I am answering random questions today about world building, over on Reddit and decided to take my answers from there and expand upon them even further over here. So that's what this page is. Me rambling on about various aspects of world building techniques I use when writing the Quaraun series. The questions I am answering are embedded here. Clicking the link in the embedded question will take you to the original Reddit page where you can see the original answer along with other people's answers. If you wish to comment, you can do so on the Reddit page where a place to do so is provided.
> Acid/opium are harder to get your hands on than something that might just be growing in your backyard.
Clearly you have no clue what either opium or acid are or how they are made.
Both are easily grown in your backyard... and unless you live in a desert where nothing grows, most likely you have both growing wild in your backyard right now....
LSD (acid) is the Fly Agaric Mushroom, plenty in any region that gets rain.
Wait for it to rain. Head to the forest an hour after the rain stops. Look around fallen logs. Lick the mushroom cap, dance around with pink frogs and jump over rainbows and hope you live through the night. You probably won't. It's deadly. Most people who try acid are dead within 15 minutes.
LSD is illegal because you have about an 80% chance of dropping dead with in 15 minutes of trying it.
LSD is the most psychedelic of the psychedelic drugs. It'll send you to the moon in eye popping neon colours, riding flying pink llamas all the way.
LSD is one of the most dangerous and most deadly drugs out there.
LSD is also one of the easiest drugs to find. Head to any forest, swamp, fallen log, etc with in a few hours after the rain. You'll find it popping up everywhere.
You'll also probably be dead by morning if you try it.
Processed LSD is much safer with only a 70% chance of dying minutes after taking it.
Among high class socialites, aristocrats, and eccentric poets, LSD became a socially acceptable drink known simply as "Faerie Wine" around the turn of the century.
To make Faerie Wine is a simple process that'll take you only about 3 hours. It's a process of boiling the mushrooms into Faerie Wine, with the help of an herb called PennyRoyal, a whole lot of vodka, and then dripping it one drop at a time over a sugar cube.
You boil the herbs until it produces a neon green liquid, then strain it clear, then mix it at about 1 parts green liquid to 3 parts vodka.
In 1920s France, LSD was sold as a funny looking green wine called Absinthe aka Faerie Wine aka The Flaming Green Fairy aka the Green Faerie...
Note that most Absinthe commercially made today no longer has LSD/Fly Agaric Mushroom in it, and is just PennyRoyal and Vodka; though "home brewed", "moonshine", or "bootlegged" versions might still use LSD in it.
In the 1970s the most common way to get it was to buy it already processed, and then the liquid sprayed onto paper sheets made out of cornstarch, which you popped under your tongue and let dissolve.
Today the most common way to get it, is via sugar cubes.
Usually the way to tell an actual sugar cube from LSD, is that LSD will be decorated with little pink flowers on top.
You then mix the sugar cubes with Absinthe aka Faerie Wine via dripping the wine a drop at a time over the sugar cube, which sits on a slotted spoon on a glass of water, then drink the water after all of the cube is dissolved in it.
> Acid/opium are harder to get your hands on than something that might just be growing in your backyard.
Opium is the common "California Poppy" grown in every front yard, window box, and butterfly garden in America. I dare you to walk down your own street and NOT find at least 10 houses with it in the yard. Heck, check your grandma's flower garden, she's probably got crops of opium.
Opium, contrary to popular urban myth, is NOT illegal in America. Like drinking beer, it is illegal to DRIVE while using opium. Were opium illegal, you would not be able to buy it at WalMart or grow the plants in your yard.
Some states have a limit to how much opium you are allowed to have in your blood, most don't. A few states have a limit on how many poppy plants you can grow in your yard. Most don't.
No state regulates the sale of opium incense, which is perfectly legal to own and burn, and is no different then smoking an opium pipe.
What is illegal, is NOT opium itself, but Opium BY-PRODUCTS, such as medical use prescription Narcotic drugs and Heroine.
Didn't know opium was NOT illegal... check the laws. You might be surprised what you find.
Opium flowers, aka poppies grow wild in 3/4s of all the National and State parks in America. Can be found wild in every field and forest from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The poppy plant is in fact one of the single most common wild plants in the country and can be seen growing on nearly every road side of almost every street in the country. Because it is so easy to grow, it is often used by state/town/city governments as "a beautifying plant" planted in city parks, in islands between lanes on highways, and alone curbs.
What kind of opium do you want to make?
Opium Tears aka Raw Opium aka Opium Resin: make 3 cuts in the poppy pod, wait a couple of days for the resin tears to form, then scrap them off. These can be burned in pipes, burned as incense, or boiled to make tea. In the medical world, this is the most common ingredient of over the counter cough medicine and sleep aids such as Nigh-Quil or Children's Tylenol Cough Syrup.
