Drug Abuse in Erathia
(Author's Note: this information was compiled under great personal danger for the author and their source, a well known Inferno hero)
The current fate of the Inferno communities is a harsh reminder of what can happen when people alien to a certain culture (and in this case alien to a whole world) use strange and unknown drugs. Not long after the first conquest of a Tower, the white powder that Alchemists called "snow" had already conquered the Inferno community for good. However, that wouldn't have been a problem in itself; Devils with their tough nature had no problem with the stuff whatsoever, but found it a pretty pleasant kick actually, allowing them to relax a bit while losing nothing of their sharpness. The problem was the rest of the community demanded the stuff for use too. To keep most of the valuable snow for themselves the Devils would dilute the small remainder with everything that'd work, and to guarantee an effect for the greedy rest of their community they mixed the stuff under what the Alchemists called "speed": it couldn't hurt if the community worked more and harder and the speed surely would motivate them. They would hand the mix over to the Pit Lords (Efreets wouldn't touch anything at that point; they would burn anything before it could actually have an effect on them) - who'd do what the Devils already had done and so on, until the Familiars would get the pitiful remainder - more or less pure speed. This arrangement worked surprisingly well. Inferno troops were sharp on the battlefield. The speed gave the Familiars exactly that and usually the most dangerous moment in any battle would come when the Familiars - already being on speed - got expertly Hasted - a rare occasion, but sometimes it would happen. The pleasantly stoned Devils and the somehow not just as pleasantly stoned Pit Lords would have big problems to suppress the fit of laughter that would bubble up in them. In those cases when they simply couldn't suppress laughter, it was not only bad for the morale of the Familiars, as the Magogs and Demons were asking themselves whether they were missing something and why, and of course they got ever more suspicious about their stuff.
Anyway, still all was well, even though the first ill effects (especially of the speed abuse) were showing and everything might have been well for an unknown time. Then the Efreets found out about the XTC being developed especially for the hated Genies and of course they demanded their own drug, too! And now the communities had a situation. They not only had to find a drug especially for the Efreets, they had to find a way to administer it to them! To encourage everyone in their efforts to help finding a solution, the Devils decided to increase their share of the snow once again and indeed it was the Pit Lords who – under the pressure of the events - found a brilliant solution: they tried to smoke the snow and after trying out a few mixes they succeeded in finding something else. Because the effect reminded them of the sounds their whips made in battle, they named it "whiplash", but shortly after everyone only knew it as "crack". What they didn't know at that time was that they had just discovered probably the most addictive drug ever in Erathian history, and crack immediately began its triumphant march through Inferno society: the Efreets were pleased, the Devils were glad the problem had been solved and everyone else was hooked after the second smoke or so. Well. The rest of the sad story is well known: crack rules Inferno land because the lower-level creatures are so hopelessly and completely hooked they can't think about anything else anymore. The Devils who aren't affected are pretty helpless and everywhere the Inferno loses their gains in Erathia. It's only a question of time when they will be gone for good. Since Devils and Efreets are pretty tough and Cerberi have nothing to do at all with it, they may just survive, but the rest is surely doomed.
AVAILABILITY AND ADMINISTRATION
Snow is snuffed, crack is smoked.
Streets aren't safe anymore in Inferno land. There is no free trade of snow since there is a constant demand but too short a supply. Taverns are mostly empty except for some humans and the business is slow. The atmosphere is hostile and chill. Crack is smoked openly - used up stuff can't be stolen anymore. The only coin buying something of value is white and powdery. Devils avoid public appearances - people know about their subtleties concerning snow distribution.
USE IN BATTLE
Armies will fight only when they get extra snow rations or at least a believable promise of it. Battles are fought without spirit. Magogs don't care anymore about splash damage and Resurrected Demons (if the Pit Lords remember their abilities at all) will usually go back to the Tent first to get some stuff before fighting on. Only Devils, Efreets and Cerberi will still put up a good fight.
Smoking crack will lead to an immediate steep and euphoric high, soon followed by a steep and low depressive down. One smoke is like the story of the life of a manic-depressive in half an hour. Users naturally have the idea to get over the down by inducing another high - and that's what addiction is all about. There's rarely a way back. Sometimes the high can just be too high and down too down.
