Before I go too far afield with spell burning, is there a particular rule against mages having healing magic?
I was thinking of making three different spells: one to purge and purify (Staunch Bleeding) another to knit and mend (Treat Wound) and a third to temporarily negate the effects of the wounds (similar to the elven Doom of Strength).
Notice that the first two would be able to be used in conjunction with each other and the Blessed Hands spell, and each would be burned with the Extension Sigil to keep actions close to skill treatment times where as the third (Negate Wounds ? ) would be Compresed and Sustained so the effect only lasts as long as the caster can mantain his focus.
Do these ideas break anything in the rules or cause any other problems?
A rule? No. And if there were, you could overrule it. It’s your game!
My question, always, for all magic in any game, is which toes get stomped. There are no a priori limits to magic. It can do literally anything until you decide that it can’t. There’s no appeal to realism or reason. Given that, anything magic can’t do is a special case. Consider why.
Because magic can do anything, and can do it magically, magic is, at base, better at everything than everything else could ever hope to be. Various games try, with varying degrees of success, to limit that. Burning Wheel does this, at least with base Sorcery, with a limited spell list that does certain things but not other things, and with opportunity costs and difficulty of getting spells. You’re expanding the list into new territory. You’re giving mages the ability to do something that was previously the realm of healers only.
Maybe it’s balanced by being more difficult, or having tax, or what have you. Maybe not. But now you’re considering a world in which sorcery does healing. Want healing? You don’t necessarily go to a physician, you go to a wizard. That’s a different world. What does it mean? Is that what you want?
Or, in brief, save replacing skills for Practical Magic.
Going outside the realm of verisimilitude into game design, magic healing makes a joke of combat and the risks of injury. Even if it doesn’t start as a joke (introducing just minor healing), it really is a slippery slide that leaves everyone laughing at the end. There is also the issue that miraculous healing has become very closely associated with religion aka “faith” which threatens the non-overlapping majesterium of the relevant arts.
I think it could work if you’re keeping it the same realm as Blessed Hands. The idea is that you can’t make wounds disappear, but you can stop bleeding, treat them or temporarily suppress them with magic.
Faith based miracles would be used for the disappearing act. But those are miracles and hard to pull off.
It’s also worth pointing out that wounds are a really great source of tests, especially for characters with high exponent stats and skills that can only advance with difficult or challenging tests. The ability to heal wounds quickly could actually stymie character advancement.
A spell that allows wounds to be transferred could be interesting, though. You can’t reduce the number of dice lost, but you can distribute them around magically. So instead of one guy on death’s door from a Traumatic wound while the other three guys get out of the scrap just fine, the sorcerer can spread around the pain so everyone’s got a niggling -1D. Less knocking one person out of the fight, more sharing the burden. (Still alters advancement a bit.)
Additional questions: how long does that take to heal? It’s a great deal if everyone just has to sleep off the equivalent of a Light wound, but what if then everyone has to take all the time a Traumatic wound would take? Sure, maybe they don’t risk being crippled—if you’re feeling generous about how this works—but that’s a long time to feel not quite right.
While it’s a standard trope, I don’t really recommend lifting wounds from one person and putting them on someone unwilling. Cool blood magic, bad for gameplay unless there’s a significantly higher cost than that. Voluntary co-sufferers only.
The spell ideas put forth would give a spell option for staunching the flow of blood (cleanse and purify wound) and treating the wound (knit and mend wound).
The first would keep the recipient from bleeding out, getting infected, or suffering further effects of poisons for the next scene from the successfully staunched wound.
The second one would count as treatment and allow the natural healing process to begin. (This would be a good time to cast the blessed hands spell to aide the healing process)
The other spell under consideration would allow the caster to temporarily negate the wound penalties of spell recipients. This would be used to allow a wounded person to still function as if unwounded (or less wounded) and ideally woud be used to move them to a safer location to properly attend to their wounds. This last one (negate wounds) would be sustained and finalized with compression (to keep the casting time down and increase the spell obstacle). Negate Wounds would not treat or remove the wounds only negate their penalties.
The justification for these is that mages tend to accomplish by magic what others accomplish by skill or trait (witch key instead of lockpick, dexterity of the cat instead of the call-on of the same name).
Having healing magic gives spell casters another option to deal with injuries, and mages are all about having options.
And often times using a spell instead of a skill is a poor substitute (even with open ended dice). The Cleanse Wound spell I came up with is such a case. It is much easier to staunch the flow with bloodleting than this particular spell. But then, every spell doesn’t have to be the best choice or even be very good just to be a spell. And even the most unheard of ones can be used to make a difference by the clever wizard (Magic Whistle, anyone?).