Sunday, November 27, 2016

Botany and Alchemy in Rêve

Art by Rolland Barthélémy

Rêve: the Dream Ouroboros devotes five pages to botany.  “If one might suppose that every plant that grows in our real world also grows in the universe of Rêve,” the rules suggest, “one might also suppose that others do too.”  While Dream Keepers are encouraged to come up with original plants, several examples are provided, categorized into five groups.

Some examples of Rêve herbs include:  Mercurion (“A blackish ivy one of the base herbs used in alchemy”), Moonflower (A rare alpine plant that – when “picked at night and under moonlight” – can be ingested to recover dream points; its potency is based on the lunar phase when harvested), and Murus (“A kind of minuscule thistle with purplish green leaves,” murus is used for healing; not to be confused with false murus, also used for healing).

Among the Fruits & Berries of Rêve, there are:  Clopinette (Having “very little juice...a neutral taste, not sweet, not even bitter, and...a pitifully low nutritive value” – this fruit is “ordinarily snubbed by the locals, and even wild animals.”  Clopinette is usually “left for Journeyers.”), Floom (The Floom fruit has “an acrid, bitter taste, and is even less nutritious than the clopinette.”  However, “a larval parasite...eats the interior of the fruit...leaving behind a brownish excrement, a sort of oily gelatin...[which] is highly nutritious, although it is most disgusting.”), and Lulube (This is a “small round red fruit whose taste is part cherry, part lemon.”).

Descriptions of Edible Mushrooms include a flavor value “from 1 (bland) to 5 (excellent).”  Some edible mushrooms are:  Dream Trumpet (A very rare specimen “shaped like a dark violet conch.”  Flavor = 5), Primoon (A commonly found, “small mushroom with a white foot and flat green tender cap.”  Flavor = 1), and Tricolite (A rarely found “mushroom with a white foot...and large green cap with blue dots.”  Flavor = 4).

Examples of Poisonous Fruits & Mushrooms include:  Thanatary Amanita (With “lightning-quick deadliness,” this is the most toxic mushroom and also one of the most beautiful...), Hecatomb (“A small red pear with a shiny skin, it has a not disagreeable acidulous flavor”), and Peevle (The fruit of the peeve shrub is not especially malignant; it “looks very much like a clopinette, but with a pearly skin”).

The various Venomous Plants of Rêve “produce swelling around the scratches caused by their spikes or contact with their leaves.”  Other “symptoms are feelings of suffocation, dizziness and cold sweats.”  Examples of these plants include:  Aggravile (“A false fern with razor-sharp leaves producing a mortal venom.”), Basilisque (“While this plant looks like it might be a relative of mint or basil, it  has hive-producing leaves.”), and Ossiphage (“Also called a bonesucker, this climbing creeper has triangular, purplish leaves.  Each leaf has three long spikes at each point of the triangle.  Its venom is so fast that the victim often succumbs in a few steps and dies entangled in the vine.”)

Rêve includes 'Principles of Alchemy' as a game aid.  Alchemy is not magical in that it is not a draconic art.  However, “some alchemical preparations may be enchanted in order to increase their potency.”  As presented in the rules:
Alchemy is a science of colors and textures.  It requires only basic equipment:  fire, a cauldron, mortar and pestle, a funnel, parchment for filtering, and a sealable vial.  Its practice revolves around three characteristics:  Intellect, for knowledge of formulæ and their implementation; Sight for identification of colors, and Dexterity for identifying textures.
Alchemical colors, “which correspond to degrees of heat,” can only be identified by using an Alchemist's Lens.  Such a lens is not among the equipment listed above.  While it may be purchased from an alchemist's shop, a lens can be manufactured using basic alchemical processes.

“The seven alchemical textures, more or less fluid, thick, plastic, etc. have been given animal names:  Fox, Goat, Horse, Owl, Rabbit, Serpent, [and] Sheep.”

There are three basic types of alchemical ingredients:  herbs, salts, and gems.  “Most can be readily found in nature,” but all can “be purchased from an alchemist or apothecary.”

Mercurion, satum, and nevropenthe are the three basic alchemical herbs.

The “seven common alchemical salts” are, in order of increasing value:  Candricle, Boralm, Green Obbyssum, Grey Obbyssum, Obadion, Nartha, and Chramaelium.  The first four can be found in nature; for instance, candricle is “a white powder found under the barks of numerous trees.”  The last three common salts require alchemical processing.  For example, “Obadion is a bluish powder obtained from the alchemical extraction of an ore called obadine, a kind of peat.”

Gems are measured in terms of size and purity.  Each grain counts as one unit of size.  Purity is represented on a scale of 1 to 7.  Size × Purity = cost in sols.  (For purposes of comparison, the price of a bastard sword is 30 sols; a saddle horse is 40 sols.)  A jeweler can add value to a gem.  The rules list “twelve gems [that] are the most sought-after.”  Some of these gems are:  Aquafane (deep green), Scarlatine (clear red or orange), and Turnmoon (violet or blue).

The rules describe seven common alchemical formulæ that are “assumed to be known to all characters with at least mastery in Alchemy” (i.e., level zero).  Each formula requires several skill rolls.
As one can only know at the very end whether a given procedure was successful or not, the character is assumed to perform the entire operation continuously and then makes all rolls together at the end.  If any one roll is a failure, the entire operation is ruined.
The described formulæ include basic operations, such as Alchemist's Lens and Alchemical Pulverization, as well as three potions, Strength, Dexterity, and Double Healing.  (A Potion of Double Healing increases the effects of a healing potion.)

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