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Non-Magical Healing Arts (3.5e Variant Rule)

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Revision as of 17:46, January 8, 2010 by Tarkisflux (Talk | contribs)

Adopted By
reddir (talk)
Original Creator: James L. R. Beach
Date Created: January 2003
Status: Mechanics done; presentation in progress...
Editing: Please ask before editing!


The abstract hit point system of D&D is not easily understood since its lack of detail makes the realism within it hard to see. But I have already written at length about such matters so I shall not reproduce that work here. If you wish to delve into the realism of the hit point system, you can start by following this link: The Justification Of The Hit Point System(Are Hit Points Realistic Or What?)

I will, however, address another aspect of this system more closely, since that is where many of the problems arise. What problem? Healing.

Natural Healing and Magical Healing are the mainstays of this system, but there are other kinds of Healing that can be somewhat problematic. The Healing might be brought about by the Skillful application of medicines - from Herbalism (plants) or Apothecaries (minerals and animals). There are also purely physical treatments - such as bandages and stitches and the like. There are the more mysterious treatments - such as acupressure or acupuncture and hypnosis. And finally there are the mystical treatments - such as those of a more spiritual nature that may Heal not the body, but the soul or spirit. All of this must be taken into account and considered as part of what is going on behind the scenes.

The primary problem is to explain some of this Healing in a way that doesn't seem at incredible odds with our everyday experiences of what first level Commoners - a.k.a. normal people - really experience. That is, whatever we do should reduce to something that makes sense if and when it is applied to these people, as well as when it is applied to adventurers.

For example, if some mundane Healing practice restored many HPs beyond a mere handful, then the mangled victim of a car crash - a commoner with 4 HPs - could be restored to full health and walk away unscathed. Does this seem realistic? No. It's down right Miraculous.

If Magic is employed there is little reason to complain about its 'Miraculous' nature, or to roll one's eyes at the fact no one has ever seen anything like that in real life. So Magic Healing is often not a big problem. But when Magic is not employed, there are ample grounds to complain if the system does Miraculous things that are not easily explained away with a decent degree of realism.

One attempt at realism for the Healing skill simply limited it to 1 or 2 HPs, the thinking being tiny amounts would be realistic compared to the larger amounts commanded by magical healing. However, the problem of recurrence arose. For example, "OUCH! I was hit for 2 HPs. I use my healing skill to get 2 HPs back. I'm hit again for 2 HPs. I use the skill to get them back." This could go on forever and it's a bit miraculous, and thus, to avoid this, the solid rule that at least 1 HP of damage must remain for each wound was crafted. More on this later.

The remainder of this article will be devoted to explaining the details of an alternate system of use for the Healing Skill, how it relates to the Herbalist and Apothecary Professions and the Alchemy Craft, how one may brew potions of a Non-Magical nature, and the ins and outs of the game mechanics surrounding these issues, all toward the end of allowing effective mundane Healing without over-stepping the bounds of realism.


The Healing arts on Orlantia are quite exceptional in comparison to what one might normally expect in an agrarian, almost medieval society. This has come about mostly due to advanced knowledge - often divinely revealed - and the Magical arts - though Magic is not required to employ this knowledge once it has been obtained. Also, the long tradition of war and combat and conflict have done wonders for this field of knowledge - for little does as much to advance medical knowledge more than its immediate need.


In Orlantia, First Aid is a Feat granted for free as part of the basic training for all adventurers. In Orlantian society, the ability is so important that a character is considered lazy and somewhat socially remiss in their civic duties if they have not 'bothered' to learn it. Even commoners frequently know the Feat, and fully 50% of all literate adult commoners do know it and are good at it in most 'advanced' societies.

I only call this First Aid ability a 'Feat' since no success Roll is required from the PC. All that is required is one round of First Aid treatment to stabilize a fallen character. During this round, the character that administers First Aid is flatfooted and will provoke an attack of opportunity from any enemies next to them. Any incoming missile attacks would not have to contend with the administering PC's DEX bonus, or shield, or other factors that are lost when 'flatfooted,' so such a person is more vulnerable - and so is the unconscious victim, for that matter. Thus it is often wise to drag one's comrades to a safe place before attempting First Aid, but that is not always possible, and sometimes the risk is warranted.

The First Aid Skill includes bandaging or binding wounds, CPR, and other minor tricks such as the knowledge of germs and how alcohol or fire may be employed to mitigate possible infections, or how fire or heated metal or flaming oil or alcohol, or how even acids and bases may be used to cauterize wounds. This quick treatment will be assumed to restart the heart, restart the breathing, or stop the external bleeding that typically occurs at a rate of 1 HP/round if a character's injuries drop them to -1 HPs or lower but still do not kill them. To many, this may seem very quick, but the use of these Skills is repeatedly practiced by adventurers such that this is not too fantastic. And, of course, this is only First Aid and no one is suggesting further treatment wouldn't benefit such a victim. But for game reasons, this Feat or Skill takes an adventurer one round to administer.

