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BrentS

Herbalism

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Hi all.

 

One of the players in my soon to commence RQG game will be playing a Chalanna Arroy initiate. I'd wanted to give more depth to the non-magical aspects of her craft.....we feel magic, particularly Rune magic, would be reserved for more serious presentations, just as we wouldn't treat every patient with surgery, and that much of the healer's art would be more holistic in terms of symptom control and management of minor ailments with natural remedies. On a search for references to Gloranthan herbs in these forums, I found that there's not a huge amount to go on. On a broader search I stumbled across an extensive real world and fantasy herbal guide here:

http://www.zioth.com/roleplay/equipment/herbs

It's tailored to D&D and some of the listed effects are too extreme (a herb that reduces damage from falling is a bit silly, unless you land on a huge mat of it 😀.....I'd translate that as a remedy to promote healing of bruising or fractures)......but it does give a fantastically broad array of real and plausible herbal remedies with suitably evocative names, the appearance of the plants and their seasons and zones of growth, which is very useful, rather than me having to invent a Gloranthan herbology from whole cloth. I've linked it here in case others might also find it of use.
 

Brent.

Edited by BrentS
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There is at least a fragment of an answer in one of the sidebars in the RQ2 book Cults of Prax, page 66.  This indicates that Steve Perrin and Greg Stafford made up at least part of a list of medicinal herbs:

" We made for a campsite at Horngate. I had little left to
trade, and so Norayeep and I searched for healing plants
as we approached, hoping in that way to earn enough to
trade for food. The first day was poor, and all I found were
roots and seeds, out of season. Norayeep found some sticky
Liverleaves, useful in absorbing systemic poison from the
body. The next day, I found a Jang flower, and Norayeep
found some Fingersticks, both useful against wounds, and
she also found some Inipris leaves, which fight the Wasting
Disease. On the third day we gathered more Jang flowers,
some Hairflowers useful against the Shakes, and some rare
Silver Strands, which combat Soul Waste.
Then we turned and hurried north to the oasis hoping to
use these before the week was up.  "

 

Now it would be interesting to know whether there are any other documents using these, (a google search for "Jang, Fingerstick, Inipris"  turns up nothing but Cults of Prax, while searching for two terms brings up other uses of the phrase finger stick and a minor celebrity named Jang.)

It would  also be interesting to discuss what effect these or other herbs might have in game terms, and under what conditions.    Would you treat them as only effective when an adventurer has an appropriate healing skill, do they give a +% bonus to that skill, or how else would you apply them?

PP.68-29 of Cults of Prax, in the Chalana Arroy section,  has a procedure that depends on terrain for number of searches, then rolling for WHAT your find cures, then for "potency" by part of plant and season which also gives the % chance of success.  At a quick reading there seems no link to skills other than finding the herbs and magically refining them. 

It seems to me that if the "potency' of a plant cures that many points (from 1D4 to 1D12)  of damage then for wounds this stuff looks like it can be better than a rune spell, which seems to me to be over-powered for an herbal tea or a poultice.  So I am NOT sure that it will be treated that same way now, 30+ years later, in the much desired and much awaited RQG cults book.  Perhaps if you have a good suggestion now it may affect the content, who knows?  Or it may not be addressed at all in that book.

If I were making it up from scratch, I would use one of these:

  •   Have an herb give a % bonus to Treat Wounds, treat disease, or treat poison skill.  
  •   Or it might have a Potency against the Potency of a poison or a disease, leading to a roll on the resistance table against the poison's or disease's potency / POW of a disease spirit. 
  •   Or perhaps these might be a bonus to the CON or POW, whatever characteristic is being attacked by a disease or a poison, when the victim does a resistance roll.  

But those  might only appeal to me.  What's your opinion?

 

Edited by Squaredeal Sten
went farther into the book
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3 hours ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

There is at least a fragment of an answer in one of the sidebars in the RQ2 book Cults of Prax, page 66.  This indicates that Steve Perrin and Greg Stafford made up at least part of a list of medicinal herbs:

" We made for a campsite at Horngate. I had little left to
trade, and so Norayeep and I searched for healing plants
as we approached, hoping in that way to earn enough to
trade for food. The first day was poor, and all I found were
roots and seeds, out of season. Norayeep found some sticky
Liverleaves, useful in absorbing systemic poison from the
body. The next day, I found a Jang flower, and Norayeep
found some Fingersticks, both useful against wounds, and
she also found some Inipris leaves, which fight the Wasting
Disease. On the third day we gathered more Jang flowers,
some Hairflowers useful against the Shakes, and some rare
Silver Strands, which combat Soul Waste.
Then we turned and hurried north to the oasis hoping to
use these before the week was up.  "

 

Now it would be interesting to know whether there are any other documents using these, (a google search for "Jang, Fingerstick, Inipris"  turns up nothing but Cults of Prax, while searching for two terms brings up other uses of the phrase finger stick and a minor celebrity named Jang.)

