Tuesday, April 03, 2012

draft poison rules

This is offered as a slightly more complicated, slightly less lethal alternative to "save or die" poison:
If you save the poison is not in you.  If you fail your save, the poison has entered your blood. 
On the first round after failure, you take 1d6 damage.  You are -1 on all actions.  There is a 1 in 6 chance you fall prone, either unconscious or writhing around in agony (50/50 chance). 
On the 2nd round after failure you take 2d6 damage, you're -2 to act and have a 2 in 6 chance of incapacitation. 
On the 3rd round you take 3d6, -3 to act, 3 in 6 KO. 
Etc., etc., up until 10 rounds have passed, when you take 3d6, -10 to act, 10 in 6 chance of incapacitation.
The idea here is that being poisoned will kill almost any character in a few rounds, BUT you have some time to try to pull some shenanigans, like sucking the poison out or overcoming the hit point damage with cure spells and potions.  And you get an opportunity to maybe kill the sumbitch who poisoned you, only to fall over dead a round or two later.  How awesome is that?


  1. Meaner then my house rules and I like it.

    You may hear some of my players knocking on your door...ignore them or just yell "look out centipedes" to chase them away.

  2. In LL, several of the poison critters (spiders, etc.) have the time limits listed for their venoms. Usually it's within a random number of turns. I tend to run it that –unless it specifically states "instantaneous" or a defined duration– the character has a turn before croaking.

  3. Anonymous8:17 AM

    What if there are no generic poison rules. Each creature that is venomous or poisonous has exact details about how that particular poison works. Then if poison is used on a lock or dagger or something you just choose where it is from and use those rules. You could use that as a clue possible in mystery type scenarios about who the poisoner was.


  4. This is great. I bet I could even use it in my 4E hack game without provoking a player uprising.

  5. Anonymous11:41 AM

    I prefer for there to be different kinds of poisons, rather than just one generic "causes pain and kills you within one minute if you fail a single save" type. It seems like the only variations for this type of poison would be the save DC.

  6. I don't love save or die when it comes to poison. It's not how it really works, the juice needs time to get into your system! This is a little closer to reality without becoming a drag. I think I'll borrow it.

  7. 'Tis awesome indeed.

    Although I must ask (maybe I missed a post): "10 in 6 chance"? How is that resolved?

    1. Come on, it's obvious! You're 167% incapacitated.

    2. I sorta assumed that meant that even if something gave you a bonus to fight off incapacitation, you would still be out. Maybe your DM gives dwarves a +2 to their stay standing while poisoned rolls, say.

      Or like Christopher says, it means you're extra done for.

    3. Yeah, what Mark and/or Christopher said.

  8. Anonymous3:10 PM

    I like the way poison works in Eye of the Beholder. (Which is a game I recommend for old schoolers. 2e rules, snes)

    It slowly but relentlessly gnaws away at your HP. Think 1 point every 30 seconds or some such. You end up rushing around, casting slow poison and CLW to buy time. If you rest to get spells back, of course you're done for. Good game.

  9. Anonymous7:53 PM

    I figured it was just an unneccessary extrapolation: the rule applies, but it doesn't matter since 6 in 6 is guaranteed failure. After all, Dwarves already have a bonus to avoid the poison in the first place. Does every bonus to poison saves also give a bonus to the incapacitation roll? I think it works better straight.

    Different poisons can be made up using the same system. One might have an onset period of 6 rounds instead of 1 round, meaning on round 12 you'd take 3d6 damage, roll a 3 in 6 incapacitation chance, and you have -3 to your rolls. You wouldn't add more damage, roll for KO, or increase the penalty until round 18. How about a poison that has an initial onset of 1d6 days then repeated onsets of 1 round?

    A poison can also have more or less damage. This would be a paralytic venom that will knock you out but probably won't kill a tough character. Or a no-damage Sleep poison with just an impairment and KO roll.

    A poison could have no KO chance or impairment but the damage occurs normally. This poison has you conscious and coughing up blood until you croak.

    A poison could have no damage or KO but just impairment. This would be a weakness or disorientation poison, or tear gas.

    You could use the same rules for alcohol, ramping up the effect based on the number of drinks consumed, to a point where overdose causes KO chance and alcohol poisoning causes damage.

    You should also include an end duration for the poison. The basic type Jeff gave might have a "sweat-out" duration of 1 turn. After that time, impairment and KO ends (if you survived!). An especially tenacious poison might look like this:

    Initial Onset: 1 round
    Repeat Onset: 1 hour
    Damage: 1d6
    Impair: -1
    KO: +1 in 6
    Duration: 7 days

    The victim would require either immediate poison removal (Neutralize Poison, antidote) or else constant attention by low-level Clerics to heal him on a regular basis. He would need 24 Cure Light Wounds per day. Clerics able to do Slow Poison could hold off the advancement of the poison, which would reduce the number of attendants but greatly increase the poison duration.

  10. Anonymous8:02 PM

    Another fine way to handle poison is to just say "Take 1d6 per round, save each round to resist, after you save 3 times you're clear". That's pretty deadly poison for a Normal Man of 1d6 HP who has a poison save of 16+ on d20. You could change the damage for different poisons in the same way we currently have varying save modifiers. You could also exchange the damage effect for something else, like KO for sleep poison or -1 to rolls for weakness poison.

    Here's how I'd notate these poisons:

    Possibly Deadly: 1 HP / rd (heal damage as normal)
    Deadly: 1d6 HP/rd (heal damage as normal)
    Sleep: Fall Asleep (awaken in 1 hour)
    Weakness: -1 to all physical rolls per round (recover -1 per hour after)
    Confusion: 5% spell failure and -1 to all mental rolls / round (recover 10% per hour after)

    Vary save modifier by up to +/-4 depending on type.

    If the roll you're modifying is a d20, use the above penalties. If the roll is d10, halve the current penalty, if the roll is d6 cut the penalty in 1/3 for that roll, etc.

  11. This is good, I like it.

    I've been putting together some poison thoughts over on LL forum, http://www.goblinoidgames.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=1343

    I wonder what you think of having strength of a monsters poison related to its HD. This is an idea I've seen. It's a fine idea but personally I like it not to be related.

  12. Michael Moscrip's stare intently at the web cam and giving you time to figure out that you will die if you don't cut your hand off or something equally drastic is another good alternative to automatic poison death.