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Albert Besnard, Morphine Addicts, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Date: 1887 Technique: Etching, 23.7 x 37 cm

Hard-drinking heroes, deities of wine and celebration, and the hazy halls of oracles and wise men stand alongside the most memorable tropes of myth and classic fantasy literature. Thus it’s no surprise that the adventures of fantasy roleplaying games are filled with similar characters and locales. After all, countless campaigns have been launched around a tavern table and all adventurers know the infamous potency of stout dwarven ale.

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For better or worse, all things that one might find in the real world multiply and take on wondrous and lethal qualities in fantasy settings, and the vices of Alcohol and chemical abuse are no different. While many games have no place for realistic bouts of drunkenness or the soul-scouring depths of addiction, such elements hold great potential for adventure. Whether one seeks to reenact a feat of Fortitude like the drinking contest between Hercules and Dionysus, have an encounter with lotus-eater-like decadents, or recreate the entheogens of religious mysteries, these rules cover the highs and lows.

Sample Drugs
Numerous types of drugs exist, both in the real world and fantasy worlds. Presented here are several samples with a variety of effects.
Angel’s Trumpet
Black Water
Blood Sap
Bloodbrush Extract
Daemon Seed
Dreamtime Tea
Dwarven Fire Ale
Elven Absinthe
Harlot Sweets
Hazemind Concentrate
Hazemind Mist
Keif, Black
Keif, Golden
Keif, Wyrm
Lotus Fruits
Midnight Milk
Powdered Mummy Skin
Slaver’s Drops
Strange Fluids


Drugs are alchemical items that grant effects to those who make use of them. What sets them apart from similar items is that a drug’s effects manifest as both a short term (usually beneficial) effect and an amount of ability damage. In addition, those who take drugs also risk Addiction, a type of disease of varying severity depending on the type of drug used.

When a character takes a drug, he immediately gains the effects, an amount of ability damage, and must make a Fortitude save to resist becoming addicted to that drug (see Addiction). While the initial effect represents the physical or mind altering effects of the drug, the drain represents both its side effects and the amount of time a dose remains active in a character’s body. As ability score damage heals at a rate of 1 point per day, a drug that causes 1 point of ability score damage remains in a character’s system for 1 day, though some might cause greater damage and thus remain active for longer. While taking multiple doses of a drug at once rarely has any benefit, taking additional doses as the effects wear off renew those effects but increase the ability damage and potential for Addiction.

Drugs can be manufactured using Craft (alchemy). The DC to make a drug is equal to its Addiction DC. Rolling a natural 1 on a Craft skill check while making a drug exposes the crafter to the drug.


Drug Format

All drugs have the following features.

  • Type: This notes how the drug is introduced into the system. These types equate to the types most common to poisons: contact, ingestion, inhalation, injury.
  • Addiction: This is the severity of the Addiction disease the drug causes, followed by the base DC of the save a character must succeed at to resist an Addiction and potentially overcome an Addiction. This DC can increase through multiple uses of the drug.
  • Price: The common price of 1 dose of this drug.
  • Effect: The duration and effect of the drug.
  • Damage: The amount and type of ability damage caused.
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