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Also known as “tanner’s bark”, this tree is one of the most common in the world. It can reach heights of more than 130 feet, with boughs forming a dense canopy hundreds of feet in diameter. Its green, oblong leaves have as many as seven lobes and as few as three, while its bark is gray and deeply fissured. Acorns, which are greenish-brown in color, appear in the fall. The tree grows extremely well in northern climes, but can grow anywhere else that has a temperate environment.
Of all the trees, this one is probably the most beloved of naturevenerating cultures. Many perceive oaks as the incarnations of their primary deities, symbolizing strength and fertility. Druids in the northern cultures worship it, while sea-faring barbarians frequently revere it as the sacred tree of their thunder god. Its majesty is not the only reason for the tree’s popularity, though. Like the imperial willow, it, too, has innate healing properties.
Its leaves and bark possess astringent qualities that make them a good remedy for flesh wounds and some gastrointestinal disorders, and its acorns are typically brewed into a bitter coffee popular in the woodland cultures as a quick pick-me-up.
Because the oak tree is so common, it is a staple of the herbalist’s medicine pouch. It is used, like so many other plants, for its healing properties; midwives, especially, favor the leaves for making antiseptic solutions that are used during childbirth.
The oak, as it is particularly susceptible to insects, also produces what are commonly known as “galls.” These bulbous nodules form when insect larvae infest the bark, growing beneath it and pushing it outward until they are mature enough to dig their way out.
Galls have higher quantities of the ebbwither trait than normal bark. Additionally, due to biological changes initiated by the insect larvae, they contain a kind of pigment that is most often used, after processing, as hide and leather dye by tanners, and as parchment ink by scribes and wizards.
Climate/Terrain: Any temperate forest
Bindings: Abjuration 3, Conjuration 4, Transmutation 4,vNecromancy 3
Traits: Birr 2, Ebbwither 7, Heallac 9, Pigment 9
Birr: The acorns from an oak tree, if ripe, contain large quantities of caffeine; this acts as a poison against insects, but as a semi-addictive stimulant when consumed by humanoids.
Imbibing 15 ounces of brewed acorn coffee (or eating approximately 40 ripened acorns) confers upon a person a +2 bonus to all skill checks for two hours. At the end of that time, however, the imbiber suffers from a –1 penalty to all skill checks over the following four hours; this penalty cannot be countered by subsequent doses of the coffee during that time.
Rangers collect green acorns to awaken into an even more potent form of the coffee, aptly named ranger coffee.
Ebbwither: Oak leaves contain astringent oils that, when made into a mundane concoction by an herbalist, cause the skin to contract, gradually sealing wounds and stemming the flow of blood. Applying this concoction to a superficial wound heals 1 hit point of damage, but this only works once per wound.
Most herbalists awaken this trait to create minor healing concoctions, but there are a few less-than-moral ones who have learned a recipe called witherskin that turns this trait into an unusual shrinking gas.
Heallac: A chemical in oak bark, when processed by an herbalist, makes an excellent topical treatment used for preventing infections caused by bacteria and other germs.
Normally, the bark is dried, ground into a fine powder, and added to water for boiling. Once cooked, it’s applied as a poultice or compress on the area to be sanitized of microbes, or as the herbalist might say, “foul humors.” Using this poultice beforehand gives a character with the Heal skill a bonus of +4 to his skill check when attempting to treat freshly inflicted wounds. Midwives also use this technique during childbirth to prevent infection of the mother and child.
Awakened, this trait becomes a warding powder called oak salt that keeps most undead at bay.
Pigment: Oak galls, which are the by-product of larval infestation, contain a pigment that many people use to make ink dye for books, parchments, and scrolls, and a hide dye for animal skins.
The herbalist-awakened form of this ink — wizard’s ink — is quite popular amongst spellcasters for recording their spells, giving them benefits not available from other more mundane inks.
Magical Concoction: Ranger Coffee
Trait: Birr DC 17
Cost: 22 gp
Brewed from oak acorns and awakened by those trained in herbalism, one cup of this coffee imparts upon the imbiber the power to stay awake for a number of days equal to his Will modifier +2, with a minimum of 2 days for creatures with a zero or negative modifier. An affected person doesn’t suffer from fatigue or receive any of the penalties associated with sleep deprivation. However, once the coffee wears off, he immediately collapses into a deep, coma-like sleep for 24 hours.
Virtually nothing can wake him from this, not even spells like dispel magic. Only magic that replenishes through fatigue removal has any effect. If a person continues to imbibe the coffee beyond the first cup, then he gains an additional hour of wakefulness per cup, but similarly accrues another hour added to his downtime sleep. The maximum number of cups a person can drink with any effect is equal to his Will modifier.
People under the influence of ranger coffee tend to talk extremely fast, have trouble sitting still, and are filled with nervous energy. A successful Will save (DC 12) can keep these twitchy impulses to minimum, temporarily.