Snow is another case completely. For some reasons it is a pretty sensible issue, but let's not forget there was a rather longish period when the stuff could be used legally in every town and only Rampart and Fortress would hold back on it because of certain views about lab-produced stuff or reasons of drug use, even though it seems that Witches found other uses for it, more in the tradition of their ointments (see FORTRESS). This makes it clear that there are no obvious ill effects. Fact is, there is actually no evidence for any physical addiction, but apparently you can get pretty used to the stuff mentally - and pretty fast as well. This, however, doesn't say much more than: people like the effects and don't want to miss them. In small doses, the effects are mild euphoria, well-feeling and sometimes overconfidence. People get talkative and sociable. Reported "nervousness", "trembling", the "urge to do something" and all other reported ill effects are either the result of overdosing or of the speed or other stuff mixed under the snow. In fact it is pretty impossible to get the undiluted "real thing" because the way of the Devils is the normal way this stuff is handled, mainly because so much gold pieces can be made with it. Today there are too many misconceptions around for an unbiased discussion, mainly because the stuff is associated with the Devils, and the sorry fate of the Inferno won't change that. No matter what snow is and what not, it's safe to say that this stuff is proof for Rampart society's view of things, at least concerning drugs: don't try to make better what nature made, right?
FAMOUS AND RUMOURED VICTIMS:
All Efreets are on crack (as Genies are on XTC), but they don't suffer the ill effects usually associated with it. All Demons are at least on snow. All this has lead to some pretty weird skill combinations or effects, especially with the Heretics: you'd think they had picked skills and specials randomly out of some pool: Ash, for example, knows a bit Eagle Eye, but isn't a specialist; Xyron is supposedly a specialist for the Inferno spell, but can't even cast it; Calid can sniff out Sulphur - when she doesn't snuff in snow and so on. The humans are not affected; they are too far down the food chain to even get anything of the stuff and are content to sit in the mostly empty taverns, drink something and watch an alien community carry on with their collective suicide.
TIPS FOR THE VISITOR:
Look for another holiday resort!
For millennia, the Dungeon society has used dried poppy milk, a stuff nowadays called opium, in different ways: as a healing drug used to cure different ailments, to induce sleep, to kill pain and others. Opium would perfectly satisfy the different needs of the different members of Dungeon society: Warlocks, no matter the race, would perform dangerous spell experiments unleashing lots of energy and often ending with lots of pain and a state of nervous fatigue; Overlords would suffer so massively under the constant pressure of the Nighon power-games that they often have nervous stomachs or would suffer under insomnia; Minotaurs would explode for no reason at all. They have a temper like an excited bull and just to keep them from killing and destroying just to waste some energy they would often be calmed; and of course Trogs are much more willing to serve the Dungeon masters when supplied with the right incentive.
On the other hand, the ability to suffer or stand pain is considered a virtue and a value in Dungeon. Society members will have to prove their value at every opportunity and it takes some time until they have proved themselves as tough and their virtue is accepted. Only then can they use opium in any form, should there be a need, without losing face. Of course there will often be a need for Warlocks and their dangerous and often painful experiments.
So when some decades ago the Tower's Alchemists, intrigued by the painkilling capacities of the opium, isolated the stuff responsible and came up with a few of their "medicines" based on that stuff, Warlocks were kind of interested, but things got going only when the stuff known as "Heroin" was marketed and sold, initially as a "non addictive" healing drug to cure children with illnesses involving the respiratory ducts (and this is no darn joke!), which was as legal for a time in Erathia as was snow. Not long after that, the Warlocks found a way to shoot the stuff directly into their blood circulation, and while the stuff seemed to perfectly satisfy their needs because it helped them, for instance, standing the stoning gaze of the Medusas, not to mention to suffer a lot of pain while not losing consciousness when experimenting with certain dangerous spells like the one called Implosion, they soon found out that it was also addictive like nothing else (which is one of the reasons for the last big Tower-Dungeon clash because the Warlocks took that very personal and suspected a subtle ploy). Since the Heroin never reached the masses of the Dungeon society and Warlocks aren't the way they are because they are weak-minded, most of them could eventually overcome their addiction (their suspicion against Tower Alchemists helped) and turn back to the old Dungeon ways of controlled opium use. Today Heroin is used only now and then, mostly in bad cases of spell damage.
AVAILABILITY AND ADIMINISTRATION
Taverns are used frequently and beside the usual drinks there's always a back room to retreat into and have an opium smoke for some hours of pleasant dreams (and in Dungeon it seems there may be a need for at pleasant dreams sometimes). Heroin was never used widely and is known only in Warlock circles where it is used now and then, but as a rule not habitually.
USE IN BATTLE
Of course opium is used after battle for healing purposes. Some Warlocks are known to shoot small quantities of Heroin before battle to better being able to stand the strain and the pain of extended spell casting. Wider use of opium or Heroin wouldn't be wise prior to battle, however, since it wouldn't do for the Dungeon troops to run around like Zombies on the battlefield.
