They're coming, they'recoming, they'recomingcomingcoming, oh gods they are COMING, screamed John in his mind as he tore through the woods. He heard the shouts behind him as the barbarians raced after him. The elves and the orcs had taken the lead in their pursuit, for the others had too short legs to run fast enough.John, panic shining in his eyes, half swam, half sprinted through the swamp of northeastern Tauria. The barbarians must have been the cursed Raiders, or they must have evaded the Purge after the World War. But that wasn't important. What was important was that they wanted to kill John.A hail of arrows thudded into the water in front of him. With a start, John hurled himself to the left, hitting the water with a splash, and took off.He soon reached the river. It was too deep to cross quickly. He'd be a sitting duck if he tried it. So he followed it, uncaring of the signs that said that he was going downstream...Moments later, the sparkling ocean appeared. With the ocean blocking him from going forward and left, and the river on the right, John tried desperately to find an out, an escape, an, an, an...That was odd. Where was he? What was the ocean doing there? And the river? And the sun? Why was it so low?“Oh gods,” murmured John. “What the hell just happened?”All John could remember was collecting crabs from his traps and finding a strange flower...
Friar's Weed is an interesting flower. It lives in watery environments, especially swamps, but the flower can live near rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, etc, but with decreasing numbers as the amount of water goes down. It prefers standing water to moving water, however.
Friar's Weed is a poison. It has a very strong neurotoxin. This neurotoxin creates an irrational fear in the victim's mind, a fear that forces them to run as far away as possible, as fast as possible. The victim usually has no memory of why he/she ran away, or how, and especially where he/she is now. Usually, the person will mentally conjure up some threat to make the running seem plausible, to make the irrational fear rational (in an imaginary sort of way). As in the above John example, John had gotten poisoned from the neurotoxin, started running, and had imagined up the barbaric races that trying to kill him. The fact that barbarians in eastern Tauria is implausible was explained away with jumps to conclusions (these being that they were Raiders or had evaded the purge).
This neurotoxin is secreted onto the petals, leaves, and other parts of the flower's head. Touching the flower with bare skin results in getting poisoned. Sniffing or ingesting the flower will also result in being poisoned.
The flower, however, has a unique reproductive life cycle. Its neurotoxin has been evolved to not effect mosquitoes. It also, when it comes time to reproduce, creates a strong odor that encourages mosquitoes to come to the flower. The mosquitoes spread the Friar's Weed's pollen from flower to flower. They also spread the pollen and the neurotoxin to other food sources- like, for example, humans.
When the neurotoxin is mixed with the common mosquito venom, it does not produce the fear affect typical of Friar's Weed. Instead, the combination sends its victim into a state of increased lethargy, apathy, and laziness, until the effects wear off. This lethargy will usually result in the victim sitting down, lieing down, or otherwise resting until the effects wear off. Predators will be more likely to eat the victim, pick up the pollen, and spread it themselves, since the victim will be easy prey.
For certain breeds of Friar's Weed, the mosquito-delivered neurotoxin has the same fear effect, but at a slightly higher amount of fear and a couple of minutes between getting bitten by the mosquito and running away screaming about aliens trying to abduct you (that is, if the player had decided that his/her PC believed in aliens in a fantasy universe). This breed tends to live near moving water and spreads its seeds via dropping them in the water or by air.
Friar's Weed's poison can be gained quite easily be pressing the flower, and draining the extra plant matter out of it. Diluting the poison with water to get more of it is a common practice, but the higher the ratio of water to poison, the lower the length of the fear lasts.
This poison is commonly used in war with diluted Friar's Weed coating the tips of an archer's corps arrows. The temporary irrational fear, combined with the fact that there is a very real fear to be afraid of, usually increases the overall effect. After the poisoned volley, a cavalry charge or an infantry rush clears the frightened, panicked foe from the field. Indeed, such tactics were used to great affect by the Taurian military during the World War.
Another common use is with influencing royal decrees. Poisoning a king or another authority figure with a small amount of heavily diluted Friar's Weed can cause a small increase of fear, which in turn can tip the king's decision to something that the poisoner would prefer.
A third use is in gambling. As with the royal decrees, knowing that your opponent is going to be more afraid is a tool in a gambler's arsenal that he/she can use, making it far easier to bluff.
Of course, there are many more possible uses for the poison. Indeed, the only factor limiting use of the flower is its cost. Going into swamps, as well as wearing protective gear at all times, drives its price up, which is a reason it is usually diluted by either the seller or the user. Some sellers, however, dilute it and sell it as an undiluted product.
Additional Ideas (1)
A travelling group of anophelites passes through a swamp with a Friar's Weed population in bloom. The whole group is drawn to the flowers and drinks their sap, getting hit by the neurotoxin so hard that they go crazy permanently. The group then runs like mad to the nearest village and drains the stunned population for as much blood as they can get before the people start fighting back. Then they retreat in the swamp and start creating a homunculus army to fight off an imaginary enemy. The players happen to be near the place and have to stop the crazed anophelites before its too late.