Friday, February 24, 2012

Water Closets(Washrooms): How Lucky Our Adventurers Are to Not Have to Use Them During Medieval Times!

Have you ever been driving down the road and all of a sudden the coffee hits you?  Have you ever been writing an examination at the study hall and had to leave because of a bladder overflow?  Have you ever held it so long that your eyeballs turn yellow, or your back teeth float? Have you ever been to a party and all of a sudden had your stomach turns and #2 tries to come for a visit?  I have.

Where do you go in cases like this?  To the toilet of course; where else?  The Romans did humanity a great service by inventing the sewer system, a place where all natural expulsions were collected and diposed of in a neat tidy area.

Unfortunately, those people who grew up in medieval times did not have that luxury.  There was no Wendys along the highway, no rest stops whenever you had to go.  You just went!  Back in the olden days, people used potties or chamber pots.  These pots were kept in the house and once full, or once they needed emptying, you would just open the window and chuck that s*&! out.  Most of the streets at the time had open drains just outside their houses.  These "waste channels" would then carry all the waste to wherever it was directed to.  Not very sanitary if you ask me.  When people flung the waste out the door, they used to cry "Gardez l'eau!", which in French kind of means watch out for the water, warning any passers-by that logs were flying through the air(the literal translation is actually keep the water)! 

Here is an example of a chamber pot or "potty":


Chamber pots were either kept under the bed or in a corner of the room.
Many of the towns and houses also had outhouses, or otherwise known as household privies.  These were structures which were usually self-enclosed and a place where you could take a load off.  These structures were usually situated behind the house, taverns or inns.

Here is an example of a household privy:

Pretty crappy right!
In the many year of playing Dungeons & Dragons, we have wrestled with bears, killed numerous monsters, saved defenseless farmers, saved kingdoms through negotiations, slept with women, but not once did any one in my party mention that their character had to take a crap.

How lucky our adventurers are to not have to go to the bathroom!  It is assumed that they empty their bladders and bowel when they need to(the non role-playing times).

Imagine how life would be if D&D Next incorporated biological constitutions in the gameplay.
  • Your party member would be at the tavern, questionning the baron's aide on what the adventure is about, negotiating the amount of gold, when all of a sudden your DM rolls a die and tells your character that they have to go,  interrupting the baron.  You would end up missing half of the conversation by the time you got back to the table.
  • You had some bad chicken from 'The Dirty Bird' tavern and the next day of travel takes twice as long as it normally would because you have the trotts.  Since you are losing so much liquid, you take a -2 penalty to attack rolls due to fatigue and dehydration.
  • You get the flu and both ends are attacking at once.  You would not be able to move to accompany your fellow adventurers on their latest adventure; you would be laid up in bed.  Either you lose out in the amount of gold they would collect, or they get killed because your expertise on the battlefield was missed.
  • Your thief is approaching stealthily and then 'sharts' himself, ruining his chances of surprise.
  • 'Brave' sir Robin of the party decides to literally soil himself in the face of adversity.  He would gain an aura2 for the smell(you and allies in the burst take -2 to attack rolls when in the aura due to the smell), and take a minus 10 to diplomacy checks. 
  • You are facing the final encounter.  You are in the hallway and have to go, but you do not have the time to cop a squat.  You run into battle, but are slowed until the end of the encounter because you are too busy clenching your cheeks, or holding your water.  You can choose to end the slowed effect, by releasing but you gain the aura2 (see above)
Players are lucky that they do not have to  take care about washrooms.  I can just imagine how gross and disgusting it must have been to not have access to toilet paper, running water, baths or anything else to clean you down in that area.  Everything in the D&D world is all sunshine and flowers.

How lucky you are!

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