Double Proficiency

Blog

By Anna Urbanek

Were we surprised by the success of Herbalist’s Primer on Kickstarter? Of course!

But were we ready…?

Kinda.

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By Jakub Wisz

It’s been a while since the previous Aurorae development blog – and so here we are. I think the best next step in bringing the game a bit closer to you will be through a series of articles describing the lore and rules of the game interchangeably. In this first one of the series, I’ll describe (mostly quoting the current Core Rule Book draft) one of the playable Kinships in the game – the adventurous sailors known throughout the void as the Khradi.

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by Anna Urbanek

Welcome to the new series of posts on the blog! Librarian’s Nook will cover the latest books read in my constant pursuit of knowledge. These books are all, in one way or another, research – either for the project at hand, for the books planned in the future, or for satiating my endless curiosity of the world. As many of them will be useful to other worldbuilders, I’ve figured I might as well share my notes. These not reviews; there won’t be any rating systems, and the main criterions will be usefulness and general enjoyment.

What can you expect in this series? A variety of books, mostly nonfiction, covering natural sciences, history, occult, and folklore, with a side dish of other topics if I find whatever I’m currently reading useful from a worldbuilding perspective. Fiction won’t feature too heavily – I rarely read it, and when I do, it’s mostly fairy tales, myths, and legends. The majority of books will be in English, with an occasional Polish title.

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A majestic, cold-loving plant bearing heavy crowns of green flowers. Its unique licorice-like taste and musky scent grant it multiple culinary uses.

Angelica archangelica. Also known as: Holy Ghost. Wild Celery. Angel Root. Masterwort.

Family: Apiaceae | celeries
Habitat: temperate to cold, wetlands and riverbanks
Size: 100—250 cm
Life cycle: biennial
Foraging: roots, stems, and seeds
Flowers: small and greenish, July
Leaves: multiple small leaflets

Illustration from Herbalist’s Primer by the author.

Description

Angelica is a tall, erect plant with bright, yellow-green leaves aggregated toward the base and greenish flowers grouped into large, globular umbels which bear pale yellow, oblong fruits. The above-ground part of the plant has a licorice-like taste and a strong aroma, similar to musk and juniper. The root contains a high concentration of angelic acid: a volatile solid with biting taste and pungent, sour odor.

It looks similar to other plants of the Apiaceae family and is easy to confuse with poisonous hemlock and hogweed. Use only after identification beyond any doubt.

Habitat and Cultivation

Angelica grows widely and abundantly in temperate and cold zones, even in polar regions. It requires damp soil and flourishes near rivers. Cultivate this hardy plant in full sun or partial shade, but it will withstand full shade if necessary. It can be turned into a perennial plant if prevented from setting seeds.

Foraging and Preparation

Gather the root in the first year’s autumn and early winter as it’s bitterer and more resistant to mold than older specimens. The medicinal and magical properties of angelica are partially extracted by water and fully by alcohol – if possible, all the preparations should be alcohol-based to achieve the best results.

Culinary Properties

Peeled hollow stems are edible and can be eaten like celery or made into jams or food flavoring; use candied ones to decorate cakes and desserts. Distilleries use the roots in the production of gin (with juniper and coriander) and to flavor liqueurs (especially quince-based), absinthe, bitters, and aquavits.

Medicinal Properties

The most potent version of angelica is an alcohol-based root extract, but stems and seeds can be used instead. Use angelica’s antibacterial properties in curing problems of the digestive tract: flatulence, colic, indigestion, stomach ulcers, appetite loss, and nausea. It improves circulation, raises body temperature, has a positive effect on the lungs, and alleviates rheumatic pains.

Do not use angelica in diabetes (it raises sugar level in urine) or while pregnant (it causes uterus cramps). Ingestion of the plant increases sunlight sensitivity and can exacerbate the sunlight allergy.

