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GalacticAxekick
2016-11-03, 04:18 PM
In the words of a friend I was DMing for, "too expensive, too long to craft, too low dc's, too small effect; they just suck in every concievable way." With 150gp to buy Assassin's Blood, 75gp and 30 days to craft it, a DC 10 Con save for 1d12 damage, I'm inclined to agree.

To amend this, we decided that poison (and poison preparation) should be different in a few ways. It should cost much less, it should be faster to craft, it should have reasonable DCs: these are numerical changes, mostly. But regarding effects, we thought the system should be more distinct. We decided poisons would deal attribute damage.


An average injury poison would deal 2d4 (mean 5, min 2, max 8) damage.
An average inhaled poison would deal 1d4 (mean 2.5, min 1, max 4) every round of exposure.
An average ingested poison would deal 3d4 (mean 7.5, min 3, max 12).
Many poisons impose a condition as long as their target attribute is damaged.
The target attribute is recovered (either all at once of d4s at a time) with a Con save.
The target attribute can drop no lower than 0. At 0, a severely debilitating condition is imposed.

For instance, a poisoned dart might impose a DC 12 Con save against a Lv1 Fighter, who fails. Rolling 5 on the 2d4, the Fighter drops from 15 Strength to 10, attacks without Strength bonuses to hit or damage, and struggles to move under the weight of her own armour.

Poisoned again by a second dart, taking 8 damage to Strength, the Fighter drops from 10 Strength to 2, and takes a -4 penalty on attacks and damage. Only with exceptional effort or luck can she hit her targets, now, and even then, damaging them is a trial.

Finally, the unlucky Fighter is poisoned by a third dart. It rolls a meager 2 damage, but this is enough to reduce her Strength to 0. Utterly exhausted, she falls prone where she stands and drops her equipment. She is effectively paralyzed, though totally lucid.

This is an unlikely scenario, given her opportunity to make Con saves to recover Strength. But the potential for this sort of thing sounds fun to me. A brief rundown of attributes and associated poisons:


Strength measures sheer power and athletic training. Poisons that target it might reduce speed, force the target prone or force it to drop equipment. At 0 Strength, a creature is too weak to move and is paralyzed.
Dexterity measures motor skills. Poisons that target it can parallel the above effects, in addition to impairing speech and causing involuntary movements like stumbling about. At 0 Dexterity, a creature has no motor control and is paralyzed.
Constitution is a measure of health and vitality. Poisons that target it reduce HP, as well as resistance to other poisons, and so they are especially coveted (and expensive!). At 0 Constitution, a creature's vitals begin to fail, and they must make death saving throws or be stabilized.
Intelligence is a measure of memory, reasoning and focus. Poisons that target it might cause amnesia, prevent the formation of new memories, or impair sane reasoning. At 0 Intelligence, a creature is unable to think or remember, and thus utterly vacant.
Wisdom is a measure of perceptiveness and judgement. Poisons that target it might impair senses, cause hallucinations, and cause misjudgment of stimulus as of frightening, delighting, etc. At 0 Wisdom, a creature is totally divorced from the world around them, either do to absence of sense or the wrongness of their senses.
Charisma is a measure of willpower and force of personality. Poisons that target it might dull self awareness (and social graces with it), impose apathy or open a creature to suggestion. At 0 Charisma, a creature is without will is utterly vacant.


Notice that Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence and Charisma all make the target more or less helpless. Constitution puts them at risk of death, but allows them all their normal actions. Wisdom denies them awareness of the world around them, but allows them all their normal actions. Ideally all six would be quite distinct, but I struggled to differentiate Str & Dex, or Int & Cha.

Bharaeth
2016-11-04, 05:35 AM
Hey, this is a really nice approach, and goes a long way towards making poisons viable. Of course, in the real world, a single dose of many poisons can be enough to kill by itself. Is there any way you can model this? Where a single dose if not shook off can do increasing damage over time?

Also, it seems off to me that 5e has no allowance for poison onset times. I know "it's a fantasy game, stupid, not simulation" often gets thrown up, but it just seems a bit of a bizarre omission. If the standard rules for poison bear little to no relationship to actual poison, why call it 'poison' at all? Why not just describe it as, I don't know, "jagged shards get embedded in the wound, and inflict extra damage"?

But your approach seems to actually make poison seem like poison again (but, yeah, include possibilities for onset times and ongoing damage, please!).

GalacticAxekick
2016-11-04, 04:25 PM
Hey, this is a really nice approach, and goes a long way towards making poisons viable. Of course, in the real world, a single dose of many poisons can be enough to kill by itself. Is there any way you can model this? Where a single dose if not shook off can do increasing damage over time? Absolutely! Though this took a bit of thought.

A high-d4 Constitution poison could send frailer characters and creatures into death saving throws immediately. For instance, 4d4 has a mean roll 10, min 4, max 16. A problem with this, though, is the normal curve that grows with high die counts. Rolling above 13 on 4d4 is about a 5% chance: a crit. Poisons with so many dice would essentially target a certain stat range; anyone with 14 or more Constitution would consistently take doses of this poison without going into death saves.

