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Encylopedia of Novi: Herbs

(Including Breads, Drugs, Poisons, and Biological Weapons)

Introduction

By Lowell R. Matthews, 2000

Version 1.0, July 25, 2000*

Greetings, Rolemaster aficionados!

Several years ago, while I was running a RM2 game, I found myself trying to look up prices for some of the healing herbs the PC's had requested. Unfortunately, I couldn't remember whether they were listed in Rolemaster (part of the RM2 Character Law), the Rolemaster Companion (I), or another book, so they took me awhile to find. Naturally, I looked in the wrong place first.

Another time, some of the PC's went actively searching for herbs in the wild, and I found myself wondering for what precisely it was they should be searching! The descriptive information presented in RM for, say, the powerful Lifegiving herb vulcurax is limited to: "Vulcurax | h-J-9 | Berry/apply | 1000 gp | AF 0. Lifegiving, if given within 30 days." (The information in RC1 and RM modules was just as scant, if not more so.) I've always been interested in the sciences. While I chose to specialize in inorganic chemistry and materials science, I've loved nature lore since at least my Boy Scout days. The RM herb entries work for the purposes of game mechanics, but they leave the herbalist in me unsatisfied.

Therefore, because I wanted to compile all of the various lists of herbs (and the related breads, drugs, poisons, and diseases or biological weapons) into one resource and to create much more detailed descriptions, I decided to write my own herbs article. Over the years since, I have had numerous requests for it, so I must have done something at least halfway right.

The main article, Part I, lists the herbs and related items by category of effect or use, for the most part following the outline given in RM. It also contains notes on their effects and dosages, searching, preparation methods, and mechanics. The codes directly behind each entry indicate the RM source cited, the search code for the item's native biome, preparation, base price, and addiction factor; the text describes more fully the item's characteristics and use.

Part II lists the items alphabetically, with codes for use category and RM source; it serves mainly as an index to the original source books or modules. The sources cited in the current version of this article are RM, RC1, and The Court of Ardor module, all for Rolemaster Second Edition, and Gamemaster Law for Rolemaster Fantasy Role Playing (RM Fourth Edition). To the best of my ability, I have reconciled the conflicts that arose between the different sources. Additions and revisions to this article will be made in the near future, beginning with the Middle-Earth Role Playing supplement Hands of the Healer.

Part III lists the items by climate code, the most convenient format I have found for determining which herbs or related items might be found in a particular locale. It allows the GM to streamline events for PC's when searching for herbs in the wild or bargaining for them in the market. Besides climate code, each entry contains the use code and RM source.

These climate or biome codes should have substantial overlap, at least for the more common, hence widespread, herbs. For example, while mirenna (c-M-3) might be native to and relatively easy to find (+10) in cold mountainous areas, its range should extend to similar biomes, though it should be progressively harder to find for each degree of separation. As I have made mirenna a thorny vine related to the blackberry (rose family), I can make the following quick-best-guess table of similar biomes (some with multiple locales), keeping the search difficulty always higher than the reference value of 3:

c-A

6

f-A

8

       

c-C

6

f-C

7

m-CD

8

t-CD

7

c-BF

4

f-BF

5

m-BF

6

t-BF

5

c-H

4

f-H

5

m-H

6

t-H

5

c-M

3

f-M

4

m-M

5

t-M

4

c-S

6

f-S

7

m-S

8

t-S

7

c-T

5

f-T

6

m-T

7

t-T

6

Of course, such tables of extended ranges will not be very useful for many herbs, especially the rarer ones with home-biome search difficulties of 7–9. Vulcurax (h-J-9), for instance, can presumably thrive only in the tropical-rain-forest canopy. Part III also notes several items described as cultivated or domesticated; such intervention by sapient races can greatly increase their availability and consequently lower their prices in some areas. Likewise, some other items described as pests will be actively eradicated by sapient races, which can greatly decrease their availability and consequently raise their prices in those areas.

I hope you find these articles useful.


*Original material copyright June 1995, November 1998, July 2000 by Lowell R. Matthews.
Rolemaster, Rolemaster Fantasy Role Playing, and their component parts are the property of Iron Crown Enterprises and are used by the author in the context o creating a supplement for ICE's role-playing game. Sources: The Court of Ardor (Ardor), Rolemaster (RM), Rolemaster Companion I (RC I), Gamemaster Law (GML).

Editor's Note

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