View Full Version : Of Poisons and their Perils

2010-02-21, 04:10 AM
So, as I understand, the core rules state that there is a chance of poisoning one's self when using poison. It says this can occur whenever they "apply it to a weapon" or roll a critical miss with poisons placed on weapons, as well as when "otherwise readying for use" with others. Assumably, it is almost always Injury-based when being applied to weapons, and always anything but injury-based when not.

The question is, does this potential to poison one's self imply an actual injury to go along with it? In some of these circumstances, it is very clearly always going to be an injury-based poison in question. Yet, accidentally coming in contact with such poison would technically have no effect on you unless you accidentally wound yourself on your own weapon in the process. While this could realistically happen, it seems cheaply specific... you don't have a chance to accidentally cut yourself on your sword at any other time. Further, should this wound, if existent, equate to damage?

Although it may really be a technicality, this rule seems vague to me. I figure the spirit of the rule is either that, 1) you cut yourself on the weapon you're trying to poison and thus get hit with the injury poison, but the cut is too small to matter as a wound itself, or 2) this rule can be completely ignored unless you're dealing with contact poison. Does anyone have a reasonable explanation on how this is supposed to work?

2010-02-21, 04:37 AM
Its suposed to work out so that good guys dont use poison.

2010-02-21, 04:44 AM
Apply poison? Huh? Isn't that what unseen servants and mage hands are for?

2010-02-21, 04:53 AM
You both have valid points on the rarity of this scenario under ideal circumstances... The PCs may simply never need to be in the situation at all. But regardless, the rule still exists, and my question is a clarification of it, no matter how meaningless the rule may actually be in practice.

2010-02-21, 05:12 AM
well, if you go by the most frivolous, meaningless interpretation, then it doesn't matter how the PC does it. If the PC is himself the person that applies or readies the poison, he has a flat chance of poisoning himself. So just to give you some perspective on that:
let's take a rogue. He's covered his mouth in a leather mask, so that he cannot eat or speak. His friend, the ranger, is holding a small dissoluble capsule of some ingested poison in the palm of his hand. From 30 feet away, the rogue attempts to place the capsule in the drink of an unsuspecting victim.
As he does so, you roll a d20. If it comes up as 1, the rogue has successfully poisoned himself with an ingested poison... from 30 feet away. While wearing a gag.

Sometimes, rules are meant to be broken and rewritten. To answer your question more specifically, no I don't have a reasonable explanation. Because it is an unreasonable and poorly written rule.

2010-02-21, 08:34 AM
The "roll a 1, poison yourself" thing was added to discourage all classes from just using poison whenever they like, as much as they like. Certain PrCs that were designated as "evil" were given the Poison Use ability. It's sort of a kludgy way to impose fluff restrictions on crunch.

But the biggest problem with poisons is from a cost/benefit standpoint, they are horribly expensive, which makes them unavailable at low levels, and the save DCs are way too low to be useful at higher levels.

From a game-balance standpoint, the DMs/designers don't like PCs using poisons because they allow the PCs to "cheat", or rather take down a much stronger opponent or get through a high-CR encounter that they normally shouldn't be able to handle. So the high cost, low DCs, and klunky mechanics make them a poor choice at any level.

There are a couple ways around this.

Chaos Flask, in the Planar Handbook. Costs 100 GP. Make a Wisdom check DC 13 as a free action, and you can turn the Chaos Flask into any non-magical object, size determined mostly on how dense the material is. Turn the Chaos Flask into a vial of Black Lotus Extract at a 4400 GP discount. It only lasts a number of rounds equal to your Wisdom score, so use it quick... but assuming you have a 11+ Wisdom, that should be long enough for both the primary and secondary effects to take effect.

Aboleth Mucus, in Savage Species. 20 GP, throw as a grenade-like weapon (ranged touch attack). It's a "special substance", NOT a poison, so you don't have to check if you poison yourself. Target hit has to make a Fort save DC 20, or they can't breath air for the next 3 hours. Unless your target can get ahold of an air breathing spell or water breathing plus a bucket of water, he's dead in 2-3 minutes. The DC 20 is still a bit low for anything other than cannon-fodder, but take a look at that price again... you could buy an awful lot of mucus for that price.

2010-02-21, 08:46 AM
The idea is that on 1, you accidentally scratch yourself or whatever. 1s present "epic fails" so it's not so out of character. Doesn't make it a good rule, of course, especially for someone like me who likes poisons.

Zeta Kai
2010-02-21, 09:30 AM
Because it is an unreasonable and poorly written rule.

That's the gist of it, IMO. It's doubly stupid because of how unrealistically suboptimal the use of poison is. Most poisons can't do more than annoy you for a little while, & very few have practical combat applications, so this rule is unnecessarily punitive.

2010-02-21, 12:02 PM
That's the gist of it, IMO. It's doubly stupid because of how unrealistically suboptimal the use of poison is. Most poisons can't do more than annoy you for a little while, & very few have practical combat applications, so this rule is unnecessarily punitive.

It's pretty amazing how poison designed for it in real life can kill basically anyone or anything with one dose and in this game, most poisons are completely unable of killing people even assuming two failed Fort-saves. I mean, I'd give myself better chances surviving a fistfight with a Grizzly than a bite from a Taipan but in the game, the bite would be like, at worst, 50% chance of dying. And most of the damage (assuming level 1 Commoner) would be the bite itself, not the ability damage.

Akal Saris
2010-02-21, 12:43 PM
As others have said, it's poorly written, especially when you consider ingested poisons. Contact and inhaled poisons, on the other hand, make a decent amount of sense with this rule, given how easily you can expose yourself to them.

2010-02-21, 01:05 PM
Ingested? You forgot to wash your hands before eating :smallbiggrin:. Okay, actually you don't apply ingested poisons to weapons.

I think the rule is a little silly in that it's not a big deal. So what if you get poisoned during prep time? It just means you need an antidote handy or you need to wait it out. Perhaps it's to keep people from getting too crazy about re-applying poison on the fly.

2010-02-21, 01:15 PM
Perhaps it's to keep people from getting too crazy about re-applying poison on the fly.Because that would be so powerful.

"Okay, I'll use a standard (or was it full?) action to spend a very expensive one-use item to make my next attack have a low DC debuff."

Of course, you can get poisons applied by swift actions somewhat easily, but you can also get rid of the chance to poison yourself, and they'll still be expensive. (You can get over that, too, with minor/major creation.)

The problem is that using poisons is supposed to be prohibitively hard for PCs for no real reason.

2010-02-21, 01:27 PM
Well, probably between fights yet when you could still be ambushed at any moment. And anyone who thinks poisons are weak hasn't seen a DM devastate parties with poisons costing only a couple hundred gp or so. They have a nice sweet spot at mid levels. Before and after that, you don't use them. What do you lose at low and high levels from using them at mid levels?