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Old 10-03-2015, 09:03 AM   #1
johndallman
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
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Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Herb Lore

Herb Lore/TL is the IQ/VH ability to make magical compounds and mixtures out of herbs. It functions much like Alchemy, except that it doesn't provide the ability to analyse elixirs. However, its ingredients can be found for free in nature with Naturalist rolls. Herb Lore has no default, and a prerequisite of Naturalist. Pharmacy (Herbal) defaults to Herb Lore-5.

Third Edition and earlier had several skills in different books dealing with herbs. At 4e, much of this material became Pharmacy (Herbal), which is used at TL4 and below in place of Physician, sometimes in combination with Esoteric Medicine. The rest became this skill, which could be considered as Alchemy (Herbal).

Herb Lore is reasonably common on templates for fantasy healers. Banestorm healers use it, and DF Druids, and other characters with druidic lenses, major in Herb Lore. Fantasy expands on what is and isn't possible with Herb Lore. Locations: The Tower of Octavius has several characters with this skill, and Worminghall has more, and locations where it's useful. Magic offers Herb Lore as a core skill for ritual magic, and explains its use as an alternative to Alchemy. PU2, PU3 and PU7 all have examples for this skill. Powers: Enhanced Senses has an ability to boost it, and Thaumatology has supporting material and a critical failure table. Age of Gold concentrates on traditional Alchemy, but Alchemical Baroque and Chinese Elemental Powers have plenty of uses for Herb Lore. Ritual Path Magic can use Herb Lore as a core skill in place of Thaumatology, and you can use it to make Zombies.

It's another one of those skills I've never seen used. I've played Banestorm and Witch World campaigns that could have had it, but used spells for healing instead. I'd like to play an Alchemy-based campaign sometime, and this skill could sensibly fit in there.

What have you cooked up with Herb Lore?
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Old 10-03-2015, 09:26 AM   #2
Not
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Herb Lore

How does this skill interact with Plant Empathy?
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Old 10-03-2015, 10:28 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Herb Lore

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Originally Posted by Not View Post
How does this skill interact with Plant Empathy?
Well, Plant Empathy would almost certainly let you know if a kind of plant that's new to you would be useful for Herb Lore purposes, and maybe give you a hint as to how. Plant Empathy is also often accompanied by Green Thumb talent, which adds to Herb Lore and often Sense of Duty (Plants) or Vow (Use plant material only if gathered without severe injury to the plant), the last of which could be a problem on occasion.

In 3e, Plant Empathy had the Talent and the Sense of Duty rolled in, and the more drastic advantage Tree-Kin (which I think originated in Witch World) rolled in the Vow and a level of Aspected Magery. 4e unpacks the bundles.
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Old 10-03-2015, 10:47 AM   #4
dripton
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Herb Lore

Sadly, I don't think I've ever used it either. Never played in a GURPS game with a druid or woods-witch PC, or where herbal healing was more effective than magical or clerical healing, or where mages needed to gather spell components in the wild.

Herb Lore and Alchemy are pretty much the same skill with slightly different chrome. One could argue for merging them. Or for merging Herb Lore with Pharmacy (Herbal). Lots of similar, underused skills. I guess you could introduce the "Herb!" skill, though it would probably lead to boring stoner jokes.

It seems easy enough to make this skill popular: make it an enabler for the cheapest or most effective form of healing available. That would totally fit a low-tech no-magic setting. But herb gathering just isn't that exciting; it feels like something an NPC should do for you.
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Old 10-03-2015, 10:53 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Herb Lore

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Originally Posted by dripton View Post
But herb gathering just isn't that exciting; it feels like something an NPC should do for you.
Unlike exciting skills like Accounting... :)
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Old 10-03-2015, 10:54 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Herb Lore

Long in the past, gathering herbs was reasonably worthwhile for an RuneQuest II healer I played. There was easy and effective magic for fixing hit point damage, but diseases and poisons were a different matter, and herbs were the best bet for them for a wandering party without much money.
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Old 10-03-2015, 12:45 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Herb Lore

I've used it in non-magical settings that have psi as the skill for Psychobotanics (see the Old Time Psi text box, Psionic Campaigns p5), which substitutes for psi-drugs and some other Psi-Tech at lower TLs. I also declared that it can substitute for Pharmacy (Herbal) of the same TL, since it's a harder skill.

Haven't gamed it, but some characters in the Low-level psis thread have it.
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Old 10-03-2015, 01:17 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Herb Lore

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Originally Posted by Anders View Post
Unlike exciting skills like Accounting... :)
Relevant XKCD: https://xkcd.com/1566/

Bringing this back on topic, I think Herb Lore is kind of boring, but when I played Skyrim I was a seriously obsessive flower picker^W^W spell component collector. Even when I had all the spell components and money I needed. So maybe there's a way to make it fun. Like, detail 20 different herbs and flowers, and make most of them dirt common and just drop them into scene descriptions regularly, but make a few of them very rare and valuable. ("Oh yeah, you need buggerwort to cast Steal Youth. That's why it's illegal in 3 kingdoms. Even though it's also useful for Instant Regeneration.")
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Old 10-03-2015, 01:38 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Herb Lore

The Driud in my last game made prolific use of his Herb Lore, not only for herbal poultices and the like, but in using herbs to help boost his Ritual Path Magic and when making Charms and Potions via RPM.
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Old 10-03-2015, 02:45 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Herb Lore

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Originally Posted by dripton View Post
Relevant XKCD: https://xkcd.com/1566/

Bringing this back on topic, I think Herb Lore is kind of boring, but when I played Skyrim I was a seriously obsessive flower picker^W^W spell component collector. Even when I had all the spell components and money I needed. So maybe there's a way to make it fun. Like, detail 20 different herbs and flowers, and make most of them dirt common and just drop them into scene descriptions regularly, but make a few of them very rare and valuable. ("Oh yeah, you need buggerwort to cast Steal Youth. That's why it's illegal in 3 kingdoms. Even though it's also useful for Instant Regeneration.")
The Swedish roleplaying game DoD has a lot of herbs and drugs they can be made into.
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