Non-adventuring NPCs may acquire this ability by purchasing it as a skill. It is a Wisdom based ability. NPC commoners require a Skill Roll, however, or just take 10 to insure success. If they do so, very little blood is lost once they begin this treatment, so no HPs will be lost after they have done this for at least one round, no matter how long it may take them to complete it.

So, right away I have divorced First Aid from the standard Heal Skill and made it an ability that does not require any Roll to succeed for an adventurer. It is recommended that GM's grant First Aid as a free feat to all adventurers. Alternatively, a GM may allow adventurers to purchase the ability for 1 skill point.


I've made a few changes to the Death & Dying standard rules. You do not have to follow these, but I'd like to make them clear at this time.

First, death occurs not at -10 HPs, but at one HP beyond the character's negative constitution score. For example, if your PC's CON is 14, they would die when their HPs reach -15; if your PC's CON is 17, they would die when their HPs reach -18; and, yes, if your PC's CON is 6, they would die when their HPs reach -7. So it's not always better than the -10 rule. This fact makes the situation of dropping one's CON to 1 or 2 points - such as via a curse - somewhat nastier than one might normally expect. Even if only temporarily at a CON of 1, death would occur at -2 HPs. But this is to be expected for someone with such a poor constitution, isn't it?

Second, a dying character normally has a 10% chance per round to become stable and stop losing 1HP/round, but I made it (10 + CON Mod)% chance per round. If your PC's CON is 16, then their CON Mod is +3 and they have a 13% chance per round to become stable. Do NOT use a negative CON Mod here, unless the character is a hemophiliac or has some other blood clotting disorder. Generally, assume the chance to spontaneously clot or resume breathing is always 10% or higher.

There are also certain Magic items that may automatically stop or prevent such 'bleeding,' such as a Periapt of Wound Closure.


If such detail is important, it is generally considered to cost about 10 SP in supplies to render this treatment for simple wounds, but that sort of detail is left up to the GM, and, in fact, I recommend against it after the party surpasses 3rd level and they usually have enough money to be not overly concerned about where each silver piece goes - losing such trivial amounts to round off error. They still pay, you understand, but since most round off errors favor the GM these relatively minor costs are assumed to fall there. Furthermore, one may improvise and use strips of torn clothing, moss, spider webs, or other 'free' items to help bandage or treat wounds, so it's not that big a deal to keep track of the cost. Finally, if anyone can afford to carry or maintain a Healer’s Kit, there is little reason to go beyond this. The limit of 10 uses of this kit, however, would not count the treatment of the simplest of minor wounds, but only treatments for wounds exceeding 10 HPs, poison, infections, or diseases. I only mention all this to be complete.


The Healing Skill is at the heart of this article. Each Rank adds more than a simple +1 to the skill check, so advancing this Skill is important for those seeking ability in the Healing arts. Clerics of good alignment often train this Skill. Clerics of Gods with the Healing domain may consider Healing a class Skill if they choose that domain, that is they may buy this Skill with a single point/rank, no matter the class they are currently raising or their wisdom.

NOTE: On Orlantia, Skill costs are not determined by class association, but are instead determined by whether a character is Challenged (9 or lower), Normal (10 to 13), or Gifted (14 or higher) in the key ability for that Skill. Wisdom is the key ability for the Healing Skill. Clerics of deities with the Healing domain who choose that domain are considered gifted for this purpose, no matter what their Wisdom score may be. If you would like to read about this system, please follow the link below.

The Problem Of Cross Class Skills (A Better Method For Determining Costs Of Class And 'Cross-Class' Skills)

The Healing Skill is useful for recovering some lost HPs, accelerating the normal Healing rate, treating more serious injuries like deep punctures and/or broken bones, as well as mitigating the effects of infections, poisons, and various diseases. But this Skill really shines when used in conjunction with the Herbalism or Apothecary Professions or, even better, the Alchemy Craft. In fact, progression beyond Rank 1 in Healing requires training in the Herbalism or Apothecary Professions (see below).

HEALING RANK 1: The Healer may administer Healing if they begin treatment within 1 minute (10 rounds) of when the injury was taken. The DC for this treatment is 15, and each application takes 1 round. If they succeed, the patient is stabilized and 1 HP is returned to the patient, but only if the wound was 2 HPs or greater. At least 1 HP of damage always remains for EACH injury. Each wound may only be treated ONCE with the Healing skill.