Magical Properties

Angelica is mostly valued for its protective qualities. If grown around a building, it creates an anti-sorcery barrier, which can be reinforced by sprinkling dried herb in the corners. Added to bath (powdered root or the essential oil), it breaks curses and unwanted spells, especially when mixed with nettle (see Curse-Breaking Bath).

Burn the dried root as incense to bring visions and help meditation. While not advised to browse past or current events, angelica enhances divinations of the future and is especially useful for piercing the veil regarding the games of chance.

Use the juice squeezed from fresh stems to comfort and mend broken hearts. As noted above, you can heighten the effect by mixing the juice with alcohol. Or just drink some gin.

Additional Context

Angelica is the most important medicinal plant in the Sámi culture. Known in Scandinavia since at least 12th century, it is valued both as a vegetable, and a shamanic medicine. The hollow stems were used to make a flutelike instrument, called a fátnu, able to produce a couple of notes in a gentle, melancholy tone for as long as the herb was fresh. Those pipes were used in magical rituals together with drums.

Outside of the region, angelica was often considered a panacea; its name, archangelica, comes from the belief that it was bestowed upon humanity by archangel Michael as the cure for the bubonic plague, amongst other diseases. The existing studies of the plant’s properties give some credibility to the claims—if not those about the supernatural origins, then definitely those about the medicinal usefulness in treating tumors and ulcers, protecting the liver, fighting fungal infections, stimulating the bodily functions, and relieving cough.


Do you love plants, green magic, folklore, and ethnobotany?

Find more of it in our current project, Herbalist’s Primer – an illustrated guide to real-world magical plants. Learn more and support the project on Patreon!

I don’t always write blog posts, but when I do, I don’t know where to start. I’ll start at the beginning then – and I’m not one for long introductions. And so, welcome to the introductory blog post about Project Aphelion’s parallel upcoming game, Blazing Aurorae.

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I think it’ll come as no surprise that it’s time to wrap up this playtest. Tomorrow’s quest of finding her sister was successful, she has sorted out her life despite many curveballs she’s been thrown, and there’s nothing that can really harm her prospects. Long live the Witch of the Warrens.

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A popular garden plant, grown for its beautiful golden and orange flowers. Often used to cure skin irritations, strengthen psychic powers, and see through illusions.

Calendula officinalis.
Also known as: Marigold. Pot Marigold. Ruddles. Summer’s Bride.

Family: Asteraceae | asters
Habitat: warm and temperate, widely cultivated in gardens
Size: 30—60 cm
Life cycle: perennial or annual
Foraging: flowers and leaves
Flowers: yellow to orange, May—September
Leaves: light green, slightly hairy

Illustration from Herbalist’s Primer by the author.

Description

A herbaceous, flowering plant, often growing in dense pillows. On long, rigid stems grow spirally placed light green, slightly hairy leaves and flat yellow and orange flowers. Calendula attracts many insects, from aphids to ladybugs, butterflies, and bees. The petals have a characteristic, sunny scent and a delicate, peppery taste.

Habitat and Cultivation

No evidence of wild, natural habitat of calendula has been found. It is commonly cultivated as an ornamental, medicinal, and edible plant in gardens and pots. It grows best in sunny exposition and rich, well-draining soil. In temperate climate, it is an annual plant, easy to propagate and cultivate from seeds; calendulas are self-sowing if left to their own devices. Remove deadheads to encourage reblooming in the same season.

Foraging and Preparation

Collect leaves and flowers once they fully open, in mid-afternoon on a sunny day. The resin content is then the highest, which strengthens the medicinal and magical properties of the herb. Use calendula fresh or dried. Dry whole flowers or just the petals—they can be easily removed from the head and dry much quicker that way.

Culinary Properties

The whole plant is edible, but only leaves and flowers are commonly used. Put fresh leaves in a salad with spinach and other dark greens. Use flower petals as a dash of color in soups, rice dishes, salads, and confectionery as edible decoration. If finely chopped or dried and crushed, calendula is almost as good food colorant as saffron.

