common plant of the mid- and southern regions of
Santharia is known to many for its use in
a revigorating draught, and its peculiar side-effects on
orcs. Many farms and settlements have a small
patch of this little flowering plant somewhere in a sheltered corner, and so do
many orcs, even though its use might be frowned
upon by some of their tribe members. Its name is orcish in origin, a simple
contraction of the words Tharian and Oc, denoting a weed associated with
Appearance. A simple, yet elegant little herb, Thar'Oc weed, often referred to as simply "weed" amongst orcs, can grow up to a height of two and a half palmspans at most. It forms dense clusters of thin stalks and leaves in sheltered corners in between roots, rocks, or buildings, where its frail-looking leaves and flowers are fairly safe from strong winds and large animals.
Fine leaves, not unlike that of the carroot sway softly on drooping stalks that sprout at regular intervals from the main stem. Usually, the leaf-carrying stalks appear in circles of seven around the stem, but this symmetry is more often than not disturbed by the many small rodents and insects that feed on Thar'Oc weed every once in a while.
Territory. Thar'Oc Weed will grow anywhere south of Rimmerins Ring, provided it can obtain a moderate amount of moisture. It may take longer to bloom in warmer climates however, which reduces its general growth rate as well, since the plant will not grow more than a handful of stalks at a time, though a flowering stalk may remain fresh and vital for months.
More northern orcs will have to obtain their Thar'Oc weed through means of Santharian merchants, who often carry this product when traveling into orcen territory. These dried stalks however retain only a certain portion of their original potential, and dosing the herb in an infusion correctly becomes much harder than with fresh plants.
Usages. The Thar'Oc weed can be used to create a potent infusion, which grants a human or gnomish drinker renewed energy and vitality, as well as giving the impression his or her senses have been sharpened a little, with objects standing out better from their surroundings, sounds being distinguished more easilly, and smells and tastes being more pronounced. It is important not to overindulge in this brew however, as the effects are cumulative, and may soon turn into an inability to stand still or sleep, as well as all sensations becoming overwhelmingly strong. One cup a day for an adult human seems to be a safe dosage, and this is often used as a wake-me-up during breakfast, especially in more rural areas. It is not advised to use Thar'Oc Weed during pregnancy or sickness, because it might be unpleasant, if not outright harmful to the child, and in the case of a sickness may give the diseased a fake feeling of well-being which may worsen the actual disease.
Orcs however, can make an entirely different use of this herb. To them the dried leaves can be used as a flavouring with certain unique side effects. For even greater effect, some delinquents have been known to use it as one would smoke pipeweed, which greatly magnifies the unusual effects.
Picture description. The Ashz-Oc Tharoc, an aspiring scholar at the Compendium and regular consumer of Thar'oc weed with peculiar side-effects. Image drawn by Seeker.
An orc under the influence of Thar'Oc weed will
grow much slower and less intelligent than before, stumble around instead of
their usual steady gait, and, most annoyingly, they will develop severe
delusions of grandeur, thinking themselves capable of even the most ridiculous
feats of strength, wit, and skill. It is widely suggested that this effect will
linger in a light version for weeks or months after using Thar'Oc in a pipe, and
that the remnant is cumulative, and grows in strength after each usage. It is
therefore unusual to find an individual to openly admit to his or her usage of
the Thar'Oc weed in an orcen community.
Fortunately, the Compendium has
found a volunteer in its own ranks to share his experiences with this curious
herb in the form of the aptly named Tharoc Wargrider, whose reports strongly
verified other reports. The effects of Thar'Oc usage generally wear off after
two hours or less, with few to no side effects. If such side effects do occur,
they may range from sudden muscle cramps to nausea and headaches, but all of
these should last no more than an hour, after which medical care must be sought
if the symptoms have not subsided. Smoking Thar'Oc does not seem to produce more
severe side effects, although the chance of any ill effects occuring is much
higher. The duration and magnitude of the 'positive' effects of Thar'Oc however,
are almost doubled when smoked.
Lastly, it must be mentioned that all uses of this weed are addictive, be it mildly in humans, but more strongly so in gnomes and orcs, the latter race being especially vulnerable to an addiction if the Thar'Oc is smoked instead of consumed normally.
Reproduction. Thar'Oc weed flowers with a delicate, greenish white blossom from Singing Bird to Passing Cloud. The flower bears five slender petals that unfurl from a tighly rolled bud into a highly decorative star within one day that will remain intact for about a month. Each stalk continues to grow new side-shoots topped with a single flower until winter, slowly turning the Thar'Oc patch into a many-starred mass of flowers, quite pleasing to the eye. During the last few days of Passing Cloud, the flowers that have not yet wilted do so. During the next two weeks, the entire patch of Thar'Oc weed will turn brown and dry out, but not before small pods containing a few minute seeds each have formed in place of the flowers. As the now dead parts of the plant crumbles, rain, wind and passing creatures will spread the seeds far and wide, to germinate as the new spring arrives. The parent plant will hibernate until Changing Winds, when it will start growing new shoots from various points of the root cluster to start the cycle again.
Myth/Lore. One Tharoc Wargrider, an aspiring scholar at the Compendium Halls in New-Santhala, is known to peruse this weed on a fairly regular basis, claiming that it enhances his writing and analytical skills. How he acquires this weed in such a settled location is unknown, although one of the resident herbalists, who prefers to remain unnamed, has suggested that a thorough check of the vines section of the greenhouses might result in some unexpected findings. However, as the man remarked "We never bothered to tell him we actually know about his stash, as it keeps him occupied and mostly out of the way."