PDA

View Full Version : [Pathfinder] Poisons (a complaint)

Epinephrine
2009-08-16, 01:31 PM
So, I have something to say about Pathfinder poisons -

I love it, and I hate it.

Why do I love it? It's a great idea. They wanted to put some dread back into poisons, make them deadlier, and came up with some neat ideas on how to make it work.

Why do I hate it? They failed, since apparently they don't actually know how the math works. They weakened poisons, really.

So what are the changes?

Well, poisons no longer have a 1st and a 2nd save a minute later. Instead they have numerous saves (generally 6), and the frequency can vary, though it's often 1/round. That's potentially 6 saves in a row, if you keep failing them. We'll assume 6 rounds, 1 save per round.

There is also a save condition - this can be interesting, and is actually a way of making poisons deadlier - but they select 1 save as the save condition for most poisons, and the conversion document recommends 1 save.

Since the saves can be spread over 6 rounds, they try to spread the total damage that the poison would have delivered (at its average effect) over those 6 rounds.

Take a 1d6/2d6 Str poison, for example. In 3.5, if you fail the first save, you take an average of 3.5 damage. Later you may have to roll again, but you may well get a neutralise poison of a heal check before then. In Pathfinder, they take the maximum possible damage (18), and look it up on a table. That suggests taking 1d3 a round for 6 rounds. But it ends after the first save, so it's not that nasty.

Running the numbers, if you have a 20% chance of failing the save against this poison in 3.5, it deals an expected 0.98 damage, or roughly 1 damage on average. The Pathfinder version deals 0.506368, or about half that amount. That's pretty bad.

Even if you ignore the 2nd save in the 3.5 version (so you are just assuming it will be treated with neutralise poison within 9 rounds - but after the Pathfinder version has finished , so really, in 7-9 rounds), the average damage in 3.5 is 0.7 damage, which still beats the ~0.5 damage that Pathfinder has it dealing.

Adjusting the percentage chance for failing the save shows Pathfinder and 3.5 breaking even at about a 78% chance of failing the save. So yes, the multiple saves over 6 rounds is deadlier if you need a 17+ to make the save. Unfortunatly, looking at a list of poisons from creatures and their CRs, you won't find that those are the odds you are looking at. Very few poisons are so strong that characters of the correct level, with gear and so on, will have a nearly 80% chance of failing their fort saves.

==============

Now, Pathfinder came up with a neat idea for posions, which would work great if they had different rules. If you are currently poisoned, and are hit again with the poison, the DC goes up by 2 for the save, and the duration is extended.

So if you are currently taking 1d3 damage a round for 6 rounds, and you get stung again, the DC goes up by 2 and the duration is extended by 3 rounds.

Getting repeatedly stung by something could get very deadly, except that by the time you make your second save against it you likely cleared the poison, so the DC doesn't go up. The only times that the Pathfinder poison system gets to be effective are:

The few poisons requiring multiple saves to cure them (Wyvern Venom) - these have the advantage of automatically adding to the DC on successive applications. Poisons like this are few and far between, however.
Creatures capable of poisoning the opponent multiple times per round - not likely, as most poisonous creatures deal their poison with a stinger or other natural weapon,and only get one attack with the poisoned weapon. A shuriken throwing ninja could quickly bump the DC though, and a trio of shuriken throwing ninjas could land enough hits in a round to make nearly any poison deadly. Probably not the effect they were going for?
Multiple venomous creatures. Ok, they got this right - if you get bitten by 3 spiders in a round the DC of the save is 4 higher than it would have been, and you take poison damage for longer than you otherwise would have. Multiple poisonous creatures do present a threat.

So while I like the change in principle (multiple doses being deadlier, making poison something to worry about, the impending demise feeling of a save each round), the manner in which it was applied is missing something. Moreover, it opens itself to abuse by characters (or parties) that can repeatedly deliver poison with their attacks.

Will it make poison nastier?
Overall, no. Most posionings (getting stung by a scorpion, or the like) will actually be much less effective, as the average damage is substantially reduced when the saves are in the right range for adventuring. Multiple venomous foes are seldom encountered, and using several lower level foes reduces the poison's DC as well as the chances that the enemies will successfully manage to hit.

Could it work?
Yes. I think some tweaking to the poison system could be made that would end up about right. A Wyvern or other beast with a multi-save venom gets pretty scary, since it has the potential to sting again, raising the DC, which is already pretty decent. Multiple venomous foes could be dangerous, if they manage to hit repeatedly. Unfortunately, the only way it is likely to be deadly is if a DM is really trying to use venomous creatures, or if someone were to start using venom coated missiles, as they allow multiple poisoned attacks per round (groups of drow, derro, etc., I'm looking at you). If an angry pair (or worse, flight!) of wyverns were to attack a party and deliver venom to a single opponent it could indeed get nasty, with the DC boosted by quite a bit, and requiring consecutive successes to cure it, so there certainly are instances in which the Pathfinder rules will result in deadliness to poisons that previously didn't exist.

