The material below is Open Game Content
The mandrake plant has long, wavy leaves, which grow along the ground to about 12 inches in length, and clusters of short stalks topped by light yellow, purple-tinged flowers emerging from the center. In season, the stalks sprout tiny apple-like fruits that turn deep yellow when ripe. Its leaves emit a fetid scent. Many people believe that the plant derives its name from its vaguely man-shaped roots (which extend almost four feet into the ground), but the origin of the word actually comes from mandragora, which means “hurtful to cattle.” Cattle, being none too bright, will eat the poisonous mandrake at any given opportunity — they are especially fond of the apples — and this causes their herders no end in frustration. As such, a more common name for the plant in many rustic places is “devil’s apple.”
Mandrake is one of the most popular tools in the healer’s medicine bag. In small doses, it can be used externally in ointments and poultices for relieving ulcer pains. Others use the root extract as a tea-based soporific that puts patients into a deep sleep. Unfortunately, large quantities of it induce hallucinations and can even cause death. The plant is toxic, known more than anything else for killing people and animals. Assassins like it because it’s easy and cheap to acquire, and even easier to turn into a deadly poison. On the other hand, hedge healers and country doctors like it despite its toxic disposition primarily because its healing properties are just as easy to invoke, requiring little to no effort.
It is thought, amongst country folk, that witches use the mandrake root for cursing people; they believe that the man-shaped root lends itself to malicious magic. In truth, however, mandrake’s magical affinities don’t allow for this and witches do nothing of the sort with it. (Although not for lack of trying, to hear tell.)
One remarkable subspecies of mandrake has phosphorescent fungus growing on its roots. Called “lighthouse wood” by alchemists, this fungus is sometimes used to make miner’s candles, which are light sources that don’t require flame or heat, and are used in the mineshafts as safe sources of illumination that don’t risk a gas explosion.
Climate/Terrain: Any temperate land or low mountain slope; poor, sparse soils
Bindings: Divination 6, Enchantment 3, Illusion 5
Traits: Achebane 4, Dreamstyre 10, Onslep 2,
Achebane: Like many plants, mandrake possesses pain-relieving properties. The leaves must be chewed or rubbed against the skin to have any effect, healing 2 points of subdual damage once within a single 12-hour period. Mundane concoctions made from this trait work slightly more efficiently, healing 4 points of subdual damage within a single 6-hour period.
One magical recipe for this trait results in a restorative tonic called Pigbail’s invigorative, rather than one that heals actual wound damage after it has been awakened.
Dreamstyre: Compared to the other plants with this trait, the mandrake’s hallucinogenic properties are mild unless massive amounts of it are consumed. Anyone who chews a number of ounces of the plant’s root equal to half of his Constitution modifier — or a third of an ounce for those with a zero or negative modifier — experiences delirium and random visions drawn from the subconscious, unless a successful Fortitude save is made (DC 25). As the plant’s root also has soporific and toxic traits, consuming any more than this for the purpose of simply getting high results in either coma or death on a failed Fortitude save; an even roll on the Fortitude save means permanent coma, while an odd roll indicates death. The delirium lasts 2d4 hours, but if an herbalist processes the trait into a mundane concoction it lasts a full eight hours.
Awakened, this trait confers upon one the ability to share her hallucinations with the world at large through use of the joystem magical concoction.
Onslep: A valuable medicinal trait of the plant is its ability to put to sleep those who ingest another mundane concoction made from the root, which is usually mixed into tea; however, this is considered dangerous due to the plant’s other root-based traits. The onslep-induced sleep lasts for 2 hours. Country healers use the extract to anesthetize patients before surgery, or to put patients who are in pain to sleep.
Herbalists use the awakened onslep trait to make Pigbail’s soporific.
Poison: The strongest chemical in the mandrake plant is its toxin. In small doses, it’s relatively harmless, but in larger ones it kills surely and swiftly. Many people use the root for its other traits, and end up dead because they ate just a little too much of it. As mentioned in regard to its dreamstyre trait, if a creature consumes a number of ounces of the plant’s root equal to more than half of its Constitution modifier — or more than a third of an ounce for those with a zero or negative modifier — it must make a Fortitude save (DC 25) or else enter a permanent coma on an even roll, or die on an odd roll.
The most common recipe for awakening this trait produces one of the strangest poisons ever created, shrieking mammette, which delivers its toxin aurally rather than through ingestion or contact with the skin. A strong hemorrhagic poison called purple akoidol is a second potent magical option.
Magical Concoction: Pigbail’s Invigorative
Trait: Achebane DC 19
Cost: 220 gp
Enrick Pigbail, a contemporary, and sometime competitor, of the infamous Byron B. Baird, was the first to brew this particular drink. Other concoctions utilizing the analgesic properties of mandrake abounded, but this one was easier, cheaper, and more effective. It wasn’t long before it caught the fancy of other herbalists; even Baird himself later admitted his own benign brine wasn’t half as good. The invigorative goes down with a pleasantly warm sensation, and acts like the spell lesser restoration cast at 6th level.
