Crown of Shadows
The ban on magic instituted by the Shadow as well as the occupiers’ general lack of interest in the welfare of the peoples of Eredane have forced the common folk to turn to natural healing methods to keep themselves alive and healthy. The fey folk, druids, and wandering outlaws have long known about the healing properties of various roots and herbs found across Eredane, but in the last 100 years these secrets have been flowing out into the occupied lands. Those who use the arts of herbalism see it as both a way to benefit their community and as a passive means of resisting the Shadow, or at least mitigating the negative psychological aspects of occupation.
The Basics of Herbalism
Herbalism in its most basic and practical sense is the power of plants, properly distilled and applied, to heal, protect, and enhance the mortal form. Its practitioners often approach it more philosophically; the jungle elves especially take a reverential attitude toward preparing their concoctions, which they believe are a union of the material world and the divine spirit. A herbalist is an expert in locating and identifying plants with special properties, starting with those of his home region and then expanding as he is exposed to more exotic species. He learns which herbs to gather and prepare for various effects, how to find specific herbs, and what conditions are best for producing high-quality specimens.
Gathering Herbalism Ingredients
|Survival Check Result||Herbs Gathered|
|Failure by more than 5||Wrong herbs gathered, herbal compound fails. Anyone ingesting or treated with the resulting herbal compound must succeed on a DC 15 Fortitude save or be sickened for 2d20 hours.|
|Failure by 5 or less||No appropriate herbs can be found or are known to grow in the area.|
|Check succeeds by 10 or less||An appropriate herb can be found in the area.|
|Check succeeds by more than 10||An excellent combination of herbs can be gathered, find 1d4+1 samples.|
Gathering Herbalism Ingredient Modifiers
|Survival DC Modifications||DC Modifier|
|Area has been burned or trampled by armies of Izrador||+10|
|The character is searching while traveling (moving at half speed)||+10|
|Herbs have been gathered from the area within the last 30 days||+5|
|The area has little vegetation and plant-life (White Desert, Highhorn Mountains, others)||+5 to +20|
|The area is lush with myriad species of plant (Aruun, Caraheen, Central Plains, others)||–5 to –10|
Finding herbs can be a tricky business, as specific herbs only grow in regions that have the right conditions—rainfall levels, temperature variances, soil conditions, etc. A character must be knowledgeable in the herbalist’s trade (at least 1 rank in Profession [herbalist]) in order to even attempt to locate such herbs. The character must then make a DC 20 Survival check to determine whether or not he knows of and can find any appropriate herbs in his vicinity. Most herbal concoctions can use several different ingredients in place of one another— only the most powerful need specific herbs from specific locations. The DM should roll the check secretly, the results of which determine the availability of suitable herbs in the region, as shown on the table above.
It requires two hours of dedicated searching to find enough herbs to make a single herbal concoction, known as a sample. A character can do nothing during this time except search for the herbs. Any other activity that takes appreciable time (such as hunting, performing a ritual spell, combat, etc.) delays the herb gathering for an equal amount of time. Several other factors can affect herb gathering, as shown on the table above.
Preparing and Using Herbal Concoctions
In order to ensure the best results, herbal concoctions should be brewed on the same day that the ingredients are gathered. After 24 hours a herb begins to lose its potency and continues to weaken every day thereafter. Twenty-four hours after being harvested, and every 24 hours thereafter, a Profession (herbalist) check (DC 15 + 2 per previous check) is made. Failure means that the DC on all Craft (alchemy) checks made to use those herbs are increased by +2.
Herbalists have developed several methods for preparing concoctions that give them a modest degree of control over how the herb is used and how its effects are realized. Herbalists across Eredane can create three types of herbal concoction—infused oils, gnaw roots, and salves.
When preparing a concoction, the herbalist must make a Craft (alchemy) check. The DC of the check depends on what type of concoction is being prepared, the strength of the concoction, and how many doses the character wants to create, as shown on the chart below. Failing this check by 4 or less means that the concoction was not properly prepared and the process must be restarted (checking for spoilage if necessary). Failure by 5 or more means that the herbs have been wasted and the herbalist must gather new samples to try again. Note that this replaces the normal rules for the Craft skill found in the core rule book, as the preparation time for each herbal concoction is the same no matter the skill of the character preparing it.
