I have characters with ice powers. I was planning that they could freeze an injury and prevent it from progressing. An arrow is shot at their heart, but I could possibly change the location to make the situation more probable.

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    $\begingroup$ Depends. Freezing will rupture millions of cell walls with ice crystals, which might be just as damaging as the arrow. Freezing parts of the lungs will reduce oxygenation of the blood, which might lead to brain damage. If the arrow is coming from behind, freezing the spinal column is also mighty bad. Folks who have had it will tell you that freezing flesh can be excruciating. Not a great thing to do to a friend...or to yourself. $\endgroup$ – user535733 May 14 at 1:13

Unless you use a healthy dose of story telling Magic, No.

The heart is constantly moving and pumping blood through out your body. Freezing something that needs to move isn't going to work. It also doesn't help that your blood will likely freeze, causing the water in it to expand into ice crystals which will tear up your blood vessels as your heart tries to pump it through your system. You would also be dropping your core body temperature since you are literally freezing your heart.

So realistically. No.

But with good story telling, you never know. Maybe the arrow just missed the heart, you could certainly use some ice to freeze it in place to make sure it doesn't shift around and cause more harm. Or maybe you created a tiny ice shield in front of your heart that stopped the arrow from piercing it (which you then quickly removed).

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    $\begingroup$ My first concern here would be frostbite - seems like that would also be the character's concern immediately after freezing a portion of their body. Unless the character is immune to cold and/or frostbite. The ice not doing much for woulds is probably the next thing where this idea seems bad. However, I could see it working if it's about trying to seal a would. Also, only if the character's body won't suffer ill effects from the cold. So it can probably help prevent bleeding out but it's not a "cure all" (heh). $\endgroup$ – VLAZ May 14 at 14:41

High heat can cauterize (think "weld") a wound. Ice can only immobilize — at a price

Any temperature outside the range of what the body wants to experience is damaging. To much heat and you burn. Too much cold... well, we call that "burning," too (freezer burn). But where heat will solidify the fluids around a wound (cauterization) such that the body can return to room temperature and not bleed, cold cannot.

And it's that solidification process that's the problem. sure, enough heat (or heat over a long enough period of time) will solidify the flesh, too (known as "cooking"). But cold doesn't have the benefit of staying solid at room temperature, which means it must be kept cold, and all the surrounding flesh with it. And it doesn't help that the body generates its own heat, which is constantly in conflict with the ice, so you must constantly keep reinforcing the ice.

So, staunching a wound is kinda out of the question (unless you can be really, really, really precise with the application of the ice!). But, what could you do? Frankly, anything a split can do. For example, if you're dealing with a broken leg, an ice cast could be formed around the leg (especially if clothing is left in place) to immobilize the leg.

You can also assist with medical treatment. For example, it's common to lower body temperature during cardiac surgery. Ice would be a dramatic but useful tool for that purpose (if carefully controlled, of course).

But, to help with, say, a knife wound? Not really an option. Think about how it would feel if the hot knife used in an emergency to cauterize a wound was left on the body and always had the same, heated temperature. The damage and pain would be amazing. Ice would have the same problem.


If you want to use ice powers to stop a wound, freezing the wound isn't an option. But cryopreservation is. Freezing wounds isn't really a good method for healing them, but it is a good method to stop cellular decay. If someone suffers a fatal wound, immediately dropping their body tempature to around 35 degrees Farenheit will be helpful. Sure, it kills the man, but it delay things like the four-minute mark to permanent brain damage.

Lower than that is freezing. And once you freeze cells, that's a lot of completely irreversible damage. That said, the wounded person is still dead once you drop the core tempature that low, because the human body wasn't meant to come back from tempatures that low.

On the flip side, if there's healing magic (or, as per Clarke's Third Law, technology) that can regenerate limbs, or something of that nature, than a person deep on ice like that can be revived, because the brain isn't dead.


Maybe, depending on how your magic system works. If you're literally using ice, probably not. However, if you're using more metaphorical associations of ice to conjure up some form of slowness or stasis magic, then it might be possible to do so. You might also be able to use ice's associations with slipperiness to make the arrow glance off.


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