I realize between D&D 5E and the imminent arrival of PF2, there seems to be less of an interest in the Pathfinder systems, but I have been wrestling with a new Poison system in the various Pathfinder games I run for a while. I have come up with a complete overhaul that has been embraced by many of the gaming groups I orbit or run in my area, and it was recommended I get some online feedback. After being unable to locate a similar redesign after scouring the forums (briefly), it is now posted for all to see. So please, any thoughts, constructive criticisms, or ideas are greatly welcomed.

Poisons
No other affliction is so prevalent as poison. From the fangs of a viper to the ichor-stained assassin’s blade, poison is a constant threat. While every poison may have a different effect, they all function using the same basic system. Poisons require a creature to make a saving throw after a period of time to avoid taking certain penalties.
Each poison is presented as a short block of information to help you better adjudicate its results.

Name: This is the name of the poison.

Type: This is the type of the poison, such as contact, ingestion, inhalation, injury, spell, or power. Contact poisons are contracted the moment someone touches the poison with his bare skin. Such poisons can be used as injury poisons. Ingested poisons are contracted when a creature eats or drinks the poison. Injury poisons are primarily contracted through the attacks of certain creatures and through weapons coated in the toxin. Inhaled poisons are contracted the moment a creature enters an area containing such poisons. Most inhaled poisons fill a volume equal to a 10-foot cube per dose. Creatures can attempt to hold their breaths while inside to avoid inhaling the toxin. Creatures holding their breaths receive a 50% chance of not having to make a Fortitude save each round. See the rules for holding your breath and suffocation. Note that a character that would normally suffocate while attempting to hold its breath instead begins to breathe normally again.

Save: This gives the type of save necessary to avoid the effect of the poison, as well as the DC of that save. This DC is also the DC of any caster/manifester level checks needed to end the poison through magic, such as neutralize poison.
Contact and inhaled poisons require a saving throw when they are inflicted. If successful, the creature has resisted the poison, thus is not considered poisoned, and does not need to make any further rolls. If the saving throw is a failure, the creature is poisoned and must deal with its effects. Saving throws are made on the poisoned creature's initiative.

Frequency: This is how often the periodic saving throw must be attempted after the affected has been poisoned and is set in units of rounds, minutes, ten minutes, hours, or days. Poisons that have the ‘onset’ condition in their frequency do not start their first saving throw until after 1 unit of the frequency time has passed (this onset time does not count against the total duration).

Track: A poison’s track contains the effects that the character suffers each time if he fails his saving throw against the poison. Each track is divided into a number of steps that each have a corresponding number or group of numbers next to it. These numbers are how many failed saves that target must suffer before the penalty of that track step is incurred. These effects are cumulative.
Below are the general steps that a poison track can contain. Not all poisons will have every step.

Weakened: Weakened characters suffer a -2 penalty to any ability check, attack, or save that utilizes the shown ability.
Impaired: Impaired characters penalty increases from a -2 to -4 (if the same as weakened), or suffer a -2 in a different ability (if different). Impaired characters may also suffer from a minor condition.
Disabled: Disabled characters suffer from a lesser or moderate condition.
Incapacitated: Incapacitated characters suffer from a greater condition.
Dead: Dead characters are, well, dead.

Recovery: After a poison’s duration has ended, a creature who has taken bed rest may make a save once per day (at the poison's DC) to recover one failed save worth of effects. Conditions caused by a poison (such as fatigue) cannot be healed naturally while the poison persists. Note that even if the condition(s) of a poison are removed by other effects (such as spells), the poison still persists as though it is on the step of the poison track that originally caused the condition.

Multiple Doses: Multiple doses of the same poison stack. Poisons delivered by injury and contact cannot inflict more than one dose of poison per attack/contact, but inhaled and ingested poisons can inflict multiple doses at once. Each additional dose extends the total duration of the poison by 1/2 its base duration (as noted under frequency) up to double its base duration. In addition, each dose of poison increases the DC to resist the poison by +1. This increase is cumulative. For example, a character is bit three times in the same round by a trio of Medium monstrous spiders, injecting him with three doses of Medium spider venom. The unfortunate character must make a DC 16 Fortitude save for the next 8 rounds.

Applying Poisons: Applying poison to a weapon or single piece of ammunition is a standard action. Whenever a character applies or readies a poison for use there is a 5% chance that he exposes himself to the poison and must save against the poison as normal. This does not consume the dose of poison. Whenever a character attacks with a poisoned weapon, if the attack roll results in a natural 1, he exposes himself to the poison. This poison is consumed when the weapon strikes a creature or is touched by the wielder.

Crafting Poisons: Poisons can be made using Craft (alchemy). Rolling a natural 1 on a Craft skill check while making a poison exposes the crafter to the poison. Crafters with the poison use class feature do not risk poisoning themselves when using Craft (alchemy) to make poison.


