The disciplines of medicine as practiced by Physickers and Surgery as practiced by Surgeons or “Barber-Surgeons” evolved almost independently of one another. Barbers, along with Midwives, are among the overwhelming majority of health care practitioners in the medieval milieu, but the majority also equates to a very common occurrence of mediocrity in practice, which is why their skills are limited in the manner seen in their descriptions.

Physickers or Physicians trained in the universities and Surgeons of exemplary knowledge and skill form elite bands of practitioners, by contrast. Physickers are primarily university-trained theorists. When put to the test, however, in times of epidemic illness’, it is the practical knowledge and skill of the Surgeons and their willingness to put themselves in harm’s way in the streets treating the sick that allows the best of them to outshine the highly esteemed and educated Physickers, leveling the playing field between them both professionally and socially.

It is from among the ranks of Surgeons that most of the nobility traditionally hire those they wish to tend to them and their men when they head off on campaign for battle.

Anglo-Saxon kings had surgeons, but didn’t take them to battle with them.

The Plantagenets took Surgeons to battle but rarely brought them to court.

Henry III instituted the office of Chief Surgeon, the “Sergeant-Surgeon” (1233-1254) in the royal party, at a time when the norm was to take a Physicker and an Apothecary.

Armies in the field were usually accompanied by physicians, surgeons, barbers or some combination of these. Great lords typically brought such men as part of their retinues, and infantry contingents often did the same. Medical personnel doubtless gave first priority to their own employers, but it was normally expected that wounded soldiers would eventually be tended by a physician if necessary: to say someone had been struck with such force that he would have no need of a doctor was to say that they had been killed outright.

Physickers and Apothecaries are the most common and influential among healers in royal service in the royal courts. That service provides instant protection and respectability. Surgeons just as commonly patronized by the oligarchs, who are in the habit of protecting them from being disturbed by the aspirations, machinations and politics of the Barbers.

Albeit late in period for the purposes of the game, it is interesting to note that by Henry VIII (dates), the medical practitioners at the royal court were dominated by Italians, university trained and practiced in a new surgery resulting from more accurate appraisals of anatomy and physiology and integrated with Physic. Thus, those PC’s equipping their characters as both Physickers and Surgeons – and perhaps Herbal, as well – are going to be “ahead of their time”, so to speak, prepared to provide the best in comprehensive medical care (even rivaling what is available in the modern day – exceeding it where magick is also employed). 

Surgeons are the gentlemen of the Healer Trades, following the Physickers who were granted dignity equal to knights on the social ladder. To the general population, both high and low, there is little difference between Barbers and Surgeons, however. Indeed, the name by which their trade is called is often conflated into “Barber-Surgeon”, only in some cases differentiated from “Barber-Tonsor” (barbers that cut hair), especially outside the great towns and cities. The distinction between them is considered a fine line among the less sophisticated, if known at all, much less acknowledged.

Most people in the period simply couldn’t afford to pay for a Physician or Surgeon, so a viable alternative would be to go and see a local wise woman (or sometimes a man) who were skilled in the prescribing Simples of herbal medicine, or might actually be qualified Herbals. A few Surgeons made themselves notable for their “charitable works” in providing their services free of charge for poor clients in dire need.

Like the Physickers, Surgeons jealously guard their knowledge, rank and privilege, and the wealthy patrons who provide it. Their wealthy patrons protect them from those who would trample on their prerogatives. That safety killed any interest they might have had in the political aspirations of forming a company or guild, historically.

In the context of a medieval game world, it provides the possibility of a noble patron “string” by which you, as GM, might rein in Surgeon characters. Any interest a Surgeon PC might have in involving himself in the political struggles for representation and quality control in the craft by means of instituting a local or national guild, or beefing up its standards and/or authority, could be hampered, even severely, by one or more noble patrons. This provides a nice bit of drama that can easily be woven into a campaign. 

As a result, the Surgeons stood aloof through most of the history of the forming of the guilds of Barbers in medieval England, and from all of the bickering and protestations of the practitioners (Leeches, Midwives, Barbers) “beneath them” that accompanied it.

When challenged by other trades infringing on their business, the Surgeons tried to merge in companies (guilds) with the Physickers due to this common ground they shared, but such attempts were few, and failed all too soon when they finally did come to fruition.

The trouble that most bedeviled the Surgeon trade historically, and likely should also in the game world, lies in the fact that their trade occupies a gray area between scholarship and the crafts that require only a skillful hand.

Indeed, in the 1300’s, the renowned surgeon Guy de Chauliac stated:

“If the surgeon has not learned geometry, astronomy, dialectics, nor any other good discipline, soon; the leather workers, carpenters and furriers will quit their own occupations and become surgeons.”

Because of the latter, ALL sorts of tradesmen who routinely cut into bodies in pursuing their trade, including butchers, skinners, tanners and tawyers, even chandlers, felt fully justified in engaging in surgery in spite of their lack of any knowledge of anatomy (much less physiology). These were typified as carving on bodies as blind men might carve a block of wood by the period medical luminary Guy de Chauliac.

A bit late in period for our purposes but still very illustrative of the persistent mindset of medieval craftsmen, the wax makers of Bristol insisted in 1430 they should be allowed to practice surgery by virtue of the lone fact that they, “like Barbers, use wax for embalming.”

The only remedy available against these charlatans is to haul them before the courts and put them and their knowledge of the Surgeons’ mystery on trial.

When you have a Barber, Midwife and/or especially a Surgeon in the party of PC’s, this historical conflict provides another, related source for a motivational subplot to weave into the background for a campaign. What side of the conflict are the PC(s) going to declare themselves for?

It wasn’t until 1492 that the Surgeons established their own guild in England, so it is quite possible that, as GM, you might rule that no such guild has yet been established in your game world. Alternately, in view of the essentially “perpetually medieval” nature of most game worlds, the establishing of Surgeons’ guilds might just as easily already be a general practice. Specialization among the trades was just as bad historically as it is in the modern world, especially when looking at the handicrafts, one of which surgery was considered to be.

An extensive understanding of how the human body works (anatomy and physiology) is far more important for the Surgeon than manual skill or experience. As surgeons generally came to this conclusion in the period of the game, de Chauliac’s work Chirurgia magna began to serve as a standard text on the subject.

The Surgeons’ primary concern about their field (historically) was for its dangerous lack of educated practitioners. Unlike the physicians’ practice of medicine which came solely from university education, surgeons stood/stand aloof, lacking any institutional structure. The surgeon’s guild became a separate institution in the medical community in England as early as 1368, but was ironically finally merged into the United Barber-Surgeons Company by Henry VIII in 1540, after their bid to join in a company with the physicians failed.

Historically, only a few Continental universities taught surgery as a specialized field of knowledge and, when they taught surgery at all, they focused mainly on the science and not the art of surgery itself, the actual skill of hand required. 

By the 1400s, England’s medical establishments were c.100 years behind those on the Continent, where medical universities were established at Paris and Salerno by the 12th and 13th centuries. England’s first medical university wasn’t established until 1423, only to be dissolved 18 months later. It wasn’t reestablished until 1518, almost 100 years later. Prior to 1423 – and then until 1518 – English students who desired to study medicine had only two options: either enroll in a medical university on the Continent and return to England with a degree, or study medicine as a component of the Bachelor of Arts degree in the truncated fashion available in England.

At this time, medicine in England was subsumed under the study of practical philosophy, a philosophy which centered on ars and scientia (arts and sciences). Medicine was considered a less virtuous pursuit, far beneath that of theology and law. Universities still offered degrees demonstrating the student’s knowledge as a doctor (of Physick), however, illustrating that medicine did, indeed, require education.

It is possible, and perhaps even advisable, that the state of medicine in the English corner of the your game world be just reaching the flowering of the 1400’s, as a part of arriving at the apex of accomplishments of High Medieval society. If there is no isolating factor as there is in the case of England’s geography, it is perfectly reasonable to presume that advances in the practices of medicine have kept pace with those on the Continent, with the establishment of the medical schools of Paris and Salerno in the 11-1200’s.

But Surgeons themselves provide the practical knowledge, training and experience needed for surgery through traditional apprenticeships, like those also served by Barbers and Midwives, from among whose ranks Surgeons commonly rise.

In both cases, traditional apprenticeships are the norm for the passing on these Trades.

The apprenticeship of a surgeon took 6 years, just as shown on the table for determine character age.

Unlike the other healthcare practitioners, however, the candidate for Surgeon’s apprentice must be literate. To reflect this, the character must be equipped with the Literatus and Scrivener skills, as well as the Scholar’s Tongue Linguist skill, at the very least.

Where they are organized into guilds (Barber-Surgeons are the most common), the guilds function as the professional organizations through which “registered apprenticeships” are arranged. The guild requirements are more stringent due to the prestige eventually gaining membership affords. Equipping the character with Grammar School (MGram degree) is the minimum education required for a registered guild apprenticeship, but a Bachelor of Arts or, even better, the Licentia Docendi of a Magister is preferred.

The surgeon’s guilds fill the need for trained surgeons without the aid of the universities. 

Each city’s guild keeps its own library holding the secrets of its mysteries, so all the students really needs to qualify for an apprenticeship are the Literatus & Scrivener skills.

To work as a common Clerk, even in the exalted ranks in the royal goverment, itself, no degree is needed at all, just a working knowledge of Latin and the ability to read and write, so it wasn’t a matter of simple literacy – this was most likely intended to emphasize the borders between class and/or station. Formal education to the point of obtaining even a BA takes money, whereas a commoner learning to simply read and write was not so difficult to come by in and around the towns and cities where the community of craftsmen made sure that basic education was available so they could at least keep the books for the family businesses.

Guy de Chauliac refers to himself as “cyrurgicus magister in medicine,” and he received his magister in medicina (master’s degree in medicine, equivalent to the M.D. of Bologna) from the much-respected University of Montpellier, under the tutelage of Raymond de Moleriis in a program that required 6 years of study. Same as the apprenticeship.

If the apprentice doesn’t assay and pass a (guild) surgical exam within 12 years from entering his apprenticeship, he is no longer allowed to ever become a master of surgery. 

As GM, you might reasonably waive this last restriction, but having that hanging over the head of a character poised to be a “perpetual student” provides a little low-grade background drama.

Skills & Abilities

Surgeons are relentlessly trained in surgical procedures and continue to study interior anatomy and physiology, even long after any certification or degree is in hand. This gives them a wider scope of experience to draw on.

The Surgeon is confident and knowledgeable when opening the body. He knows when things are out of place and generally how to fix them by his art, if they can be.

Where Physickers (doctors of physick; physicians) are regarded as safe-guarding the general health of the patient, tending to his diet and lifestyle preventatively as well as the obvious illnesses of his internal systems (maladies, dis-ease), Surgeons are perceived as limited to more external matters, from amputating a limb to cutting hair (due their firm association with Barber’s in the public mind/perception). Surgeons defy such limitations, but have a working knowledge of the humors as it affects proper diet, essential to client health and their practices, as well.

Due to the 100 Years’ War, England had the best practical, battle-trained surgeons in Europe by 1350.

The Surgeon’s tools represent a wide array for treating an equally broad array of maladies/injuries, ranging from scalpels, probes for wounds and fistulae, sounds, dilators, mallets, threphines, catheters, hooks, chisels, saws, clamps, forceps, to cups, bowls, cauteries, and a number of other shapes, rounded and flat needles for different sorts of wounds and suturing needs, bowls, pestles, mortars, spatulae and scales. Due to the importance of Astrology, an astrolabe is considered just as powerful a tool as a scalpel to a Surgeon in the medieval game world.

The repair of hemorrhoid, fistula, cancer, cataract, amputation, nasal polyp, bladder stone, depilation, tooth extraction, fracture setting or assorted traumas each requires different instruments. Practicing surgical authors like Henry de Mondeville, Guy de Chauliac, and Ambroise Paré innovated instrument design by necessity.

