Herbalism & Poisons

Herbs - Poisons

Anyone with the Herbalism or Alchemist skill is assumed to know pretty much everything about all of the herbs below and their properties, and those with the Herbalism skill are also able to prepare them for use. Those with the Poisoner skill are assumed to know about and be able to prepare all of the poisonous ones.

A few brief words on the science of all this. As you may note, the effects of herbs in the White City are based on a mystical worldview. Furthermore, the life cycles of plants in general fit this worldview. There are some kinds of plant that grow only on the sites of murders, just as there are some that grow only by the banks of rivers.

A further note on the distinction between the Alchemist, Herbalism and Poisoner skills. Basically herbalism is far more flexible than alchemy (at least point-for-point) but far less powerful. Herbal cures and poisons are of limited effect and can be easily counteracted by other herbs.
A poisoner has less flexibility than a herbalist, but can do more with the poisonous herbs. A herbalist could use silkflower to poison somebody by preparing the petals and then mixing them into that person's food, a poisoner could prepare a refined form of the poison which would be easier to transport and apply and harder to detect (at least until ingested).

The effects a Herbalist can produce are broadly suggested by the list of herbs below. A few more concrete suggestions include:
  • First Aid skill is increased by one rank, this *can* take it over 5.
  • The Herbalist can prepare slow-acting poisons (see the poisons page), although these are only suitable for ingestion (or equivalent).
  • A Herbalist can often reduce or remove the effects of slow-acting poisons (GM discretion).
  • A Herbalist can also, with 30s of work, remove the effects of paralysis.
  • The symptoms of many diseases can be alleviated.

    This list is not exhaustive. It is generally assumed that by spending a few hexa at the beginning of an adventure and keeping her eyes open while travelling in the countryside, a herbalist has enough herbs to produce most herbalism-based effects on demand. However, for certain extreme circumstances (that is, if the use of Herbalism has become a Plot Point), the acquisition of specific rare and powerful herbs may require a special journey.

    Deathbed - This herb grows in places ravaged by plague and is considered to be associated with the Prince of Miasmas. Deathbed is harmless unless the subject is already ill or injured, at which point the herb removes all their capacity to hold on to life.

    Dustfall - A short, spiky grass which grows in places where the ashes of the dead have been scattered. When drunk in an infusion it acts as a painkiller.

    Echorush - Rushes from the River of Echoes, when properly prepared and infused, produce a form of nepenthe.

    Firecap - A mushroom which has a mild euphoric effect. There are also a remarkable number of people who claim that eating it makes you immortal, despite a complete lack of supporting evidence.

    Grey Lilies - They aren't actually grey at all, they're white like most other lilies. They grow around places where people have drowned. They have both a curative (First Aid bonus) and a painkilling effect.

    Lady-of-Battles - A flower found growing wherever the soil is thick with blood (and also, incidentally, considered to have some association with the Old Power of the same name). It has strong curative effects (back with the standard First Aid bonus).

    Nightgrass - A stubborn and hardy grass that grows in the farthest reaches of the North. It is thought to bring vivid, and some would suggest true, dreams.

    Rattle-Weed - Grows at the sites of murders and betrayals, this is a fast and subtle poison.

    Sagacity - Just used for cooking really.

    Silkflower - Found in spaces where spiders congregate, this is a nasty little bloom which causes creeping paralysis and eventual death.

    Silverleaf - A hallucinogen favoured in the Port of Glass. This herb is dangerous and potent and does eventually drive its users mad.

    Spiderbane - As the name implies this herb is poisonous to spiders, and also to the Weavers of the City of Silk. It is found throughout the Great Forest, but never in great quantity.

    Stonecap - A hallucinogenic mushroom also known as "the eye of stone", used by the centaurs that live in the hills along the River of Echoes. Associated with the Lord of Sand & Stone.

    Vainglory - Leaves of this plant are dried and smoked as a mild hallucinogenic, particularly popular in the Port of Glass.

    Veracity - A mushroom found in the West in the usual fungal places. When properly dried it has an unusual psychoactive effect, which is best looked at as an analogue to a modern truth serum. It causes the subject to babble whatever happens to be on their mind, without enough coherence to lie properly.

    Weeping-Bark - The bark of a willow whose roots have been watered with tears. This one's a soporific.