The Dungeon society doesn't care much for addicts; addiction means weakness and weakness is bad. Addiction isn't even a public issue even though the high social pressure will produce addicts, but then for the weak there is no place there anyway. There is no one who will help addicts in any way and those who miss the last carriage back, once they are underway, they will die soon after. This means that society members will be pretty careful with any kind of drug and especially with opium because regular smoking of opium leads to sure addiction; the user loses interest in everything and just doesn't want to leave the pleasant dreams anymore. Eventually the body will suffer under the permanent abuse, too, and death will result.
Heroin induces a mildly euphoric feeling of pleasant detachedness; pain, sorrow, problems, grief, but of course the good things, too, nothing doesn't matter anymore and everything is far, far away (which may have had their own merits in a society as harsh as Dungeons and could have easily led to disaster). Regular use leads to addiction fast, physically and mentally, and once hooked the way back is as hard as it gets.
FAMOUS AND RUMOURED VICTIMS
It is known that all Minotaurs will take opium once in a while to calm down, when they are too enraged in a non-battle situation. That doesn't make them victims, however. There are rumors about Jeddite being one of the former Heroin addicts who were able to get off the hook, while Damacon was supposedly seen a few times too often in some known opium dive, but the Dungeon society is pretty secretive and keeps the lid well closed and those who start a rumor often end up dead or at least severely punished, especially when the rumor happens to be true.
TIPS FOR THE VISITOR
Don't ever go alone into the back room of an opium dive!
There is no homogeneous Stronghold society, but rather a loose conglomerate of communities with differences depending on region and leadership. There are some things, however, that at least most of those communities seem to have in common.
It is clear that magic is a dying art in all Stronghold communities; the sentient races there are more and more suspicious of magic and its wielders. That suspicion is transferred to all drugs associated with magic or its users. Consequently the Stronghold Shamans, the so-called Battle Mages, and the Ogre Mages are the only community members making use of a certain cactus fruit growing in the rough terrain preferred by the Stronghold communities, and since those mages and shamans are decreasing in numbers, so is the relevance of that fruit and its hallucinogenic effects, which are comparable with those of the stuff Witches use.
On the other hand, the Stronghold way of life has a lot to do with reaping where others have sown and since the Barbarian communities have a certain natural cunning, it didn't take them long to realize that while they wouldn't touch most of the plundered stuff, a lot of gold pieces could be earned by selling it, especially the Tower stuff, but others too. That in turn means that the prospective customer will be able to buy nearly every Erathian drug at a Stronghold.
Some of the more clever clan-leaders have used their surplus money earned with the selling of plundered drugs to buy real estate in other town communities and company shares - and since they are practical people, most of them have tried to get a foot into the brewing business; after all, ale and beer is the stuff all sentient Stronghold community members use, even the Cyclops, and apparently they can't resist the idea of drinking themselves rich! Drinking-bouts are legendary in all Stronghold communities and they have real contests, the simplest of which is about who is going to be the last man (or woman) standing. The victor will not only have won a lot of face the next day, he or she will have the worst headache, too, which is something of a compensation. Another contest involves walking an extremely narrow catwalk over a bed of red-hot coals (after heavy drinking, of course) with falling down usually leading to a lot of guffawing - only with the bystanders, of course; the fallen will lose face, but win themselves some pretty nice burn scars. The winner will be the person who downed the most drinks without falling down. A very popular kind of contest is the following: after downing a certain number of tankards a contender will lay the left hand (for a right-hander) onto a table and spread the fingers. While the others will count down from 10 (or 20, if they want to make it more difficult) the contender will take the knife and thrust the point down into the spaces between fingers, with a referee counting the thrusts. The winner is of course the contender who manages the most thrusts. Losing a finger or two in the process is no reason for disqualification, on the contrary, even though a knife thrust is counted only when between two originally neighboring fingers (including the thumb), so there is a prerequisite for partaking here (you've got to have at least two pairs of neighboring fingers on one hand), and in fact some known and famous winners ended the contest with less fingers than they began with (which is of course even more true for losers). Sometimes especially this last contest ends with a big brawl because losers often accuse the referee of either cheating or not having counted right (which may often be indeed a not completely unfounded complaint because counting is even more difficult after a couple of tankards than usual for most community members), which may in fact be one of the reasons why this is so popular: apparently brawls are a main source of amusement in Stronghold communities.
