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D&D 5E Poison Use

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
If anybody is interested, the Primeval Thule (yup, there I go again) Player's Companion has a rogue archetype called the Poisoner. It mostly hand waves the actual harvesting, assuming that if your while thing is poisoning weapons you know what you're doing. It also includes a feat that gives you poison resistance and improves your handling of poisons.

That's maybe not entirely on-topic but it doesn't seem entirely off-topic either.
 

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gyor

Legend
Comments:

Yes, dangerous poisons are harder to apply. This is mostly a game balance thing - with great rewards come greater risk. A static DC 10 check would perhaps be more realistic, but it would also make it too easy to build a poison-optimal character. Already there are easy ways to mitigate the risk of poisoning yourself (Dwarves and Halflings having advantage on poison saves and taking half poison damage). So the real equalizer is the action required - a level 11 Fighter can use up all three hits in a single round, but will then only attack every other round.

The way the poison doesn't last long means you can't prepare poison ahead of time - in most cases, you can only apply poison "for free" in ambush-type of situations.

Remember that poison damage dice isn't weapon dice and thus aren't doubled on criticals.

Also: certain monsters still use their own poison rules, including monsters that use manufactured rather than natural weapons such as Drow. (Mainly meaning they autoapply poison to each and every attack without having to spend actions or to make checks)

Yaun Ti Pureblood, poisoning yourself is not an issue.
 

MechaPilot

Explorer
Hiya!

My players all know that using poison is "campaign wide commonality". This basically means that if they start using poison, monsters/NPC's start using it. If they start stocking up on anti-poison, monsters/NPC's start stocking up on anti-poison. I like to think of it as "mutually assured destruction". And, surprise surprise, poison has never ever been a 'thing' in any of my campaigns since about 1983 or so (a few years after I started my DM'ing role).

Another thing about poison 'harvesting' is very much a DM-style thing. A player can't just say "I gut the creature and take any valuable spell components", or "I skin it", or "I harvest it's poison"...and then expect to make a simple d20 roll. I'm more 'old skool' with my DM'ing. That basically means the player has to tell me exactly what he's looking for, and basically how he's doing it, and then maybe state a skill he wants to use that he thinks his character can use to get the job done.

Basically, the player needs to say "I'll use my skinning knife I bought last week. I clear an area to work in, put down my 5x5 oiled canvas, and take my time to cut it. I'm specifically interested in being able to have enough large area's to make a pair of fine boots. I have Nature Lore, Survival, and Animal Handling as proficiencies, and I did grow up on a farm". So, in a nut shell, I want to hear preparation, purpose, tools and skills. A player can say "I use my skinning knife I bought last week to skin it" if he wants to...and I'll ask for a Dex check with a DC 10. I'll then tell him how/what his character does and ends up with based on his roll (e.g., if he blows it and gets a 6, he "Quickly cuts it up and is done in 15 minutes, with about a dozen miss-matched pieces of skin he can use for knife sheeth's, maybe a make-shift belt, or a small belt-pouch"). If the player says "But I wanted to make boots!", too bad...his character obviously didn't think of that until after he was half-way done and already mangling the :):):):):) out of it.

If a player wants a specific result from success, he needs to give me specifics about how his character is trying to achieve that. Poison harvesting...same thing. If the character is a thief who grew up in the mean streets of Irongate, then there's a very high chance of not knowing what or how poison is generated in a purple worm...or even where to start looking. A paladin? o_O Uh...less likely than the thief.

^_^

Paul L. Ming

When you say in a nutshell you want to hear preparation, purpose, and skills, and you also say you want the player to tell you exactly what they're looking for when harvesting poison, those sentences are at odds with each other. Asking a player to describe exactly what they're looking for in harvesting a poison is equivalent to asking for a method, not for preparation, a purpose, or a skill, and it sounds a little like you're going the extra mile to make poison a less-viable option when just saying no to it would be much easier.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I agree with the premise that they shouldn't just say "I skin it, and my roll is _____." They should at least describe their goal and any relevant skills or proficiencies that could influence the DM's determination of possible DCs or checks involved. For example, "I'm going to skin the creature. I'd like to be able to turn its skin into leather suitable for making clothes, armor, etc. I'm trained in Survival." That gives me a reasonable idea of where to set the DC, if I think a roll is warranted (if a character is trained in Survival and they want to skin a very common creature like a deer, I won't even consider making them roll for it), and a reasonable idea of how much usable leather the character is going to get from the creature.
 

MechaPilot

Explorer
That reminds me of skinning Spotted Skunks they were worth $8. Keep in mind this was 25+ years ago so $8 went a lot farther than now. Soo anyhow the first one I skinned I accidently squeezed a bit too hard and got a face full of skunk scent! ewww!! I never made that mistake again. So anyhow I could see a chance of poisoning ones self while trying to harvest an unfamiliar critter. Perhaps start with a higher DC and drop it lower after each success.

