A Toxicologist's Take on PF2 Poisons.


Skills, Feats, Equipment & Spells


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Initial Impressions:

It's been a while since I've played PF1, but as a 5e player, I initially like how PF2 does poisons. It's better than flat damage and it's not too complex. It adds in a nice slow work up. For those who aren't that into poisons, it will add extra mechanics that you may not remember, forcing you to read up on the book whenever you experience a poison in game – which can be problematic (in fact, this is the primary reason I stopped playing PF1 to begin with). But it's not that bad. Initial Save, plus another save periodically based on the poison. The fastest have saves every round for a set number of rounds or until you make enough saves.

Prices are reasonable for the level. Level 1 poisons cost only 2 GP, meaning you can reasonably use them at low levels and have a nice impact.

Layout:

I'm not a fan of the layout here. Poisons are mixed together with bombs and elixirs, all alphabetical instead of level-alphabetical. Meaning that to compare poisons, I have to first read the text multiple times just to ignore the elixirs and bombs. It makes this analysis logistically challenging. If possible, this layout would be better if Elixirs, Mutagens, and Poisons were all their own list all under the category of alchemical items, and each organized by level and then alphabetical within. The separate lists is less of a concern than level-alphabetical. I'd rather have the latter than the former if I were forced to choose.

Dirty Details:

Poisons come in four forms: Touch, Injury, Ingest, Inhale. I really like the addition of the inhalation poisons, as 5e's format for all poisons is just to add damage.

Almost all poisons have rider effects, which is fantastic. Arsenic causes sickness and makes it so you can't remove the sickness while you're affected. Belladonna causes a variety. Giant Scorpion Venom makes you enfeebled.

Here's how it works. There are four stages: 0, 1, 2, 3. 0 is unaffected, and going up does more damage or imposes a stronger condition. Upon initial dose, roll a save. Fail go up 1 stage. Crit fail go up 2. At the end of a set period of time (measured by rounds, minutes, or longer depending on the poison) you roll again. Success you go down 1 stage, crit success you go down 2 stages. If you reach 0, you stop being affected. Max stage is 3. Each poison has a maximum amount of time you can be affected. When you reach that time, the poison fades away from your system. No matter what stage you're at, all effects stop.

I like the increasing effects for each poison, as it simulates growing effects over time. I'd prefer injury poisons to last longer than a single strike (hit or miss) OR that they don't go away on a miss OR if they were cheaper than other poisons because of the high risk of losing it. I like that ingestion poisons have a higher DC relative to other poisons or the same level (if you eat it, it's harder to resist).

Some real life poisons do not make sense for how they're leveled.

For example, Arsenic is level 1 and does minimal damage (max damage is 7d4+1) – yet it's a classic killer poison that is rather potent and is very difficult to cure (it's also called the Inheritance Poison, as it was used to kill off your parents so you can inherit their estate, up until the early 1900s when we could start detecting arsenic during autopsies). Meanwhile, nettle, which at most causes a rash in real life, is a level 8 poison and does up to 54d6 damage. Hemlock, which is slightly less potent than Arsenic, is Level 17 and does up to 109d6 damage. Wolfsbane – the most toxic real life substance in the list, is only level 10.

How I'd change these up:

Contact. Make Nettleweed Resin a level 1 contact poison. This works well as there's no low level contact poisons. The lowest level we have is 7. The rest all look good.

For ingested poisons, Hemlock should be level 8, Arsenic should be level 10, and Wolfsbane should be level 17. A simple switch of names is enough to make these interesting poisons more closely match real life. Belladonna has a low potency, so level 2 is pretty decent for it.

There's only three inhalation poisons, and they're all at the same level: 15-16. This makes inhalation poisons less interesting, as they're all fairly unavailable at most levels of play. Brimstone in real life is just sulfur, which is a rather weak acute poison (requires a heavy concentration in the air). Having Brimstone as a level 1, 2, or 3 inhalation poison would make for a great low level inhaled poison. As a bonus, it would be readily available because sulfur was one of the first pesticides used in real life (used for mold and fungus control on crops).

Injury poisons. There's very few high level injury poisons. The highest level is 13. Black Adder Venom (concentrated) might make for a good high level poison, if it's named after a real viper. I also like how many injury poisons contain riders that can cheaply be added to a weapon, which may be the reason why they're all low level. My only complaint with injury poisons is that they're wasted on a miss attack – if that's going to remain to be true then injury poisons should be 25-50% cheaper compared to other poisons of the same level (or simply have them only used up when the attack hits).

All in all, I like the poison system. It's interesting without being overly complex. I look forward to seeing how a PC can use these effectively.

