Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Occupational Hazards

In a land riddled with disease, violence, and social constructs, not everyone's born a wealthy noble or are appointed a knight or have the privilege to enroll in a mountaintop school of magic, so why should your characters?
The low and middle class are likely where you're gonna start.  Roll a d100 and get a job, hippie (Although "Ruler" is in there, but it's only a 1% chance you'll get it. Fucking classism.)
"Well shit, I got Barrel-maker, but my stats are that of a Magic-User." 
Calm yourself, child. There's aspects of magic and alchemy seeped into the cracks of even the most mundane occupations. 

I usually play games where magic is relatively dangerous to dabble in and has adverse effects on its users. (LotFP does a great job with this.) This makes it a challenge to those brave or foolish enough to seek out the powers from beyond. That being said, the first tasks a new occultist would most likely try to achieve would be making their career a little easier.

Re-skinning and coming up with spells for random medieval jobs is daunting, so I'm going to start a series of posts that have examples to get those thoughts cookin'.

Let's take a look at the Dentist, also known in the 1300's as the Laybarber. Not only did these folk cut your hair, they were questionably skilled in oral operations.

Check out that cauldron in the back and the string of teeth. Dentists were certainly regarded in alchemical and magical affairs back in the day. From Jost Amman's "Book of Trades."
Check out that cauldron in the back and the string of teeth. 
Dentists were certainly dabbling in the Dark Arts back in the day. 
From Jost Amman's Book of Trades.
Dentists and other medical practitioners of the time relied on herbal medicine and rituals to drive away pain and discomfort. The Ancient Sumerians believed that tooth decay was due to small worms hiding in between your teeth and used candles made of sheep's fat to try and burn them out. Ouch.

Maybe your aspiring barber surgeon chose to perfect their craft with more powerful magic after singeing too many mouths. If they're lucky, they may have stumbled upon this pamphlet after perusing a hole-in-the-wall bookstore down a dark alley.
The Practiced Lay Barber’s Extraction Handbook by Leeland Penderson

Farmer At The Dentist by Johann Liss
 Leeland was an experienced lay barber trusted by nobles for pulling all of their sugar-incrusted, rotted teeth and providing them with the most stylish pearly-whites that silver could buy. In order to make the perfect dentures, however, he needed teeth. He obtained them by sneaking into peasants’ homes and extracting them while they sleep. Leeland perfected a spell in order to get the most teeth with the least resistance from the “patient.” He was caught forcing the teeth out of a boy who was distantly related to the constable and was charged with malpractice. Leeland spent 5 years in the dungeons before becoming a filthy street rat.
Amongst the scientific diagrams of the jaw and the short catalog of straight razors, there lie sigils for luck in hair cutting and wards for keeping "tooth worms" away, as well as several spells:
Oral Abscission
Magic-User Level 1
Casting time: 1 round
Range: 30’
Target: 1 being
After the lay barber has properly prepared themselves for surgery, this spell is cast in order to make full teeth removal a speedy operation. The patient’s gums will swell at a rapid rate, during which the teeth will begin to fall out. Patients that struggle from the process (make a Save versus Magic) may experience a sharp pain (1d4 of damage) and minor bleeding. The patient will not be able to speak for the rest of the day following the operation due to the inflammation of the gums.
Using this mindset could also be helpful for creating/re-skinning spells and making backstories for DCC (Dungeon Crawl Classics), where level-0 characters are often merchants or craftsman when they start adventuring. Just because they read from some mystical skull that gave them the power to ignite the air around them doesn't mean they won't use the ability to burn down homes in the night only to offer to rebuild them for a pretty penny by day.

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