In my story queen Caitlin is inspired by many "cruel" real queens of Chinese, African and European history. She has a strong sadistic pleasure in seeing other humans suffer.

But most importantly a strong belief that people need a punishment that will leave scars as to remind the transgressors of their punishment everytime they look into a mirror and it makes her victi-ehm.... Punished criminals into living proof of what happens to whoever doesn't follow the holy law of the glorious and righteous queen.

For this reason Caitlin skins every criminal from the head down to the kneecaps leaving criminals with muscle, fat and veins exposed.

From personal experience I know that skin when removed is completely regen-uhmm.... Replaced with a thickened and harder scar tissue which is almost completely insensible to any form of pain.

So the idea that people skinned alive would replace their lost skin with new tissue is not too far off.

Now there's a problem, how does the Queen make sure that the criminals don't die right off the bat and maybe at least a few of them survive and go back to their lives?

Caitlin believes that the beauty of life is suffering, pain and despair but she is horrified by the concept of death and disgusted by it, she doesn't.... Well she tries to not kill anyone and when she does kill someone, she usually ends up puking and having nightmares for various nights.

This is why it's really important that the skinned alive criminals survive.

This is also important for creating a new social caste in my story made of people inferior to slaves who are marked by their own skin or lack of.


The nation still follows ancient cultures, and the average citizen lacks electricity and other modern commodities but modern technology is known and available to the richest caste.

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    $\begingroup$ First things first: you were right about the gruesome content. :) Second, I think the major causes of death in such a case is blood loss and mental trauma from the pain. So, find a way to mitigate those and you'll be fine! $\endgroup$
    – pg4919
    May 13, 2020 at 22:39
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    $\begingroup$ Healing that much skin is very difficult without a lot of magic. Even modern medical treatment finds this difficult. $\endgroup$
    – NomadMaker
    May 13, 2020 at 22:44
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    $\begingroup$ What technological and theoretical level is Her Magesty's alchemy/medicine/witchcraft/herbcraft at? $\endgroup$ May 13, 2020 at 22:45
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    $\begingroup$ since you want the victim to suffer guess you cant use pain killer then? though maybe other drug can help, also after skinning do the queen let them be naked, or bandage them, or covered them with fire,salt,alcohol,honey,spice,herb or modern medicine to dry up the wound and disinfect them? maybe put them in lower/colder temperature too, but iam not sure do their sweat gland still work or not. outside of the painkiller the rest can give more extra painful even to a big guy assuming they survive the skinning first. $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    May 14, 2020 at 6:17
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    $\begingroup$ after that give them blood transfusion if they lose alot of blood in the process and lot of drink, maybe that can help. $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    May 14, 2020 at 6:56

4 Answers 4


Reality Check = FAIL

In addition to the risk of massive infection from removing the entire skin of a person, there will, of course, result too much bleeding & loss of moisture from the body. These aren't good things, and her guests will die far too quickly and never survive to form scars or even memories of their time with queen Caitlin!

So, she needs to learn finesse. To that end, we'll introduce her to the PNEUMATIC DERMATOME:

enter image description here

This is a fully adjustable device, allowing the torturer to remove swathes of skin about 1 to four inches wide and up to 5 mm thick or so. The device itself will satisfy Caitlin's basest desires, as it will torture her victims on multiple levels:

  1. Psychological: the instrument itself looks brutal. It's basically a heavy razor designed to give a really close shave. It requires assembly. With the penitent onlooking, the torturer can spend time engaging with her assistants, instructing them on width of stripe to be removed as well as depth at which to set the blade angle. The blade must be placed within the device and a heavy metal guard must be placed over it and screwed into place. The blade & guard can be slowly shown for the penitent to examine and ponder. Once assembled, the handle must be plugged into an air supply tank and tested. Being a pneumatic device, it is quite loud and sure to startle the first time penitent! Repeat customers will be able to relive the horrors visited upon them the last time they heard that characteristic sound!

  2. Physiological: This device only removes a limited amount of the very uppermost layer of skin. Bleeding is kept to a minimum because the deeper subcutaneous vessels are not damaged. The stripes thus removed will eventually heal, leaving the penitent with scars to remind them of their visit to her majesty's facilities. The penitent is unlikely to die of any immediate complications of the procedure. Blood loss & fluid loss are minimal.

    The procedure is slow, so do allow the penitent to savour the experience! Technic is also of utmost importance. First time users invariably skive too deeply or just skim the surface. Stretch the skin a bit and aim for a long clean ribbon of skin to be removed!

  3. Pain: No question about it, this procedure will hurt like a son of a gun. If you've ever gotten a paper cut or nicked yourself shaving, it's just like that only about a million times worse, because this device is designed to loudly slice your skin off millimetre after excruciating millimetre. At about 2 mm per second, in order to offer an enhanced experience, a knee to face procedure of about 5 feet in length is 762 seconds of the most exquisite agony the queen can offer her penitents!

