Wednesday, 15 July 2020


This is a seven month old draft that needed finishing so I could share the pretty pictures with you.

An animist setting should feature entheogens: a chemical substance, typically of plant origin, that is ingested to produce a nonordinary state of consciousness for religious or spiritual purposes, (according to my most recent google search).

Though lurking at the back of my head, this post was at least in part inspired by the ongoing OSR weapons race, courtesy Eldritch Fields and Chaos Magick User. I reference them mainly as an invitation to you, dear reader, to go ahead and blow your mind: what follows may be a little less out there than what those two degenerates produced.

This post in no way endorses or condemns drug use outside of a gaming context. You can try and get a handle on my confused relationship with narcotic substances by reading this post. Good luck with that.
The actual entheogens are at the end, so if you want to read about imaginary plants (and other things) scroll down ... just be wary of wisdom unearned (Carl Jung)...

Talk to the Spirits
Before we get down to the smoking and the snorting and the toad-licking, it must be understood that these entheogens are not meant for recreation: although they can be enjoyable, their use is sacred and therefore proscribed outside of ritual contexts. Since the PCs are exiles, they are no longer bound by taboos, and are free to ignore such restrictions.

The world is full of spirits. They are all around us. But they are not always visible, and humans ignore them at their peril.

Ordinary human senses confer awareness of a limited field of possible experiences: in order that other intelligences can be contacted and bargained with, these senses have to be altered: new ways of seeing need to be uncovered.

  • This is achieved through magic (of course)... but there are many ways to utilise that magic.
  • The primary purpose of taking entheogens is to enter into a dialogue with other entities. 
  • Some of these entities are only encountered when certain plants or substances are ingested.
  • Some of these entities are actually the spirit of the entheogen itself. if a character wants to really see how far the turtles go down, they can try to snort an entheogenic entity on their home plane. You'll have to work out what happens when they do that.

No idea. It was an uncited image on DMT times. Google says it's a DMT Praying Mantis. I used this in another post because it's so cool. Did you know they injected people with DMT and they all said they met this scary boi? He owes them all a £20.
Ritual and Dosage
Taboos surrounding entheogen use described above serve a practical purpose: ritual preparation ensures that the entheogens are delivered in the correct way and in the appropriate quantity for the desired effect to manifest.

You could make wisdom, intelligence, or other relevant skill checks for this but it might be more fun to let them use trial and error.

Each entheogen has its own delivery mechanism and psychoactive properties, though broadly speaking, dosages work like this:
  • Low dose: The minimal amount to obtain any psychoactive effects. Save vs. poison: success means it has no effect, failure means the character experiences a minor effect for a specified period of time.
  • Powerful dose: Again, save vs poison... only this time, failure results in vomiting and nausea and other listed effects. Success means the character experiences a major effect for a specified period of time.
  • Heroic dose: This is the quantity required to activate the magical effects of the entheogen. However, doing so is highly dangerous for the uninitiated. The initial save vs. poison, if failed, can have serious consequences (as listed). Even after this, the character will need to make a further entheogenic roll to determine what happens to them...
  • Ridiculous dose: this would be a substantially larger amount than even a heroic dose, and in most cases the volume required would be almost impossible to ingest... in most cases. The consequence is almost always  total ego death and sometimes physical death, too.
Entheogenic Roll
Each entheogen, if ingested at heroic levels, requires a special roll. There is a table provided for this with each plant, fungus or weird animal gland. The table entries equate to d6 + character constitution.

The size of the die can be increased with experience and training, up to a maximum of d12. Additionally, a trained character for whom wisdom is their prime requisite can use that instead.

Insect machine elves

* * * *
Buttons from the desert cactus.
Realm Dusk.
Preparation Chew and swallow. Given it is bitter, often brewed in honey-sweetened tea.

Low Dose (poison save)

  • Failing the save results in 10 minutes of nausea (1d4 CON damage) followed by the effects of  Powerful Dose effects.
  • Success: The World Comes to Life: everything intensifies—riotous colours and details +1 bonus on all checks for the duration.
  • Dusk Association: additional +1 to interactions with insects and reptiles due to the realm’s close association with the Here and Now.
  • Full effects after 3 turns(raw) or 2 (boiled or immediately (smoked).
  • Duration: 1 hour.

Powerful Dose

  • 5-8 buttons—interesting but occasionally frightening.
  • Poison save: experienced shaman get to add their ability score modifier to the roll.
  • Heal all INT damage.
  • Receive technological inspiration.
  • Duration: 1 hour.
  • Failure results in horrid nausea for the duration of the 1 hour trip (1d2 con damage per ten minute turn).

Heroic Dose

  • 9-16 buttons.
  • Travel to the Dusk Realm and talk to weird insectoid creatures.
  • Duration: 2 hours.
  • Failure results in toxic shock for the duration of the 2 hour trip (1d4 con damage per ten minute turn), plus the possibility of psychic attack by giant fucking locust robots.

Ridiculous Dose

  • 17+ buttons—save vs poison for every 1d4 buttons over 17.
  • Success: Meet an insect god and receive a revolutionary piece of neolithic technology.
  • Become trapped in the insect realm forever while your physical body drowns in its own vomit.
Have fun kids and enjoy your trip! Remember, just one "acid" is enough to make D&D become true in the real world! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.


  • Shaman shrooms—talk to the ickle faeries!
  • Desert Rue—you know acacia has DMT in it, right? That's what the burning bush was: Moses was talking to GOD, now you can too!
  • Sleepflower: heroin is not cool, but your fictitious opium analogue can be as cool as you want it to be!
  • Quickleaf—probably not psychedelic, but we're covering all the drugs so let's get some cocaine/tobacco substitutes in there. +1 to reactions and combat rolls until you take to much and explode.
  • Sorcerer's sage—no word of a lie I once spoke to my dead ancestors while on salvia. It was intense, because they all merged into the same person and that person was me. When I awoke I was dribbling onto the tabletop. Good times.
(Addendum: more psychedelic stuff is available in PARIAH, available from


  1. Entheogens are whack I have been an Arthurian knight and also Alice in Wonderland under the influence. I have also forgotten what numbers mean. Not "recreational" drugs by my reckoning.

    I feel like believing that one's environment and objects in surroundings have their own spirits is a very practical belief even if not strictly true, with regard to environmental degradation and planned obsolescence and all that.

    I will block this information out of my mind while playing (though you make snorting a spirit sound so fun).