Uncontrolled Substances – Denila

    Denila (Lifekeeper, Surusspin) is a fruity syrup, usually a translucent red in color and slightly tart. It is usually dissolved in alcohol. “Raw” Denila is derived from bees – at least, from the “royal jelly” produced by a particular strain of bees, feeding on specific (if not entirely known) combinations of flowers and plants and infused with a variety of other herbal extracts. Unsurprisingly, even what details are known to the producers are kept a secret, allowing those who control the (few and remote) sources to reap fabulous profits from their monopoly.

   Minor variants are far less potent, but are used for a variety of secondary applications where true Denila is not available. Even when you do obtain a dose of genuine Denila, it’s almost impossible to purify it enough to reach dosage level four, let alone levels five and up, through conventional means. Such purities nearly require magical, psychic, or ultratech extraction.

   Denila is a metabolic stabilizer and regulator. No one is quite sure how that works; speculation suggests some sort of a magical effect, but wilder notions include it being some sort of quasi-living symbiotic organism or it being a psychic link to some sort of elder entity.

   Still, when you can get a hold of the stuff, it can be extremely useful under the right circumstances – and it’s almost unique among drugs; it’s NEVER significantly harmful and it’s quite impossible to overdose on it. The dosage level seven effect is as far as it goes.

   Dosage Levels:

  1. At the most basic level, minimal doses of Denila help maintain the metabolic balances of the users body – slowing the progress of diseases, various disorders, and the aging process. Sadly, it slows the bodies natural emergency responses as well. While a regimen of small doses of Denila can slow aging by a factor of around three, users will require a few extra seconds to adapt to the demands of a sudden fight, sprint, or injury. On the other hand, a user will be able to sustain such efforts a bit longer then normal. Users also take somewhat longer to adapt to changes in environmental factors, such as altitude, climactic variation, and variations in the food supply. On the other hand, they’ll suffer a lot less upset due to such things; they just have to live with minor annoyances a little longer than the rest of the population has to spend with major ones.
  2. This dosage level extends the effect to stabalizing and regulating the users glandular activity – reducing the effects of emotions and inducing calm, but extending the duration of the resulting state (a few berserkers have managed to stay berserk. In such cases the duration is greatly extended). While this has no effect on permanent states, it can dampen and delay the effects of glandular changes, such as puberty or menopause. This dosage is sometimes used with other drugs and compounds, reducing, and greatly extending, their effects. For example, a compound that would normally need to be administered every few hours to work properly could be administered once a week or even once per month if properly combined with a little Denila.
  3. At this dosage level Denila makes the user’s metabolism nearly impossible to disturb, vastly delaying or reducing the effects of toxins, diseases, and similar difficulties. Naturally enough, Denila itself takes a very long time to wear off, so the user’s body may eliminate the problem before the effect gives out. Similarly, menopause will be delayed, cancers will not advance, and various other progressive conditions will be put on hold. Unfortunately, at this level Denila will neatly counteract most beneficial drugs and medications, as well as several useful spells.
  4. This dosage level produces downright supernatural effects, allowing the user’s “metabolism” – or what passes for one while under the effects of such a dose – to continue functioning normally despite grotesque insults – incredible doses of toxins or radiation, not having had any oxygen for the last few hours, having lost 80% of the user’s normal blood supply, or having had your body cut away at the neck (this will prove fatal in an hour or so, there are limits – they’re just ridiculous ones). The problem here is that the users metabolism and emotional state may well remain “locked in” for weeks after such a dose. If the user was awake and calm when he or she took the stuff, they’ll remain awake and calm even if a frantic burst of activity or sleep is called for. If they’re in the middle of a fight, they’ll stay in “combat mode”. If they’re asleep when it’s administered, they’ll stay that way.
  5. This dosage level “stabilizes” the users metabolism to the point of almost halting it. Essentially it induces deep hibernation – leaving the user resistant to aging, hunger, thirst, lack of oxygen, and temperatures within the basically liveable range, as well as delaying the effects of poison, diseases, and similar troubles. The effects usually persist for months.
  6. This dosage level induces “cold sleep” – and paralysis – an effect that may persist for decades without harm to the user. The users food, water, air, and warmth, requirements are virtually nonexistent during this period. Similarly, he or she enjoys a complete immunity to disease and toxins. Sadly, the user has no way of waking up voluntarily; some sort of counteragent is usually necessary – and usually requires hours or days to work. Magical, psychic, and ultra-tech powers may or may not influence the time requirement, depending on how they operate. Individuals in cold sleep may survive for many centuries unharmed.
  7. This dosage level induces total stasis, rendering the user virtually invulnerable to harm, but requiring some very special measures to counteract. An overdose is not possible; total stasis is as far as it goes.

   Side Effects: Dosage levels 3+ occasionally induce a dulling of the users intellect and senses, especially if and when the user is required to react quickly. Reports of loss of appetite and slight dehydration are also common. None of these effects are serious; at most it’s like waking up a bit woozy and ready to eat.

