Making Tools Useful in 5e: Herbalism Kit
Other tools: Glassblower’s Tools, Navigator’s Tools, Leatherworker’s Tools, Cobbler’s Tools, Poisoner’s Kit, Cartographer’s Tools, Alchemist’s Supplies, Mason’s Tools, Gaming Sets, Tinker’s Tools, Healer’s Kit, Brewer’s Supplies, Smith’s Tools & Cooking Utensils.
Herbalism Kit. This is one that I wasn’t sure how I’d approach, but not because I didn’t have ideas for it. Rather, I have lots of ideas for it, but it’s based on a post by The Angry GM that created a herbalism kit, and I’ve borrowed/stolen heavily from it. I’ve used this system for over a year now, and I really enjoy it as well as my players enjoy it.
For those that don’t care about the how of my tool:
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As our tradition dictates, we must first start on page 82 of Xanthar’s Guide to Everything:
Proficiency with an herbalism kit allows you to identify plants and safely collect their useful elements.
Components. An herbalism kit includes pouches to store herbs, clippers and leather gloves for collecting plants, a mortar and pestle, and several glass jars.
Arcana. Your knowledge of the nature and uses of herbs can add insight to your magical studies that deal with plants and your attempts to identify potions.
Investigation. When you inspect an area overgrown with plants, your proficiency can help you pick out details and clues that others might miss.
Medicine. Your mastery of herbalism improves your ability to treat illnesses and wounds by augmenting your methods of care with medicinal plants.
Nature and Survival. When you travel in the wild, your skill in herbalism makes it easier to identify plants and spot sources of food that others might overlook.
Identify Plants. You can identify most plants with a quick inspection of their appearance and smell.
If I’m reading this correctly, an Herbalism Kit allows you to look at an area overgrown with plants and just see more. No idea, how… but… sure, because you know plants you can see through plants? I suppose it comes from being able to discern what is a plant and what isn’t? But really, all these descriptions just seem to be grasping at straws. Also, I dislike that “herbalism” has an “an” in front of it instead of an “a” but, I suppose its a dialect thing. Most people say “ERB-alism” and not “HER-balism”… maybe I’m weird.
The Idea of Herbalism
Regardless of how you pronounce Herbalism, it is the study of plants and how they can be used in a medicinal way. A herbalist has a strong understanding of vegetation and its many uses and the idea of what a herbalist can be really fits well with being a ranger, at least in my opinion. We have all, or at least most, have seen movies like Lord of the Rings where the rugged adventurer runs off into the forest for an hour and returns with the important plants that can heal Frodo of his infliction (spoilers?). This has been shown in many other fantasy movies and books, and is quite a staple for those who deal with herbs and poultices.
Furthermore, I think that Herbalism Kit has been the most worked on kit with a huge variety of game systems trying to make it useful in 5e. I’ve seen ones that are more like minigames, but that stops the adventuring from being able to produce specifically what they want. I’ve also seen ones that go really deep into the many different components and have 100s of recipes, and that comes with the problem of just too much to work with. There are a variety of systems, but I like the idea of simplicity in my systems and I stumbled on the Angry Herbalism before I ever decided to do this blog, so that’s the basics of what we are working on.
An Herbalism Kit should showcase the abilities of the character using it, of them being able to go out into the forest, gather their ingredients and come back quickly to help their party. This could mean, since they have to travel from the rest of their party, that they may attract unwanted attention while out by themselves, or maybe the party is attacked while they are gone and they must run quickly back to their comrades, though that shouldn’t be an every day occurrence. We want them to use this tool, and if they are worried that they are just going to get attacked every time they try to do anything with it, than you are not allowing them a moment in the spotlight.
Utilizing the Herbalism Kit, our adventure must first select which recipe they are looking for ingredients for. After selecting the recipe, they must then head out into their environment and start looking for supplies. This takes an hour to find enough ingredients for one recipe, and they then make a Wisdom plus Proficiency bonus check. They are rolling against the Potency DCs presented in the Recipe, typically DC 10, 15 or 20 to determine how potent their Herbal Item is.
If they fail the check, then the ingredients they were able to find were not as potent as they should be and thus can not make the appropriate item. Going along with that, once they find their ingredients they have 24 hours to use an item before it begins losing its potency.
Once they make their check, they quickly craft the item, no check required, and are able to give this item to someone. This can take many forms like minor healing, poisoning a weapon, or even afflicting disadvantage on certain abilities to other creatures. These small boons are a great way to provide alternative healing if your party doesn’t have a dedicated healer, and many of the recipes can restore HP, provide Temporary HP and even regain spent Hit Dice.
Herbalism is a great little tool that can provide a lot of benefits to the party, especially for players who are wanting to add a bit of utility to the party. A barbarian could easily pick this up and be more than just a tank, a druid could pick this up and expand their abilities to help the party, and so on.
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