Medicinal Properties

Calendula has antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a treatment of choice for all kinds of skin irritations, acne, wounds, bites, and infections. A marigold salve treats diaper rash, bruises, and tender breasts. Calendula can be used topically or internally as a tincture or tea, but should not be ingested during pregnancy or if the patient is allergic to plants in the aster family.

Magical Properties

Calendula is an important herb in all kinds of light, fire, and sun magic, giving strength to spells and enchantments. As a sun herb, it brings confidence and respect, especially if added to the bath before important meetings or worn as perfume.

Seeds sown at the doorstep help to solve misunderstandings and encourage affection between the lovers. The petals are commonly used during marriage ceremonies, as they bestow luck upon the newlyweds and protect them from the effects of other people’s envy.

Use calendula flowers in divination, prophecy, and dream magic, either burned at the altar or kept in a bag under the pillow. They help access the psychic powers, help in lucid dreaming, perceiving auras. Fey creatures are often drawn to calendula; fresh flowers are a valuable offering in deals with the fairy folk.

Mixed with rosewater, hollyhock, hazel, and thyme, calendula flowers make an ointment allowing to see invisible creatures and look through illusions and fey glamours.

Additional Context

The Romans, who named the plant, thought it funny to pretend that calendulas bloom on the first day of each month, ie. on the kalends. While it is obviously factually wrong, calendulas do flower almost constantly if they are kept in a mild climate and regularly deheaded before setting seed.

In almost all cultures, calendulas have some connection to the sun. Greek mythology mentions a story about four wood nymphs who fell in love with the sun god, Apollo, to such degree that they forgot their duties to their goddess, Artemis. The annoyed goddess turned the nymphs into dull-white marigolds. Apollo, after learning what had happened to those who loved him, took pity over them: he sent down his brilliant sun rays to paint the flowers gold. As opposed to, for example, actually helping. His job there was done.

Calendulas are often used in love magic or as an aphrodisiac. An European legend says that if a maiden steps on it with her bare foot, she will understand the language of birds, which was empirically tested by the author about fifteen years ago and deemed unlikely; it is possible that local birds were being difficult on purpose and only pretending to tweet as usual.

Nevertheless, the medicinal properties of calendula are mostly scientifically proven. The plant is antiseptic, astringent, promotes wound healing, and does reasonable wonders to sensivitve, irritated skin and chapped lips. An easy salve can be made from calendula-infused oil mixed with beeswax. It keeps well and helps with scratches, rashes, and dry skin. Very early in vitro tests show it has some anti-genotoxic properties, which has made certain people call it a herbal remedy for cancer. Do not trust those people.


Do you love plants, green magic, folklore, and ethnobotany?

Find more of it in our current project, Herbalist’s Primer – an illustrated guide to real-world magical plants. Learn more and support the project on Patreon!

As the battle for independence comes to a close, it’s time to close a couple of threads we’ve been running for months now. There can’t be a real happily ever after with the emergent gameplay – but it’s not going to stop us from enjoying the moment.

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In this episode we’re continuing our long-ass Scenario of ensuring the independence of the main characters of this story. It’s going reasonably well so far, but we’re just about to get to the hardest part: a Payout 15 Extraction Scenario!

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It’s high time to sort out the situation in the Warrens and restore the natural order of the Universe: with Tomorrow being on top of any pile, Wheeler at her side. At least she considers it the natural order of things. Other people might not agree, but they’re not the protagonists here.

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We have the Insecticide War to finish. We have the consequences of it to consider. We have some hard personal decisions to make. We also have bills to pay and living world to update.

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Bored Tomorrow is not a good sign. Tomorrow, whose life was more or less thrown upside-down by learning that her lover was lying to her for almost a year (even if not entirely on his own volition), is a bad omen for anybody she picks as her enemy. She’s not about to go and murder innocent people, of course.

She’s about to run a war, almost entirely on Faction Layer, because I have mechanics to playtest.

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