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Old 11-11-2015, 09:19 AM   #21
VariousRen
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Esoteric Medicine

In my low fantasy world esoteric medacine (chanting) is the application of healing chants so low energy that they fall below the resolution of RPM. In effect it acts like TL4 first aid, and allows for minor supernatural healing effects. It also acts like physician for long term care.

The PC healer had an encounter with a forest dryad, and critically failed his HT roll to resist her beauty (failure strikes you blind, crit fail gives you a heart attack). He dropped to his knees while having a heart attack, but managed to use esoteric medacine to restart his own heart before he lost enough FP to pass out (I ruled that you lose 1d6 FP each round, rather than all of them instantly, and gave a hefty skill penalty).
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Old 03-05-2018, 05:10 PM   #22
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Esoteric Medicine

In a campaign setting based on the real world, but perhaps with secret powers or wainscot magic, what mandatory Esoteric Medicine specialities ought to exist?

How broad ought each specialisation be? I mean, is it Esoteric Medicine (Chinese), with various philosophies maybe existing as Optional Specialisations, or would it be Esoteric Medicine (Taoist) and then other mandatory specialisations for different philosophies? Is there a default between specialities from related, but distinct traditions?

GURPS Martial Arts lists the skill as an Optional Skill for a number of styles, but I don't recall any mention of mandatory specialisations.

If a character has it because he learned it as part of his Kung Fu training, I guess that would mean Esoteric Medicine (Chinese) or (Taoist).

But what speciality ought to be learned as part of silat? Kali/escrima/arnis?

Kachin bando?
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Old 03-05-2018, 06:06 PM   #23
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Esoteric Medicine

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
In a campaign setting based on the real world, but perhaps with secret powers or wainscot magic, what mandatory Esoteric Medicine specialities ought to exist?

How broad ought each specialisation be?
Esoteric Medicine itself specifies that "In settings where multiple forms of treatment exist, healers must specialize in one specific tradition.". Personally, I'd say a "tradition" covers a whole culture - so your suggested "Esoteric Medicine (Chinese)" would be most correct. Requiring more of a breakdown feels just too fiddly to me, and contributes to GURPS' already-serious skill bloat. This applies even in settings where Esoteric Medicine is actually effective, but it's particularly onerous in settings where it isn't useful - if I have to buy four or five Hard skills to be considered a competent practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine, and those skills are all no better than First Aid anyway, I'm probably just going to skip being a healer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander
Is there a default between specialities from related, but distinct traditions?
That seems reasonable to me. I'd probably assume a default of -4 to any other Esoteric Medicine tradition, and a default of -3 or -2 for close traditions.
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Old 03-05-2018, 08:06 PM   #24
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Esoteric Medicine

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
In a campaign setting based on the real world, but perhaps with secret powers or wainscot magic, what mandatory Esoteric Medicine specialities ought to exist?
GM call, really. Real-world esoteric traditions often have crossover but don't need to and thus you can have a large number of possibilities (or you can just default them all to Con Artist), but effective forms of esoteric medicine are probably working from shared principles so there might only be a few types.
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Old 03-06-2018, 01:51 AM   #25
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Esoteric Medicine

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GM call, really. Real-world esoteric traditions often have crossover but don't need to and thus you can have a large number of possibilities (or you can just default them all to Con Artist), but effective forms of esoteric medicine are probably working from shared principles so there might only be a few types.
Let's assume that neither the GM nor his estimable Assistant for Real-World Research and Rules has the first idea about any traditions of faux-medicine, beyond knowing that alternative medicine either has not been proven to work or has been proven not to work.*

It seems to be in genre for any setting where martial arts include mystical skills like Pressure Points to have them also include Esoteric Medicine. Until now, I've always just included the skill without specialisations, assuming that different flavours of bovine excrement amounted to familiarities and perhaps Cultural Familiarities.

But I note that official publications which make use of Esoteric Medicine seem to assume mandatory specialisation for the skill, but I have not seen any published guidelines for how to handle such specialisations in the real world, or the rather more common campaign settings which superficially resemble the real world, but are significantly more interesting in some fashion.

