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Noclevername
2013-May-30, 12:38 PM
As I so often do, I'm putting aside my current writing-blocked story to work on one of my older ones. It usually helps to change my perspective every so often.

Anyway, the one I'm taking a look at has an unsolved flaw; it needs a common healing spells or spells, but the magic system that is so integrally tied to the rest of the story isn't consistent with that. The system basically consists of sensing and manipulating physical properties (example-- to shoot lightning you need to know how to draw electrostatic energy from the air), making wizards also the "scientists" of their day. This becomes necessary later in the story, and is not subject to much alteration for plot purposes. It should be plausibly consistent with established physics, giving a reason why the magic hasn't been discovered by science; The magic "process" itself consists of unbalancing forces that in nature are normally balanced to zero, and so have not been detectable up until now, but the details of how that magic affects matter are the parts I can't quite wrap my head around.

But following the rules I've set down, learning to heal magically would require the equivalent of medical school to learn about detailed physiology, cellular biology and germ theory. Is there a way I can simplify the process so that healing becomes something a novice wizard could learn fairly easily? Some sort of resonance between healthy and injured bodies as a template, or some entanglement between separated cells and/or body parts, or reverse entropy, or something?

(BTW, I'm not looking for "It's magic so anything goes" as a response, I'd like some constructive advice.)

Solfe
2013-May-30, 12:51 PM
Empathic healing, sympathetic healing, or temporal healing might be solutions.

Empathic healing causes the healer to take the wounds of the injured upon themselves, then accelerate their own healing processes to eliminate the harm.

Sympathetic healing is about the same, but the healer creates an object as a copy of the injured, breaks in the same way the person is hurt then repairs the object.

Temporal healing is merely speeding every process up so that the injured ages into a healed body. It is gruesome, when it fails and horrifying if something can't be fixed that way or fixed "wrong".

Noclevername
2013-May-30, 01:44 PM
Empathic healing, sympathetic healing, or temporal healing might be solutions.

Empathic healing causes the healer to take the wounds of the injured upon themselves, then accelerate their own healing processes to eliminate the harm.

Sympathetic healing is about the same, but the healer creates an object as a copy of the injured, breaks in the same way the person is hurt then repairs the object.

Temporal healing is merely speeding every process up so that the injured ages into a healed body.

The first and to some degree, the third, are consistent with the healthy template model; you "scan" you own body and then alter the wounded one to conform to its properties, but there's a feedback effect and you need to speed up your own healing to compensate. It means some people would have difficulty with some wounds, like fixing parts of the opposite gender, or if the healer is extensively scarred or crippled.


It is gruesome, when it fails and horrifying if something can't be fixed that way or fixed "wrong".

Hello, monster origins!

HenrikOlsen
2013-May-30, 01:52 PM
Given the limitations you put on magic healing magic would be extremely tricky, exactly for the reasons you pointed out.
That said, something like disrupting life should be a lot simpler, and such things as being able to sterilize bandages and water will in itself have a very large effect on wound survivability.

Infinity Watcher
2013-May-30, 01:59 PM
As I so often do, I'm putting aside my current writing-blocked story to work on one of my older ones. It usually helps to change my perspective every so often.

Anyway, the one I'm taking a look at has an unsolved flaw; it needs a common healing spells or spells, but the magic system that is so integrally tied to the rest of the story isn't consistent with that. The system basically consists of sensing and manipulating physical properties (example-- to shoot lightning you need to know how to draw electrostatic energy from the air), making wizards also the "scientists" of their day. This becomes necessary later in the story, and is not subject to much alteration for plot purposes. It should be plausibly consistent with established physics, giving a reason why the magic hasn't been discovered by science; The magic "process" itself consists of unbalancing forces that in nature are normally balanced to zero, and so have not been detectable up until now, but the details of how that magic affects matter are the parts I can't quite wrap my head around.

But following the rules I've set down, learning to heal magically would require the equivalent of medical school to learn about detailed physiology, cellular biology and germ theory. Is there a way I can simplify the process so that healing becomes something a novice wizard could learn fairly easily? Some sort of resonance between healthy and injured bodies as a template, or some entanglement between separated cells and/or body parts, or reverse entropy, or something?

(BTW, I'm not looking for "It's magic so anything goes" as a response, I'd like some constructive advice.)