Despite the common belief to the contrary, Western European surgeons of the Middle Ages seem to have been roughly on a par with their Islamic, Byzantine and Jewish contemporaries.

The bleeding of a cut artery was stopped with pressure and cauterization.

They were no strangers to splinting broken arms or legs, and cracked/broken skulls were skillfully treated by means of a procedure called trepanning.

Metal tubes or goose quills were used to cover the barbs of nastily barbed arrowheads so they could be safely drawn out.

They could even suture intestines or severed jugular veins.

The eyeglasses that first appeared in the late 1200’s extended the useful life of craftsmen beyond the early 40’s, the age at which people still commonly suffer desiccation degeneration of the lens of the eyes, making close/detailed hand-work nearly impossible. This was a great boon to Surgeons as well, for the same reason.

Staunching Blood Loss

Any overt bleeding (GM’s discretion, based on the interaction of weapons, armor and flesh) must be staunched before those wounds can be cleaned or stitched closed – from any wounded BP area suffering bleeding losses from open wounds (as described in the rules for tactical play, where those optional rules are in play).

The rate at which open wounds taper off in blood loss and BP’s heal are detailed under the heading “Open Wounds & Bleeding” and the heading “The Aftermath: Tending Wounds & The Healing Process” in the rules for Tactical Play & Armed Combat. 

The att. mod for staunching bleeding is based on the character’s CRD and STR.

The DV for staunching wounds is equal to the number of points being lost when WND is deducted for that cause. The time required to do so is equal to the DV counted in Pulses, MINUS the practitioner’s (CRD and STR att. mod’s), with a bonus based on him SL, to a minimum of one (1) full action, according to his RoA.

IF the practitioner fails all the D100 checks his skills allow, he can still reduce the WND lost due to bleeding by (1 per 4 SL’s) points, or (CRD att. mod. + STR att. mod.), whichever is less. This is modified by +/- 1 per 2 points of healer’s STA above/below 20. The modified STA score is used for this purpose.

IF he is unable to staunch the bleeding completely, any remaining losses are only deducted every (CRD att. mod.) or (1 per ÷ 4 SL’s) minutes, whichever is greater, instead of every minute and the bleeding slows and tapers off normally. 

IF he is unable to completely staunch the bleeding, the remaining points of blood loss is added to the DV to clean and then close the wound, as well. 

The rate at which open wounds taper off in blood loss and BP’s heal are detailed under the heading “Open Wounds & Bleeding” and the heading “The Aftermath: Tending Wounds & The Healing Process” in the rules for Tactical Play & Armed Combat.

Once a character takes enough BP’s in damage indicating he is wounded to the “Mortal” degree in any given BP area, the blood loss suffered from that area does NOT taper off and clot on its own as it does for areas wounded to a lesser degree.

A character wounded to this degree whose bleeding is not stopped simply bleeds out and dies, unless he can be attended to by a Surgeon.

Treating Wounds

The Surgeon must Assess Wounds for every BP area wounded so he can determine their cause (blunt trauma, laceration, fire, frostbite) as well as their severity (Light, Serious, Grievous or Mortal) before he may begin to treat them.

He must also general Assess the patient’s health. This reveals to him whether he is weakened due to some condition that, if he is also wounded, further weakens him, raising the DV for performing any procedure(s) to patch him up.

To the DV, add the POT of any poison or venom in his system, and/or the POT of any disease with which he is contending, number of attribute points lost due to malnutrition, attribute points and/or BP’s due to hypothermia, and so on.

IF the Surgeon has the talent (Spirit Skill) of Reading, add the SL as a bonus to the AV.

IF the Surgeon is a practitioner of magic and casts the Read charm (assuming he has it in his portfolio), add the SL to the AV, plus a bonus based on the POT used.

The Surgeon may only attend to the wounds of one (1) BP area at a time (Head/Neck; Torso; Rt. Arm; Lt. Arm; Rt. Leg or Lt. Leg) for purposes of staunching blood loss, cleaning and then closing wounds. 

Wounds are washed with vinegar [soured wine or verjuice] or old wine that was strong in alcohol – both effective antiseptics – as a part of the cleaning process to remove possible sources of infection (dirt, cloth, etc.),

For cleaning wounds the att. mod. is based upon the character’s AWA and CRD

For repairing, closing, binding and dressing wounds the att. mod. is based on CRD.

Repairing, closing, binding and dressing are each treated as a separate task.

The DV for repairing and closing and binding & dressing wounds is equal to the number of BP’s of damage suffered in the BP area attended for Light and Serious category wounds.

For Grievous and Mortal wounds, the BP’s of damage suffered in those categories are multiplied by 2, i.e., a character with 40 Torso BP’s suffers from Grievous wounds when the BP’s of damage he takes there range from 21 to 30 and Mortal wounds when they range from 31 to 40 so, if he suffered 25 points of damage, he would have 5 points of Grievous wounding, adding 10 (5 x 2) to the DV, on top of the base DV of 20 from the (Light & Serious) damage taken to get him to the threshold of Grievous, for a total of 30. 

In the same vein, if he suffered 35 points of damage, he would have 5 points of Mortal wounding, adding 10 (5 x 2) to the DV, on top of the base DV of 20 from the (Light & Serious) damage and the added 20 from the Grievous damage taken to get him to the threshold of Mortal, for a total of 50.

Until he achieves the Journeyman Improver LoA, the Surgeon has a penalty to treat wounds of the Grievous or Mortal classifications.

Once he has reached Journeyman Proper LoA, all penalties for treating Grievous and Mortal wounds are erased.

Extracting splinters or stingers, shards of glass or pottery, darts, arrows, or other invasive objects from a patient’s body is considered a surgical procedure, especially when the foreign object is a large one and/or has inflicted damage that exceeds the “Light” threshold. Arrows and javelins that had not gone in too deeply were usually pulled out as quickly as possible, often by the injured person.

For this procedure, the att. mod. is based on CRD.

The DV for a Surgeon to extract a foreign object from the body is Progressive, based on the number of points of damage it caused on entry.

All piercing wounds being dutifully noted by both GM and player so they are not forgotten. This way they can be properly treated by the Healers in the aftermath.

This procedure takes (DV) minutes to accomplish, minus the practitioner’s CRD att. mod. + SL), with a minimum time requirement of one (1) minute

In addition to extracting shards or large splinters, darts, arrows, or other missiles, ranged weaponry, or invasive objects lodged in a patient without causing further damage or undue additional bleeding, a Surgeon can perform the amputations sometimes made necessary by the brutal form of warfare of the period of the game, and use cauterization to stop the massive bleeding that can result.

The AV for these procedures is the same as repairing and closing any other wound.

It is assumed that in the course of the procedure the BP’s of the area in question are reduced to zero for the purposes of determining the DV’s.

A Sentry/AWA check is needed at the end of any procedure, before it is bound and dressed, to determine if it was cleaned properly and a sufficient level of cleanliness was maintained throughout the treatment. 

A failure of this check indicates a failure to notice insufficient cleaning, or internal bleeding, either of which might progress and result in gangrene and septicemia ….

Success allows the Surgeon to detect any failure in that regard so he may then clean it properly before closing and thereby avoid complications of infection and worse.

Wounds are covered with moistened lint, plasters, sterile egg whites, or lard-based [Herbal] ointments, then bandaged, often with strips cut from a [muslin/linen] shirt. Sometimes herbal poultices are also be used. Honey is a preferred wound-dressing, and both modern science and the US army survival manual agree it was very effective.

Later, the wounds would be washed and re-bandaged frequently, with any corrupted flesh being trimmed away. Soaking bandages in old wine as an antiseptic, while not common in the period, was a practice that had a following, and it makes sense to include it as a common practice in the medieval game world.

As GM, you may well require the Healers in your game to carry a flask of old wine along with them to practice their craft, as well as an egg-bearing hen to provide the sterile egg whites commonly used to dress cuts and scrapes.

Medieval medicine was far more effective than the common conception allows; in one sample of over 300 skulls dating from the sixth through the eighth century, only 12% of the wounds showed any evidence of infection.

Analgesics & Anesthesia

To spare the patients their pain, Healers commonly make use of analgesics and anesthetics made with poppy milk (opium), coca leaves, and similar soporifics or narcotics as sedatives, cannabis and other less potent substances, though this must always be done with a judicious hand. Because of the danger, many Herbals insist on administering it in person, by their hand only, but this is not always possible due to circumstances, especially when a powerful peer or noble demands the purchase for another to administer.

But healthcare costs money and such niceties are not cheap. For many commoners surgery was a last resort due to the cost of anesthesia.

The Middle English word used to name one such anesthetic potion used from c. 1200 to 1500 A.D. in England was “dwale” (pronounced DWAH-leh). One can find records of dwale in numerous literary sources, including Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” and John Keats poem “Ode to a Nightingale.”

Dwale is a concoction of lettuce juice*, gall from a castrated boar, briony, opium, henbane, hemlock juice and vinegar. This was mixed with wine [old wine, strong in alcohol OR the source of the vinegar] before being given to the patient.

*lactuca virosa, wild lettuce called “bitter lettuce” or “opium lettuce,” commonly found in England, cousin to the modern lettuce used for salads today. The juice is a white, milky substance derived from the leaves and stems that acts just like morphine on the central nervous system to suppress pain, despite not having any opiates in it.

The opium, henbane, hemlock juice alone have characteristics that make them good candidates for such use. Where properly dosed and administered, the anesthetic concoction induces a profound sleep, allowing the surgery to take place. The danger of poisoning the patient still exists, already written into the description of this preparation, especially in the hands of well-meaning amateurs.If it is too strong, the patient simply stops breathing.

Using an empirical approach to discover how they might be safely used clinically as must be the case in a medieval fantasy world, with the aid of magick, such a potion is likely to be commonly and safely administered by the hands of well-trained and experienced Herbals. This is one of the reasons dosing is detailed so thoroughly in the Herbals trade description (qv). It is the healer’s business to be able to dose his clients accurately.

The first prescription for a “spongia soporifica” was written in the 1200’s. This is a sponge soaked in the juices of unripe mulberry, flax, mandragora leaves, ivy, lettuce seeds*, lapathum, and hemlock with hyoscyamus.

*lactuca virosa, as above

After soaking up the treatment and/or storage, the sponge is heated for use, the vapors inhaled with anesthetic effect. De Chauliac’s Chirurgia magna contains a description of a similar narcotic inhalation to use as a soporific for patients undergoing surgery.

Most Surgeons prefer that the Herbal who made it administer his concoction/potion in person, by his own hand, because the POT can vary and only the maker knows his product best. On the other hand, all Surgeons are taught the proper method of administration and observation of the patient to ensure safe use.

The POT is up to the Surgeon or attending Herbal, and the choice is based on the patient’s size (STA ÷ 4) in POT – as usual for an effective POT of 1 – and state of health (CND).

The STA score used here has been modified for Build.

If an herbal concoction is to inhibit a particular sense or faculty of the patient, the POT must be equal to or greater than the score in the attribute governing it, 

such as AWA for sensory nerves,

The POT of these sorts of herbs should be measured against the patient’s AWA to determine if they are sufficient for the use to which he puts them.

To numb sensory nerves or knock the patient unconscious, the POT of the herbs’ effect must be equal to the patient’s AWA or greater. 

To deaden the motor nerves, the effective POT must equal or outweigh the patient’s  AGL or STR for motor nerves (whichever is greater or more appropriate according to the nature of the toxin), or AGL + STR att. mod. or vice versa (GM’s discretion).

IF the patient’s CND is less than his AWA or AGL, the poisonous nature of these substances must begin to hit the patient before he is rendered unconscious or completely immobile.

Those substances which affect the motor nerves, if the effective POT exceeds [(AGL) + (CND ÷ 4)] the autonomic functions such as breathing are suppressed – stopped, and the patient descends into asphyxia, leading to death if not reversed.

