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Sorcerer - path of healing: gateway to immortality?

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  • Sorcerer - path of healing: gateway to immortality?

    According to World of Darkness: Sorcerer, pg. 103, magical healers tend to live less than ordinary people because either they burn themselves by healing too much too quickly, or are weared down psychologically by the many sorrows and traumas of the World of Darkness since they often ( which means not always ) are people with strong compassion and / or sense of duty. It's underlined how healing - expecially serious illness and wounds - takes a lot from the healer.

    But, if a sorcerer of that path chooses to use his power only to heal himself, could he prolong his lifespan? ( that does not means being a sociopath or an evil person, he can simply decide to detach himself from empathy and obligation for rational or philosophical reasons; or mabye he just don't care much )


    Because, basic reasoning, even if healing a cancer "takes a lot from the healer", a malignant cancer left unhealed would take a lot more.

    ---

    These are, in short, the powers granted by the path of healing

    1- soothe minor pains
    2- migraine, sprains, minor infections
    3- broken bones, serious injuries
    4- ashma, arthritis, diabetes, chronic diseases
    5- AIDS, cancer, meningitis, stroke
    Last edited by Solomon Draak; 09-22-2021, 09:41 AM.

  • #2
    Seems a valid way toward extremely long lives, aging is after all merely the accumulation of errors in the organism.

    A self centered healer could very well be close to immortal in my mind

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    • #3
      Healing yourself of a stroke would be really difficult mid-stroke.

      In seriousness I do think mortal thaumaturges will be able to prolong their lives and improve their health and capabilities, but they're probably not going to learn how to do that early on.


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      • #4
        Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
        Healing yourself of a stroke would be really difficult mid-stroke.
        Since all healing except ( mabye? ) pain soothing explicitly requires time, I read that as the ability of heal a wounded heart after the stroke, assuming the person has been already hospedalized and medicated.

        Basically the permanent stroke damage is a scar into heart tissue that compromise functionality and blood irroration, not to mention that internal scars are prone to infect more easily and to generate a chronic inflammatory state that in the long term can lead to further stroke and mabye cancer ( it seems there is a correlation between malignant cancer and chronic tissue inflamation ).

        If a sorcerer can heal that, I guess he can preemptively heal those conditions similar to scars ( atherosclerosis, cholesterol deposits, aortic micro-injuries ) that leads to stroke.

        It's a wild guess but, since liver cirrhosis ( which sometimes occurr even in healthy-living people, not only in heavy drinkers ) is basically scar tissue formation that impairs liver functions, I think that same power or a very similar one could help mantaining the organ healthy.

        Pulmonar emphysema is nothing more that micro-wounds ( a lot of micro wounds ) in the lung parenchyma who progressively reduce the oxygen apport ( which in turn tends to acidfy the blood, which in turn leads to cancer ). I guess that they could count as "micro scars" too. That's another common maladie of old age, even for non smokers.

        Healing AIDS ( not HIV infection but true, fully blown AIDS ) involve rebuilding an immunitary system that is grievously compromised. Therefore the sorcerer should be able to maintain is body defences against the ravages of time.

        Healing diabetes means being able to restore impaired pancreatic functions.

        And about malignant cancer, well...
        it's only my opinion but I think that healing cancer and healing ageing is almost the same thing.

        Cancer cells are cells that - for a multitude of reasons - accumulated so much DNA damage that they lost their apoptosis mechanism ( programmed cellular death, that is necessary for an healthy tissue renovation ) and - in case of malignant cancer - start replicating without control and invading the surrounding tissue.

        Healing malignant cancer would mean healing DNA damage, and cellular ageing is basically the accumulation of DNA damage.

        So, I don't say that being able to cure / prevent cancer would mean to live forever...
        but I would not be surprised if that alone would allow to live decades longer.


        ( sorry for the grammar mistakes, I'm italian )

        ---

        Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
        but they're probably not going to learn how to do that early on.
        I agree. But mabye the sorcerer can try early on to at least mitigate ageing damage through more mundane means ( abstaining from alchool and nicotine, moderate but continuous exercise, healthy eating habits, regular sleeping and so on ).
        Last edited by Solomon Draak; 09-22-2021, 11:57 AM.

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        • #5
          ( sorry, double post )

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          • #6
            Yeah, I would certainly allow a sorcerer to extend his life with this. I don't think it should grant complete immortality, but just heavily extend lifespan, maybe for hundreds of years. Just as medieval mages couldn't become truly immortal and thus Tremere sought to become immortal using vampire blood.

