'Memory' (H.P. Lovecraft d20)

Michael O. Varhola

"Memory," H.P. Lovecraft's eighth published piece, is very short -- just a little over 350 words -- and is really more of a prose poem than a short story. There is quite a bit of imagery that could be adapted into game content here, most of which I rejected for various reasons; the "little apes" that would seem to be the degenerate remnants of a vanished humanity would likely not be very interesting unless I took undue license with them, and this is likewise true of the "Genie that haunts the moonbeams" and the "Daemon of the Valley," both of which seem to be allegorical figures anyway. Upon a second reading, however, I keyed on an item in the first line: "In the valley of Nis the accursed waning moon shines thinly, tearing a path for its light with feeble horns through the lethal foliage of a great  upas-tree." I incorrectly assumed this sort of tree was an invention of Lovecraft but a little research revealed that it is a real sort of vegetation native to savannas and coastal plateaus in parts of Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific and the sap from its leaves and bark is used by native peoples to manufacture a deadly, heart-stopping poison for spears and arrows. I therefore decided to write it up but then realized that there is no standard stat format for non-animate plants but that this might actually serve some function in the game and so have tried to identify the characteristics that seem relevant. Accordingly, what follows is my writeup on first the upas tree and then, as a bonus, the toxin derived from it.


Upas Tree

This large, leafy hardwood tree is native to savannas and coastal plateaus in tropical regions. The sap from its bark and leaves can be distilled by anyone with the appropriate skills into a deadly poison that can be applied to weapons. Value of the tree's components are 2 gp for a pound of its leaves, 8 sp per board foot of lumber to be used for construction or crafts, and 20 gp for a cord of pieces intended for firewood.   


Upas Toxin

Poison Type Initial Damage Secondary Damage Price


Upas Injury DC 15 1d10 Con 1d10 Con 1,000 gp