    Whisper-Moss - Moss that grows along the banks of the River of Whispers. It has some healing properties (the standard First Aid bonus) and is rumoured to grant a chance of surviving even the direst of wounds.


    Poisons! A bit like a custard pie in the face, really. Hilarious when they're happening to someone else, less so when it's you. All sorts of poisons can be found in the White City world, but there are two basic divisions that are of immediate concern to players. Those are, Fast-Acting and Slow-Acting Poisons. The difference lies in whether they take effect fast enough to be noticable within a normal encounter or not.

    Slow-Acting Poisons do not take immediate effect. There is no need for a call to take care of them, since it won't be relevant in the same fight in which you get hit. The GM will explain the effects if you've been hit by one during battleboarding, and then you can deal with them (or not, and suffer the effects in later encounters), or will decide on the consequences if you've hit an NPC with one.
    Slow-Acting poisons have all sorts of effects: maybe the hideously infected bite of the Komodo Dragon is slowly killing you, perhaps you're beginning to hallucinate that your companions are Cloistered Bretheren sent to kill you, or maybe you simply proceed to vomit your guts out and go into the next encounter seriously weakened. Either way, the effect can usually be offset by a Purification (potion or spell)(if the effect results from ongoing poison in the system), Blood Cure, an antitoxin (ditto), or at GM's discretion by a Herbalist.

    Fast-Acting Poisons have some immediate effect, so they need a call. There are two calls for fast-acting poisons.

    'Paralysis' or 'paralysing [amount of damage]': The first time in an encounter you take a flesh hit from paralysing damage, your character's limbs start to seize up. From then on you have about a minute of free action before you should stop moving around. You may want to roleplay your character slowly paralysing towards the end of the time. Every subsequent flesh hit from paralysing damage approximately halves the remaining time.
    Regardless of how much paralysing poison you've taken on board, a Purification or Blood Cure totally clears you up. Additionally, a Herbalist can clear up most paralysis cases (unless the GM rules otherwise) in about 30s of work. Characters who have no help getting over paralysis will take hours or in bad cases days to recover. If something else doesn't get them first.

    'Poison', or 'Poison [amount of damage]'. The actual 'Poison' call represents some nasty corrosive substance that will screw up the area of the body it's applied to. Specifically,any time 'poison' damage reaches flesh, the relevant location immediately takes an additional Triple. This kind of poison works with brutal speed; if you didn't have an antitoxin in your blood when it hit, no amount of magic or herbalism is going to stop it working. All you can do is start healing up the damage.

    So that's how poisons work. Some monsters produce poisons naturally, and some NPCs like to come to combat with their weapons ready primed. As a player, you may be thinking, 'Well sometimes fire must be fought with fire and yadda yadda yadda I want more cool damage calls for my PC.'
    Sale of poisons is pretty much illegal in most civilised areas but that doesn't stop them being available for the right price. Keep in mind that although *buying* poison isn't particularly difficult, *doing* things with it usually requires Poisoner: Application (without this skill, anything you may achieve will be strictly at GM discretion). For those able to apply poison, the principle is that you rub it on before or during an encounter, then let the GM decide the result after the encounter (for slow-acting poisons) or start making the relevant calls (for fast-acting ones).

    A slight subtlety is whether you are using melee weapons or ranged weapons. For ranged weapons, you need a dose of poison for each individual shot, on the other hand the necessary doses are cheaper. Melee weapons are just dosed once, and then stay poisoned for the rest of the encounter; on the other hand the relevant poison doses require all sorts of fixing agents and wotnot and really need to be slathered on, so they cost more.
    If you really want to, you can put a ranged weapon poison dose on to a melee weapon, or vice versa. Ranged weapon doses come off melee weapons the first time they connect with a character (whether dodged, parried, etc.), but if they reach flesh they take full effect. This will mostly be useful for backstab monkeys. Melee weapon doses on a ranged weapon will faithfully stay on for the rest of the encounter, assuming that arrow/knife can be retrieved.

    Note: It is not possible to apply more than type of poison to a single weapon.

    Another thing PCs are often interested is antitoxin. Antitoxins remove the current effects of one kind of ongoing toxin, or (if you took the antitoxin since the last encounter), prevent the effects of one new dose (including the 'poison' call). You can only be under the effect of one antioxin at a time. You should shout 'Antitoxin!' when you've just used one, to let everyone know what's happening.

    For information on the costs on poisons look here

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