Flex both green thumbs during the next tabletop session with the Herbalist’s Primer, a system-agnostic supplement describing 100 different plants pulled from the real world with magical, medical and mundane uses detailed. The tome, currently on Kickstarter, is meant to aid nature-aligned characters, such as druids, witches and clerics, or provide inspiration for GMs.
Created by Finland-based designer and writer Anna Urbanek and published by Exalted Funeral, the Herbalist’s Primer collects biological research, magical wisdom, folklore and urban legend and provides everything on equal footing. Its 360 pages explain how one might identify and safely collect each specimen, along with how it could be prepared for food, medicine, arcane tinctures or even poisons.
The layout and style evokes classical botanical field guides - entries are accompanied by detailed illustrations of the plant, seeds, fruit and other relevant parts all lettered and annotated as if you found the book among the stacks of some early 20th century library’s section on the natural world. Footnotes, diagrams and introductory primers lend it the feeling of a project that encompasses years of research and a dedicated love to every aspect of plants.
Urbanek claims the Herbalist’s Primer will represent plants from across the world and range from commonplace ferns to rare herbs and even pomegranate flowers. Separate chapters and appendices will list the showcased plants’ cultural significance alongside references used to ensure all information passes scientific muster. It will also include tools for creating unique magical plants, adventure plot hooks, quest inspiration, recipes and a small primer on botany-specific Latin.
Individual entries list common and scientific names - along with regional variants - a human scale, botanical data, physical descriptions of its primary parts, where it is found and how it could be cultivated and foraging information. Coloured tabs on the side of the page denote whether it can be cooked, existence of natural poisons and other handy info for anyone sticking their hands and eyes into potentially dangerous places.
The Herbalist’s Primer has been designed with several audiences in mind. Tabletop RPG players can use it as a simple reference or bring it directly into the world as an item their characters study and learn from. GMs can use it to flesh out their settings and narratives. Beyond the table, Urbanek hopes writers, practicing occultists and green witches can learn about the natural world and the magic inherent in its greenery - though she does note that she is not a licensed medical professional, and her writing on that subject is for entertainment purposes only.
Urbanek has previously worked with fellow Double Proficiency co-creator Jakub Wisz on the Globetrotter’s Guide to Greenery and Wayfarer’s Deck, both card-based references for players to use as worldbuilding and storytelling aids. The Herbalist’s Primer, which the author stresses can slot into Dungeons & Dragons or any other system that allows for green, growing things, seems a natural progression of that creative work.
Wisz provided additional writing, specifically in the Adventure Seed section of game hooks. Fiona Maeve Geist and Jarrett Crader of the Moonrat Conspiracy worked as editors. The pair have previously contributed several tabletop RPG books, including Arc RPG, Mothership, Ultraviolet Grasslands and Troika!
The Kickstarter campaign for the Herbalist’s Primer runs through September 24th, already surpassing its initial funding goal and currently sitting just shy of $100,000 (£72,800). The book is available to backers as a digital or hardcover edition for $20 (£15) and $40 (£30), respectively. Shipping for both, available globally, is expected to begin in February of next year.