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How to make Magical Healing interesting?

One thing I've decided to work on this week as I refine my power system(s) is healing. I've decided that will be a sub-specialty of "Holy Magic" dedicated to Healing Magic, and I want to do more than just "Lay on Hands" like you see in Naruto and Bleach and generic Healing Potions. Those things will still be there, but one of complaints with healers in Shonen, which up until this point has been everything I watch and I'm trying to dial it back a bit, is that a Healer's Powerset is never as interesting or diverse as an Offensive Powerset. Even in Shoujo it's generally just, "flashbang of pure goodness". The most intersting healers I can think of are Orihime and Unohana from Bleach. The former doesn't actually heal, she instead reverses causality on whatever is inside her barrier. Orihime is less like Crazy Diamond, and more like King Crimson from JJBA. Retsu Unohana creates a familiar that does the healing, and her Bankai Ability lets her manipulate blood in order to attack and heal. These are actually interesting healers, but Tite Kubo is terrible to his healer characters. I'm really inspired also by the White Mage from Final Fantasy and the various spiritual children of Aerith Gainsborough from FF7, such as Estelise from Tales of Vesperia and all the "healers with guns" that came about because of Sharla from Xenoblade 1. Healing should be just as cool as battling, medical dramas exist for a reason, but I don't know how exactly to go about it! If anyone has suggestions for Healing Spells, innate Healing abilities, powers that have healing tacked on, and Magic Items/Magitech that involve healing that'd be great! How is healing handled in your power system? Thank you in advance!
 

Queshire

Auror
It's important to consider how healing magic affects the tension/stakes/flow of action in your story.

If a White Mage's Cure spell makes the Warrior regenerate like they were Wolverine (what I imagine restoring HP to be like) then that means that they can keep fighting. In comparison, Orihime's healing keeps both Orihime and the person being healed stuck in one place until the healing is done. Ichigo or whoever is forced to sit and watch while the others keep fighting.

Either option can certainly work, but when designing your healing magic it's useful to keep how it'll affect the flow of action in mind.
 

Not_Alice

Dreamer
I like to point out that human (which doesn't necessarily have to mean human... humanoid maybe? whatever) bodies are complex, and therefore healing magic must be complex, too. In one of my series it's actually impossible, no miracle cure, no sudden you're-fine-get-back-into-battle kind of thing. The healers perform pretty much how a normal doctor would, but with the assistance of magic. Like, you're close to bleeding out, okay, we'll put a stasis on you until we have you in the operating room. Plus, they can magically speed up the healing process but they only do that once they're sure everything's healing up correctly. No use speeding up healing a broken bone when it ends up crooked and you just have to break it again...
 

Queshire

Auror
Healing Magic in my setting isn't the most difficult form of magic, however there's several complications involved in it that just aren't there when you conjure a fireball that only needs to exist long enough to hit an enemy.

1) The spirit resists foreign magic. As a result you generally need to use more mana to overcome the resistance, take your time healing them so that your mana can blend with theirs or utilize some other method to get around or minimize the restriction.

2) Spiritual balance is necessary. This puts a cap on how much someone can be healed in one go. If you pump them full enough of your magic that it upsets their spiritual balance then they could face death, transforming into a monster or other complications with healing.

3) Healing magic costs a lot of mana. Not only do you need to provide the mana for the spell structure, but you need to provide the mana needed to actually heal with. If you don't you're likely going to he fueling the healing with your life force or the patients. Typically resolved by drawing on outside sources of mana such as nature or being incredibly efficient with the mana you do use.

4) The human body is complex. There's various methods to get around this. Some healing magic only boosts the patient's natural rate of healing, some rely on expert skills and are effectively magical doctors, some rely on contracted spirits who are capable of studying the patient in greater detail than a human could, some don't actually heal them to begin with but use something akin to a curse to transmute the patient into a healthy form and some use the patient's soul as a blueprint to reconstruct them.

5) Curses and other magical ailments will fight back against healing magic. It's entirely possible that no healing magic will work on a wound if its sufficiently cursed.
 
The healers perform pretty much how a normal doctor would, but with the assistance of magic.
^ I think I mentioned that my healing magic system is pretty much this type of setup - it is not a cure all, but more like modern day doctors, but because mine is set in a historical style setting, magic solves problems rather than modern science, with a few magical extras. I find working within those restriction more realistic - is it boring? It’s a key part of my story, and I’ve gone for a more narrative style, so perhaps that is boring to some, but my main character becomes a healing mage and so it’s pretty important and pivotal to the plot.
 

pmmg

Myth Weaver
I don't know shonen, but perhaps the combat magic is more engaging because there is a opponent compete against. And the contest is to see who's kung-fu is better than who's.