I noticed that in a current campaign, three PCs had Esoteric Medicine listed as skills, all of them because they studied a martial art where they had learned 'traditional healing' from their guru/sensei/sayagi. One of them just had a little Dabbler level, one had a point in an Optional Specialisation focusing on massage** and one is an actual MD who also took a decent level of Esoteric Medicine from his Chin Na hobby.

The game is Supers in an otherwise fairly realistic world, hewing as closely to ours as possible with the apparent change point being a fairly recent and still secret experimental drug test / training program that mysteriously resulted in emerging powers among test subjects around a decade later.

As such, no one has yet been shown to use mystical martial arts in the setting, but as some of the results of the experimental project seem decidedly non-physical and even scientifically impossible, the world might well be secret magic and have alchemy or chi powers, as the experiments clearly weren't just science.

I'm disinclined to have Esoteric Medicine cost points, but do absolutely nothing. I think it should at least have the potential to be helpful in case the characters run into anyone who can kill with the dreaded dim mak or something. Until then, I suppose they ought to be at least modestly useful in dealing with minor aches, bruises, sprains, muscle pains and fatigue from working out and sparring as part of the martial art tradition in which the skill was learned.

To do either, though, I apparently have to make a decision about the major mandatory specialisations which exist in the setting, not to mention how they inter-default.

So, what are the major traditions that ought to exist in our real world, especially those likely to be taught as part of martial arts?

Either (Chinese) or the apparently canonical, published specialty of Esoteric Medicine (Taoist) ought to be associated with Chin Na, I suppose.

What Esoteric Medicine specialty would be associated with Burma, specifically a family from the Kachin autonomous area where the grandfather converted to Christianity in the 1930s?

And what Esoteric Medicine specialty would be taught as part of Indonesian or Malay silat?

What about FMA (escrima/kali/arnis)?

*Because we are also aware of what they call alternative medicine that works. Medicine.
**Which actually amounts to quite a high skill level for someone whose superpower is inhumanly enhanced senses and has Per 20.
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Old 03-06-2018, 02:10 AM   #26
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Esoteric Medicine

In Psi-Wars, Esoteric Medicine is one of your only means of curing psychic crippling or "psychic diseases" that arise from haunted places. I borrow from the idea of "exorcism as form of medicine" that you see in antiquity, except I combine it with germ theory (necessary in a sci-fi game): some diseases are biological in origin, but others come from a disruption of your "psychic life force." "Modern Medicine" is able to handle the former and not the latter while Esoteric Medicine is able to handle the latter, and has minor features that it can apply in the former.

Incidentally, I have a lengthy Patreon special about this, which is not meant as a plug. I'll even post it here, but it should be noted that it's a very long post. One of the things that cropped up in my research is that there's a lot of esoteric healing, everything from (not an exhaustive list):
-Traditional Chinese Medicine
-Traditional European Medicine
-Faith Healing traditions (exorcism, "demons as source of disease," etc)
-Mind/Body theories (where thinking good thoughts can make your diseases go away)
-Weird life-energy theories (Things like sitting in a box so that small-scale magnets can re-energize your bio-magnetic field)
-Homeopathy (Setting aside how they approach dilution, is very similar to herbal medicine)
-Massage techniques (Osteopathy or Chiropracty, which often strikes people odd as a form of alternative medicine; it's an example of alternative medicine that has been proved to work in some cases: it does help with back pain or migraines, but it does not cure asthma; not all forms of alternative medicine are complete bunk).

I personally think it's a bit of a shame that Esoteric Medicine gets relegated to "just Fantasy physician." The principles behind Esoteric Medicine can say a lot about the cosmology of the world (Where does disease and suffering come from in your setting? Are there ways people can enhance performance or achieve immortality in your setting?). And they can apply to more than just traditional medieval fantasy or wuxia: they also have a place in many conspiracy games ("the Man just doesn't want you to know the powers that Chiropractic healing can infuse you with!"), psychic games, monster hunter, After the End, or strange alien healing techniques in sci-fi games.
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Old 03-06-2018, 03:12 AM   #27
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Esoteric Medicine

A lot of things that might be called esoteric medicine might also be be classed as alchemy (homeopathy, ayurvedic medicing, colloidal silver, etc) or herbalism (realistically, anything in a herb that actually provably works gets extracted, purified, given standard doses, and made into conventional pharmacy, leaving herbalism for the stuff that probably doesn't work, or occasionally for banned stuff that's being disguised, like sports supplements that actually contain anabolic steroids).