These herbal treatments endure for [(POT of herbs’ effect) x 10] in minutes, minus (CND att. mod.). Subtracting a negative number is the same as adding the positive integer. Low CND dictates a slower metabolism, dictating the substance move more slowly through the body. Once that time has passed, the POT of the herbs’ effect drops by one (1) every (40 – CND) minutes.

IF the practitioner is simply trying to suppress or numb the sensory nerves, the patient’s effective P-RES for any checks vs. pain due to a patient’s injuries are raised by (POT of herbs’ effect), to a maximum of the patient’s CND. 

IF the patient’s AWA is lower than his CND, he is rendered completely numb without the need to make any sorts of P-RES checks vs. pain once the POT of the herbs’ effects in his body have reached (AWA).

The Surgeon or attending Herbal can apply a preparation of this sort as a topical to affect only one BP area in the same way, or so as to paralyze that BP area, rather than rendering the patient completely unconscious as above. For these cases, the amount of herbs in grams/drams are divided by the fraction of BP’s the area(s) so treated are awarded, according to the rules for combat and tactical play. If more than one area is to be treated, but not the whole body, only the fraction of BP’s of the largest BP area are applied this way.

This can be maintained for [(STA) – (CND att. mod.)] minutes per application, but the patient can tolerate no more than (CND) such applications. More than this is treated as poisoning. The effect wears off at a rate of one (1) point of P-RES bonus per (CND att. mod.) minutes. This can be easily prorated down to Pulses for tactical situations.

The uses to which a Surgeon puts his knowledge and skills must necessarily affect his scores in Virtue and Vice.

Surgeons roused the sleeping patients by rubbing vinegar and salt on their cheekbones.

Ether (diethyl ether) was discovered in 1275 by a Spanish alchemist named Raymundus Lullius, or Ramon Llull, and known as “sweet vitriol” (until 1730). While ethyl ether was first synthesized in a laboratory in 1540 by a German scientist named Valerius Cordus , who noted some of its medicinal properties. He called it oleum dulce vitrioli (“sweet oil of vitriol”) a name that reflects the fact that it is synthesized by distilling a mixture of ethanol and sulfuric acid (known at that time as oil of vitriol).

Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim (1493–1541), better known as Paracelsus, was the first to observe the anesthetic/analgesic qualities of “sweet vitriol” (diethyl ether).

“… [sweet vitriol] quiets all suffering without any harm and relieves all pain, and quenches all fevers, and prevents complications in all disease.”

He observed that chickens enjoyed sweet vitriol then “undergo prolonged sleep, awake unharmed”. However, for whatever reason(s), he never applied this discovery to people. For his human patients, he concocted laudanum, a bitter tincture of opium.

Cutting hair & Shaving

The [historically] unbreakable association between Barbers and Surgeons makes cutting hair and shaving clients an onerous burden that Surgeons (or “Barber-Surgeons”) fight daily to divorce themselves from. Their wealthy patrons can’t be bothered with such fine distinctions, however. In spite of the heights to which they might be appointed in a given noble household, a Surgeon is still expected to provide grooming services like a common Barber. This attitude persisted well into the 18th century.

The DV for cutting hair, the att. mod. is based only on the character’s CRD score.

The DV for cutting hair is equal to the number of inches of hair to be cut off, + patron’s [(CHM att. mod.) + (HRT att. mod.)]. The higher these scores the more definite the patron’s sense of style and idea of what they want and the more fussy and difficult to please and adamant they are about getting what they want.

The time required to do so is (DV) minutes.

In practice, individual (Barber-) Surgeons were themselves diversified into other trades, according to local economic conditions and opportunities, and there is usually a very real relationship behind these apparently odd combinations.

Many surgeons were also expert craftsmen in metals. 

This is evident in Henry’s second expedition in 1416 in which he commissioned Morstede to indenture as many surgeons as he wanted (23 surgeons were too few to handle the wounded in the previous year’s campaign) and to also bring along makers of surgical equipment. Doubtless, the surgeons must have been delayed by crafting surgical instruments to the detriment of the care of the wounded in the first campaign. By bringing along smiths to make tools, the surgeons on the second campaign were freed to attend to performing their medical duties.

This is why “Silver/Gold-Smith” appears on the roster of Allied Trades for Surgeons.

Trade Skills
Assessing Health/Wounds
Cleaning & Dressing Wounds
Repairing & Closing Wounds
Extracting Objects
Set Bones/Restore Dislocations
Cosmetic Surgery
Cutting Hair  

Notable Practitioners

During the Middle Ages, scientific discoveries were few and far between in much of Europe, medicine included. The scientific culture flourished in other parts of the world, however.

In 1000, Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi (936-1013), an Arab who lived in Al-Andalus, published the 30-volume Kitab al-Tasrif, the first illustrated written work on surgery. In this book, he wrote about the use of general anesthesia for surgery.

c. 1020, Ibn Sīnā (980–1037) described the use of inhaled anesthesia in “The Canon of Medicine.” The Canon described the “soporific sponge”, a sponge imbued with aromatics and narcotics, which was to be placed under a patient’s nose during surgical operations.

Ibn Zuhr (1091–1161) was another Arab physician from Al-Andalus. In his 12th century medical textbook Al-Taisir, Ibn Zuhr describes the use of general anesthesia.

These three physicians were among many who performed operations under inhaled anesthesia with the use of narcotic-soaked sponges. Opium made its way from Asia Minor to all parts of Europe between the 10th and 13th centuries.

In the early 1200’s, surgical literature began to emerge, as surgeons sought to emulate their medical colleagues and raise their profession to one of comparable (scholastic) esteem.

During this period, most medical and surgical learning took place in the monasteries.

The Fourth Lateran Council forbade the clergy from practices that carried the “taint” of blood, such as cautery and incisions, in 1215, so the clergymen who previously provided those services instructed laymen to perform various forms of surgery. Farmers, who had little experience other than castrating animals, came into demand as Leeches, to perform anything from removing painful tooth abscesses to performing eye cataract surgery. Thus, the niche in which Barbers grew and thrived was born.

In the game worlds run under RoM rules, there is neither need nor reason for the “Church” to interfere in the process of or training in medical care, hoever. As GM, you are free to choose to rewrite the situation to whatever standard you prefer for your game world.

One man in particular stands out in the field of surgery in the 13th century was William of Saliceto, who helped set up a school dedicated to surgery. 

Guglielmo da Saliceto in his native tongue, an Italian surgeon and cleric, a professor at the University of Bologna.

He was one of the first to claim that pus formation in a wound was bad for the wound and the patient’s health, breaking the blind tradition following Galen on the matter. In 1275 he wrote a “Chirurgia” in which he recommended the use of a surgical knife over (Barber’s) cautery. His techniques were years ahead of his colleagues, even managing to stitch together severed nerves.

He also was the author of “Summa conservationis et curationis” on hygiene and therapy. Lanfranc of Milan was a pupil who brought William’s methods into France. William gave lectures on the importance of regular bathing for infants, and special care for the hygiene of pregnant women

John Arderne (c.1307 – 77), an English surgeon, composed medical works on topics such as the treatment of eyes and the cure of anal fistula, both of which circulated widely. Arderne’s works are fascinating in a number of respects, not least of which is the fact that the illustrations are integral to them.

Henri de Mondeville was a medieval Frenchman from Normandy, born approximately 1260,  proclaimed as the “Father of French Surgery.” He was trained in medicine in Paris and Montpellier, then in Italy with Theodoric Borgognoni (as follows), who had established a reputation for excellence in the treatment of wounds.

He served as surgeon to Philippe Le Bel (Philip the Fair) of France and to his successor, Louis X, and authored a Cyrurgia (“Surgery”) in 1312. This is but one of many European treatises on Surgery, the first being by Roger Frugard, who was eclipsed by the more famous Guy de Chauliac’s Chirurgia magna.

He died of pulmonary tuberculosis in 1316.

Theodoric Borgognoni, also known as Teodorico de’Borgognoni and Theodoric of Lucca, was an Italian who became one of the most significant surgeons of the medieval period. He is considered responsible for introducing and promoting important medical advances.

Theodoric was born in Lucca, Italy in 1205. The son of Master Hugh Borgognoni, a leading physician of the previous generation. Theodoric was a student of his father and also studied medicine at the University of Bologna, becoming a Dominican friar during that same period.

On top of his episcopal and religious duties, he became the favored Surgeon of many leading personages.

In the 1240s, after he had been practicing for about 10 years or so, he became personal physician to Pope Innocent IV.

Borgognoni’s major contribution to western medicine is his Cyrurgia or Chirurgia, a four volume treatise systematically covering the major fields of medieval surgery, written in the mid 1200’s. Borgognoni’s work duplicates some chapters of Bruno da Longoburgo’s Chirurgia, written about 15 years previously, but both he and Bruno were students of Ugo Borgognoni. Theodoric’s work contains much that is not duplicated in Longoburgo’s book, however, and some that directly contradicts Bruno, and these are the most important and innovative passages.

On the treatment of wounds he wrote:

“For it is not necessary that bloody matter (pus) be generated in wounds — for there can be no error greater than this, and nothing else which impedes nature so much, and prolongs the sickness.”

He insisted that the practice of encouraging the development of pus in wounds, handed down from Galen and from Arabic medicine, be replaced by a more antiseptic approach, with the wound being cleaned and then sutured to promote healing.

In the context of the medieval fantasy game world, magick is available as a tool to reveal the true nature of things and show the value and virtues of good treatments and reveal the dangers of bad medicine and care. 

Pus in this context should be seen as very valuable, but only as a danger sign (no matter what some “old-school” Physickers still clinging to the antiquated notion of “laudable pus” might say), and Surgeons are better versed in the procedures and standards of care for clearing up infections, which knowledge was available, in fact, in period. 

Indeed, it is not at all far-fetched to posit Surgeons being routinely called on to treat infections arising from procedures performed by their less well-educated and trained colleagues, the Barbers, Midwives and Leeches. This is a strong motivation for those practitioners who truly follow healthcare as a vocation end up seeking out a master Surgeon eventually to complete their education in the Surgeons’ practical medicine. 

Although often disagreeing with Galen, Borgognoni followed him in promoting the dry method for treating wounds, although advocating the use of wine. Bandages were to be pre-soaked in wine as a form of disinfectant.

He also promoted the use of aneasthetics in surgery. He recommended a spongia soporifica soaked in a dissolved solution of opium, mandrake, hemlock, mulberry juice, ivy and other substances held beneath the patient’s nose until he fell unconsciousness.

Borgognoni was significant in stressing the importance of personal experience and observation as opposed to a blind reliance upon the ancient sources.

He wrote on the treatment of thoracic and intestinal injuries, insisting on the importance of avoiding pollution from the contents of the gut. The final volume deals with injuries to the head and some cancers. Borgognoni’s test for the diagnosis of shoulder dislocation, namely the ability to touch the opposite ear or shoulder with the hand of the affected arm, has remained in use into modern times.

In addition to his surgical works, Borgognoni also produced volumes on veterinary medicine and falconry.

In 1262 he was made Bishop of Bitonto.

He was appointed Bishop of Cervia, close to Ravenna, in 1266.

He died in 1296 or 98, having lived to at least 91.

Guy de Chauliac (1300-1368) was one of the most prominent surgeons of the period of the game. Born to a family of limited means in Auvergne, France, Guy’s intellect was recognized early by the French lords of Mercoeur, who sponsored him in his academic pursuits. He began his studies at Toulouse.

Some time later Guy moved on to the oldest university in Europe, the University of Bologna, which had already built a reputation for its medical school. At Bologna he appears to have perfected his understanding of anatomy, and he may have learned from some of the best surgeons of the day, though he never identified them in his writing as he did his medical professors.

Upon leaving Bologna, Guy spent some time in Paris before moving on to Lyons.

