Blades in the Darkness
Drugs and Other Illicit Substances
Tincture of Ergot
Tincture of Ergot is a rather unusual substance, originally developed from ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other cereal grains. Once distilled and concentrated by a variety of alchemical treatments it is a colorless, odorless, and mildly bitter substance. It is water soluble and if placed in another medium all but undetectable.
A renowned Alchemist, Master Tan’ir spent a good number of years devoting his arts of distillation and alchemical refinement to the good of the City. He created a number of reliable and efficacious cures in the mundane fashion. His greatest contributions were an fortifier against pains of the head and abdomen, a tonic for the easement of feminine pains, and a very popular sweet tonic that was a panacea for the stomach and clear thoughts. You can purchase them at the local Alchemist, as Tan’ir’s Pain Drops, M’Lady’s Aide, and Calming Liquor.
He spent two years studying ergot, a fungus that often attacked stores of grain and rye in Cheles’Vaar. This was of great concern as the victims of the fungus poisoning suffered pains of the head and bowels. Their extremities, usually fingers and toes would suffer loss of blood flow, and become septic. Many people died from the poisoning, or lost limbs.
He took two paths to ending this malady. The first was for the creation of a Grange Guild that was responsible for the proper storage and care of grain within the city. The grain in the City coffers was afflicted with poor storage conditions, leaving the grain in a moist and cool environment. Once the rotten grain was discarded, the ergot tainted grain was then ground into flour and the fungus, being heat resistant, was baked into bread. The new Grange guild was tasked to repair and maintain the grain coffers and the City bakeries that used city bought and stored grain.
This was the first plan, to cut off the source of the malady, or so Tan’ir hoped. His second plan involved creating a tincture of ergot that would be a tonic against the poisoning. He hoped that if the tincture was administered to a sick individual that it would cure the poisoning. Being a tincture, once the initial batch was created, dilutions could be made and distributed rapidly.
His work was top notch as usual, but he encountered two main problems. The first and most concerning was that the Tincture was not efficacious in the treatment of ergot poisoning. The second was that doses of the tincture had…other effects. The main concern was alleviated after three years, the grange guild had done its job well, the grain coffers were in good repair and many of the bakers of the bakers guild had double duties, both in their mercantile guild and in the protective Grange Guild.
Tincture of Ergot had a very strange effect on those it was administered to. Each subject experienced a heightened state of awareness, and a feeling of belonging to something greater. Many experienced mind altering hallucinations while under the influence of the tincture. Tan’ir himself tested the tincture, experiencing and taking large numbers of notes while under its influence.
He did note that if the subject was in a poor emotional state, administering the tincture often caused amplification of the negative emotions in the subject. Some would weep, others were more violent, screaming and cutting themselves. After witnessing this, Tan’ir discontinued manufacture of the tincture.
A number of open minded, and gold sparse apprentices ‘borrowed’ the formula for the tincture and began to make it themselves and selling it. One such, Atriol Thy’mey, a religious minded apprentice, took the tincture to the populace as a way of expanding their relationship with the divine. Atriol would later, to his mentor’s disgust, set himself up as an alchemical guru teaching liquid enlightenment before being taken into custody by members of the Guard and Clergy.
Dream Dust (Dreamer, Trails, Dust)
Dream Dust is a soft, light purple powder ground from certain mushrooms and blended with various alchemical agents that streak the substance with grainy white lines. It has an effect much like the mushrooms themselves have when eaten, although much more refined and powerful. It is always snorted through the nose, and the alchemical reagents within it make it irritating and damaging to the nasal passages. When inhaled, the user will begin sweating and salivating profusely, accompanied by a lowering in blood pressure. After about a minute of this, an extreme feeling of drowsiness and satisfied relaxation sets in. Have you ever been right on the edge of falling asleep, barely conscious, unable to move, and comfortable as hell? That’s the basic effect, only taken many times over. It is a very addictive sensation, and many people find themselves reaching for a second packet only minutes after their first. In later stages, the user may also begin to see whorls of color around swiftly moving objects. Addicts often take multiple drafts of dust to speed this process, and are often seen moving their hands erratically in front of their faces to see the sunbursts of color that ensue. Nosebleeds are not uncommon among second and third-time users, and addicts can be spotted by the deep, dark rings under their glassy eyes, as well as the stupor-like state they often seem to live in. One must also be careful not to overdose, as too much dust can lower one’s blood pressure to the point that the heart simply stops beating.
