The Black Oleander is well known through Falhath and was exported to the Midlands as an ornamental plant. It pruduces a number of woody stems, rather like a bush. In the wilds of the Great Woses, well east of the Bosque valley these plants can grow up to twenty feet tall and be more than 15 wide.
The leaves are long and narrow and radiate out from the central stalk, some have called the plant the Crown of Swords, but the name is only useful among botanists and plant collectors. It flowers in late spring and eary summer, and the blossoms are noticeable for their velvety texture and deep blue, almost black color. It is this deep hue that grants the plant it’s name. An interesting fact is that the plants that were relocated to the Midlands bloom a much lighter shade of blue.
The Oleander is a poisonous plant. The juices from it can cause nausea, dizziness, and fatigue, while consuming the leaves, flowers or stems simply extends the duration of the symptoms. After blooming, the plant produces small waxy pods that contain one seed in each. This seed can kill.
It is a longstanding tradition, and addiction of the Falhathian nobility to consume a potion brewed of many things, one of which is the seed of the Black Oleander. This potion creates a feeling of dislocation, mild euphoria, and even a surreal sense of lucidity. With the ascencion of the Trinistine Faith, usage of this potion has fallen off dramatically.
A new trend has emerged in the last few years. A mix of old ancestor veneration, and rebellion against the heirarchy of the nobility and the church has sparked an interest in the seed as a suicide pill. If a person consumes a single seed, it will cause their heart to radically slow, and if untreated, can cause the heart to fail completely. It is told in the new telling of the tale that Romeus, son of Montag D’Ozea and his forbidden lover Julian of Dreifach both took oleander seeds and died in each other’s arms.
For the Faith - The Church has gotten rumor of the Oleander potion (like opium, man) is coming back into circulation. The PCs are duty bound/contracted to seek out the new source of the potion and eliminate it. This could lead the PCs into the seedy underworld of the Holy Land where the plant is cultivated, or across the continent to find the masterminds of a multi-kingdom drug running empire. This may seem far fetched, but the British ran a good long scam against the Chinese selling illegal opium they brought in on their ships back in the day.
For the money - The PCs have found a way to payroll it to the bigtime. A new crime boss has decided to put the Oleander potion back on the market and needs suppliers, manufacturers, and dealers for the venture. What’s the gain? All the money in the land, what’s to loose? Everything, the law could so strict that people found with materials to make the potion are to be executed on site.
For the Show - Several people have been assassinated, having eaten and about an hour later passing into a death like sleep before perishing. No magic can be found, and the only clue is a single glossy black seed. The PCs are set on the trail of a very subtle poisoner.
And Go - The PCs have been acquired to protect a very unhappy and dramatic princess. While resting near a garden the Princess picks a seed pod, eats the seed and very inconveniently dies on the PCs. They now have to deal with a very irate, and possibly militant employer, public backlash, and even death threats while they try to prove their innocence. All because of a simple black flower.
In Real Life the Oleander is a poisonous plant, and eating the seeds can cause heart failure. This is the newest ‘suicide fad’ in Sri Lanka.