Ineffectual Poisons


Ability Scores and Races

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This does have to do with ability scores: namely, how much higher they are than the max damage of almost all poisons. Take deathblade poison, which in 3.5e did 1d6 Con/2d6 Con, for a max of 18 points. A person with average (11) Con could easily die. Now it does 2 Con/rd. for up to 5 rounds -- 10 max. A person with 11 Con CANNOT die from it unless multiple doses are used, and with a save every round, it's much more likely to deal less damage.

Is this intentional, making poisons less of a threat and more of a nuisance?


Kirth Gersen wrote:

This does have to do with ability scores: namely, how much higher they are than the max damage of almost all poisons. Take deathblade poison, which in 3.5e did 1d6 Con/2d6 Con, for a max of 18 points. A person with average (11) Con could easily die. Now it does 2 Con/rd. for up to 5 rounds -- 10 max. A person with 11 Con CANNOT die from it unless multiple doses are used, and with a save every round, it's much more likely to deal less damage.

Is this intentional, making poisons less of a threat and more of a nuisance?

It looks like they changed the poison to reflect its average damage (namely, 10.5 con over 1 minute).

I'll also note that 5 rounds happens a lot faster than 10 rounds, and often combat will not last a full 10 rounds, thereby reducing the original version of the poison as a tactical factor. All-in-all it seems like a balanced tradeoff.

-Steve

Scarab Sages

Kirth, the poison might not kill the person with Con 11 outright, but being reduced to 1 Con would cost them 5 hit points per level, which would reduce most non-warrior classes (which don't worry about poison much anyway) to negative hit points (for NPC classes, this is almost guaranteed). You're still out of the fight, just not completely dead. You'll get better!

Also, I like the fact that the save gets progressively harder due to constant Con damage rather than just one quick jump after one failed save.

Liberty's Edge

man, i miss 1e poisons.

"type x: save or die some really nasty, liquified, disgusting death that makes even otyughs choke a bit on their last meal..."

rpgs have gone soft lately...

Scarab Sages

houstonderek wrote:

man, i miss 1e poisons.

"type x: save or die some really nasty, liquified, disgusting death that makes even otyughs choke a bit on their last meal..."

rpgs have gone soft lately...

Yeah, as a DM sometimes it is hard to poison an NPC to death for the story if you just can't do it, no matter how well you roll.

And for the whole "save or die makes wizards better" debate, poisons used to help equal the playing field by giving warriors the option. And remember when Assassins could just kill things at will?

Liberty's Edge

Jal Dorak wrote:
houstonderek wrote:

man, i miss 1e poisons.

"type x: save or die some really nasty, liquified, disgusting death that makes even otyughs choke a bit on their last meal..."

rpgs have gone soft lately...

Yeah, as a DM sometimes it is hard to poison an NPC to death for the story if you just can't do it, no matter how well you roll.

And for the whole "save or die makes wizards better" debate, poisons used to help equal the playing field by giving warriors the option. And remember when Assassins could just kill things at will?

my first character ever in d&d was killed by an assassin (another p.c. - hey, we were nine, we didn't know we were supposed to be cooperating!)

to be honest, when i dm, i use the 3x mechanic with a whole lot of 1e sensibility. makes for an interesting game...

Grand Lodge

It's funny, I was just looking at the poisons tonight and wondering if they had gotten weaker. I have a new player who is a power-gamer and I want to even the odds against him and decided to use a poison wielding rogue and was disappointed by the poisons.


Jal Dorak wrote:
Kirth, the poison might not kill the person with Con 11 outright, but being reduced to 1 Con would cost them 5 hit points per level, which would reduce most non-warrior classes (which don't worry about poison much anyway) to negative hit points (for NPC classes, this is almost guaranteed).

If I understand the rules for ability damage, it'll reduce 'em to a minimum 1 hp per HD, but never into negatives.

It just seems odd that it's now impossible for almost any poison to incapacitate or kill anyone, unless that person is exceptionally sickly.


Kirth Gersen wrote:

If I understand the rules for ability damage, it'll reduce 'em to a minimum 1 hp per HD, but never into negatives.

It just seems odd that it's now impossible for almost any poison to incapacitate or kill anyone, unless that person is exceptionally sickly.

What I always thought was strange was that drow poison is one of the most useful poisons for PCs to use (save or go unconscious) and it's also one of the cheapest (150 gp per dose). Shouldn't the price of a poison be based on how useful it is?

