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In 3.5 there was a section in The Book of Vile Darkness (TBoVD) where if refers to fantasy use of drugs, such as "Devilweed" among others (pp. 41-44). It includes quite a lot information including effects and side-effects, costs, etc. I can't recall seeing mechanics for drugs come up in any other books or adventure modules.

Has there been any other D&D publications other than in TBoVD that broach the subject of drugs in a campaign?

I am looking to know if there are any other D&D rule books or officially published adventure modules that refer to drug use.


To clarify:

I'm looking for published materials from TSR, WotC or third-party companies - not homebrewed or self-published materials.

I'm also not looking for materials which contain medicinal drugs or for materials containing substances that are mostly likely "everyday" stuff in most campaigns, like tobacco of a cup of tea/coffee.

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    \$\begingroup\$ “before or after 3.5” what about 3.5e books other than Book of Vile Darkness to reference the concept? I believe there are a couple, but I don’t know if that would be useful to you and worth digging them up. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Dec 3, 2023 at 20:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Suggest that you define "officially published" and "drugs" more tightly. Do you mean TSR / WotC products only vs licensed 3rd party content? Do you consider alcohol to be a drug? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 3, 2023 at 21:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you consider tobacco / pipeweed to be a drug? Coffee or other simulants? Medicinal herbs, including those in an herbalism kit? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Dec 3, 2023 at 21:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Thank you for pointing this out. I meant to include other materials which might appear in 3.5 too. I was just not aware of any. It would be great to know which ones. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Senmurv
    Dec 4, 2023 at 10:50

5 Answers 5

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Ptolus has a lot on drugs

Monte Cook's Ptolus was not published by Wizards of the Coast, but it was the main playtest campaign for the 3rd Edition ruleset, with Monte being on of the key authors of those rules.

This campaign is set in a large fantasy city build on top of a honeycomb of dungeons, and has a heavy theme of urban drug use. There are crime families that traffic in drugs. For one example (p. 214):

These two gnomes sell a drug called nightsong, a magical/alchemical substance derived from a rare plant found only in Cherubar. This substance changes ordinary people into powerful figures at night, able to ignore pain and perform amazing physical feats. While not addictive, the drug inflicts terrible damage on a user’s body, burning him out and eventually opening him up to control by an otherwise bodiless evil fey spirit. Nightsong is an illegal drug, so the gnomes stay watchful in their dealings.

The main section on drugs starts on page 556 (!), in the section "Vices", an covers everything from Tobacco, Alcohol and Legal Drugs (medicianl herbs) to Illegal and Performance Enhancing drugs.

The Illegal Drug section lists various illegal drugs with their mechanical rules: Ayorith or "Smokeweed", Gravebloom, Murlch, the above mentiond Nightsong, and Shivvel, the "most commonly used illegal drug", that is controlled by the Balacazar crime family, and is seriously addictive like maybe heroin or crack.

Chapter 33: Adventures contains an introductory scenario for first level characters that involves a Shivvel dealer.

The performance enhancing drugs listed, all with a DC to avoid becoming addicted to them, prices etc.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's almost like Monte Cook was a writer for both of these books... \$\endgroup\$
    – James
    Dec 5, 2023 at 2:41
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The Forgotten Realms know quite some drugs - and that's official even!

Often, drugs are only mentioned in passing or commented on in passing. But they do exist (at least in the Forgotten Realms), some are named and some others do have rules for how they interact with PCs.

Black Lotus is known as a psychodelic drug at the Sword Coast, not to be confused with the deadly Black Lotus Extract - probably just much more refined..

The 2012 Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms does elaborate a little about drugs. The book itself contains Vornduir, Alindluth, Chaunsel, and Tansabra on page 42.

The Restless Shore mentioned Silkroot.

The 2001 rewrite of Lords of Darkness listed Dreammist, Haunspeir Kammarth, Phantomdust, Sakrash, Ziran, and Dragonskin on pages 193-185.

Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II) brought Green sleeping dust and Traveler's dust on page 125.

There's 3rd Party content that has "mature" themes.

For example, the infamous Blue Magic by Mongoose Publishing with its parental advisory banner was trying to go humorously into more erotic themes (and failed miserably!). Still, it did include three potions on page 42. Those three however are better described as recreational drugs: liquid Courage (literally!), a brew for instant desire for it and magical viagra count much more as recreational drugs than actual magic potions and medicine for most of the population.

Similarly, the much more serious Book of Erotic Fantasy published by Valar Project has a few more mundane items, some of which might count as drugs. Between the items you find the two pages 126 and 127, which are almost entirely dedicated to a class of drugs labeled "aphrodisiacs" with 5 substances, all of which are much better described as drugs than anything else - and they even come with overdose rules.

