On the profitability of healing

I have been looking at playing a battlefield medic from The League, now turned to private physick. It made sense in my head, but then I realised that there is an in-game hospital which is basically an NHS for Anvil. I should make two points here before I continue; I am a big fan of the NHS and I can see how the hospital is an excellent roleplaying opportunity.

Now the issue here is that The League encourages you to keep score, to remember that everything has a price. At some point, maybe I will heal an important person, a senator or a general, but it’s more likely that an established chirurgeon will gently move everyone else aside to steal the glory give the VIP the best chance of survival.

As a player, I’m not one for personal glory, but I just wondered how a League ‘dottore’ would make a living in Anvil. I’m mostly in it for the RP, but part of that means working out why my character is doing what he is doing.

So, to conclude: nobody will pay for healing, nobody ever remembers the healer if Empire is anything like other big LRPs, battlefield healing uses up resources (herbs or mana) if you want to do it in a hurry, nobody has any incentive to pay for healing, and a doctor has got to make a living.

This is similar to the problem of Mercenaries in LRP, which has been written about at some length before (I’m sure @Mark_Wilkin can find a link to some of MattP’s comments) - in short, when a thing is fun to do and people want to use their skills, it’s very hard to charge for the service.

The best option is probably to look at cultivating very focused personal relationships. Some rich individuals might only want to be treated by their private physician to reduce risks, or because they particularly enjoy your bedside manner. Distinctive style or role-play may help, as could careful advertising.

One player spent a while as a League doctor focusing on psychological treatment - you might get your physical wounds treated by whoever, but Espelho would then be there to handle counselling services and so on. It’s less of the classic medic role-play, but was really a nice demonstration of an interesting niche for a private physician to work in (having some priestly or magical skills is a helpful feature).

Another thing to do could be to consider your activities at Anvil largely as advertising - your character exists outside it, after all, and is only there for a fortnight per year at most. So perhaps they could primarily treat people in order to build reputation and profile, and trust to that to bring in greater income ‘over the season’. There’s not going to be many doctors in Sarvos who can put the Empress on their Satisfied Patient list…

One final idea is to look at charging for express services of some type. Some units might be willing to pay out for a doctor to follow them around on the battlefield and provide direct healing support, for example.

Overall, though, it’s not the easiest thing to do. That doesn’t mean it’s not recommended as a general goal, but I would be very hesitant to try and play a character who would never treat a broken leg without first taking coin. That seems like a route to disappointment.


It’s an interesting thought. I played a healer in Dawn, and the simplest way there was “I’m going to be patching you up, give me the money/resources to do so!” Although that’s helped by the nobles of Dawn not paying too much attention to money.

You could suppose that Anvil represents an extreme case. Most of the year, you could be quite carefully charging a ring or two to everyone who can afford it, or collecting favours, or even serving an invoice for your services afterwards. At Anvil, it’s all very fast and horribly important. It’s an emergency situation, and you can sort out the cost of it afterwards.

Perhaps you could keep careful track of who you’ve healed and from what (notebooks for the win)? And use that as a basis for asking for favours, introductions, or considerations from important Leaguers? Or you could guilt them into paying? “How much was your life worth?”

You could even try the virtue arguement, on the basis of Prosperity and Vigilance? “I healed you to continue fighting, can you restock me so that I can do so again?”

Oooh, good points Tea.


I’d agree with much of that, and yes with the hospital and Nations like Dawn/Navarr/The Orcs kicking around actually making a profit from healing is incredibly difficult.

People don’t remember healers, however I will contest, you wouldn’t get those established chirurgeons that you are complaining about stealing the VIP’s if people didn’t remember the healers. Becoming one of them/competing with them, that is your motivation.

So three of the 5 things about the leauge 1,4 and 5
“Life is competition, and someone is always keeping score. Citizens of The League love to compete in everything they do.
Coin counts, and everything costs. This is a land of conspicuous consumption where wealth is power and nothing worth having is free.
Everything is on show, like a mask on your face. Bold, flamboyant action is the best way to publicise yourself and your services, but nobody confuses the mask with the real thing.”

