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A couple of years ago, Jolly Joker wrote a series of semi-serious encyclopedic articles about drug abuse in Erathia, the world of Heroes of Might and Magic III. Originally published on Portals of Might and Magic, the articles disappeared with the site and were posted again at the Round Table a few months ago. theLuckyDragon had the good idea of putting them on Celestial Heavens, with permission, and formatted the articles accordingly. Here they are!
Part 1: Castle, Rampart, Tower, Fortress
Part 2: Necropolis, Inferno, Stronghold, Dungeon

Jolly Joker also wrote excellent Heroes III strategy guides for the 3DO site -- they can also be found here. There are plans to reorganize the various special features on this site that are not tied to a specific game. They will likely be grouped in a detailed table of contents, like we did for the interviews among others. If anyone would like to help with that task (which will require a little writing and HTML coding), please send me a note.

Drug Abuse in Erathia

Castle
Rampart
Tower
Fortress
Inferno
Dungeon
Stronghold
Necropolis

CASTLE

In Castle society drugs are generally forbidden and the use - or misuse - of drugs is thought of as something near heresy. Fortunately, alcohol isn't considered a drug (for various reasons, not the least of which being the fact that the monks invented beer brewing), so people are free to drink. The laws governing production, trade and use of drugs are pretty strict - so strict, in fact, that people are thoroughly discouraged to even try to get illegal stuff. Ingham, chief of the Clerus' Drug Department (CDD) is known for his inquisitive nature when he suspects cases of continued drug abuse. Of course, there are drugs of healing, but the authorities take great care to get their supplies from the Tower labs instead of the Rampart (for the reason see parts 3 and 2 of this study). So it comes as no surprise that Castle Taverns are pretty close-packed most of the time.

AVAILABILITY AND ADMINISTRATION

The most common form is beer or ale. Essentially this comes in three variations: light (blonde), medium (dark) and strong (black). Every Castle town brews its own stuff, usually in the Monastery, and some brands have a country-wide reputation, but there is a fierce competition with the Dwarven-brew which is the strongest beer available in Erathia (see RAMPART).

No Tavern ever lacks beer.

Wine is of course as common, but there are big regional differences in quality and a halfway decent cup of wine is rather expensive in some areas. There is the odd dive that doesn't serve wine at all.

Spirits are the most potent form of alcohol and there are some forms, especially one called absinthe, that the high Clerus is considering to ban because of its side-effects. Spirits are distilled out of grain mostly, but there are some notable exceptions: Fruit spirits are very popular in mountainous areas and there seems to be a rule that the stuff has to all the stronger the higher a Castle is located in the mountains. The same is true for colder regions where potent spirits are used to fight the outer chill with inner fire. A very common spirit in those region is one distilled out of potatoes.

CLASS-SPECIFIC HABITS

Interestingly enough, Knights seem to prefer wine while the Clerics and Monks and such seem to be more fond of beer - of course both do appreciate the spirits.

USE IN BATTLE

Of course. Castle armies make use of alcohol in battle. Drinking a flask of spirit prior to battle is rather common for the foot-soldiers, but prohibited to Marksmen. They are allowed only light beer, apparently to guarantee a steady hand (for whatever reason those hands may tremble!). Anyway, the real reason for the loud singing you hear when Castle armies move into battle is that foot-soldiers are completely drunk.

ILL EFFECTS

All in all it has to be said that the percentage of habitual drinkers in Castle society is pretty high: Visit any tavern in any Castle at any time and you will find people in all stages of drunkenness, from just having ordered the first tankard to lying under the table and snoring. The main reason for this seems to be a phenomenon that is causing something like a loop effect: excessive drinking, especially when mixing different kinds of drinks, seems to lead inevitably to a special kind of headache commonly known as "hangover" which apparently can be cured (provided the victim has a strong stomach) by beginning the next day with drinking a certain measure of the stuff you drunk the night before, which will inevitably lead to another day (and especially night) of excessive drinking... ad infinitum.

