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Basic Information

A Pissprophet, Piss Prophet, or Water-Scriger is a type of profession from the Middle Ages, a sort of Doctor who diagnosed patients based entirely on their urine.

Color and appearance, smell, even taste of the urine were important factors. The doctor inspected and sniffed it, keeping an eye open for sediment. Sources differ as to whether the doctor tasted the pee, or if they had the patient taste it and answer questions - either way is pretty gross. They also questioned the patient about their diet and stool. From this collection of information, the Pissprophet would determine what ailed the patient - generally the result of an imbalance in their four humours.

Sweet-tasting urine was recognized as early as Ancient Greece as a symptom of Diabetes. The elevated level of sugar in the blood gives the urine a sweet taste. Dark colored urine can be a sign of dehydration and some physical ailments result in blood in the urine. So the idea of diagnosis by examining the patient's urine isn't as wacky as it might seem - in fact, it's a legitimate form of diagnosis for some conditions1. The quackery only comes in when it is a doctor's sole tool of diagnosis and/or is used to diagnose things that have nothing to do with the urine.


1. Website: Magic Jar
3. Website: B-Net
4. Website: Replica Prints

Most of those sources reference the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue

Game and Story Use

  • Visiting the doctor in the Middle Ages is always fun. He watches you pee, sniffs it, and one of the two of you end up taking a sip. If it turns out you need medicine or drugs, the apothecary will hook you up. If your situation is particularly dire, the Barber will cut you open.
  • In some games you're allowed to apply whatever trappings and flavor you want to your magic. This could result in some seriously bizarre and humorous (pun acknowledged, but not intended) spellcasting.
    • "I can't cast Cure Disease on you till you fill this cup".
    • "I know it's yellow, but I swear it's a healing potion"
    • "The good news is, I can resurrect him. The bad news is, he's gonna be pissed."
      • You're just taking the piss now.
  • The King (or other important world leader or NPC ally) is terminally ill - but the diagnosis comes from a Pissprophet. Will the PCs expect misdiagnosis, malpractice, or even a confidence game? Good Red Herring potential, or a way to motivate the PCs to go find a cure even when the professionals (such as they are) are offering little hope.
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