Sunday, October 9, 2016

Healing in DQ

The combat system in DragonQuest can be quite deadly with even the lowliest of opponents able to severely injure or even kill the most heroic of characters by getting an [18.2] Endurance hit or a [18.3] Grievous Injury with their attack.  As Endurance damage is recovered slowly [85.1] at one point every three days the ability to get an injured comrade back on his feet in the middle of an adventure is pretty important.  In DQ you have the usual options of healing potions, healing spells and the arts of the Healer skill though there are some significant limitations and roadblocks for beginning or just poor adventurers.
An OpenOffice spreadsheet (.ods) file has been added to my Downloads page which calculates the amounts, costs and success chances mentioned in this post.
There are a few issues with relying upon healing from Healers. The first is that the ability to heal Endurance damage doesn't come until Rank 3.  Assuming that the Healer character took advantage of [8.6] to pick up Healer 0 for only 100 EP, the Healer will still have to spend 5500 EP to get to Rank 3.  This means that the experience from five successful adventure sessions for the Mercenary [86.2] rank character would have to be spent solely on Healer skill before any healing can be done by the character.  The adventuring Healer will have to be protected by the group until the Healer gets healing ability and can then spare experience on other skills.  This situation is not exactly unusual in RPGs but it does require a bit of forward thinking from the players in the group.

The second issue with the healing ability of Healers is that it can't be used in combat as it takes several minutes to perform (11 - Rank) [55.5].  This is not unreasonable but does mean that the adventuring party should have alternate means to heal in the heat of combat.

Another issue is that the Healer must expend 3 Fatigue Points to heal and then the amount healed is low [D10 + (Rank - 5)] compared to the damage done by an average weapon hit [D10+3.5].  Thirty percent of the time a Rank 3 Healer will only heal for 1 point of endurance.  A Healer that ends up in combat may have few or no Fatigue Points left to spend on healing a wounded companion. An average healing result for the Rank 3 Healer is only 3.8 pts which could result in the healer needing to heal a wounded companion multiple times using up even more Fatigue.  I would propose that the formula for healing be changed to [(D10 - 5) + Rank].  This change does not affect the maximum amount healed at any Rank but does bump up the minimum amount to (Rank + 1) for any Healer Rank.

Even with their limitations at lower ranks there is another reason to have a Healer in your party and that is to keep your Adepts from turning into vegetables because of spell backfires. A real possibility for the beginning Adepts.

Healing Potions
There are two ways healing potions may be produced with the Alchemist skill.  The Alchemist must work with a Healer or with an Adept ranked in an applicable healing spell.  Of course one individual could be all three.

Healer-based Potions

The potions based on a Healers ability naturally function as if the Healer herself was doing the healing. This means that a potion made with the assistance of a Rank 3 healer once again only does 3.8 points on average.  The cost to produce the potion is quite steep for a beginning adventurer to fund or purchase.  The production cost is [1500 - (50 x Alchemist's Rank)] Silver Pennies [50.9].  That's the cost to produce it and not the selling price.  This is compounded by a not insignificant failure rate when producing the potions for the low to middle-ranked Alchemist/Healer.  The success chance is  [(10 x Alchemist's  Rank) + (3 x Healer's Rank)].  Accounting for waste during production the cost of a D10 healing potion made by an Alchemist Rank 5 and Healer Rank 5 would be 1923 Silver Pennies.  Assuming they make at least a 25% markup the beginning adventurer would have to pay 2404 Silver Pennies for that potion.  A quarter to a third of the yearly income for the beginning adventurer according to the Monetary Matters rules section 81.  Quite the precious commodity.  Obviously the higher ranked Healer/Alchemist combo has less waste and somewhat lower per potion base cost but why would they charge any less?  If the Healer is higher ranked the potion is more effective but the time required to produce it is the same.  When was the last time that a more skilled artisan charged less for a better product than the lesser product of a lower skilled artisan?