EDIT: After reading through some other threads, I see that we've changed to a silver standard instead of a gold standard. I think the person who wrote the alchemical items forgot about that and labeled everything in gold instead of silver. A one use item of appropriate level shouldn't cost nearly 10-15% of your total coin. If a 2nd level character only has 15 GP worth of stuff, why are level 1 and 2 alchemical items costing 2-3 GP (20-30 SP). A single use level 1-2 item is as much as a heavy shield and more expensive that nearly every melee weapon. I think this is a mistake, as it reduces the viability of PCs using alchemical items in interesting ways.


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I also feel like the poisons cost way too much, I didn't like that poison wasn't very useful in 1E and really want them to make poison more viable. although I also do like the new mechanical changes.


Quote:
EDIT: After reading through some other threads, I see that we've changed to a silver standard instead of a gold standard. I think the person who wrote the alchemical items forgot about that and labeled everything in gold instead of silver. A one use item of appropriate level shouldn't cost nearly 10-15% of your total coin. If a 2nd level character only has 15 GP worth of stuff, why are level 1 and 2 alchemical items costing 2-3 GP (20-30 SP). A single use level 1-2 item is as much as a heavy shield and more expensive that nearly every melee weapon. I think this is a mistake, as it reduces the viability of PCs using alchemical items in interesting ways.

Remember that alchemist can create alchemical items up to his level for free by spending Resonance, either during preparation or with Quick Alchemy. Because poisons are consumables, crafting them during preparation allows you to create two doses per point of Resonance spent (half of regular batch of consumables).

Excellent post. I also share the sentiment that alchemical items should be organized by their type instead of alphabetical sorting.


Drejk wrote:

Remember that alchemist can create alchemical items up to his level for free by spending Resonance, either during preparation or with Quick Alchemy. Because poisons are consumables, crafting them during preparation allows you to create two doses per point of Resonance spent (half of regular batch of consumables).

Excellent post. I also share the sentiment that alchemical items should be organized by their type instead of alphabetical sorting.

Thanks!

Remember that Advanced Alchemy and Quick Alchemy only work with common alchemical items. So once you get to a higher level, it'll be difficult to make those uncommon alchemical items, such as mutagens. You'll still need downtime for them, and they'll be on the order of weeks to months to craft them if the prices are correctly listed in Gold.

If the alchemist has that restriction removed (such as unlocking uncommon items at some level), then it won't be an issue.

It'll still be an issue for any crafting character that's not an alchemist, or for an alchemist who wishes to not use resonance and simply wants a backup stash. So long as prices are in gold, it'll take a long time to make them. Putting them in Silver will reduce the down time to days - a much more reasonable use of downtime. :)

Considering how most alchemical items are weaker than their magical counterparts, it's not unreasonable to let a crafting character spend all their downtime making poisons, elixirs, and mutagens (with an alchemist being the only one who can do the same in a matter of hours or even rounds for free).


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Indeed, the cost of higher level poisons will definitely slow making them outside of alchemist class feature.

Personally, I'd love to see a bit of revamp of alchemical items, allowing for some sort of procedural generation of them within offered framework, so you could mix and match their benefits and drawbacks... Though I am pretty sure it should be really limited for poisons because of potential for abuse.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
bookrat wrote:

Dirty Details:

Poisons come in four forms: Touch, Injury, Ingest, Inhale. I really like the addition of the inhalation poisons, as 5e's format for all poisons is just to add damage.

I'm not sure by your wording if you're saying that compared to 5e Inhaled poisons are a new thing, or compared to PF1e it's a new thing. I am pleased to see that the Inhaled description explicitly indicates that poisons fill a 10-foot cube, as that was a note that was hidden away in PF1e. It's also interesting to see that Contact poisons are now being treated as significantly more distinct from Injury poisons.

As far as the poisons themselves, while I'm glad to see that poisons are being made a bit more accessible for the end-user in terms of functionality, I'm hoping that this isn't a representative sample of all the poison effects we're going to get. PF1e's poisons have a wide range of effects beyond ability score damage, and even beyond normally listed conditions, but I get the feeling that a lot of those cool interesting effects are probably going to fall by the wayside since Poisons are being redesigned as effectively one-shot enchantments. Cytillesh Oil, for example, is just a 4-round damage poison now, where before the closest thing (Cytillesh Extract) was a poison that removed memories from the target, which keeps in-line with other in-world uses for the stuff (Cytillesh Bombs, Confabulation Powder, and the Cytillipede). That its only effect now is dealing extra d6's is pretty telling, and very saddening.


