Amateur game designer seeking help w/ explaining "health drain"

Discussion in 'SciFi & Fantasy' started by Jadebrain_Prime, Jan 17, 2015.

  1. Jadebrain_Prime Atheist now Registered Senior Member

    Hello! As the title suggests, I'm making my own game. To be more specific, it's a pen-and-paper system set in a fantasy universe. However, I am not content to have an "anything goes" mindset when considering how the universe in the game works; I want it to have a consistent and somewhat explained set of physical laws to account for the fantastic elements of the game. That said...

    In asking for suggestions for content in my game, one of my playtesters suggested that I should add an enchantment on weapons which allows someone wielding the weapon to absorb health (represented in the standard Hit Points way) from those the weapon hits. Of course, my initial reaction was "no," since I had absolutely no idea how to explain how one can simply "take" health from another being, via enchanted weapons, spells, or otherwise. Still, that doesn't change the fact that it would be an interesting mechanic, and I'm now trying to figure out how it could work.

    My first idea was that the magic could absorb what's called "qi," which is sort of like an energetic plasma that both allows for life to have intelligence and will, and also is shaped according to the life form it exists within and what circumstances do or don't occur. Basically, it's souls. However, the way qi interacts with life, as I already have it in my game's setting, is more like the way data interacts with a computer. Long story short, taking qi away from a life form won't directly hurt it (though it may erase memories or have effects similar to brain damage), and adding that stolen qi to another life form won't fix one's bodily injuries; furthermore, if you're not careful, absorbing another person's qi could cause insanity, as fragments of another person's mind and personality are haphazardly added to your own.

    The only other thing I can think of would be some sort of transfusion of nutrients, but I wouldn't think that that would be direct, effective, or fast-acting enough to explain absorbing HP. It also wouldn't be very practical in terms of the amount of work that would go into such a thing; however, I usually put most of the less practical effects under Divine magic, anyway. Divine magic, by the way, is when you basically ask an incredibly powerful being (likely a deity) to cast spells for you, usually in exchange for service to that being; even though deities and such must still obey the physical laws that apply to everyone else, such beings are just so powerful that issues of practicality are rarely of any importance to them.

    So... any suggestions for how such an effect would work? Note that I'm NOT trying to explain how this would work in terms of game mechanics, but rather, I'm trying to explain how this would work from a narrative perspective.

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