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Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble – Poisons

Written by Krystal - Published on May 10, 2010

PoisonsHave you ever been offered a drink from a stranger? Had a dart stuck into your arm covered in a thick goo? Been exposed to the plague, or worse… Fallen ill from a mysterious disease!? It’s alright, it happens to the best of us. So let’s talk about how to implement it into our games!

For Dm’s!

When you are Dm’ing a game often times your assassins try to attack the players using darts or other such tools. Let’s say they are hit with a poison, the first thing you do is NOT tell them there is a poison. If they EXAMINE the dart and roll a check (we use heal checks) you can then decide if they realize that the dart was poisoned. VERY RARELY should they know exactly what the poison is. If they know the appropriate steps to be rid of the poison (squeeze, suck, remove it, etc.) then give them a bonus on their Fortitude saves. Fortitude saves are used to bypass or overcome poisons and diseases, as is stated in the Book of Vile Darkness. This book is also a good resource for diseases, poisons, and other things most vile!

When you are poisoning or diseasing your players the next step after NOT telling them what it is, would be to slowly incorporate side effects (which are either described in The Book of Vile Darkness and a few other places. As for 4E I’m not sure yet, but I’m reading more about it and learning everyday! So be patient with me and soon I’ll be amazing. Haha.). Such as vomiting, stomach aches, skin turning blue, organs becoming liquid…(so they feel immense pain and certain parts of their systems start shutting down, Etc. Etc.). Remember, keep it a SECRET from them! That way rules lawyers and other players can’t look it up and know the cures or symptoms. Don’t let them prepare beforehand otherwise it takes the purpose out of the disease or poison. You can also come up with your own, which is even MORE baffling to your players.

Remember, go through steps, and have it happen gradually. Sometimes, the change can be so gradual that one forgets they have a disease at all! Have them make a notch or write some sort of secret code only you know on their character sheet, or you can write it on a character card or other note. Something somewhere that reminds you they have this disease, that way everyone remembers. Symptoms do not have to appear within the first session, or even the second. Allow them to be gradual and most of all be PATIENT when implementing such things. If you rush it then it doesn’t seem as dynamic, and is less realistic. You want things to happen at a calm pace to catch your players off guard!

Creating A Poison or Disease, and where to implement them.

When creating a poison or disease a few things you should really pay attention to are the small details, it’s what makes up the bigger effects.

First; With poisons, what form does it come in? Liquid, Powder, Fumes? How does it taste or smell? Does it have a texture?  Has anyone seen The Princess Bride? Remember the iocane powder? It was odorless, tasteless, and dissolved instantly. What does yours do?

With Diseases, how is it transferred from person to person? Pathogens, Blood, Sharing a drink, Sexual contact?

Second; What are the symptoms? How does it get into the bloodstream? How does it affect the person?  Is it life threatening? How is a person going to resist? What Fortitude Save do they need to bypass it? And how long does it take?

Third; Decide if it’s long term or short term, Is there a chance of death? Losing a point off an attribute? Or perhaps losing permanent hit points.

Lastly; Implement it into your game and sit back while it takes effect.

For Players

As a player there are a few things you can do to try and prevent diseases and poisons, or to combat them! It’s fairly simple, you learn it in boy scouts! When you are struck by any sort of poison dart, check for  poisons at the sight of the wound. Remember, first thing you do is tie it off; cut off the circulation. If there are multiple entry wounds then cut in-between the entry wounds (like you would do if a snake bit you!) then suck and squeeze the poison out as much as possible ( DO NOT SWALLOW! Spit it out!). Then afterwards, if you can make some mud, spread it over the area. As it dries it will help suck poison from the wound. And also do NOT take off your make shift tourniquet quickly, or the rush of blood will most definitely spread the toxins! For Magical poisons make sure the area is dispelled immediately, and keep an eye out for symptoms you may have. Note them, write them in a journal, keep them remembered so you can speak with a cleric of some sort and diagnose it. DO NOT take your time to get it taken care of, do it A.S.A.P.! Ever heard of blue guts? Not a fun road to go down…

ALSO NOTE: I’ve recently read up on the fact some of this information is NOT A CORRECT form to use in the REAL world. You can still use this for your game, it is also an example, or guideline of how you can take care of poisons. In the real world they say to take a pump with your, or when you suck out the poison put a plastic glover in your mouth and tourniquets are a tricky matter. For more information you’ll have to look it up online, but please don’t use these methods and get yourself injured.

