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The Wizard's Desk

The Wizard's desk is a blog space where our staff and creative leads offer their insight and experience on engaging with DrachenFest US! We're excited to share what we can, so pull up a seat!

Playing as a Surgeon

At the end of the battle, when the clash of swords have faded and arrows no longer sail through the air, the healers get to their bloody work. With bandage, splint and leech, they ensure their warriors will be able to fight another day.

Mundane healers are an essential part of DrachenFest

First, we want to make one thing clear: "mundane" doesn't mean boring! It means the surgeons patching you up have no magical abilities or enhancements. Their roleplay is entirely based around using real props and techniques to create an engaging experience with their patient.

Healing at DrachenFest is never instant. As mentioned in a previous post, you can’t simply cast Healing Touch on an injured character and restore their HP. Healing comes in at least two phases, and every character has to go through a first aid scene to prepare them for the next phase. After the first aid comes actual HP restoration, whether through surgical scenes or through Healing Touch.

This system may take some getting used to, but its design provides time for healer and patient to build a truly satisfying scene. It forces you to slow down and focus on the connection you’re making with another player, as well as any bystanders who may witness the bloody display. Healing is not a speedbump separating a fighter from the fight; it’s an opportunity to revel in another element of play. Everybody bleeds!

Level up your roleplay

Healing scenes are a series of actions and reactions. You have to work out what the injuries are, come up with a treatment plan, and implement it, all while dealing with a distressed or panicking patient. There are near infinite ways to approach healing RP, but we’ve collected some tips from experienced players that may help if you’re looking for some direction.

Get permission. When beginning a scene, always check in with your patient OOG before touching them. If they decline the touch, you can pantomime your movements just above and around them, and they can still react appropriately.

Decide on your bedside manner. Are you a no-nonsense, “this is going to hurt and you’ll have to deal” kind of healer? Are you kind and gentle, doing your best to keep your patient calm? Are you just a little bit weird, and maybe a little too engrossed in observing what those wounds look like? Are you more interested in making sure your leeches get a nice meal than you are in your patient’s comfort? Healers come in all shades!

Take your time. Five minutes can feel like a long time if you haven’t experienced it, but it’s an easier adjustment than you think. In real life, rushing a situation like this can lead to mistakes, so being methodical about your work is both realistic and immersive. The more engaging your roleplay, making every suture, bandage and dislocation count, the less you’ll notice the clock.

Give your patient cues. Start by asking them what their injuries are, or how they’re feeling. Let them help lay the groundwork for the scene. Talk through each step in your process, keying them into what they can react to next. Let them know when something is going to hurt, or feel strange, or cause other discomfort. Help them feel like they’re part of the process. Visiting a healer can sometimes feel like a “failure” in the eyes of a fighter who wanted to be in the fight, so they may be a little sensitive at the start of the scene. This is your opportunity to lift that player and turn their “defeat” into a memorable moment.

The scene can be larger than two. Does your patient need holding down while you set a broken bone? Do you need an essential prop but can’t leave their side? Does a wound need cauterizing but you don’t have anything to heat up? Turning bystanders into participants will enhance both your play and theirs, and lets them tell a story that includes “And I helped!”

You don’t have to be perfect. All roleplay takes practice, so don’t be discouraged if it takes a few scenes to get the hang of it. Also, making mistakes can lead to roleplay just as juicy as total successes. Playing a healer with flawed technique or certain weaknesses can give a scene even more exciting nuance.

What if I’m the patient? There’s so much you can do! Talk to your healer about your injuries; tell them where the wounds are, how you got them on the battlefield, what weapons were responsible. React to the cues your healer gives you. If they tell you “this is going to hurt”, play up that pain. Cry, scream, curse, laugh, panic. You can even try to grit your teeth and “not react” to the agony you’re in, especially if it gets harder and harder; that’s another way of buying into the action, and isn’t the same as no-selling. Let them draw you into the realism of the scene, and you’ll make it more real for them in turn.

Creating a surgical kit

Some props are classics, such as bandages, needles and thread. What else can you include in your kit? A set of surgical tools expands the options for the types of injuries you can work on. Bottles of salves and poultices can be used as disinfectants, topical ointments or painkillers. Splints can increase your patient’s immersion by lightly restricting a limb’s movement. A bottle of fake blood means you can always add some visceral potency to the scene (ask your patient OOG before applying!). Bring more bandages and blood than you think you’ll need; chances are, you’ll find reasons to use them.

And of course, if you took the Leech ability, you’ll need some leeches! Historically, leeches were kept in their own ceramic jars with the rest of the tools in hospitals. You may want a smaller jar, especially made of clear glass or plastic so your patient can see the little beastie coming. Wear gloves to protect your own precious blood, or handle the leech with tongs for maximum realism.

Whatever you bring, consider how your character has used them in the past. Are they fresh and new because you’re new to being a surgeon? Have they been used for years and years but meticulously cared for? Are they just “the best you’ve got” and are cobbled together from repurposed materials? Every item has a history, and you can tell those stories visually.

Always remember: if you don’t have the perfect prop for the scene you’re trying to do, it’s okay to pretend. That’s what roleplay is for! Tell your patient what’s coming and let the roleplay happen naturally. You don’t want to use this as a crutch and forgo all props, don’t let the lack of one prop derail a scene.

A haven for healers

You’ve got your surgical kit, your roleplay plans, and your can-do attitude. Looking for a space to conduct some dubious medical research? Want to learn about the history of medicine and real historical surgical techniques? Hoping to meet healers from other camps and share your grisliest war stories?

Lurking in the Rat City neighborhood of the Bazaar, the Surgeons Guild is a tight-knit community of barbers, sawbones, physickers, physicians, and more. In addition to running a teaching hospital and providing mentorship to camp healers, the guild's mission is to ensure healers across all camps are treated fairly. They are willing to schmooze, bribe, and intimidate to guarantee that happens; it’s said they even have ties to the Thieves Guild (even though it doesn’t exist).

Membership in the Surgeons Guild is open to anyone who considers healing their priority. Players need one of the Healer abilities (Surgeon or Leech) to take the guild’s classes or participate in its egg quest, but those with the Healing Touch spell can also join the guild and make use of its resources. The hospital provides a neutral space for healers to recuperate away from their camps, and the guild employs some of their members as liaisons to keep an eye on camp conditions.

Not a healer but willing to get your hands (or guts) dirty? The guild is always looking for players willing to be paid patients/test subjects, or players with medical mysteries to be solved.

Interested in a full-time future with the guild? Introduce yourself during gameplay and we will chat with you about applying for next year!

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