In addition to his medical studies, Guy took holy orders, and in Lyons he became a canon at St. Just. He spent about a decade at Lyons practicing medicine before moving to Avignon.

Some time after May, 1342, Guy was appointed by Pope Clement VI as his private physician (Surgeon). He attended the pontiff during the horrific bubonic plague that hit France in 1348 and, although a third of the cardinals at Avignon perished from the disease, Clement survived. Guy used his experience of surviving the plague and attending to its victims in his writing.

Guy completed his landmark work on surgery in 1363, the first book on surgery to bring to bear a substantial medical background on the subject, called the Inventarium sive chirurgia magna. It served as the standard text for more than 300 years, well into the 17th century.

In Chirurgia, Guy included a brief history of surgery and medicine and provided a discourse on what he thought every surgeon should know about diet, surgical implements, and how an operation should be conducted. He also discussed and evaluated his contemporaries, and related much of his theory to his own personal observations and history, which is how we know most of what we do about his life.

The work itself is divided into seven treatises: anatomy, apostemes (swellings and abscesses), wounds, ulcers, fractures, dislocations, and a variety of other conditions and diseases, including not just surgical but medical procedures, and the complements to surgery (the use of drugs, bloodletting, therapeutic cauterization, etc.), which it discusses within a broad framework of medical (physiological and pathological) learning.

This treatise covered anatomy, bloodletting, cauterization, drugs, anesthetics, wounds, fractures, ulcers, special diseases, and antidotes. Among de Chauliac’s treatments he described the use of bandages. He describes surgical techniques such as intubation, tracheotomy, and suturing.

All in all, it covers nearly every condition a surgeon might be called upon to deal with. Guy emphasized the importance of medical treatment, including diet and drugs.

His observations of the plague included an elucidation of two different manifestations of the disease, making him the first to distinguish between pneumonic and bubonic forms. Although he has been criticized for advocating too much interference with the natural progression of the healing of wounds, Guy de Chauliac’s work was otherwise groundbreaking and extraordinarily progressive for its time.

Guy spent the balance of his days in Avignon. He stayed on as physician for Clement’s successors, Innocent VI and Urban V, earning an appointment as a papal clerk. Guy’s position in Avignon afforded him unparalleled access to an extensive library of medical texts that were available nowhere else. He also had access to the most current scholarship being conducted in Europe, which he incorporated into his own work.

John Harrow was a surgeon in royal service; made Chief of Surgeons twice during the French campaigns; was a member of the Fishmonger’s Company (as such, a Merchant also); financier; was made a judge in malpractice cases and a Searcher for the Port of London (worth £10/yr in income); he accumulated extensive properties.

Thomas Morstede, Esq. was court Surgeon, made a Searcher for the Port of London for 25 years (worth £10/yr in income); was twice made the Chief of Surgeons during the French campaigns; a war hero; a teacher and famous author (a fair book of Surgery, used as a standard text thru the 1400’s century). He was the driving force behind the foundation of a college of medicine. He had £154 in land and £200 in debts receivable at his death.

Master William was a “sergeant surgeon” in royal service and a cleric in minor orders. He received £10 a year, equal in honor to a royal physician. At his demise, he owned a house and 13 shops in London, and had an additional 50s. a year in income.

In 1251, Master William took on an assistant named Henry of Saxeby. Henry and his son, Nicholas, were gentlemen by birth. That same year, a Thomas of Weseham saved the life of the king.

In 1252, Thomas was invited to court and made the trip there.

In 1254, Thomas started serving with Master William and Henry.

In 1255, Master William died and Henry of Saxeby was made “sergeant surgeon.”

In the midst of the persecutions leading up to the expulsion of the Jews in 1290, Thomas Weseham used his position at court to buy up Jewish properties in Norwich, London, and Oxford at well below market value. He eventually received a number of annuities for his service, was knighted, and made both a royal Moneyer and a Forester.

It took 2 years after saving the king’s life for Thomas to be granted a position at court with Master William and Henry. It was common for such rewards to take a while to be decided on and then put in place. You should take note of this, as GM. The pace of life in an agrarian world in one based on the turning of seasons, not of minutes or “what have you done for me lately”.

William Hamon was prior of the Benedictine cell of Catges (Oxfordshire) and served as a royal surgeon from 1341-67, for which he was awarded a base salary of £30 a year.

Peter of Newcastle was surgeon to three kings, Edward I, II, and III.

In 1298, Peter’s own “personal valet” was also a surgeon, named John Marshal (very likely it was his apprentice, or a Journeyman he picked up to mentor). Peter was a merchant running a number of ships out of London, dealing regularly with the pepperer’s guild; he was commissioned to supply the royal court with medicines, in favor over the traditional appointment of a royal Apothecary. With his dealings with the pepperer’s guild, it is possible that Peter was actually an Apothecary and indeed a member of the pepperer’s guild, but he is not noted as such.

Despite the “taint” of blood, Philip of Beauvais, a “sergeant” Surgeon in 1304, became a wealthy courtier.

Roger Heyton served Edward III in the 1330’s and 1340’s with an under-surgeon named Jordan of Canterbury. After the Battle of Crécy, Roger was considered indispensable and given a manor in Wales worth 50£ a year, and an annuity of £20, as well. Like Philip of Beauvais, he became a wealthy courtier.

This should give the player and GM alike some idea of what sorts of opportunities can be found for advancement in the healer-Trades.

After achieving the distinguished rank of Surgeon and taking the time to establish a reputation, it is by no means uncommon for ambitious Surgeons to use the patronage of the wealthy and social contacts with Physicians to go to university to obtain a degree in Physick to further enhance their reputations and social standing. With their Master’s diploma, they can complete their climb to the apex of the trade in the eyes of society – and raise their fees as well, of course.

The more successful Surgeons and Physickers also commonly entered merchant ventures with the Apothecaries, too wealthy to be bothered with the internecine squabbles between the practitioners of medicine.

Development of the Trade & Guild

In 1199, Richard I suffered an arrow wound to the arm during a siege of the castle Chaluz, according to Roger of Hoveden. Unfortunately for Richard, his physician (surgeon?), Malger, had returned to England to become the bishop of Worcester. Without a physician, the captain of Richard’s mercenaries, a man named Marchadeus, did his best to treat the injury. It didn’t go well. Marchadeus failed to extract the arrow head and nearly amputated the king’s arm before removing the arrow. The king died a few days later.

The world’s oldest company (guild) of barbers, the “Worshipful Company of Barbers,” was founded in London, England in 1308, so relatively recently in view of the period chosen for the game. In many places, but not all, the “company” (guild) is, for practical purposes, called a barbers’ company, but this doesn’t mean that the company included no Surgeons or that the Barbers’ craft and surgery were separate, even where authorities tried to ensure that this was the case, as the history of Norwich shows.

Before 1415, it was common for aristocratic ladies, mercenaries and knights to practice medicine. Wolfram von Eschenbach’s “Parzival” clearly demonstrates that medical knowledge was common for a knight. In this tale, Gawain comes across a knight and maiden in the woods. The knight is suffering from internal bleeding into the lungs. After Gawain diagnoses the injury, he places a small linden bark tube into the knight and tells the maiden to suck out the blood. Even the 14th century surgeon Guy de Chauliac lists knights as medical practitioners.

By 1415 (late in period for the game, but not for the essentially “perpetually medieval” game world), however, surgeons began to appear as a necessary component of military campaigns. In 1415, King Henry V conscripted Thomas Morstede and 15 persons, 12 of whom were surgeons (the three others were to be archers) in his campaign against France. The Battle of Agincourt in 1415 was monumental in the development of the surgeon for military campaigns.

Besides the 12 surgeons commissioned by Henry for the Battle of Agincourt, to take care of the hurt and injured on the front line (especially with the emphasis on archers), he also commissioned William Bradwardine and 9 other surgeons to care for the sick and wounded, to remain behind the lines and care for those transported back to the camp. The latter were responsible for making surgical equipment in addition to tending to the sick and injured.

Many surgeons were also expert craftsmen in metals. 

This is evident in Henry’s second expedition in 1416 in which he commissioned Morstede to indenture as many surgeons as he wanted (23 surgeons were too few to handle the wounded in the previous year’s campaign) and to also bring along makers of surgical equipment. Doubtless, the surgeons must have been delayed by crafting surgical instruments to the detriment of the care of the wounded in the first campaign. By bringing along smiths to make tools, the surgeons on the second campaign were freed to attend to performing their medical duties.

This is why “Silver/Gold-Smith” appears on the roster of Allied Trades for Surgeons.

Morstede’s service at Agincourt led him to the job of Supervisor of Surgery for the City of London in 1423. This close proximity to the King influenced regulations concerning those who could practice medicine.

The final achievement of Morstede’s influence on the Crown was the charter for the Fellowship of Surgeons in 1435 … 20 years to attain.

The Fellowship was only the first national attempt to institutionalize surgery; there were numerous local attempts that had failed:

The mayor of the city of London appointed 3 Master Surgeons to regulate and supervise surgical practices as early as 1368. He assigned Master Thomas Stodley, surgeon, and 2 assisting clerks to the “Mistery of Surgery” in 1392, in which they were to supervise and report any transgressions to him. But this was not sufficient. In 1421, both physicians and surgeons led by Morstede petitioned Henry V that he allow only those who were educated to practice medicine. The petition reads:

Worthy Sovereign, as it is known to your high discretion, many uncunning and unapproved in the forsaid science practise and specially in Physick, so that in this Realm is everyman be he never so lewd taking upon him practise, is suffered to use it, to great harm and slaughter of many men. Where if no man practised therein, but only cunning men and proved sufficiently learned in Art, Philosophy, and Physick as it is kept in other lands and realms, then should any man that dieth for default of help live, and no man perish by uncunning.


Thank you Bryon Grigsby


Chauliac, Guy De.” Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. . 8 Apr. 2017 <>.

Medieval Science, Technology, and Medicine: An Encyclopedia

By Thomas F. Glick

Soldiers’ Lives through History: The Middle Ages:


Magick Charm

Art: Naming

Ruling Planet: Pluto

Sphere: Common

The “Magick Charm” brings forth the spiritual nature of any object, substance or material, opening up its spiritual aspect so it can be defined and become manifest.

In the passages under the heading “The Substances of Magick” the magickal properties associated with any number of herbs, gems and jewels, trees, bushes, bits and pieces of animals, and a number of other assorted items are provided, as passed down through folklore over the centuries. These are real and true in the context of the game and the game world, unless the GM rules otherwise, but are considered latent in nature, requiring the application of magick to awaken and make manifest.

The “Magick Charm” is the magickal means used to awaken these latent magickal properties so they may be manifested for use.

IF an object, substance or material has more than one latent power inherent in it according to its description, the practitioner must choose which one he is awakening by means of this charm. Only one may be awakened for any given object of a given material.

The practitioner may awaken as many latent magickal properties as are listed for a given object, substance or material, BUT each one must be called forth by a separate casting.

When the Magick Charm is performed by means of Low Magick (ritual), it results in (an) object(s) that is permanently “on”, so to speak, always in force, as described in the passage on “Enchanted Items & Immortal Enchantments”, unless the property awakened is more of the nature of some sort of attack magick that must be hurled or otherwise initiated at a target of some sort (GM’s discretion). In this case, the awakened magick might be tapped (POT) times at the POT of the Magick Charm that awakened it, to wither and crumble away to dust upon its final use as the last of its power is drained away.

If the Magick Charm is performed by Common or High Magick, however, the awakened power becomes subject to the strictures of DUR normally, according to the POT manifest and the practitioner’s desires, again withering and crumbling away to dust upon as the last of its power is drains away when the DUR expires.

Such objects, substances or materials have no need of being “Attuned” once their power is awakened. Their benefits can be realized by whomsoever carries it, whether trained in the Arts of magick or not.