            In real life, extending your life for centuries would be one of the most important powers you could have. In an RPG, especially WoD where life extension is common and Chronicles seldom last for more than a few years, life extension isn't at all unbalanced.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Solomon Draak View Post
              And about malignant cancer, well...
              it's only my opinion but I think that healing cancer and healing ageing is almost the same thing.
              Not necessarily, since you can be curing cancer by eliminating cancerous cells instead of correcting their DNA. Especially because the damage cancer causes is itself what those cells did, and not just their state. If they rearranged blood vessels, if they're causing intoxication due to their current position, or if they're simply causing an inflammatory response and/or high pressure in the area just by being there, those are things that may not go away just by correcting their DNA, and at that stage their apoptosis may not be enough anymore.

              But that is a nitpick, I totally agree that one way or another a sorcerer of the healing path would be able to prolong their own life a lot, and actually disagree with the given description, it is not being self-centered, but learning to take care of oneself first is literally one of the first things you learn at any health-care or rescue related training, and have been that way for a long time, including the middle ages. Any sorcerer of the Healing Path that didn't do so probably won't live to learn the third dot to begin with.

              At most I could argue that proper medical knowledge would play a big role in this, and it would be very hard to live more than maybe 150 years just with medieval knowledge, but some may achieve that anyway.


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              • #8
                There are other paths that, mabye, could be used to prolong one's lifespan.

                Path of Alchemy and path of Herbalism / Brewing seem quite complementary to the path of Healing. Using healing potions to support other techniques.
                Path of Enchanting could be used to create a charm that increases Stamina or confer a bonus against illness.
                Path of Shapeshifting involves control over the sorerer's own body and the power to alter it. Mabye a sorcerer can "rearrange the clay of his body" in order to repair damage.


                And a radical solution: to hybernate yourself ( through meditation, potions, or any other means ), slowing heartbeat and breathing to almost nothing; leaving behind your mortal shell in a safe sanctuary and exploring the Earth as a ghost ( Path of Ephemera ), through the eye of the mind ( path of Divination ) or with a semi-real avatar of shadows ( path of Shadow ).



                Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                Not necessarily, since you can be curing cancer by eliminating cancerous cells instead of correcting their DNA. Especially because the damage cancer causes is itself what those cells did, and not just their state. If they rearranged blood vessels, if they're causing intoxication due to their current position, or if they're simply causing an inflammatory response and/or high pressure in the area just by being there, those are things that may not go away just by correcting their DNA, and at that stage their apoptosis may not be enough anymore.
                I think that, at this point, it's too late to save a person.
                Basically, the earlier you can diagnose a malignant cancer, the higher chance you have to succesfully cure it. The rise of successful cancer therapies in modern age owe much to improved diagnostics ( which means, earlier diagnostics ).

                I guess that sorcerer of the path of Healing that operates on his own body would be aware of his own problems very early.


                Last edited by Solomon Draak; 09-22-2021, 01:35 PM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Solomon Draak View Post
                  I think that, at this point, it's too late to save a person.
                  Basically, the earlier you can diagnose a malignant cancer, the higher chance you have to succesfully cure it. The rise of successful cancer therapies in modern age owe much to improved diagnostics ( which means, earlier diagnostics ).
                  Not because those aren't signs of terminal cancer, they're causes of symptoms. Cells not committing apoptosis by itself don't do anything, it is only when the tumor is big enough to start making something that you have any symptom at all. Curing cancer by just correcting DNA wouldn't remove the tumor and the body would be left alone to correct something that is already a mess. Not life-threatening anymore, maybe, but still not something I would deem as a cure in the sense of magical healing.

                  If you interpret that after the magical treatment there is still bad stuff going on and the person need time to really recover, them ok. But if the magic outright 'cures' their illness, then the tumor must be excised someway.

                  Also the 5th level states that it cures cancer. It doesn't states that it cures initial, pre-symptomatic stages of cancer, it states that it cures cancer. I'm hard pressed to assume it can't cure cancer in a stage that a medieval healer would be able to diagnose it in a patient, and if it can cure AIDS and meningitis then it is clearly capable of removing dangerous cells.

                  On another note, if you have some disposition to create something new, I think that an oriental path based on Neidan would be extremely likely to lead to immortality. It isn't hard to think of Alchemy or Waidan working, either, as even IRL they sometimes had the very goal of achieving immortality.


