Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A medieval medicine setting, ft. The Crusades, Gods-Brother and the disturbing loss of magic.

It is important to realise that body-horror conditions we like to use in media and fiction like festering pustules, boils and most other diseases we see as horrific today were just everyday stuff throught most of history.
A horror that you dont understand. It is well documented that even the wealthy, those with physicians and warmth and food suffered a huge range of gnarly ailments. I still like to feel smug about toilets and soap, for all their wealth Cesar had no shitter and Cleopatra had to rub oils &etc all over her because who even showers?
Now think about travellers, pesants and doctors. Germ theory was not even a whisper of a thought.

In cities and towns water was an unwholesome alternative to ale and wine, both of terrible quality but at least sort of sterile. Offering a guest water was socially rude because of fun things like cholera, and diahreea that could in all likelyhood kill you. Hygine consisted of a protective crust of dirt, and clothes were basically rusted on all winter. Poops happened. Everywhere.
Kate Beaton is a fucking boss history nerd and I ALWAYS think of her Pesant series when I get medieval.
Also shoutout to those on Burgs and Bailiffs for the raddest ever quasi historical medical knowhow and also charts.


Show your players a different paradigm of medicine- Humours (blood, phlegm, black and yellow bile), Miasmas (lit. 'Bad air') were the prevalent mode for most of medieval times, along with a little mystical alchemy and the practical approach of animal doctors+bonesaws.
Im thinking a world on the cusp of medicine haunted by the spectre of illness and widespread plague, that is your everpresent, your setting is a miasma of illnes: spurring religion, influenceing politics, killing friends.

Barber Surgeons, this is not a joke, only barbers had the tools and would treat a commoner.
Some farmers and butchers had knowlege of animal ailments and anatomy but no such tools.
Salves and poltuces are pulped plant and fat.
Clysters are medidical enemas, live animal enemas were a thing cos why the fuck not. Release the tadpoles.
Leeches and blood drainings (doctors used sanguination as an anaesthetic cos if they are too wacked to scream they are technically fine. Oterwise its hemlock is good- a deadly poison.)

Diorhea lets out black bile, vomit is yellow. These are all linked to elements eath fire water ether.
Throwback to the Skeleton Podcast- bones are clearly made of compacted semen and they are cold so like obviously earth, read it and weep suckas.

Sometimes you just pump in some cow urine or feces or whatever to balance out the element ratio in that ol patient. He lost a lot of blood.

Thats a dungeon I want- Early medicine in a world of fading magic. A quack charlatan sends you on miasmatic quests, you may never learn his alignment or intent.
Bro I kno that red cross means a lot to you, but it sure looks like a target.
Lucky you just invented the concept of fixing the wounded instead of mercy-killing them!

Forgotten Hospitallier vaults containing long lost plague cures must be opened with offerings of Bile Yellow and Black, Blood and Phlegm.
Yes you must indeed shit in the stone bowl while your paladin retches yellow bile into the Chalice. Now we find a phlegmatic pilgrim for snot and blood and praise-be-lord-saviour the portal shall open!

Stimulants and surgery do strange and unexpected things, no matter what the intent of the surgeon... The quack accidentally nicks the wrong nerve trying to paralyse your facial muscles (its all a complex scam you see) and dulls your pain nerves instead, the goodly Spirit healer Hospitaller removes the pike but leaves your intestines knotted and plugged with a thick "healing" salve of rendered fat and opiates, a recipe recently arrived from the eastern Yarusalem Holy City and a dodgy translation at best.
The good news is that you are bodily strong, and the plug will provide sustenance, pain dulling, sleep quelling miasmas for three days before your inability to eat starts to sap your strength. And your breath smells like rotting and sweet eastern spices.. The doctors last orders, whispered in shame and darkness- whatever you do, do not sneeze or commune with woman.

Quacks offer free trepanning to fix the mentally unstable, but only if they can keep the circle of curved bone he will bore out of your skull. He is hired, only to immobilise you with heavy bloodletting, produce a frogs liver from the hole via slight of hand, declare you fixed and then leave with your money before you recover from your lobotimised torpor enough to cry foul.
You CAN hear god better now though.. and you can FEEL that circle of bone over the west horizon. This must stop.

Barber Veterinarians are the plumbers of the body, there is a lower risk of mystical Humorous (pun intended) side effects (good or bad) but less actual healing. The rough, pragmatic scarring is a badge of honour and integrity to the lower classes.

The Barber is the only man with sharp, fine tools and via livestock, a blood smeared knowledge of an animal's insides and where they should reside. To bear those scars and survive is a rejection of the cloisters and towers of academia where the pesant patients are chewed up and spat out, sometimes healed, but always, always changed. Those scars bear a different pattern, baroque and haunting and not all visible.

The Court Physicians and Kept Alchemists spurn them, the butcher-menders they cannot even afford a decent plague mask. Superior alchemy and the application of Kabbalisthtic scarring, Mussleman chaemical salts and Vadic rhyming polemics provide superior healing.
Proper re-routing of the bile ducts and application of alchemic false-humors can stir even the old magics.
Magics thought lost to the world with the unholy evisceration of GodsMartyr and the Crusade to bury the taint of Gods-Brother.

Why, the last patient even turned wine to blood!
The thoracic shunt delivered sacramental red directly to the spleen, and behold he urinates fresh blood.
Martyr bless my work, as I write it clots before my eyes: too pure for the ether of the open air.
We know there could be no native blood, for the patient was properly exsanguinated previous to sanctification, and thus the spleen, holy engine of transmutation has clearly been induced to miracles bless out Father I shall have this specimen duly arrayed before the reliquary.