As for diseases, be careful which bums you hand a copper piece too…keep away from other peoples familiars, and if it comes to paying for the cheap wench or the more expensive one, choose the cleaner woman…and just be generally wary. So keep on your toes and happy gaming!

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Written by Krystal

At a young age, my mother opened up her own gaming store. We had two game rooms, an office, and the front area which had a ton of miniatures and books. I helped manage that store for several years, my mother teaching me the ropes and treating me like an adult so I could learn. Even beyond that she played games at stores like Haster Hobbies and several other places. In fact, my parents met gaming! DnD kind of runs in my blood, as well as any other gaming you can think of. I’m simply a gamer at heart, an artist, and a jack of all trades. I love to write and that’s why I’m here at Dungeon Mastering! I’m going to be going to school for Video Game Design, and my bf is going to school so he can publish Core Rule Sets. In the short few years I’ve been with him I’ve learned all about how to create my own rule system and create a game from the ground up! But my expertise is not limited to DnD alone. I’ve ventured far into Call of Cthullu, and beyond to games like Shadowrun and some White Wolf games..though I’m not a big fan of dice pools. :)

Anyways! Gaming is my passion and my life. I game constantly, go to conventions, and so much more! Maybe I’ll see you there! Happy Gaming!

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9 Responses to “Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble – Poisons”
  1. Gary says:

    Glad I found this blog. This is going to be a fun thing to incorporate into my roleplays. Since I’ve never done a poison before it should be a real startler for my game. hehehe

  2. begindnd says:

    I really enjoyed reading this, thank you.

    What a great role play to add to in a game. Never done anything like this before and I’m just starting to get some more ideas that are springing to mind as to what to include in the next game. What the poisons do to you sounds pretty horrific…I mean melting your insides? Urgh, who wants to see that?!…Well a very evil dungeon master possibly!!

  3. Kocho says:

    Yay, an article focused on 3.5! This place has been way too focused on 4e for a while, and it’s great to see something for those of us with that great old book of vile darkness

  4. Tourq says:

    I especially like the mantra of giving the players so little to go on, to keep the mystery alive for a while.


  5. anmveers says:

    I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve been poisoned at the bar… only to wake up alone, naked and wondering why it hurts so much to sit down.

    Found this article that makes some good D&D jokes and how Dragon Age just ripped off DnD: http://www.nakedrobber.com/2010/05/12/naked-report-dungeons-and-virgins/

  6. DragonlanceBJH says:

    Poisons Hum Drivethrue has a list of potions for free and it can be used for any edition as background material or whatever.

  7. Darren says:

    I did an interesting take on the idea of “poisons” recently. It worked the same, but was in the form of water mixed with ground up razor-sharp teeth. Get it into somone? Ouch. No save, as it’s not a venom that can be fought, but a physical object. xD

  8. Brian says:

    That’s great their are other resources for poisons and traps on line all you have to do is a Google search on that subject. Just make sure you narrow your search terms with Dungeons and Dragons.

    Oh, Click on my name and Check out my new blog site for Audio Books and Fantasy resources its where you can meet other gamers in your area.


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. […] Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble – Poisons Poisons are a fantastic tool of any good GM. Instead of upping a monster’s combat stats to make it a nasty fight, just give it a poison (or disease) that it imparts upon anyone it hits. It’s a great leveler of the fighting grounds, and if the players know about the poisonous capabilities of your nasty critter, they will be hesitate to charge forth like a fool. Fore more details on poisons and how they can be used, check out Krystal’s words. […]

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