Approximate time to read: 5 minutes.
Alchemists and masters of herbal arts prepare cures to many and varied recipes, none ever alike. All come in the form of a soft, moist paste-like substance, dense with fibrous material and softened grains. Common use involves smearing the Herbal Cure into (or on to, where not open) the wound and binding the moist mass in place with bandages. Depending on the preparation, a Cure may need warming to get maximum effect.
Most important in use, a Herbal Cure must remain in place, bound securely, for at least a day to achieve any benefit. The poultice serves both to penetrate the wound and to draw material out, like pus. Commonly, a Herbal Cure will come in a small, sealed stoneware pot, to maintain freshness and longevity, or else in a oiled skin packet. If not secure and sealed, the Cure will quickly lose efficacy and become nothing more than a dried up mulch of foul herbal porridge.
Magic or Medicine
While it can be tough to draw a firm line in a setting like that seen in Symbaroum, alchemy appears to skirts the boundaries of science. An alchemist uses a wealth of knowledge and experimentation in concocting elixir, but the subtle infusion of mystical energies – the touch of corruption – may mean that nothing can be truly ‘natural’, no matter the source.
Mechanics of Herbal Cures
Exactly as the levels of Medicus indicate, a Herbal Cure restores 1 Toughness in a DAY. And, as per Medicus, you can only get that 1 Toughness benefit once per day per patient.
As the description suggests, this is a poultice with a blend of herbs in a paste. I would suggest not only that you make it clear that you only recover 1 Toughness per day, but also that you need to wear the Herbal Cure for the whole day or lose that point of restoration immediately. The poultice needs time to work, to enhance the bodies own regenerative powers.
A Herbal Cure is not magic in nature, but a concoction of ordinary herbalism. Without Medicus, a character will just bind the poultice in place and hope for the best.
A trained character with the Medicus Ability knows how to get the wound properly clean first, how to secure the bandages tightly, where and how much of the poultice to apply, correct heating of the material prior to application. and generally how to make the most of the herbal remedy given the circumstances and type of injury.
Like beneficial modifiers (Overlapping Effects, APG p109), I would suggest that similar types of healing never stack – you just get the best result for that day. Therefore, if you use a Herbal Cure in the aftermath of a fight and then, later, find a town and get the assistance of a practitioner with Medicus and a Cure, the Toughness recovered for that is based on the second. Therefore, if they already got 1 Toughness back from the Cure, the player should roll the recovery for Medicus (started at 1D6) and deduct 1 from it.
Based on this principle, a character can still recover health through:
- Natural healing (which includes Regeneration)
- Alchemical healing (using herbs, chemicals and generally non-magical potions)
- Assisted healing (using expertise and skills, like Medicus)
- Mystical healing (using some form of magic)
The natural rate of healing is either 1 Toughness per person per day OR the rate indicated by Regeneration, not both.
More Elixirs of Davokar
Cost: 2 thalers
Alchemy level: Novice
The plant grows mainly along the southernmost edges of Davokar, rose-coloured petals picked out amongst the vibrant green of the foliage, visible from the Sleepless Path. Those with a mind toward their well-being often seek to grow a little amongst the plants around their settlements, as the leaves are edible and the alchemical preparations of the plant, invaluable.
The following effects persist for the remainder of the Scene – though only one can apply, as the first requires consumption of the raw flowers, the second the consumption of the pickled root:
- The fresh flowers have an extremely pleasant taste that stays in the mouth and has a very positive effect on anyone engaging in conversation, discussion or other discourse, offering a +1 to Persuasive.
- Eaten before a meal, Frog’s Belly lines the stomach and functions like a mild Antidote against poison, while also generally aiding digestion. Even spoiled food will not upset the stomach if the individual has taken the precaution to eat this root first.
Cost: 3 thalers
Alchemy level: Adept
The low growing plant snakes and swirls beneath other growth, often catching the unwary traveller off-guard and leaving stinging welts upon unprotected legs. At the height of the season, the plant sports small, pinprick white flowers with dark hearts, while the leaves have a sickly mottle – which, nevertheless, denotes a healthy growth. Picked with care, the Deadnettle has more than one use to the capable herbalist.
Deadnettle can have different effects on different people – one immediate, the other persisting for the remainder of the Scene:
- Steeped in boiling water the cloudy green-yellow brew slows bleeding from any wound suffered in conflict, offering a -2 adjustment on any Death Save if drunk immediately (a character wounded in combat will more than likely still need to make at least one Death Save before they can have the opportunity to partake of the brew). The bonus persists until the character stabilises (or dies!).
- Any Undead that consume the brew experiencing a colouring of the flesh that temporarily offers an appearance of life. Where otherwise skin might appear pallid, flesh pinks up and cheeks become flushed for the remainder of the Scene.
Cost: 1 thaler
Alchemy level: Novice
Flowering wild plant with a shallow root, found in open rough ground and heaths, has a strong association with the treatment of skin conditions and wounds inflicted by animals. As the preparation most commonly involves boiling the root of the plant in wine, it’s possible that the popularity of Houndtooth comes down to the delivery of the medicine rather than any beneficial effect.
The following effects are permanent (as in, the beneficial qualities apply immediately and do not subside) – though only one can apply, as the first requires soaking a wound, the second requires drinking:
- Any wound inflicted by a natural animal that contains disease, infection or mild toxin can be resisted with a Favoured Strong test.
- If afflicted with a debilitating illness or fever, imbibing the boiled root in wine will break the delirium and allow a new test, if appropriate, to shrug off the condition completely (this might be Strong or Resolute if not specifically noted).
Cost: 1 thaler
Alchemy level: Novice
The twining plant has lush heart-shaped leaves and small green flowers. Lady’s-Seal’s stalk extends into the ground some way, black and woody, before forking into pale roots veined purple. While the leaves are edible, if a little bitter, the black stalk is the part of most value, steeped for a time in spirits.
The following effects persist for the remainder of the Scene – though only one can apply, as the first requires drinking, the second soaking the extremities:
- When imbibed, the liquor significantly dulls pain without affecting the senses in general – though only if taken in moderation and never with other forms of alcohol. Increase Pain Threshold by 1 point.
- Extremities soaked in the liquor recover sensation rapidly, like a soothing heat that penetrates to the bones. Reduce damage to Toughness, Quick or Resolve inflicted by cold as if wearing an additional point of Armour.