Delirium is a dark, thick grainy liquid created by Bull-Head mushrooms brewed with sugar and weak herbal antidotes, included to dull the dangerous after-effects of the drug. It is usually mixed into hot teas and downed in a single gulp, as its sickly-sweet flavor and coarse texture is not appetizing. It takes over ten minutes for anything to occur, but after that time the user may seem to notice odd things happening around him. At this time, it is usually best to shut him away from the outside world. Delirium is a powerful hallucinogenic substance that gradually affects the user’s consciousness, so slowly that he might not even realize it has affected him until it has completely taken over. These hallucinations last for several hours, causing users to see all manner of thoughts, ideas, memories and fears manifest themselves before them. It is best to imbibe this drug when one is in a good state of mind, for fears are a terrifying thing to manifest. During this stage, the user will most likely spasm and convulse, and sometimes even become paralyzed for hours. There have been some accounts of users convulsing hard enough to tear tendons and break bones, but those are rare cases. At the end, most users simply black out, waking up hours later with only a vague recollection of the events. Splitting headaches and tear-filled, blurry vision are guaranteed after-effects, which only become worse with repeated use. After continuous use over long period, users begin to lose their sight and hearing completely, becoming both blind and deaf in the last stages. Luckily, it is not very addictive, although many users, having just returned from seeing their greatest fantasy manifest before them, find themselves going back and back to replace their continually worsening reality with the one offered by the drug.
Blush (Maidensblush, Harem Blush)
Blush is a bright red powder made from the pollen of the Maidens-glove flower, and enhanced alchemicaly. Stirred into drinks, the bitter powder brings a blush to the cheeks, a fullness to the lips, and a slight red tinge to the eyes. It is also a powerful aphrodisiac, causing imbibers to become intensely confident and lustful. It is often found in use at orgiastic parties, and often used by rogues, seductresses, and more villainous characters to embarrass a figure, or take them to bed. However, its price, combined with its relative rarity, has kept it within the hands of nobility, merchants, and connoisseurs of exotic narcotics.
Flash is a soft white powder, much like ground talcum, ground from Chortleaf and other southern flowers. It is inhaled through the nose. Unlike dream dust, this powder does not cut or damage the nose, and instead coats it in a fine layer. It usually causes serious congestion. When inhaled, it quickly causes the user to feel energetic and giddy, and it does’nt take much prodding to send them into fits of idiotic laughter. This effect, lasts 2 to 3 hours on average, immediately followed by a feeling of lethargy and irritability. Rush is thought not to be addictive, but not many people can stand simply one hit – most find themselves returning to the table hours after swearing it off. The best way to avoid feeling the low after affects is to simply stay high. This, combined with the fact that no true side effects or drawbacks have yet been discovered (although there are some reports of suspicious deaths), has made flash a popular recreational drug for commoners and nobility alike.
Stealer (Mad dust)
Stealer is a highly dangerous stimulant concocted from the deadly Red Julioupe Plant. A fine reddish powder, it is stirred into hot water and swallowed in a single gulp, as it has an extremely acrid, bitter flavor that burns the throat and causes one to gag. After around a half a minute, the effects come in full force, as the user is overtaken by an insatiable rush of energy and strength, coupled by an overwhelming sense of superiority and confidence.