The use of the “magick Charm must also be applied to awakening the “mortal mana” lying dormant within various sorts of natural substances, as described under “The Tools of Power”, under the heading “Natural Sources of Mortal Mana” so that their native power may be tapped in the manner of a Touchstone, but in this case it only requires the minimum POT to encompass the physical object. The POT of mana within them are dictated by their size or concentration/purity, according to their descriptions. These are the only objects/substances that can be used as Touchstones with the use of a Magick Charm of minimal POT, without the need of a Power Cache charm as well, and retain that Touchstone status permanently.

Whatever latent magickal power is awakened in the object substance or material, it manifests at a POT equal to the POT of the Magick Charm that wakened it, and that aspect of its power may be described by means of the magick that most closely expresses that power, OR in whatever manner most closely matches the described power, at the GM’s discretion.

When an existing description of a magick is adapted for use in defining the latent power of an object, material or substance so awakened, or the GM comes up with his own description of the manner in which the latent power manifests in use, it is very important that the GM make a note of this so he may be consistent with its application throughout the course of his game.

Plant matter awakened in this manner stays fresh and green (as applicable), flowers and/or fruit fresh and aromatic (as applicable), for so long as their power endures.

This charm cannot be resisted.

Strength (STR)

This is one of the more obvious attributes. As the name implies, it is a general measure of a character’s raw physical power, his muscle or brute force. The character’s STR score determines how heavy are the loads he can carry, how much weight he can pull, shove, lift, and/or carry under different circumstances. It also represents the amount of damage the character is able to dish out when he successfully lands a blow on foes in battle, and is a prime factor in determining the amount of actual physical punishment or damage the character can withstand when he himself is struck by a foe or otherwise injured. STR is very important for any and all characters that expect to enter into armed combat at all, in the same manner that his CND, STA, AGL and AWA scores are.

A “1” in this attribute indicates a typical 98lb weakling, or a very small child o even a small animal. A “25” in this attribute enables the character to perform great feats of strength like the folk hero strongmen, bending bars or straightening horseshoes with his bare hands, towing great wagonloads, even lifting horses and the like.

Stature (STA) and Build (BLD)

Stature is a general measure of a character’s size, indicating without actually defining such things as height, as might first come to mind, but also his overall frame. It gives a general idea of how broad the shoulders, how deep the chest, the thickness of bones and joints, wrist, ankles, feet, and hands, how hard he is to fit for hat, shirt and gaskins in sleeve length and inseam, gloves, shoes, and the like, relative to the average for his race. Except for the height, which can still vary a bit between those who have the same score, STA is not intended to be a pin-point specific measure. It is nonetheless a major factor in determining the amount of actual physical punishment or damage the character can withstand and is a primary factor in determining the character’s weight, though race has a major effect on this also. As such, it is very important for any and all characters that expect to enter into armed combat at all, in the same manner that his AGL, CND, STR and AWA scores are.

Because it is used as a universal measuring stick for all creatures great and small, humanoid, beastly, and monstrous, in the context of the game, STA score ranges are compressed relative to the rest of the attributes. In addition to STA, STR and CND also have a direct effect on the physical appearance of the character, indicating how much mass is packed on the frame, and the composition of that mass.

The most accurate guide to the character’s physical proportions are found under Build, which is largely a function of the character’s race, being one of the aspects that physically defines a race.

Unlike the rest of the Physical Attributes, STA scores have to be modified according to Build prior to use in determining other aspects of the character description. Where STA is called for, the text will always indicate whether the raw original score purchased should be used or the score modified for Build.

STA is also unique among the attribute scores for the fact that no attribute modifier is needed for it. In the second box next to the attribute score on the Character Record Sheet the player actually records the modified score according to Build (by race) instead.

The direct effects of STA on the character can be seen under Height in Physical Description, as follows, and also in Step 9. Tactical Attributes under Body Points.


Character Build

Even though the player can vary the proportions of the character’s body somewhat by altering his height for his given STA score – making him more stocky if a little shorter or a little more long and slim if a bit taller than average for a given score – STA is actually based on human proportions. In order to take into account different types of frames, it must be modified to suit a non- or demi-human character standard.

The degree to which STA describes actual proportions is necessarily limited.

The actual proportions of a character’s structure, or frame is determined by his race, and expressed as his Build.

Character Build may be found on table 4-8., according to character race.

This should be noted on the Character Record Sheet in the space provided.

In the Secondary Attributes (following) where STA is a factor, it will have to be modified as dictated by table 4-8. before being used, and also before being used to determine Weight (but NOT height, that uses the raw original score).

When determining Body Points in Step 7. Tactical Attributes (the amount of physical damage a character can sustain and still survive) his STA are multiplied by the number indicated on the table before adding it in, and when determining the character can carry (as follows) these multipliers are applied to his Encumbrance rates, as well.


4-8. Character Build Multipliers, by Race

Race Build STA multiplier
Elf Slight x 0.75
HalfElf Med-Light x 0.9
Human Medium x 0
Dwarf Heavy x 1.5


Condition (CND)

Character Condition indicates the degree of the character’s general level of health and physical conditioning, his hardiness and strength of physical fiber. The character’s endurance and physical staying power are governed by CND, how quickly he spends his Wind and how quickly he gets it back, and his ability to hold his breath or resist the latest flu bug or plague. It is a primary factor in determining the amount of actual physical punishment or damage the character can withstand and influences the character’s weight, as well, by indicating greater leanness. CND is a major factor in determining the character’s ability to resist severe bodily shocks, pain, and privation, how fast he heals from all injuries and maladies. It is very important for any and all characters that expect to enter into armed combat at all, in a similar manner that AGL, STA, STR and AWA scores are.

A character with a “1” score in CND are soaked with sweat, red and huffing after a simple walk around the block or climbing a flight of stairs, or any similar exercise of his physical resources. He is also prone to catch whatever the latest bug is that is going around at first exposure, and most likely to succumb to it if it is at all dangerous.

The character with a “25” score would be fine walking, running, or any similar simple task all day, finding a comfortable pace and barely breaking a sweat by sundown. His immune system would be strong enough to keep him safe from everyday sniffles and alive through most of the more threatening maladies, as well, even if he did fall prey to it.


Art: Sorcery, Naming

Ruling Planet: Mercury

Sphere: Common

The “Mesmerize” aspect is a very subtle form of Binding that goes a little deeper than the more superficial Banishing above. It lulls the victim into a dreamless somnambulistic state, almost asleep but not, in which the subconscious mind is engaged. While in this state of mind, the victim’s soul may be bared, the dweomer’s [(POT) + (caster’s HRT att. mod.)] providing the DV for a HRT check which must be successfully made before he may remain silent in response to any question to which he knows the answer.

This dweomer may only be applied to normal mortal folk, natives of the Mortal Sphere, and only those that are members of sentient humanoid races.

To lull the victim into the Mesmerized state of mind, an object of fascination must be supplied, some sort of shiny or glittery bauble, something of beauty that might be admired, a candle flame, the play of sunlight on a body of water, even the caster’s own eyes (especially if enhanced by a “Magnetic Gaze” charm). For use as a cantrip, all the caster must do is get the victim to look at the point of fascination to be used to focus the magick for it to work (providing they don’t resist. For spellcraft or ritual workings, should someone or something break into the victim’s magickally inspired reverie before the CTM is complete, the magick is spoiled, wasted.

These restrictions do not apply if the target is asleep when subjected to the dweomer.

IF the caster has the Mesmerize Spirit Skill, that SL is added to the effective POT of the dweomer when it is cast, except when the victim is asleep.

This charm induces a state of mind that is exceptionally malleable, makes the spirit cooperative and docile. The dweomer coerces the victim to reveal the answer to up to (POT) questions if the dweomer is tied off, or as many as desired if the dweomer is maintained at the caster’s pleasure. The victim may make a HRT check on d100 vs. the [(POT) + (CHM att. mod. + HRT att. mod. + BTY att. mod.)] to attempt an evasion or to remain silent.

IF successful, the victim may even attempt to lie, although the POT of the dweomer is subtracted from his AV to do so.

For better or for worse, the “Mesmerize” dweomer opens the subject’s mind to receive suggestions or commands/compulsions. Any suggestions or commands implanted cannot violate the basic spirit and character of the one in whom they are implanted, their morés and the basic values which make up the core of their personality, their identity.

IF this restriction is followed, the dweomer [(POT) + (Mesmerist’s CHM att. mod. + HRT att. mod.)] will provide a DV for the victim to resist the command or suggestion by means of a HRT check on d100, The victim’s M-RES for resisting the influence of any “Truthsay”, “Pillow Talk”, or similar compulsion when questioned, or Geis, Grand Command or Behest, or alteration of mind or memory magicks such as “Banish Memory” or “Seal Memory” directed at a target already Mesmerized are reduced by the POT of the Mesmerize charm.

In addition, those victims subjected to violence of any sort by the bearer of the charm immediately released, as surely as if the charm had been dispelled. This leaves them with their minds clouded to the point that they cannot initiate any original action in return for (POT) Actions, and a descending DV penalty to any reflexive or defensive actions allowed equal to the number of Actions of confusion and fugue still remaining, their gaze continually returning to the point of fascination used by the caster to snare their minds, very distracted.

The Druid & Witch incarnation of this magick is known amongst its practitioners as the “Druid Sleep”.

This charm may be resisted normally, when the victim is originally subjected to it. Any additional magicks used to manipulate the victim can only be resisted at the penalty described above, and the results of those resistance checks may well affect the difficulty of resisting the effects of those manipulations when they come into play again (as applicable).

The Noble Class

The nobility comprise the First Estate, Those Who Fight. They stand at the top of medieval society, upon a foundation of feudalism. As “Those Who Fight”, the nobles are born warriors by tradition. Their lot in life is to fight, to be the protectors of all those below them in rank and status and in return to rule them as wisely and well as they can, and also render service to those above them in rank. In general, all nobles are members of the “baronage” (except for Knights Simple who are landless). The barons, sometimes referred to as “magnates”, vary greatly in wealth, power, and influence. Lesser barons are bound to greater barons or “tenants-in-chief” in ties of homage and fealty, and both sorts to the king of the realm in return for their feofs, and all Knights with and without estates.

The term feudalism was actually coined by 18th century historians to describe a society based on “feofs” (pl. “FEEFs”, sing. “FEEF”). The tenure of land ownership and social relationships among the nobility and extending into the classes below share the same general pattern and character of the greater feudal system, so the whole society came to be described as “feudal”.

Feofs are estates, large tracts of land (mostly cultivated), held by noble warriors for life from the king (who ultimately owned all land, in theory), either directly or through another (greater) noble, in return for supplying a set number of knights for a yearly term of military service (servicium debitum, 40 days) usually during the campaign season – late spring to early fall. Feudal practice grew out of the warrior-based systems created by the Franks, Normans, Burgundians, and a host of others, in the wake of the crumbling of the Roman Empire, a brutal, crude, and largely lawless period often referred to as the Dark Ages.

After the Crown, the nobles in the realm are the greatest of the landowners, thus they rule, under the ultimate liege-lord of every nobleman in the realm – the king. The nobleman receiving a feof becomes a “vassal”, the sworn man of the king or lord who has granted him his lands, estates and his rights over all that lies within it, including the residents, which is called his feof. The feof is bestowed in return for the sworn oath of fealty and an act of homage. “Fealty” is the term used to described the nobleman’s obligation, social and military, to the grantor of his feof, and “Homage” is a humble act illustrating the nobleman’s new status under his lord.

When a Freeman shall do Fealty to his Lord of whom he holds in Chief, he shall place his right hand upon a holy book, and shall say thus,

“Hear you, my Lord [A.], that I, [B.], shall be to you both faithful and true, and shall owe my Fidelity unto you, for the Land that I hold of you, and lawfully shall do such Customs and Services, as my Duty is to you, at the times assigned. So help me [Eternal Light and all the sainted spirits within It].”

