11
\$\begingroup\$

D&D has a poison which goes by the name "burnt othur fumes".

What is an "othur"?

Google provides me with the fact that in 3.5, pathfinder and 5e, "burnt othur fumes" have some effect on constitution and work as a poison, but none of the links provide information as to what the poison is, where it comes from, or what an othur is.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is third party acceptable? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 26 '15 at 10:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Yes. \$\endgroup\$ – GMNoob Apr 26 '15 at 20:25
19
\$\begingroup\$

Strangely enough, James Jacobs, the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5-derived Pathfinder publisher Paizo's creative director, answered much the same question about burnt othur fumes (which originally appeared in the Dungeon Master's Guide, Third Edition (2000)) in 2014 in this thread:

Burnt othur fumes are an awesome poison. What's othur though? Is it a plant, a creature? Googling has helped me naught and the books don't actually describe any of the poisons fluff-wise.

They're poison, that's what! Don't breathe that!

One of the design philosophies of the original 3rd edition rules, and one I very much did not agree with and argued against during the alpha for 3rd edition (but obviously lost said argument) was the decision that "D&D is set in a fantasy setting and as such the diseases and poisons should be fantasy diseases and fantasy poisons." Which on one layer is fine, but when you're presenting sample diseases and poisons without any flavor text whatsoever as raw rules is really pretty dull.

But that's why in 3rd edition all the diseases have made up names like "slimy doom" and "filth fever" and aren't real-world diseases like "bubonic plague" or "leprosy." The same thing went with poisons.

So... just as there was never really any description of what the actual symptoms of diseases like filth fever or slimy doom were, we never got descriptions of what othur is and why when you burn it, it gets poison.

The fact that we didn't fix this problem when we were pulling the poisons and diseases into the Core Rulebook is unfortunate, but they were among the last parts of the book that went in and by that point we were running short on both time and space. The idea was that at some point we'd clarify them in a campaign setting book... but since these things have been a part of the game for over a decade now, they've kinda slipped again and again through the cracks.

For what it's worth, I've always thought of othur as a powder distilled from numerous different poisonous plants and ground together that remains inert until it is burnt.

\$\endgroup\$
-2
\$\begingroup\$

It appears to be a completely made up word for a substance that has never been defined anywhere.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ -1. Can I suggest you take a look at Whether to answer or not if one believes there is no answer possible. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Apr 26 '15 at 12:03
  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ If the answer is literally that it doesn't exist, that's a pretty good answer to the question. Probably the only thing missing here, Yora, is suggesting what sources you've checked to give us some assurance you've done your research. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 26 '15 at 14:12
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, sorry, I probably should have explained why I linked that meta post. It's more-so to look at the answers rather than the question itself. As doppelgreener says, it's perfectly fine (and even good) if the answer is that it's a made up word but we need "proof" that that is in-fact the case. You need to "effectively support" and backup your answer in whatever way possible, otherwise we have no idea if you've simply looked the first page of google and gone "yep I can't find anything, it must be made up" or actually dug a bit deeper and done some decent research. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Apr 26 '15 at 22:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.