NOTE: I can't stress this enough. Limiting the Healing skill to being usable only ONCE on each injury, and leaving behind at least 1 HP of damage, is the basis of why the system is realistic. No application of this skill - on commoner or adventurer - would allow anyone to walk away unscathed after serious injury. Thus, you may save someone's life after they were mangled in a car crash, but they would not Miraculously walk away without a single scratch. This seems realistic enough for our purposes.

For Healing Rank 1, the GM may assume, for simplicity's sake, to just allow one wound to be treated per patient and be done with it.

I, however, allow each qualifying wound to be treated, and thus keep track of more detail. I like this level of realism and the extra effort is not that much. Greater detail often yields greater realism and greater player immersion.

Thus, each wound may be treated if it was sustained within the last minute. This requires keeping track of each time the character was hit for more than 1 HP during the last 10 rounds.

EXAMPLE: Joshua the Jolly was hit 4 times during combat, but combat was quickly over after 7 rounds. In order, he was hit for 3 HPs, then 4 HPs, then 2 HPs, and then finally 1 HP. A Rank 1 Healer goes to work on him right away. Since combat lasted less than 10 rounds, all wounds are still within the one-minute time limit. But the 1 HP wound is not really treatable since at least 1 HP damage must remain for each wound. Each wound takes one round to fix so, if they are treated in the wrong order, the first wound may slide outside the time limit. But we will assume the Healer knows what they are doing and treats the 'qualifying' wounds from oldest to newest.

The Healer must Roll three times at a DC of 15, once for each qualifying wound. Assuming they make two of the Rolls, 2 HPs are returned to Joshua. Note that even if there was time, it is not possible to make a second attempt to heal a wound, whether or not the first attempt was successful. Thus, he goes from 10 HPs of damage to 8 HPs of damage. Thereafter, the GM no longer needs to keep track of how much damage there was for each wound or when it occurred - keeping track of the standard 8 HPs of total damage will suffice.

Treatment with the Healing Skill might be attempted during combat. It's riskier - during treatment the Healer is flat-footed, unable to use a shield, and unable to cast spells or attack, or even concentrate and direct existing spells. Furthermore, the Healer provokes attacks of opportunity. This risk may be warranted, however, such as when the Healer is attempting to restore consciousness to a character that has fallen to -1 HPs or less. This may require treating several wounds, for 1 HP each, to raise an unconscious character to positive hit points. It would probably be better to use Magic, but Magic is not always available.

During combat, most will just give First Aid to stabilize the patient and attempt Healing after combat, since First Aid does not prevent a later Healing treatment. Only a prior Healing skill check - successful or not - or expiration of the time limit, or the use of Magical Healing (see below), would prevent treating a particular wound with the Healing skill, and it is often better to deal with the enemy first in all but the most dire of circumstances.

Still, Healing may be attempted mid-combat. If the skill check is successful, the treated wound regains 1 HP (for Healing Rank 1) - unless it was only a 1 HP wound, which must remain - and the patient is considered stabilized. Failure of the skill check, however, means no further Healing skill treatments may be made for that particular wound, and the patient is NOT stabilized. First Aid may still be rendered (in a later round) to stabilize the patient, or they may attempt to treat a different wound, but the Healing Skill may not be attempted again for the same wound. If there are other qualifying wounds, they may still attempt Healing those.

Of course, failure also means the patient will likely bleed for 1 more HP the next round, so the wisest course of action is usually to render First Aid in one round to stabilize the patient, and then, if there is time, attempt the Healing Skill on the following round, or later.

NOTE: When a dying patient loses 1 HP/round from not stabilizing, this is considered overall body HPs and does not increase the severity of any particular wound. It is a loss of blood or damage due to asphyxiation, and only magic or natural healing over time may correct such damage. Thus, a 1 HP wound does not turn into a 2 HP wound at any time, or in general, an N HP wound does not "bleed" and become a (N+1) HP wound.

Healing Rank 2: Prerequisites: Healing Rank 1, AND (One's Herbalism Profession Ranks and/or Apothecary Profession Ranks must total 1 Rank or more. i.e. Rank 1 in either one of those Professions will suffice).

There are several advantages to Healing Rank 2 beyond a further +1 to one's success Roll. First and foremost, wounds may be treated within 2 minutes of their infliction, and not just one minute.

In general, you will find wounds must be treated within N minutes for a Healer of Rank N. This greatly extends the time since this Skill's limit is measured in minutes, which are 10 rounds each. This extended time often allows the Healer ample time to treat multiple wounds immediately after combat, and what's more, multiple patients, before the wounds pass the time limit and no longer qualify. Each wound takes a number of rounds to treat that equals the number of HPs restored, however, and going from one patient to the next will be assumed to take a minimum of one round in and of itself - perhaps longer, depending on how far away they are.