So suggestion: Anvil isn’t where you make ‘your living’, I mean surviving is completely below the abstraction layer in the setting no matter how badly you do at Anvil your character won’t starve, and you will still have your income of 18 rings 14 herbs.

What you take to Anvil are resources you are investing in your reputation, it’s publicity, advertising. Anvil is home to the heroes of the empire, so if you establish yourself as one of the best doctors in Anvil, you establish yourself as one of the best doctors. Think of the prestige (and thus the between game customers) you gain by being the physician to the Senator of Holberg, or having treated the Empress herself. You can gain favour with Imperial generals, or become regarded by the Anvil hospital as the expert on X.

Screw the making a profit through healing, you will probably fail and it will impact on your opportunities for fun. Trying to be the best physik in the game, however, even if you fail, you fail doing the bit of the game you probably enjoy

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As requested Matt P’s ramble about mercenaries :slight_smile: .

Also to underline @tea’s point, I know at least one other player who styled themselves as an alienist and managed to get some work doing counselling for people, including the Lineaged worried about their “tendency towards specific kinds of madness”. They did it just with talking to people, no skills used at all. But I can certainly see anointing being incredibly useful in that kind of work, pastoral care and dealing with PTSD and the like. Becoming someone’s personal physician and making a consultation “an experience” might help build a relationship too.

There is also the idea that we’re all “heroes” in Anvil doing our bit to defend the Empire, in the League’s case you can swing that as “paying off the debt incurred by the retaking of Holberg” specially if you’re from Holberg.

But yeah I think you’re doing well if you get people to cover your expenses as healers, let along make a profit. It comes down to building a relationship with the folk you’re healing and then I suspect following them onto and off the field chasing other healers away from your patron :smiley:.

If I were in it for the money, I would be a crafter. What does a healer need money for? Buy more herbs? I see only one magical item useful for healers, so profits would just go toward weapons and big hats with brightly-coloured feathers.

Tea raises an interesting point though; this is not the first time I have played a healer and my other healers did like to either specialise or diversify. It sounds like there’s already an alienist, but I did once play a healer in a MUSH who had an obsession with triage and exploring new approaches to trauma medicine. It must be said that he lived in a world where death was more of an inconvenience and so he could afford to accidentally kill his patients, safe in the knowledge that it only took a few days for the court mortician to get them back on their feet.

Having played a rather mercantile league surgeon, I did it in a couple of ways:

  1. Attempting to remember who I’d healed on the battlefield
  2. Using healing as an excuse to introduce myself and advertise the acting troupe I was part of
  3. If appropriate, getting patients to buy me a drink if seeing them in a bar later.

Physicianing is a really good excuse to get involved in people’s lives, and I’d recommend doing things like going round camps and checking up on patients, etc to get the most use out of it.

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So… Visit later, just to ‘check up on’ your patient and in no way to remind them that they literally owe you their lives and/or limbs? And if you just so happen to reclaim your bandages (which so often go missing) then that’s a bonus.

Also, any scam legitimate roleplaying interaction which may result in free alcohol is just genius…


And contacts. Don’t forget contacts. You’d be amazed how many lives you touch over the course of a year as a combat healer… (“Is this your life? What the hell have you done to it?! Oh a big Jotun did this and ran off… a likely story…”)

At my (physick) characters funeral, it sounded like half the Lords of Dawn stood around my body and said: “I would not be here today were it not for the work of this man…” “Nor I.” “Nor I.” “Tis true, me as well” “Aye, me and many of my knights…”

You may not have a great deal of overt power and influence, but if you walk into a room where you’ve saved the lives of most of those there, your chances of getting that favour are pretty good.

