Medicine & Poison

(Cue Alice Cooper's 'Poison')
Use of poison is governed by the Herbalism skill, and includes any herb or animal extract that is used to treat or inflict injury or illness. Poisons are grouped by the minimum Herbalism skill necessary to safely handle them. Handling a poison above your skill level requires a roll and failures can be Very Bad (tm). In parentheses are the methods by which the poison may be applied. As per standard MUSH policy, possession of any dose stronger than those listed under Herbalism 4 must be cleared with staff.

The below is not a complete list, simply the most common or infamous of such concoctions. Feel free to have heard rumors of poisons which can have any and all effects under the sun, just dont presume you have them, or that they actually exist.

Herbalism 0

Alcohol (ingested, contact): listed to illustrate how broad the application of the word 'poison' can be. Heavy consumption can lead to reduced mental and physical faculties, and in extreme cases, alcohol poisoning can result in 'drinking to death'.

Used as a contact poison, alcohol is a common remedy to purify cuts and prevent infection.

Herbalism 1-3

You are not yet skilled enough to automatically succeed in any handling, preparation, or application of any poisons. Handling of virulent poisons involves significant risk.

Herbalism 4

Tansy (ingested): a tall, flowering herb with button-like yellow blossoms, it smells similar to rosemary and is often used by peasants to spice eggs or puddings. If more than a few blossoms are steeped into a tea, the potency increases. This is often used to treat unsettled stomachs, fevers and shaking sickness, but a heavy dose of tansy can cause incapacitating bowel pains for up to an hour.

Tansy is one of the four ingredients (along with pennyroyal, mint, and wormwood) in Moon Tea.

Pennyroyal (ingested): leaves are green, with reddish purple or lilac blue blossoms. Pennyroyal gives off an aromatic oil which smells similar to spearmint. The leaves- fresh or dried, can be steeped into a pleasant tea as a remedy for common colds and severe headaches. In a more costly process, oil can be extracted from the leaves and refined into pennyroyal oil, which has much more potent qualities.

A strong dose of pennyroyal oil (Herbalism: 7) can cause nausea, dizziness, hot flashes, and numbness in the limbs, which commonly last 24 hours. In severe cases of pennyroyal oil poisoning, death is possible.

Wolfsbane (contact, ingested): plants grow tall and long leaved, crowned with blue, yellow, purple, or pink blossoms. The leaves give off an oil which dries into a whitish powder over time. Even light contact with this powder burns the skin and causes itching and blistering. In diluted dosage it can be a numbing agent and painkiller, though contact with open wounds must be avoided.

If ingested in a significant quantity, wolfsbane can be lethal, resulting in numbness of the mouth and burning of the stomach. If not purged from the system within an hour intense vomiting results, followed by weakness, tingling, and a burning sensation throughout the body. The pulse and breathing gradually slow until the victim dies by asphyxiation.

Herbalism 7

Moon Tea (ingested): a mix of mild doses of Tansy, Wormwood, Pennyroyal and Mint oils, moon tea is a concoction which ensures a miscarriage in mothers. Typically taken at most once a month, it is used as a form of birth control among noblewomen who might otherwise be scandalized by a pregnancy. When mixed properly, there are no negative effects to a dose of moon tea, and the woman will undergo her normal menstrual cycle.

Milk of the Poppy (ingested): made by scoring the unripened seed pods of a poppy with a very sharp knife, and collecting the sap. A small dose causes the victim to become drowsy as it dulls pain, while a larger dose will make the victim able to sleep through even severe pain. It is a favored tool of maesters in treating wounds, but must be used carefully, as it is highly addictive.

Breath of Winter (contact): believed to be of Dornish origin, also called the 'Saans kaa Jara', this is a thick ointment of the same consistency as stiff mud. It is used to deaden nerves, and while the exact mixture and components are not commonly known, it includes ingredients such as wolfsbane and powdered mint, stiffened with ash and reduced by repeated boilings. When applied it is described as both cold and tingling, before numbness sets in, hence its name. Used too liberally, it can cause the skin to turn a bright red.

