Friday, September 11, 2015

Review & Commentary On Insults & Injuries: A Pathfinder Sourcebook for Medical Maladies From Skirmisher Publishing

Grab It Right Over
I have been reading through this book over the past day or so and wringing my hands as to how to approach this book. Confession time, Skirmisher sent me this book and I don't play Pathfinder, in point of fact I don't even own a single Pathfinder book. But for years now I've been following Dr. Eric Lis, blog posts on the D-Infinity blog site for years now . This source book could be used with a wide variety of SDR style games and includes a huge swath of information on death, disease, personal injury and all kinds of ins and outs on healing, PC classes,etc. In point of fact this book is incredibly useful for not only 3.0 and beyond edition games but also other near clones such as Dungeon Crawl Classics. But the material there in of Insults & Injuries could also be applied to newly emerging games of post apocalyptic goodness where disease and death is at the center of life quite literally.
 The first thing to note is the inclusion of an index and overview of the book's contents marking this as a well organized product and allowing the Dungeon Master to have a quick scan of the contents quite literally at a the drop of a hat. Much of the book's first chapter is literally a quasi historic overview of  a fantasy world's setting and how these health, healing and disease elements fit into the context of the DM's world view. In this case the folks over at Skirmisher publishing have oriented Insults and Injuries toward a Kos their own Neo Grecian mythological campaign world with public domain artwork peppering the product throughout.
  Chapters such as the first one are Head & Neck along with a ton of injuries that can happen to PC's as well as incredible detail about these injuries along with a break down of system details and ideas. For the kind of detail that I'm talking about let's look into a sample entry in this case 'Headache' :
Also known as: N/A.
Ages: Any.
Description: Headache is one of the most common
illnesses in the world. It afflicts all races to varying
severities and can range from annoying to debilitating.
Stories tell of Beholders who end their lives and Hydras
who chew off their own heads to end their pain,
although the headaches of most humanoids are rarely
so terrible. Although dozens of types of headaches have
been categorized, broadly speaking there are three
common types.
Tension headache is the most common type and is
usually associated with stress, uncomfortable position,
or hunger. Pain can be severe but rarely disabling and
usually goes away on its own after four to six hours,
although in rare cases tension headaches can last for
years. Pain is usually on both sides of the head and is
often described as a squeezing feeling.
Migraine headache is often more severe than a
tension headache and often includes some nausea or
dizziness. Before a migraine begins, the creature may
see flashes of light or other brief vision changes. Pain
is often on only one side of the head and has a throbbing
quality, and may become worse with bright light or
loud noise. Pain usually lasts 3d8 hours.
Cluster headache is immensely painful and usually
brief. Several short headaches may occur in rapid
sequence. This headache is described as one of the
worst pains known and is sometimes said to be worse
than childbirth. Typically, the pain occurs on only one
side and has a stabbing quality, and is almost invariably
accompanied by a drooping eye, pupillary constriction,
red eye, runny nose, or sweating. Pain usually lasts
between 15 minutes and three hours. There may be as
many as five to 10 attacks per day.
Hangover (post-alcohol headache) is discussed in
Chapter 11: Drugs & Toxins.
Mechanics: A creature suffering from a tension
headache is considered to be Sickened for the duration
of the headache. A creature suffering from a migraine
is considered to be Staggered. A creature suffering from a cluster headache is considered to be Nauseated (even though they may not actually be nauseated).
Treatment: Any cure spell immediately ends the
headache but does not prevent the headache from
recurring. Remove disease ends the headache and
prevents a headache from recurring for one week.
The Heal skill has no effect on headache.
  Yeah this is the type of detail here that your going to get in Insults and Injuries, this is product presents and its very well done at what it does. Chest is next then abdomen, the limbs, followed up with Cancers, etc. We don't simply have a fast book here we get a discourse on the mythological and legendary causes of these medical conditions. So this over all the product's strength and detail here. Dr. Eric Lis goes into just this sort of background with common D&D and Advanced dungeons and dragons elements like mummy rot  and much more. We get a full plate of infections, injures, nutritional deficiencies,etc. There is a ton of byplay material when it comes to the game elements here and the level of research detail is far in excess to most other D20 and Pathfinder books that I've seen.  
   When it comes to the latter half of the book there's a ton of useful bits for a dungeon master, drugs & toxins, medicines, race specific illnesses, surgeries, feats, defects, and finally prestige classes  are all given center stage. A quick note on the prestige classes, we get the 'Alienist' is described thus 'some choose instead to turn their attention to sicknesses of the mind. These
specialized healers are known as Alienists, from an ancient word for “insane” or “estranged.” While  Alienists may lack other healers’ abilities to banish diseases and fix broken bones, they work hard to gain insight into how intelligent creatures think and what processes can go awry in their brains. ''  For games where supernatural elements and horrors play a part, the real hell were the insane asylums of the ancient world. And injuries and insults tackles this head on. Apothacary is another essential class whose appearances in games is often down played, part physician, part herbalist, and part  alchemist, such characters, known as Apothecaries,
unravel the mysteries of the body by learning how different chemicals can help or harm the body’s natural processes. Apothecaries take the often interesting and strange approach to the path of healing with drugs, powders, herbs, toxins and can be a wizards best friend or worst enemy. Chirurgeons are also given their due here and they're very well fleshed out for the most part, knives and all. Physicians come under the heading of the cleric and its amazing to see how they were worked in.
Finally we are given the tools of the trade and how to work them under the heading of equipment. This includes everything from hooks to scalpels plus some of the tools of the medical trade of the historical past. Yeah, there are more then a few squeamish bits here to make me skip over this chapter and return to it again and again to figure where the author was taking his audience.  And yes there are leeches and using their works in game.
Finally we get a full range of spells and their basically work ups of the diseases and injuries covered in the book in 3.0 and 3.7 Pathfinder terms.  They're well done and up to Skirmisher Publishing usual standards. That being said I do think that parts of Insult & Injury are a bit dry but entertaining by turns. With the amount of information packed into this book its going to be in places. Do I think that the book is worth the entry fee? Yes I do but if I were you I'd wait till the book goes on sale. This book packs a ton of information
 Using Insults & Injuries
For Your Old School Campaigns

Here's where I personally think that this book would shine in a Dungeon Crawl Classic's rpg campaign. All of the death, disease, and horror that this book presents is right up the alleyway of DCC. For that matter I can clearly see this game being of great use to another near clone game close to my heart Fantastic Heroes and Witchery is well suited to using exactly this level of detail. For post apocalyptic settings such as Crawling Under A Broken Moon and  Mutant Crawl Classics.  much of the material in Insult and Injury is worth converting over. With Rosetta stone OGL and SRD campaigns much of the information here is perfectly suited to frame everything that's needed in a campaign should a medical situation arise and believe me it will. 
One thing that DCC and its children are lacking in is detailed medical rules for exactly the sort of things that Insults & Injury covers so its worth having for the DCC dungeon master. For sword and sandal games this book is essential, the injuries, diseases and weirdness of a quasi Roman empire and a sword and sorcery game are perfectly framed by I&I. The legends and mythological aspects that I&I brings to the table are at once daunting and very nice due to the sheer volume of material. This is another example of Chinese Restaurant DMing that one encounters when handling D20 product. Picking and choosing is an exercise in patience and strength for campaigning. Because of the very nature of historical material with its medical background screams out either post apocalyptic or Old West,given the number of DCC fanzines on the market with this them its easy to see the utility of this product when making adventures. Speaking of many of the elements of this quasi historic and fantasy book one could easily see using this as a source book for the multi platform book by RPG Pundit's Dark Albion The Rose War. In point of fact this is exactly the sort of a platform sourcebook that would generate hours and hours of campaign adventures. The apothecary PC class  is a perfect fit for a campaign where PC's are sent to distant lands to recover medical herbs, powders, etc.
The book is a solid and well thought out source book that can be back ported into a wide variety of applications for campaigning.

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