FAMOUS KNOWN AND RUMOURED VICTIMS

The Cleric Cuthbert is a known alcoholic - and has enough reason to be one, it seems. The Clerics Adelaide, Rion and Sanya are rumored to have experience with drugs of other societies (and continually so: Adelaide and Sanya with FORTRESS and Rion with TOWER), so Ingham is investigating them. Of course, Ingham himself is rumored of having contacts with certain INFERNO or DUNGEON dealers (see there for more info), but those are probably unfounded. Lord Haart has supposedly been addicted to some unspeakably evil drug, so that its high gold demand eventually had a decisive influence on him becoming a traitor. The Knights Sir Mullich and Christian are well known for their nearly Dwarfish capacity "to put away" unbelievable quantities of any known drink. Lastly, Sylvia is rumored to be at sea so often to get away from the bottle she seems to have strong ties with when on land. Of course the human foot-soldiers in Castle society are more or less alcoholics.

TIPS FOR THE VISITOR

1) DON'T mix it, baby!
2) Keep with light beer, at least until after dusk!

RAMPART

Since the Rampart society is something of a nature community, it is pretty familiar with drugs where nature produces them. The two backbone pillars of the Rampart society, Dwarves and Elves, couldn't be more different, though. Dwarves are a pretty conservative lot and need strict laws or rules to lean on, while Elves are strong advocates of maximum freedom of the individual and personal responsibility. Who really has the say in Rampart society becomes obvious immediately when considering the fact that there is not even one single official law in effect that rules trade and use of drugs! Every member of the Rampart society is completely free to buy, sell, produce, and use every possible drug, and every drug is freely available in their natural form in the healer shops that sell Druidic supplies. The Elves seem to have a natural resistance against every kind of addictiveness and as can one expect, Elves are doing pretty well under these circumstances. Dwarves, on the other hand, tend to fall into a habit pretty fast. That's why the Dwarven community, displeased with the lax Elven laws, has their own - unofficial - drug laws that are in effect for members of the Dwarven race only.

All this means, that, discounting the - mostly human - "drug tourists" for a moment, the so-called "drug-heaven" Rampart is surprisingly drug-free: you can get every known drug there, but not much is consummated regularly by their permanent members except for medical reasons, if any. Rampart makes use of every known herb for healing purposes and the Healer Druids will apply them, when necessary. Those nature products have pleasant side-effects which Druids claim are quite helpful since the mental state of a wounded or ill person will affect the speed of the healing process. Of course those herbs and potions will lead to addictiveness when used for too long a time or regularly (just as the artificial TOWER products, see there) - at least when you are not an Elf. The CASTLE society prefers to import their healing drugs from the Tower society (see there) because Castle society seems to have an unwritten law that healing drugs must not have pleasant side-effects, for whatever the real reason behind that.

On the other hand, there are strong trading ties between said Druidic herbalists and most other towns' societies, because the latter buy from the former at least part of the base substances necessary for their drugs, as far as those are parts of plants! Ties are on a more friendly basis between Rampart and Fortress because there are those plants Witches have more expertise in than Druids (see FORTRESS) and so both parties do profit from trading plants and knowledge.

AVAILABILITY, ADIMINISTRATION AND CLASS-SPECIFIC HABITS

Surprisingly enough (or maybe not that surprisingly, actually) only two drugs are of importance for the daily life. Dwarves are well-known for their famous Dwarven-brew, a very potent black ale that even Ogres (see STRONGHOLD) have a healthy respect for. Any Rampart tavern will serve the stuff, but the visitor can get imported brands, too. Wine and spirits are also available, but especially the spirits can be pretty expensive. While Dwarves will drink often and "can put away a lot" (and do), Elves won't. They are content with a mug of tea or maybe a cup of wine while smoking their "Elven-weed" (the nickname "weed-eater" for members of the Elven race is actually a misunderstanding: they don't eat the weed, they smoke it). Elven-weed is a mix of dried hemp leaves and the resin of the hemp blossoms (you can buy and smoke it separated, but then the stuff is named differently) - the more resin, the stronger the mix - and it is available in every tavern, but especially in the so-called "tea shops". The Elves are so versed in their herb lore that they are able to produce a couple dozen different kinds of their Elven-weed that all have typically Elvish colorful names like Homestead-Gold and with all brands having slightly different effects, from inducing mild euphoria to stunning the user into something known as "being stoned", actually a pretty accurate description of what is happening (see under Ill Effects). As a rule, with the weed it is as with the beer: the darker the resin, the more "stoning" the mix.

