The Social Implications of magic: Healer Base lists

Copyright R Dan Henry © 2008

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

"The Healer has wonderful regenerative powers. A high-level Healer can survive almost anything, so long as his brain functions enough to cast spells."

This is the seventh in a series of articles consisting of notes on each of the spell lists in the RMSS version of Spell Law. While it occasionally considers various other ideas concerning the spells, the primary focus is on the commercial or societal use of spells in order to see how they might influence the shape of a culture that employs them.

The Healer Base Lists are so connected in what they do that it does not make sense to treat them separately, so I will look at all of them together.

For the record, the lists in question are Blood Ways, Bone Ways, Cleansing, Muscle Ways, Organ Ways, and Surface Ways.

The Healer has wonderful regenerative powers. A high-level Healer can survive almost anything, so long as his brain functions enough to cast spells. I expect a disproportionately high number of magical artifacts will likely have these spells. The ability to be Very Hard To Kill is surely popular.

Between Healers, Lay Healers, and those with Closed Channeling healing lists, the health and fitness of the more high magical Rolemaster worlds should be rather high. The cliché of the diseased or crippled beggar does not make sense. Charity would be applied to the cause rather than just the effects. This likewise means that scam-artist beggars would need a new story. "A terrible unbreakable curse, me lord, cast upon me in the cradle by an angry fairy, prevents me from doing a day's honest toil, lest I turn into a newt." Likewise, with the new Cleansing list, mental illness and drug addiction can be treated. More folk will thus be returned to the ranks of productive members of society. In turn, this will lead to greater general prosperity and treatment of drug addictions may lower crime rates significantly.

The most distinctive thing about the Healer, of course, is his ability to transfer the wounds of others on to his own person. Now, there is room for considerable research regarding how and why a Healer would take up this line of work and how he responds to it, but from a world-building perspective, what I see are opportunities for conspiracies. Many individuals will owe life, health, or happiness to a Healer's actions, but a Healer's mode of operation will tend to create a stronger sense of debt than that of an ordinary physician. It is not just "I saved your (loved one's) life" but "I took your (loved one's) wound on myself". There is an element of self-sacrifice inherent in the Healer's art well beyond what may be said to reside in healing generally. A group of Healers (or simply a group with many Healer members) could use this to establish systems of favors they call on to get information, cover their tracks, etc. Naturally, such a conspiracy need not be sinister in nature. In addition, Healers will be very welcome almost anywhere—including the halls of power and locations where dangerous (and important) activities transpire, thus their own personal observations would combine to provide considerable data.

A particularly nasty idea is a Healer who had managed to Spell Master the (Long) Transfer spell to work in reverse (although in this case it would have to become a Force (F) spell rather than Utility (U) to be useful. It is probably a bad idea to allow this, but maybe it could be used as a special power for a major villain or as a power on an item.

The religious aspect of the Healer may involve self-harm (or priesthood administered harm), doubling as sacrifice and professional training.