An alternative would be to increase dice! While a typical injury poison deals 2d4, perhaps a stronger one deals 2d10 (mean 9, min 2, max 16). Even with the lower mean damage, the risk for higher-Constitution characters is greater because the distribution is more spread out. Rolling above 17 is now about a 5% chance. Only creatures with 18 or more Constitution could consistently take doses. The problem here is that rolls also spread downward: incredibly low rolls remain possible, and so someone might shrug off an ostensibly lethal poison despite having failed their Constitution save miserably.

And finally, simple rules for DoT. "2d4 Constitution damage on a failed save, and 1d4 at the start of each turn thereafter, save ends." Unlike heaps of d4 dice, this doesn't target a specific Constitution range, because eventually anyone will be worn down. Unlike larger dice like d10s, this doesn't allow someone who is failing their saves to escape unscathed. The downside is, of course, that it's slow acting.

Really, I think each has its place.

Many-d4 poisons are suitable when a poison is meant to be reliable. Perhaps an injury poison and dragon bane deals 2d4 typically, but 4d4 against draconic creatures. Perhaps an ingested poison consistently deals 4d4 consistently, threatening the lives of anyone with a weak stomach but merely debilitating anyone more robust.
High-dice poisons are suitable when a poison is meant to be inconsistent, or when Advantage and Disadvantage are meant to factor. Perhaps inhaled fumes deals 1d10 as the recipient chokes (mildly or horribly), with Disadvantage against creatures who keep low to the ground, beneath the fumes.
DoT is suitable when the poison is simply meant to be powerful or lethal to anyone left untreated.


But your approach seems to actually make poison seem like poison again (but, yeah, include possibilities for onset times and ongoing damage, please!).Onset time is something I hadn't considered at all! In such a case, I might begin to step away from mere saves-to-resist and introduce symptoms and specific treatments. A poison develops symptoms at time X, damage at time Y and possibly ongoing damage thereafter. These could be intervals of hours or days. The players themselves would need to notice changes and propose checks to identify the ailment and the necessary treatment.

Inchoroi
2016-11-06, 03:29 PM
I simply made a poisoner feat. It requires proficiency in poisoners' kit, halves the cost of crafting poisons, and adds your proficiency bonus to the DCs. Easy peasy.

GalacticAxekick
2016-11-06, 04:04 PM
I simply made a poisoner feat. It requires proficiency in poisoners' kit, halves the cost of crafting poisons, and adds your proficiency bonus to the DCs. Easy peasy. Let's imagine half cost Assassin's Blood. 1d12 damage, DC 10 + proficiency Con save, for 75gp. If your proficiency were as high as possible (+6) and your foes Con save was as weak as reasonable (+0), they're still succeeding 25% of the time. You're dealing 1d12 0.75 damage, or 4.9 damage average, for 75gp. Meanwhile, a potion of healiing could recover 2d4+2, or 7 damage average, 50 gp. You are throwing money away.

Even if not for the potions, you could buy or craft 1500 arrows, or 37 throwing knives, or 75 spears for the same cost.

Speaking of crafting, your single dose as Assassin's Blood is being crafted in cost/5 days. 15 days. Imagine a party's assassin sitting out for 15 days to craft a single dose of 1d12 damage poison. No DC could justify it. It could be DC 12 000 and you'd need to spend a year in the factory to make an encounter's worth.

Without a feat, a poisoner's kit should be many times more effective than this. Spending a feat to gain the above benefits is throwing the feat away, because you'd almost surely get better results from a +1 to your attack/spellcasting stat, a +1 to Constitution, or any of the other feats.

This solves nothing.



Now I didn't touch on crafting and cost in my original post, and I think it's unfair to scrutinize your idea without presenting an alternative. So here's my take:

I think restricting crafting in increments of days is a fundamental problem in 5e's system. Instead, I'd use 3 increments: a short rest (1 hour), a half-day (8 hours), and a day (16 hours). Rather than making craft time scale with cost, I'd put them on a continuum so craft time may decrease by increasing cost.

Consider Assassin's Blood, 150gp for 1d12 and "poisoned" status for 24 hours, DC 10 save.
First of all, as mentioned earlier, I'd like poisons to target stats and consist of d4s. Assassin's Blood is a damaging ingested poison, so 3d4 Constitution damage. Save recovers half. Long rest recovers all Constitution.
DC 10 + proficiency sounds perfect. I like your idea of including proficiency.
5gp, short rest to craft
Cost of purchase is double cost of craft at short rest, so 10gp.

Now consider a more powerful poison: Midnight tears, 1500gp for 9d5 damage, DC 17 save.
Another damaging ingested poison, but obviously stronger. 3d4 Constitution damage, and 1d4 turnwise. Save ends DoT. Long rest ends DoT & recovers all Constitution.
DC 12 + proficiency.
5gp, half-day to craft. You could craft 8 times as fast (short rest), but it'll cost 8 times as much (40gp) in quality materials.
Cost of purchase is double cost of craft at short rest, so 80gp. This means the manufacturer either used quality materials or a lot of their time. Time is money

If I made a poisoner feat, it would half the cost of hasty crafting. You could get your Midnight Tears in a short rest for 20gp in materials.