=============

I'm busily putting all the poisons from the Monster Manual into a spreadsheet and looking at the converted values - they're not very impressive. I'll probably use a deadlier conversion for my campaign, bumping up the damage per round, or playing with the save conditions.

Eldariel
2009-08-16, 01:48 PM
I personally use a simple houserule system:
-Some more potent poisons still deal ½ the printed damage on a successful save unless you have Mettle or similar. This makes getting poisoned at all pretty horrible.
-You need a certain number of successes (depending on the poison) to get it out of your system; once per round for 1-2 minutes or until you succeed 3 consecutive saves.

Like with so many things Pathfinder, I think they went to the right direction, but didn't take it far enough. Worse, the costs are still prohibitively high to use poisons as a principal tool of combat; even manufacturing them is impractical and takes time, to say nothing of an assassin without the knowledge for crafting poisons; he's gonna be paying his arse off there.

Doc Roc
2009-08-16, 02:17 PM
It will often be cheaper to purchase and possibly even easier to just UMD-out a Power Word Kill

Nero24200
2009-08-16, 04:42 PM
Personally, I would just make standard poison deal hit point damage. It should be just, if not less deadly to come into contact with contact poison than it is to be struck several times repeatidly with sharp swords. At high levels the latter form of attack becomes far less viable, but poison remains just as deadly.

Milskidasith
2009-08-16, 04:50 PM
If poison did pure hit point damage, it would scale even worse than magic weapons and current poisons. That would improve nothing.

Ravens_cry
2009-08-16, 05:14 PM
Green Prismatic Poison is rather weird the way it seems to be written. It's initial effect is death, but it's secondary effect is 1 Con damage. How does that work? If your dead, your dead, how are doing Con damage?

Milskidasith
2009-08-16, 05:16 PM
If it's a 3.5 and not a pathfinder poison, it would mean you save once for death and then another time to take one point of con damage (then again, most of the time if it's exactly 1 it's ability drain, not damage). Not sure about Pathfinder.

Nero24200
2009-08-16, 05:17 PM
If poison did pure hit point damage, it would scale even worse than magic weapons and current poisons. That would improve nothing.

It would at least be as threatning to high-level PC's as other typical mudane forms of attack, so it wouldn't seem as out of place to me.

Ravens_cry
2009-08-16, 05:22 PM
If it's a 3.5 and not a pathfinder poison, it would mean you save once for death and then another time to take one point of con damage (then again, most of the time if it's exactly 1 it's ability drain, not damage). Not sure about Pathfinder.
OK, I see now.
Thanks.

Milskidasith
2009-08-16, 05:24 PM
It would at least be as threatning to high-level PC's as other typical mudane forms of attack, so it wouldn't seem as out of place to me.

No, it wouldn't. HP damage can be made almost entirely irrelevant if it's happening over time, like poison is. If you get hit by an HP damage poison, you just have a wand of CSW cast on you until the poison wears off. However, con damage is pretty bad; if you get hit by a 3d6 con damage poison and don't make your save (which is unlikely, but possible), then you have a pretty good chance of being killed outright, along with taking far more HP damage than any HP damage poison would actually deal. If you fail your save twice, even the hardiest of warriors have a decent chance of being killed or reduced to having so little HP that they could be one-shotted by anything around them.

See, the thing is, high level PCs are about as "threatened" by mundane forms of attack as prismatic dragons are threatened by commoners. HP damage is only useful if it is high enough to instantly kill a PC. Poison does damage over time and allows a save; it's essentially the worst form of HP damage you can get.

Starbuck_II
2009-08-16, 05:41 PM
Personally, I would just make standard poison deal hit point damage. It should be just, if not less deadly to come into contact with contact poison than it is to be struck several times repeatidly with sharp swords. At high levels the latter form of attack becomes far less viable, but poison remains just as deadly.

Called Hypothetical:
Like it takes a 1/4th of your life out every time you fail save (minimum 10).

So at level 1 this poison is very deadly.
At level 2, it is still pretty deadly.
Level 10, takes out from 10 to 25 damage.
Level 20, deals 30 to 100 damage.

Milskidasith
2009-08-16, 05:44 PM
Called Hypothetical:
Like it takes a 1/4th of your life out every time you fail save (minimum 10).

So at level 1 this poison is very deadly.
At level 2, it is still pretty deadly.
Level 10, takes out from 10 to 25 damage.
Level 20, deals 30 to 100 damage.

Still requires more failed saves to kill you than existing ability score poisons. It's only more deadly when you have less than 20 HP.

PinkysBrain
2009-08-16, 06:00 PM
The problem with the old poisons that if you were attacked by an archer using them it was game over ... an expensive trick but still too powerful. 1 full round of actions shouldn't be result in an almost certain death of a critter of your own CR (I know magic does it, fix magic).

