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For various reasons I want to go back to primary sources to develop a list of herb and their magic effects for various fantasy RPGs that I use to run my campaign, the Majestic Wilderlands.

Does anybody know of a good reference, online or book, to a list of real world herbs and their reputed magical effects?

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Would an herbal guide help if it was just the real-world uses? You might be able to extend it. – Daenyth Jun 20 '12 at 21:06
There is a list of herbs and their reputed non-magical uses in an appendix of the AD&D 1e DMG. Useful for some inspiration, but too focused on mundanely folk-remedy uses to give much guidance for the sort of magical uses I'd want in a fantasy game. – SevenSidedDie Jun 20 '12 at 22:22
I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is asking for real-world historical research on herbs. – doppelgreener May 18 at 3:41

5 Answers 5

up vote 8 down vote accepted

There is a supplement for Ars Magica, Hedge Magic (by Atlas Games, ISBN 1-887801-58-8), that lists herbs (and stones) that have magical properties based on historical beliefs. (Does anyone have access to this book? Is there a bibliography?)

And, while searching for that link, I found this list, too!

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Nice website find! – SevenSidedDie Jun 22 '12 at 0:41
Could you please add some info from the link in case it goes cold? – Jason_c_o May 16 at 0:11
Hmm, that link was the first thing I found when searching for the product, so not critical. I have added the publisher and ISBN so the book can be found more easily. Is that sufficient? – Paul Hutton May 18 at 1:19

There was an RPG-centric series of columns about plants on a few years back. It was called The Vegetative State of your Game.

It's got all sorts of information on plants in use by different cultures - in war, in healing, as drugs, as valuable spices, etc. The columns with the most emphasis on magic are:

But there are 21 more chock full of information.

I still refer to those columns today. I guess that's obvious...

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Hildegard von Bingen wrote "Physica" and "Causae et Curae", both of which might be worth a look.

Hildegard von Bingen was a famous herbalist of the 12th century. Both books mentioned above are treatises on human health and illness, and the cures to be found in herbs, animals, minerals etc.; "Physica" is generally considered a milestone in western herbalism. They're Latin, however; you might fare better with a translation or secondary source.

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One of my players once linked me this list of real herbs from Oblivion and their uses in that game. They're not real world effects, but I've found it useful and have stolen lots of names from it.

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In the realm of real-world source material, you can always find stuff from neopagan sources. Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs certainly fits the bill for what you're looking for. It contains references on 400 herbs, and their modern / historical magical uses along with an annotated bibliography at the back of the book with even more primary sources.

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