View Full Version : Poison in the Playground [House, updated]

2006-08-26, 01:18 AM
Given that we've seen several discussions arise from the ethics of poison like here (http://www.giantitp.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=homebrew;action=display;num=11564601 78;start=), I figured poison's ambiguous nature at least partially stems from the lack of flavor to the effects. Does it hurt? Is it peaceful?
And so, intent on making poisons a mixed (ouch) variety, I set to work...

Poisons are seen as cowardly and underhanded weapons for the craven or vicious. Yet running someone through produces the same effect, albeit less subtly. Even when one's martial strength is insufficient, cunning and stealth can see the despot thrown down. Poison's use is what truly governs its nature.

Potions yield certain effects. Aside from their damage, they produce feelings (or cause a lack of them) in their victim. It is these that determine what the poison's nature is.
A poisoning cannot be a Lawful act. Poisoning is never higher along the scale than Neutral, and is frequently Chaotic in nature.

However, it is the poison's nature that determines its "goodness." A poison that produces painful effects is an Evil one, whereas one that numbs or even induces a euphoric drugged state can be Neutral or even Good.
How the act of poisoning is seen relies on several things, but it is somewhat universal that a poison that sends the victim into blissful sleep is better than one that enflames the nerves.
Painful poisons produce visible or physical negative feeling on their targets. Examples would be burning, itching hives, terrible headaches, or brain damage. The use of these is an Evil act. Things like availability or a need for a certain poison are taken into consideration.
Soothing poisons generally are painless, or cause mildly pleasant contentness in the victim. Logically, striving to use a painless means is a Good act.
It must be specified that using the poison itself is not a "Good" act. Similarly, running someone through is not itself a "Good" act. Making an attempt to use a less harsh poison, attempting to minimize damage and suffering, and using it to protect others are what truly determine the action's alignment.
Poisons that cause mild irritation or physial signs, such as weak legs or blurry vision are neither good nor evil.
To use a poison with a greater effect usually means discarding some personal beliefs, as the most potent poisons also cause the most suffering. However, mixing poisons can numb the pain and prevent one from comitting an Evil act.
Blending a painful poison with a numbing one will remove the "Evil" nature of the poison's use. This requires a craft (poison) check equal to the higher of the two potions' saves plus 2.

Note: Liberties taken in describing effects. Poisons used are part of the SRD. If there is ANY information about any of these poisons' effects, please inform me so I can change things up.
Nitharit: Neutral. An unfriendly green concoction designed to quickly numb the body and prevent motion. Depending on the severity of the dosage, the afflicted may die as his lungs seize.
Sassone leaf residue: Neutral. Ground and made into a paste from sassone plants, this poison has immediate painful effects and a secondary numbing, but rarely is lethal.
Malyss root paste: Good. This narcotic compound causes lethargy and a weak-kneed feeling in victims, but does no worse than arrest movement.
Terinav root: Good. Similar to Malyss poison, but stronger. Still produces no harmful side effects.
Black lotus extract: Evil. Generally, using this strong a poison is frowned on. The onset is so rapid and so severe victims often feel they cannot breathe, which causes panic and fear, and even a minor dose can kill.
Dragon bile: Good. While rather unpleasant itself, this poison merely causes a rapid production of lactic acid, which saps the strength of the victim. Paralyzation happens either very quickly or not at all.
Striped toadstool: Neutral. Known among less reputable circles for its hallucinogenic effects, this substance clouds the mind and perceptions of its victims, produces wild "visions," and generally makes people go "Whoa."
Arsenic: Neutral. While the effects are comparitively mild, the effects of arsenic are painful. Prolonged exposure can kill, but a single poisoning will not slay any but the most frail.
Id moss: Neutral. As the name suggests, this poison affects the mind sharply. While relatively painless, it can produce coma-like blankness in victims, who feel a slow and heavy dulling of their minds as the poison works.
Oil of taggit: Good. Often employed to ensure the victim remains healthy, this poison merely renders people unconcious.
Lich dust: Neutral. Named for its ability to rapidly turn warriors into frail combatants. Causes mild shaking in the extremities and labored breathing.
Dark reaver powder: Evil. While causing no permanent damage, this poison's rapid and severe onset is unsettling to witness, and even more so to experience. Causes a slow spreading numbness, labored breathing and a heavy feeling in the limbs. People describe it as "slowly going dead." Indeed, the poison's strength makes that quite possible.
Ungol dust: Evil. A lungful of this dust will cause a prolonged clouding of the mind and short-temperedness. Effects have been known to last years as loved ones notice a new irritability and difficulty in conversing.
Insanity mist: Neutral. While causing no permanent damage, this narcotic rapidly causes impairment to judgement and perception. Comas can result in heavy dosings.
Burnt othur fumes: Evil. Permanant lung damage can come from even a mild inhalation of this substance, and prolonged exposure can cause paralysis or death.
Black adder venom: Neutral. One of the less deadly weakening poisons, adder venom can still kill if used heavily. Swelling around the bite area and enflamed skin are typical.
Small centipede poison: Good. Mild, but useful for slowing a target. Causes a jelly-limbed feeling and clumsiness.
Bloodroot: Neutral. Initial exposure causes nothing, but over time the poison spreads through the body, causing apnea and clouded judgement.
Drow poison: Neutral. While causing nothing more than unconciousness, the prolonged period is typically taken advantage of by shanghaiers and makes the poison less popular.
Greenblood oil: Neutral. Causes minor feelings of weakness and nausea, and breathing trouble. Can kill small animals. Keep your familiar on a leash!
Blue whinnis: Good. Minor weakness and breathing followed by a heavy drowsiness.
Medium spider venom: Neutral. Causes shakiness and slight palsy. Can sap the strength of victims, but they usually can still move.
Shadow essence: Evil. Causing atrophy and numbness in the limbs, this toxin can quickly render victims immobile.
Wyvern poison: Evil. Use of this poison can quickly kill as it numbs and permeates through the central nervous system.
Large scorpion venom: Neutral. At worst, this venom paralyzes its victim. Causes a dead-limbed feeling.
Giant wasp poison: Neutral. Rapidly impairing coordination and fine motor control, giant wasps' venom reduces victims to stumbling wrecks, or halts them entirely. Causes severe itching and welts.
Deathblade: Evil. Often used to cripple a warrior instantly to be dispatched at leisure, this toxin is frowned upon even in most Thieves' Guilds despite having no lingering after-effects.
Purple worm poison: Neutral. Notorious for being able to stop a warrior in their tracks. Causes an unpleasant "Creeping" feeling under the skin.

