Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Jet Lag

So that break was longer than it was supposed to be. As my friend recently put it, after a long haul flight you get really bad 'bone ache' (I'm not sure if that's a technical term) that makes your whole body feel as if it's been hit several times with a padded mallet. It's drained my will to blog.

But it got me thinking: jet lag is something that human beings simply weren't built to cope with. Sudden changes of time zone are beyond our ken in biological terms - at no point in our evolutionary history did we ever encounter them or anything like them. So now that we do come across them, they throw our bodies out of joint. (This is similar, of course, to the tendency that evolutionary psychologists often remark upon for human beings to behave in ways that make no sense in our current environment, but on reflection are well suited to small bands of hunter gatherer simian beasts.)

This has me thinking about the kind of tropes that we find in fantasy rpgs. Teleportation is the obvious line of comparison. But what about the other magical phenomena we come across: healing, resurrection, flight and telekinesis? Would these have psycho-physiological effects above and beyond their actual ones?


  1. I think you're onto something here. There's no reason why a resurrection spell would allow a warrior to come back to life as the picture of health and sanity. Same with teleportation -- maybe the caster is stricken with dark, troubling visions of the "other realm" that he traversed during his instantaneous journey. Maybe that weighs heavily on his mind, gnawing at the corners of his psyche...

  2. I think Arcane did an article on this once. I definitely remember discussion of teleportation spells and how the sudden difference in temperature and air pressure would likely kill anyone actually travelling in such a manner.

    As for resurrection, The Monkey's Paw and Lovecraft's Charles Dexter Ward are good takes on how such a spell might work.

  3. One fairly obvious example would be addiction to healing/buffing spells and potions.

  4. Patrick: It would make a great addition to a more gritty, dark fantasy type game. In fact I think it would work really well for a Lord of the Rings game, where magic is dangerous, corrupting and rare.

    Kelvin: I haven't read either of those, but will try to. I have a vague memory of reading something about dragon flight in Arcane and how it would be physically impossible; I could be wrong though.

    User: Yes! That's a really good idea, you know. Genuinely worth exploring. Not only would it be fun and interesting in role playing terms, it would be a great way to limit omnipresent healing buffs.

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  6. I've never come across any rules for such a thing, but I always used to at least try and roleplay the after-effects of such things in many of the games I've participated in as a PC. The other players would usually look at me as if I was sniffing glue or something, but come on! When you have three broken ribs and a dislocated shoulder and then all of a sudden the healer taps you on the shoulder and you're perfectly fine - I think you have a duty to play it up, at least a little bit. So I'd have my character tentatively feeling around for a wound that wasn't there anymore, or limping on a leg that was just fine to walk on, getting out a bandage to change a dressing only to realize the big wolf bite had disappeared, etc. It adds a bit of color to the game, methinks.

    Of course, with the nonsensical healing surge bollocks these days, it almost ensures players will continue to take these sort of things for granted indefinitely.

  7. I'm not sure if Patrick's comment was quite what the post was geared towards, but it's certainly pretty cool. I could also see illusion spells being addictive. Perhaps certain schools of magic come more naturally to certain personality types then others.

  8. Arcona: I think addiction would work really well with healing surges. Getting a sudden pulse of adrenaline or magic power or whatever the hell it's supposed to be is sure to bring with it a swell of endorphines and therefore psychological addiction.

    Rach: I think any kind of magic could be psychologically addictive, especially for addictive personality types. If you can get addicted to gambling or sex, you can definitely get addicted to creating illusions!