At this point, some users may be overtaken by a blood-lust, a frenzy in which the user feels the need to kill and destroy every living thing within sight. All combat training is ignored during this stage, as the affected person simply throws himself at others, kicking and lashing out, biting and clawing, and using every available object around him to beat his victims to death. The effect lasts for about an hour, after which the user will simply black out, if he hasn’t already. This sleep can last for up to ten or fourteen hours, as the body attempts to regain its energy, as the drug has drawn upon all of the reserves of the body, and taken it much farther then it was meant to be taken. After awakening, users will be stricken by incredible muscle cramps and soreness, accompanied by massive fatigue and headache. These effects can last over a day, and in the later stages are followed by tremors in the hands and legs, which can last for weeks before going away. This drink is sometimes used by suicidal warriors before battle, but is more often used by thrill-seekers looking for the incomparable rush the drug offers. Use of this drug more than three or four times can result in ruptured blood vessels, torn muscles, and, more often, instant heart failure.
Sutramin is sold in small golden tins, and appears as a whitish gum-like cream that is scooped out in spoonfuls, spread under the tongue, and allowed to dissolve. Soon after consumption, the user is rent with waves of unimaginable pleasure, indescribable to non-users. This effect lasts for several hours, during which one feels no other desire then to lie on the floor and bask in the ecstasy. However, for many hours after the effect wears off, the user feels as if his mind has been dipped in molasses – even reaching for simple thoughts feels as though one is trying to push through a wall of gum resin. During this stage, one will also find it very hard to form coherent words – most users simply lie on the floor until clarity returns. Even after the first use, the user’s lips will begin to darken. Repeated use also causes deep bruising around the cheeks and neck. While Sutramin has an almost prohibitively high price, commoners have been known to sell all they owned for a second taste, then moving on to crime, as funds run low. In addition, several Nobles have run their lands finances into the ground in their lust for the substance, losing their wealth and minds in the process.
Many of these substances are combined to create a more specific effect. Tincture of Ergot is combined with Rush and a small amount of Blush to create a more social, party drug. Usually called Twirl. Blush is cost prohibitive, so in some cases it is left out, with another less powerful aphrodisiac substituted, such as LightCloak or Moonflower Root. Sometimes nothing is added and just the suggestion of its presence is enough to cause the desired lack of inhibitions. In a few cases, Mad Dust has been mixed in for disastrous effects.
A combination of Flash and a miniscule amount of Sutramin. Very popular with the wealthy. The Sutramin seems to balance out the come-down of the Flash, at the cost of being extremely addictive and expensive.
Lightweed is a lightly colored tobacco, sold in cans and packets, and smoked in pipes just as one would do with any other legal leaf. When smoked, it gives off a soft white smoke with a curious herbal smell, and slowly sends the user into a pleasant, relaxing, somewhat euphoric state, eventually making one feel as if one is floating, weightless. While there are no immediate drawbacks to the weed, frequent use makes quick thinking a little harder than usual, and addicts are subject to frequent (and embarrassing) Freudian slips, often at the worst possible times. Lightweed is also sold in incense sticks, and in variations that give off colored smoke, as well as more intense feelings – at appropriate costs.
Crackwood (Gorumb Bark)
Crackwood is a minor narcotic, made from tough strips of the bark of the Gorumb tree. It can be smoked, but its usually chewed. It causes a pleasant tingling and numbing sensation in the tongue, mouth, and jaw that lasts for around an hour. While it has a neutral herbal taste to it, use over time blackens and browns users’ teeth and gums, and too-frequent use can result in lack of feeling and coordination in the mouth. It is often chewed by soldiers on the march, or smoked at guildhall meets.
Karosin is made of the finely-ground dark leaves of the Cridstalk Fern, a plant found in the southern forests of Elom. It is tamped into pipes and burned, at which point it creates a fine white smoke with a terrible acrid smell. This smoke burns both the eyes and throat, and is extremely uncomfortable to inhale. Yet inhaled it is, as once the smoke enters the lungs, the user receives a vibrant, jolting burst of energy, which also instills a great sense of social confidence. A few hours later, as the effects wear off, the user will sink into a deep sullen state of mind, sometimes even into depression. This state lasts much longer than the initial rush, and also leaves users looking pale and haggard the next day. Addicts can be spotted by their constant rending, dry, coughs.
Various forms… we all know the effects.