USE IN BATTLE

In reality Elves are so cool and deadly bow shooters because they smoke their weed prior to every battle while Dwarves are prohibited to smoke weed prior to battle (see Ill Effects) but will empty one or another tankard of their brew. Of course Elves never fail to point out how much better their way is, because medical help has much better chances of success with an empty stomach, especially in case of a belly wound! Centaurs seem to fall for the Elven propaganda (maybe because of their big bellies) because they are known to smoke the lighter weeds prior to battle. Dendroids can't smoke at all because of an instinctive fear of fire. Nothing is known about the Dragons except that they produce their own smoke sometimes when angry.

ILL EFFECTS

Elven-weed and Dwarven-brew are the only drugs that the Dwarven community allows their members and it comes as no surprise that the Dwarves are pretty fond of those weed mixes that will make the user believe that food and drink is much tastier than usual - and pretty much all of the mixes will have this effect. In fact, this has led many a Dwarf to plundering the contents of their pantries in the middle of the night. While this seems to be more amusing than anything else, it has led to a lot of health problems with Dwarves tending to fatness and generally to a life of sweet (and of course stoned) laziness (the worst sin in Dwarven society).

One effect of smoking Elven-weed, the fact that smokers often lose themselves in thought processes that "unstoned" people might find trivial, often convinced that they have fascinating new insights concerning every imaginable thing that virtually comes to mind (and in fact this is what being stoned is all about), leads to users appearing to be - characteristically - slow and even paralyzed. While this may be of little consequence when sitting nice and comfy in a local tea shop, it can easily lead to disaster in more sensible situations like, for example, in any kind of test or in battle: it may cost valuable time when a bow shooter aims and suddenly finds something very fascinating in the way some rapidly approaching Minotaur Kings swing their battle axes, with this in turn leading to some enlighteningly fresh considerations about the importance of threatening gestures in the history of society.

Another big problem is of course the so-called "drug tourism": since the Dwarves have conceived their "holiday resorts", rentable cottages in a separated area of a Rampart - of course without any access to drug-selling shops to cater for the squeamishness of the Castle folk - "to show the townsfolk the beauty of the woods" (and of course to fill the Dwarven pockets with gold), humans especially are fond of the freedom the Elven dominated Rampart society grants in all drug-related questions, and some of the bored young Castle dwellers who have heard stories from friends, or were actually there on a short holiday with mom and dad, run away from home to make it to the promised land of poppy milk and honeyed Elven-weed. However, it is virtually impossible to obtain a permanent residence permit without being either obscenely rich or obscenely talented, and most hopeful youths have to leave after a short week of relishing tea and healer shops and will have grave problems to find their way back into the unwelcoming and unforgiving arms of the harsher Castle society. A certain number will turn to other cities, mainly Inferno and Dungeon, a few even to Fortress and Tower and even fewer to Stronghold and fall victim to deadly habits pretty soon.

It has to be said, though, that all in all the "nature community" works surprisingly well - for their regular and permanent members at least.

FAMOUS KNOWN AND RUMOURED VICTIMS

All known Elven heroes and all Druids, Elf or not, smoke Elven-weed - without any apparent ill effects which in light of all the known facts isn't that much of a surprise. All Dwarven heroes are famous for their big tolerance concerning Dwarven-brew. It is certainly true that at least all Elven heroes and probably some of the human Rampart heroes have tried other stuff, especially that of the FORTRESS (see there), but if so it didn't or doesn't happen on a regular or habitual basis and no one seems to have a problem with it, so there don't seem to be any insider victims.