Solfe listed most of the obvious ideas so I'll try and jump in to some of the less obvious stuff

How much healing do you need Noclevername? I'm not a doctor but I was a medical student for a while before various issues including a number of health problems forced me to pack it in for a more lab based course (which is also biomedically based), and one thing I picked up on is that there's "healing" and there's "healing". Splinting together a broken bone to allow for limited use of the limb requires very little in depth knowledge (it can be accomplished by any competent first-aider after a minimal amount of training). Pulling somebody back from septic shock with multiple organ failure requires much more understanding of what you're doing and even if you succeed there's a distinct possibility the patient will be left with long term handicaps. The reason I ask is twofold: I could think of ways to treat say a broken leg in battle that might allow the soldier ot get back in the fight, at the possible cost of later injury and impaired recovery later (i.e. internally splint the bone so it can't move and cause further damage and will weight bear, knock out the pain reception and sew up the external wound) which might relegate magical healing to a risky proposition that you ahve to be fairly desperate to accept and two: I'm wondering how good your final outcomes have to be, getting D&D style Back to full functionality in five seconds would be a *lot* harder than just needing to reduce death rates from the good old barber-surgeon's chop-shop

Surgery might actually be easier in a lot of ways (if you can tie off the blood vessels *before* making an incision by for example using telekinesis to compress the blood vessels until they clot you've substantially reduced the problem with bleeding to death that most mediaeval surgeons faced (Surgery was never my strong point so I won't say eradicated since it might be going too far) and if you can minimise the size of the external wound you minimise the chances of post surgical infection by reducing the opportunity for wound contamination

As for curing a disease... does your setting have anything close to "mana", "life energy", "auras", Qi or similar? If so you could simply say that bacterial cells register slightly differently to whatever magical sense can detect these, assume a certain amount of "we don't know why this works but it apparently does" level of knowledge (which does crop up from time to time in medicine, sometimes drugs get identified well ahead of anyone identifying the mechanism by which they work... see most psychiatric meds we know mostly how they work, but the full story remains something of a mystery hence the wonderful shotgun approach to determining what people go on. Since we don't fully understand the mechanisms by which people develop a lot of psychiatric diseases we can't really predict or explain why one drug works for one person and causes problems for another [beyond the obvious statement of "it must be slight differences in brain chemistry and cause" and some rather crude measures (Serotonin is involved in reward and good mood, depressed patients show decreased serotonin levels, one of the drugs known to selectively elevate serotonin should correct this patient's problem)] Then apply a small amount of precise telekinesis/pyrokinesis/method of destruction of your choice to rupture the cell membrane and kill the unknown lifeform, similarly viral diseases could be eradicated by imitating a kind of hyper-t-killer-cell response (T-killer cells identify infected cells and destroy them, stopping viral replication cold, do it enough times and you eradicate the virus at least theoretically, it's a bit more complex than that since destroying the cell in-situ would cause additional problems (most of the symptoms of the common cold are actually due to the immune response rather than the virus itself (one of the reasons Interferon never really panned out as the anti-viral wonder drug it was initially hoped to be is that it makes you feel horribe giving you massive flu-like symptoms (there are additional more important reasons but this wasn't a small problem), it's still worth it in some cases for example it's used int he treatment of some viral hepatitis infections to reduce the probability of the patient becoming chronically infected with the virus but it would be a fairly futile treatment for the common cold since you would end up feeling substantially worse *with* the treatment than without)

Depending on how chronomancy works in your setting and if a spell can be maintained in the absence of the caster you could treat various hormonal diseases by limited acceleration/deceleration of the secreting gland (again it doesn't require knowledge of *how* it works just that "if you make this bit run faster then someone with these symptoms feels better", so it would be a more empirical approach than any sort of coherent systems based framework of knowledge)... of course you might need some way of anchoring the gland to the patient... there's no point accelerating the gland if it ends up half a second out of phase with the patient and you might have to go back to the mage every so often to get the spell renewed (but then that's how a lot of modern medicine for chronic diseases would seem if you lacked the biological framework to put it in)

These are just a few ideas (it's an interesting problem that unfortunately I won't be able to devote a huge amount of thought to until tomorrow at the earliest) and I'll keep bouncing ideas around to see if I can come up with anything else.

Noclevername
2013-May-30, 02:25 PM
The use is mainly for healing battle injuries and preventing infections and plagues. The setting is not full of people in perfect health all the time, so some degree of scarring and handicap occurs, as well as normal aging and death by natural causes, but they are generally healthier than a real population could be.

There is a limited "aura" sense, but it's based on reading patterns of bioelectrical activity and I'm not sure how effectively that would differentiate between microbe types.

Viruses are a big issue, but since they require access to cells in order to reproduce, might there be a way to "lock out" certain "keys" by altering or affecting the cells themselves?