Liberty's Edge

Kirth Gersen wrote:
Jal Dorak wrote:
Kirth, the poison might not kill the person with Con 11 outright, but being reduced to 1 Con would cost them 5 hit points per level, which would reduce most non-warrior classes (which don't worry about poison much anyway) to negative hit points (for NPC classes, this is almost guaranteed).

If I understand the rules for ability damage, it'll reduce 'em to a minimum 1 hp per HD, but never into negatives.

It just seems odd that it's now impossible for almost any poison to incapacitate or kill anyone, unless that person is exceptionally sickly.

that is when you generate HPs...

if you are reduced to negative con modfiers... then you lose those hit points... and having -5 hps per level yes can kill you if you are already hurt...

the poison is inefectual if you decide that all that goes around the con damage except death at 0 is ineffectual

and sleeping poison is the death of anu character if the enemy is ready for a Coup de Grace

Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

hogarth wrote:
What I always thought was strange was that drow poison is one of the most useful poisons for PCs to use (save or go unconscious) and it's also one of the cheapest (150 gp per dose). Shouldn't the price of a poison be based on how useful it is?

IMC, that stuff can only be found in one place: with the drow. So the price doesn't really bother me. :)

Also, most poisons aren't a one-time thing. If any enemy is using poisons, he's probably got two poisoned melee weapons or a whole slew of poisoned darts/arrows/etc. This also assumes only a single opponent. When I use poisons in my games, I usually have whole squads of bad guys armed with it, which means that the likelyhood someone (even with a high Fort save) will fail increases substantially. I also increase the save DC by 1 for each additional dose administered to a target within 1 minute of the previous one, just to keep things interesting.

Liberty's Edge

that is evil...

i likeit :)

also as he mention.... the cost of a poison (and any other items) also depends in how difficult to get it is and how much demand exist


Fatespinner wrote:
hogarth wrote:
What I always thought was strange was that drow poison is one of the most useful poisons for PCs to use (save or go unconscious) and it's also one of the cheapest (150 gp per dose). Shouldn't the price of a poison be based on how useful it is?
IMC, that stuff can only be found in one place: with the drow. So the price doesn't really bother me. :)

Personally, I don't like what I call "Good Stuff Is Only For Bad Guys" syndrome. E.g. cheap Animate Dead (because only bad guys use Animate Dead), extra-powerful prestige classes for evil characters, cheap items (that only evil folks use), etc.

At any rate, I think that most poisons are overpriced, not that drow poison is underpriced.

(This is probably the wrong forum for this, though, although poisons are tangentially related to Ability Scores.)


So, I guess if no one else has an issue with the fact that it's impossible to actually kill someone by poisoning his wine, for example, without getting him to drink 3 or 4 cups of it, then no problem. I understand this is an extension of the "no save or die effects" clause in Pathfinder, but it seems unnecessarily feeble -- almost like making a new rule that all weapons deal nonlethal damage only. Deadliness is of course a matter of personal preference. I'd like at least a sidebar for campaigns in which paralysis or death from being poisoned is at least theoretically possible for an average person.

Liberty's Edge

I wonder if a save roll vs. a skill roll--the target vs. the user--would make more sense.


Heathansson wrote:
I wonder if a save roll vs. a skill roll--the target vs. the user--would make more sense.

It would for me! You could make a Toxicology skill, encompassing the Craft (poison) skill and the Use Poison class feature, and do the whole opposed roll thing. I use an Endurance skill, so that could oppose the poisoning skill check on an even basis -- otherwise you'd need to impose a penalty on the poisoner's roll to make up for the reality of saves lagging behind skill bonuses.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
So, I guess if no one else has an issue with the fact that it's impossible to actually kill someone by poisoning his wine, for example, without getting him to drink 3 or 4 cups of it, then no problem.

No, I think it's dumb too. Can you put more than one dose of poison in a wine cup? That would allow it to be more deadly.


hogarth wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:
So, I guess if no one else has an issue with the fact that it's impossible to actually kill someone by poisoning his wine, for example, without getting him to drink 3 or 4 cups of it, then no problem.
No, I think it's dumb too. Can you put more than one dose of poison in a wine cup? That would allow it to be more deadly.

Also much easier to detect. And there are solubility limits to consider, unless all poisons are magically "infinitely soluble."

