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I'm running a tabletop RPG and out of rules convenience I just made it so any injury that isn't fatal or very serious, such as losing a limb, will naturally heal within a day or so. Now this hasn't really come up so far but I feel like this should come up and I have a feeling that this would have some, if not significant, impact on a setting.

The question more specifically can be stated as such: In the course of a narrative that isn't strictly about society and culture or the daily humdrum of life but merely one that takes place next to it, what resulting factors from the above scenario are significant enough to bleed into the narrative?

As for some relevant details, the rest of the setting is low to mid fantasy, medieval technology and magic. The regeneration is entirely powered by magic and you can ignore things such as the how and why of it, it simply works.

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  • $\begingroup$ Does the magic cover diseases/infections, too? Having that sort of regeneration would seem to imply greater disease immunity. $\endgroup$ – Midwinter Sun Nov 7 '15 at 5:30
  • $\begingroup$ Also, do life-threatening injuries just not heal as quickly? Or is it only loss of limbs/eyes/fingers/noses that count? $\endgroup$ – Midwinter Sun Nov 7 '15 at 5:32
  • $\begingroup$ "Magic" may be a bit too handwavy; would, for instance, a disruption in this power result in numerous cancerous growths in the body? $\endgroup$ – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Nov 7 '15 at 5:53
  • $\begingroup$ Related, possibly even duplicate: If accelerated natural healing were to occur, what would happen to the human body? $\endgroup$ – a CVn Nov 7 '15 at 13:23
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling I don't think so. That one is about the human body and biology, this one is about magic and society. On that note, the tag "biology" should probably be switched out with "society." $\endgroup$ – Midwinter Sun Nov 7 '15 at 15:51
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There will probably be more people in general. Not dying of infection from these injuries probably implies that the magic will help take care of most diseases, which is often what killed people in the first place.

I'd be willing to bet that fewer women would die in childbirth. A quick jaunt across the internet (full disclosure: to a not necessarily reliable source, it's a blog) says that in medieval times, 1 in 50 women would die in childbirth. If people were generally healthier and healed faster, childbirth might be easier on the body. There might not be as many midwives. Infant mortality would probably be better, too, and more people would survive to adulthood.

Assuming I'm right about the fewer diseases, cities would be bigger, too. The Ghost Map is a semi-interesting high school reading assignment that explains the constant ebb and flow of population and sanitation. Right now, we can have big cities like New York because modern sanitation/health practices support populations that big. But London of the Victorian era – and certainly of the medieval era – just couldn't handle that large of a population. See: The Black Death… yes, yes, it's Wikipedia, but Europe was overpopulated before the Black Death. If you have a world where people are just generally sturdier, you can have bigger cities with less sanitation.

These cities might actually creep into your narrative. They might be hellish, crowded, and desperately lacking in infrastructure. Overpopulation could be a big issue. Imagine New York. Now Imagine New York without sewers or showers. (Now give everyone a -150 to their Constitution and make them roll a 20 or throw up immediately, because that is going to smell.)

Ah, yes. And speaking of stomachs, overpopulation may cause famine. This is an interesting article on the impact of overpopulation on modern society. Now add medieval agriculture and you're going to have some problems. One way this can manifest is by having food be overpriced whenever any of your players try to buy it.

As far as politics... well, political demography is actually a field of study. You might find some nations trying to implement one child or two child policies in order to cope with the fact that agriculture can't catch up. Or, given that these people have magic, you may find agriculture/technology making leaps and bounds more quickly than we did on Earth. Fewer fatalities means greater life expectancy, and thus a longer time to study, specialize, and innovate. You also may want to glance over this book, which basically explains how modern population growth affects politics. Essentially, more people means less representation. As a result, you may find early forms of socialism emerging in your country's politics... or it'll still be feudal.

EDIT: Two more things. People probably wouldn't need healers as often, but when they are needed, they'll be really needed badly. This might result in having to pay healers more, although they'll get paid less often. If you have a healer or some sort of priest in your adventuring party, they might be affected by this. Maybe a random encounter where someone's kid has a life threatening injury and their parent promises to pay a lot of gold?

Finally, sports. Extreme sports would be played much more often. An injury would be an inconvenience, not something that would permanently put you out of the game. Gladiator games and arena type sports might be more of a thing. And then, of course, culturally, these people probably wouldn't notice/care about pain to the extent that people here on Earth do. Rough-housing might be more common. It doesn't matter if you break your friend's nose/arm, they'll be fine tomorrow/next week, and they were being annoying. Physical injuries would be thought about less often. Truly severe ones would be profound.

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    $\begingroup$ I disagree--the population is no higher. Until modern times the population has been pretty close to the carrying capacity of the land (lacking good birth control death by malnutrition was the limiting factor) and regeneration wouldn't change that. $\endgroup$ – Loren Pechtel Jun 17 '17 at 3:14
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Physical torture/punishment would be more widespread and prolonged in a world where you could heal injuries within a day.