Firemilk (contact): a pale red ointment that is poured directly onto open wounds, it is highly painful and causes weakness of the body for 24 hours, but it gives a chiurgeon the best chance to purify a wound and prevent infection. It is valuable, typically only used on the wounds of a noble.

Myrish Fire (contact): a thicker, dark red ointment also used in the treatment of wounds, myrish fire is a more concentrated and potent version of Firemilk, dabbed onto wounds that have begun to mortify. It is not a certain cure, but represents the best chance of mending an already infected wound.

Nightshade (ingested): a shrub with dull green leaves, pink or purple blossoms, and shiny black berries, which are highly toxic. Unlike other poisons, no medicinal use has yet been found for nightshade, making possession of the stuff an act of criminal intent. Eating even two or three of the berries can cause dizziness, an increased heart rate, hallucinations, loss of color and dilated pupils.

Nightshade is infamous for poisoning the wits, causing damage to the victim's faculties which- even if they survive the poison itself, can take weeks to fully recover.

Sweetsleep (ingested): a coarse powder used to calm nerves, lessen pain, and assist one in sleeping. A few grains are enough to calm a racing heart or steady trembles. A small pinch of sweetsleep is enough to give the victim dreamless sleep for a night, while heavier doses have been known to put the subject into an unwaking sleep (coma). Less potent and less addictive than Milk of the Poppy, it is not without it's own hazards if over used.

Wasting Potion
A solution mixed from rather common ingredients such as pepper juice and yellow mustard, it is a purifying agent carefully mixed with the intention of purging the victim's system of toxins. Its use is a common method of trying to purge dangerous poisons from a victim's stomach and bowels. Using the wasting potion is not pleasant and can further weaken a subject for 24 hours, but if one is already weak for whatever reason, the wasting potion can weaken them to the point of death.

Herbalism 10

Basilisk Blood: Exotic poison derived from thickened blood of a real basilisk, vicious reptilian beasts from the jungles of Yi Ti, across the Narrow Sea. It is said to cause madness if swallowed, and eventually heavy bleeding from the pores and death. There is no known cure.

Basilisk Venom: as the name indicates, pure basilisk venom is highly toxic, causing seizures and paralysis in victims. Like basilisk blood, there is no known cure.

Greycap (contact, ingested, inhaled): while not exotic, greycap toadstools are rarely handled because of the inherent danger they present. Even inhaling spores can sicken a victim, while the dried and ground greycap powder (swallowed, introduced to the bloodstream, or inhaled) is a slow acting, fever-dream inducing toxin that can cause organs to swell and fail over the course of several days. Symptoms include severe intestinal pains, vomiting and dehydration. If a victim survives greycap poisoning, symptoms will tend to fade over the course of a week.

Greycap has no known medicinal qualities.

Strangler (ingested): from the islands of the Jade Sea, the aged leaves of an exotic plant are soaked in a soup of lime juice, sugar, and unknown Summer Isle spices. The leaves are removed and the liquid is thickened with ash and allowed to crystallize. Each crystal is deadly, dissolving in any liquid. Once swallowed, an allergic reaction closes off the throat almost instantly, leading to death by suffocation.

Tears of Lys (ingested): the fabled weapon of legendary assassins, this is said to be a colorless, odorless, tasteless liquid which cripples the victim's stomach, killing them after several days.

Widow's Blood (ingested): a bitter concoction, a full dose will cripple the victim's bowels and bladder, leading to great discomfort and death after several days. It is treatable, although by no means a simple toxin for a healer to defeat.