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                  • #10
                    To cure cancer it's not enough to excise it, you must destroy or stop the metastatic cells who often are already spread in the body well before the main tumor reach it's critical mass. Often when you remove a tumoral mass, the metastatic cells suddendly develope new tumors even more quickly. Human body has means to defend itself ( we would be dead before adulthood if not ) and when the main mass is remove it... well, in absence of a better definition, it "lowers the guard".
                    There's a gene, P 53, who regulates cellular apoptosis and that is often compromised in malignant cells. There are some substances like apigenin who seems to be able to partially reactivated that "programmed suicide gene". There are other substances like the common ascorbic acid ( C vitamin ) that, in high dosage, seems to inhibit metastatic proliferation.

                    The point is that it's impossible to locate every single cell spread in the whole body. Curative sorcery should be able to somewhat reinforce immunitary response, or - more mystically - rebalance inner energies.


                    On another note, if you have some disposition to create something new, I think that an oriental path based on Neidan would be extremely likely to lead to immortality. It isn't hard to think of Alchemy or Waidan working, either, as even IRL they sometimes had the very goal of achieving immortality.
                    Yep. There is a minor magic tradition in the new World of Darkness supplement "Second Sight" which is precisely that, with neidan / waidan as Merits, and immortality too.
                    Last edited by Solomon Draak; 09-22-2021, 04:05 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Healing is not the same as not aging. Aging is a normal and natural process. Healing won't prevent a young child from growing up so it won't prevent an adult from getting older. The body eventually wears out. They might be extremely healthy for their age and be able to live a more active life for a much longer time. But likely that only lets them live to 90-120 years of age before they go to sleep one night and never wake up. Maybe up to 150 if other factors and very good luck cooperate (very unlikely, but theoretically possible). And even before that happens, as others point out there is possibility of injury or debilitating sickness that prevents the sorcerer from using his own power afterwards.

                      We know there are limits to the Path. It can't heal aggravated wounds. So there are some things it simply can't affect. Fire causes aggravated wounds. Those third degree burns? Sorry, can't help. So why would I think it can make someone immortal? Path also needs the person to know the Medicine skill. Which means this isn't D&D style clerical magic, I touch you and get back your hit points or the Mummy Rot is now cured. It means successfully using your medical knowledge to achieve certain things. It just super accelerates what your medicine skill can normally do even if you are rolling different attributes. It's meant to emulate any variety of folk healing.

                      I do think there are ways for Sorcerers to live older than a normal human lifespan, but that's only done through more story oriented ways showing profound spiritual blessing or infernal protection. It's not done through a simple game mechanic.

                      When questions like this come up, my response is what kind of world are you wanting to emulate? It if it is a D&D style high fantasy with Clerics popping off Cure Wounds, Restoration, and Raise Dead then yeah, go ahead, make yourself effectively immortal once you can cast those 9th level spells (although even in D&D there are setting elements or game mechanics that explain why that can't really be done, but obviously there's a lot a player can work with). But the World of Darkness is supposed to be our world with all the actual Earth myths and legends being true in a gothic horror setting. The rules are there to help you simulate that. It's not to drive a game mechanic logic that when driven to a conclusion destroys that setting. Maybe at some point thousands of years ago when the world was young, the gods and giants walked the earth, and magic was everywhere then you could do that, but not in today's world when magic is not what it once was, the Gauntlet is strong, and science rules.

                      When I hear "cure cancer" my response is that the patient's cancer seems to spontaneously enter into remission. Hurray. That can happen in real life too. Doesn't mean the person is now immortal. It doesn't mean it realigns your chakras, straightens out your chi, creates an anti-aging chemical formula in your body, pre-emptively heals potential internal scars, or any of the other things the OP says. He's creating ad hoc explanations as to why the magic works and therefore inventing new powers it can do because of that even though they aren't listed. There are times an ST should allow a player to extrapolate and apply a skill or power he has, and there are times when the ST needs to say a firm "no."

                      Some of the things he's talking about I think could be done by true Mages working within their paradigm and taking care to avoid Paradox. But I don't think it's appropriate for a Path of Sorcery.

                      That's how I would handle it in game as ST.

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                      • #12
                        Thanks for the reply, Black Fox.

                        I've only a consideration to make.
                        Some of the things who a sorcerer can make according to the book WoD: Sorcerer are:

                        - duplicating first to third level vampiric Disciplines and Werewolf gifts ( path of Alchemy, page 89 )
                        - shift car-sized objects in a 100 feet range ( path of Conjuration, page 92 )
                        - conjuere earthquakes, fire, lighting, clouds of smoke, water tides, rust, freezing water, dust storms and explosions of fire ( path of Hellfire, page 103 )
                        - become invisible by engulfing himself in darkness ( page 106 )

                        and , icing on the cake, turning yourself into anything bigger than a mouse or smaller than an elephant ( path of Shapeshifting, page 107 ).