It would  also be interesting to discuss what effect these or other herbs might have in game terms, and under what conditions.    Would you treat them as only effective when an adventurer has an appropriate healing skill, do they give a +% bonus to that skill, or how else would you apply them?

PP.68-29 of Cults of Prax, in the Chalana Arroy section,  has a procedure that depends on terrain for number of searches, then rolling for WHAT your find cures, then for "potency" by part of plant and season which also gives the % chance of success.  At a quick reading there seems no link to skills other than finding the herbs and magically refining them. 

It seems to me that if the "potency' of a plant cures that many points (from 1D4 to 1D12)  of damage then for wounds this stuff looks like it can be better than a rune spell, which seems to me to be over-powered for an herbal tea or a poultice.  So I am NOT sure that it will be treated that same way now, 30+ years later, in the much desired and much awaited RQG cults book.  Perhaps if you have a good suggestion now it may affect the content, who knows?  Or it may not be addressed at all in that book.

If I were making it up from scratch, I would use one of these:

  •   Have an herb give a % bonus to Treat Wounds, treat disease, or treat poison skill.  
  •   Or it might have a Potency against the Potency of a poison or a disease, leading to a roll on the resistance table against the poison's or disease's potency / POW of a disease spirit. 
  •   Or perhaps these might be a bonus to the CON or POW, whatever characteristic is being attacked by a disease or a poison, when the victim does a resistance roll.  

But those  might only appeal to me.  What's your opinion?

 

Yes, thanks, I knew about those excerpts from the journal of Biturian Varosh. 

I think herbal remedies should be less dramatic and less immediate than magic but still important and effective. A significant part of our modern western pharmacology is not directly curative, but supportive of patient host factors. e.g. most antibiotics we use are bacteriostatic rather than bacteriocidal.....they slow bacterial growth rather than directly kill, giving patient immune mediation a chance to do its job.

Given that, I really like your first and third suggestions.....successful herbal use adding to a healing skill like an augment, or bolstering the patient's POW or CON for purposes of disease resistance rolls.

Brent.

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In the Witcher, you can only take a certain amount of potions before they become toxic. This is a game mechanic to avoid players binging potions before a battle to become stupidly overpowered. 

Not sure if a toxicity dosage thing could be worked into RQ. Something like your character being able to heal a bit, and get something that increases hearing, but taking more than that would be harmful for the body. 

Admittedly, this could perhaps also just be balanced by making stuff scarcer, which would be up to the GM.

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1 hour ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

In the Witcher, you can only take a certain amount of potions before they become toxic. This is a game mechanic to avoid players binging potions before a battle to become stupidly overpowered. 

Not sure if a toxicity dosage thing could be worked into RQ. Something like your character being able to heal a bit, and get something that increases hearing, but taking more than that would be harmful for the body. 

Admittedly, this could perhaps also just be balanced by making stuff scarcer, which would be up to the GM.

This is true of all pharmacology, with variable therapeutic ranges for each drug , and lack of efficacy or toxicity beyond each extreme of that range. The same would be true for herbal remedies, although in the real world that therapeutic range is much broader than it is for manufactured drugs. With a few exceptions, herbals have such low levels of active compound that you would have to suffocate the patient beneath a truckload of leaves before they would come to harm.

My preference in Glorantha would be to have real but low level therapeutic effects for herbal remedies, subtle augments of healer skills or host resistance or recovery rates, as suggested above. At toxic levels all pharmacologicals become poisons. Harm could come from abuse or accidental overdose (a fumble on the Treat Disease or Plant Lore roll?). Sedatives and stimulants, which I would consider to include sensory enhancers such as those increasing auditory acuity, would also be likely to be addictive. Glorantha already has hazia but there must be others. My Chalanna Arroy Initiate would understand this in principle. As her cult directive is to cause no harm to other living beings, she would get a warning if it looked like she were being treated as a meth cook. I will also limit the availability of those stronger herbals.

Brent.

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