Example Poisons

Arsenic

Type: Ingested; Save Fortitude DC 11
Frequency (onset) 1/ten minutes for 60 minutes
Track: 1 weakened (Con); 2-3 impaired (Con); 4-5 disabled; 6-8 unconscious; 9: death
Cost: 50 gp

Belladonna
Type: Ingested; Save Fortitude DC 14
Frequency (Onset) 1/minute for 2 minutes
Track: 1-2 weakened (Str); 3-4 impaired (Str)
Special 1/day when first inflicted, target can attempt one save to cure a lycanthropy affliction contracted in the past hour.
Cost: 200 gp

Black Lotus Extract
Poison Type: Contact; Save Fortitude DC 20
Frequency (onset) 1/round for 6 rounds
Track: 1 weakened (Con); 2-4 impaired (Con); 5 dead
Cost: 6,600 gp

Drow
Poison Type: Injury; Save Fortitude DC 13
Frequency 1/hour for 8 hours
Track: 1-6: unconscious
Special: After the frequency has ended, the creature is considered cured.
Cost: 900 gp

Insanity Mist
Poison Type: Inhaled; Save Fortitude DC 15
Frequency 1/round for 6 rounds
Track: 1 weakened (Wis); 2-6 impaired (Wis)
Cost: 1,750 gp

Medium Spider Venom
Poison Type: Injured; Save Fortitude DC 14
Frequency 1/round for 4 rounds
Track: 1-2 weakened (Str); 2-3 impaired (Str)
Cost: 200 gp

Nightmare Vapor
Poison Type: Inhaled; Save Fortitude DC 20
Frequency 1/round for 6 rounds
Track: 1 weakened (Wis); 2 impaired (Wis), shaken; 3-5 frightened
Cost: 8,250 gp

Small Centipede Venom
Poison Type: Injury; Save Fortitude DC 11
Frequency 1/round for 4 rounds
Track: 1 weakened (Dex); 2 impaired (Dex); 3 staggered; 4 unconscious;
5 death
Cost: 600 gp

Tears of Death
Poison Type: Contact; Save Fortitude DC 22
Frequency (onset) 1/minute for 6 minutes
Tracks: 1 weakened (Con); 2-3 impaired (Con); 4 paralyzed; 5 dead
Cost: 3,900 gp


Crafting Poisons

Here are the general rules in the crafting of poisons. Note that these are only guides to follow, and the ultimate arbitrator in the creation of poisons is the Game Master. These were made originally as a GM tool to create / convert poisons more so than to be given flat out to players.

When crafting a poison, a base poison is considered to have each of the five steps for its Poison Track. The first step requires 1 failed save against the poison before applying its effect. For each consecutive failed save, the target moves on to the next step. These base Poison Track steps are (in order):
Weakened: Weakened characters suffer a -2 penalty to any ability check, attack, or save that utilizes the shown ability.
Impaired: Impaired characters penalty increases from a -2 to -4 (if the same as weakened is shown), or suffer a -2 in a different ability (if a different ability is shown). Impaired characters may also suffer from a minor condition.
Disabled: Disabled characters suffer from a lesser or moderate condition.
Incapacitated: Incapacitated characters suffer from a greater condition.
Dead: Dead characters are, well, dead.

Cost: 50gp x Danger Value x Frequency Value x Track Value

Danger Value: The base danger value of a poison is equal to the Save DC – 10. That value is increase by +1 if the poison is a Contact type or Inhaled type. If this value would be 0 or lower, it is considered to be valued at 1/2.

Frequency Value: The frequency value is based on the duration and frequency of the poisons. A poison’s base duration must be an even number, and can never exceed 10 units (rounds, minutes, ten minutes, hours, or days). To determine a poison's Frequency Value, use the table below:

Rounds: 2 + 1/2 total rounds (-1 with Onset)
Minutes: ½ total minutes (-1 with Onset. Minimum 1).
Ten Minutes / Hours: 1
Days: 1/2

Track Value: The track value is determined by the final step of the Poison Track, plus any additional modifiers.

Weakened Step / Impaired Step: 1
Disabled Step (lesser): 2
Incapacitated Step/Dead Step: 3
Impaired Step has Minor Condition: +1/2
Increase Disabled Step condition from Lesser to Moderate: +1/2
Skip Weakened / Impaired / Disabled / Incapacitated Step: +1 per step skipped. (Poisons with a Dead step must have at least 1 prior step).
Additional Failed Save per step*: -1 per added save (max -3). Cannot reduce the Track Value below 1.
*The added save must be of a track earlier than the final track for the reduction.
*Poisons cannot have effects for more than 10 failed saves total.

Below are the various conditions and the categories they are considered to be in when applying them to a Poison Track step.
Minor: dazzled, fatigued, shaken, sickened.
Lesser: exhausted, staggered
Moderate: blinded, dazed, deafened, frightened, nauseated
Greater: confused, cowering, panicked, paralyzed, petrified, stunned, unconscious

Background and Reasons (Not Required)

Since playing 3rd Edition D&D back in 2000, poisons always felt useless compared to their ability versus cost, and the mechanic was always haphazard at best. AD&D poisons were scary, and while we see the wisdom in reducing the readiness of available save or die effects, it was felt poisons were so gutted in their ability we largely ignored them (after one rogue/assassin tried his damnedest to prove it otherwise for nearly a year).

With the release of Pathfinder Unchained, the new Poison Track system showed promise in a unique way to handle poisons that piqued all of our interests. Granted, it wasn't as player friendly without associated costs and such, but it gave a new way to approach it. Ultimately it proved to be slightly too bland of a system, and really just felt underdeveloped to us. But it became the spark of our inspiration.

You'll see the influences of the track system in the alternative we have developed below, but this new system also includes tools to create your own unique poisons, and ways to add strange and cool abilities that psychedelics and other such 'poisons' can create. We are very proud of this system, but also know that no system is perfect. So please, let us know if this system works for you, and if not, what changes you would make.