                        Now, in my modest opinion that may be biased or wrong, these things are more blatantly supernatural and "impossible"than, say, healing scar tissues and artery obstructions.

                        ---

                        That said, ageing is not the continuation of growth. There is nothing in common between growing and ageing. Ageing is the accumulation of structural and genetic damage, not a biological clock. The body wears out because the damage accumulates faster than it is able to repair.

                        And, about the path of Healing being only able to superaccelerate what the Medicine skills do, I don't think that's correct too. Even modern 2021 medicine isn't able to permanently cure diabetes, arthritis or asthma, it - barely - allows to improve the health and soothe the pain. Diabetic patients have to take medicines for the rest of their life and they're not healed, they're still ill.
                        Also, modern medicine isn't ( yet ) able to fully repair the lasting damage of a stroke.
                        Not to mention AIDS.
                        Last edited by Solomon Draak; 09-22-2021, 05:24 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Solomon Draak View Post
                          Curative sorcery should be able to somewhat reinforce immunitary response, or - more mystically - rebalance inner energies.
                          Not necessarily, and even if so, then it wouldn't be DNA restoration either. The question here is how it cures, full stop.

                          If it cures AIDS and meningitis, how is it? Reinforcing the immune system wouldn't cure AIDS because the HIV is able to survive inactive inside immune cells. You can be free of symptoms and recover health, but the disease may come back later if that's it. The same goes for meningitis, you can heal the lesion and suppress the inflammatory response, but if it was caused by germs, the most common scenario, it may return. If you just reinforces the immune system you may end up with an even worse inflammatory response before the germs are killed.

                          The easiest way for this magic to work without needing far more knowledge from the caster would be to identify causes and remove them. And if it can identify viruses, then identifying cancer cells is easy. It is impossible for US to surgically remove every single cancerous cell, but this is a spell. And removing every single cell isn't any harder than repairing their DNA, since we're still talking about the DNA of individual cells.

                          Oh, just to be clear, this is extremely off-topic and irrelevant, I'm just having fun with the argument, tell me if you're tired of it.



                          Originally posted by Black Fox View Post
                          That's how I would handle it in game as ST.
                          I usually agree with most of your posts, but here I have to disagree firmly.

                          1- You have a very strict interpretation of how ageing works, which is fine, but not an objective truth;
                          2- This form of separating WoD and D&D as if the first were more grounded and serious should have been left in the 90's were it belongs, this is simply false;
                          3- Paths work through Att + Abi rolls, that's the single reason it uses Medicine, because it certainly isn't just accelerated/reinforced natural healing;
                          4- Werewolves do have a 1st level Gift to simply give your Hit Points back and cure Mummy Rot, by the way, and it's pretty common;
                          5- OP didn't stated a simple game mechanic, they described a character working towards a goal;
                          6- If it was a simple game mechanic it wouldn't be a greater problem than curing AIDS and diabetes as a game mechanic;
                          7- Legends about immortals and wise people that lived for hundreds of years are older and more common than legends about vampires;
                          8- AFAIK the OP is the ST in their game. Granted, I may be wrong;
                          9- Myself, if asked about this by a player, would just say "sure, why not?" Being ageless is a badass background, have zero effect on table.


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                          • #14
                            Y’all sound like a bunch of Technocrats. It’s magic, there is no scientific mechanism, the magic just makes people get better.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                              I usually agree with most of your posts, but here I have to disagree firmly.
                              And that's fine. Everyone has their own personal tastes and how they approach the setting. But here are some things you may want to think about.

                              Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                              2- This form of separating WoD and D&D as if the first were more grounded and serious should have been left in the 90's were it belongs, this is simply false;
                              And I never said that. They are different kinds of genres. High fantasy is not the same as gothic horror. You can do "serious" or "silly" or anything else in both settings or any game system. But they are different genres using different tropes for different reasons. D&D is set up to do a specific kind of genre. It can be used for other genres, but typically requires tinkering. It's why when the original Ravenloft game setting (the demiplanes, not the original module) appeared, they introduced a lot of specific rules in order to turn rules meant for a more high fantasy style of play into something better resembling gothic fantasy. But it was still essentially the same system but with different kinds of magic and additional rules.