Magical Concoction: Witherskin
Trait: Ebbwither DC 22
Cost: 154 gp
This gaseous chemical is created from oak leaves and takes the tree’s natural astringency to an extreme. The gas is contained within a ceramic globe, which disperses as a pale green cloud of mist about 5 feet in diameter when broken (use grenade-like weapon rules, with a 10-foot range increment). Any creature that makes contact with the gas must make a successful Fortitude save (DC 18) each round for the next three rounds, as its skin becomes painfully taught, actually shrinking across the muscles and bone supporting it. Each failed saving throw results in 1d4 hit points of damage. After the third round, the creature’s skin begins the slow process of recovery, returning to normal after a number of days equal to 10 minus its Constitution modifier. During that time, it receives a –2 Charisma penalty due to its horrifying appearance.
Magical Concoction: Oak Salt
Trait: Heallac DC 24
Cost: 1,170 gp
This chunky powder, made from ground-up oak bark, has the ability to ward an area it is scattered across against a total of 7 HD levels of undead, transforming those undead who enter the area into oakwood statues of themselves on a failed Will save (DC 25). For example, an oak salt ward works against seven 1 HD undead creatures, or three 2 HD and one 1 HD undead creatures, or a single 7 HD undead creature. Once the 7 HD levels of undead have been transformed, the powder becomes harmless ash, though the undead that have been changed by it remain oaken statues forevermore. Undead creatures with more than 7 HD can cross into the warded with no ill effect whatsoever. The concoction can cover a 10-foot-square area.
An alternate effect of oak salt is that up to 7 levels of necromantic spells cast from within an oak salt-warded area become augmented by 1 effective spell caster level for every Intelligence modifier point the caster possesses. For instance, a 13th-level, 17 Intelligence necromancer casting from within an oak salt pentagram can cast seven 1st-level spells, or three 2nd-level spells and one 1st-level spell, or one 7th-level spell, and so on, at an effective caster level of 16. Once the powder has been used in this manner, it turns to harmless ash; it cannot be used both to ward undead and boost spells, but rather the first effect to be triggered is the one that must be used.
Magical Concoction: Wizard’s Ink
Trait: Pigment DC 24
Cost: 1,000 gp
This ink is made from the pigment found in oak galls. As long as she has more than 5 ranks in the Craft (calligraphy) skill (see below), or its nearest equivalent, a spellcaster inscribing a spell using this ink requires half as much space in her spellbook as she normally would need, thus potentially doubling the number of spells it can hold. Additionally, the ink makes it more difficult for another spellcaster to decipher the inscribed spell using the Spellcraft skill, adding +5 to the DC. The concoction is enough to inscribe one spellbook to its 100-page capacity.
The ink, and the parchment it stains, is made completely resistant to normal, non-magical fire. If a scroll writ with this ink is tossed into a fire, for example, the part of the parchment without ink burns as it normally would, but the area under and around the ink doesn’t. This quality has saved more than one spellcaster from having to rewrite rare and valuable spells.
Skill: Craft — Calligraphy (Int)
You are skilled with using quill and ink to write in an artistic, calligraphic style.
Check: You can practice calligraphy as a trade by penning letters, missives, and noble patents for the illiterate. This allows you to earn about half the check result in gold pieces for each week of dedicated work you pursue in the craft. You also know how to use the tools of the calligraphy trade, and how to perform the daily tasks associated with it. Unlike other crafts, this one doesn’t allow for helpers or assistants.
Calligraphy requires a calligraphy quill (see page 91) to give the best chance of success; if improvised tools are used instead, the check is made with a –2 circumstance penalty. On the other hand, masterwork artisan’s tools provide a +2 circumstance bonus.
To determine how much time and money it takes to scribe a single page or parchment:
1. Find the DC listed here or have the GM set one.
2. Pay one-third the item’s price in raw materials.
3. Make a skill check.
In most cases, a roll shouldn’t be necessary. However, some circumstances may warrant a skill check, such as if you are attempting to write in a language unknown to you, while under duress, or if you’re in hurry.
|Simple document||5 sp||5||30 min.|
|Fancy document, noble patent, genealogy||1 gp||10||1 hr.|
|Ornate document, royal proclamation or more||6 gp||15||11/2 hrs.|
If the check succeeds, then you have completed the inscription. If your roll is 5 higher than the DC, you have completed it in one-half the time. If you fail a check, the document is completely ruined, and you lose your raw materials.
The base time for preparing writing a document should be decided either by you or the GM. As a rule, though, a single page document requires approximately half an hour for every 5 DC points, rounded up.
Masterwork Calligraphy: Attempting to create a masterwork piece of calligraphy increases both the price and the time required to produce it by a factor of three, while the DC increases by +5. Success at creating masterwork calligraphy increases your fame and renown as a scribe. Both you and the GM should determine how this is handled in the campaign world, hopefully through roleplaying.
Retry: Yes, but each time you fail you must use new raw materials (namely parchment, sand, ink, etc).
Special: If you have at least 5 ranks in the Craft (art) skill, you may add a +2 synergy bonus to your Craft (calligraphy) skill check.
Skill Option: Instead of using Craft (calligraphy) as a separate, distinct skill, you may want to simply use an existing skill like Profession (scribe) or Speak Language, but using the system presented here.