The DMG's rules for harvesting poisons do include the potential for poisoning yourself. You are automatically subjected to the poison if you fail the check by 5 or more.
 

aco175

Legend
This is a good discussion, but the question I have is "Why is a paladin also a thief?"

Would't these two concepts be at odds with each other. I can see something like a paladin of a non-good god having more thief tendencies, and a good thief worshiping a good god. The player would need to explain the concept before I would allow, but I probably would allow.
 

Dausuul

Legend
I have a paladin/rogue in the group I'm running. He's starting to ask questions about poison. I've found pretty solid rules governing harvesting poison, but I'm concerned about the application part. He's already wielding a flame-tongue, can divine smite, and get sneak attack (under the proper conditions).

I'm thinking the flames on the flame-tongue will burn away any poisons applied. I know according to RAW, the item doesn't say it does that, but does everyone think that's reasonable?
Seems okay to me, but I suggest making this clear to the player before he incinerates some expensive poison. House rules go down much easier when you put them up front.

Also, how long does purple worm poison last? Would the radiant damage from divine smite have any affect on the poison?
Up to you. I would probably answer the first question with "Roll Poisoner's Kit (Intelligence) and it lasts that many days," and the second with "Depends on how the god providing the Smite feels about poison use."
 

pming

Hero
Hiya!

When you say in a nutshell you want to hear preparation, purpose, and skills, and you also say you want the player to tell you exactly what they're looking for when harvesting poison, those sentences are at odds with each other. Asking a player to describe exactly what they're looking for in harvesting a poison is equivalent to asking for a method, not for preparation, a purpose, or a skill, and it sounds a little like you're going the extra mile to make poison a less-viable option when just saying no to it would be much easier.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I agree with the premise that they shouldn't just say "I skin it, and my roll is _____." They should at least describe their goal and any relevant skills or proficiencies that could influence the DM's determination of possible DCs or checks involved. For example, "I'm going to skin the creature. I'd like to be able to turn its skin into leather suitable for making clothes, armor, etc. I'm trained in Survival." That gives me a reasonable idea of where to set the DC, if I think a roll is warranted (if a character is trained in Survival and they want to skin a very common creature like a deer, I won't even consider making them roll for it), and a reasonable idea of how much usable leather the character is going to get from the creature.

I can see your point, I obviously didn't word my post well. :(

We do skills just as you described as well, but we also like the whole description thing. If the pacing is in action mode, your way or eve just "Make an X roll, DC12" is fine. In casual mode, we do it your way but usually with added descriptors (the how and with what parts usually). But when we are in slow mode we like to take our time with more specific directions. I guess it's all about pacing. If I want to get the players hearts racing and minds reeling, I go with the faster methods. When I want to build tension, I slow it down. Most of the time, it's sort of a mix between your way and the more detailed way. Ex; I want to skin it. I use my skinning knife I picked up at Downstream City. I'm after boots, but would like to keep other large pieces too. I also want to get it's liver. I'll take my time finding a good place to do this...preferably down by that small river I just passed? So I can wash up after. I have Survival and Nature knowledge". Not a TON of detail, but it covers the item, what the goal is, and where its going to be done.

Anyway, my computer died a few days ago (fried MB), and can't post quite as often now. Should be picking up a new computer tomorrow or thursday.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 


MechaPilot

Explorer
I can see your point, I obviously didn't word my post well. :(

That's quite alright. Its not as if any of us are perfect.


We do skills just as you described as well, but we also like the whole description thing. If the pacing is in action mode, your way or eve just "Make an X roll, DC12" is fine. In casual mode, we do it your way but usually with added descriptors (the how and with what parts usually). But when we are in slow mode we like to take our time with more specific directions. I guess it's all about pacing. If I want to get the players hearts racing and minds reeling, I go with the faster methods. When I want to build tension, I slow it down. Most of the time, it's sort of a mix between your way and the more detailed way. Ex; I want to skin it. I use my skinning knife I picked up at Downstream City. I'm after boots, but would like to keep other large pieces too. I also want to get it's liver. I'll take my time finding a good place to do this...preferably down by that small river I just passed? So I can wash up after. I have Survival and Nature knowledge". Not a TON of detail, but it covers the item, what the goal is, and where its going to be done.

Anyway, my computer died a few days ago (fried MB), and can't post quite as often now. Should be picking up a new computer tomorrow or thursday.

^_^

Paul L. Ming

I like more description as well. When a player puts extra effort into describing what they're trying to do, or in RP-ing an interaction related to a check, I often grant a bonus of some kind to the check, or an additional benefit if they succeed substantially on the check.
 

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