Also, instead of Healing each wound for 1 HP for each successful Healing Roll, the Rank 2 Healer may Heal each wound for up to 2 HPs. The DC is still 15 for this treatment. As before, at least 1 HP damage must remain for each wound.

NOTE: An unconscious and bleeding patient will, of course, bleed out and die within one or two minutes - 10 to 20 rounds at 1 HP/round is usually lethal - and one may wonder what good the extra time does with advancing Healing Ranks. Quite simply, the extra minutes to begin treatment allows for the treatment of stabilized patients, as well as walking patients, so the time is valuable. This means, however, it is often of utmost importance to render First Aid to an unconscious patient - often even during combat - not to regain a few lost HPs, but to save their very life. You can always make a Healing Skill Roll after someone has received First Aid, as long as you are quick enough.

For Healing Rank 2, the GM may assume, for simplicity's sake, to just allow two wounds to be treated per patient and be done with it. If they only have one wound, then only one wound may be treated, no matter how big it is. And if the wound is only 2 HPs, only 1 HP may be restored since at least 1 HP of damage must remain for each wound.

Remember, each wound takes N rounds to treat, where N is the number of HPs restored. This may be up to the Healer's Full Rank, though it may be less if the wound is smaller, or if the Healer doesn't wish to spend as much time in open combat on a wound. For example, they may elect to Heal a 5 HP wound for only 1 HP, and thus remain flatfooted for only one round.

Once a wound is treated by the Healing Skill and an actual Roll is made - successfully or not - no further Healing Skill may be applied to that particular wound.

Another advantage of the Healing Skill Rank 2 is the Healer effectively stabilizes the patient after one round of treatment, if their Roll was successful or not. This is better than the Rank 1 Healer since the lesser Healer must make their Roll to do this, or they must choose not to risk it and take the time to simply administer First Aid first. The reason this happens is the patient would otherwise continue to bleed at 1 HP/round during a multiple round application, and after one round, the patient is therefore considered stabilized. They do NOT lose 1 HP for that round. Once the Healer begins a treatment - First Aid or Healing past Rank 1, the bleeding is assumed to stop immediately, and no more HPs will be lost. If the Healer is interrupted before one round, however, and does not make their concentration check, the patient is not stabilized, nor are they Healed, and if they had been bleeding they WILL lose 1 HP for that round.

SYNERGY: Having the Herbalism Profession or the Apothecary Profession adds to your Healing Roll in a synergistic manner. In Orlantia, you add +M to your Healing Roll where M = the highest Rank you have in either the Herbalism or Apothecary Profession, but this bonus may NOT exceed your Healing Rank. Thus, if you have Herbalism Rank 6 but only Healing Rank 3, the synergistic bonus to your Healing Roll from your Herbalism Profession would be only +3, and not +6.

Healing attempts may be interrupted just as spell casting may be interrupted. If damaged while making a Healing attempt, the Healer must make a concentration check. The DC is 10 plus the amount of damage they take. Failure, however, means the Roll was technically never made, so one may still make the attempt later if the time limit has not run out. This is unlike interrupted spells, which are considered lost and no longer prepared once interrupted.

Healing Rank 3: Prerequisites: Healing Rank 2, AND (One's Herbalism Profession Ranks and/or Apothecary Profession Ranks must total 2 Ranks or more).

Or, in general . . .

Healing Rank N: Prerequisites: Healing Rank (N-1), AND (One's Herbalism Profession Ranks and/or Apothecary Profession Ranks must total (N-1) Ranks or more).

When applying their full powers, the Healer Rank N has N minutes to begin treatment of a wound. They may restore up to N HPs for each wound, but a minimum of 1 HP damage must remain for each wound. Also, no more than 4 HPs may be restored for each wound, even if N > 4, unless the Healer also has the Alchemy Profession - more on this later.

The Healer Rank N must spend one flatfooted round for every 1 HP restored. They must make a Skill Check Roll for each wound, and the DC is 15. Added to this Roll to increase the chances of one's success are the following: +(Wisdom Mod), +N (Rank), and +M where M is the highest Rank in the Herbalism or Apothecary Profession, but where M may not exceed N. There may also be situational modifiers or special equipment modifiers, just like any other Skill.

NOTE: Armor penalties do not detract from the Healer's Roll. However, though First Aid may be rendered to a fully armored character, Healing may require the patient's armor - or some of it - to be removed so the Healer may gain access to the wounds. The GM may require several rounds to accomplish this before you may make your Healing Roll. Ask your GM.