Alchemaic wrote:
bookrat wrote:

Dirty Details:

Poisons come in four forms: Touch, Injury, Ingest, Inhale. I really like the addition of the inhalation poisons, as 5e's format for all poisons is just to add damage.

I'm not sure by your wording if you're saying that compared to 5e Inhaled poisons are a new thing, or compared to PF1e it's a new thing. I am pleased to see that the Inhaled description explicitly indicates that poisons fill a 10-foot cube, as that was a note that was hidden away in PF1e. It's also interesting to see that Contact poisons are now being treated as significantly more distinct from Injury poisons.

I meant by 5e. And yes, I do enjoy the dispersives nature of the inhalation poisons here.

Quote:
As far as the poisons themselves, while I'm glad to see that poisons are being made a bit more accessible for the end-user in terms of functionality, I'm hoping that this isn't a representative sample of all the poison effects we're going to get. PF1e's poisons have a wide range of effects beyond ability score damage, and even beyond normally listed conditions, but I get the feeling that a lot of those cool interesting effects are probably going to fall by the wayside since Poisons are being redesigned as effectively one-shot enchantments. Cytillesh Oil, for example, is just a 4-round damage poison now, where before the closest thing (Cytillesh Extract) was a poison that removed memories from the target, which keeps in-line with other in-world uses for the stuff (Cytillesh Bombs, Confabulation Powder, and the Cytillipede). That its only effect now is dealing extra d6's is pretty telling, and very saddening.

I'm hoping these are just a sample of the total amount of poisons to come, and there will be more that has other effects. As a playtest, I'm thinking they just want us to playtest a sample.


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didn't notice the thread and started another.

just to add to the OP:

it makes no sense that a poison that i can apply to a weapon (using the full roud action of carefully applying and not quick feats to do so) can stay for hours and days in the blade, sheath and unsheath it, etc

but when i swing at the Air it's gone.

those are not "cheap" consumables we're talking about here. They are the same cost as magical items and such. I can see if hitting and not doing damage removed it (it got smeared but didn't penetrate) but flat out missing removing it? That makes no sense at all and is an unreasoable nerf to a rarely used and expensive piece of equipment.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'd like to see the save DC's increase based on your crafting TEML level.

I'd also suggest prices are far to high for practical use, either they need to be more durable, cause damage on a failed save or be more economic.


bookrat wrote:
Drejk wrote:

Remember that alchemist can create alchemical items up to his level for free by spending Resonance, either during preparation or with Quick Alchemy. Because poisons are consumables, crafting them during preparation allows you to create two doses per point of Resonance spent (half of regular batch of consumables).

Excellent post. I also share the sentiment that alchemical items should be organized by their type instead of alphabetical sorting.

Thanks!

Remember that Advanced Alchemy and Quick Alchemy only work with common alchemical items. So once you get to a higher level, it'll be difficult to make those uncommon alchemical items, such as mutagens. You'll still need downtime for them, and they'll be on the order of weeks to months to craft them if the prices are correctly listed in Gold.

If the alchemist has that restriction removed (such as unlocking uncommon items at some level), then it won't be an issue.

It'll still be an issue for any crafting character that's not an alchemist, or for an alchemist who wishes to not use resonance and simply wants a backup stash. So long as prices are in gold, it'll take a long time to make them. Putting them in Silver will reduce the down time to days - a much more reasonable use of downtime. :)

Considering how most alchemical items are weaker than their magical counterparts, it's not unreasonable to let a crafting character spend all their downtime making poisons, elixirs, and mutagens (with an alchemist being the only one who can do the same in a matter of hours or even rounds for free).

I think they already axed that rarity restriction. If you have the formula you're good.

Great analysis though in the OP and I pretty much agree on all points. In particular, the alchemical items chapter needs its layout changed so you can pick level appropriate formulas.


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Minor spoilers for Lost Star.
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My problem with the poison rules is the immense number of rolls required. In Lost Star, one character got badly poisoned. After all the centipedes were defeated, each round one character was attempting to use Medicine to boost the Fort saves, another character was using Inspire Competence to boost the Medicine checks. Thus, each round we were making 3 rolls, and this went on for 6 rounds. 18 rolls, for one simple, low-potency poison. That's just too many rolls.


Dang, were you just having terrible luck with the rolls? Cause it doesn't seem like most poisons should take that long to get rid of, especially with support like that.


I'm not sure actually. The players did this themselves, taking notes as they did to report it here. I merely interrupted them at round 6 of the poison, as it ended by itself at that point. You can look it up Here, die roll by die roll.


Bad luck can happen. Had a party in PF1 all working together to cure the gunslinger of poison, and got him up to +9 or 10 on top of his save. He still failed four saves in a row.

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