Pathfinder - Legacy of Fire
Pesh is the life force of Katapesh, the eponymous plant that drives trade and provides farmers with crops year after year. The word “pesh” refers both to the bulbous, vibrant green cacti that flourish in the Katapesh deserts and to the narcotic distilled from their milk.
Pesh as a Resource
For hundreds of years Pesh has been a resource that Katapesh can thank for its survival. Pesh is used for a wide variety of purposes, and an estimated 50,000 products can be produced from Pesh including the manufacture of cordage of varying tensile strength, everlasting clothing, walling and foodstuffs. The fibres from Pesh are primarily blended with other organic fibres such as flax, cotton or silk, for apparel and furnishings. When treated correctly, pesh fibres can also often used in non-woven items and other industrial applications, such as mulch, animal bedding and litter. The oil boiled from the Pesh cacti when dried become solid on exposure to air, similar to other common plant oils, and is sometimes used in the manufacture of longer lasting oil-based paints, in herbalist creams as a moisturizing agent, for cooking, and in some roofing applications. Pesh seeds have have also been used in stock food although its use is primarily used is hunting and fishing methodologies. Essentially, Katapesh is made of Pesh, and some scolars argue that this is how Katapesh came by its name from the Ancient Osirian word Kata meaning “made of”.
Pesh as a Narcotic
Pesh however is not know for just its many uses in order to keep the inhabitants of the country clothed, fed and housed. Pesh also has a a secondary use, and that is of a narcotic. Pesh was also known to the ancient Osirians, who discovered its psychoactive properties after experimenting with the drug some of their religious ceremonies. The Ancient Osirians originally called it Pao-sha meaning “way to the underdark”, some scholars say alluded to the vision enducing properties the drug gave when prepared in a certain way, while others suggest its name was a warning to unsuspecting users of the addictive properties that the drug exerts.
Most travelers have heard tales of bitter, milky pesh, but the drug actually exists in several forms. The easiest way to make pesh is to remove one of the cactus’ flat, thorn-studded leaves and milk the liquid within. The thin, pungent milk begins to curdle after 3 days in a cool, dry place. An additive called nagri—a bitter salt mined from dry lakebeds such as Sabkha—is stirred into the spoiled milk at this point and allowed to sit for another day. Large white lumps form in the mixture, like butter in churned milk, and a fine mesh strains the lumps (the raw pesh) from the liquid whey. Pesh in this raw solid form can be eaten plain for a narcotic dose, or more commonly smoked in a water pipe or hookah. There are however much more dangerous preparation methods of the drug which creat such narcotics as Refined Pesh, Purple Pesh, and Red Pesh to name a few.
In order to make refined pesh, farmers must wait for the 2 months a year when the cacti bloom. Fat seedpods swell on the plants, and the farmers carefully score the pods with sharp blades. Sap oozes from the score marks and hardens into resin. Farmers must spend weeks of delicate work scoring the pods, harvesting the dried resin after a day, and scoring fresh marks until every pod is dry (save for a few to allow fertilization). The farmers then add the resin to the raw pesh to form sticky black blocks which can be eaten, rolled into leaves for smoking, or mixed into drinks.
Refined pesh is much more potent than raw pesh and is considered a high-quality item for nobles and rich traders. On the opposite end of the quality spectrum is the weak liquid pesh whey, which is rarely found outside of Katapesh. Poor folk add pesh whey to tea, pack whey-soaked gauze against their gums, or sop it up with hard bread and eat it.
Types of Pesh
Currently, there are 10 different varieties of pesh drug which are produced on Golarion. Some are more potent and addictive than others. Obvious each drug has its usued and drawback, and more potent the drug, the higher the cost to obatin it is. The currently known pesh preparations are: