? Clerics get all the good healing effects, so stopping someone at negative HP from bleeding out is all you really need it for.
Well, I’m totally ditching the Heal-Bot Cleric. It doesn’t fit with Sword & Sorcery themes, so it’s out. That leaves a hole that needs filling. I want mundane skills to be more important and emphasize the deadly nature of combat. After researching medieval medical techniques I’ve come up with three skills that fill the void left by clerics. Physik, Herbalism, and Fairy-Doctoring.
Physik is all about surgery and leeches and messed up pseudo-science. Things like piercing the skull to let out evil spirits and burning the patient with a red-hot iron to drive away evil spirits. Stuff like that. It’s the main source of healing in the game, but if the healer fails their Skill Check the patient takes damage instead. I’ve playtested an early version of it, and it quickly turns into a nerve-wracking game of “can-I-save-this-character’s-life-before-I-accidentally-kill-them?” It makes the usually boring role of Party Healer into something way more fun.
Herbalism can be used to make healing potions, but it takes months and a small fortune just to make one and the lab could explode at any time. I don’t want healing potions on the equipment list. So they’re extremely rare and hard to make. I want battle more gritty and realistic, definitely more low-magic. Getting hacked to pieces, swigging a potion, and going right back into the fight is a bit more High Fantasy than I’d like. I’ll still have ways to do most of the things I’m taking out, but I’m reframing them as mundane not supernatural and I’m making them dangerous to use (medieval medicine was scary shit that usually killed the patient). Also, it does get better eventually. If the healer puts enough time and resources into leveling up their skills they can improve their odds quite a lot, though it’s always possible to fumble on a die roll. The danger’s always lurking whenever the knives and leeches come out.
Fairy-Doctoring is partially based on English Cunning Folk traditions. These were the village healers who avoided being burned at the stake by selling themselves as “Anti-witches”. If you though a witch was cursing you, you could hire one to break the curse. Some of them also practiced more shady forms of sorcery (the exact same things the witches supposedly did). A Fairy-Doctor has an alliance with a Fairy and learns magical ways to cure illnesses. This is the closest I’m coming to the Cleric Class, but even their direct healing capabilities are limited. Rituals take a long time and could require animal sacrifice so they’re not suited to combat. They do sometimes get a magical cure-all that is probably the most powerful healing in the game, but they never know if they’ll get any more of it and their supply is limited. They almost never get to pick what the Fairies are going to teach them, they roll on a table to find out what they get.
Just hit 74 pages of first draft material!