                              Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                              3- Paths work through Att + Abi rolls, that's the single reason it uses Medicine, because it certainly isn't just accelerated/reinforced natural healing;
                              Path of Healing does not use Medicine for its rolls. It uses Manipulation + Intuition. (Intuition if a Talent Ability for Sorcerer). So you don't roll Medicine. The Path description says healing magicians need some form of Medicine knowledge, and that a character using the Path needs to determine both their magical and medicinal approach. Since we're also told that aggravated damage cannot be healed, we definitely know there are limits to the use of the Path. I gave my interpretation. It's fine to come up with your own, but the requirement for Medicine knowledge is NOT because the Path uses an Attribute + Medicine roll. It's meant to be a storytelling device so the player defines the flavor text of how they use that power within the restrictions of the Path Description.

                              Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                              4- Werewolves do have a 1st level Gift to simply give your Hit Points back and cure Mummy Rot, by the way, and it's pretty common;
                              Which is true, but irrelevant when talking about a Path of Sorcery. They are meant to do different things in game. There's really nothing Gifts are trying to emulate in terms of genre as werewolves are generally not associated with those kinds of powers. I would say that putting in things like Mother's Touch and the like is for the same reason D&D uses Cure Wounds spells. There is a very heavy combat component in Werewolf like D&D so it's normal to see why they wanted to include something equivalent to Cure Wounds - they want the PCs to quickly move on to the next scene after combat is done. Which is why Werewolf gives Garou a lot of healing ability just for being Garou as well (as well giving other means to heal for their other supernatural creatures like vampire using their Blood Pool to heal). But the Path of Healing works a different way. (For the record though, I also wouldn't allow continual use of Mother's Touch to achieve immortality either).

                              While the game mechanics of the Paths apply to any kind of concept of the Sorcerer character, it's also clear from the text that it's not a case that all the sorcerers are the same. It's up the players (and STs) to make the flavor text of using a Path be right for that character concept. They aren't supposed to be the same generic power even though the results will be the same. Earlier in the book it is said that the Paths are supposed to follow defined laws and conform to ancient folklore and work in more "believable" ways than how Mages use Spheres. The magic of Sorcerers are supposed to reflect the beliefs of the societies they come from. A member of the Nephite Priesthood, Uzoma, Mogen Ha Chav, or any other concept may all know the Path of Healing, but they are going to go about it in very different ways that reflect the beliefs of their groups. In other words, the stories of miracle healings, folk medicine, or whatever it is. And those legends and stories of Healing don't involve making people immortal. They can allow the paralyze the walk, "incurable" diseases to go into remission, the blind to recover their sight, to quickly recover from severe wounds, and more. But immortality is not one of them.

                              If you want, you should be taking a different option.

                              [QUOTE=monteparnas;n1460908]5- OP didn't stated a simple game mechanic, they described a character working towards a goal;

                              The game mechanic discussed is the Path of Healing. It's the dots in the Path and making a roll. The OP didn't make some general post of how one goes about becoming immortal or different ways to do it. He's specifically talking about using the Path of Healing to do so. I think there are far better methods of emulating them. Mostly because that would give the Path of Healing too much power for what it is supposed to be.

                              It's fine to work towards such a goal. But it should be some kind of story component the ST is using. Not a natural result of using the Path of Healing.

                              Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                              7- Legends about immortals and wise people that lived for hundreds of years are older and more common than legends about vampires;
                              This is true. But that doesn't mean the Path of Healing is the way to emulate that. I even gave an alternate way that could be accomplished in a way I'd be comfortable with. I even acknowledged that in an earlier time when the world was different, it might be easier to become immortal. But not now. Or through the use of some kind of special story.

                              Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                              8- AFAIK the OP is the ST in their game. Granted, I may be wrong;
                              9- Myself, if asked about this by a player, would just say "sure, why not?" Being ageless is a badass background, have zero effect on table.
                              I don't know what the point of this is. I clearly explained how I would handle it and why. That doesn't prevent anyone from running it different in their own games. I understand you seem to think I am telling the OP what he can or cannot do in his game, but I'm not. I explained how I would handle it.

                              As ST I'd be called on to interpret any number of things that happen in the game. Players look to the ST to make the call of what is and is not acceptable for that game.

                              This has nothing to do with allowing a character to be somehow immortal. Hell, there is even a Merit in the same Sorcerer's book called Immortal that does just that. You could explain or justify that Merit in many different ways. You could just somehow be an Immortal like in Highlander. Or have it be a result of some kind of blessing or curse or investment. Or by drinking a secret elixir or discovering the Philosopher's Stone or achieving it through Neidan. There's many different things you can use to explain that (provided the ST agrees). I just don't hold that it can be done through use of the Path of Healing on a constant basis. There should be something special involved. Not shotgunning the use of a Path.

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