Infinity Watcher
2013-May-30, 02:57 PM
The use is mainly for healing battle injuries and preventing infections and plagues. The setting is not full of people in perfect health all the time, so some degree of scarring and handicap occurs, as well as normal aging and death by natural causes, but they are generally healthier than a real population could be.

There is a limited "aura" sense, but it's based on reading patterns of bioelectrical activity and I'm not sure how effectively that would differentiate between microbe types.

Viruses are a big issue, but since they require access to cells in order to reproduce, might there be a way to "lock out" certain "keys" by altering or affecting the cells themselves?

I'm not sure you'd need to differentiate between microbe types (yes killing every bug in the body would cause other problems see antibiotic related C. Diff infections, but it might be worth the risk), just smack everything that pings as non-human and you'll probably get the disease (certain toxin related diseases like diptheria introduce additional complexities however...)

As far as "locking out" viruses from cells, this is actually a big area of research at the moment, since once a virus gets into the cell targeting it there is much more problematic (since the virus mostly uses host cell machinery shutting down viral replication without killing the host cell presents significant challenges, as for viruses which can enter a latent phase where they exist only as a DNA sequence integrated into the host genome such as HSV... that's even harder) there is an antiviral drug that works on a similar basis (actually strictly speaking it blocks off part of the virus that detects binding to a cell and initiates membrane fusion), of course the problem you run into here is that you have to understand what a virus is and how it replicates to even consider trying something like this... It's problematic

edited to add: you talked about altering the cells themselves, the problem with targeting the cells like that is that most of the receptors involved in viral fusion also have some improtant physiological function so just shutting them off or changing their shape (wich would effectively deactivate them) isn't really an easy option since you'll also shut down whatever that receptor is actually *supposed* to be doing in the first place

Ara Pacis
2013-May-30, 04:52 PM
I'm not sure I fully understand the question in the OP. Does the magical person need to merely understand how to draw lightning out of the air insofar as they can visualize it in their mind or feel a certain tingle in some part of their body that lets them know they're in the attuned state, or do they have to know advanced principles electromagnetism and mentally tell their body to build up capacitance and then mentally tell their fingers to prepare the ATP respiration to adjust for the current flow in order to allow the charge to flow? In other words, it it simple mind over matter and does the matter even need to be in physical contact with the magic-wielder's body or is it some sort of biofeedback system? Also, does the magic-wielder need to direct individual electrons or do they manipulate a field and how wide or narrow or specific can the field be?

I ask because attempting to control cellular respiration on the microscale sounds like it would take a lot of concentration, unless you allow some sort of subconscious doing all that invisibly, or a soul or some other sort of beyond-body information processing. Or is magic mostly on the macro-scale, so that healing is less precise and maybe less accurate and only affects gross anatomy. For example, instead of controlling microorganisms, the magic healer uses their control over electromagnetism to force-pinch a laceration internally so that the body's natural clotting mechanism starts to work. Or using that force to push medicinals through small injection sites to the source of the problem location without using a needle?

Like they say, any sufficiently explained magic is indistinguishable from science.

Noclevername
2013-May-30, 05:08 PM
I'm not sure I fully understand the question in the OP. Does the magical person need to merely understand how to draw lightning out of the air insofar as they can visualize it in their mind or feel a certain tingle in some part of their body that lets them know they're in the attuned state, or do they have to know advanced principles electromagnetism and mentally tell their body to build up capacitance and then mentally tell their fingers to prepare the ATP respiration to adjust for the current flow in order to allow the charge to flow? In other words, it it simple mind over matter and does the matter even need to be in physical contact with the magic-wielder's body or is it some sort of biofeedback system? Also, does the magic-wielder need to direct individual electrons or do they manipulate a field and how wide or narrow or specific can the field be?

I ask because attempting to control cellular respiration on the microscale sounds like it would take a lot of concentration, unless you allow some sort of subconscious doing all that invisibly, or a soul or some other sort of beyond-body information processing. Or is magic mostly on the macro-scale, so that healing is less precise and maybe less accurate and only affects gross anatomy. For example, instead of controlling microorganisms, the magic healer uses their control over electromagnetism to force-pinch a laceration internally so that the body's natural clotting mechanism starts to work. Or using that force to push medicinals through small injection sites to the source of the problem location without using a needle?

Like they say, any sufficiently explained magic is indistinguishable from science.

