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January 10, 2006, 5:18 am

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Marcaine's Soothing Brew


This Herbal Potion was made by Marcaine, a herbalist renowned for his penchant for making all his potions intoxicating in one way or the other

Full Item Description
Soothing Brew is often delivered in a ceramic jar or glass vial. It smells strongly of the bitter Malthusa Flower, the main ingredient in the potion, and tastes equally bitter, often making the imbiber cringe. The substance is thick and chunky and yellow in colour, there are sometimes hard bits of the Shadowbirch Bark in the brew, for the bark need not be grinded to be effective.

Anyone imbibing the brew will become relaxed and calm within ten minutes, in effect immune to all fear. Nerves will no longer be a problem and the imbiber will seem in control of all his actions. He will talk with a slur and his eyes will seem a little blank. In combat the imbiber will react sluggishly, and spellcasting will be hard to do. Yet the imbiber will feel little pain, will not become afraid or fearful in any circumstances and will feel overly courageous. He might even fight on, even with grievous wounds, after he should have fallen. In addition the imbiber will forget all notions of mercy and will slaughter their enemy with disquieting ease, even enjoying doing so. This has led to some former users of the soothing brew to develop psychological disorders, as they struggle to cope with their former deeds.

The brew is addictive and there will be abstinences some time after use. The onset time is 10 minutes; the duration is 3-4 hours, unless prolonged by further drinking of potions. The abstinences begin 2-3 hours after that.

Marcaine was an herbalist living in the Southern Quarter of the city of Ûr-Kanesh some five centuries ago. While generally known as a drunk, he did have some amount of talent and was a skilled herbalist. Especially fine were his painkillers and his sleep potions, and his customers joked that anything intoxicating was his field of speciality.

When Marcaine died in sleep by suffocating in his own puke, his house was robbed clean of all recipes and notes. The recipe for the soothing brew was copied and distributed widely and is nowadays a basic recipe for many herbalists. There has even been created new potions based on the soothing brew.

Selling it: Soothing brew is sought after by addicts or mercenaries leaving for war. There are tales about those mercenary bands that fight like demons, refusing to surrender, because they drank Soothing brew before battle. The use is prohibited in many national armies, because the soldiers have problems following orders and tend to stupidly charge enemies, even when outnumbered by ridiculously superior numbers. The brew lies within the middle range of drug cost.
Usage and hooks: Have you ever wondered how those magical potions convey all manner of benefits without even giving a slight hangover? Well, following the logic that everything should be balanced, my herbal concoctions deliver benefits, but with a cost.

• There are Mercenary bands that are willing to sacrifice much to get the job done and get a good reputation, because a good reputation means a lot of money. Such mercenary bands are also widely known as black hearted murderers and madmen. They need a war to sustain their income so that they can buy ever more Soothing Brew or the other drugs necessary to keep so many men facing death without running away.

Such a mercenary bands is the “Lotus Dagger Mercenaries”. In an area far removed from war, they can be found. While peace and prosperity suits everyone just fine, the Lotus Dagger Mercenaries have turned into brigands and strike out to rob the countryside from a watermill they acquired from its previous owner. Not only must the PCs end their threat, they must also save several of the mercenaries and in particular the mercenary captain, for he has saved the King’s life in battle several times and his life only the King can end. Be careful to describe the Captains earlier heroics, his endless sacrifices to the kingdom, but also mention the doings of the lotus daggers. Let it be a goal to make the PCs think of their own characters and their own bad deeds; let them compare themselves with the brigands. A nice moral dilemma adventure, with a lot of possibilities for dialogue and combat.
The best solution would obviously be to destroy the last reserves of drugs, releasing the horses of the mercenaries and then parlaying when they are over the worst abstinences. (Possibly while they are marching towards the nearest village to rape and plunder, utilizing their soberness to parlay)

• The PCs meet the King himself, whom they know due to their former deeds of courage, but the nature of the meeting is less than they would have expected. During a midnight stroll in the capital they are ushered into an alley, to be confronted with the nervous old King wearing trousers, a half way buttoned shirt and his pyjamas long hat. He us accompanied by several serious looking men in plain black and grey clothes.

It seems like the royal Princess, fifth daughter of the King, has gotten herself some nasty habits. She has been having irrational fits of rage and out of character violence against her chambermaids. Lately she has been disappearing from her chambers at night. She is the youngest child of the King, and the only child he has seen raised as she was born after his warring days. As a matter of fact the King loves her so much more than the other children, that she has become “severely and acutely spoiled” as the other heirs to the throne says, and coming from them it is serious. The King does not know her whereabouts, or what she is up to, but he is very, very frightened. For he cares more about her, than about anything else.

As a matter of fact she has fallen in with a bad crowd. Whether she met them through an unsavoury noble out to hurt the King, or while out “slumming”, is up to the GM, but she is indeed in trouble. She has become an addict to Soothing brew and perhaps to other drugs as well. She is extremely spoiled and utterly lacking empathy. This combined with her drug use, has made her into truly horrendous little monster. This very night she has fled and together with her new boyfriend and his gang of drug dealing cutthroats, she plan to demand a ransom from her father and to leave with her boyfriend to “have fun and get high, as far away as I can manage”.

So after a night of fruitless searching, the PCs finally get a clue leading to the docks. When they get there it seems evident that the Princess has been taken aboard a small sloop heading for a rivalling Kingdom. Meanwhile the King has gotten a ransom note demanding a huge sum lest his daughter be sold to the King of the rivalling nation. Then it is up to the PCs to chase her down and retrieve her, before she is killed, sold or decides to take her own life, for the reality of things will become evident to her as soon as they are outside of her fathers reach. For her boyfriend will no longer be nice, his friends will be a little too friendly and her precious drugs will no longer be “available for trash like her”.

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Comments ( 2 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted MoonHunter
November 6, 2005, 19:17
Like so many things in this Codex, it is a great post. This is a worthy post of a 5/5. It has good bones, it is well presented, and it can lead to a variety of uses.

Voted Michael Jotne Slayer
January 9, 2006, 8:54
I like the way you build this one up Ancient Gamer, in the intoduction I was thinking; "Ah it's that kind of drug". But then you kept on pouring the effects and I realized it wasn't.
Perhaps you are a little hard on the addictive part but then again perhaps not.
The post is followed up with a great plot hook which makes this one worth to use.

Splendid work.

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