Double Proficiency

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!

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!

It’s time to start the offensive! We have a lot of cash getting dusty on the bank account, and I look forward to spending it before some other Faction decides I have a nice trove of cash and it would be a shame it something has happened to it… Those 65 thousands of nuyen are just sitting there, and there’s not that many things we can do with them…

No, I’m lying. There are millions of things I can spend this money, intel, and influence on. Just watch me <imagine some money-throwing gif here>.

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Welcome to another episode of Project Aphelion‘s playtest, in which I’m making sure the mechanics work regardless of the world and play style. In the last post, my PC Tomorrow went for a holiday break for a couple of days, taking care of her familiar relationships. If you’ve missed it, give it a read.

Meanwhile, we’re ending the first month of play, starting another, updating the character and Faction sheet, pushing the world forward a month, and checking what did the gods of emergent gameplay bring me as a Yule gift!

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Family drama, Christmas miracles, gods of emergent gameplay, and a strong vibe of ‘I should be writing a book.’ But there’s also a detailed playtest of the combat system! Somehow.

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Welcome back to the solo game of Project Aphelion, in which I take this lovely engine and do weird things with it – and it still works! Now, this episode is mostly a matter of downtime, comes with a very short story, and sets up another scenario. There are no dragon encounters, but I promise it’s still worth the time.

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Strategy Layer: December 10, 2055

Picking where we left off! It’s now only a week until Tomorrow’s meeting with Henequen and there’s research to be done, skills to be learnt, main quest to be progressed, spell research to be conducted, and – let’s not forget – the consequences of the Scenario on the Fly to consider!

It’s been 10 days since the start of the campaign, and Tomorrow already has her hands full.

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Welcome to the Grand Strategy, version Lite. I’m sure Jakub will one day introduce you to Grand Strategy, version Full Aphelion Rules, but that’s not my thing. As always, if you’re new here, I suggest you start at the beginning – and if you’re not, just come on and see me spill the beans.

Project Aphelion works on three separate layers of play, letting the players zoom in and out from one character’s shenanigans to their corporation building a spaceport in Neptune’s orbit. The game comes with Crew Layer (your standard adventuring experience), Fleet Layer (spaceship races or large-scale battles of the infantry), and Strategy Layer (all things Faction related). Strategy Layer is also the default for downtime between Scenarios, letting the characters pursue their long-term goals, keep track of training or carousing, paint their castle pink, do research, or run a tavern if they so desire.

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In the last post, I’ve generated the Scenario I’m going to be playing today. If you’ve missed it, it’s here. If you’ve missed the whole joy so far, it’s best if you start at the beginning and character generation.

This time, we’re going on an adventure!

As a reminder, the main objective (henceforth known as Main Task, or MT) is to get Tomorrow a meeting with Henequen, an art-dealing dragon who has more information about Tomorrow’s missing sister than was willing to share a couple months back. Tomorrow has decided to go about it in an only slightly sleazy way – book herself a meeting as a prospective seller of a valuable art piece used previously in a world-shattering magical ritual. She actually possesses said art piece and she’s reasonably sure she knows what she’s selling. The core objective is to get a deposit on the art piece (1 Payout worth of cred) and make the Henequen’s Faction like her more (3 Payouts worth of Influence) – enough to get the meeting with the dragon scheduled.

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By Anna Urbanek

Art deals! Artifacts! Lore drops! Getting through the PAs and PR specialists, trying to get a private meeting with Henequen – an art-dealing dragon who possesses more information about Tomorrow’s sister.

Welcome to the first scenario in my Project Aphelion’s Shadowrun-esque campaign, where I playtest PA’s solo play system and an exorbitant amount of fun while doing it. If you’ve missed the previous posts, here they are:

Background

During the campaign we’ve played, Tomorrow dug long, hard, and deep into her sister’s disappearance. One night, after an especially deep dive into Chloe’s (probably) friend, Fayette, Tomorrow received a message on her commlink that led to an incredible meeting that I conveniently have archived for myself, so it’s not gone with our Discord server. You’re getting a free short story then, courtesy of Jakub, my amazing GM in that Shadowrun campaign.

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By Anna Urbanek

Welcome back to the cycle in which I take Jakub’s perfectly good hard sci-fi RPG Project Aphelion and cram Shadowrun into it, using a lot of duct tape and hoping it will all hold. This time, I’m creating the campaign I want to play, establishing the goals and objectives, generating factions and the living, breathing world around Tomorrow. It’s gonna be full of sisterly affection, fun, tactical, and hopefully successful

If you’ve missed it, in previous posts I’ve created my character for solo play, Tomorrow, and homebrewed a career of a professional magician that I needed to pull off what I want to be doing in the game.

Campaign Objective

The ultimate objective of this campaign is to scratch an itch I have.

The in-world objective of this campaign is to find Tomorrow’s missing younger sister, Chloe, who has disappeared about two years earlier, when Tomorrow was still in prison. Over the time of the Denver 2055 campaign we’ve played, Tomorrow has gathered a pile of data on her sister’s disappearance which created more questions than it answered. As we’ve stopped playing SR, I just want to see how all of this works out. 

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By Anna Urbanek

Welcome back to my self-indulging project of changing Shadowrun into a strategy RPG, using the engine of our upcoming RPG, Project Aphelion. If you’ve missed it, in the previous post I went through some conversion notes and re-created my character, Tomorrow, according to PA’s chargen rules. What I’ve ended up with is:

Tomorrow
22-year-old elf, a magician
Attributes: Toughness 3, Fitness 2, Awareness 4, Resolve 3, Logic 5, Wit 4
Skills: Sorcery 3, Conjuring 2, Sciences 1, Investigation 2, Con 2, Stealth 2
Rep: +5 Outcasts, -5 Law Enforcement
Contacts: Citizen R1 (Mommy), Citizen R1 (Daddy), Citizen R1 (Friendly hacker), Outcast R1 (best friend, gang magician), Outcast R1 (boyfriend, gang lieutenant), Spirit R1 (Raven, mentor spirit). Note that ratings of contacts are neither loyalty nor connection – they’re both; they’re an approximation of how mechanically useful the contact can be, not whether they like the PC or are a big fish.

Traits: First Impression, Low-Light Adaptation, Fragile, Exceptional Talent (Logic), Lucky (1), Income (3), Low Expectations, Driven.

Gear: a basic jumpsuit, a commlink, a magical-research toolkit, a mini 3D printer, a lockpick set, survival gear, a stealth suit, a non-lethal gun, and a bound air elemental called Steven.

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