Drugs and Poisons

The Taste of Death

Poisons and drugs can have the following mechanical effects:

  • One penalty or bonus die to all abilities related to one pool. This can be chosen multiple times to affect one pool more than once or different pools. It is not uncommon for a drug to affect different pools in different ways: the crimson blossoms of blood poiture increase Vigor-based abilities while eroding Reason-based ones.
  • Harm. All poisons and drugs do temporary harm to the character taking them, but this provides a real, physical harm. This works like the Secret of Imbuement to increase the poison’s effect, and can be taken multiple times, like that Secret.
  • Unconsciousness. Drugs and poisons often knock their recipients into a dazed or unconscious state.
  • Loss or heightening of a sense. This is really a specialized version of penalty and bonus dice above. In this case, the bonus or penalty dice are increased by two, and all abilities that rely on that sense are affected. However, with this effect, the dice can be reversed by overstimulation. A drug which enhances touch to the point one can read print with his fingertips can result in that character having a major penalty the first time she gets hit.

There is not a definitive list of poisons and drugs in The Shadow of Yesterday. Instead, all can be made from the above list of effects. While some poisons and drugs have beneficial effects, they all have some negative effects, and are all known as “poisons.”

Poisons can be undistilled or distilled. An undistilled poison is one found in nature as a plant, herb, or flower. To use it, you must deliver it orally. To find an undistilled poison, a successful Herb Lore check needs to be made. The found material can be used as a poison, but it can only have one beneficial effect from the above list. It must have one deleterious effect. The result of the Herb Lore check should be recorded as the poison’s potency.

To increase its potency, and allow it to be used via other methods, the poison must be distilled. Using the Distill Herbs ability, with bonus dice from the Herb Lore check, extra effects can be added. The first extra effect is free, and others can be gained using Ammenite Secrets. When a poison or drug is distilled, it is made into an infusion, the essence of the poison suspended in liquid, usually grain alcohol. The infusion must be taken orally, injected, or otherwise gotten into the target’s bloodstream in order to take effect. The result of the Distill Herbs check is the distilled poison’s potency.

When a poison or drug is administered to someone, they must make a resisted Endure ability check. They are resisting an already rolled check – the potency.

In the case of an undistilled poison, the character comes to no harm if the Endure check is successful, and receives any beneficial effect the substance has. If unsuccessful, all the effects take place, and the character takes harm equal to the potency. The poison’s negative effects last until the harm is gone; the beneficial effects last until the end of the next scene with that character.

In the case of a distilled infusion, the character receives the undistilled effects if the Endure check is successful, but takes no harm. The effect wears off in the next scene. If unsuccessful, the infusion’s full effect takes place, with harm, and the negative effects do not wear off until that harm is gone. The positive effects last until the end of the next scene with that character.

Drugs and Poisons

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