DM: "You pick up yuor wine glass, and notice the red liquid has black swirls in it, and there's a whole lot of powder in the bottom of the cup, and it smells like formaldehyde."
Player: "Oh. We must be using Pathfinder rules for poison!"

Liberty's Edge

Kirth Gersen wrote:
Heathansson wrote:
I wonder if a save roll vs. a skill roll--the target vs. the user--would make more sense.
It would for me! You could make a Toxicology skill, encompassing the Craft (poison) skill and the Use Poison class feature, and do the whole opposed roll thing. I use an Endurance skill, so that could oppose the poisoning skill check on an even basis -- otherwise you'd need to impose a penalty on the poisoner's roll to make up for the reality of saves lagging behind skill bonuses.

And then you gotta b.s. them. AND make sure it doesn't taste funny.....

Then you gotta be able to circumnavigate the taste tester guy somehow's.

Liberty's Edge

considering an avarage person has con of 10... i say a single drink of the poison will kill him

and usually poisons like that are given in small dossis
and its the dossis no oensays you can put the double onset in the cup just to make sure

evil races and classes get "evil items" cheaper... because that is their job... but at least in the concept of a drow poison it just mean that its something they invented, like elven wine or dwarven beer... it taste differen than human beverages and would have different effects...

why a necromancer or an evil cleric would get cheaper components for Animate Dead? easy its his profesion, he knows where to look, with who to buy it, he knows the buyer, he can haggle for it...

if its the first time your neutral character wants to buy such things... well does he know where to buy the things? would the seller trust him? its like buying drugs... you need to know who sells it, he need to know you are not a cop, there is some kind of 'thrust' (lot of freedom in the concept)

a rogue should be able to use "gather information or (now) Diplomacy" to talk his way into the black market to get poisons at normal rates... if its his guild or he has friends he may get it cheaper... but if its his 1st time there they will give it far more expensive, will have an eye on him, and if he is discovered they will kill him so he will not reveal the black market... its not as "i go into the corner shop and buy an onset of poison to kill the lord of the castle"

a good cleric or paladin woudl get discount providing for himself with his church or with the people of the town he saved, it just depends what you need and how you expect to get it.


Montalve wrote:
considering an avarage person ahs con of 10... i say a single drink of the poison will kill him

You might say so, but the rules don't reflect this. 10 is a max damage assuming all saves are failed (impossible on a 20, no matter how high the DC) -- and an equally average person with Con 11 then just gets real sick. And two doses in the cup gives the recipient two Perception rolls to detect it.

Scarab Sages

Kirth Gersen wrote:
Heathansson wrote:
I wonder if a save roll vs. a skill roll--the target vs. the user--would make more sense.
It would for me! You could make a Toxicology skill, encompassing the Craft (poison) skill and the Use Poison class feature, and do the whole opposed roll thing. I use an Endurance skill, so that could oppose the poisoning skill check on an even basis -- otherwise you'd need to impose a penalty on the poisoner's roll to make up for the reality of saves lagging behind skill bonuses.

Well, there were two feats that allowed a character to do something similar (had prereqs of Craft (Poisonmaking) ranks). Poison Expert increased one types initial/secondary DC by +1, Poison Master increased one types initial/secondary damage by +1.

But I agree, classes that get Poison Use should be able to use it "better".

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I actually saw this problem myself. I didn't catch the note about posting that stuff later, but here's my original post:

Spoiler:
Ok, this is the only design thread that I can see, so I guess I'll just have to put this here. I hope that I'm not too early, I just wanted to post this while it was on my mind.

Anyways, does anyone else feel like poisons work poorly in 3e and PFRPG? Now, I'm not for extreme realism in my games, but poison is just so weak in D&D. It is nigh impossible to kill someone with arsenic, unless you have around 5 doses and your victim is no higher than level 4. This just does not seem right to me. I'm not entirely sure how to fix it, but I think I may have a start. When you are poisoned, if you make your save, instead of it having no effect, the poison's effect is delayed by a number of "frequencies" equal to 1 plus the amount you beat the save by. If you beat the save by more than 10 or 15 (haven't decided), the poison has no effect. After each effect, you can make another save to delay the other effects.

For example, if you are poisoned by Arsenic, and get a 15 on your saving throw, the poison's primary effect is delayed by 3 rounds (1+2). After you suffer the primary effect, you make another save for delaying the secondary effects.