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What Geoff said. My first Marcher PC became Gatekeeper off the back of his medical roleplay. He solved a bunch of traumatic wounds and magical problems for the then-cardinal and got known as her preferred physick. he then got recruited into the Synod because she needed a Gatekeeper and disliked most of her Assembly who weren’t League.

That character specialised in charging ahead of the lines in heavy armour and starting work on casualties before the Imperial advance had actually caught up. There are a lot of physicks and wizards on a battlefield, but I tried to stand out by taking a very aggressive approach. Up to the point of starting RP of dragging someone back from the lines when they’d only taken a STRIKEDOWN :stuck_out_tongue: . What helped this was wearing a big bright obvious livery coat in my Household colours, both as advertising and so they could find me again after I’d run off to stabilise someone.

Outside of battles, I always asked for my herbs or payment for any assistance, and tended to push for more cash out of Freeborn and League PCs because trade was their big deal.

I do play mercenary surgeon in the league. The way rp it with my group is i make sure every one is fit and healthy before battles, I tend to take the water with me. I have the company provide me with herbs for the use of the unit.
I also have a plan to try and sell my services as a merc for skirmishes. The cost to be:
Replacement of herbs used and 20 rings.
For that they get a heavy halberdier who is also a brilliant surgeon.

Edit: I guess if more people insisted on getting reimbursed their consumables back the surgeons could be less of a money sink. I’m lucky that my group understands that they can fight better and harder because I work so close the the front lines, that if one goes down I can have them back on their feet asap.

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I do like to be on the front lines, even if I am more of a duellist than a soldier. Perhaps I can hire myself out as a skirmisher / medic for those small-unit engagements (what others may uncharitably call ‘espionage’ or ‘ambushing’) where you can’t take a true non-com, but are past the enemy lines and therefore not able to retreat to the field hospital in a hurry.

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Yup, this is my thought as well. I am going to see if i can rustle up a reputation for it.

League Healer here (specifically, medical student at Diora University, so filing a lot of what I’m doing with the hospital as part of The Expense Of A Good Education, given the access it gives me to the heroes of Anvil who are arguably the cream of their respective crops)

It’s worth remembering that ‘Reckoning’ isn’t necessarily money; if you go as far as keeping a Ledger of who you’ve healed (which would be awesome) you know who you can leverage later…


I played a healer in the brass coast, where my group tied recipts to the armour of those we healed encourage them to refund our resources or buy us a drink after the battle. People rarely turned up, but they often remembered us later from the tags and it helped with trading.


As a new player, i dont know if this would work, but do you reckon you could charge players for basic “lessons” in healing and the like? I know that part of my character development is her trying to train as a physick, perhaps other players are in the same scenario. Maybe an opportunity for cash and RP plot?

On teaching healing for a profit, the problem is the supply of people who would be willing to do something like this for free. (One of my potential next character concepts is basically Urizen magic tutor, and I’d probably be doing it for free.)

To succeed with this, you would need something that really sets you apart from the crowd, or a greater time commitment, and doing it well might require more than one person. Although Holly does tours of Anvil, for IC money so such an idea isn’t impossible.

The simpler solution would be healing lessons and produce a few good leaflets or guides that you could sell afterwards.

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I was more thinking League culture than OoC greed. I see that the hospital is a major part of Anvil culture, so there’s no profit to be had in terms of rings and crowns, but I have a much better idea now of how I can be true to both my character’s desire to heal the infirm and League cultural assumptions.

Now I just need to get some business cards made…

Take the model of the Brass Coast and stick a business card into a pocket of whomever you heal:

“You have been saved from death or horrible crippling injuries by AnthonyHJ! If you have any lingering aftereffects, or have further call on my services, find me in the League! Reccomend me to your friends! I saved your life, it might save theirs!”

This, oh so much this. Idea stolen. I can also do flyers for the kaiser sausage factory, “If you can eat one of these, No orc can knock you down” or
“Kaiser sausage, Now with named meat” and other more ribald slogans.

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