While even the Ogres have a healthy respect for the Dwarven brew, they are always on the look for even stronger brews to shorten those rather lengthy contests. Recently some ogrish clan-leaders have invested their drug-dealing money into a new project with the aim to create a stronger and blacker brew than the Dwarven stuff, a seemingly stupid idea worthy of an Ogre. Apparently they researched the qualities of a bush growing in certain mountainous regions and especially the green beans of that bush, and it seems one of the so-called researchers actually got a result: some of the beans accidentally fell into the camp-fire and when the Ogres put it out the next morning with some cups of water the resulting smell was so interesting they had to investigate further. Anyway, meanwhile, in some Stronghold communities you can see people sitting over small cups instead of (or in addition to) the tankards containing ground roasted beans of that bush in boiling water, but, because of the bitterness, honeyed and spiced. They call it coffee and the Ogres who invested money in that business indeed found another black brew and it looks like they will earn lots of money with it because it is already very popular, and not only with Stronghold communities.
AVAILABILITY AND ADMINISTRATION
Taverns have all kinds of drinks, but mostly beer and ale. Meanwhile coffee is available too in most Stronghold communities and some others. For instance the CDD is currently checking whether to allow that stuff for use in Castle communities as well, and well-informed sources see good chances for that, while the Tower Alchemists are already busy trying to analyze this new product. So-called "duty-free shops" not more than roughly but together barracks, are selling every drug known in Erathia, sometimes for a good price.
USE IN BATTLE
Yes and yes. Drinking stuff prior to battle is pretty common and most drink beer as well as coffee.
For alcohol, see CASTLE (with added "collateral damage" in Stronghold - the contests are pretty hard on their victims in some cases). Not much is known about coffee yet, but it seems that the initial opinion that coffee would lessen the effects of alcohol isn't true. Instead it seems to deepen the effect, while knocking the users more awake, so it may just seem to lessen the effects. Barbarian coffee-drinking contests seem to hint at the stuff leading to addiction when the user drinks lots of it regularly: people used to drinking lots of coffee will suffer under headaches, tiredness and irritability when not getting their stuff anymore (of course all those effects are pretty normal in any Stronghold community anyway, so this isn't conclusive)
FAMOUS AND RUMOURED VICTIMS
All Battle Mages do their cactus fruits - it comes with the trade. Because of this most are a bit more careful with the alcohol (another reason their popularity is sinking), but they all seem to like coffee. All Barbarians are alcoholics - there is no way to avoid that fate in a Stronghold community. Of course they all drink lots of coffee.
It may be more interesting to look at fingers: Crag Hack is missing the ring finger of his left hand; Gurnisson just has thumb and middle finger left; Tyraxor has all fingers of his left hand, but misses the little one and the pointer on his right; apparently he is a right-hander, though. As for the Battle Mages, Gundula is missing the middle finger of the left hand. Terek has all fingers, but he is known for being an accused cheater with some magic and was forbidden to ever participate again.
TIPS FOR THE VISITOR
Never take part in any of the contests!
Of course the undead can't use a drug in the usual sense because they aren't able to feel anything, and especially what drugs are all about: the intoxication, the ecstasy, the rush, the kick, whatever you name it, the same way they aren't affected by morale. Not even Vampires drinking the blood of a thoroughly intoxicated, say a drunk, would feel anything. That, however, doesn't mean they can't have one. In fact they must have at least one because else the taverns would be pretty useless: Skeletons, Wights, Vampires and so on sitting in a tavern drinking is a pretty silly idea. Why should they do it in the first place?
It didn't take the Necropolis leaders long to realize that their own drug would be important: the more things there are the members of a society have in common the better for the unity and the stronger the bonds and consequently the society as a whole. Sitting together at some place and at least creating the impression of having a good time together relishing the specific allowed drugs of that society seemed to be important and while this may not exactly apply to a society of undead, you never know, and in any case one thing was clear: there couldn't be a drug that would be able to hurt the undead, so what?
Over the course of the centuries, Necropolis leaders have made field tests with all known drugs and of course none had any effect on them. This wasn't good because that only led to the undead realizing their being different from all the rest even more, and in this case their leaders couldn't sell it as being better because it led to realizing they were lacking something all others had: the ability to be affected by things.