How would I translate that to healing? Healing would have to be matched up against some difficulty, and so they need to grow beyond, or surpass it.

Maybe the healers are targets for the opposing side, and if they begin healing, they are likely attacked. To overcome the opposition, they have to have some defense which gets worn away at during the healing process. So...healing makes them vulnerable, gives them stress, and they have to overpower things directed at them to succeed at it.

I suppose I might add, none of the combat magic or healing magic is interesting on its own. It has to be in the context of what it means to the story and characters to matter. Other wise its just a light show, and yawn.
 
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I don't know shonen, but perhaps the combat magic is more engaging because there is a opponent compete against. And the contest is to see who's kung-fu is better than who's.

How would I translate that to healing? Healing would have to be matched up against some difficulty, and so they need to grow beyond, or surpass it.

Maybe the healers are targets for the opposing side, and if they begin healing, they are likely attacked. To overcome the opposition, they have to have some defense which gets worn away at during the healing process. So...healing makes them vulnerable, gives them stress, and they have to overpower things directed at them to succeed at it.

I suppose I might add, none of the combat magic or healing magic is interesting on its own. It has to be in the context of what it means to the story and characters to matter. Other wise its just a light show, and yawn.
Duly noted on that last point. I don't really have any "healer" characters in mind which is probably something I should fix. Right now I'm just creating the move sets that the healers will use. Powers reflecting the user is one of the best tools a writer has in their toolbox! I really should be more character-oriented rather than World-oriented when I design my powers.
 

pmmg

Myth Weaver
Well...You have to give the story what it needs. And if your's needs a healer, then in they must go.

In my own story, there is very little in the way of healing magic. I am not sure, I think only one character has been able to do it, and its a small issue as to why they don't do it more often for so many who could use it. The answer is, cause they are not called in the world to be healer, and that would be a waste of their truer purpose. I do suppose there are characters who could also do it, but they would be more people who can use the magic, than just be healers, per se. There is no actual healer as a class or occupation, least not one that also means...those people over there are the ones you go to for magic healing.
 

Miles Lacey

Maester
In many areas in the world of my WIP mages who use healing magic and doctors who use modern medical science compete for customers. Mages claim that modern medical science is a fraud. Doctors claim that magic is unable to cope with the health needs of a modern society. Both groups even indulge in contests to prove that their form of healing is the best. Sometimes these contests can have serious consequences if taken too far.
 

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
I grew up in a medical family, and my mom was not only an author, she and my dad had been first responders (how they met), and then he reenlisted in the Navy and went medicine instead of computer science - it was an option in the mid-70's - and between her becoming a hospital office administrator and him first doing things he couldn't talk about with us (but did anyway because my dad), I ended up growing up in ER's and base dispensaries and getting comfortable and familiar with that hospital smell.

So, when one of our MC's for our current series spawned, it was natural that she was going to be a wizard. And a trauma surgeon. And an addict. She heals through practical knowledge and experience, and she is also a potion master of great talent.

One of our other MC's turned out to be a touch-healer, and he's about to start pre-med.

The thing I recommend most, the very most, about writing healing well is to do your homework. In our first in series, the wizard trauma surgeon performs an emergency tracheotomy on a muddy battlefield with a ball-point pen from her bag, and a scalpel and a bottle of alcohol, also from her bag. I admit, I had hax. I called my parents and bounced the scene off of them. But, I can't do that anymore, so now it's on me to find my research materials on my own. And now, from my library to yours...

I just found this author not too long ago. She is a physician and a writer and she does a really nice job of breaking things down and making them clear for the perhaps not-so-medically minded of us. This is just one of hers, and most appear to be available on KU.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BL1TWVDD/

There are also social media groups that can be helpful. One of my favorites is a FB group called Trauma Fiction. It's fairly large and active as well as being supportive. Log into Facebook

YouTube. Also a good resource, but not for the faint of heart. If you think you can handle it, I'd check it out.

As to the question of how to make it exciting. How do you make a sword fight exciting? A dragon ride? They're exciting. So is medicine. Maybe even more so, because with all the blood and struggle, no matter how good your healer is, some things just go wrong, and some things just can't be fixed. Risk. It's what makes conflict work.
 
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