Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Best Drugs in Pathfinder

Pathfinder is a game that has accounted for everything. Need birth control for your wayward bard? Done. Need to know what the costs and upkeep are for a manor estate? We've got that too. Days of the week? Natural disasters? What happens when you lose a limb? Done, done, and done. There are in fact so many rules buried in the books that it's easy to lose track of some of the more common aspects of life in Golarion. Like great alchemical items, useful non-magical equipment, and more rules that players keep forgetting.

That's why today we're going to talk about drugs.

And why you should totally be doing them (in character).
You hear about the various controlled substances floating around Golarion a lot at lower levels. In adventure paths like Curse of the Crimson Throne you're even tasked with breaking up drug rings. However, while these addictive alchemical substances can be hell on your fortitude save, many of them offer some rather handy temporary bonuses for users. While they're certainly not a solution for every situation, the bonuses are almost as hard to resist as the addiction saves.


Given that practically every campaign starts in, near, or rolls through a tavern at some point it goes without saying that the PCs are going to get completely hammered at some point in time (this takes a number of drinks equal to 1 + double the PC's constitution modifier). Normal alcohol does you no favors and just like out of game results in you getting sick and addicted if you abuse it.

These exotic alcohols are not your run of the mill rotgut, however.

Pick Your Poison
Dwarven Fire Ale (Gamemastery Guide): A favorite of berserkers and northerners of all races, a single draught of this potent elixir provides cold resistance 5 for 1 hour, and 1d4 rounds of rage, as per the spell. It does 1d2 con damage.

Elven Absinthe (Gamemastery Guide): Never outdone in eloquence, the absinthe brewed and drunk by elves provides +1d4 charisma for 1 hour, but does 1d4 con damage when the effects wear off.

Dreamtime Tea (Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Rival Guide): While it might not be every adventurer's cup of tea, this beverage induces sleep in 2d12 minutes. While sleeping users gain dreams that function as augury, but they have only a 60% chance of success and the tea does 1d3 wisdom damage.

Midnight Milk (Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Lost Cities of Golarion): Midnight milk is a sleep aid, but it also lets you gain rest more quickly than you would (useful for spell casters). When drunk the user is fatigued for an hour and takes a -4 on resistances to sleep effects. If the user sleeps he has vivid dreams for 1 hour per dose used in the last month (including this one), and then awakens refreshed as if he'd just had 8 hours of sleep. The drug also does 1d2 wisdom damage.

Controlled Substances

Hardcore drug users in Golarion have a plethora of choices, from the magical fluids of exotic creatures to the refined saps of jungle vines. While these substances provide potentially life-saving bonuses, the crippling after effects make them something that should be used sparingly.

Only buy from high quality ruffians whom you trust.
Aether (Gamemastery Guide): Aether is a great aid to spellcasters who just need a little more juice. For one hour after taking a dose a spellcaster increases the DC of all spells by +1 (seriously though, here are some less harmful ways to increase your spell DC). The catch is that for 1d4 hours the caster must make a concentration check of DC 15 + the spell level to cast any spell, and aether does 1d2 constitution damage.

Angel's Trumpet (Pathfinder Player Companion: Alchemy Manual): This rare and unusual performance enhancer has a grab bag of bonuses. Users gain a +2 alchemical bonus to initiative, a +4 alchemical bonus on diplomacy and bluff checks, a +4 alchemical bonus on saves against fear and compulsion, and are fatigued for 1 hour. Additionally if the user fails a save on fear that has a duration other than instantaneous or permanent then the condition is ignored, but the user is dazed for a number of rounds equal to the duration. The bad stuff is that for 1d4 days after usage you gain light blindedness, and the drug does 1d4 constitution and 1d4 wisdom (once, not per day).

Blood Sap (Rival Guide): Extracted from swamp roots this potent red syrup can energize warriors for short bursts. For 30 minutes users gain a +1d4 strength bonus and +1d3 dexterity bonus, but then they're slowed (as the spell) for 3 hours. It also does 1d4 constitution damage.

Bloodbrush Extract (Pathfinder Player Companion: Numeria Land of Fallen Stars): Magic users and item crafters may find this unique substance invigorating, as well as recreational. For 2 hours users have a +2 on knowledge checks for planes, arcana, or religion and on spellcraft checks. The freed mind isn't concerned with mortal things though, so the users are distracted for purposes of perception checks. The drug also does 1d2 wisdom damage.

Daemon Seed (Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Book of the Damned): Only the desperate and the mad would think to taste the fluids found in a daemon's spine, but Golarion lacks for neither. The memories in the spinal fluid provide users with a +4 profane bonus on skill checks and saves, as well as a +1d6 profane bonus to a randomly selected skill. Users also have a 15% chance of going blind and deaf for 1 hour, and gaining a negative level (DC 20 to resist).

