Does Poison really kill PCs faster than NPCs?


Rules Questions


Just making sure I'm understanding correctly.

Chuck is a level 20 Android Soldier with Constitution 28 (+9). Chuck is wearing a Filtered Rebreather and a Radiation Buffer on his armor, underneath a lead-lined yet stylish suit, and has the Great Fortitude feat, so his Fortitude save against Radiation is +30. Like all L20 Android Soldiers, Chuck has 144 HP, since HP is not based on your Constitution. He also has 340 Stamina Points (he took the Toughness feat, too).

Bob is a Swarm Thresher Lord. He's CR 10, and has 165 HP - 21 more than Chuck does, because NPCs don't differentiate their SP from their HP.

Both are sealed in separate pits lined with paint doped with uranium. The pits are effectively filled with Low Radiation.

Chuck will die first, right? He's exposed every round, which deals 3 damage directly to his HP, regardless of his save (DC 13 save, page 404; poison punches you in the HP when you're exposed to it, no matter how good your save is, page 425).

I'm not misreading?


Well, my first thought is that Chuck would be able to survive about three weeks longer than the Thresher Lord, since his (presumably also level 20) armor's environmental protection seals would make him immune to radiation for the first 20 days.

If we assume that Chuck for whatever reason is unable or willing to activate his environmental protection then yes, Chuck would die slightly faster than the Thresher Lord.


1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

*irk* It'd take a hell of a lot more than "paint doped with uranium" to raise the ambient radiation level to "Low". Maybe if that uranium were recently used inside a nuclear reactor, sure. But uranium by itself is *not that radioactive*.

Also, radiation does *not* ignore Stamina. Nothing in the current rules ignore Stamina.

Dark Archive

Metaphysician wrote:

*irk* It'd take a hell of a lot more than "paint doped with uranium" to raise the ambient radiation level to "Low". Maybe if that uranium were recently used inside a nuclear reactor, sure. But uranium by itself is *not that radioactive*.

Also, radiation does *not* ignore Stamina. Nothing in the current rules ignore Stamina.

Technically the Healer Mystic's Lifelink ability ignores stamina, but I think that is about it.


2 people marked this as FAQ candidate.
Metaphysician wrote:
Also, radiation does *not* ignore Stamina. Nothing in the current rules ignore Stamina.

A curious assertion. Radiation is a poison effect, per CRB P.403. So, looking at poisons...

CRB P.415 wrote:
Upon initial exposure, regardless of whether she succeeds at her saving throw, the victim loses a number of Hit Points equal to the poison's DC - 10.

That language - loses Hit Points - is repeated in the Constitution poison track.

I'm not sure how to read that without concluding that poison, and by extension radiation, ignores stamina when reducing your HP. It would be very strange for it to state that it is very specifically Hit Points being lost if the intention was not that it reduces Hit Points, regardless of stamina, would it not?

The Exchange

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'm not really sure how to reconcile the lines that Hithesius references with this from:

Pg 22, CRB wrote:
When you take damage—whether from an attack, a spell, a disease, or some other source—it reduces your pool of Stamina Points first, and any damage beyond your remaining Stamina Points comes out of your Hit Points.

I'm not sure how the loss of hit points from poison could be anything besides damage.


Shaudius wrote:

I'm not really sure how to reconcile the lines that Hithesius references with this from:

Pg 22, CRB wrote:
When you take damage—whether from an attack, a spell, a disease, or some other source—it reduces your pool of Stamina Points first, and any damage beyond your remaining Stamina Points comes out of your Hit Points.
I'm not sure how the loss of hit points from poison could be anything besides damage.

Because that's what it says - you lose hit points, rather than take damage.


Even if it stated "hit point damage" rather than "loses hit points," the general principle for all of D&D 3.x and its offspring - which Starfinder ultimately is - has been that specific rules trump general rules, which I would hope is written somewhere in the CRB even if I can't be bothered to find where they slipped it in. Even if it was "hit point damage" rather than "loses hit points," it would still apply directly to HP and bypass stamina. Because that's what it would say it was doing.

