D&D 5E PCs using poison

I have a player who wants to be a suave hero, seen as honorable and brave, but who is actually really deft at poisons -- both on blades and in goblets.

What are some good ways to let him lean into this fantasy? Yes, there's basic poison that just gives people disadvantage if they fail saves, but are there any good mechanics for a PC making his own poisons? I kinda would like to have a scene every few sessions where he has the chance to get some useful ingredient for poison, to build up a stockpile of options to help him deal with particular types of foes.

Some 20 years ago I had a game where a PC joined a drow assassin's guild and learned a technique to turn his own blood to poison, so he could always have something lethal simply by cutting himself. But back in the 3e days that just meant forcing Fortitude saves to avoid Dexterity damage. Is there a good suite of poison options in 5e, beyond the basic stuff in the PHB?

Any ideas? Experience of having PC poisoners among your own games?
 

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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I have a player who wants to be a suave hero, seen as honorable and brave, but who is actually really deft at poisons -- both on blades and in goblets.

What are some good ways to let him lean into this fantasy? Yes, there's basic poison that just gives people disadvantage if they fail saves, but are there any good mechanics for a PC making his own poisons? I kinda would like to have a scene every few sessions where he has the chance to get some useful ingredient for poison, to build up a stockpile of options to help him deal with particular types of foes.

Some 20 years ago I had a game where a PC joined a drow assassin's guild and learned a technique to turn his own blood to poison, so he could always have something lethal simply by cutting himself. But back in the 3e days that just meant forcing Fortitude saves to avoid Dexterity damage. Is there a good suite of poison options in 5e, beyond the basic stuff in the PHB?

Any ideas? Experience of having PC poisoners among your own games?
There are a few rules for it in the 5e DMG on page 258.
 

Stormonu

Legend
No prior experience with this (I always used to discourage poison use), but maybe a few ideas. Spells are probably the #1 place to look and can range from realistic to fantastic; poisons that cause hallucinations (minor illusion, prestidigitation, major image, phantasmal force, phantasmal killer), create feverish chills (no reactions, ala chill touch), make the victim susceptible to suggestion (friends, charm person, suggestion), transform the victim's appearance (disguise self, alter self, polymorph). Perhaps a poison that causes the victim to self-immolate, freeze or discharge lightning; Poisons that not only kill the victim, but turn the body invisible or otherwise self-dispose of the body; poisons that could cause the victim to tell only the truth, be unable to stop talking or be unable to speak or cause blindness; a poison that creates a mental link with another or perhaps make them think they are someone or somebody else, ect.

DM's guild probably has a few supplements that might be worth checking into.

Another option would be to turn it on the player. Have them come up with some recipes and components and then let them do the work collecting and brewing them.
 

In addition to the DMG stuff (which makes poisons quite expensive) , there is the Poisoner Feat in Tasha's.

They don't do anything mechanically, but some levels of Rogue (assassin) or Artificer (alchemist) might be thematic.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Yeah the Poisoner feat from Tashas really helps to make poison use tactical as a bonus action.

unfortunately while overcoming poison resistance is great (even dwarfs are resistant), lots of things are still immune to poison, so that limits the tactic to generally mundane targets (You cant poison undead or constructs for instance)

my character was an Alchemist so my adventures involved lots of scanning the wilderness and harvesting weird and wonderful materials for my experiments (including extracting poisons and toxins). The DMG rules are naff but provide a start and the Poisoner feat expands on it. DC 20 int check aint to bad and if the DM is awesome then you get to hunt down carrion crawlers and extract their paralytic poison Etc. Lots of fun devising ways to collect trogodolyte stench and other fumes too. My most difficult experiment was an attempt to capture sunlight to make an anti-vampire radiant poison

being able to sell poisons AND the antidotes was a boon for my alchemist too
 
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Voadam

Legend
Last time I had PCs in a game making and using poison was 1e assassins who had it as a class ability and they were making poisons from the 1e DMG.

I would think out how you want to mechanically handle slipping poisons into drinks, straight sleight of hand checks? Deception first for a distraction to grant advantage on sleight of hand? Stealth to break in and do it unobserved when nobody is around? A skill challenge type of thing? Have the roll in the moment represent a flashback to them having set it up in the past (conceptually works great for success, adjudicating flashback failures is a bit more delicate)?

Here is a drivethru search for 5e OGL stuff with the keyword poison. Could be some interesting stuff there.
 

Oofta

Legend
Something you may want to consider if you haven't already - how will the rest of the group react to the use of poison? If the PCs can use poison can NPCs also use poison against the group? What's the penalty if caught?

Other than that I don't have any real advice, I don't use poison in my games simply because it can get complicated quickly. Not just mechanically (how powerful is that poison?), but from an RP and story impact level. I'd be curious how other people have handled it.
 

Stalker0

Legend
how often are your adventures compared to downtime? Aka is it often you have an adventure, than some downtime, than another adventure?

In such a model you might just handwave the craft and go "during downtime you craft 3 poisons", and then they have those for the adventure.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
One thing you could do is treat Poisons like Scrolls.

Wizards can spend their off time crafting scrolls, which lets them have extra spells at the ready. You could develop poisons that mimic spells (or just their power levels) and then have the character craft the poisons using the Scroll-writing rules.
 


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