11 December 2009

The Four Humors

The first concept for the game was to base it on the four humors.

Humour Season Element Organ Qualities Ancient name Modern MBTI Ancient characteristics
Blood spring air liver warm & moist sanguine artisan SP courageous, hopeful, amorous
Yellow bile summer fire gall bladder warm & dry choleric idealist NF easily angered, bad tempered
Black bile autumn earth spleen cold & dry melancholic guardian SJ despondent, sleepless, irritable
Phlegm winter water brain/lungs cold & moist phlegmatic rational NT calm, unemotional

Each skill in the game would be associated with a different humor and using that skill would cost the character one point of that humor. Based on the outcome of the skill test the character would receive one point in another humor. For example, if Mike's character Miccilino was attempting to break into the vault of his nemesis Sesimurdo to steal back his invention. For the moment lets assume that the skill associated with lock picking is Phlegm (just 'cuz) the character would loose a point of Phlegm. If he succeeds he gets a point of Sanguine and if he fails he gets a point of Melancholic.

At no time did I want to "make" the players or the characters act out the humors. Rather, I wanted the humors to show the relative ability of the character to perform certain tasks based on the humors.

The point was that after every scene the character would have gone into conflict spent a point of one humor based on whatever skill the player chose to use and received a point of another based on the outcome. The thinking behind this was to drive players to move from using the same skills all of the time making the characters seem less typecast.

At this point I have no idea what the numbers would be, if you can spend or receive more than one point in a conflict, whether the points can go to zero or lower. I just want the capacity to be there to use this cool system of thought to give the game part of its otherworldly feel.

while researching I found this odd bit on Wikipedia:
Fahråeus (1921), a Swedish physician who devised the erythrocyte sedimentation rate, suggested that the four humours were based upon the observation of blood clotting in a transparent container. When blood is drawn in a glass container and left undisturbed for about an hour, four different layers can be seen. A dark clot forms at the bottom (the "black bile"). Above the clot is a layer of red blood cells (the "blood"). Above this is a whitish layer of white blood cells (the "phlegm", now called the buffy coat). The top layer is clear yellow serum (the "yellow bile").
Which I think would be an excelent addition to the science of the day. Doctors can perform a simple blood test and determine your relative levels of each of the humors. Just color but the sort of thing that science would do for them.

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