Uncontrolled Substances – M’ram

   Here’s another entry in the “fantastic drugs and compounds” list – in this case a stimulant so potent that it may be able to get adventurers out of several major jams before it kills them. A source, or stockpile, of M’ram may offer considerable power – and attract considerable amounts of trouble.

   M’ram (Windrace, Heartforge) is a crystalline white powder with a faint flavor of mint and an astringent effect. It’s alchemically derived from a combination of several relatively common plants – including a type of red algae and several of the aromatic herbs commonly used in cooking. To function properly, however, M’ram must be psychically sensitized, so that it can be unconsciously directed to affect specific biophysical systems as needed. Without that critical step in preparation, and some fairly complex alchemy to stabilize it, M’ram is simply a powerful stimulant, operating on the metabolic level and with subsequent ramifications throughout the user’s system. It is more than powerful enough to kill by overdose and subsequent stroke or heart failure if used incautiously.

   If properly prepared, M’ram allows the user to draw on deep reserves of energy – permitting near-superhuman feats. Unfortunately, there’s always a price to pay later – and M’ram tends to be exhilarating, and so can readily become both physically and mentally addictive.

   Dosage Levels:

  1. A very modest dose of M’ram is roughly equivalent to five or six cups of strong coffee or a high dose of any other common stimulant. It lets the user resist the effects of fatigue, remain awake for considerable periods, and even “refreshes” the users mystic and/or psychic reserves by five to ten percent. It also leaves the user at a small (-1) penalty wherever fine control or clear thought is required when M’ram is being used to counter the effects of exhaustion (on whatever level).
  2. At this dosage level M’ram acts like a massive shot of adrenalin, allowing the user to draw on deep reserves of energy. This may be used as an emergency stimulant, to counter narcotic and paralytic poisons, or in resuscitation attempts, but its major use is to allow the user to exceed his usual limits. A dose of M’ram at this level provides (Constitution, or whatever physical endurance trait the game in question uses) “adrenalin points”, which the user may expend to accomplish some exceptional feat, resist an injury, or in any way which the game master is willing to allow. Once the points are expended, or after an hour in any case, the user will become utterly exhausted (losing any remaining points) – and will have to rest for several hours. Taking more M’ram before recovering usually results in overdose problems and a later lapse into a coma. Note that the “point cost” of any particular feat is up to the GM.
  3. This dosage level operates a lot like the previous one – but allows the user to spend “points” on on physical enhancements that will last for 1d4+1 minutes. Sadly, while this greatly enhances the user’s abilities, it also leads to complete exhaustion – often requiring days to recover from – within minutes. Serious damage is rare (the roll to resist it is pretty easy) – but occurs more frequently when M’ran is used frequently.
  4. This dosage level acts like the previous dosage level, above, but it also allows the user to take twice as many actions – including movement actions – as would normally be permitted in a given length of time. Unfortunately, the crash afterwards usually involves damaged tendons, pulled muscles, fracturing your own bones, and a nasty little heart attack on top of the results of a level three dose. If you don’t mind potentially crippling or killing yourself, it’s still a wonderful thing.
  5. Dosage level five is sometimes known as “Berserkerite”. It induces a kind of physical intoxication or hysteria – adding immunity to pain and stunning blows, greatly-augmented “hysterical strength”, and an maniac fixation on your objectives to the effects of a level four dose. The problem is that the user can easily inflict great damage on himself – often without even noticing it. The berserker state persists for 1-2 minutes before burning out in feverish delirium and usual side effects of dosage levels three and four.
  6. This dosage level throws the users body into a form of metabolic “final strike” – an effect which gives the user triple his or her basic speed and number of actions, reflexes fast enough to evade most blows and missile weapons, virtual immunity to toxins, and a package of similar bonuses. Unfortunately, this will almost certainly to kill the user within 2d4+2 rounds through massive internal injuries, circulatory failure, fever, and so on. Even the (extremely rare) characters with major physical enhancements who manage to survive this kind of abuse usually suffer crippling long-term injuries.
  7. Dosage level seven induces a sort of “nove flare”, usually burning out the user in a single action or round. While this may result in a truly spectacular display of power at that moment – allowing the user to perform some mighty act of magic, lift a vast weight, or otherwise accomplish some incredible feat – there is no reasonable chance of survival. There may not even be much of a body left afterwards; expending that much of the bodies energy reserves in a moment resembles a detonation more than normal metabolic processes.

   M’ram tends to accumulate in the body, suppressed by the normal instinct for self-preservation thanks to it’s psycho-sensitive nature. Thus overdoses often result from using it too often, rather then from taking too large a dose – and typically result in moving one or more steps up the dosage level chart without meaning to do so.

   Side Effects include “caffeine nerves”, numbness, damage to the digestive system (commonly ulcers), hyperactivity, headaches, and psychic energy surges, although these are rarely serious if the dosage level is low and infrequent. The effects of long-term use include paranoia, nervous tremors, high blood pressure, and hallucinations.