This makes poisons deadly to all, but the time delay means that PCs have a distinct advantage. Antivenin isn't particularly expensive, and it gives them more incentive to invest in Heal. By delaying the poison, you have time to stop it before you take the effects, but the effects are still deadly.

What do you think?

I like my poisons to be deadly. As they are now, and were in 3.5, they are a really sub-par and unrealistic choice. I mean, yes its a fantasy game, but assassination is a key part in many fantasy tales!


thefishcometh wrote:
It is nigh impossible to kill someone with arsenic, unless you have around 5 doses and your victim is no higher than level 4.

IRL, arsenic usually requires many doses, which can be administered weeks apart, or else a massive overdose to shut down the kidneys/liver. But something like fugu (blowfish poison) causes muscle paralysis and rapid death from suffocation in even small doses. Ability damage is a good way of representing this (Con damage for arsenic; I guess fugu should be Dex damage with the caveat that you die at 0), with varying amounts of damage: low for arsenic, high for fugu, etc.

The thing is, maybe one or two of the poisons listed for Pathfinder could possibly reduce an average person's stat to 0, and against adventurers they're more or less laughable. I also feel that some poisons should indeed be potentially deadly.

Scarab Sages

Kirth Gersen wrote:
thefishcometh wrote:
It is nigh impossible to kill someone with arsenic, unless you have around 5 doses and your victim is no higher than level 4.

IRL, arsenic usually requires many doses, which can be administered weeks apart, or else a massive overdose to shut down the kidneys/liver. But something like fugu (blowfish poison) causes muscle paralysis and rapid death from suffocation in even small doses. Ability damage is a good way of representing this (Con damage for arsenic; I guess fugu should be Dex damage with the caveat that you die at 0), with varying amounts of damage: low for arsenic, high for fugu, etc.

The thing is, maybe one or two of the poisons listed for Pathfinder could possibly reduce an average person's stat to 0, and against adventurers they're more or less laughable. I also feel that some poisons should indeed be potentially deadly.

Blowfish poison could just "cause" suffocation as an after effect once you are reduced to 0 Dex. That still gives 2 rounds to save the character after they "die".


Jal Dorak wrote:
Blowfish poison could just "cause" suffocation as an after effect once you are reduced to 0 Dex. That still gives 2 rounds to save the character after they "die".

Works for me. But in Pathfinder, it would be 2 Dex/round over 5 rounds max or until you save, whichever comes first, which means that all it does is slow people's reflexes a bit.

I'd like to see some of the ingested poisons do more damage (or for more iterations), but maybe have some of the iterations in minutes, hours, or even days instead of rounds. That would make for a cool variety in poisons.

Liberty's Edge

actually dead by arsenic usually works by receiving small dosis along a term of time...
usually one daily dosis, even if its just 2 con damage that emans that for thenext day the character has recovered only 1 con, and if this continue his health will only will go lower and so will do his saves...

this sounds to me pretty much more inflavor...

Scarab Sages

I was just looking over Black Lotus Extract, and at 3 Con/7 rounds DC 20, it is pretty hefty. 21 points of Con is likely to fell any character.

I think there should be a further alteration regarding death by Con damage - magic does not help.

Ie. if you have 10 Con and a Belt of Con +4, and you take 10 points of Con damage, then you die. You have lost all of your normal body. It isn't inherent Constitution, therefore your physical body does not benefit from magical Con bonuses (only your bodies reaction to damage (hp) and invasion (Fort)).

Sort of like how magical Int doesn't give you more skill points at new levels. Thoughts?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Jal Dorak wrote:

I was just looking over Black Lotus Extract, and at 3 Con/7 rounds DC 20, it is pretty hefty. 21 points of Con is likely to fell any character.

I think there should be a further alteration regarding death by Con damage - magic does not help.

Ie. if you have 10 Con and a Belt of Con +4, and you take 10 points of Con damage, then you die. You have lost all of your normal body. It isn't inherent Constitution, therefore your physical body does not benefit from magical Con bonuses (only your bodies reaction to damage (hp) and invasion (Fort)).

Sort of like how magical Int doesn't give you more skill points at new levels. Thoughts?

Well, since Int does grant skill points these days, I'm going with no.