But when a Villein shall do Fealty unto his Lord, he shall hold his right hand over the holy book, and shall say thus,

“Hear you, my Lord [A.], that I, [B.], from this day forth unto you shall be true and faithful, and shall owe you Faith for the land that I hold of you in Villeinage; and shall be justified by you in Body and Goods.

 So help me [Eternal Light and all the sainted spirits within It].”

When a Freeman shall do Homage to his Lord, he shall hold his hands together between the hands of his Lord, and shall say thus,

“I become your Man from this day forth, for life, for member, and for worldly honor, and shall owe you Faith for the Lands that I hold of you; saving only the Faith that I owe unto our Lord the King.”

But when a Freeman shall do Homage to any other than to his Chief Lord, and for a simple Tenement, he shall hold his hands together between the Hands of his Lord, and shall say thus,

“I become your Man from this day forth, and shall bear you Faith for the Tenement which I claim to hold of you; saving the Faith that I owe to our Lord the King, and to my other Lords.”

The act of homage will always be redressed with a kiss of equality when it is a fellow nobleman who is pledging himself, so no damage is done to the vassal’s honor by the act.

The feof of a nobleman is called his “honor”, the honor is governed from a residential castle. This is what divides the Lord from the Knight. The Knight’s fee is a manor (c.1200 acres), and it might take upwards of 200 manors or more to support a single castle. If a magnate has more than one castle, one of them will be the “capitus”, or head, also known as the  seat, of his honor, the rest will be smaller and of a primarily if not strictly, military nature.

The honor of Pontefract is headed by Castle Pontefract and supported by five subsidiary (military) castles. Castle Framlingham is the seat of the earls of Norfolk.

Though the castle is the basis of military might in the medieval world, the residential castles of the barons and the greater magnates are lived in far more than they see active use in battle. The principle residential castle is the center of (local) baronial government and the main residence of the Lord, where the bulk of his wealth is kept and displayed, and where the archives of records of the business of his estates will be kept.

The honor of Richmond included 424 manors, the honor of Chester some 450.

The greatest of the magnates, the earls, dukes, and marquesses will commonly hold more than one honor, spread across multiple shires.

William de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, held honors in Lewes, Sussex and south Yorkshire. Aubrey de Vere was created the first Earl of Oxford (Cambridgeshire), holding the 14 estates in Essex granted to his grandfather by King William I,  9 estates in Suffolk, but only 7 estates actually in Cambridgeshire itself.

The military obligation of a vassal to his lord is determined by the size of the feof he is given, at a rate of 1 knight per £20 in annual income derived from the land. Some of the greater magnates will owe the service of 70 to 80 Knights. The honour of Richmond, in Kent, whose capitus was Castle Richmond, was held for the service of 60 knights, indicating an annual income from it of £1200 per year. The lords generally support the Knights they owe the service of as members of their households, though they may grant manor feofs to those Knights who distinguish themselves by outstanding service. This way they provide a livelihood for the loyal and deserving while relieving themselves of the burden of their support. While they are a part of the lord’s own household, the lord is responsible to equip his knights and provide them with food, quarters, firewood, candles and/or torches, and clothing (often called “livery”).

A lord might employ his Knights as officers over the various departments of his household (in the same manner done by the king himself, though on a smaller scale), or appoint his Knights as stewards over several of his manors, over a body of bailiffs-in-residence. A great Lord might create a lesser baron of a truly deserving retainer by granting him one of his smaller, military castles or allotting him one or more manor estates (lordships) within the greater lord’s own holdings, in return for the service of 3 or 4 or 5 Knights, as appropriate. While some lords will provide estates for all the Knights whose service they owe, some take on and enfeof more Knights than are owing, coming to command substantial private armies. Still others keep most of the Knights whose service the owe as dependents in their households, granting feofs to only a few – a common practice among the lords of the Church. Some of the enfeoffed lesser barons and Knights split their feofs with others, in turn, from whom they demand a portion of the military service they themselves owe. This practice is called “sub-infeudation”.

The first Lord of Richmond sub-infeudated both of his brothers, giving the honor three chief castles.

As feudal society came into full flower in England (the model for RoM) all feudal ties of vassalage were made secondary to the ultimate oaths of the chief lords to the king of the realm, on the strength of the theory that all land belonged to the king, since the lesser lords could not have been enfeoffed by the greater lords if the king had not first granted the chief nobles their estates.

While the notion that these lords were constantly engaged in great pitched battles against one another with the private armies of Knights they were expected to support is prevalent today, this is greatly exaggerated. While there were, indeed, rebellions of some barons and other greater lords, these were usually against the king and his supporters and rather rare, and there were battles with the Welsh on one hand the and Scots on the other, and periodic battles on the Continent to protect or re-conquer the Angevin possessions. But the fighting the continent was also sporadic (excepting the 100 Years’ War). For the nobles to fight private wars between themselves while the rest of the kingdom was at peace is a gross violation of the Pax Regis, the King’s Peace, into which the king and the rest of his vassals would ride to punish both parties if they could not be shamed into desisting.

Disagreements between nobles might be carried out with swords on a field of battle, but it would have to be a private matter settled by judicial duel, otherwise disagreements might be prosecuted in the courts and pursued with bands of their household men on a much smaller scale – stealing livestock; ousting the tenants of coveted manors and installing their own; collecting their rivals’ rents, and the like. Neither are the noblemen allowed to hire mercenaries in their own right – although nobles of questionable morals might maintain agents of dubious character (or even outright bandits, thieves, and outlaws) in their households for ‘special causes’ to be performed on the sly, and those pushed to the edge of their temperament might maintain mercenaries in their household illegally as a part of their retinue. For a lord to take on mercenaries, even under the cover of proper social convention, is known as “bastard feudalism” in modern parlance and requires great care to practice for it is a violation of both law and custom, subject to heavy fines and sanctions, and can far too easily be construed as defiance, fomenting riot, both treasonable offenses. No lord, regardless of rank, raises arms in the kingdom without a specific warrant to do so from the Crown, and none hire mercenaries except the Crown or those agents charged by the Crown to do so for a specific occasion or campaign.

Despite the popularity of foreign mercenaries from Wales and Flanders there, Magna Carta prohibited the use of foreign mercenaries in England except as “supplemental” forces. Those foreigners brought into the realm, especially during “The Anarchy” in Stephen’s reign, created more problems in the end than they aided the Crown in solving.

While a king’s rights over lands and subjects are in many ways sweeping, they do have boundaries. They must be used in the customary methods established by the royal ancestors. Even the common folk have a say in some matters, and the barons of the land and the greater magnates and especially the tenants-in-chief holding directly from the Crown have a say in a great many more matters and royal policies. The most basic of the king’s rights over his vassals and tenants are the same ones enjoyed by every lord over his vassals by feudal custom and tradition, and custom hath the force of law. These rights are called relief, primer seizin, heriot, wardship, fine on alienation, aid, and forfeiture.

While the land held by a vassal is hereditary in practice, the death of the vassal originally ended the contract with the liege-lord. The king or lord legally (theoretically) has the right to take the lands he has granted back at the death of the vassal but, in practice over time, the heir is invested with the lands due him, until it became custom. But custom hath the force of law, and denying Henry Hotspur his extensive inheritance fired him to topple a king.

Before he may assume his father’s feof, the heir must first pay a “relief”. Relief is a sort of inheritance tax paid to the grantor of the feof, and is traditionally equal in value to the produce of the estate for a year, but it is generally agreed among the nobility that up to twice that is also reasonable, particularly on great estates. Even freemen must pay relief to assume their father’s lands when tenants on a lord’s estate.

If the inheritor of an  estate fails to pay the required relief, the king or lord has the right of “primer seizin”, that is, to seize the land and all its proceeds and to continue to enjoy that income until the relief is paid.

When a landed tenant dies, “heriot” is required to be paid first out of the estate. This stems from the practice of returning the horse, weapons and armor originally supplied to the vassal by his lord for use in serving his feudal duty when the feof was first received. With the advent of “scutage” (money  payment in lieu of military service), this was transformed into the gift of the best of the tenant’s livestock out of the estate prior to inheritance. One of the differences between the free commoner and the landbound is the fact that, while freemen tenants must pay relief, freemen tenants do not pay heriot.

In the event that the heir of an estate is too young to inherit (15 for commoners, 21 for nobles), the king or lord has not only the right, but the responsibility, of “wardship”. When the wardship of an estate is assumed, the king or lord reaps all the proceeds and benefits until the heir grows to an age to fulfill his family obligations, specifically military obligations in the case of noble wards. Oftentimes the ward is brought to the king’s or lord’s own court and household to be fostered until he reaches the age of majority and can assume his estates. Wardships are commonly sold to families seeking marriage partners for their children, or given as temporary sources of additional income to those who have earned the favor of the Crown.

An extension of the principle of wardship, the king or lord has the right to select a husband for any heiress to whom a feofdom or estate has fallen, to guard against the passing of the lands into the hands of his enemies, or into the hands of any who cannot fulfill the family’s (military) responsibilities. The king or lord will commonly use this right as a way to reward those in his favor with a wife of rich estates. The only restriction upon the king or lord in this right is that he may not marry the lady to a man who is her social inferior, nor make her marry a man she truly cannot abide, though the latter is not likely to occur. This is also expressed as the king’s or lord’s right to forbid any undesirable marriage he finds his vassals negotiating. While the vassal may not be told who he will marry (though his Majesty may make his preference known), he can say who he may NOT.

When a vassal dies without any surviving heirs of the blood, without issue and without relatives on his own or his wife’s sides of the family, the estate becomes subject to “escheat”. An escheat is an estate that returns part and parcel to the king or lord, no matter how it has been increased or changed in extent since the original grant, to be kept and enjoyed by him or regranted to some other worthy vassal, or otherwise disposed as he sees fit.

If a noble wishes to alienate a portion of his feof, whether to sub-infeudate by giving a portion of it to a vassal or to give a portion of it to another landholder in an exchange, he may do so without having to obtain the permission of the Crown, although doing so involves a fee, a “fine on alienation”.

Though selling land was originally illegal, due to the fact that (at least in theory) all of the land belonged to the Crown, feofdoms were granted under the guise of vassalage in return for a fee. Since the Crown was unable to put a stop to the practice, this fine eventually amounted to a tax on the sale of land.

In order to offset the costs of certain extraordinary times or ceremonies, the king or lord occasionally claim an “aid”, or the award of supplementary monies (an extraordinary tax) from his tenants. The king or lord actually has the right to demand an aid upon the marriage(s) of his daughter(s) and upon the knighting of his son(s), because of the great cost of these affairs, which are attended by the nobility at large (the reason the affairs are so expensive in the first place). More importantly, the ling or lord can request an aid in the event of (accompanying the king to) war, to help finance the mercenaries that will supplement his own Knights, and also to pay for provisions and the carriage of equipment to the battle site. An aid may also be collected on the king’s or lord’s behalf in case of his capture in order to pay his ransom.

Each aid requested is a separate thing to be determined individually, there will be no fixed rate (though a customary rate did prevail). Each aid will be negotiated between the Crown and those who will have to pay it. The nobility will commonly protest the paying of an aid for war, and dicker sharply over the percentage to be paid. Money aids are generally based upon the money value of the moveable goods owned by the nobility on their various estates, but might be based upon the extent of their lands, measured in “hideage” (parcels of land of 120 acres each). Carucage (carriage of freight) might be rendered in place of money for an aid, as well, the transport of men and supplies to a negotiated staging area.

The penalty for breaking the constraints of or failure to abide by the feudal contract by a vassal is called “forfeiture”. By this, the estates granted are claimed again by the grantor in the same manner as an escheat. In the same vein, when a tenant refuses to provide the labor dues attached to the land he occupies, he forfeits it and is put out of the property.  On the other hand, when the lord breaks his own obligations to his vassal, the vassal can attempt a “defiance”, refusing in turn to uphold his end of the feudal contract and attempting to hold his feof free of all feudal duty or obligations. This is rarely of benefit to the vassal, unless he is strong enough to make his revolt a success.