If the character were to capture someone / be captured torture would be more prolonged (and effective?)

Think along the lines of Prometheus, in eternal punishment, he is chained to a rock where his liver is eaten daily by an eagle. Being immortal, every night he heals. The next day, the same happens again.

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Wars will become much more common. One Duke can have his little tiff with another at a moment's notice and not have to worry about losing all of his farmers or his ability to defend against future attacks.

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Depending on the mechanism of the regeneration, it could potentially override the bodies normal aging process- i.e. when cells reproduce inaccurately the regeneration corrects for this, meaning nobody over the age of about 40 seems to get older, and people older than that seem to get younger. In essence, you've cured death.

This would of course have massive implications. Whether you want to embrace them and have a society of immortals, or just handwave it away is up to you.

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Option 1 is where the rule is clearly non-canon. In this case, the PCs don't actually heal that quickly and in the "real" story they spent much longer accomplishing things. But to make the story more fun the telling of the story glosses over the lengthy recoveries.

Of course, that makes other stuff no longer sensible. Like, how did the PCs kill three dragons in one summer if it took 6 months between kills to get their strength back? Well, they didn't. In fact, the PCs only killed one dragon, one of them was killed, two of them quit adventuring, and it took an army to take on the other dragons. But who cares? Story trumps logic here.

In essence, the magical healing only affects the PCs and it's explicitly a non-canon, out-of-universe plot gimmick because you and your players decided it was fun. So there's nothing to change in the setting, because it doesn't exist in-universe.

Option 2 is to make it canon, in-universe magic, but make it only affect the PCs (and possibly a few select NPCs). Perhaps the PCs are The Chosen Ones and the gods granted a boon upon their births. Perhaps when they met in that tavern in the first episode, an Old Man Who Is Really A Great Wizard cast a spell on them. Maybe it's a one-in-a-million thing, and the PCs actively sought others like them to form an adventuring group.

Regardless of exactly how it happened, there is precedent for it in-universe, but it's not generally important because almost nobody else has the same regeneration. The only place you'd really add it to the setting is if a certain bad guy needs to keep up with the PCs or something. Alternately, you could use it as a plot device for "the villagers decide to do experiments on your party to unlock the secrets of your regeneration" or similar. It could be tied to an artifact the PCs possess and need to guard.

Option 3 is to make it canon and commonplace. This is where you have to actually start worrying about the world-building aspects. Because constant regeneration means lots of things we are very concerned with would be nearly insignificant to normal people.

You'd need to flesh out the how and the why a bit more to get any good answers though. Do people still need to eat and drink? Do people get disease? Infection? Do they age normally? Is heart failure "injury" or "disease"? Where do you draw the line between "major" vs. "minor" injury? Can the magic be dispelled or prevented using other magic? Reversed to kill you faster? Does it exist literally everywhere, or just in certain parts of the world? What if they open a door to another dimension?

If most of those answers are pretty normal, then you might not have much difference at all. You won't really hear about the guy who lost his farm because he couldn't work all summer, nor are you likely to see a poor beggar whose back problems make him useless in the area, but those aren't really a huge part of most stories anyways.

On the other hand, if people pretty much never die, get sick, etc, it could drastically alter the basic mood of the setting. There would be a lot less of the dark, depressing, dystopian kinds of atmosphere and a lot more Meet the Rogers kinds of atmosphere. This could work for or against your campaign.

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One easiest to blend would be hospitals and medical practice in general. If things like deep cuts heals overnight and no one bothers, then:

  • There is a lesser need for medical people overall.
  • Cases they consider normal/easy ones would be pretty horrible to us.

So just show the village healer stitching someone up, telling him to rest for an hour and off you go to work. Make wound nicely serious - for our standards. And here you have nice introduction, straightforward enough for most readers, but not too obvious.

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Since regeneration of injuries etc. is about being able to recover from symptoms of "lack"/"incompleteness", (broken/missing limbs, wounds etc.), the new diseases in this world may swing to the opposite end - they will be diseases of exuberance. For example, "glitches" where characters may start re-growing 5-10 new limbs instead of 1 that would prevent them from functioning properly. For an excellent conceptual discussion of this distinction, see Oliver Sacks' "Awakenings".

Another twist is that such new ways of perceiving one's body may influence the way people think of time, i.e., time may speed up perceptually. This could lead to already long (eternal?) lives being dreaded, nothing coming to an end. Could result in a different kind of psychological disorders. Or new services - like VR or cryogenics holidays - the only way to give respite to your body and feel it mortal again.

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If humans alone had extended lives our perception of other animals would be changed.

Our identities would be less affected by temporary flux and more stable, but also quite possibly more unique in some exciting ways.

Childhood would be extended and education more appreciated due to the presence of a highly experienced workforce.

Homes would be further invested in.

Entertainment would flourish and many people would crave adventure, tired of such long continuity and seeing more things as banal.

Society might be more bound by tradition, though people would be more open to experimentation.

YOLO wouldn't have the same effect.

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