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Addictive hallucinogens are a major plot point in The Lost City

Dungeon Module B4 (Tom Moldvay - 1982; written for Moldvay Basic), while not containing rules for drug use by PCs, has an extensive backstory plot involving drugs.

Long before the characters stumble upon the ruins of a city in the desert, it was once the thriving capital of a fertile kingdom. Digging for a grand pyramid awakened an ancient monster, which eventually came to be worshipped by the citizens. A cult sprang up around the monster, and the cultists

began to look for strange pleasures. They sought oblivion in rare wines and bizarre drugs.

When the cult had grown to the point that the army lost its discipline, the city was sacked by barbarians, and the cult leaders led the survivors underground.

When the characters find the pyramid in the desert, it is many generations later. The cult leaders rule an Undercity, and the populace work for them but spend most of their time in a waking dream state, living out vivid fantasies. It is implied that the cult leaders supply the populace with hallucinogenic drugs to control them. Resistance to the cult is maintained by three factions representing the original gods of the kingdom, each with a few fanatical adherents who apparently refuse to use the hallucinogenic drugs. The citizens are repeatedly referred to as being in a 'dream state' and the module describes for multiple encounters what fantasies they are enacting. References to actual drugs are more implicit than explicit (and it should be noted that Moldvay Basic was marketed to players of "Ages 10 and up").

The party initially finds the pyramid while seeking refuge from a sandstorm. Later, when they learn it is inhabited, they might encounter citizens in their (drugged) dream state, or the cultists, or the fanatic resistance. The party can just gather resources and leave the pyramid, but if they explore deeper they will be drawn further into the power struggle between the factions and eventually arrive at the Undercity.

If they decide to oppose the cultists, they can cure the populace of their drug-induced enslavement by exploring catacombs in which a rare flower grows that serves as an "antidote". They must win the flower from a mysterious guardian that could be one of the old gods.


Interested parties can explore my Campaign Journal for B4 here.

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Frog God games products

There are at least two adventures from Frog God Games that have abuse of drugs as part of the central theme of the plot and game mechanics for them:

Trouble at Durbenford (3.0/3.5)

Higdne... People who eat this root after it has been infused can work for an exceedingly long periods (in effect conferring the Endurance feat), while gradually eroding their individual wills, draining 1 point of permanent Charisma to a minimum of 3, per week of use. For petty lords with serf populations, the drug is an incredible asset, for it doubles and even triples the productivity of their workers.

Adventures in the Borderland Provinces (5e and PF 1e versions)

War of the Poppies is, as the title suggests, about opium varieties. It includes game mechanics for the use/abuse of a newly created variant that is the (initially unknown) cause of the disapparance of several young nobles.

The WotC product Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle, part of the 5e playtest rules, included rules for getting drunk on cheap ale (p116).

Characters who indulge themselves must make a DC 7 Constitution saving throw after every drink (adding +1 to the DC for each drink after the first) to avoid becoming intoxicated (see page 165) for the next 1d6 hours. Dwarves have advantage on the saving throw.

If you consider Pathfinder 1e to be close enough to Dungeons and Dragons, then the Paizo-published Skull and Shackles adventure path has rules on becoming addicted to the daily rum ration provided on pirate ships (as a sidebar in the Infamy and Plunder chapter).

Note that these are just the products that I own and remember well enough to find references quickly. The simple answer is, yes, there are plenty of other published materials with rules for "recreational" drug use/abuse, to the extent that you are unlikely to get a single answer that includes all sources.

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Murder in Baldur's Gate

Murder in Baldur's Gate has significant drug use mentioned for multiple factions, and was a playtest adventure for D&D Next. From "Nine-Fingers" Keene's background,

Years later, when she was a rising Guild operator, she found her kidnapper in a pipe den, where he was feeding his sable moonflower addiction (MiBG Campaign Guide p. 45)

Likewise for Duke Torlin Silvershield,

Although few in the city know it, Silvershield uses the greenhouse to grow his own supply of sable moon- flower. It’s not for his own use, of course (MiBG Campaign Guide p. 16)

The guild is portrayed as using drug addiction as leverage on people, though not in drug distribution itself. The pervasive drug use in Baldur's Gate is in character with a more serious adventure with many less kid friendly themes; some of the later events in Murder in Baldur's Gate are fairly shocking and difficult for the party to stop.

Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting

The Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (3E) mentions drugs in reference to the Cult of the Dragon. The drug reference is in passing, but indicates that there are buyers,

Harpers and other adventurers frequently become entangled in thwarting the Cult’s assassination schemes, drug running, and poison manufacturing (FRCS p. 143)

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