I'm thinking the Crusades in a world where the death of Christ brought magic and the taken-for-granted magic healing to an end, throwing society into disarray.
Pestilence hangs over centres of civilisation, as in history. War is bloody and life is cheap.
We do not know whether God died with the Martyr-vassal and his epoch of magic. We know not to debase ourselves for forgiveness, curse magic or claw it back, earn forgiveness through self reliance, penetance or glory? Unified western faith is fractured into dozens of sharp edged splinters. There are rumours that there is a Second Messiah, one overlooked, an antivassal? Perhaps an angel, one thought to be also the devil, a two sided coin is still worth the same is it not. Rumors also he is here to save us, destroy us or reform us, all that is consistent is that he too is made in Gods image, and also in ours.

The scramble to revivify the faded arts of medicine, alchemy and other knowledge lost in the shadow of "wizards did it" reliance of magic has compressed our history- we have Holy Wars, Religious Reform, Alchemy, Foerign Mytsticism, Occultism, Witchhunts, Empire building, Plague and Politics all going on at once.

Gods-brother is a Lucifer figure, think Mr Morningstar of Neil Gaimans Lucifer comic (really good, don't watch the TV show). Far more complex and ambiguous than the christian devil.
In a twisted way he is Gods favourite angel, as he was given both autonomy (pride, expulsion, self determination) and a kingdom, unlike anyone else in heaven.
He is said to have abandoned his kingdom to walk this earth in human guise after the GodsMartyr was killed and magic fled.
More of a suave trickster and courtesan than a tailed violent redman.

Gods-Brother (stole the name from Peter F Hamilton) worshippers range from basic Chaos and/or Satan devotees to those of Second Coming who think HE is the Second Messiah, (not the dead GodMartyr), who is currently being tested and ultimately groomed to replace God in heaven- functioning both as nemesis and heir. Note: Not necessarily evil!
(kinda like how Muslims rejected Christ as messiah and kept on keeping on.)

The church of course demonises him and he is the number one wicked devil Satan in their eyes, but thats propaganda for you.
The reality is up to  you. If you want a destroyer standin there is Abaddon who is THE great destroyer but actually works for God cos sometimes shit just needs destroying. Dont forget you fucked up the Christ arc and pissed God off so the danger is real..

Anyway religion aside, the vacuum left by the magical arts is being filled with mad science, tricksters, politics and ADVENTURERS.
Charlatans have a plethora of opportunities, fanatics, true believers, thieves, scholars also.
I forgot engineering..

I mentioned previously that medical and technical knowledge is faded, but not new.
Like how europeans leveraged themselves out of the Dark Ages with a little help from eastern Golden Age mathematics and so on. Civilisations rise and fall, and magic caused science to fall a long time ago.
That means there are lost vaults, unsullied libraries, mothballed research projects and secret societies to plunder. There are other civilisations out there too, an exotic Jerusalem analog, asia maybe. False gods etc. never even had magic perhaps. That means diplomats, saboteurs, exiles and spies in the mix too.

Your employers are insane alchemists, wealthy collectors, market speculators, monarchs, politicians and priestly scholar sects, whose budget just went from "pfft not even a wizard" to "help me Obi Wan Kanobi you're my only hope".

You are not the only party of adventurers, and not everyone was caught unprepared by the loss of magic. The pragmatic and hardheaded, the unions, the poor, many people lived without magic and some doomsday prophets even prepared for life without it.

Many town gates and village trees are hung with High Magisters and others who lost their powers at inconvenient times. Others are penitent flaggelators. Others were probably stage magicians all along. Some made sure that their status was cemented with state secrets, politics or other indispensable roles and struggle to maintain their more earthly power.

To make medicine and alchemy pack more punch I would say the more arcane it is the more it stirs the remanants of deep magic left behind. Players can favour the Barber for a crude but reliable patchup, or go to the far side for a risky treatment- leading to side effects, I would probably do a Gamma World 2e style mutation table with a wide range of positive and negative effects ranging from myopia to full spells or positive mutations.

Check out Gammaworld 2e mutation charts, Burgs & Baliffs superb medical charts, or any number of great blogs featuring magical and wyrd ailments.

Im feeling my love of Pillars of Eternity coming through a lot here too, especially the is-god-dead angst. check out their art.                  

Gamma World favours Pure players with stronger, heartier base stats (Crusader Paladin, Steady Pilgrim, Second Messiah Soldier, Quack Doctor)

While mutant/magic tainted ones get random unerthly powers and taints and less physical attributes unless their subsequent mutations happen to negate that. (Chaocite Godkiller, Warmended, an Alchemists Grist, Reconstituted Leper-Monk, Psychopomp Trepanee)

Pics relevant but with heaps more Templar and Crusader Knight shit going down.
Yup there he is
I cant decide if i want to go for desert and palms climate or central europe wet and grey, I would probably start with heists in Wetgrey and later send them behind the crusaders towards Desertpalms over a few sessions to get into some more exotic lost libraries and relics and some religio-political danger.

Death by Raving- rabies, seizures, madness of all kinds.
Wandering sickness- Likely dementia syphillis etc
Wasting- cholera, worms, basically everything etc
Broken Heart/ Grief- severe depression, torpitude, parasites, cancer etc

I would be more than happy to hear your comments, but refuse to reference my historical/hysterical claims (its all a made-up consensus fanfic anyway rite? hehe)

Seriously though I havent thought about the crusades since high school I dont know what happened here.
Comments and corrections super welcome :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Renfield's Cast #8, Premiering on itunes!

Our newest cast featuring Robin at his Illest,

In other news we are now on itunes which will catapult us into the search queries of unsuspecting podcatchers world over.

Please oh please drop us a review as apparently that is how Apple measures your castliness and worth, and we occasionally have anxiety attacks about the size of our fanbase ho ho.