Wednesday, June 27, 2012

10 Toxins

An attempt at interesting Poison tools for PCs. No saves for the victims for these effects.  But to make them less potion-like and more poison-like:

Player administering the toxin has to guess the victim's current hit point total -3.
If the guess is actually HP-6 or lower, the toxin has no effect.
If the guess is exact, -1, or -2 above the actual HP total, the toxin is too strong and victim must save or die.

1. Amber or White honey.  Immiscible, heavy liquid that will sink beneath other liquids in a container.  Erases memory of the hour prior to drinking.

2. Devil's Breath.  Fine powder.  When inhaled by victim they become completely susceptible to suggestions for 1 hour. (see folkloric view of scopolamine).

3. Hush.  An intravenous toxin.  Causes loss of speech in victim for 1 hour.

4. Skulk, sometimes also known as Hush.  Coin-sized tablet will effervesce to produce 10 cubic feet of odorless, colorless gas.  Inhalation causes deafness for 1 hour.

5. The Drunkard in the Morning.  Small crystals that resemble salt.  Ingestion will do nothing until a loud noise-- like a gong or weapons clashing in combat- triggers the toxin, then the victim will sleep for 1 hour.

6. Still or Bone Butter.  Thick, bitter paste.  When ingested, the victim will for all intents and purposes be dead.  In 1 hour they will revive.

7. The Bickering Couple or Dark Twins.  Two clear contact toxins brushed onto objects.  Touching only one of the pair does nothing, touching both results in aggravated paranoia for 1 hour.

8. Seep or Red Aunt.  Usually placed on a blade, it will prevent wounds from fully closing.  A wound will seep blood for a week.  Causes no additional harm to the victim but makes secret attackers easier to track or identify later.

9. Iocaine.  As normal poison, but a person that manages to ingest the proper dosage for 5 sessions of play will become permanently immune to it.

10. St Petruccio's Spit.  Usually placed on a blade, it prevents a victim from dying from a mortal wound delivered by that blade.  They will remain lucid and a feel no pain for 1 hour, then expire normally.


  1. Is there a reason why the players shouldn't simply guess the target's hp? (so no effect on HP-3, and deadly effect on HP+1)

    Does players have a way of learning a target's hp in your games? Otherwise it seems hard to use these poisons in their fun way. Much too great a chance of guessing high or low.

  2. You could always have some sort of intelligence+fighter class based roll to get clues as to hit dice/level.

  3. Reading this made me realise that I tend to edit myself to dealing only with things that might affect a game of endless kicked-down-door/mission briefing-and-heist type encounters - the delayed action poison in particular implies some downright Shakespearean gaming, where the victim must be permitted to carry out their "things to do when you're dead" plan or denounce their murderer or whatever, which I for one would love to get in on. Maybe if I provided my players with more tools like this they would inhabit a more complex and political world, with more forethought and imaginative investment.

    In short, these are fantastic and inspiring, thank you.

  4. Remember, Iocaine only comes in powdered form!

  5. Thanks, everyone.

    @Fumblefail: Thanks, I was thinking assassin types would be less reverent. :)

    @The Rubberduck: There is a very important reason I did it that way . . . I'm an idiot. Ugh, thanks for pointing it out. I'm not a numbers guy, just trying to get it where players would have to guess a dosage and could get it wrong both ways.

    @Roger: Yeah, you could also let assassins/thieves have a certain # of guesses per session or something. I haven't tried it yet but I think the way it works, it should be harder to take advantage of these toxins with higher level types and big monsters because of the variation of the HP; 1st levelers should be 1-6+2 or so-- at least with S&W.

    @Richard: Thanks a lot, that's exactly what I was aiming for, tools to give players options.

    @mwschmeer: Yep, stolen straight from the Princess Bride :) I think a single poison a player could make their PC immune to is a pretty cool opportunity waiting to happen. (And imagine if they died from a different poison, that would suck and be funny at the same time)

  6. Lovely mechanic and very evocative poisons. I'd think that the best way to guess the HP (though I might use CON [1-25] to make it less difficult on high level things who get a mighty save anyway) would be to collect information/rumors/observations on the target. Itself a very Assassin type activity.

  7. Hey, thanks. That's true, could make for interesting missions trying to talk to old friends and compatriots of a target to figure out the proper dosage.

    I also realized clever players could use the dosage rule to inflict a variety of effects on a group of targets-- killing the weakest, affecting the mid-range, leaving bosses or friends untouched for communication or rescue.