Liberty's Edge

mmm i think the Modified con would have to affect the character, because it affects is metabolism, if makeshim hardier and more resistant(fort and hps) i would sayit coun ts... even thenif he takes it... then his Con drops 4 points whatever it is... if that btings him below 0 he is dead in my book

well someone was saying that poisons were pretty much ineddectual, i would say this poison does prove that is a fallacy... also its rare, expensive and difficult to get... i real gem

not eevry other rogue would have it, and if the rogue players wants it... it should be an adventure in itself to get it.

Contributor

Jal Dorak wrote:

I think there should be a further alteration regarding death by Con damage - magic does not help.

Ie. if you have 10 Con and a Belt of Con +4, and you take 10 points of Con damage, then you die. You have lost all of your normal body. It isn't inherent Constitution, therefore your physical body does not benefit from magical Con bonuses (only your bodies reaction to damage (hp) and invasion (Fort)).

I talked with Jonathan about that way back and that means it gets confusing because then your Con score isn't really your Con score, you need to keep track of your BASE Con score. Then it's a question of "which of these bonuses REALLY count for this purpose?" Why does an inherent bonus from a wish spell count (or not)? Plus, I really like the idea of "I would be dead at 0 Con if it weren't for my +4 belt ... if I take off the belt or enter an antimagic area, I die." That's cool. very ... Elric.

Jal Dorak wrote:
Sort of like how magical Int doesn't give you more skill points at new levels. Thoughts?

Actually in Pathfinder, it does (see the Beta page 388). Hooray, easier calculations on building higher-level NPCs!!

Scarab Sages

Sean K Reynolds wrote:


I talked with Jonathan about that way back and that means it gets confusing because then your Con score isn't really your Con score, you need to keep track of your BASE Con score. Then it's a question of "which of these bonuses REALLY count for this purpose?" Why does an inherent bonus from a wish spell count (or not)? Plus, I really like the idea of "I would be dead at 0 Con if it weren't for my +4 belt ... if I take off the belt or enter an antimagic area, I die." That's cool. very ... Elric.

Hmm. I never thought about it that way. All my character sheets have two columns for each ability: permanent and temporary/enhancement. I've always marked stat-boosting items in the "enhancement" column, so I know when a spell will work or not. Isn't it already differentiated? A wish grants an inherent bonus, whereas bear's endurance is an enhancement bonus? I admit, it is an extra layer of calculation - I'm not trying to be argumentative.

I feel obliged to mention the time our party killed a 15th level NPC cleric/fighter by casting dispel magic on him and eliminating his bear's endurance spell. That was fun. As the DM, I described the look on his face as one of utter shock at his defeat.

Jal Dorak wrote:
Sort of like how magical Int doesn't give you more skill points at new levels. Thoughts?
Actually in Pathfinder, it does (see the Beta page 388). Hooray, easier calculations on building higher-level NPCs!!

Thank you, Sean (and Jason too!). I missed that - I noted the bonus to Knowledge checks from the Headband of Intellect and thought that was as far as Jason went. I'll have to note that for my playtest game with my 26 Int Wizard!

Liberty's Edge

Jal Dorak wrote:
I feel obliged to mention the time our party killed a 15th level NPC cleric/fighter by casting dispel magic on him and eliminating his bear's endurance spell. That was fun. As the DM, I described the look on his face as one of utter shock at his defeat.

Yar! That would have been a worthy sight, cheers to that!

(very similar, but if a bit more naiewhen we saw an experienced player playing the bard pick pocketing an NPC who was rewarding the party, the GM is not as experienced, nor is he an newbie... but his expression of "I can't believe you DID THAT!" was unique)

and yes Sean, thanks for the input, that is what i would expect from magic... that it DOES has the power to make a change so great as to decide the life and death of a character...

Contributor

Jal Dorak wrote:
Hmm. I never thought about it that way. All my character sheets have two columns for each ability: permanent and temporary/enhancement. I've always marked stat-boosting items in the "enhancement" column, so I know when a spell will work or not. Isn't it already differentiated? A wish grants an inherent bonus, whereas bear's endurance is an enhancement bonus? I admit, it is an extra layer of calculation - I'm not trying to be argumentative.

Yes, you'd have to decide if inherent bonuses count, enhancement bonuses count, sacred bonuses count, etc. And then you might as well make up new special attacks that ignore the target's sacred bonus to AC, or spells that ignore the target's profane bonus to Will saving throws, etc.

