View Full Version : Battle Medicine - How Many Hands?

August 19th, 2019, 20:21
1.Does Battle Medicine require no hands to use, since none are specified for the feat's action?
2.Does Battle Medicine require 1 hand to use, since none are specified for the feat's action?
3.Does Battle Medicine require 2 hands to use, since the Treat Wounds for the Medicine skill require that and/or because the healer's tool requires 2?

August 19th, 2019, 20:27
I've asked this question myself, so far either 2 or 3 has been have been proposed as solutions. See e.g. here (https://paizo.com/threads/rzs42np3?Battle-Medicine-question).

3 is the stricter interpretation, 2 is sometimes also accepted. I haven't seen any GM go with 1 so far.

August 19th, 2019, 21:19
The way I play it is that you need healer's tools - every use of medicine in the Medicine skill (other than recall knowledge) requires healer's tools. And, healer's tools require 2 hands.

And the healer's tools state: "This kit of bandages, herbs, and suturing tools is necessary for Medicine checks to Administer First Aid, Treat Disease, Treat Poison, or Treat Wounds." OK, that doesn't specifically call out battle medicine, but the requirement for healer's tools is pretty much any practical (hands on) use of medicine.

The battle medicine skill feat has the manupulate trait, so that means it's using at least one hand. The manipulate trait is: "You must physically manipulate an item or make gestures to use an action with this trait. Creatures without a suitable appendage can’t perform actions with this trait. Manipulate actions often trigger reactions."

What is interesting is that the bandolier specifically gives an example of using healer's tools: "A bandolier can be dedicated to a full set of tools, such as healer’s tools, allowing you to draw the tools as part of the action that requires them."

But, this doesn't address how many hands. The "Draw, stow or pick an item" (table 6-2 on page 273) is listed as 1 or 2 hands and an interact action. Using a bandolier aids with making that interact action as part of the base action (battle medicine, for example), but doesn't change the number of hands requirement.

All of the above doesn't actually answer the quest - except ruling out no hands as the feat has the manipulate trait.

I play it that healer's tools are required, which require 2 hands, even if accessed from a bandolier.

August 19th, 2019, 22:06
The topic seems to have sparked a discussion on the Paizo forums.

I'm looking for RAW for the purposes of PFS2 games where it's important that all GMs are coordinated in their understanding of how it should be interpreted. Otherwise it would be very difficult to get meaningful character builds.

The point made on the Paizo forums that seems closest to RAW is that because the Battle Medicine feat doesn't specify a medkit it doesn't need one. They speculate that it's been purposely been left so to ensure that you can use any fluff suitable to explain what the medic is doing to perform a 10 second mundane heal. Also since the somatic spell-component sets a preciseness that certain manipulate actions don't require a free hand Battle Medicine would need no hands since you're not using an item to perform it. Part of the point being that it's pointless to try and explain how Battle Medicine works because it's nonsensical anyway.

I don't like that interpretation myself tho, even if it proves to be RAW. I like the idea of it requiring 2 hands and a Healer's Tool. But the important part is that there is agreement on how to deal with it before a character who might invest in the feat is generated.

Stephan_ would you be inclined to talk to the other PFS GMs to decide upon an interpretation? I need to get a ruling within two weeks at the latest. :/

For this purpose

August 19th, 2019, 22:18
Yep, you'll see plenty of discussion about it, until there is an official ruling (which there may never be), it's up to individual GMs to run it the way they want.

If you want a consensus on how PFS GMs should run it, then you need to go to the Venture Officers. And even then, you will still get table variations, until it's actually put in an official FAQ (core rules or PFS).

Like you say, it's hard to justify in a "real" way what exactly is happening with the battle medicine feat - one action is approx. 2 seconds and heals the same amount as a 10 minute exploration mode activity - all of the cost of a first level feat - it's pretty damn powerful even if it does require a healer's tools and two hands. If it can be used without a free hand then it's a bit out there (IMO) - a first level PC holding a sword and shield could start their round next to 3 wounded allies and heal them all 2d8 hit points using three actions and their hands never leave their sword or shield - all without magic! I'm used to suspending belief - especially with higher level abilities, but... :-/

August 19th, 2019, 22:45
As opposed to other stuff, I can see it being FAQed/errata'd/clarified as Battle Medicine is VERY popular - which is part of the problem as it causes some GMs to want to nerf it a bit.

Even the Venture Officers won't really be able to help with a rule call this specific.

As with all rulings where RAW is difficult to determine, as Trenloe already mentioned, there will be table variation, even in PFS. There will always be a risk involved, even if some GMs have a consensus on this particular issue.

I can say from PFS1/SFS experience that there is considerable table variation even in Society games on a lot of different issues which have never been FAQed.

At most I can discuss it with aellongm but there is no guarantee we'll reach the same result.

Basically, with character builds that depend on these kind of calls, there is always the chance that specific GMs will rule it another way - in which case it's best to accept it and move on. For that reason I would recommend to not base a build entirely on a specific interplay between rules - but one feat is different from an entire build.

And honestly, the hands are only one of the problems.


"provide the corresponding amount of healing"

Does that mean a crit fail does no damage as it is not "healing"?

"The target is then temporarily immune to your Battle Medicine for 1 day."

So you're only immune to one player's Battle Medicine, meaning a second player's still works? (contrast the regular Treat Wounds)

And that's before some Treat Wounds specific questions come into play.

Also as mentioned, even with 2 hands, it would still be pretty powerful. As there's nothing no language that indicates that you can't do Battle Medicine and then Treat Wounds (though I've also seen a few GMs argue this).

You also can get the feat as part of a background. Compare it to some other feats you get from backgrounds and it's pretty strong, some even claim it's OP.

Unless there is an official FAQ, I'd also be highly doubtful that it works without free hands as it's still a mundane healing ability. Can you read it that way? Sure but there's several other interpretations that are just as valid.

August 20th, 2019, 01:51
In that case I'll assume the most conservative view for my PFS characters as that solves any dilemmae. :)

Thanks for the feedback.

(glad I thought about this before reaching lv 2 XD)

August 20th, 2019, 18:11
This one is difficult, on one hand it is a bit hard to thematically fluff it without healers tools, on the other hand it doesn't specify the need for them.

I also kind of think that requiring you to have two hands free to use healers tools on this really hurts the ability to use it in battle though, if it is supposed to be an effective battle maneuver, I feel like it shouldn't require you to drop your weapons/etc. or spend interact action to put everything away just to use it.

I might require one hand free, and not require the healers tools as it doesn't specify the need for them. Maybe I'd fluff the healing actions as things like setting a dislocated shoulder, giving someone a helpful shock of some kind to bring them back to consciousness (like being slapped awake), maybe even just motivating the target to continue fighting when they are exhausted. You come up to a reeling ally at low hp who is about to collapse and you catch them before they pass out, helping give them that extra edge to stay conscious.

Basically, one could consider that hit points aren't necessarily always literal damage, it can be considered something of a general representation of the persons remaining fighting ability which could be their injuries, their general state of exhaustion, etc. So battle medicine could be fluffed in ways that aren't necessarily putting bandages on someone in the middle of the fight, it could also be seen as whatever methods are necessary to push someone to make it through the fight until they can rest and truly be treated of their wounds.

Might be nice to see errata or clarification on their intentions with this though.