But as mentioned, it states "loses HP." "Damage" is not referenced there.


Glossary page 513 wrote:
Damage: This is the numerical value subtracted from a target’s Stamina Points or Hit Points after a successful attack against it. See page 250.

If they meant for poison damage to go to stamina first, they wouldshould have just said "takes damage", not "loses hit points".


As I read it, regarding Radiation, "initial exposure" to the Radiation happens only once. As written, you'd take damage equal to the Fort save DC -10 in HP damage (direct to HP as I read it).

Then you'd save a fort save every round until you left the area of radiation. The Fort save for low level radiation is 13.

Each round isn't a new dose of poison. It's the same radiation, as I read it, so the "intial exposure to a dose" should only apply once.

If the level of radiation increased, you'd probably be "initially exposed" to the new radiation level.

I do think the writting is murky here.


whew wrote:
Glossary page 513 wrote:
Damage: This is the numerical value subtracted from a target’s Stamina Points or Hit Points after a successful attack against it. See page 250.
If they meant for poison damage to go to stamina first, they wouldshould have just said "takes damage", not "loses hit points".

I guess, but I feel a degree of common sense should also be applied instead of over analyzing a choice of words. "Hit point damage" and "hit point loss" don't have their own opposing mechanical terms and essentially mean the same thing.


FAQ response on this would be nice, but it's pretty common for "lose hp" and "take damage" to be distinct things. The former generally bypasses all the many things that prevent damage. If it's damage, what type of damage is it? Does DR/- apply?

Agreed that "initial exposure" isn't something that happens every round, though.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Under the rules in the front of the book:

"Hit Points (HP) measure how robust and healthy you are—a reduction in Hit Points represents physical wounds, illness, or another serious physical impairment. Stamina Points (Sp), by contrast, measure your readiness and energy, and they replenish more quickly and easily. When you take damage—whether from an attack, a Spell, a disease, or some other source—it reduces your pool of Stamina Points first, and any damage beyond your remaining Stamina Points comes out of your Hit Points."

You have wiggle room, but the rules are very explicit that damage is supposed to come out of SP first, before HP. So, my question: is there any point in the rules where "Hit Point Loss" is defined as something distinct from "Damage", as opposed to being just a synonym?


Metaphysician wrote:

Under the rules in the front of the book:

"Hit Points (HP) measure how robust and healthy you are—a reduction in Hit Points represents physical wounds, illness, or another serious physical impairment. Stamina Points (Sp), by contrast, measure your readiness and energy, and they replenish more quickly and easily. When you take damage—whether from an attack, a Spell, a disease, or some other source—it reduces your pool of Stamina Points first, and any damage beyond your remaining Stamina Points comes out of your Hit Points."

You have wiggle room, but the rules are very explicit that damage is supposed to come out of SP first, before HP. So, my question: is there any point in the rules where "Hit Point Loss" is defined as something distinct from "Damage", as opposed to being just a synonym?

The rules contradict themselves one sentence after the other. The same sort of thing (illness / disease) is stated as something that would cause hit point damage in one sentence then as something that would cause stamina damage only two sentences later. This should probably be FAQ'd.


"Hit point loss" and the various other ways to construct the phrase are not, to my knowledge, defined at all in the book. Certainly not in the same way that keywords like "damage," "hit points," or even "dead" are. Nor would I think they would need to be; the plain English seems clear enough to me. "Damage" as a mechanical thing potentially leads to HP loss, but that does not mean HP loss is automatically damage.

Relatedly...

Sauce987654321 wrote:
I guess, but I feel a degree of common sense should also be applied instead of over analyzing a choice of words. "Hit point damage" and "hit point loss" don't have their own opposing mechanical terms and essentially mean the same thing.