|Herbal Concoction||Craft Check DC|
|Each additional dose in the same batch||+2|
|Per 24 hours of spoilage||+2|
|Per +1 bonus (gnaw roots or infused oils)||+3|
|Per spell level of effect simulated (salves)||+4|
Infused oils are the raw essence of herbs, and are the basic building block of the other two concoctions. They are the easiest herbal concoction to make, but they require extended use to be effective, meaning long harvesting and preparation times. To prepare an infused oil, the herbalist must steep raw herbs in oil for 24 hours before he begins crafting the specific concoction, which takes two hours of uninterrupted work. If the process is interrupted, the batch is ruined. Traveling adventurers often create infused oils since the herbs won’t spoil as quickly while they are in the oil. The oil is then strained through a piece of coarse fabric into its final container, traditionally a tiny glass jar, but these days just as likely to be a hollowed-out leg bone from a small mammal or bird.
Infused oils can be created for ingestion or inhalation. The user either drinks a few drops or daubs it under his nose every few hours over the course of a day to release the oil’s effects. An entire dose may be swallowed at once, but doing so requires a successful DC 15 Fortitude save (+5 per +1 bonus granted) to avoid becoming nauseated for 1d3 hours.
A character must administer an infused oil for three full days before he notices the effects of the concoction, and he must continue to administer a dose each day thereafter to continue to receive its benefits. Two days after he ceases to use the oil, the benefits are lost and he must start a new 72-hour cycle to receive them again.
Infused oils are generally used to increase a person’s resistance to a certain effect, such as poison or disease, and they can be used to make a person mentally tougher or less susceptible to fatigue. They can give an alchemical bonus to a single ability score’s checks or to a single save against a single specific effect type (Fortitude saves against poison, or Will saves against fear, for example), up to a maximum of +5; all such effects must be chosen by the herbalist before he begins searching for herbs. A character can only gain the benefits of one infused oil at a time.
An infused oil can be made more potent by letting a spongy root, cinnamon stick, or the like absorb the compound for 12 hours. This item, known as the carrier, adds its own essence to the herbal oil, changing its properties and allowing it to be absorbed more quickly than an infused oil. Harvesting the necessary carrier requires an additional two hours of searching and a second Survival check. Before the Craft check can be made to prepare the gnaw root, one must be made as normal to prepare the infused oil in which it will be steeped. The gnaw root is then prepared, requiring another Craft check and another hour of uninterrupted work.
Once the gnaw root has been prepared, it can be stored for later use. To use a gnaw root, the character simply chews or sucks on it for one hour, slowly releasing the oil into his system. After this period, the character gains the benefits of the concoction for 12 hours. A character cannot expedite this process, and biting into or eating the carrier destroys its effectiveness and requires a successful DC 15 Fortitude save (+5 per +1 bonus provided) to avoid becoming nauseated for 1d3 hours.
Gnaw roots are used to increase the user’s overall hardiness, quickness, or mental acuity. They can give an alchemical bonus to a single save or physical ability score, up to a maximum of +5. Gnaw roots can also provide alchemical bonuses to Perception and Survival (only when used for perceptive tasks such as following tracks or looking for herbs). A character can only gain the benefits of one gnaw root at a time.
A salve is made by thickening an infused oil using beeswax or similar substances. The oil is created normally, combined with heated beeswax, and then cooled by submerging it in cold running water or hanging it from tree branches overnight in coarse sacks. The entire process takes four hours. The thickening agent must be acquired through trade or via a second Survival check with a DC of 20.
Salves are most often stored in hard containers such as turtle shells or stone jars. To use a salve, a character must spread it on the appropriate area. Salves used to treat wounds and poisons are spread on the wounded area (or throat in the case of ingested or inhaled poisons), but those with more general uses must be spread in a specific way. When confronted by a new salve, a character must succeed on a DC 20 Profession (herbalism) check in order to determine where it must be spread. Spreading a salve on a wound takes five rounds.
Salves are used to heal wounds, remove poisons and the effects of dangerous natural hazards, and to provide specific protections to their users. They can emulate the effects of up to 4th-level Conjuration (healing) spells in this regard. The most common salves are cure wounds, neutralize poison, and remove disease. Other salves may be possible at the DM’s discretion, usually Abjuration or Transmuation spells, but a salve should not be used as a non-magical replacement for potions—the types of spells that can be emulated are very limited. Other salves have been known to provide protection against the extreme temperatures of the frozen Northlands (endure elements) and to preserve corpses so that they cannot turn into Fell (gentle repose).