If the vassal loses a defiance, forfeiture is only a part of the penalty, the headsman’s axe awaits as well if he cannot get free and flee to safety.

As the king holds these rights over the greatest lords of the realm, the greater lords hold these same rights over their vassal barons and lesser nobles, and the barons hold these same rights over their vassal knights, as the Knights do over the tenant bordars, cottars, and serfs bound to their lands. But these relationships work both ways. While the lesser must do good service unto the greater, the greater must serve the interests of the lesser in turn where their influence will do them the most good, especially where the lesser is in need of a patron to succeed or face failure. As mentioned, the key to the feudal system is the personal relationships between dependents and superiors.

The player and GM must understand that all the fuss about land and rulership only really describes the upper-most layers of medieval society, the nobility as a whole comprising only 1% of the total population, Among the common people, the townsfolk only comprised about 10% of the population. The feudal system really has little if anything to do with most (free) commoners, even the wealthy merchants, except insofar as the feudal rights of the lords restrict their activities, a toll here and a tax there, purveyance, carucage, etc. The lower classes will be hedged about by the obligations created by the feudal system, in particular by the manorial, or signeurial, system over which the feudal lords preside, by which they rule, particularly influencing the customs and requirements by which the poor farmers and the landbound classes hold their property. Since their lot is to work the land, all tenants both free and landbound are bound by custom to provide a fixed number of days of work on the lord’s land, called week-work, and a certain number of specific farming tasks, almost invariably having to do with getting the lord’s fields harvested and his grain threshed each year. These are called signeurial dues, representing a system of customs and requirements extending from the manorial lord down through their tenants from commoners to the lowest serf. These are charged in lieu of the military services the nobles themselves are charged by their liege-lords or the Crown for their own lands. The signeurial dues are a matter of custom, handed down from time immemorial regardless of whether the lord of the land was an Anglo-Saxon, Dane, or Norman. and the tenants will fight their lords even in the lord’s own baronial courts to protect those rights, and win due to the unique way in which the medieval courts worked.


This skill enables a character to get loose from restraints, whether mechanical, like ropes, pillory and stocks, manacles, or the like, or from the grip of a living foe, as in being held captive, especially by dint of some uncomfortable immobilizing hold such as is described for wrestling under the Brawling skill description. Through working assiduously on stretching range of motion, use of special relaxation exercises and/or special training in dislocating one’s joints, holding one’s breath and slowing metabolism, and knowledge of stresses and controlled flexing, this skill gives the character a chance to escape from any physical restraint he is bound with, often relying on subtlely pumping the body up during the process of being bound, thus obtaining the slack needed to wriggle free upon relaxing at the next opportune moment.

If the character is shut up in a box, chest, or cage composed of bars placed closer together than (character height ÷ 7), he must also have the Draughlatch skill in order to attack the lock and/or hinges from the inside in order to get out, otherwise this skill gives him no recourse. The Escape Artist skill is focused on getting out of restraints placed directly on the character’s own body, over which he has some direct control in the original application or through which he can conceivably slip by manipulating his own body.

The att. mod. for the use of this skill is based upon the character’s STR and either CRD or AGL (GM’s discretion, vs. restraints on Arms and/or Wrist/Hands, or the full body, respectively), with a bonus based upon his Acrobat skill and/or his skill at tying knots (vs. restraints that are hand-tied of ropes), as applicable.

If the character is also a Craftsman and Artificer of the specialty required for making the type of container (box, chest, or cage) in which he has been confined, a bonus should be allowed based on that skill for getting free of that container.


GM’s Notes: 

The base DV for getting free from any given restraints is determined by the character’s specific situation. The GM must consider the number of limbs bound, whether those limbs have been bound together, and/or to his body, bound behind his back, whether or not he is bound to some anchor-point, whether or not he has any slack with which to work, etc., each factor that inhibits the character’s getting free. Each of these factors is counted separately, and the base DV is equal to the number of factors, per factor added.

For examplefor a character who is bound at the wrists or ankles or who is shackled by one hand or foot to a wall, post, or anchor stake, the DV is 1. For every additional factor limiting the character’s ability to move, the DV is raised by the number of inhibiting factors, 2 for the second for a total of 3; 3 for the 3rd for a total of 6; 4 for the 4th for a total of 10; 5 for the 5th for a total of 15, and so on, and so forth.

Any slack less than (character height) in length between a character’s wrist or ankle bonds or in the lead to an anchor point that confines his movement is considered “limited” and will inhibit character range of motion in some way that will interfere in getting free, counting as a separate inhibiting factor in determining the DV.

Having each hand and foot shackled to a separate point on wall or post would count as 4 factors, providing a base DV of 10. If the slack for each limb were limited, that would be 8 factors, for a base DV of 36.

Where there is no slack at all between bonds or an anchor point, OR in the event that the character’s bonds leave him nearly or completely suspended (whether drawn out spread-eagle or stretched out with arms above head and feet barely touching ground), that will count as a separate and additional factor.

For example, if the wrists or ankles of the character above were bound together with only limited slack or also to an anchor point with sufficient slack again to allow full range of movement, this would. be the next factor, for which 2 would be added to the DV, making it 3.

  • IF the character’s wrists were bound with no effective slack between them, or the lead line to the anchor point from them was limited, this would be a 3rd factor, raising the DV to 6. If his wrist bonds had no slack between them AND the lead line was limited, that would be a 4th factor, raising the DV to 10.
  • IF the character’s arms were also bound to his body so his wrists (shackled together with no slack) were before him, that would be a 5th factor, raising the DV to 15, and if they were bound so his shackled wrists were behind him, that would be a 6th factor, raising the DV to 21.

The character must make a check against each factor to get each limb free (or pair of limbs where arms or legs are bound together), with the DV steadily declining with each success at the same rate at which it was first compounded, step by step.

For example, in the above example the character was bound with a DV of 21. With a successful check against that DV, the character could have wriggled himself about so his arms were in front of him, lowering the DV to 15 for the check to work his arms free of the binding to his body. A successful check against DV15 would free his arms from that restraint and lower the DV to 10 for the final check to get free of the wrist bonds, which are still anchored to the wall by a limited lead line.

This is the theory, anyway. The actual order in which the restraints are defeated is not important. That is the province of the character’s skill, and the player certainly need not have such intimate knowledge of it for his character to succeed. For the character to get free, the player need merely work his way through the DV’s, as described.

The limits on available slack are simply a factor to be considered, a condition of the fetters adding to the DV, not restraints in and of themselves from which the character must make a d100 check to get free. A character in a single restraint that allows him full range of motion for the whole body will have a base DV of zero (0) to get free.

There are other factors to consider, however, as follows.

The DV for slipping free of tied bonds is based on the CRD & STR att. mod’s of the character who tied them. The DV to get free of restraints tied by one who has skill at Knot-Tying should always include that SL, as well. These two factors determine how tightly they have been tied and the STR necessary to loosen them, or the CRD or AGL needed to work them loose.

  •  IF a character is bound in a system of bodily restraints that have been designed by a character who is also an Escape Artist, that SL should also be added to the DV to get loose.

When the knots are being tied to restrain or bind him in ropes of any kind, however, the Escape Artist character should be allowed an Escape check vs. the skill of the character doing the Knot-Tying during that process. at each point in any system of rope restraints that are tied (wrists, ankles, etc.), the character should be allowed a similar check.

This gives the Escape Artist character the chance to exercise one of the tricks in which he is trained to fool the one tying the knots into believing that he has tied them tightly, when in fact the Escape artist has created slack that allows him to slip out of them when the time is right.

  • IF successful, the DV for getting out of that particular set of restraints is divided by the character’s Escape SL (SL 1 reducing the DV to get out afterwards to 3/4th’s normal).
  • IF the check is failed, his ploy is discovered and he is tied tightly and truly with the full DV to stand against any attempt to Escape.

In the case of bonds arising from the use of magick, such as being bound by the surrounding plant life in a “Nature Bonds”, or being wrapped up in ropes, sheets, towels, or other similar objects subject to an “Animate Object” dweomer as a means of restraint, the DV to Escape should be equal to the [(magick POT) + (caster’s MGA att. mod.)].

  • IF the wizard wielding magickal restraints has the Escape Artist skill himself and applies that knowledge to the casting, his Escape SL should be added to the DV to get free, as well. In some cases this may make getting free especially difficult, if not down right impossible for some, but every character (PC and NPC) deserves to receive the full benefit of his portfolio of skills and the extent of his knowledge and experience.

The manacles employed in the GM’s world to restrain miscreants may be locked, but likely only with a padlock strung through the rivet-hole in them, not with a built-in lock like modern handcuffs. If a prisoner is of poor or common estate and it is obvious that he is unable to pay to get out of them, or if his captor has no intentions of letting him go free, he is riveted into them by a smith. The prisoner requires the services of a hammer and chisel to be free of them by conventional means, if he doesn’t have recourse to this skill.

For magickal bonds that work in the same manner, trapping the character by a confining clasp of some sort such as results from a “Death Grip” magick, “Hands of the Grave”, “Helping Hands”, “Hand of Light/Dark/Shadow/Spirit/Earth” or the like, the Escape Artist skill does NOT apply directly, but only grants a bonus of (1 per 4 SL’s) against wriggling free of the strength of the clasp, by virtue of AGL and STR as is done in wrestling, described under “Brawling, Grappling, & Wrestling”.

If the Escape Artist is hurt, he is subject to the full round of P-RES checks for numbness (shock), stun, and/or unconsciousness due to attempting to manipulate his body while wounded, as described under the heading “Pain & Stunning” in Tactical Play & Combat.

To attack locks and/or hinges in order to get free of boxes, cages, or other enclosures from the inside, the character will need to be a Draughlatch, as noted, and have those tools with him. To that AV, for these purposes only, the character should be allowed a bonus based on his skill as an Escape Artist simply to reflect his knowledge of such enclosures and the best ways to attack them to get free.

The DV for getting free of such an enclosure can be increased when designed by an Artificer who is also an Escape Artist, or who has one such to advise him, by up to the SL of the Escape Artist whose knowledge is used in designing the enclosure or the Artificer’s SL, whichever of the two is less.

The time required to exercise this skill in getting free of any given restraint, as described above, is equal to (DV ÷ 10) consecutive Actions according to the character’s RoA and the rules for tactical play. This is rounded to the nearest whole number. From this should be subtracted the Escape Artist’s SL and AGL att. mod., while never reducing the time to less than one (1) Action.

When more than one impediment binds the character this amount of time is determined for each d100 check required to get free. In a series of restraints, as the DV declines with each successful d100 check, the time required to get through each step of restraint also declines.



This skill is of prime importance to members of the Courtier and Courtesan trade. The skills of the Courtier often depend on putting on a grand display, providing a spectacle. It is most often the Courtiers’ penchant for display that makes them such a hit in high society. Courtiers are trained in the importance and uses of fashionable accessories, proper and particularly luxurious apparel and scent, and especially through manipulating a great knowledge of the proper and even creative uses of Cosmetics.

This knowledge enables a character to manipulate the recipient’s appearance to effect some rather subtle changes.

The most common use of this skill is to refine and perfect the recipient’s natural coloration in hair and complexion and, through manipulating highlights and shadows on the face, modeling and refining the apparent bone structure in more pleasing lines. This is the aspect most commonly used by the Courtier for everyday appearances and appearances at social events.

The knowledge encompassed by this skill is a little broader than just this, however. It can be used to change the hair color to any within the natural range, as desired and alter the impression of the recipient’s age, lowering the apparent age for those 30 and older no more than 10 years, or 5 years for those under 21, or adding no more than 5 years to of those under 21.

