Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Poison Is OP

Poisons are OP, aka 'Re-Fanging New-School Poison'

Designed to work with Ten Foot Polemic’s death and dying rules. Poison, however, is mentioned only briefly in those rules, and there is no generic poison ‘death and dying’ table to roll on… which sort of makes sense, given the specificity of most poison. I’ve tried to make each poison feel a little unique, while still keeping them simple to run.

As a place to start, I’ve adapted the classic D&D poisons as they appear in 5e. The damages are calculated for 5e-like games, with their inflated hit points, so you may need to adjust for more OSR-type games.

But 5e poisons, in a 5e context, aren't super dangerous. And worst of all, they don't feel poison-y. This should fix that, where even weak poison is a potential pain in the ass.

Notes on terminology: 
- The 'poisoned' condition is from 5e. It just means you have disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks (this includes skill checks, initiative rolls- basically any d20 roll that isn't an attack roll or a saving throw)
- I refer to 'poison tokens' but Ten Foot Polemic uses the term 'death dice' 'bleed points' and so on interchangeably. They're all the same thing.
- Death Tables: Some poisons have specialized tables. Use these instead of the generic tables. At some point I plan to write a generic poison table, but for now I mostly just use the 'bleeding,' or 'necrotizing' if I'm feeling fancy.


Basic Poison
1d4 poison damage, plus DC 11 save or gain that many poisoned bleed tokens. When you have more than 4 poisoned bleed tokens, you are poisoned.
by Matthew Stewart

Assassin’s Blood
Ingested, no initial save, OR Injury, DC 10 Save
Gain 1d4 generic poison tokens. At the end of each of your turns, as long as you have any poison tokens, make a DC 10 save. Gain 1d4 poison bleed tokens on a failure, or remove one poison token on a success. As long as you have any of these poison tokens, you cannot benefit from magical healing.

Death Table
1-10, vomiting, ‘poisoned’ condition, 1 poisoned pain token
11-15, bleeding sores, coughing blood, 1d4 poisoned trauma dice
16-20, organ failure begins, bleeding from all orifices, incapacitated, all ability scored halved until recovery (min 1d6 days)
21+ organs shut down, death in 1d4 rounds

Burnt Uther Fumes
Inhaled, DC 13 Save
Take 2d6 damage, and also gain that many poisoned bleed tokens and one poisoned pain token.
At the start of that creature’s turn, they make another save, reducing those bleed tokens by 1d6 on a success or adding one pain token on a failure.

Crawler Mucus
Contact, DC 13 Save
1d10 poisoned pain tokens, or 1 token on a successful save. Targets may have a maximum of 10 of these tokens. The target is paralyzed if they fail their test against pain, which they must test for whether or not they ‘tempt fate.’ If they fail this test, they are paralyzed for as long as any poisoned pain tokens remain. At the end of each of their turns, they make another save, removing one token on a success.

Drow Poison
1d4 poison sleep tokens, the target is poisoned for as long as they have these tokens. At the end of each of their turns, roll all their sleep tokens- if the total exceeds their current hit points, they fall unconscious until they have no more poison sleep tokens, or are damaged or shook awake. Remove one sleep token every minute if there are more than 4, or one every 10 minutes if there are less than 4.
Note: this poison is specifically designed to work on elves, so it bypasses their normal sleep resistance. It's not actually true sleep at all, being a kind of psychic paralysis, locking the mind of the creature away in horrifying dreams. Creatures that are immune to sleep AND cannot dream may be immune to this poison.

Essence of Ether – works as written
By Konstantin Vavilov

Malice – works as written

Midnight Tears – works as written
Death Table
1-5, uncontrollable weeping, 1 pain token
10-15, 4 poisoned bleed tokens, permanent blindness unless cured by magic
16-20 unconscious, 1d4 trauma tokens
20+ Death

Oil of Taggit – works as written

Pale Tincture – works as written

Purple Worm Venom
Injury, DC 19
9d6 poison damage, and for each 6 rolled gain a poisoned bleed token, for each double rolled gain a poisoned pain token.
Death Table:
1-15, Gain 1 poisoned trauma token
16-20, Gain 1d4 poisoned trauma tokens
21+ Gain 2d4 poisoned trauma tokens

Serpent Venom
Injury, DC 11
2d6 poison damage. Gain that many poisoned bleed tokens on a failed save, or on a successful save gain one for any 6’s rolled for that poison damage.
Death Table:
1-15, Gain 1 poisoned trauma token
16-20 severe cardiac arrest, death in 1d4 rounds
20+ brain shuts down, death

by Carne Griffiths
Ingested, no initial save
Gain 2d4 poison tokens, and 1d4 poisoned pain tokens. As long as you have poison, make a DC 15 save every round, removing a token on a success and gaining a pain token on a failure. You must also make a pain test at the end of every round, becoming incapacitated on a failure.

Truth Serum
Ingested, no initial save
Gain 2d4 poison tokens. As long as you have these tokens you are poisoned, and you must make a DC 15 saving throw to knowingly speak a lie. In addition, you have disadvantage on deception checks. Remove on poison token every 10 minutes.

Wyvern Poison
7d6 poison damage, plus DC 15 save or also gain that many poisoned bleed tokens. For each turn you take bleed damage from this poison, gain 1 poisoned pain point.


  1. This is an extremely powerful post! Thank you!
    I'm also looking forward to the poison death table.

    That reminds me, I added your psychic death table to the pamphlet!

    Here's your original - https://docs.google.com/document/d/1C_kIzz6GywlYnDSsL_DpNz0LqYhh6NLxYTwV373aOzc/edit?usp=sharing

    And my slightly adapted table because I'm too cowardly to use those Madness rules (I basically just replaced Madness with a fear effect)

    1. Nice yeah! I'm honoured to be included in much more death and dismemberment for players all over :)

      I like the madness rules cuz it sneaks up on you. 1 or 2 madness doesn't seem like much, but by the time you get to even 4, because you have to keep rolling for each point you get, the chances of you snapping are pretty high :) But a fear effect is pretty similar- it might actually be MORE harsh, since it doesn't allow the deferred-penalty aspect of the madness rules, that could potentially be managed by careful players.


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