Lethal and Nonlethal Poisons


Rules Questions

Dark Archive

Looking over all the various poisons, I was wondering if any of them besides the ones that deal Con damage are in any way lethal. Doesn't seem like it, but I keep seeing some of them used in PFS scenarios and modules and such to indicate how something dead got dead, even though the poison present doesn't deal Con damage.

Regardless of what the modules indicate, how should poisons work? If it doesn't deal Con, can it kill you?


I could easily see suffocating with a STR or DEX of 0. Unable to move due to either muscles weakened or locked up means seized lungs. I am very certain that is not the case in the core rules, but I would not be upset or surprised if a DM rules such as a houserule.

Mentals at 0 puts you in a coma, which is pretty bad.

Either way, you arent recovering until you get 8 hours of rest, which the local wildlife may not be inclined to give you. Plus, to recover at all, your rest must not be disturbed. Being potentially gnawed on, pecked at, prodded, or otherwise inspected by various creepy crawlies like rats, insects, vultures, etc, I would think would certainly count as disturbed rest. Could you rest through a swarm of flies landing on you and crawling about to see if your wounds are suitable for laying eggs in? After a day or two of failing to recover, you are now potentially dying of thirst. Not good.

Of course, all this assumes you are on your own, without a few allies to drag you to a safer, more sheltered location.

Dark Archive

Being incapacitated and then dying of the circumstances of the environment is definitely understand to be a potential hazard, but in at least one scenario, a number of bodies are found in a room which are described to have died directly do to poison that deals Str or Dex damage (depending on which corpse you look at). And they are all in a relatively safe place (some are actually in their own beds) so I assume they'd just recover on their own unless something else killed them. Except the description of the room specifically states they died from poison.

For now I'm going to assume it's a mistake of the author(s) when I see this. Unless someone can point out the rule I keep missing that states enough of any poison can kill you regardless of other effects, but I suspect such a rule doesn't exist.


There is no rule that does that. I houserule it that non-con poisons lower your stat to zero, then start working on con. So enough of it (multiple doses) can kill you.


I just read the rules on insanity a few days ago. It seems that if a mental stat hits zero then the dm rolls for or chooses an affliction The player then makes a will save. Not quite death though.


Some poisons (3 PF poisons that I'm aware of) deal hp damage, so that could kill a person too.
There's also at least one or two poisons that have special effects when target hits 0 of x ability, such as suffocating to death (or turning to stone[?])

That said, if the poison isn't dealing HP damage, and doesn't have lethal special affects, then there's no reason to have the poisons be death sentences, but as someone said, it seems pretty realistic for the surrounding environment to kill a paralyzed/unconscious creature in many situations.

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