EXAMPLE 1: Joyce is a Healer Rank 3, an Herbalist Rank 2, an Apothecary Rank 4, her wisdom is 14, and she has a Healer’s kit. She must begin treatment of wounds within 3 minutes of their infliction (from Healing Rank 3). For each wound, she must Roll to beat a DC of 15, but adds +3 (from Healing Rank 3), +3 (synergistic bonus due to Rank 4 Apothecary Rank, but limited by Healing Rank 3), +2 (Wisdom Mod), and +2 (Healer's Kit), for a total of +10. Needless to say, Joyce is an exceptional Healer. Each qualifying wound may be Healed up to 3 HPs, though at least 1 HP of damage must remain for each wound.

EXAMPLE 2: Janice is a Healer Rank 4, an Herbalist Rank 2, an Apothecary Rank 3, and her wisdom is 16. She must begin treatment of wounds within 4 minutes of their infliction (from Healing Rank 4). For each wound, she must Roll to beat a DC of 15, but adds +4 (from Healing Rank 4), +3 (synergistic bonus due to Rank 3 Apothecary, the higher of her synergistic skills), and +3 (Wisdom Mod), for a total of +10. Each qualifying wound may be Healed up to 4 HPs, though at least 1 HP of damage must remain for each wound.

It may be assumed that Healers carry the necessary herbs, minerals, and medicines to treat normal minor injuries due to weapons, burns from fire or acid, suffocation, or falling. It is not, however, assumed they have the proper components for the treatment of every poison or disease. They may, of course, purchase and maintain a Healer’s kit (a steal at 50 GP and a weight of only 1 pound). Otherwise, they have to make a successful Herbalism or Apothecary Roll at DC 15, or a Healing Roll at DC 20, to find the proper ingredients to treat certain maladies. If they succeed and have these items, they must still make a further Healing Roll at DC 15, or for most poisons or diseases, a DC appropriate for those problems. Ask your GM.

In addition to Healing injuries and restoring HPs, anyone with Healing Rank 1 or higher may treat patients for long term care, serious wounds like deep punctures, broken bones, infections, poisons, and/or diseases. These topics are adequately covered on page 69 of the PHB [3.0 edition? The Heal skill is covered on pages 75 and 76 of the 3.5 PHB and deep punctures and broken bones are not addressed].

NOTE: The stated synergy bonus on page 66 of the PHB has been changed and somewhat relaxed. That is, one may gain a synergy bonus far sooner than Rank 5 in the complimentary Skill, and for more than +2 under the right conditions. But in any event, the synergy bonus from the Herbalism or Apothecary Professions shall not exceed one's Healing Rank.


Surgery N: Prerequisite: Surgery Rank (N-1), Healing Rank N, AND (Herbalism or Apothecary Rank 1 OR an assistant with Herbalism or Apothecary Rank 2 or higher).

Surgery is a separate Skill that can be learned, though few PC adventurers learn it, opting to use Magic instead. It can only be performed under ideal conditions, under excellent illumination and cleanliness, and with the proper equipment (which normally costs about 100 GP and is often carried in a little black bag, which together weigh about 5 pounds). Serious injury or other maladies may be treated, and internal injuries may be abated. Surgery restores 1d8+N HPs per injury, but a minimum of 1d4 HPs must remain for each injury. If the 1d8+N is less than the 1d4 roll, then no healing was accomplished. If the 1d4 roll is greater than the initial injury, then you have actually done an amount of damage equal to the difference. Thus, it is often unwise to operate on injuries of 3 HPs or less, preferring to let natural Healing take its course.

If treatment does not begin within one day per Rank of the injury, it is often best to let nature take its course. The time spent in Surgery shall be equal to one hour for each HP recovered. A minimum of one hour is still required, even if they lose HPs. This is a lengthy process, and requires some serious drugs worth about 10 GP, or two doses from a Healer's Kit. The patient will wake up about 1d4 hours after Surgery is complete.

Surgery may not help wounds already treated by Magic or the Healing Skill.


Under decent conditions and light activity or complete rest - no combat, travel, or spell casting of 1st or higher level spells (though casting cantrips and/or orisons are possible) - a character naturally regains 1 HP/Hit Dice/Day. Under ideal conditions of complete bed rest, adequate pure water and food, this increases to 1.5 HPs/Hit Dice/Day. Also, lost statistic points or abilities usually return at a rate of 1 Point/Day.


A Healer of any Rank may double the natural Healing Rates for up to 6 patients under their care if they roll their Healing check at a DC of 15. They may not treat themselves in this fashion, but if conscious, may direct another to treat them at the Healer's rank but must roll against a DC of 20. This helper need not have any particular Healing Skill, but must share a common language with the Healer, and be able to act and move about to follow the Healer's instructions.

Long term care allows natural Healing at 2 HPs/Hit Dice/Day, or ideally, 3 HPs/Hit Dice/Day. Also, lost statistic points or abilities return at a rate of 2 Points/Day.