When it seemed all was lost on that front, a plant was found in an uninhabited region of Erathia. It isn't known whether it was the Lichen Necromancer Nagash or the Lichen Death Knight Moander who first found the plant, but it was a Lich, that much is clear. After some experimenting with this plant, it seemed they had indeed found something: the leaves of this plant could be dried and either smoked, snuffed, chewed or even drunk the same way like tea - even though this last way seemed rather unhealthy, at least for living beings, when an accidentally spilled cup of that stuff killed a whole colony of maggots crawling around nearby. Depending on the kind of undead, it soon became clear that chewing and smoking were the most promising and of course practical ways - even though the stuff wasn't really chewed. Instead it was kept simply in the mouth until it was used up and beings able to produce spittle would have to spit out regularly. To smoke the stuff, the dried leaves had to be cut into small pieces and then filled into a pipe. Another way was to roll the cut leaves into an uncut leaf or really fine-cut stuff into a piece of thin parchment.
The product looked promising indeed: it stinks beautifully, the remains are either (fittingly) ash or a brown sauce when the stuff is chewed which is pleasantly gross and those smoking and chewing and spitting undead look pretty cool, especially when having one of those small sticks of parchment-rolled stuff in their mouths. For no known reason the plant was called "tobacco".
However, the real kicker, the icing on the cake, was a fact the Necropolis leaders have learned not so long ago: of course the undead still wouldn't feel any effect, but what effect would the stuff have on the living except that of being deadly when used in too high quantities? Tests were made with living beings stupid enough to join the ranks of the undead for greater glory and faced with the choice of either marching into a Skeleton Transformer or trying out the new Necropolis stuff, who did, of course, the latter. The interesting result was that while all found the stuff initially distasteful and disgusting, when forced to try it again and again there would come the point when the subjects would use the stuff willingly whether they would smoke or chew it. When asked what they felt they couldn't really tell: "It tastes good." "It helps me concentrate." "It keeps me from being bored." "It keeps me from getting fat."... And so on. In fact, when the Necros withheld the stuff, subjects would ask and even beg for more if they had used it long enough. Slowly it dawned onto the Necros that they had found the holy drug grail for the undead: it not only fulfilled every prerequisite for getting drug-status, it didn't actually do anything except hooking everyone! That of course meant, you could say the effect of it was the same on living and undead (see Ill Effects). Now, if that wasn't something...
AVAILABILITY AND ADMINISTRATION
Necropolis taverns sell tobacco in every form and especially the stuff known as "coffin nails": thin sticks of fine-cut tobacco rolled in thin parchments. Those are smoked and Necro taverns are pretty filled and pretty smoky these days since everyone there indulges in it. You can get a slightly modified stuff, too, which is chewed or rather kept between teeth and lips, spitting out the resulting sauce once in a while.
USE IN BATTLE
Sure. Use of this has greatly increased effectiveness of Necro armies lately. If nothing else, it makes them look even more disgusting and uncanny.
None, at least with the undead. Ill effects for the living haven't been researched because this stuff is too new and just beginning to find its way into the societies of the living. The CDD is already researching and will probably allow it, reassured by the fact that it seemingly doesn't do anything in the way the other known drugs are acting - there is no kick or rush.
We were able to take a look into the secret research diaries of the Necros and of course they have investigated the stuff a lot further. It seems to be something special indeed. Usage creates something like a scratch that will produce an itching when healing, that is, when not using. You could call this withdrawal symptom. Usage means scratching the itch, but of course scratching means scratching bloody, so healing will produce another itch to be scratched, and so on. Using this stuff is like eternally scratching bloody the same small scratch all over again because the healing itches. How can this work? Pretty easily, the Necros say. The itching is felt as something unpleasant while the scratching is felt as something pleasant, even though it only momentarily restores the state a non-user will live in the whole time (but not feel like pleasant, but normal). A much better way to get the same effect would be to wait until almost starvation and then eat. In a way the users of this stuff humiliate themselves to suffer a bit most of the time to have a chance to relish the great feeling of not suffering anymore - and doing it every time they want at that.
In a way, this is so stupid that we can't believe a living being would really fall for it, even though the Necros seem to be convinced of it, and especially of the humans being indeed stupid enough. In fact they seem to be thinking that this is the perfect drug because it makes use of the imagination of living beings and the fact that there is a phenomenon they call the "relativity of feeling" (which undead don't know). This means there is no absolute well or ill feeling, only a relative one. An example for this principle would be a fat rich man feeling bad about eating simple food below his normal standards, while a poor starving guy would really feel well about it and about the full belly it gave him. Indeed the Necros seem to believe that they will be able to hook the whole of Erathia which would give them as the producers of the stuff a lot of leverage, but that seems to be just another one in a long row of many undead world conquest plans.
FAMOUS AND RUMOURED VICTIMS
All Necropolis heroes are smoking or chewing tobacco.
TIPS FOR THE VISITOR
If you decided to take a trip there, all tips are probably wasted anyway. Still, at least try another town.