Setting those things aside, there's a lot of variants on manipulating the body's 'energy currents', such as acupressure and acupressure, as well as more generalized energy transfer, such as reiki and therapeutic touch, and then high tech variants on that such as magnetic therapy and orgone therapy. There's also a number of dubious medical treatments that are about removing 'toxins' from the body, such as colon cleansing and various surface treatments that conveniently turn black on extended contact with flesh. Then there's (often but not always religious) systems that treat disease as a spiritual problem to be dealt with by lifestyle changes, and magical or spiritual traditions that treat diseases as spirits.

For GURPS, I'd be tempted by one type of esoteric healing per power source, so you have esoteric medicine (Ki), esoteric medicine (Holy), esoteric medicine (Magic), and so on.
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Old 03-06-2018, 04:38 AM   #28
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Esoteric Medicine

The use of Research with hefty TDM penalties for Time Spent reveals that several different traditions exist under the umbrella Burmese Traditional Medicine. These include systems derived from Buddhist philosophy (i.e. Desana), from Indian Ayurvedic practices (e.g. Bethizza), from astrology (Nekhatta) or alchemical principles (Vezzadara).

The most common alternative or traditional medicine treatments in Burma/Myanmar are herbal, however, and the country is apparently rich in flora believed to have medicinal properties. It seems that the most plausible system for a Kachin Bando sayagi to have learned in the 1930s in what was then the Burma province of British India would have been traditional herbal medicines with substantial influences from Ayurveda, Buddhist philosophy and even a few concepts shared with Chinese traditional medicine.

How this speciality of Esoteric Medicine would have evolved through two generations in Huntington Beach, California is an open question, however. The family is Christian (Baptist) and with a tradition for military service among the male members.* The current generation are very ethnically mixed, being parts Kachin (minority ethic group from Myanmar/Burma), Japanese-American and 'White' (the spouses mostly just identify as 'American', but probably have ancestors from a variety of European countries).

The Esoteric Medicine speciality that CSM Than Yamaguchi, US Army (Ret.) would have taught to two PCs would have been inspired by his grandfather's traditional Kachin medicine and philosophy, as well as by fairly standard Baptist Christian doctrine, but would have stolen fairly shamelessly from anything his Japanese-American uncles and aunts vaguely remembered from their childhoods**, as well as everything he is likely to have learned over a long and varied career where he was, among other things, a Medical Sergeant in the US Special Forces.

I imagined that it was mostly practical health advice, preventive medicine and physical therapy for students of martial arts and anyone living a very active, strenous lifestyle where pains, sprains and muscle tears, as well as more significant damage to the body, tend to accumulate, such as paratroopers, commandos and special operations soldiers on active duty, but with the basically practical aspects of sports medicine dressed up as philosophical martial arts wisdom. So it would include dietary advice, stretching and massages, but also some fairly advanced chiropractic techniques and even possibly acupuncture.

Foul-tasting herbal remedies would naturally be a significant part, but would usually either contain actual medicine and/or be intended more for placebo value, but come with traditional trappings and awful taste mostly because of sayagi Yamaguchi's dry, but puckish sense of humour.

I originally just treated this as an Optional Specialisation of Esoteric Medicine, i.e. focusing on treating muscle pains, sprains, bruises and other minor injuries that might result from full-contact sparring, serious sport practice or SOF training or deployment tempo, with a penalty to use it to 'treat' diseases, serious physical trauma or anything you really ought to be using actual medical skills to deal with.***

Reading this old thread and then checking to see that all newish publications where Esoteric Medicine is used in GURPS indeed use mandatory specialisations, it occured to me that it probably had to be an Optional Specialisation of some specific tradition.

Do I just call it Esoteric Medicine (Kachin Bando) and note that the two PCs studied the basics of Esoteric Medicine (Kachin Bando - Optional Specialisation: Massage Therapy)?