While I agree with the idea that pedantic analysis of word choice shouldn't completely overrule common sense, I don't think it's a violation of common sense to think that a completely different wording indicates a different mechanical intent. It would have been very easy to simply type "takes damage" rather than "loses a number of Hit Point." It would have saved 15 characters too.


When in doubt, rule in favor of the PCs.

Radiation should probably do CON damage anyhow since radiation is stripping away your genetic code (or are we moving away from ability damage in SF?) Probably something I would homebrew.


Joshua James Jordan wrote:

When in doubt, rule in favor of the PCs.

Radiation should probably do CON damage anyhow since radiation is stripping away your genetic code (or are we moving away from ability damage in SF?) Probably something I would homebrew.

The example character has far too high Fort Save bonus to ever suffer from Low Radiation. That's the point of this. They are dying because the GM is regarding each round exposed as being hit with another "dose" of low radiation. Since initial exposure does HP damage, the PC are dying due to HP loss, rather than to the radiation itself. Kinda a loophole in the Poison rules.

I strongly suggest regarding multiple rounds of Low Radiation Exposure as one dose. Take the HP damage due to initial exposure, then just fort saves every round.


Pax Miles wrote:
Joshua James Jordan wrote:

When in doubt, rule in favor of the PCs.

Radiation should probably do CON damage anyhow since radiation is stripping away your genetic code (or are we moving away from ability damage in SF?) Probably something I would homebrew.

The example character has far too high Fort Save bonus to ever suffer from Low Radiation. That's the point of this. They are dying because the GM is regarding each round exposed as being hit with another "dose" of low radiation. Since initial exposure does HP damage, the PC are dying due to HP loss, rather than to the radiation itself. Kinda a loophole in the Poison rules.

I strongly suggest regarding multiple rounds of Low Radiation Exposure as one dose. Take the HP damage due to initial exposure, then just fort saves every round.

There are many ways to force repeated initial exposure - it's easiest with radiation, because radiation poisoning is cured when you move away from it or it moves away from you, so the radiation source could be put on an elliptical conveyor belt. You could also just use any contact vector poison loaded into a shower head that turns off and on. I was after generically understanding poisons, not specifically understanding radiation.


Um....I could be really wrong and maybe I missed it (and I'm kind of hoping I did)...

But my understanding was that you only got HP at first level and everything else beyond that was stamina gained at each level up.

So can someone point me to where it says you do or don't gain HP at level up in Starfinder?

(I know this is an aside, I was just reading the original post and saw 144 hp and was like...wat?)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber
Claxon wrote:

Um....I could be really wrong and maybe I missed it (and I'm kind of hoping I did)...

But my understanding was that you only got HP at first level and everything else beyond that was stamina gained at each level up.

So can someone point me to where it says you do or don't gain HP at level up in Starfinder?

(I know this is an aside, I was just reading the original post and saw 144 hp and was like...wat?)

Page 26 of the CRB: Increase your character’s Hit Points by the number that his class grants him, increase his Stamina Points by the amount specified in the class plus his Constitution modifier ...


Jon has it.

Gain HP for race, and then per class level. Stamina+Con mod per class level.


I don't know why I had thought that you only gained HP at character creation, and everything else was stamina gain thereafter.


quindraco wrote:
There are many ways to force repeated initial exposure - it's easiest with radiation, because radiation poisoning is cured when you move away from it or it moves away from you, so the radiation source could be put on an elliptical conveyor belt. You could also just use any contact vector poison loaded into a shower head that turns off and on. I was after generically understanding poisons, not specifically understanding radiation.

Up to the GM, but I don't think the poison rules intend for PCs to be subject to "Initial Exposure" damage over and over again. Because you are right, if we do it that way, the PCs die in unreasonable situations and they die faster than NPCs because the NPCs don't use SP.


Claxon wrote:
I don't know why I had thought that you only gained HP at character creation, and everything else was stamina gain thereafter.

To be fair when I was first learning the system I assumed it would be that way because HP damage was supposed to be the deadly stuff.

But I read the rules and realized my assumption was wrong.

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