The difference between over the counter cough medicine and prescription cough medicine, is the higher dose of opium per ounce in the prescription cough medicine.
Opium Tea: take the stem of the flower. Dry it for a couple of hours at 200 degrees in your oven. Store stems in cool dark place. Whenever you want tea, cut off about 3 inches of stem and steep it in boiling water.
Heroine is simply opium that's been processed by chemical means in a lab. Heroine is a by-product of the cough syrup industry.
Lacking in opium plants? Go to your nearest WalMart - take 3 cups of standard poppy seeds from the spice rack. Grind it to powder. Instant Opium powder for use in any hooka. Dissolve in water, now you have vapor in your hooka.
Did you know that eating 2 poppy lemon muffins is enough to put you over the limit for opium in your blood, and be arrested for taking opium, should you get stopped by the police while driving, within 2 hours of having eaten said poppy lemon muffin (found at every donut shop in the country)?
Want to burn opium incense? Your local WalMart sells it in the candle aisle, and you can buy it bulk on Amazon.
I grew up with drug dealers. You probably noticed by my higher then average inside knowledge of the art of making drugs.
>Problem with using real-world plants in a fantasy world is you know some idiot kid's going to read about it in your book then go try to find some.
You're not gonna write Fantasy novels any more because some idiot parents expects us authors to be babysitting nurse maids to the children they haven't got to time to raise themselves?
All this I listed on this page, by the way, is information any 10 year old can access with a single search on Google, Bing or Yahoo. Wikipedia goes so far as to give detailed instructions on how to process every drug you can image.... the chances of a kid testing drugs because of something they read in a Fantasy novel are very slim when compared to the chances of them testing those same drugs after browsing Google or Wikipedia, which they have much easier access to then a Fantasy novel.
I think it's a lost cause to worry about such things in novels, given they have far easier access to info on making drugs just via Wikipedia.
My feelings on it are that for us as authors, it is best for us to write our novels, hope parents have the decency to raise their kids with morals, and add a disclaimer in the front of the books for parents who haven't got enough sense to raise kids with morals.
When in dought, slap a disclaimer on your book to cover your ass, because if a kid does try drugs and the parents does decide to blame you and your novel, then at least you have that disclaimer printed in your book to show the judge in court, to point out to the judge: "See? I clearly stated right here that all references in this novel were purely fictional, were intended only for use by Elves, and not intended to be tested our on real live Humans."
I actually write Psychedelic Fantasy - the main character (Quaraun) is an opium addict, his primary lover (Unicorn) is a candy maker (chemist/drug dealer), and his secondary lover (GhoulSpawn) is an LSD addict.
Quaraun is usually very mellowed out and kind of drifts along mindlessly through novels. It's difficult to get him angry. It's also often difficult to get him to stand up or due to the way opium reacts when mixed with LSD, in many cases it is often even more difficult to get him to realize that he's not standing up.
Quaraun's mellowed out drifting through life is the opium, which he often is unaware he has taken, as BoomFuzzy the Unicorn, puts opium (among other things) in his eggnog, which Quaraun drinks every night before bed. Because Quaraun isn't actively taking drugs himself and is rather being drugged on a not consistent basis by Unicorn, you see him having wild mood swings with frantic terrified fits of night terrors that are absolutely horrific for both Quaraun and the people around him who are witnessing it. Opium has some of the worse withdrawal symptoms of any drug out there and they are displayed very accurately in the Quaraun series.
GhoulSpawn is high strung, nervous, twitchy, flustered, stammered when he talks, and is often in a dazed, confused state not always knowing when or where he is. GhoulSpawn is an LSD addict. His brain is seriously fried, he rarely is sure where he is, where he's been, what he's doing, or who he's talking to, and he also sees strange Elf-eating pink animals chasing him everywhere he goes. GhoulSpawn is quick to run, always seeing nightmares chasing him, even when awake.
GhoulSpawn chases a high that gets farther away with each trip. His delights of the first time, are ever consumed by the terrifying madness of each time following the last.
Unlike most fiction that portrays trips as endless joyful highs, the Quaraun series portrays LSD trips as they really are... continually getting worse with each new trip. Continually destroying his mind. Continually damaging his brain a little bit more each time.
Early in the series you see GhoulSpawn as an intelligent young man with aptitude for science and great potential. But you see him start LSD young, while still a teenager. You see him injured, and try LSD, discover it takes away his pain, so takes more, and more, and more, and more...