My point is: the game is already pretty complex, and every extra thing you're required to track makes it even more complex, and increasing complexity is going to guarantee you slow down the game at some point.


Fatespinner wrote:

IMC, that stuff can only be found in one place: with the drow. So the price doesn't really bother me. :)

What? You don't have a Drow-Mart in your neighborhood?

Liberty's Edge

type x poison, 1e style is very non-complex, on the other hand :)

Scarab Sages

Sean K Reynolds wrote:


Yes, you'd have to decide if inherent bonuses count, enhancement bonuses count, sacred bonuses count, etc. And then you might as well make up new special attacks that ignore the target's sacred bonus to AC, or spells that ignore the target's profane bonus to Will saving throws, etc.

My point is: the game is already pretty complex, and every extra thing you're required to track makes it even more complex, and increasing complexity is going to guarantee you slow down the game at some point.

I've always read inherent bonuses as being an actual improvement in your physical capacity. But there are some that I agree cause confusion: what about temporary size bonuses from magic?

But there are attacks that bypass certain bonuses - feinting bypasses dexterity, touch attacks bypass armor and shield bonuses. But I agree that these distinctions are already pushing the game to the limit of tracking seperate things.

I wouldn't mind calculating ability scores seperately in my games, but that's an entirely personal choice. I like complexity.

It's kind of moot because if a magic item is the difference between life and death of a PC, any assassin worth his salt would do his research and sleight of hand the item in question before laying into the sneak attack/poison.


Jal Dorak wrote:
It's kind of moot because if a magic item is the difference between life and death of a PC, any assassin worth his salt would do his research and sleight of hand the item in question before laying into the sneak attack/poison.

Stealing someone's belt? That's gonna be one hell of a Sleight of Hand check... lol


Kirth Gersen wrote:
arsenic usually requires many doses, which can be administered weeks apart
Montalve wrote:
actually dead by arsenic usually works by receiving small dosis along a term of time...

Yes, like I was saying.

Liberty's Edge

Kirth Gersen wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:
arsenic usually requires many doses, which can be administered weeks apart
Montalve wrote:
actually dead by arsenic usually works by receiving small dosis along a term of time...

Yes, like I was saying.

my apologies, je i missed that or understood incorrectly :P


Sueki Suezo wrote:
Jal Dorak wrote:
It's kind of moot because if a magic item is the difference between life and death of a PC, any assassin worth his salt would do his research and sleight of hand the item in question before laying into the sneak attack/poison.
Stealing someone's belt? That's gonna be one hell of a Sleight of Hand check... lol

...Unless you are Nimble, the Rogue from the first "The Gamers" movie...

Nimble: "I wanna steal his pants !"
GM: "Why do you want his pants !?!"
Nimble: "I don't want them, I just wanna see if I can steal them !"

---ROLL---
GM:"...I don't believe it ..."

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

In a former career, I was a stage magician. I did a stage pick-pocket routine. What makes belts hard is the buckle. If you can get that undone, the unthreading of a belt is one of the easer, and more spectacular, steals.

So, a rogue with a ring of knock can probably steal your magic Constitution belt.

The Exchange

Chris Mortika wrote:

In a former career, I was a stage magician. I did a stage pick-pocket routine. What makes belts hard is the buckle. If you can get that undone, the unthreading of a belt is one of the easer, and more spectacular, steals.

So, a rogue with a ring of knock can probably steal your magic Constitution belt.

That's deeply cool. And I am never letting you touch my trousers.


Jal Dorak wrote:
And for the whole "save or die makes wizards better" debate, poisons used to help equal the playing field by giving warriors the option.

This isn't really accurate. Poisons were originally the type of thing that happened to adventurers, not for them. They still are, pretty much. I'd suggest Paizo add a bunch of higher level poisons into the core rules, but I know from experience that it's about two seconds to mentally adjust a poison upward.


I've never been happy with poisons in D&D either. If a hero ever gets poisoned in any literature or movies, it's a big deal. The poison will at least debilitate him pretty badly, if not kill him outright, no matter how badass he is. Poisons in D&D are a joke, and they aren't substantially different in PF. If you get poisoned, there should instantly be an effect you don't get a fort save for, and then the saves afterwards should be very high. Poisoning someone should be serious business, not a total waste of time and money.