The magic system needs the caster to have some knowledge of the forces being manipulated, but it works more like a genetic code or fuzzy logic software; you tell the magic generally what to accomplish, and it adapts a pattern to do it. It's limited by the basic understanding of the wizard, but you don't need to say "okay, now put another molecule over there".

The spell itself is an energy construct that starts at or around the wizard's body but can be extended or projected outward, so range is limited to (depending on the spell) anywhere from a few feet to several dozen yards.

Solfe
2013-May-30, 06:51 PM
In the Milieu series by Julian May psychics are able to heal by either by visualization of idealized (even imaginary) "solutions" or by actually understanding the problem. The psychics also have several types of powers to draw on to effect healing; redaction is the ability to heal, so it usually works the best.

There are a few cases where people use non-healing powers to effect healing, but usually they are limited to specific types of medical problems or the person is mad with power. The mad with power types won't really count failure or consequences as anything important enough to think about when making an attempt. Typically these people die through further misadventure in short order. One character, Rogi seems to exist on both crazy, unreliable power and misadventure. I think he actually out lives everyone, because no one seems to understand his limited abilities. (I missed a book or two.)

Ara Pacis
2013-May-30, 09:42 PM
The magic system needs the caster to have some knowledge of the forces being manipulated, but it works more like a genetic code or fuzzy logic software; you tell the magic generally what to accomplish, and it adapts a pattern to do it. It's limited by the basic understanding of the wizard, but you don't need to say "okay, now put another molecule over there".

The spell itself is an energy construct that starts at or around the wizard's body but can be extended or projected outward, so range is limited to (depending on the spell) anywhere from a few feet to several dozen yards.

So, it's kinda like the magic has its own built in parser/interpreter or sub-routines that can be actuated/invoked by the magic healer? Are these parsing abilities or invocations something that is built into the magic of that universe, or do they need to be constructed by a magic user immediately before use or do they need to be "invented" one time and are then available for anyone in the universe who knows how to invoke them?

Noclevername
2013-May-30, 09:58 PM
So, it's kinda like the magic has its own built in parser/interpreter or sub-routines that can be actuated/invoked by the magic healer? Are these parsing abilities or invocations something that is built into the magic of that universe, or do they need to be constructed by a magic user immediately before use or do they need to be "invented" one time and are then available for anyone in the universe who knows how to invoke them?

They are constructed by the magic user, using formulas learned by rote. The formulas were invented long ago by ancestors who risked their lives with trial and error (a very dangerous practice where magic is concerned).

Noclevername
2013-Jun-02, 11:40 AM
After giving the matter firther thought and refining my magic system a little, I've decided on a solution to split the healing magic into three categories-- "combat medic", "army surgeon" and specialist healing. The first type are quick and dirty "pre-made" spells learned by formula, to clean, disinfect and close simple blade cuts or scrapes to skin and muscle, knit bones, heal bruises and other basic things likely to be suffered in battle; as well as "hold" spells to put more seriously wounded into stasis to wait for the surgeons. The surgeons learn more extensively and study anatomy and physiology, so can heal trauma to internal organs. The specialist healers are the physicians of their world, who handle things like longterm disease and chronic conditions. The medic spells can be picked up by any mage, the surgeons are fairly common and the specialists are uncommon.

BigDon
2013-Jun-04, 02:10 AM
Clev, I think you've over-thought this heavily.

"The system basically consists of sensing and manipulating physical properties (example-- to shoot lightning you need to know how to draw electrostatic energy from the air), making wizards also the "scientists" of their day."

So why does healing have to be more complicated than throwing lightning bare handed?

Saying you would need germ theory and detailed anatomy to heal would require your voltage tossers a knowledge of physics *I* would question. Like disease, lightning doesn't just happen.

People were making wine and cheese for thousands of years without germ theory. You don't need to know of their existence to be able to manipulate them. (Germs)

You can also tell a lot with a touch if you know what your feeling. So enough experience would go a long way to mitigating a lack of University teaching hospitals.

"Hmmm, it don't feel like its supposed to..."

Noclevername
2013-Jun-04, 04:39 AM
Clev, I think you've over-thought this heavily.

"The system basically consists of sensing and manipulating physical properties (example-- to shoot lightning you need to know how to draw electrostatic energy from the air), making wizards also the "scientists" of their day."

So why does healing have to be more complicated than throwing lightning bare handed?

Saying you would need germ theory and detailed anatomy to heal would require your voltage tossers a knowledge of physics *I* would question. Like disease, lightning doesn't just happen.

