rating: 0+x

Basic Information

Wolfsbane, more properly known as Aconitum, but also as monk's hood or blue rocket (after its flowers) and as the -bane of a variety of other creatures, is a group of roughly 250 species of flowering plants related to the buttercup, delphinium and such similar things. Flowers tend from blue to purple, although a few varieties may exhibit a dark red bloom.

As might be deduced from some of its common names, this group of plants are extremely toxic, being rich in the alkaloid aconitine (and several other related compounds, dependent on species) which disrupts the functions of the heart and central nervous system in mammals. Low doses cause nausea, profuse salivation, dizziness, blurred vision and numbness - higher doses lead to paralysis and heart failure, leaving behind a victim who appears to have suffocated. Like many nerve agents, atropine may serve as an antidote but treatment generally focuses on maintaining heart/lung function until paralysis wears off. The toxins are found throughout the plant but are most concentrated in the roots and tubers. Extract of wolfsbane has been used as a poison by humanity since ancient times - both ingested (often as poisoned bait for the creatures to which it is called a -bane) and as a blade venom (indeed the name aconitum may derive from the Greek akon meaning a dart or light javelin).

Mythologically, this herb was said to grow from the froth dripping from the jaws of Cerberus - or possibly to have been created by Hecate - and appears in several Greco-Roman myths, including being used in the transformation of Arachne. In the far East where these plants are used in tradition medicine, cultural roles tend to revolve around it being mistaken for something else and hilarity ensuing due to poisoning.

How the particular association with werewolves came about is uncertain - some traditions imply it repels them and/or is particularly deadly to them, others that it provides a dangerous and uncertain cure.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Obviously, the whole werewolf thing … does it kill them? Cure them? Drive them off? Is it an antidote to their infectious bite? Does it work on other forms of therianthrope or do you need some other kind of bane for that? does it need to be prepared in any specific way to get it to work properly? Are the answers to these questions known to people in-universe or are there some unfortunate wrong ideas floating about?
    • For a setting with infectious werewolves, the wolfsbane might kill "the virus" - taken soon after infection it can prevent the disease taking hold, taken too late and the virus will have integrated itself so thoroughly that removing it kills the host. Preparation and correct dosing merely serve to lessen the side-effects (i.e. the symptoms of aconitine poisoning) - unskilled use may kill the patient anyway.
    • Prophylactic use may be possible - but who wants to risk facing a werewolf whist suffering from alkaloid poisoning?
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License