Song of Soothing Tools

Song of Soothing (pg 299) lists Tools: Yes. rather than Yes. Expendable. like the Herbalism skill it mimics.
(Dwarves have the same thing with Khirurgy, Humans have it with Bloodletting)
If Song of Soothing uses herbs and a bit of elven magic/know how it would seem that it should run the risk of running out (Dwarven Khirurgy too).
Bloodletting makes sense as all you would need is a clean, sharp knife or scalpel set. (Although bandages and tourniquets should run out).
Is there a reason they aren’t expendable?

I think it’s probably because the sort of important bits involved which might run out are “below the abstraction layer” of things which are easy to replace.

Thing is, bandages and tourniquets at that time are not really too hard to get your hands on, especially as they can be reused to your heart’s content. People were absolutely happy to wash bandages and apply them again, and tourniquets were often reused too. Ambroise Pare developed ligatures in the 16th century, which spread very very slowly (and were thread). Otherwise, wounds were typically cauterised (this practice continued really really late).

Compare these things, which are widely available and easy to reuse (not good to reuse, but they did) as they are threads and cloth, to the specialist herbs involved in Herbalism (which isn’t an exact match to the Song of Soothing, look at the bleed time rules) and you get a picture of why they probably aren’t considered all that finite.

I was thinking of that scene in the Hobbit movies where the elven maiden (I’m terrible at Tolkien names) takes the herbs that were gathered by one dwarf (Herbalism) and applys them to the other dwarf to counteract the Orcish poison (Song of Soothing) as well as health his wounds (Lyric of Healing or continuation of Song of Soothing).
That seemed like those herbs were definitely important, and not carried about)

Not seen those movies, but in the books (LOTR, not The Hobbit):

Using Aragorn as an example of Elven Healing. In Burning Wheel rules this may make slightly less sense, but the Numernorean lineage and his elven training make it clear he’s using Elven healing arts.

Athelas, or kingsfoil, is used by Aragorn (the hands of the king are the hands of a healer) to cure Faramir after the Battle for Pellenor fields. Kingsfoil is widely considered a sweet-smelling weed, and before it works he is laughed at for attempting its use. He sings whilst doing so, so he might be using Elven magic (he refers to Elrond as the most skilled and Eldest of his race- the Luthien). He does some mind-mojo during his healing (he calls Eowyn and kisses her brow to restart her breathing). Aragorn uses Athelas for pretty much everything, but it’s effect is only to soothe, not to heal, he otherwise washes and soothes (kissing brows, touching, calling).

Notably, athelas is never, in all the books, difficult to find when needed, although it is commented it is rarely cultivated, and all but unknown in the North, and it seems to take the place of a bonus ingredient to healing (+1D) rather than necessary, except to treat the Black Breath.

Elves seem to do most healing extremely effectively and behind the scenes. Frodo is almost instantly soothed by Glorfindel saying a few words and touching the wound, and all we know is that Elrond somehow removed the blade’s splinter from Frodo’s arm. Merely having an elf do the washing of the wound, and speaking to you, seems to make your wounds heal quicker and more effectively (Frodo’s missing finger’s stump heals over without a blemish in a matter of weeks)

In all, I think that the ruling is easily changeable, but I’d say it’s meant to highlight that it is elven skill and attention which provides most of their healing powers, and that the effect of herbs they use is either negligible, a part of the fiction of itself (advantage dice), or relatively tertiary (Herbalism FoRK).

So that scene I discussed could have been as simple as a BWG linked test as the two characters didn’t start out working together (Helping) but the dwarfs extra successes with Herbalism aided the elf in her Song of Soothing.

Regardless, it would appear that the tool kits are listed correctly, and a elf who has both Herbalism and Song of Soothing can FoRK one into the other as long as her toolkits are available for each skill.
That, plus elven and dwarven healing arts are considered to be Natural Magic (open ended dice) so both races could just get a pass on this one.

Why has a masterful command of Tolkien lore and I agree with almost everything. I would only quibble with a minor interpretation of Tolkien without arguing with his interpretation of BW rules. Tolkien was explicit that ME was our earth in an earlier age and so, I believe, that any occult happenings in the book would match up with medieval understanding of occult practices. That Tolkien’s encyclopedic understanding of that time period would be the rosetta stone that informed the seemingly, to us, whimsical and arbitrary workings of magic and sorcery.

Throughout the books Tolkien is at pains to point out that Aragorn is not just a man of martial skill, but a man trained in lore and the arts, what a medieval person would say were the seven liberal arts. (This is evident when he out “lores” the lore master in Minas Tirith and is referred to as “not just a captain of war” p. 899) and in the definition of “high” elf/man in stark contrast to the lesser “middle” men of Numenorean descent who have been mixed with wild men (like Boromir) who glorify in battle and martial arts but who lack all understanding of, presumably, the (liberal) arts (p.705). Yes, It is elvish lore he is using, but that lore is really a type of education in the same manner that, say a Carolignian nobleman, perhaps, Charles the Great (to whom Aragorn is sometimes compared), would have understood it. The lore and knowledge of a greater age before the dark ages.

It should not go un-noticed that the healers of Minas Tirith are called “leeches” and practice “leechcraft” which appears to be considered a low form of physician-ship and the comical interaction with the, presumably illiterate, wise-woman p. 879 and 894 paints a picture of shoddy ability, ignorance, and lost arts. They lack the knowledge of the liberal arts as well as the ancient learning, derived from those arts, of the occult virtue of certain plants that define the “High” men.

Therefore Kingsfoil is not incidental. It is referred to as having “virtue” which was an important medieval concept and important to the use of alchemical simples and concoctions. The occult virtue of certain things of course benefits from the occult power of words both written and said and sung (the engraved walking staves given to frodo and sam by Faramir, the runes on war-machine Grond the prayer to Elbereth Frodo used against Shelob and Aragorns incarnations of healing (p. 721, 747, 758, 860) and of course the gates to Moria!

Now, how important is the herb compared to the word when applied to a game rule in BW? I will differ to those more knowledgable, the advantage die or FoRK seems to account for everything well enough. But “the hands of the king are the hands of a healer” show his hands crushing the herb Athelas so I would say that the herbs are not incidental to the healing. I believe Aragorn also mentions that had Faramir’s wound been more severe, the poor quality kingsfoil might have had a more difficult time healing him, so I wouldn’t be opposed to a linked test either.