People were making wine and cheese for thousands of years without germ theory. You don't need to know of their existence to be able to manipulate them. (Germs)

You can also tell a lot with a touch if you know what your feeling. So enough experience would go a long way to mitigating a lack of University teaching hospitals.

"Hmmm, it don't feel like its supposed to..."

Experience and its lack is exactly what I'm concerned about-- I'm looking to have mages that can be trained quickly from total inexperience to functional basic healing. A "first level" spell.

The "feel your way" method is for specialists; I need something quck and dirty. (...That didn't come out the way I intended.)

grapes
2013-Jun-04, 09:01 AM
So it's the "first aid" of magic? First mage?

Gross level things you can do to help, which are pretty much guaranteed and won't screw things up too much. However, there can be unintended consequences, like stopping blood loss can lead eventually to loss of limb.

That's another thing--when a bolt of energy is developed, shouldn't there be a balancing loss of energy somewhere else? maybe things get very cold?

Tog
2013-Jun-04, 09:14 AM
What if the ability is something more like suddenly becoming the general of the target's blood sub-components?

To fight infection, the mage calls on the white cells. He doesn't know that's what's happening on a cellular level, but he knows that infections are often surrounded by a clear to white thick, goo, and that that goo is important to the process.

To stop bleeding, additional platelets and fibrin are called to the spot, while blood flow is slowed above the wound to reduce the pressure on the damaged area giving the clot time to set.

Fever is reduced by opening the capillaries to the ears and other extremities to bleed of excess heat faster.

Noclevername
2013-Jun-04, 11:30 AM
So it's the "first aid" of magic? First mage?

Gross level things you can do to help, which are pretty much guaranteed and won't screw things up too much. However, there can be unintended consequences, like stopping blood loss can lead eventually to loss of limb.

That's another thing--when a bolt of energy is developed, shouldn't there be a balancing loss of energy somewhere else? maybe things get very cold?

Instead of stopping blood, I see it more as putting a telekinetic tube around the bloodflow to keep it inside the blood vessels until the gross damage can be repaired. A little more than first aid; fixing up wounds well enough so that someone can get back into battle, unless critically injured. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battlefield_medicine

As for energy, yes, it mostly comes from the environment and gets concentrated, like my lightning example. For low-level activities the caster can use his own body's energy.

grapes
2013-Jun-04, 12:53 PM
My stopping blood comment was about first aid. Applying a tourniquet may save a life but it can cost a limb. Like you say, a surgeon might be able to repair the vessels to keep the blood flowing, but a common citizen, or even a first responder, might not have that skill or capability.

I was just making an analogy to first aid, related to your novice magic practitioners.

Solfe
2013-Jun-04, 10:23 PM
I have been working on a game where a mage is a conduit for power and the results of that power are based on the characters general habits. Some people can heal with sticks and cloth while others can make a fire. Once the physical of the task is understood, effecting the same with magic is almost trivial and will outstrip the physical skill in short order.

One problem with this set up is the harm that one can do with it. Stabbed by a sword? Heal it and the downed character gets up. If he happens to stand up into an arrow in the gut, you can heal that, too. Needless to say, combat is tedious when stuff like this happens, so all criticals do mental damage that magic can't heal. The effect is that the healer doesn't get tired so much as both people become demoralized or knocked out.

The rules have that funky critical hit system to stop shenanigans from happening. Psychics can heal mental harm just like magic does to physical damage. Magic and psionics have an advantage over technology when dealing with the living, the reverse is true for non-living items. Technology can do both, but much slower. There is a balance between the natural, magic, psionics and technology; it is pretty much impossible to have a knight backed by a gang of supernatural and technological people. One of my play testers made that one up because he thought to try it.

Ara Pacis
2013-Jun-05, 04:13 AM
Maybe just call it a telepathic connection with special micro-organisms that generate their own pseudo-mental thought when they are dense enough in a person's body and create a psionic field that directs organic material to heal. Maybe call them midichlorians or something. :)

Solfe
2013-Jun-05, 04:59 AM
Maybe just call it a telepathic connection with special micro-organisms that generate their own pseudo-mental thought when they are dense enough in a person's body and create a psionic field that directs organic material to heal. Maybe call them midichlorians or something. :)

"No!"

I am not exactly sure why that wouldn't work, but "NO!" was what every person screamed when midichlorians were mentioned at my first viewing of Star Wars. Personally, I wish I could make a skip in the disc at that moment so I never hear the word again.

Midichlorians are almost as bad as the image with Spock is labeled "Doctor Who" and the quote "May the force be with you" in a bubble next to his head. You just can't un-experience it.