Campaign of the Month: March 2016
Ptolus, City by the Spire
|Tobacco, Alcohol, and Legal Drugs||Illegal Drugs||Enhancing Drugs||Gambling||Prostitution|
The availability of substances or services that are illegal, dangerous, or addictive—or some combination thereof—makes Ptolus a den of iniquity in the minds of some.
To make things easy, each addictive substance has been given an addiction Difficulty Class. This is the DC of both a Constitution save and a Wisdom save (Constitution first). If both saves fail, the user is addicted and suffers some drawback when he does not have his regular dose. The drawback, usually damage inflicted for each day the user goes without the substance, is presented after the Difficulty Class in the substance descriptions that follow.
Overcoming addiction requires one to give up the addictive substance and make successful saves (both Fortitude and Will) for a number of consecutive days equal to the addiction DC. Further doses addict the user immediately, however. Some spells, such as neutralize poison, greater restoration, and heal, also alleviate addiction.
Tobacco, Alcohol, and Legal Drugs
Smoking is a common practice in Ptolus. Tobacco grows in fields south of the city, and local merchants import it. It is rolled into cigarettes and cigars and smoked in pipes. Tobacco prices range from 1 cp to 50 gp per smoke. At the low end, the leaves are dry, old, and often mixed with bits of common grass or trash paper. At the high end, it is not only fresh and pure but mixed with expensive herbs, oils, and even magical substances to produce enhanced flavors, scents, and sometimes colors. Smoking is considered very sophisticated and those who do not like the smell of smoke are thought uncultured. Most tobaccos have an addiction DC of 10 (Constitution damage, 1 point). Dosage is usually twice daily. Long-term use (twenty to thirty years) inflicts a one-time permanent Constitution drain of 1d4 points.
Alcohol flows more freely than water in Ptolus. Ale, beer, wine, rum, whisky, and brandy are all common. There are no special laws against drunkenness, but the Watch knows that drunk people are likely to get rowdy, so the guards patrol the area around taverns late at night with regularity. Intoxicated drinkers, in addition to losing some of their inhibitions, suffer a temporary penalty to all ability scores of –1d4 points, which lasts for 1d3 hours. Alcohol has an addiction DC of 5 (all scores damaged 2 points). Dosage is usually three times daily, although each dose for an addict is a prodigious amount. Long-term use (ten to twenty years) inflicts a one-time drain of 1d4 on all ability scores. (DMs may want to simply ignore the addictive quality of alcohol.)
Most tobaccos and alcohols are legal in the Empire (but see below). However, because they are heavily taxed, they both are smuggled into the city frequently, alcohol more often than tobacco. Smuggled goods are considered illegal substances and confiscated or destroyed if found.
The city’s physickers and herbalists use a wide variety of medicinal herbs and drugs to alleviate pain, treat symptoms, and even cure conditions such as baldness or warts. The effects of these treatments, usually brewed or applied as poultices, vary wildly. Only some are addictive and, if used as prescribed, pose little problem.
Illegal drugs usually get that way because of their highly addictive nature coupled with a dangerous effect. The Empire, in conjunction with the Church of Lothian, has outlawed substances known to be deadly, either through their use or the lack thereof. The following substances are the more well-known illegal drugs.
|Ayorith||Also known as smokeweed, ayorith is an intoxicating weed that one smokes like tobacco in cigarettes or pipes. It is a powerful relaxant, but extended use can cause death.|
|Gravebloom||Gravebloom is an extremely rare plant that grows only on the graves of those consecrated in the name of Blurrah, Goddess of Comfort in Sadness, an obscure deity with a very small following. Gravebloom flowers, however, contain a potent narcotic worth 50 gp per dose. The drug creates a feeling of utter euphoria in those who use it, producing a near catatonic state for 1d4+2 hours. Because of gravebloom, followers of Blurrah keep their burials a secret, so that would-be drug merchants do not desecrate the graves of their fallen.|
|Murlch||When beer is brewed not with hops but with the pollen of a flower called yillow that grows in the Dragonsbirth Mountains, it becomes murlch. This potent alcohol becomes a stimulant, adding an enhancement bonus of +2 to Strength and Constitution, and a penalty of –4 to Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. These modifiers last for 1d3 hours. The drink also gives one distinctively foul breath. A few taverns sell murlch on the sly, while there are secret murlch bars that serve nothing but the stimulant. Most of these secret bars are only open for a few hours at a time each day and their location moves to stay ahead of the City Watch.|
|Nightsong|| The magical/alchemical substance known as nightsong derives from an extremely rare plant found only in Cherubar. This substance changes ordinary people into powerful figures at night, able to ignore pain and perform amazing physical feats. While not addictive, the drug inflicts terrible damage on a user’s body, burning him out and eventually driving him insane.
This drug, which functions only at night, grants Strength, Constitution, and Dexterity enhancement bonuses that depend on the user’s original score. If the score is 8 or less, the increase is + 12. If the score is 9 to 14, the bonus is + 8, and if the score is 15 or higher, the bonus is + 4. Further, the user gains DR 3/— and an immunity to daze, stun, nausea or sleep effects. The effects last for 1d3+1 hours. The Challenge Rating of someone using nightsong increases by + 2.
|Shivvel|| Called the “pleasant poison” or “black sea-powder,” shivvel is developed from a black seaweed that grows near the shoreline of certain islands in the Whitewind Sea. The weed is harvested, dried, and eventually rendered into flakes or powder. When mixed with other substances, it becomes a powerful narcotic. A dose costs around 20 gp, although the price can vary greatly depending on the time of year and the seller.
Long-term use of shivvel is almost always deadly, but only after a prolonged period of madness.
Once prescribed by healers, the following drugs, distilled from various plants and flowers, have been declared illegal because of their strong addictive factor and the dire consequences of that addiction. Most people cannot survive the withdrawal damage without powerful magical assistance. These drugs inflict no harm based on long-term use. Prices below are per dose.
Gambling per se is not illegal. However, the heavy taxes placed on gambling earnings, whether won by individuals or “the house,” have made it far more profitable to gamble in secret locations away from the tax collector’s eyes. The Church would like gambling itself to be illegal: It promotes destructive behavior and encourages a fascination with chaos and randomness, as opposed to Lothian’s ordered will.
Prostitution is illegal in the Empire without a license, requiring heavy taxation and regulation. The fees, taxes, and rules involved mean that many prostitutes—most of them, in fact—operate illegally. Generally, criminal organizations control these illegal prostitutes, which means that the life of an illegal prostitute is not a terribly pleasant one. Often they are slaves forced into the profession by their criminal owners. Some specialized illegal brothels cater to deviant or strange tastes, but most streetwalkers deal in fairly straightforward sex.
Legal, licensed prostitution is not only condoned, but certain temples in the Temple District require it. In such temples, sexual practices are used as a part of worship or atonement—but only with official temple prostitutes, who serve as special priests and priestesses. Some of the few legal brothels include the White House in Oldtown, Esser’s in the Docks, and the House of Delights in the Nobles’ Quarter.
Five out of six prostitutes, legal or otherwise, are female.