Leeches come from a number of related medical professions, Apothecaries, Barbers, Herbalists and Physicians. For one reason or another, these healers have set out on their own to learn how better to practice their craft. They do research, take notes and have formed an odd brotherhood of fellow healers. Despite the name, not all leeches drain blood, though this is often considered a worthy endeavor.
In Voidjammer, Leeches are highly prized as ships surgeons, and are employable in any colony or region where ships come regularly to port, where disease is often a constant concern. Leeches often cooperate with Scientists and Magic Users in their research, but egos usually come into conflict at some point. Leeches and soldier-types (fighter, paladin, etc) are the most common allies, as the skills of a good doctor has saved many a soldiers life and limbs.
Leech-like characters are not often in the forefront of adventure stories, books and movies but they are usually very important when they show up. Urgl from The Neverending Story, the Albino from The Princess Bride, and Dr Terminus from Petes Dragon are all interesting and fun characters. Historically, a number of interesting medical characters turn up as well. Dr. Robert Knox (who didn't care where he got corpses for his anatomy classes), Doc Holiday from Wyat Earp, and any of the medical practitioners in Blood and Bone Alley in the wonderful book Matilda Bone are excellent examples of Leeches.
-Intelligence of 13+
-Padded and leather armor and bucklers
-Club, dagger, hammer, handaxe, sap and sickle
-Decipher Codes, Identify Specimens
Every leech gets into his profession from one of four backgrounds, chosen for the character at first level.
- APOTHECARY’S APPRENTICE: The apothecary’s apprentice gains experience compounding elixirs and tonics, and thus grants his patients an additional +1 bonus to saving throws versus disease and poison when providing care.
- BARBER’S APPRENTICE: A barber’s apprentice is skilled at Gathering Rumors and cutting hair.
- HERBALIST’S APPRENTICE: The herbalist’s apprentice is skilled at “Identifying Specimens”.
- MEDICAL STUDENT: The medical student spends time robbing graves and dissecting corpses to learn of their anatomy. They have a knack at Hiding in Shadows and Moving Silently.
All leech’s keep a leechbook, where he records his observations on medicinal herbs, diseases, poisons, animal and weapon wounds and anatomy. A leechbook is as vital to a leech as a spellbook is to a magic-user. Without his leechbook, a leech can only use his background abilities and leechcraft ability (see below). The book is usually a leather-bound volume with a common lock and 100 pages to be filled with notes, articles and dissertations.Each level a leech gains requires him to fill one page per level of his leechbook with notes. A 1st level leech begins his career with one page of notes. When he reaches 2nd level, he will have filled another two pages, for a total of three, and so on.
An adventuring leech can further improve his skills by writing scholarly articles and dissertations. Writing one of these pieces requires the leech to make a scholarship roll. A scholarship roll is a percentile roll, with the chances depending on what kind of piece the leech is writing.
Writing a scholarly article takes one week of undisturbed work in a comfortable environment, and fills five pages of the leechbook. A dissertation fills fifteen pages and requires 1 month of undisturbed writing in a comfortable environment.
SCHOLARLY ARTICLE: A scholarly tract covers a type of ailments from the following list: Disease, poison, wounds from animals (or monsters) and wounds from weapons. The percentile chance to
write an insightful article is equal to five times the leech’s level (maximum 95%). If successful, the leech gains a +2 bonus on chirurgery rolls to treat wounds of the appropriate type or his patients get an additional +2 bonus to save vs. poisons or diseases. If unsuccessful, the leech suffers the opposite until he gains an additional level, at which time he can tear up his old article and, at some point, attempt to write a new one.
DISSERTATION: Where an article covers a whole range of ailment, a dissertation is more specific. For example, a scholarly article might cover disease in general, while a dissertation covers mummy rot in particular, or axe wounds or the wound patterns of an owlbear, the poison of a wyvern or the leech can write about a specific piece of anatomy, such as the human eye or ear.
For a leech to write a dissertation, it must have encountered and studied his subject first hand. The percentile chance to write a successful dissertation is equal to the leech’s level. If successful, the leech gains a +3 bonus to treat the condition covered by the dissertation. If unsuccessful, he suffers the opposite until he gains an additional level, at which time he can tear up his old dissertation and attempt to write a new one.
LEECHCRAFT: The leech is studied and practiced in “leechcraft”, i.e. first aid and general medicine.
When an injury is severe, the leech must turn to chirurgery. A chirurgery roll is made on the turn undead chart, though instead of rolling against the Hit Dice of the undead to be turned, the chirurgeon is rolling against the number of six-sided dice of healing he is trying to impart to his patient. If the roll is unsuccessful, the leech instead inflicts 1d6 points of additional damage to the patient. Chirurgery takes 1 turn per dice of healing and requires the use of leech’s tools.
PRECISE STRIKE: A leech armed with a dagger can make precise strikes against an opponent’s anatomy, provided he has studied that anatomy. Assume that all leeches are familiar with the anatomy of their own race plus two other humanoid races at first level. A leech activates this ability by accepting a -3 penalty to hit in combat in exchange for dealing double damage with a successful hit. In essence, the leech has to wait longer for an opening because he is looking to strike a few specific spots. When he does, the damage is more devastating. In a game that doubles damage for a “critical hit”, the leech using his precise strike ability gets to triple his damage on a critical hit.
HOSPITAL: At 9th level, a leech can choose to establish a hospital in a town and gain followers. A leech with a hospital attracts 1d6 0-level students per leech level, 1d6 first level leeches who wish to train under him and one 5th level protégé.
GATHER RUMORS (WILL + CHA MODIFIER)
This task involves gathering rumors in cities, towns and villages about the settlement, the surrounding wilderness and potential opportunities for adventure.
DIFFICULTIES: Small settlement (towns count as one difficulty, villages and strongholds as two difficulties), xenophobic people, attempting to gather rumors in a place other than a tavern or the
like, attempting to gather rumors without spending a few gold pieces for drinks and bribes.
FAILURE: No rumors are obtained. The adventurer can try again the next day, though after three unsuccessful attempts it should be apparent that either nobody knows anything of value, or that
the locals simply are not interested in talking.
KNACK: Half-Elves, Reigar
SKILLED: Bard, Barber (Leech Apprentice)
IDENTIFY SPECIMEN (WILL + INT MODIFIER)
This task covers a general knowledge of animal and plant life, including monsters. An identify specimen check permits a character to recall one specific fact about a creature or plant they have encountered. If seeking information about a monster, the player must specifically request one of the following data points:
Hit Dice, Armor Class, Movement Rate, Attacks and Damage, Special Attacks, Special Defenses or Special Abilities (each ability counting as a separate fact).
FAILURE: The adventurer does not know the information, and any additional task check they wish to make to recall different information about the same specimen is made at a -2 penalty.