TIPS FOR THE VISITOR:

If you are an Elf: some people have all the luck. If not:
1) DON'T mix it, baby!
2) Keep with the light resins, at least until after dusk.
3) Keep out of healer shops if NOT with a Druid to show you around and help you!

TOWER

The Tower society, that is, the Alchemists' labs there, are developing and producing all artificial drugs known in all Erathia - and they are pretty busy developing new and more effective ones every day. Apparently, the original reason for doing this was the the Alchemists' and Wizards' sincere belief that they could do better than nature and produce better, more potent and less dangerous or addictive medical drugs. That was the beginning of a nowadays blooming multi-million gold piece business that pretty soon after its establishing expanded to cover every drug-related need, not only in the strictly medical field. It is true, that it was in the Alchemists' labs where the prerequisites were developed that are necessary for producing the potent stuffs that rule the INFERNO and DUNGEON societies nowadays (see there) and there is no doubt that the Tower society is far from fulfilling their promise of delivering the perfect and safe drug for every need and purpose.

Since the creation of the first so-called "lab-drug", the Tower society has gone a long way toward developing not only artificial versions or alterations of known natural drugs, but also toward designing a plethora of hitherto unknown and, at least in some cases, extremely dangerous substances that nature saw no reason to provide.

AVAILABILITY AND ADMINISTRATION

Today an Alchemist's shop will provide the user with pills, powders, and potions, tonics, tabs, and treatments that will address every real or imagined problem of the user - only to give him two new ones for each one halfway cured. In the Castle society you will need a prescription from a real doctor to get the stuff and since the CDD (see CASTLE) is pretty sharp, abuse is not really a problem there, while the stuff would be freely available in the Rampart society, but the nature community disapproves the Tower way and consequently disapproves and rejects the Tower products. The Tower society itself has a lot of problems with it, though, since there are no regulations whatsoever (this is business, remember, see Ill Effects). Taverns are few and empty at times. Of course there is some drinking and you will get the usual drinks there, but prices are ridiculous. Taverns sell the most common feel-good pills and powders which are actually cheaper than the glass of water with which to gulp down the stuff.

USE IN BATTLE

What do you think? Fear killers, pain killers, "speed" (see Ill Effects), berserker stuff, you name it!

ILL EFFECTS

Too many to name them all and of course each and every product has them. In a way it's the biggest victims of Tower society, the Gremlins, who got it all started. They have been the work slaves of the Wizards and Alchemists since the dawn of time and in ancient times they chewed certain leaves delivered by the Rampart which helped them endure the heavy labor in the Workshops and almost everywhere hands were needed, but since those were pretty expensive in the constantly growing quantities needed and seemed to have unpleasant side-effects in everyday use, the Alchemists successfully tried to isolate the agent that was responsible for the effect of the leaves to eventually come up with an artificial ersatz - not before the isolated agent, a white crystalline powder called "snow", had left a lasting impression on the Tower society, and not only. Of course snow was banned shortly after that. It was the first, but not the last, in a long row of lab-produced stuff leaving lasting impressions. Probably the worst stuff that ever left the Tower labs was the ersatz that hit the market right after snow was banned: the so-called "amphetamines" or "speed". It wasn't long after the initial introduction of this new high in scientific achievements that the known phrase "speed kills", until that point a pretty accurate description of battlefield realities, got a completely new meaning: the regular users - and every Tower soldier was one at that point - fell victim to a new phenomenon, the "burning-out": if life was a candle, that of speed users would simply burn down faster (but not necessarily brighter). Today the Gremlins are generally highly and hopelessly addicted to the artificial stimulants they help produce (but of course they are far from being the only ones). Probably even worse is that Gremlins are generally used as subjects when the Alchemists test their newly designed drugs - generally, but not always, as we will hear from our interview guest who won't tell us, um, his or her real name or gender.