Flayleaf (Gamemastery Guide): Used by adventurers who know their enemies will try to dominate their minds, a single dose provides a +2 bonus on saves against mind affecting effects for 1 hour, and users are fatigued. It does a single point of wisdom damage.

Harlot Sweets (Rival Guide): Despite their amusing name, these lozenges provide users with a +1d4 bonus charisma and +1 dexterity for an hour. They also do 1d2 intelligence damage.

Honeydust (Bastards of Golarion): Used widely across Golarion this sweet scented dust provides a +1d2 bonus to charisma and a -2 on saves against illusions for 1 hour. There's a 75% chances that the user is sickened after an hour, and it does 1d2 wisdom damage.

Keif (Gamemastery Guide): Widely used by those who need an edge in a fight, keif provides a +1d2 bonus on strength, and imposes a -2 penalty on saves against illusions and mind-affecting effects. It also does 1d2 constitution and 1d2 wisdom damage.

Golden Keif (Gamemastery Guide): While it provides all the same bonuses as regular keif, golden keif has an additional gift for drug users. It provides a +2 alchemical bonus against non-keif drugs (including rolls to resist addiction), and if the user is under the effects of another drug that gives penalties to saves or skill checks then those penalties are reduced by 1. Golden keif does 1 constitution and 1 wisdom damage.

Mumia (Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Lost Kingdoms): In case the name didn't give it away, Mumia is made from the flesh of mummified corpses. Those who can overcome their distaste for the drug's base components will be able to cast all spells at +1 caster level, and will gain +1d8 of temporary hit points along with a +2 alchemical bonus to saves against spells and effects that have the curse or disease descriptor. Mumia also renders users fatigued for 1 hour. The drug does 1d2 wisdom damage, but for every week one remains addicted there's a cumulative +5% chance that he or she will become a ghoul. Use at your own peril.

Opium (Gamemastery Guide): Used as a real-world painkiller, opium is a commonly used drug for those who need relief in Golarion. Users gain +1d8 temporary hit points and a +2 alchemical bonus on fortitude saves for an hour, but users are also fatigued. It does 1d4 constitution and 1d4 wisdom damage.

Scour (Gamemastery Guide): A favorite of duelists, thieves, and those who'd rather be quick than dead, scour provides a +1d4 bonus to dexterity and imposes a -1d4 penalty to wisdom for 3 hours. It also does 1d6 constitution damage.

Shiver (Gamemastery Guide): A popular street drug in Korvosa, shiver is a crap shoot. There's a 50% chance that the user will sleep for 1d4 hours, or gain immunity to fear for 1d4 minutes. It does 1d2 constitution damage.

Silvertongue (Bastards of Golarion): The mechanics for this drug were created by your author. Silvertongue is commonly used by those who can't afford to mis-speak in public, and it provides users with a +1d2 bonus to charisma for 1 hour, and it provides a +2 alchemical bonus against mind-affecting effects. It does 1d4 constitution damage, and addicts are easily picked out by their mercurial smiles.

Starspore (Numeria: Land of Fallen Stars): Starspores are released from a mold that grows on adamantine and other star metals. The spores have the powerful effect of opening up the senses, granting 60 feet of darkvision and the ability to see invisible creatures for 1 hour. Users also take 1d2 constitution damage, gain vulnerability to sonic damage, and experience 1 wisdom drain. A hefty price indeed.

Wyrm Keif (Pathfinder Player Companion: Dragonslayer's Handbook): Introducing a vial of dragon's blood to keif as it's being concocted creates a very different beast. For 1 hour it provides 25 temporary hit points, and for 1 day it provides a +2 alchemical bonus on saves against sleep and paralysis. It also does 1d2 wisdom damage.

Zerk (Gamemastery Guide): This unusually named drug provides a +1 bonus to initiative for 1 hour. Addicts will also receive a +1d4 bonus to their strength. Zerk does 1d2 constitution damage.

Other Rules About Drugs

Before you start running out to create your very own hopped up heroes and heroines it's important to keep in mind that drug use has another risk; addiction. Whenever you take a drug you have to roll a fortitude save to resist becoming addicted. If you succeed then bully for you, the effects and the damage persists as normal. If you fail though, then you become an addict.

Like this, only smelling terrible.
Addiction comes in three forms; minor, moderate, and severe. It's a disease, and has to be overcome like any other disease with magic or fortitude saves. Also, if you take another dose of a drug while you still have ability damage from the last dose, your save takes a -2. Additionally while you're addicted you can't naturally heal ability damage caused by the drug you're taking. This can lead to all sorts of problems, and one bad roll can set you on a path to selling off your best gear just so you can keep your fix going.

On the other hand it is entirely possible to put together a performance-enhanced paladin with no risk whatsoever. You can have that idea for free.

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