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Old 07-22-2016, 01:42 PM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Physician and Physiology

Physician is the IQ/H TL practical skill of helping the sick and injured and helping them get better by scientific methods. It defaults to IQ-7, First Aid-11 (the second biggest default penalty in RAW), or Veterinary-4; lots of skills default to Physician, including First Aid at unmodified Physician. Skill rolls are used to test general medical competence, and to help people recover from injury and illness (B423). The skill doesn't require specialisation, but physiology modifiers apply for different species.

Physiology is the IQ/H TL scientific skill of detailed biological knowledge about a species, primarily to support medical practice. The defaults are IQ-6, Diagnosis-5, Physician-5 or Surgery-5, and Surgery has a default to Physiology. It requires specialisation by species, and doesn't specify defaults for other species, but the physiology modifiers seem like a good starting point. The GURPS skill clearly encompasses the two related scientific fields of anatomy and physiology, which are often taught separately in medical training.

In many worlds, Physician does not exist at TL1-4, and Pharmacy (Herbal) and/or Esoteric Medicine are used instead. However, some TL4 or earlier worlds do have Physician: Yrth manages it because of its modern influences. At TL5+, a lot of medical knowledge comes under Pharmacy (Synthetic), and doctors know a lot about drugs, and how to apply them. With Physician, you can identify most drugs of your TL (-5 without a laboratory, +3 if you risk smelling or tasting them), but you need Pharmacy to make them. Physiology appears at TL4.

Both these skills date from GURPS 1e, and are boosted by Healer talent. Physician can be a counter to Cyclic attacks that inflict fatigue or toxic damage, can be used to fulfil the Maintenance disadvantage and control Wounded, and is required for full use of Surgery skill. It can also ameliorate critical failures of healing spells, and is hugely important in recovery from injuries and illnesses (B422-444). There's an interesting rule for Physician at TL7+, which has survived since 1e: the skill can operate at TL6 without any special training, provided you have a hygienic working environment.

Bio-Tech, naturally, adds a lot of material about these skills. There are several specific applications for Physiology, and it's a primary skill for the Physician and Forensic Pathologist templates. Physician gets a lot of attention: there are lots of specific tasks and equipment for it, the Medical Treatment flowchart and templates for many kinds of characters connected with medicine. Nurses have Physician as their primary skill, and it's also what anesthetists use. (Physiotherapy) is an optional specialisation, and I reckon physios should not have Empathy: you have to cause pain as part of the job. Suturing seems to be Physician, not Surgery, since nurses do it.

Physician is universal on templates for doctors; Physiology is sometimes neglected outside Bio-Tech. Action has extreme levels of Physician, used to simulate action-movie reality (I found it helpful to be even more extreme) and equipment, including smell-proof body bags, truth serums, drugging people to keep them quiet, and curing cinematic plagues. AtE covers medicine, plagues and injuries; Banestorm has its own plagues, low-tech Physicians, and patron saints. Dungeon Fantasy uses Physiology (monster type) quite a lot. High-Tech has plenty of equipment, and Horror introduces Physician (Psychiatric), for campaigns that deal with madness, defaulting to and from (General) at -4, plus medical procedures such as lobotomy and electroshock therapy; Madness Dossier has Physiology (Irruptor), and personality-altering drugs. Low-Tech has plenty on low-tech Physicians and LTC1 adds hospital organisation, which is well worth having. Magic has spells and magic items to assist Physician, and allows very high skill to substitute for Magery in some cases. Martial Arts has material on Physiology; Gladiators has more on low-tech medicine and Technical Grappling offers Pressure Points defaulting to Physiology. Mysteries has more poisons, and detail on real-world medical examiners. Power-Ups volumes 2, 3, 7 and 8 have examples for these skills. Thaumatology: Alchemical Baroque has a version of Physician/TL4, and Zombies uses Physician or Physiology for inventing ... you guessed!

What have you done with Physician that was weird, cool, or both? Have you used Physiology much?

