Friday, August 10, 2012

Opening the Doors of Perception

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.


Porky said...

I like that you're leaving so much open, even for development through play. It could get very interesting, with worlds beyond worlds. The subject is always an inspiring one.

Those links lead to good places too.

Johnathan Bingham said...

Very interesting. I have thought about introducing psychotropic magic into my campaign. Seems to be a taboo subject for some, but real world presidence is there.

Sean Robson said...

"You know the day destroys the night; night divides the day. Tried to run, tried to hide; break on through to the other side."

-From the sermons of the High Priest Morrison.

Gibbering Mouther said...

Hmmn. I think you're to be trusted eith this subject - you've already added a bit of the "ick" factor i asociate with drug culture - lich flakes ewww.

The substances themselves sound suitably exotic and dangerous as well.

Trey said...

@Proky - Thanks!

Trey said...

@Johnathan - Yeah, it's such a part of real world mystical belief, it seems odd not to at least aknowledge it in game.

@Sean - Indeed, :)

@GM - Yeah, that's only slightly more icky than collecting the secretions from the backs of toads. :)

ancientvaults said...

"The Black Meat is like a tainted cheese..."

Superb post with a lot of great ideas. In my Weird Adventures game I took a cue from Fantasia (the first). Those little dancing mushrooms? I made them hunt players that had strayed from a manor into the woods. Their caps like little salt or pepper shakers. If they got got someone that person got to find out what a rectangle tastes like and how purple sounds.