NOTE: Remember, this accelerated rate due to having more Hit Dice does not really mean higher level individuals really heal faster, so much as it is a reflection of the fact the injuries to these higher level individuals are relative minor in comparison. For example, a 10 HP wound for a first level fighter is huge, while a 10 HP wound for a 10th level fighter is perhaps 1/10th as bad and really only a minor nick or scratch.


Internal injuries are sometimes possible, and these are handled by bleeding internally at a particular rate. If the rate is faster than natural Healing, the patient may succumb to their injuries and die. At such a point, only Surgery or Magic may save them. Internal injuries may be as rapid as a loss of 1 HP/round, but can be nearly as slow or slower than the natural Healing rate, too. So it's possible natural Healing may eventually Heal all internal injuries, if they are minor enough.

NOTE: Internal injuries sometimes occur due to critical hits, or special rules. The GM may or may not employ these options, depending on the level of added detail and realism. In general, there is a small % chance any critical hit will cause internal injuries, and any massive hit for more than 50% of one's maximum HPs, if this is also larger than 10 HPs, may also cause internal injuries. Once the GM determines you have internal injuries, they might tell you, or they might let you discover this as they tell you are getting weaker and weaker. The GM will also set the rate of HP loss, as they feel is appropriate for the nature of the internal injury.


Any use of Magical Healing - apart from stabilizing items like a Periapt of Wound Closure or the like - will prevent the use of the Healing or Surgery Skills for any injuries incurred prior to the casting of the spell. The spell, it is assumed, already has done more than the Healing Skill can do. Magic takes care of the most serious problems first, such as internal injuries, but the overall effect slightly treats every wound, and only further Magic or natural Healing will do more good after Magical Healing has been utilized.

Magic is also assumed to completely Heal wounds and prevent things like infections or scars, and may take only a single round to accomplish with a spell, and may even be employed directly through armor. It should be noted that often the skin is sealed over, but the muscle tissue beneath may still be in need of repair if there are still more HPs of damage. The skin over such a wound will appear bruised, perhaps be black and blue, and so a patient may not appear to be unscathed. Though the skin is Healed over, the wound is still tender and may hurt when pressed, but danger of further infection is now gone. Of course, if the Healing Spell cured all HPs of damage, then all would appear and feel as normal. Such spells may even replace lost blood and other bodily fluids. Magical Healing is Miraculous, to say the least.


Herbalism is a Profession that makes the character familiar with the uses of natural plant products for good and/or ill. If a character spends a day searching the woods, the mountains, the swamps, etc., and makes a successful DC check, set by the GM for each particular task - though a DC of 15 is generally the mark - enough herbs, fungi, roots, leaves, pollen, and/or pulp, etc., has been gleaned for 1d6 doses of something or another, but they must be prepared by the Herbalist in a clean environment. A clean kitchen will usually suffice, but a lab such as an alchemist's lab would be even better. Is there a bonus for a better lab? Yes, a +2 situational modifier or equipment bonus would be in order.

A successful DC 15 Herbalism check - out in an appropriate wilderness setting - may restore one 'dose' of a Healer's Kit. Otherwise, one must spend 5 GP to restore these ingredients for each dose used. These items and replacement ingredients may usually only be purchased in the larger cities, but ask your GM.

Also, a successful DC 15 check will usually result in finding the proper treatment for a particular poison or disease. Ask your GM. Without the Herbalism or Apothecary Profession, the Healing Skill roll to find the appropriate items is at a DC of 20. Once the ingredients are obtained, the Healer must still make the Healing Skill Roll.

But normally, the discovered ingredients are brewed into potions.

These Herbal potions are brewed in batches and result in the number of doses indicated by the original 1d6 Roll for the ingredients. The distinction between this practice and the Brew Potion Feat (page 80 PHB) is that this Skill is not for Magical potions. It is, instead, for rather mundane potions and relatively weak treatments. Each potion has a limited shelf life of 6 months. After that, the potency is lost and it may, in fact, be like consuming rotten food, so such potions are usually dumped out when their shelf life expires.

The potions are often weak and vial tasting, and may grant only a +1 HP bonus - as in a minor Healing potion - or a +1 to a save vs. a poison, or even a +1 to a save vs. some known spell effect, like fire resistance, cold resistance, and similar things. If you know how, and you make your DC 20 check Roll, you can make an Herbal potion that can add +1 to many Rolls.

A character may only imbibe one such potion/day for each application. That is, for example, the simple Healing potion could not be taken multiple times in a 24-hour period, but they could take a +1 REFLEX save potion and a +1 Fire Resistance potion in the same day they took a Healing potion.

Most potions are rather specific, and a full 1d6 doses may be made. For example, a fire resistance potion will grant +1 to a save vs. fire if taken 10 minutes or less prior to the fire damage. If the save is successful, it lessens the damage taken for each 1 point of potency. It might be swallowed, or it might be applied externally. Ask your GM. After the potion works once for a single Roll, it is gone, and the effect does not linger or work again. It is a one-time deal.

