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Basic Information

According to Greek mythology, the herb Moly was said to be a rare but powerful plant with the ability to protect the user from hostile magic. Homer depicts the herb as white flowered and black rooted and dangerous for mortals to pick - Odysseus received his sprig from the hand of the god Hermes before going up against the sorceress Circe.

In myth, this herb was sprung from the blood of a fallen giant and grew on a specific island.


"The Other Wiki" on Moly

1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Used in a game, you will need to work out how it resists magic and why it dangerous to pick.
    • As per the "other" wiki article, one of the authorities suggests that the "difficulty in pulling up the plant" is due to the "peculiar powers claimed by magicians" - perhaps picking it releases a burst of anti-magic energy that is particularly harmful to magic users (but perhaps still dangerous to other mortals as well) and thereafter it falls to radiating an anti-magic field that declines as the plant withers.
    • Obviously an uncontrolled anti-magic field makes this very much the tool of the mundane party - any wizard in the group is likely to have his style seriously cramped by this stuff.
    • A less powerful version of moly might simply be an ingredient in workings or preparations which resist magic.
    • Moly might also be a useful component of wards.
    • The how is also important - does it only screen out hostile magic or does it blanket everything? Does it work on its own or give a bonus to your inherent resistance? A lot of this may depend on how magic and magic resistance work in setting.
    • Following Homer's suggestion that it was dangerous for mortals but not the immortal gods to pick moly, it may be that it doesn't work on "divine magic" … if that's a separate thing in your system … and so any form of theurgy is exempt.
  • More mundane interpretation (again, as per the wiki) attributes Circe's power to delusions caused by anticholinergic poisoning and suggests that the moly might have been snowdrop, which contains a natural anticholinesterase which would serve as an antidote. The fact that anticholinesterases are toxic in their own right may be the "danger" in picking them.
  • If the herb has as limited a habitat as is suggested, whatever protects it from plucking had best be damned powerful to stop it becoming extinct.
  • If not limited in habitat, expect it to be widely planted - again, assuming that there is a safe technique for picking it (consider mandrake) … and indeed planting it in the first place.
  • A question: do the anti-magic properties manifest before picking? If so, a moly garden could be an ideal place to avoid magical attack or even surveillance.
    • Going back to the wards above, when building a permanent anti-magic ward around a building, planting moly in key places might be very useful
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