Cullpepper’s Herbal: A new way to see the world around you

“Willhomeena Cullpepper”, illus. Brian Maikisch

In a corner of the Smoking Wyrm is where Willhomeena Cullpepper holds shop. She sits there most afternoons, sorting her herbs, drying them, tying them in bunches, and ultimately selling them to hapless adventurers who need that extra punch to keep them going when the road gets tough. Need a poison? Need a cure? Willhomeena is who you want to talk to. Would a wound dressing do better as an unguent or a poultice—Willhomeena knows.

Willhomeena knows almost every plant in the land—and how to pulverize each bit for the best uses. She knows that Yellow Wolf’s Bane is best picked in the early morning of the spring for fullest potency, and that it is wisest to use shears to cut Adder’s False Tongue, instead of pinching off the plant. Better yet—you should pull Yellow Wolf’s Bane first, since you can dry and grind the root into a powder that acts as a powerful insect repellent if you boil it with linseed oil—but never wear this in the Lower Cradainic Mountains, lest the blue iridescent vulture flies eat you alive (literally, that is how she lost poor Shawn, her porter who had the spikiest of hair).

Want to improve your chances of surviving an encounter with werewolves? Willhomeena can help you do that. And really—you just need to be luckier than the poor sap standing next you, right? And unlike most folks, if you buy her pamphlets, she will show you how to do that yourself—how to take charge of the world around you. Teach a person to fish and all…

Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654)

In our world, Nicholas Culpeper published two works, The English Physitian (1652), and Complete Herbal (1653)—acts that would ultimately lead to him being accused of witchcraft as the Society of Apothecaries tried to reign in his publishing of herbal secrets for the public to access, instead of keeping such information secret and profitable. His daring to make herbal knowledge public was so revolutionary that his book remains in publication to this day.

Nicholas Culpeper’s work was the inspiration for what we hope will be a regular column, featuring unique ways to utilize herbs in your campaign. It also lets us get at one of the people who inhabit the Smoking Wyrm on a regular basis—Willhomeena Cullpepper, midwife, herbalist, and explorer of the wilderness in search of herbal knowledge. If anyone has licked it, bitten it, ground it, or made an unguent from it, Willhomeena has.

Aconite, or Yellow
Wolf’s Bane (aconitum lupus flavo), illus. Trevor Stamper

Each herb is explored in fantastic detail, complete with descriptions, illustrations, notes on where to find them, their flowering time, and potent astrological information about the plant. Beyond that though, there is the Bodily Virtues section, where Willhomeena breaks the plant down into its component’s (usually shoots, leaves, flowers, and roots—but occasionally other parts are highlighted as well) and describes how each section can be best put to use in DCC terms we can all understand.

The first installment of Culpepper’s Herbal—featuring Aconite (better known as Yellow Wolf’s Bane), and Adder’s False Tongue—can be found in issue #1 of Tales from the Smoking Wyrm, available now fromGoodman Games and DriveThruRPG!

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