Nightshade (NS) is a variety of black-capped Britannian fungus which shares its name and several of its psychoactive and mythical properties with a family of noxious plants, noted on Earth for their use as poisons and witching herbs. Used as a reagent in Britannian and Serpent Islander magic, the nightshade fungus is often highly prized by magicians, as its harvest is a difficult undertaking.
History and Uses
Nightshade as seen in Ultima IX
Growing only in the depths of Spiritwood
and near the Shrine of Sacrifice
, the Britannian nightshade mushroom could only be picked on the darkest of nights, when both moons were new. An extremely potent and toxic hallucinogen, mages
made use of the sporing fruit of the nightshade cap by diluting it into a tea or crushing it into a meal, from which it would lend its energies to spells involving toxic or illusory properties. In the realm's later ages, the fungus was increasingly offered as a sale item by reagent vendors and herbalists, implying that it may have eventually been cultivated.
By the time of the late Age of Armageddon in Ultima IX, fungal nightshade appeared to have vanished from Britannia, possibly having faced extinction during the upheavals caused by the Great Cataclysm. Despite this dramatic shift, however, the mushroom seemed to have been readily replaced within magical practice by the still common leafy herbs of the nightshade family, which had long enjoyed use by Terran mystics for their similar psychoactive properties, and in Britannia were invisible to the eye without aid from the Ethereal Sight spell.
Virgil reveals that Nightshade is found at the coordinates lat-J'F" long-C'O" at the darkest of nights.
While Earth has no equivalent to the Britannian nightshade fungus (although similarly toxic fungal psychoactive such as the fly agaric are known to exist), various plants of the Terran solanaceae family, known as nightshades, have long been used in mystical practices.
Deadly nightshade (atropa belladonna), in addition to having both cosmetic and medicinal uses, has long been thought to have been an ingredient in the so-called "flying ointments," allegedly used by witches, and in creating the trance of "twilight sleep," which early midwives were said to induce in their charges prior to childbirth. Members of the datura genus of nightshade have also enjoyed use as both entheogens and poisons in India and the Americas - and one variety, known as Jimson weed, has been used with some frequency as a recreational drug.
|| ightshade - Not to be confused with the rank-smelling plant of the same name, the Nightshade used in the mystic arts is an extremely rare mushroom that is only found in the deepest, most remote forests. It is said to be quite venomous to the touch of all save those present at its harvest, thus it is never sold in shops and is among the scarcest of magical reagents. To obtain it, one must seek in the deepest forest on the blackest of nights when not even a moonbeam illuminates a single blade of grass. I know not of the precise locations where this mystic fungus can be found, but there are rumored to be those in the lands of Britannia that know this secret. Its chief magical properties are connected with the use of poison and the creation of illusions so real that they can lay the mightiest warrior to the ground. So rare is the Nightshade that it is primarily used in the creation of only the most potent of magics.|
|| Rare, poisonous plant that appears only when the moons are in a certain conjunction. Those who learn its whereabouts and manage to be there in the dead of night when the moons are full can pick nightshade without danger and benefit from its powerful ability as a reagent to create illusions.|
|| This hallucinogenic mushroom is often the critical ingredient in spells that create illusions or poisonous effects. Sprouting in swamps, and only in the dark of night, this mushroom is easily distinguished from others by the way its stalk bruises when crushed. Retain only the fungal cap and discard the tough stalk. The spores housed in the underside of the cap provide the active ingredient and can be chopped into a fine mincemeat or boiled into a bitter tea.|
|| This plant, found only in swamps, only blooms at night. The fungal cap from this rare and unusual mushroom may be either crushed or boiled into a tea. The mage must always use great care when handling nightshade, for it is not only a very potent hallucinogenic, it is also extremely poisonous.|
|| Great care must be taken when preparing this mushroom, for it is highly poisonous. By boiling the caps in tea or crushing the entire fungus, the deadly nightshade transforms into a useful reagent to aid spells designed to damage another individual. Nightshade is found in the soft mud of Gorlab swamp.|
|| A deadly plant if eaten, nightshade can bind illusions, or if used by different methods, spells of poison. Nightshade is so named for its nocturnal growing habits. Of such rarity is this reagent that few know to begin a search after the day has passed. For they who do, such a search is often futile, as nightshade is only visible by means of spell-magic. Yet, it can be so found throughout the lands|
- While it seems likely that the herbaceous nightshade of Ultima IX is intended to be an analogue to the Terran solanaceae, its distinct five-leaf structure doesn't readily match any prominent members of the atropa or datura genera, which are the groups which would be most readily associated with magical uses of nightshade. The shift to this previously unseen plant from the traditional fungus is never fully explained.
- Nightshade also appears as a reagent in Ultima Online, in which it more closely resembles certain varieties of real world nightshade, such as iochroma australe.
- ↑ Virgil. Underworld Dragon's Ultima IV Transcript. Ultima IV. "fields, job, nightshade".
- ↑ "Solanaceae". Wikipedia. Retrieved 2011-03-24.
- ↑ "Datura". Wikipedia. Retrieved 2011-03-24.
- ↑ "Datura stramonium". Wikipedia. Retrieved 2011-03-24.