Saturday, June 9, 2012

1E Advanced Herbs Guide

June 9, 1977 Original Concept

Good lord, 35 years ago to the day I started an Herb Document, complete with tables and the like and somewhere along the line I never finished it. Amazing what happens when you have a bit of time, so all these years later here it is:

The party had made it out of the woods after a long sojourn into the Evermyst Forest, breaking through the heavy underbrush they found themselves on the outskirts of small Thorpe. A farmer noted their passing as they carried two gurneys with their wounded, but when they asked for directions the reply was disheartening.

“Aye, tis sad ta hear, but da closest aid is twenty leagues away in Coppice.” The farmer offered them fresh water from his well, then continued “You might wan’na try old Charlet up the road a spell. She’s odd that one, but people say she’s got da touch”. He glanced at one of the men lying on a stretcher and his stomach blanched, for deep wounds crossed his left shoulder and the man’s skin was a bluish-black in color. He quickly pointed them up the road, and backed away. With a word of thanks the party quickly moved on, the farmer watching as they passed out of sight. As they did he bowed his head, said a quick prayer, then set to plowing his field with the twin oxen.

They made it to the dilapidated hut just before nightfall, and though they were want to walk into another situation the condition of their comrades demanded speed. Light flickered from the cracks in the door, so the fighter pulled sword and hit the butt on the wood. A voice garbled but clear replied “Ya won’t find anything but trouble here, so be gone!”

“Sorry to bother you ma’am, but we heard you might be able to help our friends”. “Bother” was the reply from within. The Ranger ever tactful said “We were sent by the farmer up the road, he said you had healing...” The door wrenched open and a craggily bent woman appeared. She shuffled by the fighter carrying a torch and bent near the first gurney. “How long?” she asked.

“Well we’ve been in the woods these last…” She spun on her heals quickly and came to face the startled thief “When I ask ye how long, I mean simply how long ago was he clawed”. The mage said simply “a day”. She snorted “More like two and we need speed if we’re to save ‘em. You…” she pointed to the thief,”… up the hollow is a triple set of oaks, near their base is a Sassafras bush, I need four twigs, thicker than they are long, peeled but bark saved”.

She turned to the fighter, “I need ya to journey to Crag’s Peak, but twice a Storm Giant’s throw from here to the East. There ya will find a dense growth of Conberry – ya can’t miss ‘em for their perty orange color in torch light, bring me back…”she grabbed the man’s hands and studied them for a moment then continued “three hands full”.

“Off with the both of you and hurry!” Both men stared at her for a moment before leaving, as she turned to eye the mage and ranger. The spellcaster stood to the side reading from his traveling spell book in the torchlight while the ranger knelt near one of the gurneys. The mage never glanced up, but gently closed the book and replied “...and what dear lady shall you want from me?”

She cackled, then glared at him, “Mage, you and the Ranger ‘ill help me create a Decoction by giving me some of your blood”. The look on the ranger’s face made her cackle again.

Herbs are rarely used in game, albeit there are occasions where you may find them referenced in quests and tables of rumors. Oddly this is one of those areas where a 1E game can benefit from their inclusion, at least in this DM’s mind. For years I’ve promoted the use of Gems in gaming sessions, having enough background material handy in case a player wanted to have more detail on that special gem they just discovered in the dead Orc’s glove.

But let’s face it, rarely does a player want to do plant research, nor do they wish to fumble around studying some herb only to discover its best suited for the occasional bout of morning sickness. Yet, if they discover that a plant is poisonous or can be used to heal wounds, well that’s a different story altogether.

So this guide was created to help those DM’s whom want or need to have a bit more detail at their fingertips for campaign design – or even for that one off that needs a bit more flavor. Most DM’s won’t want or need this amount of detail, so this is certainly a niche design, with little value.

Having said that, the following pages will give background information and detail herbs as found in my Isolde-Delta Campaign. As well, I’m including a basic listing of those herbs found in the Dungeon Master’s Guide within this document for two reasons. The first is so you can see that they can be used in any campaign, and secondly because I feel showing you how I’ve designed the tables to include them might aid you to create your own set for your world. But I also set out to make these tables as user-friendly as possible for the DM so you can do a wider variety of things.

1) If your party is in a certain area, say a mixed forest and want to know what type of plant life grows there, you can reference these tables broken down by rarity of region.

2) If you’re designing a custom plant for your campaign, and are unsure about how to go about the process, I detail a fairly straight forward method that should aid you in filling in all the blanks. Included are blank templates and charts to assist you with this task.

3) If you need to add some *ahem* spice to flesh out a campaign or module, you can simply cross-index the appropriate region and find what might live there.

Understand that the material presented within is only meant as a guideline, and you’re free to use it as is, alter it to fit your own desires, or not at your own fancy. Caveat Emptor or “Let the DM beware!”


The following tables, broken down by habitat, pull all the herbs from the Master List found on the previous pages. These tables were created specifically for the Isolde-Delta Campaign, but are included herein to aid in showing how such a table can be created, and in a pinch used to generate randomly found herbs in any campaign.

Usage: 2 Options exist:
1) In Black: Decide habitat and rarity, and then roll percentile dice to find the proper herb.
2) In Red: Decide habitat, then roll percentile dice to find the proper herb

Example 1: The party is traveling through a Conifer Forest and they happen upon a Glen which is home to a witch doctor. The Dm rolls % dice (twice) – consulting the BLACK Numbers on the Conifer/Uncommon Chart and comes up with 65 and 16, respectively. Thus, the NPC has Anserke and Ukur amongst his wares. 

Example 2: The party is traveling through a Mixed Forest, and one of the players is noting what herbs he finds near a set of Ancient Ruins – as part of a research quest for a local village. The DM decides that 4 such herbs will be found and then rolls % dice – consulting the RED Numbers on the Mixed Forest Chart and comes up with 19, 84, 36, and 58. Thus, the PCS find Thurl (VC), Mandrake (VR), Elendial’s Basket (C) and Slagen (C).

I'm including a snippet of the Alpine/Mountain, Coastal and Conifer charts below so you can see a sample of how they work:

Below, and in the archive section you can find the link to the pdf file:

1E Advanced Herbs Guide

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