And that's all of them. Bumping for justice and Chaotic players everywhere!

Lord Iames Osari
2006-08-26, 05:05 AM
You know that a couple of times you wrote "potion" instead of "poison".

2006-08-26, 07:56 AM
Nice start, but I'd add that poisons which do permanent damage (ability drain) or are potentially lethal (con damage) are always evil.

2006-08-27, 04:31 AM
You know that a couple of times you wrote "potion" instead of "poison".

Augh. Oh well, it was late. I'll fix those when I add the poison table.

2006-08-27, 07:31 PM
Nice start, but I'd add that poisons which do permanent damage (ability drain) or are potentially lethal (con damage) are always evil.

I'd go for non-good. I generally think that poisoning is not inherently more evil than stabbing someone. Adventurers, often enough, do a fair bit of stabbing to be considered paragons of virtue anyway, but some do make a claim towards goodness. On the other hand, poison is a dishonorable means to whatever end the character pursues, and that should have its implications.However, the alignment system does not translate well into honor - the part about lawful being honorable is not always true. Chaotic barbarians or rangers can be very honorable.

A lawful character, imo, is not a fan of using poisons, but could learn that skill and be very good with it if he or she is a member of organization that relishes stealth. It is not an act they would be perfectly ok with, but generally should not cause an ethical problem for a LE thief or LN spy.

2006-08-27, 11:24 PM
Okay, so we know the worst poisons fall heavily into the Chaotic Evil category. What about the "best" poisons? For example, where should the chloroform napkin trick fall in the alignment array?

(The chloroform napkin is a fictional method of quickly knocking out people by holding it over their face so they breathe in the fumes.)

2006-08-29, 06:05 PM
Bumping, now that the poison table is complete.
Again, feel free to make your own effects and alignments. I just went with what I thought worked.

2006-08-29, 07:44 PM
Good poisons, huh... Well, that is a new one. Although the table remains a useful argument tool for and against picky DMs throughout the Forgotten and Unforgotten Realms ;)

2006-08-29, 08:25 PM
Good poisons, huh... Well, that is a new one. Although the table remains a useful argument tool for and against picky DMs throughout the Forgotten and Unforgotten Realms ;)
I just put this up because we've run into the Poison=evil thing a few times, and frankly I don't see how it's any more or less evil than impaling someone. If a paladin can take up the sword for good, I say a rogue could poison a blade for the same.
...Mostly 'cause I like dark-good types. I'm weak!

2006-08-29, 09:07 PM
I would personally make it so that using a painless, but lethal poison would be a neutral or good act. Make such a poisons cost double or triple in components, and with a slightly lower than average DC. That would definitely mean that the character was jumping through hoops to be merciful, even when killing was absolutely necessary.