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Basic Information

Musk is a strongly scented compound produced by a variety of animals, usually for territory marking purposes, although the word also refers to a few similar substances produced by plants and artifical surrogates (known as "white musk"). When extracted by humans musk is used primarily in the manufacture of perfumes and incense, but has occasionally seen use in medicine and other applications.

The primary source of commercial musk (prior to synthetics) was a gland located near the anus of the male musk deer (although similar glands were also extracted from similar regions of other animals for the same purpose). The gland was extracted from the animal, dried and the active ingredient extracted as a tincture in alcohol … with a great deal of dilution the substance could then be used as a perfume base. Due to the low volume of material in each gland, musk was traditionally a very expensive commodity, trading at up to twice its weight in gold.

Beaver musk, known as castoreum is also used as a spice (of sorts) and as a dietary additive for bees. Taxea, extracted from badgers is similar but was traditionally regarded as magically potent and favoured for traditional medicines.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Given its value, this material is treasure, whether as a bag of shrivelled glands or a small bottle of foul smelling liquid. PCs are likely to throw both away without appropriate knowledge skills.
  • Also, PCs with appropriate knowledge skills may be able to salvage musk glands from dead monsters.
  • Presumably useful as a power component - especially, as mentioned above, taxea.
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