In addition, the complexion and even color of the skin can be changed as desired from as pale and fair as a Nordic Viking to Mediterranean olive, golden as an Asian, brown as a desert-dweller, or even as dark as a Nubian, with the proper variations to work on human, elf, dwarf, half-elf.

Eye color may not be changed except by the use of magick, however.

This skill can be used for the addition of a simple (fashionable) beauty mark, lacquering nails in fetching colors, addition of fine apparel and padding of curves, lifting and enhancing the bosoms of females, or bind and flatten them out, in effect either enhancing the recipient’s BTY score or roughening up the appearance to lower it.

The Cosmetics skill may not be used to effect any real change in the recipient’s physical dimensions, except for disguising up to 10lb’s of weight (reducing) or adding it by manipulating clothing, and adding no more than (raw STA ÷ 10) in’s of height.

Costuming and props that make any more substantial changes in apparent STA and Build are the province of the Masquer, NOT the Courtesan’s much more simple and limited Cosmetics skill.

Normally, the Courtier desires to be recognized for who he is when making public appearances, and simply uses his skill to refine and enhance his natural appearance, perhaps take off a few years by adding a bit of youthful glow. For everyday appearances, he will not want to display the full extent of his skill, perhaps keeping the enhancement down to just a few points of additional BTY (2-3). It is always wise to hold something back in reserve so he can truly stun and “WOW” society wags when he appears at the major and important seasonal events, truly testing the limits of his skill.

In the pursuit of his trade, the Courtesan is most commonly concerned with style and fashion and cosmetics in the enhancing of the appearance. IF the character also has the Rogue trade, however, he is well aware of the standards of appearance of the lower classes and what they expect to see among their own, and are quite capable of dirtying-up and dumpy-ing down his own or the recipient’s appearance in order to fit in among that crowd without standing out, especially to dull down one’s BTY score so as NOT to stand out.

In practice, the character chooses the number of points of BTY by which he enhances the recipient’s appearance, and the number of years he wishes to alter the recipient’s apparent age – if any – and this is the basis for the DV for the check to execute the application of the cosmetics.

The character may NOT exceed the limits of BTY for his race with this skill.

With a change in coloration and a change in effective BTY score, the recipient may not be readily recognized by those who not already know him, providing a similar effect to that of the Masquer skill, but accomplished by much more limited means.

A successful AWA check on d100 is needed for those who have seen him before to recognize him when the character makes any sort of extreme change in over all coloration, both in hair and skin.

When practiced upon others, any change in apparent BTY score by Cosmetics has but a limited duration, and deteriorates with time unless the one who applied the treatment OR someone who possess the skill is present to patch up the treatment as time wears it down.

One (1) point of the change wrought in BTY (regardless of whether increase or decrease) is lost after (Cosmetic SL of the one who applied it) mileways have passed, unless a character of equal or greater SL is allowed an opportunity to patch the recipient up.

IF not repaired, the recipient continues to lose additional points at a rate of one (1) point every (Cosmetic SL of the one who applied it) mileways, until the recipient’s own natural BTY score emerges or he is rescued and his appearance repaired.

IF the character with the Cosmetic skill is working on himself, a small mirror and the salient parts of his cosmetic kit used to create the treatment currently worn (which should fit in an average-sized purse) enables him to step aside every so often to maintain his appearance so he need have no fear that his appearance becomes compromised except by physical misadventure.

The decay of a Courtier’s facade at a social function would be quite an event, the subject of half-concealed titters and the butt of numerous cruel and pointed jokes. The character’s appearance is a great part of his reputation in society.

The att. mod. for all uses of the Cosmetics skill is based on the character’s CRD.

The DV for executing the cosmetics treatment planned by the character is Progressive based on the number of points added or subtracted, for each point.

To this the whole number of years of youth being restored should also be added, as well as the number of pounds of weight concealed and the number of inches by which the height is enhanced (as applicable). Changing the hair color should raise the DV according to the length of the hair, counting each of the steps on the table in character generation for determining hair length as one (1). Raw STA is figured in when skin color is altered.

The DV to recognize the recipient for who he is after his BTY has been raised is equal to the DV for the execution of the cosmetics treatment in the first place.


Cut Purse

The skill of the light touch, the name Cut Purse is actually only a generalization for convenience’s sake, and should not limit the player’s concept of it or of its use in play. This skill enables the character to attempt to remove any single item (purse, jewelry, or other accessory or even accessory to clothing) from another person’s body, clothing, gear, etc. where ever it may be upon their bodies, without their becoming aware of the fact until later. This skill also encompasses the smooth skill of the shop-lifter, enabling the character to casually Palm the item taken, though he must then have a place to Hide it or put it, a “mule” to hand it off to, or the skill with which to Cache/Conceal it upon his own person to prevent any observers from seeing the crime and alerting the victim. The larger the item of which the character attempts to relieve a victim, the higher the DV.

Any attempts at using this skill on a given individual after the third try or all attempts allowed by skill have been failed immediately alert the target to the character’s intentions.

The character may use the Player and Silver Tongue aspects of Presence skill to create a ruse to distract a victim, one hand sitting like a friend upon a shoulder or arm while the other offers a drink, a pipe, a pinch of snuff, or maybe an article supposed to have been dropped on the floor/ground by the target. The character might bump into his target or “mark” or trip at his feet and allow himself to be helped up, or vice versa, any kind of casual, non-threatening and especially accidental physical contact can hide his efforts.

Being over-eager in victimizing a particular mark, preying on him repeatedly, especially within a short period of time, raises the DV in a Progressive manner.

Using the Player and Silver Tongue Presence skills to create a ruse or distraction which involves direct contact of some sort with the mark increases the risk involved in approaching him repeatedly. The mark may begin to associate the presence of those working on him with the losses he is discovering afterwards. The DV is increased by half again (x 1.5) in these cases, double (x 2) if previous encounters were made more memorable by physical contact of some sort.

In addition, the character’s BTY att. mod. is added to the DV, regardless of whether positive or negative in nature, as this indicates how much his appearance may stand out from the faces in the crowd. It certainly increases the chances of the mark remembering him if he should see the character again after the fact, after discovering his loss. Positive integers of negative att. mod’s is used, so a -4 is as bad as a +4 att. mod. for this purpose, equally remarkable to the mark afterwards. This emphasizes the advantage of using the skill under cover of Stealth.

Since this is based on the victim’s AWA score, of which the PC can have no knowledge, much less any means of determining, the player should use a simple two week rule of thumb for those marks who the Cut Purse considers to be ‘average folk’ to avoid an unnecessary increase in DV, allowing that amount of time to pass without allowing the victim to see him again before preying on him again.

IF the character is intent on preying on the same person over and again, the DV penalties due to frequency can be avoided entirely when using the Masquer skill to approach the mark each time under the guise of a new masquerade.

The increase to the DV for additional attempts is waived when the Cut Purse uses Stalker or Padfoot to come upon his target from behind and work his craft on his mark with Stealth.

Cut Purses should be very cautious about engaging in the sort of activity this skill represents, as getting caught can result in the loss of an ear, a finger, or of a whole hand, or the branding of his forehead. The justice meted out in the medieval period of the game can be most brutal, and the Cut Purse have none but himself to blame when he gets caught and punished.

IF at any time a character fails an attempt at exercising his skill as a Cut Purse, his intended victim is assumed alerted to his illicit intentions. For this reason, these checks are always conducted in tactical time, from the very approach. Surprise affects the Cut Purse’s victims normally, when the trouble is taken to establish it, and thus his ability to deal with his target’s reaction. Tactical time is used to measure out the interaction of the character’s and mark’s Actions in determining the character’s efforts to disappear after success, OR the outcome of the character’s efforts to escape should he fail.

How long the victim goes without becoming aware of the loss of the object after it is taken is determined by the GM, according to the circumstances.

The att. mod. for the use of this skill is based upon the character’s CRD score. When creating a ruse to cover the use of the skill, as described above, the character’s CHM att. mod. and his Player SL (if applicable) may also be added.


GM’s Notes: 

Again, the name of this skill is only a generalization for convenience’s sake, and should not be used as a justification for limiting the uses of the skill in play. In many games this skill is named after pick-pockets, however, pockets were not invented until the 1600’s and were tied on underneath clothing, accessed through a slit in a side-seam. They were not actually sewn on the access slit until the late 1700’s – early 1800’s, so there can be no such people or skill. For the GM’s reference, most NPC’s should stash their valuables in their voluminous sleeves (such as those of a houpeland which can be a yard wide but cut to come in to rather a narrow cuff) or in purses at their waists or under/in a sash. While “Pick Sleeve” is pretty silly to modern ears for this skill, a “Pick-Sleeve” is something that a NPC might actually call a character he catches red-handed as he raises the Hue-and-Cry against him.

The DV for cutting, lifting or otherwise extracting a purse or other similar small object is equal to the target’s AWA att. mod. or Sentry AV (as applicable).

The GM should add a Progressive modifier to the DV for every 4 inches by which the length of the object to be lifted is greater than (Cut Purse’s CRD ÷ 4) inches, another for every 2 inches by which the width of relatively flat objects are greater than (CRD ÷ 4) inches, and another for every inch of the item’s depth or thickness beyond 1 inch.

The character should be allowed the normal DV break based on the speed at which his target is moving and the normal “distracted” modifier which is noted in in the description of Task Resolution.

How long the victim goes without becoming aware of the loss of the object taken depends on both the Cut Purse’s skill and the victim’s AWA and activity at the time it was taken. Barring any circumstance that would alert the victim sooner, the victim may become aware of his loss until after (Cut Purse AV) – (victim’s AWA att. mod. OR Sentry AV) minutes have passed. If subtracting the victim’s AWA att. mod. reduces the number of minutes to zero or a negative number, the deficit should be subtracted in CS’s from the remaining minute.

For example, if a Cut Purse with an AV of 12 took a valuable silk scarf from a lady with a Sentry AV of 17, she would notice in less than one minute – a bare CS later. The resulting deficit is 5, so the GM should subtract 5 from the 6 CS’s that compose that last minute. If the thief doesn’t hie himself away out of sight or at least get the scarf passed off to a compatriot or stowed away and Concealed before that time passes, the lady will have a chance to spot him with it and raise the Hue and Cry against him.

This could be important also in cases where an item is taken for a short period for use as a model, to take an impression, with the intent of returning it before it can be missed. The Cut Purse would have to be particularly skilled or the victim rather dull to carry this off in most cases, however.

Of course, this interval won’t apply when circumstances indicate the necessity of earlier discovery. If a Knave takes a significant piece of clothing from a victim in cold weather, the victim must notice it as soon as he begins to feel the bite and effects of the weather, regardless of the normal interval according to this skill description. Also, if the victim goes to use the item taken he must, naturally, discover its absence immediately at that point, regardless of whether the normal interval has passed or not.

IF the Cut Purse is still within sight when the stolen object is discovered missing, the GM should allow the victim an AWA check against an appropriate DV based on the heaviness of the crowd in the area (see the GM’s Notes for the Rogue trade, Appendix B.), plus the Cut Purse’s ability to fade into the crowd as a Skulker.

IF this check is made successfully, the victim should then be given an AWA check against the Cut Purse’s skill (AV) to connect the Cut Purse to the theft, BUT only if the Cut Purse’s face was seen, particularly if the theft was accomplished through the use of a ruse to misdirect the mark. If accomplished by Stealth the Cut Purse’s appropriate Stealth skill AV or his Cut Purse AV may be used for the DV, whichever is greater.

The Cut Purse’s AV with the Player and/or Silver Tongue aspects of Presence should be substituted in making this check if that skill was used to orchestrate some sort of ruse for misdirection, for that incident will no doubt stand out strongly in the victim’s mind when he spots the Cut Purse again. This second AWA check will determine whether or not the victim connects the sight of the Cut Purse to his crime.