Ravens_cry
2009-08-16, 06:12 PM
The problem with the old poisons that if you were attacked by an archer using them it was game over ... an expensive trick but still too powerful. 1 full round of actions shouldn't be result in an almost certain death of a critter of your own CR (I know magic does it, fix magic).
On the other hand, if you can get your hands on some and/or convince the DM that the alchemy skill is useful in their formulation or extraction, they are a most excellent force multiplier.

Doomey
2011-01-12, 09:14 PM
I have a problem with the following areas in the pathfinder posion rules:
1) The cost. It is too prohibitive. First, given standard rules for crafting, the most expensive poison (6,500 gp or 65,000 sp) would require more than 72 weeks (almost 1.5 years) to create ONE DOSE if I rolled a 40 every single week. That is just plain dumb. Second, the most basic poison would cost a crafter around 30 gp to make one dose. This is a problem for a character at low levels. Not only do they have very little money but the DC of these poisons are low and easily overcome. So you blow a huge chunk of change on something that maybe does a very minute amount of damage if any damage at all.

2) The DC is a fail in most cases. First I save to see if I contract the poison as soon as I am infected. Then I save each round before the effect are determined. When you are dealing with a save DC of 11, 12, 13 or so this is not that difficult to overcome. Even the 6,500 gp poison had only a DC of 22. A first level character could overcome that with a decent role and suddenly 1.5 years of work flushed down the toilet.

3) I also don't like that it doesn't account for difference in environmental poisons vs manufactured poisons. Let's face it, I kill a dragon and suddenly I should be able to gather a massive amount of dragon bile. But wait, now I have to turn it into poison I can use by spending a ton o' cash. Fail again since it is already a listed poison.

How would I fix it? Give me two types of poisons, manufactured and environmental. Manufactured poisons can be created and require a craft check and gp for materials. Environmental poisons can only be gathered and do not require gp material cost but do entail some kind of danger as well as survival and alchemy checks to extract the poison. Then create specific rules similar to creating magic items. Allow the player the ability to modify the save DC of the manufactured poisons, by increasing the cost and time required to create. I would go so far as to create hard rules for the onset based on the type (injury-instant, ingested-10 min., etc). Then you can determine the cost by assigning a base cost then giving multipliers to things like savd DC, duration, and damage. Put everything in the calculation and BAM you get a cost or value to base everything off of. The same would work for determining the value of environment poisons on the market. I will be working on this and will post what I come up with if you all are interested. Peace Out.

Telasi
2011-01-12, 09:51 PM
I agree that the poisons are two weak. Maybe adding half the crafter's skill check (or half or even full skill ranks) to the DC would help? It makes the creator's skill more relevant, and buffs the quality at the same time.

The White Knight
2011-01-12, 10:27 PM
1) The cost. It is too prohibitive. First, given standard rules for crafting, the most expensive poison (6,500 gp or 65,000 sp) would require more than 72 weeks (almost 1.5 years) to create ONE DOSE if I rolled a 40 every single week. That is just plain dumb.

While I agree, I feel this is a shortcoming of the crafting rules as opposed to really being a property of the poison rules. There are lots of things out there with prohibitively long crafting times that still somehow manage to get made. Fabricate, I guess.

3) I also don't like that it doesn't account for difference in environmental poisons vs manufactured poisons. Let's face it, I kill a dragon and suddenly I should be able to gather a massive amount of dragon bile. But wait, now I have to turn it into poison I can use by spending a ton o' cash. Fail again since it is already a listed poison.

I wouldn't think you'd have to spend a ton of cash once you have the dragon in tow. The bile of the dragon would be the crafting materials (it would be up to the DM as to how many doses' worth could be extracted from a creature of a given size). Then you cast Fabricate, since the crafting rules are pants, and there's your poison.

Mojo_Rat
2011-01-13, 01:40 AM
I Skimmed over a numbe rof the posts so if i missed something My appologies. first to the Op i think you are looking at the changes wrong

PF poisons are alot more dangerous than my experience in 3.5 (minus the high level ones with SoD effects) IF you play the right type of character you can easily stack them in your favour

If you can get alot of attacks in, even with low DC's theres a goo chance the oponent can Fail We were running Second darkness and our Barbarian got 5 1d3 or whatever hand crossbow bolts fired at her and had to make 5 saves.

Secondly in PF when you hit somone already poisoed the Saves get harder. So rapid shot multi shotting archer for example and somones going to die horribly.

The only real Nitpick i have is Poisons are extrmely easy to make in RL but need to be factored with these prices for game mechanic reasons. So no making Risin at the Adventurers campfire :P

Zeb The Troll
2011-01-13, 05:02 AM
Troll Patrol: Old thread is closed.