Late in the series, you see GhoulSpawn, an older man, barely able to communicate coherently. Suffering from paranoias and delusions... even when not high... because the brain damage caused by prolonged LSD use which now mimics advance stages of schizophrenia.
Throughout the series, you see both GhoulSpawn and Quaraun, drifting through life, not fully able to control their fates, often becoming victims of deviate men, because drugs have weakened their mental ability to make decisions.
The Quaraun series is Dark Fantasy of the GrimDark style, meaning it gets darker and darker and darker as the series continues.
The series shows drugs as they really are... toxic poisons that are used to bring short lived delights, followed by a lifetime of horrifically bad side effects that grow worse every day.
While Quaraun and Unicorn are from the 1400s and are using raw drugs mixed in old school methods, GhoulSpawn is teenager from the 1970s. His first car (which he brings with him to the past) is an orange 1974 AMC Gremlin that was abandoned by hippies fleeing police. The car is stashed full of LSD. The combination of the car, the LSD, and his being a Dungeon Master results in him becoming a time traveller and being stuck in the 1400s with Quaraun and Unicorn and a car that most 1400s folk mistake for being a monster.
Quaraun and GhoulSpawn are both High Elves (Quaraun being a Moon Elf and GhoulSpawn being a Sun Elf) while BoomFuzzy is a Faerie Horse (a Phooka which is similar to a Kelpie and is a type of Unicorn).
While the Faerie himself rarely uses the drugs he makes, he is a trickster Fae and finds great fun in watch his two High Elf companions go out of their heads (either from taking too much of something or from going too long without something and sinking into absolutely insane withdrawal fits of hysteria.)
Both of the High Elves are jittery, paranoid, prone to panic attacks, and have hallucinations on a frequent basis, all of which are side effects of the drugs they are on.
GhoulSpawn is constantly giving Quaraun sugar cubes, which Quaraun doesn't realize are drugs and thinks are candy.
Nearly every novel in the Quaraun series includes a scene with at least one of the 3 of them making or using drugs, and nearly always spells out step by step, very accurate instructions on how to grow, find, harvest, and make said drugs.
The actual recipe for BoomFuzzy's Eggnog can be found in Summoner of Darkness. If you ever tried to actually make it, you'd probably be dead before you reached the bottom of the glass.
One thing you see in the series is the after effects. Not only do you see the "fun time" side highs of drugs, you also see the psychological terror that that comes the next day with the crashing downs. You see the brief ups and the long, terrifying spirals down.
The books also contain a "Rated M18+ for Mature Readers Only" note on the front covers, and on the copyright page is a disclaimer, stating not to use drugs and that "the situations are fiction for entertainment only" and are "not to be tried at home".
In spite of people (local Saco Ward LDS church leaders - who are themselves drug dealers and drug addicts and are where I learned so much inside info about drugs) saying the books are M rated for being Erotica, you are actually hard pressed to find a sex scene in the series. Only about 1 in every 5 volumes has a sex scene.
The series is actually rated M for it's drug use.
I'd also like to think that my readers were smart enough to know that Elves are fictional characters, known for being immune to toxins that would kill a Human, and that my readers were smart enough to notice that the only people in the Quaraun series who use drugs are in fact the High Elves, and that the very reason they are called "High Elves" by the other Elves, is not because they are aristocrats, but rather because they are drug addicts and are always very high.
I mean, yeah, sure we could censure everything we write, but if we did that, there would be no Romance Novels, no Murder Mysteries, no War Dramas, no Medical Dramas, no Super Hero comic books, no Horror novels, no Erotica, and every book would be grade school picture books.... heck, even Disney would be a no-no, just look at how violent Donald Duck is, and Uncle Scrooge with his Nutmeg tea? All the Disney villains would be out...
You did know Uncle Scrooge McDuck was a drug addict right? Never noticed it before? Go back and read the Carl Barks original editions. Pay attention to the weird things Scrooge sees that no one else does. Notice that every time he sees something freaky, he was drinking nutmeg tea in the previous panel.
Heck, read the story when there is a crop failure in nutmeg and he goes into withdrawal then flies to the Amazon to buy a nutmeg farm.
Disney comics and cartoons are riddled with references to drug use.
No... it's not OUR jobs to to raise other people's children. It's the parents' job to know what their kids are doing and take responsibility for their own parenting, not blame their lack of parenting on books, movies, and video games.
I say: just write you book, put a disclaimer in the front page, and know that you are not some other parents' babysitter. Heck, go ahead and say in the disclaimer:
"This book includes graphic drug use and is not intended for readers under the age of 18. Please remember that I'm an author, not your babysitter. Please be a responsible parent and know where your kids are, who they are with, what they are doing, and don't let them read books like this one you are holding right now."