Question: Describe your current job, please.
Answer: I'm a designer of psycho-active substances.
Q: Psycho-active substances? Medical drugs, you mean?
A: Well, not exactly. Drugs, yes, medical, umm, I suppose, you could say so, but not in the strictest sense, if you get my drift.
Q: No, not really. Medical or not medical?
A: It can be used for medical purposes provided those purposes include the healing of mental ailments.
Q: Such as?
A: Well, depression, for one thing; euphoria for another. Violent aggressiveness, nervous insomnia, to name only a few. Mental apathy...
Q: Okay. Tell us about WBA0, please.
A: Oh, yeah. That stuff. Well. It was a pre-product, developed for Genies, initially, and it had some promise. Before we could test it...
Q: How? I mean, how will you test a product?
A: There are always volunteers. Gremlins who won't get promoted to Master, human runaways having stranded here after being banned from a Rampart... There is never a shortage of subjects. Anyway, before we could test it, some Leprechauns stole it and popped the stuff - which proved to be pretty unfortunate for them because from then on they couldn't stop dancing anymore in their mystical gardens. They should have waited some time; we managed to refine the product to the stuff now widely known as XTC.
Q: Is it true that the Genies are pretty fond of that stuff?
A: There was a time when it seemed that they didn't react well to lamp-rubbing anymore. They had lost motivation somehow. We decided to encourage them a bit. However, for them XTC is what catnip is for cats. There are no ill effects. At least with the Genies. With humans... well. Still, probably our best work.
Q: And the Angel Dust Scandal?
A: Unfortunate name, really. Got us an official protest of the Angels and we changed the name to Giant Powder, but somehow the original name stuck.
Q: What about the Acid Incident?
A: Uh, that was embarrassing. But who'd have thought the stuff was so, umm, yielding. Actually an apprentice just cleaned the gear which apparently had some of the stuff in it. He did it at a very frequented well and a few hours later half of the town had freaked out completely. It turned out we had a delegation of Sprites on an official visit and some Master Gremlins who had drunk from the water of the well had some strange visions about them. It didn't help that the Sprites had had something from the water as well and the ensuing spectacle... well. Not many really noticed what happened because all were on their own trips. Anyway, we had to pump the well dry. And since then I can't remember any Sprites visiting us. But those things you mentioned are just small setbacks, really!
Q: Is that so? What about the...
A: Excuse me, but I really have to go now.

FAMOUS KNOWN AND RUMOURED VICTIMS

The Alchemists are more or less all victims of their own medicine. All Genies seem to be fond of XTC and the Genie heroes, whether Alchemists or Wizards, are no exception. The stuff was designed especially for them and they react to it quite differently from humans. There seem to be no ill effects for Genies. Piquedram and Josephine, who both have an uncanny command over the animated creatures, regularly pop a stuff called valium which seems to change them - or at least their look - so that the Gargoyles and Golems will take them for one of their own. Cyra is a speed freak (as well as virtually all the Gremlins), while Serena is known for her parties featuring surprise pills, usually in the form of drinks doctored with the hallucinogen called acid.

TIPS FOR THE VISITOR

1) DON'T mix it, baby!
2) Pop at most ONE pill or dose of anything on any given day - and not before dusk.

FORTRESS

It's safe to say the Fortress society is the most mysterious of all, and not much is known about it, but mystery has a long tradition as far as Witches are concerned. It is a common saying, for example, that all those unfortunate men who ever had the doubtable pleasure to bed a Witch (or have been bedded by one), won't be able to love another woman. Yeah, but let's face it, no "civilized" woman would reject this "ability" if offered or having a chance to acquire it, and there's a lot of envy showing through in this saying, not to mention something of a hint of, well, something special. What we know for sure is that the idea of the "vision" is a very important one for the magic of the Witches and their magic ways. To create and support those visions, drugs have been used ever since the first Witch fled into the swamps to escape the prejudices of their racial mates: belladonna, thorn-apple, monk's hood and some fungi are, as we know now, all used by Witches to "experience other facets of reality" or even to "experience facets of another reality" (whatever), whether they are human, lizardish, or gnollish. This stuff is applied in various ways, one of it being ointments that will be rubbed onto the skin. Common effects are the feeling of flying, erotic fantasies, as well as visions and the feeling of physical changes.

