Sunday, July 27, 2014

Poisons in Man, Myth & Magic

Nearly two pages of the forty-page 'Advanced Rules' of Man, Myth, & Magic are devoted to the topic of poisons; more poisons are described in The Egyptian Trilogy.  Page 29 tells us that “while anyone may buy available poisons only the Wisewoman and Apothecary classes may concoct them.”  The rules go on to say that...
While only Apothecary Classes may concoct, or make poisons, not every Apothecary Class may concoct every type of poison.  To determine which Character Class may make which kind of poison see the specific Character Classes.
However, the character class descriptions fail to include this information.  Instead, these details are to be found in the grimoire in the back of Book II.

In MM&M, poisons have either a full effect or a half effect depending on the poison's potency and the victim's Strength, Endurance, and Courage.

For purposes of this post, there are three ways that poisons may reach a victim:  ingested, topical, and weapon.  In order for poisons applied to weapons to be effective against victims, the roll to hit must exceed the minimum to hit by 30% “and the damage number rolled must be at least 25% higher than that needed to penetrate the victim's armor.”  If these conditions are met, the poison will be 85% effective.  How this correlates to the full effect/half effect model is not explained.

Here are the various poisons described in MM&M.  Thoul's Paradise does not attest to the accuracy of this information; it is presented for purposes of entertainment only.

Curare  (topical/weapon)
Strychnos toxifera is the Western Hemisphere plant from which curare is derived.  For purposes of MM&M (which does not address the New World at all), this poison is made from the vine of the “African” Strychnos toxifera mixed with goat's milk.
Full Effect:  “Causes total paralysis in a matter of seconds with death following in a few moments.”
Half Effect:  Causes partial paralysis within a few minutes that lasts a day.  Also causes “violent illness” which lasts for three days.

Hari Zaranya (ingested)
Better known as arsenic, hari zaranya cannot be concocted by any MM&M class.  A single dose large enough to be lethal is not practical.  So, “For purposes of the game, three doses can be lethal.”
Full Effect:  “Victim begins to perspire and then passes out never to awaken.”
Half Effect:  Victim passes out for up to 48 hours; illness persists for days.

Hemlock (ingested)
Roots of the Conium maculatum are “dried and pulverized into power.”  The powder is mixed with a liquid, then imbibed.
Full Effect:  “Causes victim to become drowsy and dizzy followed in a few moments by a sleep from which he will never awaken.”
Half Effect:  Victim wakes “after 12 to 36 hours with upset stomach, headache, and mild fever.”

Henbane (ingested/weapon)
Portions of the Hyoscyamus niger are made “into a salve like, brownish, foul smelling substance.”  The substance may be applied to a weapon or burned in a fire.  Breathing the smoke will not cause more harm than the listed half-effect.
Full Effect:  “Victim immediately begins to feel drowsy, followed in seconds by a feeling of unreality and timelessness.”  Moments later, the victim will fall into a coma from which he has a 75% chance of surviving.
Half Effect:  The coma-like sleep “will last between 12 and 16 hours” with no chance of fatality.

Jimson Weed (ingested)
Datura stramonium is another Western Hemisphere plant that would not have been available in the MM&M setting.  As such, leaves of the “Mediterranean” Jimson plant are ground into powder and mixed with liquid.
Full Effect:  “Causes victim to have heart attack with 90% chance of being fatal.”
Half Effect:  “Causes victim to have minor heart attack with 35% chance of being fatal.”

Mandrake (ingested)
Extract is derived from the Mandrake plant, producing a clear fluid with a bitter taste.  As such, “it usually must be administered in a heavily flavored drink.”
Full Effect:  A quarter of an hour after exposure, the victim starts to hallucinate.  “This is followed by a high fever and severe stomach cramps” and then death.
Half Effect:  “Causes victim to hallucinate, followed by mild convulsions and vomitting [sic] and high fever.”  Illness can last from one to three days.

Monkshood (ingested)
White or purple flowers from the Aconitum family are used to create a clear, almost tasteless fluid.
Full Effect:  Victim suffers breathing difficulties and a “pounding heart” before entering a coma then dying within an hour. 
Half Effect:  As above, but the victim will pass out with only a 10% chance of entering a coma; victim will wake within eight hours and recover completely within forty-eight hours.

Naja Haje (weapon)
Venom from the Egyptian Cobra is “mixed with a previously prepared ointment made from locust excrement and fish liver oil.”  Strangely, 'Apep Ointment' is listed as a separate poison although it would seem to be the same.
Full Effect:  “Causes victim to perspire blood, with Liver, Kidney and Stomach failure.”  Victim suffers convulsions and death typically ensues within ten minutes.
Half Effect:  “Victim...becomes ill to varying degrees...[and] will remain ill for many weeks.”  There is an unknown “percentage chance of dying in the first two weeks.”

Nightshade (ingested/weapon)
Ripened berries from Nightshade plants are processed into “a slightly pinkish, almost clear fluid.”
Full Effect:  Death within thirty minutes preceded by “dry throat...itching, anger, [and] drowsiness.”
Half Effect:  As above, but instead of death, “a coma that will last a random amount of time and often is accompanied by permanent blindness.”

Nux Vomica (topical/weapon)
Seeds from the Strychnos Nux-vomica must be pulverized then “mixed with pulverized earth worms and water to form a smelly, jelly-like substance.”
Full Effect:  Localized muscle spasms will occur within five minutes, spreading until all muscle control is lost; “finally blindness occurs just prior to death.  The whole process is accompanied by intense pain and skin irritation usually causing loud screaming.”
Half Effect:  Not applicable.  It “is either always fatal” or there is a 5% chance of a victim having “natural immunity.”

Scorpion Venom (weapon)
Venom from scorpions “must be mixed with palm tree oil and simmered until thick.”
Full Effect:  “Victim will have severe irritation and itching around the spot of application.”  Within five minutes, the pain will be so intense that “the victim will cease normal function.”  Death occurs within forty minutes of application, preceded by facial swelling.
Half Effect:  If the victim does not receive treatment within an hour of exposure, victim experiences 'full effect' symptoms.  Even with treatment, there is a 40% chance that the infected area or limb must be removed or amputated to prevent death within a day.

Thornapple  (ingested)
This poison is derived “from the pollen of the Thornapple flower which can only be obtained from bees which have collected pollen from the plants.”  One dose apparently requires about two dozen bees.
Full Effect:  “Victim will become irritable within seconds...followed by insanity, coma and death within minutes.”
Half Effect:  As above, but victim “will recover from coma in two to three days with a 30% chance of being permanently insane.”  The percentage chance of the victim subsequently becoming an RPG blogger is not given.

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