Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Medical Care in the AD&D Age

Most people assume that AD&D gaming takes place in a medieval setting.  That isn't far off I guess, though I myself think of it as an "Alternate Earth" setting which precedes the industrial revolution, if not mimicking a renaissance time.

In AD&D, healing is mostly looked at as being effected by Clerics with curing /healing magic.  The alternative described is primarily wrap it up and rest.

Without becoming too "re-enactment" level realistic though, let's think of other medical solutions.  I've been reading a book series that includes medieval medical practices like barbers and physicians as well as purveyors of herbal remedies and other healing.

As a matter of fact, the books ("The Hangman's Daughter" and "Dark Monk"  by Oliver Pötzsch) go into excellent detail of all those methods by way of storytelling. (fictional mystery based in historical 1600's Bavaria).

The Physician largely relied on the Four Humors and the balance or alignment of those.  They were surgeons and did amputations, etc... They looked upon any other kind of healing art as sacrilegious.

The Barber would do minor things, pull teeth as a dentist, cauterize wounds, handle stings and bites of insects and animals.  They would "bleed" patients as well as shaving and cutting hair.  

Below them, social ladder speaking, were the herbalists and other healers who were just a step away from being considered witches, etc.. and literally risked being burned at the stake if the wrong person decided they didn't like the results of their work.

Most towns did not have it's own physician or the physician had not been to a university and had learned their craft by associating with those who had been to university.

Most towns and villages did have at least one barber and several healers.  Chief among these were midwives and to give credit to the historical accuracy of these books, even the Hangman or executioner was skilled in everything from setting bones to making herbal remedies, anti-poisons, and more.

As a DM,  I admit to a certain level of vindictiveness.  If there is a player who is running their PC into the ground and is being generally obnoxious or pig headed, why I can see how the only healing help available to them might be the nearest town barber.  Have a bleeding and maybe some leeches.  Would you like a shave while you are becoming anemic?

I am going to have a lot of fun populating my towns, villages and cities with these types of NPC's.

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