The Hyborian Drug of Choice
Several varieties of the lotus blossom existed in the Hyborian Age, and each had very different pharmacological properties.
When the petals of the black lotus were dried and mortared into a powder and this powder was burned in an incense bowl, it produced a dark green smoke. Black lotus was generally a lethal poison, although it was said that certain dark sorcerers, such as Thoth-Amon, the High Priest of the Stygian god Set, willingly breathed its fumes to regain magical strength. It was believed that other sorcerers who received their arcane abilities from a dark god could also use the black lotus as a restorative rather than a lethal poison. The thief Taurus of Nemedia used black lotus powder to kill the lions in the gardens of the Tower of the Elephant in the city of Arenjun in Zamora when he sought to rob that mystical place by the side of Conan the Cimmerian. The Black Lotus Swamp was a forlorn, snake-infested marsh that lay on the south bank of the River Styx several days travel upriver from the city of Khemi in Stygia. Some claim, however, that the black lotus only bloomed in Khitai, where the priests of the dark god Yun alone could harvest it.
The Purple Lotus Swamp lay in south-central Stygia and was the source of the purple lotus plant whose juices produced temporary paralysis by acting as a primitive nerve agent much like kurari. The swamp was said to be haunted by ghosts who hungered to feast on the souls of the living. Under the effects of the purple lotus, the mind could sense everything but had no control at all over the body.Sorcerers and wizards used it in small doses in conjunction with their arcane rituals to free their mind from the bonds of their bodies, but many unsavory people used it for much darker purposes, such as knocking out a victim or keeping a victim conscious as he or she was tortured. The potion looked and smelled like clear water and was undetectable.
Yellow lotus was a powerful narcotic similar to the drugs of the opiate family like heroin and cocaine that was also used in some mixtures as a hallucinogen to produce trances and visions. It bloomed only in certain remote areas of Khitai but was the powerfully addictive drug of choice for many people, both poor and wealthy, in the Hyborian Age, since its use could dull pain and provide the sweet relief of oblivion, at least for a time. The lotus itself was sometimes seen in these visions, and it could be that the flower itself exerted a malign influence through its addicts. The inhabitants of Xuthal, an ancient city in the Southern Desert of Kush, were all addicted to the yellow lotus and spent most of their lives in lotus-induced dreams.
Grey lotus was a drug which in liquid form caused madness, found in the Grey Lotus Swamp east of Khitai. The grey lotus essence triggered the user’s adrenaline glands to begin to over-produce their hormone and also massively increased a user’s testosterone production. This caused the imbiber to become a raving berserker that attacked everything in sight with unnatural strength. The victim had no control of himself and would continue to kill and destroy until the effect wore off in a few minutes. The white lotus plant was a beneficial herb that could heal wounds and help cure disease. It worked by making the human body’s own immune and cellular healing responses more efficient. It was said to be cultivated in a secret place in Vendhya.
The juice of the golden lotus also helped cure insanity and disease but was even more effective than the white lotus. It was even rumored that golden lotus extract could save a man poisoned by the black lotus. It was not known where it bloomed, but legend said it could be found only in peaceful places that had never been disturbed by dark magic or bloodshed, but the priest Totrasmek of the ape-god Hanuman,in the city of Zamboula in Turan, possessed a vial of this rare substance.