If the application is external, one may use the same potion multiple times each day, but if it is swallowed, it may be used only once/day.

But a more general potion, such as +1 REFLEX, or +1 FORTITUDE, or +1 WILL save potion, would consume all the ingredients found and make only a single dose instead of 1d6 doses. Thus, the Herbalist can make more specialized potions, or fewer general potions. The general potions also have a more limited shelf life of 3 months.

Most of these +1 potions take at least one entire day to prepare the whole batch, and cost 10 GP or more to make the whole batch. At the end of the day, the DC Roll is made. A DC of 10 must be made for some simple specific potion, but a DC 15 must be made for a generalized potion. There are exceptions. Ask your GM. Failure to make one's Herbalism Roll results in a spoiled batch of useless liquid, salve, jell, or powder. No materials may be salvaged, so all money, ingredients, and time are lost.

The DC for making a specific use potion is usually 10 plus its potency, and for a general use potion it is 15 plus its potency. Ask your GM.

Poisons may also be concocted, but they are generally only +1 to damage on a coated weapon, and only if the victim fails their FORTITUDE save, else they do nothing. Each dose may coat one blade or three arrows, and the volatile nature of the poison usually requires a strike to occur within 1 hour of its application, or it wears off. Once a hit is made, successful or not, the poison is spent.

The GM probably will allow stronger potions and poisons with increasing Ranks in the Herbalism Profession, but a rough rule of thumb is each +1 potency takes 2 Ranks. Thus, +2 potions start at Ranks 3 and 4, +3 potions at Ranks 5 and 6, and +4 for Ranks 7 or higher. No potion such as this will surpass +4 in potency. To go beyond +4 in potency usually will require Magic, and the higher Feat of Brew Potion is required.

The Herbalism Profession is superior to the Apothecary Profession when it comes to making Healing potions, so it can generally make a Healing potion +1 stronger than the equivalent Rank in Apothecary can make, up to +5 potency. Unfortunately, it also makes poisons about -1 weaker than the equivalent Rank in Apothecary, up to +3 potency.

The Herbalism Profession also adds a +2 synergistic bonus to all cooking Skills.


For all intents and purposes, this Profession is similar to the Herbalism Profession except its base is minerals and animal products, and not plants. This Profession is superior when it comes to making poisons, or utilizing natural animal venom, so it can generally make a poison +1 stronger than the equivalent Rank in Herbalism, up to +5 potency. Unfortunately, it also makes Healing potions about -1 weaker than the equivalent Rank in Herbalism, up to +3 potency.

This Profession also adds a +2 synergistic bonus to all seduction Skills via the use of certain aphrodisiacs and animal pheromone distillates, if the character chooses to use them.


The Herbalism and Apothecary Professions usually may produce potions of potencies from +1 to +4.

The Herbalism Profession's Healing potions may produce potencies from +2 to +5 instead, but poisons of potencies from +1 to +3.

Conversely, the Apothecary Profession's potions may produce Healing potions of potencies from +1 to +3, but poisons of potencies from +2 to +5. These poisons do damage equivalent to its potency, but only if the victim is hit and fails their FORTITUDE save. Their save is at a DC of 15 + the potency of the poison.

General potions of potencies from +1 to +4 may have to come from one Profession or the other, depending on the nature of the base ingredients. It is not generally the case the each Profession can produce identical potions, but most often, a type of potion will be unique to the profession. Ask your GM.

This table is generally true.

Healing Potency 1 --- 3
Healing Potency 2 1 5
Healing Potency 3 3 7
Healing Potency 4 5 9
Healing Potency 5 7 11
Poison Potency 1 3 ---
Poison Potency 2 5 1
Poison Potency 3 7 3
Poison Potency 4 9 5
Poison Potency 5 11 7
Other Potions Potency 1 1 1
Other Potions Potency 2 3 3
Other Potions Potency 3 5 5
Other Potions Potency 4 7 7

The '---' in the table above indicates that profession doesn't make potions that weak - though I suppose they could - but generally start at a potency of 2 for that type of potion.


Characters with either the Herbalism or Apothecary Profession can usually make as much a 1 GP x their check Roll result each week above and beyond a modest cost of living. Failure to make one's Roll of DC 15 means nothing was made beyond cost of living, or no net gain was earned that week, so they break even when you consider their room and board for modest living. This often happens mostly not due to failure in their Skills, but failure to find work for which others are willing to pay. However, any failed roll means nothing beyond cost of living was made, even if employment is assured.

Characters with both Professions may earn 2 GP x their best Roll between the Professions - do not Roll twice, or even once for each Skill, but only Roll once for your best Skill.