BlaineTog wrote:
I've never been happy with poisons in D&D either. If a hero ever gets poisoned in any literature or movies, it's a big deal. The poison will at least debilitate him pretty badly, if not kill him outright, no matter how badass he is. Poisons in D&D are a joke, and they aren't substantially different in PF. If you get poisoned, there should instantly be an effect you don't get a fort save for, and then the saves afterwards should be very high. Poisoning someone should be serious business, not a total waste of time and money.

I agree, but...

I hate the idea that bad guys get to use all kinds of good stuff (e.g. armies of undead flunkies, poison, demon binding) that the heroes aren't supposed to use. (I don't want to start a pointless debate over whether animating the dead or using poison is "evil", so I'll clarify I'm talking about iconic fantasy protagonists when I say "heroes".)


It's true, though. Evil characters are, in many ways, more dangerous than good characters. They have a harder time working together, but they are willing to do things that good characters aren't, and as such have more options available to them. Poisons are typically considered to be one of those things, but they certainly aren't the only ones. Evil characters don't mind ignoring pleas of surrender, whereas good characters have to risk leaving the surrenders alive and risk them breaking out of whatever impromptu prison they manufactured. Good characters can't murder their quarry's family and friends, even though that can be a very effective measure of forcing said quarry to act rashly and possibly screw up. Sometimes, the most effective method is evil. Them's just the way the chips fall, and I see no reason to deny the reality of the situation.

Poisons, therefor, will tend to hurt Good PCs more than Evil PCs, but I'm ok with that. Good PCs need opportunities to show their colors, such as by not assassinating the target with poison and instead offering him mercy.


BlaineTog wrote:
Poisons, therefor, will tend to hurt Good PCs more than Evil PCs, but I'm ok with that. Good PCs need opportunities to show their colors, such as by not assassinating the target with poison and instead offering him mercy.

Nevertheless, I still think it's a poor idea to say "it's O.K. for X to be unbalanced, because an angel cries every time a PC uses X". (Not that that's what you're saying, but I've seen that kind of argument before.) Then you have folks saying "this module is weaksauce because you can kill the big bad guy with 50 gp worth of poison lol!".


Here's how I would want poisons to be used, ideally.

(1) Differentiate by type (ingested vs. others especially).

(a) Ingested receives a perception check (vs. skill roll by poisoner). Failing to beat the perception DC means you eat/drink some of the poison bearing item. You get a perception check each round, and you consume an amount of the applied poison equal to the amount of poison bearing food/drink you consumed. (Defining solubilities of poisons would also be nice... but that might be too much detail).

(b) Injected poisons deliver a defined dose size every time they hit.

(c) contact poisons also deliver a defined dose every time they hit - limited by capillary action, ability to be absorbed by the skin, and so forth. It may be worthwhile to vary the delivered amount by the quality of the hit, but that's probably too complicated.

(2) Each poison has a defined MTD (maximum tolerable dose - for a medium creature, it'd be easy to explain how to find the right number for different body sizes, may vary by Con mod). If you ingest or otherwise receive more than that amount of a particular poison, you die. Its just a question of time/magic. Receiving less than or equal to the MTD, you suffer an increasingly debilitating penalty based on the amount of poison in your system.

(3) Each poison has a time it stays in the body. Some poisons would have infinite duration (like arsenic, which gets absorbed by tissue and just sits there), and others get flushed within relatively short amounts of time (eg, cyanide). As the poison gets flushed, the effects of the poison are appropriately decreased.

This accurately mimics real poison behavior, and isn't really that complicated mechanically.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
So, I guess if no one else has an issue with the fact that it's impossible to actually kill someone by poisoning his wine, for example, without getting him to drink 3 or 4 cups of it, then no problem. I understand this is an extension of the "no save or die effects" clause in Pathfinder, but it seems unnecessarily feeble -- almost like making a new rule that all weapons deal nonlethal damage only. Deadliness is of course a matter of personal preference. I'd like at least a sidebar for campaigns in which paralysis or death from being poisoned is at least theoretically possible for an average person.

Well, you can kill that person if you put more then one dose in it. One dose = one save and one poison effect.

X doses = x saves and x poison effects.

I have always had a problem with poison effects in 3.xe (their weakness and inability to kill even commoners), but then I saw a show on snakes that showed me that they do not bite once, but multiple times, delivering a couple of doses of poison to their victim.

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