New Disadvantage: Marked by a Healer

In the Healer template, the idea of the Healer’s Mark was explained (and knowledge of it was also added as a new Perk unique to Healers). On this page we explore the idea from the non-healer’s perspective. What happens if you have been marked by a healer?

To recap from the template:

The Healer’s Mark is a secret known only among most healers: it is a modification of the flesh inside the patient’s body indicating a warning message to other healers. Although the exact form of the mark is not known, it might be an agreed upon crimped capillary in a particular place.

Every healer with knowledge of the Healer’s Mark will check to see if every patient is marked when first laying hands on them. If you harm or cheat or otherwise irritate a healer, if the healer has the chance to lay hands on you again they are duty-bound to place the healer’s mark inside your body.

Once you are marked, no healer will heal you. The mark cannot be seen from the outside; a healer must lay hands on a patient to know if they have the mark.

This leads to a new disadvantage available to any character:

Marked by a Healer [-15]

Due to an unfortunate past interaction with a healer (details up to the player), you are effectively banned from receiving medical care from all healers. Your ban is implanted in your body (the “Healer’s Mark”) and can be read by any healer who touches you. You may still restore lost HP naturally via resting. Healers react at -4 to you if your mark is known.

Using This Disadvantage During Gameplay

Since some pacifist or cowardly healers may lie and say that “the damage you have received cannot be healed” in order to avoid confrontation, it is possible to have this disadvantage unknowingly. However, it will likely come out at some point, as more straightforward healers will tell you that it has been forbidden to heal you.

Since healers do not talk to non-healers about their mark, you may not know how the ban is communicated among healers, but if you know you are banned and you have tried to receive healing a few times you will almost certainly have already figured out that it has something to do with laying hands on your body.

There are ways around this ban but they are usually complicated, inconvenient, and dangerous. For example, a Necromancer can compel a ghost piece to use their talent, so an undead healer ghost piece could be coerced into ignoring the Healer’s Mark. (But ghost pieces don’t always do what they are told.) A Demon might be able to use mind control to befuddle a Healer into ignoring the mark. A Ruler could beguile a weak-willed healer into ignoring the mark, etc.

These are generally risky strategies (except, perhaps, the case of a powerful Mesmerizing Ruler) as healers can kill with the power of the flesh, so if they change their mind or were just pretending to be convinced they might attack the player and kill them instead of performing any healing.

Healers talk to each other, so it is possible for the knowledge of your mark to be spread amongst healers who have not touched you if only one healer has detected it by laying hands on you. e.g., “Watch out, the Elator that just came into town has The Healer’s Mark!” That means it is possible for healers to apply this reputation penalty based on recognizing your identity (your name, your face) and not laying hands on you. However since there are few healers and healers tend not to congregate, this is unlikely.

Notes

  • This high cost is setting-specific. As discussed in the Healer template, medical care is scarce in this setting. The skills of First Aid, Diagnosis, Pharmacy, and Physician are basically unknown and would require an Unusual Background, if allowed at all. It is not realistic that you would know any healing skills yourself.
  • This cost was calculated by combining rules from Bad Reputation, scoped Social Stigma, Enemy, and Unhealing, although this disadvantage is really somewhat different from all of these.
    • A Bad Reputation is not quite right, as the laying of hands requirement means may not be recognized on sight. On the other hand, even a -4 reputation is much safer than this disadvantage. The healers have all taken a detailed oath and specifically sworn to never heal you. This is considerably worse than a bias of -4 on the reaction table when you meet someone. Finally, the Healer’s Mark might not be visible to everyone, but it also can’t be erased or disguised. There is no way to pretend to be someone else to avoid the consequences of this reputation.
    • A scoped Social Stigma (see GURPS Social Engineering, p. 16) that applies People Affected modifiers from p. B27 is close to the right idea — this is somewhat like being Excommunicated — but this approach suffers from the same drawbacks as reputation as the disadvantage is more than reputation.
    • It’s not really an Enemy as the healers will not come looking for you and some of them are not particularly dangerous as noncombatants. In fact even in person they might do nothing bad to you–they just won’t heal you. But you are forced to encounter them: if you are seriously injured you may need to go looking for them. And if you encounter a belligerent healer, they may in fact behave like an enemy.
    • It is also somewhat like Unhealing except that this is like specifying the opposite: you only receive natural healing (instead of forbidding natural healing).
  • It is not appropriate to allow a healer character to take this disadvantage, then learn to heal themselves as a way around it. Healers cannot heal themselves.

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