The Herbalism and Apothecary Professions reinforce one another, and if you have both, you gain a +2 synergy bonus to the other's Roll when making potions. For example, if you had both, your Herbalism check Roll to make a potion would be at +2 due to the Apothecary Profession, and vice versa.

ALCHEMY (Intelligence)

For the record, the Alchemy Profession is different from the Apothecary or Herbalism Professions since that art dwells on supernatural and extra planar or Magical properties of seemingly mundane ingredients.

For example, the alchemical properties of holy water, or water collected from the back of a waterfall during the night of a full moon, or mistletoe harvested during a full moon, are different properties than for regular water or mistletoe harvested at any old time. The Herbalist, or Apothecary, or even a modern chemist or biochemist cannot tell the difference, but these properties must exist, nevertheless.

The Alchemy Profession searches for these differences and properties, and seeks Magical applications for them in spells and potions - such as spell components or ingredients - and thus, coupled with the Brew Potion Feat, may make Magical potions quite apart from mundane potions or normal considerations.

Magical potions are much stronger, more expensive, and harder to make, and worth much more. They also have near infinite shelf lives.

Alchemists most often must work in conjunction with a wizard or sorcerer, or members of those classes will be required to learn at least Alchemy Rank 1 (Intelligence) and the Brew Potions Feat to make Magic potions. This is in addition to the other previously stated prerequisites in the PHB of being a spell caster level 3 or higher. However, a wizard or sorcerer may employ an alchemist of at least Rank 2 and thus not have to learn that Profession themselves, but this rarely happens.

The manufacture of Magic items, such as Magic potions, is adequately covered in the PHB and DMG.

The Alchemist has a much harder Profession, and therefore usually commands greater respect and earning potential than even Apothecaries or Herbalists. They can usually make as much as 2 GP x their check Roll each week above and beyond a modest cost of living. Failure to make one's Roll means nothing was made, or no net gain was earned that week, so they break even when you consider their room and board for modest living. If they have either the Herbalism or Apothecary Profession as well, this moves up to 3 GP x their check Roll.

A person may employ the part time services of an Alchemist - which is usually enough for most purposes - for a mere pittance of 1 GP/day. The Alchemist may have their own lab, or they may require the employer to supply them with a lab, depending on their luck and status and other various factors.

The Alchemist's lab is described on page 110 of the PHB, and cost about 500 GP to set up, and probably 1/10th that, or 50 GP, to maintain each year. It adds a +2 bonus to most Alchemical Rolls, as it would for most Herbalism and Apothecary Rolls in the manufacture of potions and the like. This cost is above and beyond other costs that are outlined for the Skill on page 63 of the PHB.

Finally, since the Alchemist Profession deals in almost supernatural or magical properties of seemingly mundane ingredients, it is no wonder they can sometimes do Miraculous things. Therefore, if a character also has the Alchemy Profession, as well as the Healing Skill, they may exceed the 4 HP limit in healing each wound. This assumes the proper fresh ingredients, however, and these are not likely to be handy within the existing time limits to treat wounds. But it is possible, as outlined below.

The traveling Alchemist is assumed to be periodically picking up ingredients almost at every opportunity, much the same as Herbalists and Apothecaries are assumed to be collecting similar ingredients when they can. Rather than roll this constantly on the off chance it might be needed, just assume they do this. When a serious injury should befall a party member - 6 HPs or more - and the Alchemist is also a Healer of Rank 5 or higher - roll a DC 20 Alchemy check to see if their store of ingredients include the proper fresh ingredients. If it does, the injury may be healed up to +1 HP beyond the normal 4 HP limit, for each 5 Ranks, or fraction thereof, of Alchemy Skill - i.e. +1 more for Ranks 1 to 5, +2 more for Ranks 6 to 10, etc.

This is not highly useful, however, since it is unlikely and expensive in Skill points, and Magic is generally preferred by adventurers. However, Magic is not always available.

Furthermore, the Magical nature of the Alchemy Profession once again makes it possible to accept any Miraculous effects of this Skill, so it does not seem any more unrealistic than one may perceive most other Magic applications to be. And finally, since we begin to deal with the miraculous when healing for 5 HPs or more, the normal limitation of requiring at least 1 HP or more remain for each wound is no long applicable, and, thus, using such 'magical' healing, it is of course possible to totally heal one's injuries.

Author Info

© January of 2003 by James L.R. Beach Waterville, MN 56096

General Starlight's Fantasy Roleplaying Game Page (Sage Advice Summarizing Over 30 years Of Gaming Experience. Read Many Articles About Roleplaying, AD&D, D&D, Or Gaming In General. Find Information, House Rules, Tips, And Ideas For Your Own Game.)

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