Or should the Esoteric Medicine speciality be more broad than that?

*The grandfather, the original sayagi ('grandmaster') of the family style of Kachin Bando in the US, fought with the OSS as part of the Kachin Rangers in WWII. His son-in-law was a Nisei interpreter with Merril's Mauraders, who was later killed in Korea, along with two brothers-in-law / sons of the old sayagi. The current sayagi of the family style is a former Green Beret and Vietnam veteran who served 42 years in the US Army, retiring as a Command Sergeant Major.
**Though, as they are all born in the US, this is probably as likely to be various fads and New Age concepts popular in California from the 1920s to the 1960s as it is to be anything resembling traditional Japanese concepts.
***One PC also has Diagnosis (Optional Specialisation: Trauma) and a high First-Aid skill, the other just has basic First-Aid. Any real medical treatment, as opposed to either battlefield first aid or merely an incredibly satisfying post-workout massage, will probably depend on the PC who is an actual MD (though he also has Esoteric Medicine from his Chin Na hobby, as noted, if anyone is set on being treated with traditional methods).
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Old 03-06-2018, 11:07 AM   #29
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Esoteric Medicine

Regarding Icelander’s discussion:

I want to interpret Esoteric Medicine broadly, because my experience with forms of alternative medicine seems to be people who practise one tend to practise another. My grandmother was/is a reflexologist, an aromatherapist and a masseuse, also does reiki, and probably a few other disciplines I can’t remember. I would hesitate to assume she has the Esoteric Medicine skill 4 times. I also think of people on the Psychetruth Channel and often the masseurs are also yogi, or some other speciality.

On the other hand, the Esoteric Medicine skill says a "specific" tradition – chi treatment & yin/yang healing are listed as two separate examples. Otherwise I would go for “Traditional (Regional) Medicine” or “Traditional Energy Medicine” as systems.

I think the problem is because Esoteric Medicine is not scientific, that makes it not as clearly defined as the scientific disciplines. I think Kachin Bando is fine for using as a tradition, even if the methods used within that tradition seem largely unrelated (after all, it’s a Hard skill, so it should cover a fair amount).

Unrelated:

I did take Esoteric Medicine: Necromantic as a skill – being the skill for treating demons or undead or similar creatures for which the rules of conventional biology do not apply. Or zombies with “will become a skeleton” - they don’t have Injury Tolerance: No Brain or No Vitals, so clearly trauma to those areas is a big deal, but them naturally rotting away isn’t harmful to the creature. So I used Esoteric Medicine for the skill of skeletonising a zombie without killing it (because skeletons are cleaner).

Also I liked the idea of vampires who might not have Dependency: native soil, but might still treat their wounds by sprinkling grave soil or such over them, making the whole “rest in your grave” thing seem more appropriate.
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Old 03-06-2018, 01:49 PM   #30
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Esoteric Medicine

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I think the problem is because Esoteric Medicine is not scientific, that makes it not as clearly defined as the scientific disciplines.
Scientific disciplines bleed into each other too.

But I think modern practitioners are in fact working in a different tradition - call it Esoteric Medicine (Western New Age) or something - that freely combines the "best" stuff from a lot of different ancient traditions with frankly quite a lot of conceptually modern stuff. Just using that term "energy" signals that really - that's a concept that's utterly different in the aftermath of the western scientific revolution.

Regardless of how much practitioners of this stuff claim to be harking back to ancient traditions, they're all deeply, deeply influenced by modern stuff like that - they know what energy is, at least vaguely, that blood circulates, that nerves carry information, that your brain is responsible for most emotions (and not your liver), that inherited traits pass equally from each parent (and not at all from the surroundings), that it's specific chemical components of herbs that cause specific changes in the body, that diseases have specific causes and somewhat consistent symptoms, some of which they even agree on - for instance that there are such things as vitamins that can cause specific diseases if you lack them and are present in different amounts in different foods.... There is a huge host of stuff we all accept to be true that has fallen out of the scientific revolution that has reshaped even stuff as apparently disconnected from it as alternative medicine.
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