Thursday, June 21, 2012

Toy Poisons

I wrote a while back that for poisons to interest me they would need to be cool tools for players rather than just doing varying amounts of damage or having varying chances of lethality.  The Dee flick's use of a triggered poison got me interested in actually trying to come up with some.

So, what would make poisons interesting to you as a player?

Here are some initial ideas from me:
  • sneaky administering-- so gases, contact poisons that can be slathered on chairs, and liquids of various densities
  • precise control-- some interesting triggers, like light, heat, loud noises, as well as antidotes for most everything
  • variety of effects-- make someone mute, blind, appear dead-- so, yeah, more toxins than poisons
I'm realizing now that there seem to be two main ways they might come into play 1) secretly to help you in heists or negotiating with factions, and 2) as straight up combat enhancers on blades and arrows.

Anyway, back to you.  You're in my game wandering around the bazaar, what kind of toxin do you want available?


  1. I did a post a couple of years ago that looked at this and came up with a few ideas.

  2. Hey, thanks for the link. What sticks out to me most is sort of designer ways that the poisons kill. I think that would be most interesting in a mystery set up; "The victim turned to metal?! How, was it magic?" PCs probably just want to kill targets and don't care how it happens.

    But, "Baker's Dozen" and "Kiss of Night" are more along the lines of what I was thinking, also the species specific triggers and the glo-fish toxin that might force a negotiator to give away their position.

    The bio-weapons part might be the most tool-like of the bunch-- instead of inventing toxins that players might use, encouraging ingenuity so they'll use stuff around them-- a troll finger in a tight, steel box, yellow mold in a leather sack, etc.

  3. As a player, I like to think of poisons for a thief as similar to scrolls for a magic-user. They are a limited resource that may give a boost in a particular circumstance, but should not be used frivolously. Thus, they present an interesting trade-off, and can also introduce dramatic effects while not unbalancing the power of the game as a whole. For example, maybe a medusa-blood poison turns an enemy to stone. Having a weapon that threatens petrification on every attack is clearly quite powerful, but having a couple of doses of the same effect is not.

  4. Agree completely, just trying to figure out what effects could be useful to players and be distinct from spells and potions

  5. the potion-poison divide's a tricky one. Poisons that cause behavioural changes and/or social ties seem interesting to me: real world examples include addictive drugs and alcohol - which can create holes in the memory and behaviour inexplicable to the sober, but also dependency on suppliers, berserk rages, psychosis, paranoia, super-friendliness.

    Or poisons that also have a potion effect, like the spice in Dune - you have to consider whether it's worth activating the effect.

  6. Thanks, yeah once I allow poisons to do something other than kill I've muddied the potion/drug/poison categories.

    I was thinking it could be a place for a few interesting effects though, the memory loss you mention being one good one i've been thinking about.