A side effect of the concoction is that the imbiber loses all tactile sensation in his extremities for 24 hours; this results in a –1 Dex penalty for the duration.
Magical Concoction: Joystem
Trait: Dreamstyre DC 25
Cost: 1,275 gp
Many are the praises of the drug joystem, mostly sung by down-and-out addicts looking for an easy high. It’s not chemically addictive — that is, a person can take it and not become saddled with the insatiable physical need to have more — but rather it is emotionally and socially addictive. When someone consumes the drug, which comes in the form a small, pasty red cake (sometimes called “a red tansy”), all his inner demons and desires are suddenly given shape and form right there in front of everyone’s eyes. Anyone who feels the urge can interact with the user’s visions. The effect is similar to the spells hallucinatory terrain and persistent image as cast at 10th level, except the drug-affected creature has less control over the illusion. If he makes a successful Will save (DC 20) he can roughly dictate its form or behavior for a number of rounds equal to his Wisdom ability score. Others, if they understand the illusion’s origin, can also attempt to control it with their own Will save, rolled against a DC of 30 (25 if they, too, are on the drug).
In addition to the hallucinatory effect, the drug also gives those ingesting it a mild sense of euphoria and a coating of glittery, silver dust on their skin; this results in a –2 Wisdom and –2 Charisma score penalty. The duration of joystem’s effect is four hours plus one hour for every Will modifier point the creature has. The illusion’s area of effect is equal to 10 cubic feet per Will modifier point the user has, centered on the user, with a minimum of 5 cubic feet for those with a zero or negative modifier.
Magical Concoction: Pigbail’s Soporific
Trait: Onslep DC 17
Cost: 18 gp
This packet of dust is pure white in color with a faint scent of rosemary, which is odd considering the pungent odor of the mandrake from which it is derived. When the packet is thrown, it bursts into a cloud approximately 15 feet in diameter. Any creature caught in it must make a Fortitude save (DC 18) or fall asleep for 1d6 rounds. If one ounce of the powder is ingested, the creature must make a Fortitude save against a DC of 35 or immediately fall asleep for 25 hours. Dispel magic nullifies the powder’s effect.
Poison: Shrieking Mammette
Type: Aural DC 20
Trait: Poison DC 22
Primary Damage: 1d6 Int
Secondary Damage: Deafened, plus 1 hp per round for 1d6 rounds
Cost: 294 gp
This female doll is carved from the already vaguely humanoidshaped root of the mandrake plant. It’s about five to eight inches in length, and has a primitive quality to it. When one of its limbs is broken off, the mammette releases a hideous wail, infecting any unprotected creature within 30 feet that fails a Fortitude save (DC 20) with an auditory poison. For 2d6 rounds a painful, sanity-splitting shrieking fills the poisoned creature’s head, temporarily reducing its Intelligence and each round causing 1 hit point of damage as his eyes and ears begin to bleed.
There are stories that relate how, occasionally, a mischievous wizard or herbalist will awaken the root while it’s still attached to the plant in the ground, so that anyone who digs it up and clips it from the stem takes the brunt of the poison damage. Because of this, it’s not unheard of for some wary harvesters to use dogs for sniffing out and unearthing the plant, while they wait safely out of range.
Poison: Purple Akoidol
Type: Ingested DC 20
Trait: Poison DC 22
Primary Damage: 1d4 Con per round for 2 rounds
Secondary Damage: 1d4 hp per round for 2 rounds
Cost: 270 gp
Purple akoidol is an odorless, lambent indigo liquid distilled from the poisonous roots of the mandrake plant. While it has no scent, it does have a noticeable fermented taste to it that reacts with the imbiber’s tongue, making it feel prickly and numb. The poison doesn’t dissolve entirely in other liquids, always leaving behind a syrupy residue. Even if it’s mixed with other liquids or foods, it still retains its tongue-tingling quality. The only clue that a creature has died from the poison is that a purple-tinted residue lines the inside rims of its eyelids.
Any creature that consumes purple akoidol must make a Fortitude save (DC 20) or suffer internal hemorrhaging, vomiting, and severe muscle spasms. If the affected person doesn’t die from the poison, she regains lost Constitution points at a rate of 1 point per day, as temporary damage.
If struck by a slashing or piercing weapon coated with the poison, the creature must make a Fortitude save against a DC of 12. Success means it takes no damage whatsoever except from the weapon itself, while a failure means it only takes a minimal amount of damage from the poison; delivered this way it causes no primary Constitution damage, but does deal 1 hit point of secondary damage per round for 2 rounds from internal hemorrhaging. When applied to the surface of blades or other implements, purple akoidol remains viable for up to 2 hours before its effectiveness wanes.