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    $\begingroup$ Glory to the Queen! And I am 100% sure that torturer and torture assistant will be a mixed bag in said society. On one hand, they directly execute the Queen's will, which is by definition righteous and just, but on the other hand, do you want to sit next to the man who earned his drink by skinning your neighbor? $\endgroup$
    – MechMK1
    May 14, 2020 at 10:46
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    $\begingroup$ @MechMK1 -- History teaches us that folks get along very well with society's butchers. They just have to close their eyes! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    May 14, 2020 at 11:31
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    $\begingroup$ From what I can recall from my historical knowledge, executioners always lived outside towns or villages and were generally not seen as part of society. I could be wrong though. In that case, I'd love to be corrected. $\endgroup$
    – MechMK1
    May 14, 2020 at 11:32
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    $\begingroup$ @MechMK1 - Depends on the society, I suppose! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    May 14, 2020 at 11:38
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    $\begingroup$ I only know of medieval Europe. It could of course be that Caitlin's monarchy has been indoctrinated long enough to view torturers as saints who punish the sinners who refuse to see the light and righteous judgement of Queen Caitlin. In that case, torturer would most likely be a profession that is first and foremost hereditary, and only on very rare occasions new torturers would be appointed. $\endgroup$
    – MechMK1
    May 14, 2020 at 11:40

yeah, no

I already knew that the skin was important, especially for protecting your from external pathogens and etc, but after searching a bit I just realized what should be obvious: your skin is a very vital organ, has a fair amount of blood vessels, helps you to maintain your body temperature, protects you from the environment overall and is FULL of nerves, which is why you have sensibility. This link will be able to tell you much better than me exactly how it works and how it's like for the victim to be skinned alive.

So summing up: can you flay someone and expect them to survive? Yes, if you have some good healing magic at your disposal or if the victim happens to have high grade plot armor. Otherwise, if the intense blood loss, hypothermia, and what would be severe trauma and shock somehow don't kill the person, the several infections caused by the exposure of muscles, fat and other tissues to the outside environment will do the job.

So let's assume that you really, REALLY need to do some kind of flaying as a punishment. Could it be done? Maybe, if instead you only remove small bits of skin and not the entirety of it, while also leaving some dermal layers left, it might be possible. Notice that depending on size of the wounds the victim might need medical help if you want them to stay alive. Additionally, you could make it a long term process, by removing bits from various parts, giving some time for the body to handle each wound before inflicting another one, so that you don't give the victim's immune system more problems than it can handle. If you're successful, you'll have a punishment that hurts quite a lot. And tthough I can't assure you that there'll be physical marks to tell the story, I can guarantee you that there will be psychological ones. Additionally, you could make the whole process public, to remind the masses every once in a while what happens when you disobey: long, painful, years-long sentences; but ones that get delivered in portions you can handle without dying, because the queen does know mercy at times.

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    $\begingroup$ This. All the damage at once? Death. Damage over many months of skin peeling? Doable. There’s a reason Romans limited the number of lashes... $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    May 13, 2020 at 23:19
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    $\begingroup$ The Queen likes your way of thinking. $\endgroup$
    – user75689
    May 13, 2020 at 23:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Kyu and I liked both your questions. Regarding your other one, I'd recommend a Japanese comic called "the promised neverland" for reference. Though the "farmers" aren't aquatic, it does exploit the idea of farming humans and containing revolutions fairly well, as well as dealing with matters such as "stress affects how the meat tastes, so more expensive food is raised unaware of their fate as cattle". Just a heads up. Welcome to Worldbuilding SE. $\endgroup$ May 13, 2020 at 23:31

Quite gruesome indeed, however, it is not really plausible for a variety of reasons. Other answers have brought up some of the many difficulties associated with surviving such massive trauma, such as infection, blood lose and hypothermia. However, I'd like to point out another, more pressing reason that such a procedure would likely always result in (relatively rapid) death...

And that would be shock, or more precisely distributive shock, including septic shock. The massive onset of infection coupled with the massive trauma resulting from the removal of the cutaneous and subcutaneous tissues and would result in rapid and sustained loss of blood pressure leading to organ failure and lack of circulation to the brain; which in turn would likely cause death within hours, even if sufficient blood were maintained in the unfortunate criminal.

This sort of cause of death is often seen in other similar cases involving massive damage to the skin organ, such as in burn victims. Even without sufficient blood loss or the time for infection to take its toll, death may result from shock first.


Removing skin from living being opens way to microbes, infection and even flesh eating bacteria, so its unlikely for even toughest person survive reasonable time with skin removed

If queen's Caitlin desire is to make people suffer, have marks, but be alive, why not make them suffer in little different way?

Use your favourite seach engine to find "scarification" and "body modifications" (and it can be REALY CRUESOME CONTENT!!!).

And you can see what people willingly do with themselves and get inspiration what queen Caitlin can order her executioners to perform with criminals.

For example, removing nose, ears and other face mutilations are painful, but if done properly (aka using disinfectants and clean surgical instruments) they are not fatal, but this procedures really leaves mark - both scars on face and soul.

Or tattoos. Various criminal subcultures has different tattoos, and some of them are made as punishment for person who wears it.