Looking at the Fortress creatures, Hydras, Wyvern, Basilisks, Gorgons and so on, and seeing that Gnolls and Lizardmen are as near to a human being as it gets in the swamps, it is clear that especially the human Witches (and of course the Beastmasters, too) either are mentally very stable (to stand that kind of freak show) or very nuts (to suffer that kind of freak show) and some of the so-called heroes of the Fortress society look decidedly nuts.

We still don't know exactly what motivates humans, and to a lesser extent even Gnolls and Lizardmen, to seek the hardships and isolation of the swamps and the creatures living there, but all known evidence points to a tentative conclusion: Witches and Beastmasters seem to live in a quasi-symbiotic, drug-supported relation that shows clear symptoms of sexual bondage, but we have no clue how big the influence of the regularly used hallucinogenic drugs really is. In reality it is a society of a few drop-outs outside the normal boundaries and restrictions of bigger communities. Partnerships seem to be working and the people seem to live in harmony with the apparently wild and freakish swamp folk. There is some evidence that the combination of consciousness-expanding drugs, erotic understanding, knowledge and fascination and a wild and strange surrounding has indeed created a very special kind of community that can probably work only that far away from civilization. Chances are, however, that this way of living can't survive; sadly, this kind of society seems to be too true, with too many hard edges and not sleek enough to survive the onslaught of the blessings of civilization should this world become even smaller as it already is.

AVAILABILITY AND ADMINISTRATION

Taverns are few but comfy. Basic drinks are available and the folks here just like to have a beer, but there seems to be no abuse. "Witch-Drugs", ointments, fungi and so on can be obtained effortlessly, and since there are strong ties with Rampart communities nothing is impossible to get. There are no written rules or laws. Since Tower came up with their acid, that stuff has found its way into the swamp too (see STRONGHOLD) and is indeed used now and then.

USE IN BATTLE

Believe it or not. No drugs are used in battle. It seems, however, that Witches use their stuff a day or so before commencing a battle to try and get a vision of what will happen.

ILL EFFECTS

None. That is, if you disregard the possibility of losing sanity. All that Witch-stuff doesn't seem to be addictive, but is obviously dangerous nonetheless. A known phenomenon is the so-called "flashback" (and long-time regular users like the Witches may live in a permanent flashback state): the user, even though currently not under any drug influence, feels as if hurled back momentarily into a drugged state. The worrying thing about that would be the fact that dropping in and out of warped experience of reality is no longer controlled by the user, but may simply happen without warning. Furthermore the so-called "trip" may go bad when the users have too many bad things (or just one, but that one all the more so) on their mind. These kind of drugs seems to enhance and even warp existing (sub)conscious moods and this may in some cases be simply too much to bear it; once in a state of "altered conscience" a user can't just end it or go to sleep. A trip will last a few hours, but tripping in and out may continue up to 8 and even 12 hours depending on dose and stuff.

It is rather possible that regular use of those drugs will lead to a loss of contact with reality as we know it, but then it seems that the Fortress society is living outside of any reality as we know it anyway. As if commanding a Fortress army wasn't already a bad enough trip.

FAMOUS KNOWN AND RUMOURED VICTIMS

Either they are all victims or none. Some of them may seem to have gone a step too far already: Tazaar (Verdish seems to be a bad make-up advisor even though both seem to be happy with each other), Bron (Basilisks as pets in the bedroom???), Mirlanda (constant flashback mode), and that's only half of it.

TIPS FOR THE VISITOR

Congratulate yourself you got of there in one piece and don't try your luck and go for the local specialties. Except of course, when you find a Witch tutoring you. Or a Beastmaster.

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