Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Heal Spell Revisited

When I first converted the much valued heal spell from Shadowrun rules to Shadowitz, I left it largely unaltered.

  1. Choose the wound box you want to heal and roll your dice. 
  2. Divide your hits between yin and yang.
  3. Each yang die drops the wound by 1.
  4. Each yin die drops your drain by 1 (drain equals the wound you tried to heal).
And that's that. Truth be told, it means that magic's pretty good for dropping a single wound down to more manageable levels or getting a single low to mid ranked wound off your grid entirely. But if you're really chewed up and have more black on your condition monitor than white, magic's a pretty poor alternative to medical treatment. I liked that. Not only does it keep the science aspect of the sixth world up there in importance, and along with it street doc contacts and DocWagon contracts, but it also balances the load contained within my own party. We had a mage at one time (he's since left us, though we don't take it personally outside of one player looking at the empty chair every game and saying "douche"), but we also have an adept with a skill focus on doctor. This breakdown of ability made both mage and medic important in their own ways, with neither better than the other. 

Except that the heal spell didn't have any rules in it for healing injuries. With the ratcheted impact injuries have on the healing process, that's a question that's going to come up, if we ever get a mage at the table. But hey, I'm an optimist, and I've got some time to spend answering these potential questions, and in general it fills out the game even if we're not using those rules at the moment. So I'm going for it. 

Injuries are supposed to be a big deal. Wounds hurt. They replace your normal dice with penalty dice and make it harder to succeed. Injuries hurt in more ways. Though they don't change your die pool at all, they are negative aspects that can give your opponents bonus dice when whupping up on you. They also make those wounds, which give you penalty dice, stick around for much longer. And they themselves have abysmal recovery times, so you'll be carrying them around for a while.

So why would I want to make them easier to get rid of? I want to give the players options. More than that though, I think that magic needs to be able to deal with injuries in order for it to remain anything close to respectable when compared to modern medicine. Still, I intend to keep the cost high.

If we're going to do this, we need a couple of things:
  1. How to assess the target threshold
  2. How to assess drain
The rest, factoring in the target's essence, rolling the dice, etc., can follow the existing procedure. No need to completely reinvent the process. 

So, threshold. When healing wounds this was really easy, since each wound has its own number. Subtract the yang of the spell from the wound number and drop it that many levels. Injuries, however, don't have numbers. They have levels. Still, these levels represent a range of wound boxes they encompass, so let's say that the threshold for healing an injury is equal to the lowest wound box in the injury's range. 

Why the lowest? Honestly, it's because of one thing: I want there to be more than a single point difference between serious and deadly injuries.

This makes the target thresholds for injuries as follows:
  • Light = 1
  • Moderate = 5
  • Serious = 8
  • Deadly = 10
Now, there's a big difference between magically healed wounds and medically treated ones: success on a magical healing check means the wound is completely healed. As in all gone. Medicine drops it by a level, where it can be treated again. Magic makes it all go away at once. It's a pretty hefty difference, but that's part of the reason for those target thresholds.

Yes, this means a light injury is ridiculously easy to heal, but a medic can heal these without making any roll at all, so I'm okay with the low threshold there. On the other end of the spectrum, you need 10 hits to get rid of a deadly injury. 10 hits is a lot. Even if you do manage to make that, it means you probably aren't saving any of those hits to help you with drain. And that means you're taking some hardcore mana burn to pull that off. 

On that topic, let's talk drain. While the idea of being taken out trying to heal an injury has its appeal, for the sake of simplicity let's say healing injuries causes injuries, in this case stun. So drain for healing injuries is a stun injury of the same level you are attempting to heal. Your yin dice can reduce this, however it's not a 1:1 reduction in drain the way it is for wounds. Again, injuries have ranges of wounds they encompass. For drain reduction, start at the highest wound rating within an injury, and drop it by 1 for each yin. When you run out of yin, find the corresponding injury level. That's what you take in drain.

For example, let's say your friendly mage chummer is trying to heal a serious wound. He generates 3 yin on his test. He starts at a serious stun injury in drain, which includes box 9 at its high end. Subtract 3 from that for the 3 yin, which brings him to 6. Wound 6 falls within the aegis of a moderate injury, so he takes a moderate stun injury in drain.

Since a mage doesn't take any wounds from healing injuries, he's never going to be taken out by doing so. While that may seem weak, it also means that it locks his stun boxes in place, meaning that a simple rest after combat might not have him up to full capacity when it comes time to start slinging the mana again. This means that the party needs to judge whether it's worth knocking their caster down a few pegs for the next few scenes every time.

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