While mind-altering (and mind-expanding) chemicals have long been known to mankind, but there has been a prejudice against their therapeutic use by the church, science, and modern thaumaturgy. In recent years, renegade scientists and alchemists have begun to catalog and experiment with these substances--and some maverick thaumaturgists have even begun to take notice.
These chemicals are often grouped under the name phantastica, but all fall into subcategories based on their effects on the mind and body. While few engender the physical dependence observed with alcohol or various bootleg alchemicals, they can pose serious risks to the psyche.
The use of various phantastical mushrooms is of ancient vintage. It has been suggested that the fruiting bodies of fungal sapients are among the most potent, and their widespread harvesting by primitive man drove these beings to near extinction and created enmity lasting to this day.
Mescaline (derived from several New World cacti) is one of the most widely studied phantastica. Some thaumaturgists have attesting to it aiding the early stages of magical research by increasing intuitive connections with the Planes Beyond. Indeed, mescaline's only consistent thaumaturgical use is to aid in travel to the astral plane. Small doses have also been reported to allow a magical practitioner to see etheric or astral bodies.
Some phantastica come from the other planes themselves. So-called “bug powder” sold in the astral waystation of Interzone, is a potentially dangerous example. Alchemists have work to isolate the essence of the astral moth for planar transport, but with little success.
A number of other sources of phantastica are currently under scientific investigation. Adventurers report life-transforming visions from consumption of certain molds that grow in subterranean areas--often ones which are found near the “lairs” of certain slimes. Tincture of a distillate of ectoplasm is rumored to produce a dissociative state resembling catatonia, but allowing communication (one way) with spirits. It has even been suggested that smoking the flakes or scraps of a lich (if one can acquire them) increases sorcerous potency for a period of hours to days, while slowing perceptions of time and heightening the senses.
It is the hope of many of researchers that the scientific study of these substances many usher in a new technological age. One perfectly integrating thaumaturgy and psychology through chemical means.
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