Examples of Medicine

(referenced in the series)

  • Milk of the poppy is a powerful medicine that sets men to sleep despite great pain.
  • Honey, water, and herbs are mixed together to feed patients in a coma
  • Salves for bruises or sprains
  • Wasting potions and pepper juice are used to purge potentially dangerous matter from the body
  • The tears of Lys is rare and costly, clear and sweet as water and leaving no trace. It is a cruel poison that eats at a man's bowels and belly, and seems like an illness of those parts
  • Myrish fire is dabbed on cuts and feels like it burns
  • Boiling wine is used to clean out wounds
  • Firemilk is a pale red ointment used to clean wounds
  • Dreamwine is used against pain
  • Maesters are known to shave the heads of patients to treat lice, rootworm, and certain illnesses
  • A poison which seems as small, extremely purple crystals made from a certain plant that grows only on the islands of the Jade Sea. The leaves are aged and soaked in a wash of limes and sugar water and certain rare spices from the Summer Isles. Afterwards the leaves could be discarded, but the potion must be thickened with ash. The process is slow and difficult, leading to its cost. The alchemists of Lys, the Faceless Men, and the maesters of the Citadel know how to make it
  • Various poisons: sweetsleep (a pinch will bring sound and dreamless sleep, while three pinches brings death, nightshade, powdered greycap (taken from the toadstool), wolfsbane, demon's dance, basilisk venom, blindeye, and widow's blood (named so for its color, it's a cruel potion that shuts down bladder and bowels so the victim drowns in their own poisons)
  • Leeching is known of and used medicinally. Some take the practice to an extreme with regular leeching in the belief that it helps purge 'bad blood' and lead to a longer life
  • Wounds that seem near to mortification are treated with boiling wine and maggots
  • Hot wine is said to be better than compresses for colds and fluxes
  • Moon tea is used to abort children. It is made of tansy, mint, wormwood, a spoon of honey, and a drop of pennyroyal
  • A posset of herbs and milk and ale, supposedly for the purpose of increasing fertility
  • Tansy tea appears to be used by the smallfolk to induce abortions
  • Hot garlic broth and milk of the poppy are given to people with bad fevers, to warm them and take away the aches and shivers
  • Leeching is done to drain off bad blood from the ill
  • Boiling wine and a poultice of nettles can be used to try to burn out infection in severely corrupted flesh
  • Catgut is used for stitches (III: 350)
  • There are herbs that can be mixed into wine and drunk to help bring down fever
  • Leeches are used to drain bad blood from inflamed wounds
  • Myrish fire, mustard salve, ground garlic, tansy, poppy, kingscopper, and other herbs are used in healing
  • Licorice steeped in vinegar, with honey and cloves, helps restore strength and clear heads
  • Maesters will heat their medical irons
  • Nettle, mustard seed, and moldy bread can be used in a poultice to combat an infected wound
  • Chewing willow bark helps to ease pain
  • A poison using manticore venom thickened by some method (possibly magic) so rather than killing instantly upon reaching the heart, it instead takes much longer to reach the heart and thereby delays death while causing excruciating pain. The flesh mortifies and oozes pus, so much so that maggots will not do their work. Violent convulsions ensue. The rotting of the flesh cannot be treated by normal means such as boiling wine and bread mold, and the veins in an arm are turning black. Leeches used to drain blood die of the poison as well
  • A fit of the shaking sickness is treated with dreamwine to calm the victim, and then leeching is performed to thin the blood in the belief that bad blood leads to anger or other strong emotion that attract the fits
  • If needed, a maester could carry antidotes and purges against the twenty most common poisons
  • A scratch from a crannogman arrow is said to be enough to leave a man in agony with bloody bowels, screaming as blood and watery feces runs down his legs until he dies
  • Sweetsleep is named in part because of its taste. A small pinch can soothe an anxious child, but too large a dose or too regular use can be dangerous
  • Boiled vinegar to clean out a wound
  • A paste spiced with basilisk blood that gives meat a savory smell, but brings a violent madness on any creature with warm blood, whether man or beast
  • A poison that induces blindness, deposited in warm milk and giving it a slightly burnt smell and a bitter aftertaste
  • An older man with an illness that leads to severe coughing might be treated with purges, poultices, infusions, mists, sweetsleep, and bleeding
  • A poison known as heart's bane, served in a cup
  • It's claimed that a woman would only drink moon tea to avoid giving birth to a child