Spell-based Potions

Potions based on healing spells aren't going to offer any bargains as the base cost for all but the most trivial of spells is very high and the success chance at lower Spell/Alchemy ranks is low.  The other limitation is in which spells can be made into potions. Per [50.9], "Any spell or talent which the Adept knows and which is designed to affect only the Adept or some facet of their own person may be imbued into a potion."  It doesn't take too strict a reading to interpret that as only those spells that can only be cast upon the Adept and not spells that can affect others.  This is not unreasonable as a potion is intended to affect the imbiber. Unfortunately that excludes all but one healing spell from being made into a potion.  That is the Spell of Healing (S-1) from Celestial Magics with an Experience Multiple of 200.

As mentioned before the cost to manufacture a spell-based potion is very high and uses the formula: [(Experience Multiple x 20) - (Alchemist Rank x 10)].  For the Spell of Healing that gives a basic cost of 3950 for the rank 5 Alchemist.  But the chance of successfully producing it is even lower than that for the Healer-based potions.  The formula is: [(10 x Alchemist Rank) + (Adept's Rank w/Spell)].  If the Adept is Rank 10 with the spell and the Alchemist is Rank 5 the success chance is 60%.  Adjusting the base cost to cover waste and you get 6583 Silver Pennies.  Add 25% markup and you get 8229 Silver Pennies for a potion that heals 6 points.  Not very cost effective and out of the financial reach of most adventurers.

For the most effective and least expensive healing potions you go to an Adept of the College of Water Magics.  They can produce a healing potion in under a minute, the only cost is the container and some water, and their potions heal ([D-5] + 1 per Rank).

In a future article I'm going to come back to the costs of producing potions.

Healing Spells
There are only a handful of healing spells among the colleges. Some cannot be cast in combat and one only affects the caster.  They have the advantage of being essentially free to cast and can be cast any time the Adept has the 1 or 2 points of Fatigue to cast them.
37. Sorceries of the Mind - Spell of Empathy (G-4).  Trades 1 point of the Adepts Fatigue for every 2 points of Endurance or Fatigue healed in the target.
37. Sorceries of the Mind - Spell of Healing (S-7). With a decent Base Chance this spell heals a lot of points at higher ranks though the Experience Multiple is fairly high.  Conversely it heals very little at lower ranks.  It can be cast in combat.
41. Water Magics - Waters of Healing Spell (S-3).  This spell actually produces potions and quite good ones at higher ranks.  For an adventuring group this is actually the best way to produce healing potions as the only cost is Fatigue Points and a container to hold the potion.
43. Earth Magics - Spell of Healing (G-6).  A good healing spell but cannot be used in combat.  Given its reliance upon "healing herbs and salves" it also can't be cast if the Adept has lost his supplies.
43. Earth Magics - Trollskin Spell (S-15).  Of very limited effectiveness at low ranks and you'll probably bleed to death before it even starts acting.  Still it is better than nothing.
44. Celestial Magics - Spell of Healing (S-1).  Can only be cast over self but can be cast in combat.  Decent base chance.  Less effective than S-7 of Sorceries of the Mind but much easier to get rank in.

All but the Earth Magic spell could also be invested per [32.3] which would allow anyone to carry around some form of healing for themselves or others.  In my opinion this is actually the most effective way to carry around healing for use during combat.  A ring with a Healing spell on it can't be dropped, broken or stolen if it's on your finger and it's ready whenever you need it.

Herbal Lore
For those using either the unpublished, but widely available, Arcane Wisdom supplement or the 3rd edition DragonQuest rules released by TSR there is a fourth healing option and that is found in the Herbal Lore rules.

There are a number of plants listed in those rules that can be used to restore small amounts of both Endurance and Fatigue.  Not usable in combat but very convenient for getting a party back in fighting trim after a big fight.

I have a post in the works on the Herb Lore rules that I'll be putting up later.


  1. Good summary. Thanks. I had read the rules, but not really realized their implications.

    1. Been playing DQ for more than 30 years and still find areas in the rules where I had never really thought them through.