Last edited by johndallman; 11-29-2016 at 04:33 PM. Reason: Correct "biggest default"
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Old 07-22-2016, 01:57 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Physician and Physiology

As a side note, in the modern world what gurps calls physician is actually done by nurses, with much of what doctors do being diagnosis.
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Old 07-22-2016, 02:15 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Physician and Physiology

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
(Physiotherapy) is an optional specialisation, and I reckon physios should not have Empathy: you have to cause pain as part of the job.
[Pedant mode] The Empathy advantage, as defined by GURPS, is Social Empathy, that is the ability to recognize emotions in others. You can very well have Empathy and Callous, which is actually common in sociopaths, who can read peoples' emotions and use them to better manipulate them. [/pedant mode]

Else, it was an informative Skill of the week post.

Oh, and I guess I would allow someone with a point in Physiology in an other species to buy off the penalty for the relevant skills for a different physiology (an Elf with Physiology: Humans would have no penalty to medical skills on humans for instance, and vice versa.).

Else, it's really a Boring But Practical skill. It's not flashy, but having someone to patch you up and speed your recovery will go a long way.

Last edited by WaterAndWindSpirit; 07-22-2016 at 02:19 PM.
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Old 07-22-2016, 02:47 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Physician and Physiology

I put enough points in a wizard to get Physician-15 as often as I am allowed due to Minor and Major Healing being such useful spells and this still helping with them.

I've never used the skill itself for anything directly.

And no, I've never used Esoteric Medicine in place of Physician because A) It's never been explicit in the actual rules text that it actually does do what Physician does for those spells and B) Any campaign I've been in where Physician was "too high tech", Esoteric Medicine was also forbidden for being "too cinematic".
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Old 07-22-2016, 09:29 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Physician and Physiology

Quote:
Originally Posted by WaterAndWindSpirit View Post
[Pedant mode] The Empathy advantage, as defined by GURPS, is Social Empathy, that is the ability to recognize emotions in others. You can very well have Empathy and Callous, which is actually common in sociopaths, who can read peoples' emotions and use them to better manipulate them. [/pedant mode]
...
Minor pedantic nit with my fellow pedant: most sociopaths are obviously screwed up, not experts at manipulation. Most would actually have Low Empathy as that's pretty much what being unable or unwilling to understand normal human socialization instincts and rules mean.
It's when the sociopaths/psychopaths include an ability to manipulate others that all hell breaks loose in "monstrous" or "inhumane" forms of behavior common to movie psychos like Dr. Hannibal Lector etc.
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Old 07-22-2016, 09:31 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Physician and Physiology

I have yet to figure out exactly Physiology means in Gurps. It's not Zoology which covers anatomy. It's an expensive inefficient way to gain the ability to apply medical skills to other species.
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Old 07-23-2016, 01:31 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Physician and Physiology

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Physiotherapy is an optional specialisation, and I reckon physios should not have Empathy: you have to cause pain as part of the job.
Empathy advantage only means knowing emotions of others and it's not passive. The other kind of empathy can be represented by some disadvantages and quirks
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Old 07-23-2016, 04:00 AM   #8
johndallman
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Physician and Physiology

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
I have yet to figure out exactly Physiology means in Gurps. It's not Zoology which covers anatomy. It's an expensive inefficient way to gain the ability to apply medical skills to other species.
The real-world science of physiology is the study of how metabolism works, which fits in between biology (specifically anatomy) and biochemistry. It has sub-fields for different kinds of life.

The GURPS skill seems to be scientific anatomy and physiology for your own species, and closely related ones. This isn't part of Physician because it's possible to be an expert in human physiology without knowing significant amounts of practical medicine. It would make sense for Physiology to be a prerequisite for Physician, Diagnosis and Surgery, at least at TL5+. Biology (Zoology) gives you anatomy for lots of kinds of animals, but not in as much detail as Physiology.
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Old 07-23-2016, 04:01 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Physician and Physiology

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Originally Posted by cdru View Post
Empathy advantage only means knowing emotions of others and it's not passive. The other kind of empathy can be represented by some disadvantages and quirks
As written Empathy is low grad psychic power.
Over sensitivity may be more a Phobia similar to Squeamishness.
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Old 07-23-2016, 04:05 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Physician and Physiology

Quote:
Originally Posted by WaterAndWindSpirit View Post
[Pedant mode] The Empathy advantage, as defined by GURPS, is Social Empathy, that is the ability to recognize emotions in others. You can very well have Empathy and Callous, which is actually common in sociopaths, who can read peoples' emotions and use them to better manipulate them. [/pedant mode]
Yes - I keep thinking that Empathy gives you penalties to attack rolls against people, but that's something else, maybe some other game.
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