Interesting takes on healing potions/spells

What are some games that do interesting or weird things with healing potions and/or spells, beyond the standard "instant-HP-recovery" approach? Or alternatively, what are some ways to make healing potions and/or spells more interesting and weird?

Off the top of my head I was thinking things like, healing potions are dangerously addictive, or over time healing magic saps your humanity and turns you into a husk, or healing potions keep you going but don't actually heal your wounds in the long term. That kind of thing.

Comments

  • In the original ICE spell law book, there was a type of healer that could lay hands on a wounded comrade and transfer the damage to themselves. All their healing spells were self-healing.

    Healing in Pendragon, was just brutally hard. Few healing potions existed, and chirugery and first-aid were you're only option (IIRC)
  • You could go with salves and poultices as applications, to put a new spin on things. Topical application for topical injuries/diseases. Drinkables for internal stuff. (Takes time, can't be too active or it falls off, need to have materials on hand.)

    Also, perhaps healing is tied to certain ingredients which cause dreams or hallucinations? So you drink it but then you're out of commission (or act at a sluggish penalty) for a while.

    The 13th Age folks tend to do interesting things with potions...
    http://13thagehomebrews.blogspot.com/2013/01/new-potions.html
  • Healing in Pendragon, was just brutally hard. Few healing potions existed, and chirugery and first-aid were you're only option (IIRC)
    Yeah, it was how brutal injuries and healing can be in Burning Wheel that led me to ponder the role of healing magic in fantasy games.

  • My stupid homebrew system experimented with a couple of random ideas about healing including "only so much of a given wound can be healed" (too hard to track) and "Healing magic that basically just speeds up your natural healing... and makes you crazy hungry in the process." which was actually pretty interesting.
  • How about magical healing changes your body to ethereal (something like non physical.)
    you cannot die because you are not a physical being.
    eventually you effect the physical world less and less and must wait till the magic wears off, about enough time to create a new body.
    Could spin some more ideas off this but will leave it there for now.
  • I like the idea that magical healing is a tradeoff. Perhaps it's damning (spiritual consequences), or it changes your body (healed parts look different or feel cold to the touch, you age one year for each minute of magical healing), or it interacts with other magical effects (parts healed magically stop healing naturally, or stop aging, or make it impossible for you to receive blessings, radiate evil, frighten animals, etc).
  • If you only want to brainstorm different healing potions tricks...

    - You summon a spirit that take place in your body and heal you. It will get total control over your body and mind for an hour before the body is fully restored.

    - "Potions" comes in form of cakes consisting of human flesh.

    - Potions gives you a hangover.

    - Consuming the potion will take away the ability to speech for the duration of the number hit points restored (in minutes, a quarter of an hour, or something.).

    - Your presence is instinctual known by others for a duration of time.

    - You get a stat bonus for a duration of time. Yes, it's a positive side effect which means that people want to consume the potions. (A rule for addiction.)
  • Addiction is an excellent way to go: the process is tremendously addictive, and you become dependent on it.

    Perhaps once you start magical healing, you can only heal magically - something in your body has been disrupted and you no longer heal naturally.

    This is an interesting way to differentiate, say, a war veteran from a "civilian". Especially if magical healing is tremendously expensive...

    Using a healing potion on a wounded infantryman could be an act of grace, or it could be a death sentence (he will be able to rise and help fight for now, but he is doomed to a slow death since he will never be able to afford magical healing again).

    - You summon a spirit that take place in your body and heal you. It will get total control over your body and mind for an hour before the body is fully restored.
    That's a nice one! Healing through demonic possession... excellent stuff!
  • Building up a tolerance could probably be really interesting. The more magical healing you get, the less effective it is. You need more and more of it, in higher concentrations, made by more powerful wizards, otherworldly entities and finally gods.
  • Cool suggestions, all!
    you age one year for each minute of magical healing
    That's kind of amazing.

  • Wounds don't just close over like they never happened. New flesh takes its place, like a scar—except, it isn't human.
  • Having to transfer/transplant the vital energy from another living human would produce a lot of perverse incentives, especially if the magic was common in large-scale battles. Lowly troops might be encouraged to fight suicidally, lest they be captured and used to heal their wounded opponents; for nobility or high-ranking fighters, survival would be crucial, since surely some allied commoner can be sacrificed in order to restore them to fighting shape. Etc.
  • Thats bad IcecreamEmperor gross but some cool incentives. Reminds me of Inca Empire and their fascination with captured noble warrior's and drinking their blood, They believed they gained victims power as they weekened from months of this practice
  • Take one of those numbered glasses from chemistry. Every time your character needs to drink, drink 20 cc from that bottle.

    image

    Plot twist: the substance is alcohol so the player will do more and more stupid things.
  • edited November 2015
    So many awesome ideas here!

    Personally, I think there are a few different relevant categories of healing:

    If your healing potions are already necessary strategic ingredients in fights, you probably don't want to interfere with that price-value element by imposing short-term penalties (or additional advantages) unless you're going to tweak your whole combat and/or economic systems accordingly. I would favor long-term downsides for this kind of potion, such that getting injured and having to use one mid-fight is a particular sort of fallout cost. Turning inhuman or radiating evil or having spirits gradually gain influence over you are perfect for this.

    For potions you use after the fighting is over to, e.g., restore mobility to an injured knee so the character doesn't have a limp for the rest of their life, I think all options are on the table. Momentary effects might be pretty trivial, though -- no one cares about hallucinations if they're in the healer's tent.

    The best place for weird instant effects is probably somewhere in-between -- embedded in combats where you don't need healing potions simply to survive, or in combats where you do need potions but they're cheap and thus not subject to price-value strategic concerns.

    "I was about to die so I had to chug this thing but now I'm all loopy" is tricky -- if it just means you probably get stabbed again and are in the same position, that's no fun. Fun loopiness should probably make you a concern for the rest of the characters in a way that an unconscious guy isn't -- maybe you're really useful, or really dangerous. Berserker strength, prophetic visions, and other upsides would be cool, as long as the downsides make sure this isn't something you'll do when fully healthy. As for dangers, emitting energy that burns friend and foe alike could be interesting (heck, Iron Man 3 already established what a link between that and healing could look like), or maybe you give off corrosive vapors or hypnotic pheromones or are consumed by a thirst for the blood of any living creature or something.
  • I also like the "aging for healing" idea
  • Oh! In our Moldvay/WoDu/5th ed games paladins are embodiments of the forces they serve. On a botched lay hands roll they leave behind a piece of the force in the wound. We had a paladin of Ash and Shadow which on a missed Lay Hands the wound would heal but would be the color of ash (permeant), with tendrils of dust drifting up from it (1d6 days).
  • I really like the tolerance idea. It creates an interesting tension every time a potion is needed, without hosing the PCs which is my concern with the aging roll.

    Another Pendragon one (I've been running the GPC) is that where there are salves or whatever they often run out if you roll a 6 on a d6 when applying them. In game you have a pot of salve, and one day you reach the bottom of it. It does make players think twice because every time they use their healing salve may be the last time. Is it worth it?
  • I really like the tolerance idea. It creates an interesting tension every time a potion is needed, without hosing the PCs which is my concern with the aging roll.
    Well, that's ONE way to explain why, in classic D&D, healing potions and spells are much less effective for high-level characters!

Sign In or Register to comment.