Poison bug

Sage Advice: You can check Poison basic rule in Player’s Handbook p.153 that only describes: “…the poison retains potency for 1 minute before drying.” In Dungeon Master’s Guide p.257 some poisons could be very lethal if last for 1 minute (10 rounds).

My advice is that applied poison last until the weapon strikes or 1 minute is passed.

5 thoughts on “Poison bug

  1. Steve says:

    You can envenom 3 pieces of ammunition, so possible 3 hits with a melee weapon or 1 minute, which ever comes first? Possible fix?

  2. Josh Clark says:

    If poison lasts for 10 rounds, and you have 2 attacks per round, that’s 20 attempts for 1d4 poison damage. 5e is balanced around PCs beating CR-appropriate enemy AC around 60% of the time, and most monsters have good CON scores, meaning they’ll fail the poison’s save around 40% of the time.

    Therefore, (20 attempts) x (60% chance to hit) x (40% chance to poison) x (2.5 average damage) = a whopping 12 damage. Poison is also the most resisted damage type, so that’s very likely less than 6 damage for 100 gp. (It’s less because the 1s and 3s round down to 0 and 1 when halved.)

    The damage does ride atop the existing attack’s damage, but the action cost to apply the poison means that you’re missing one turn of damage. Any character with Extra Attack should hope to be able to deal 6+ damage in a single turn.

    You’re just as well off using a bag of 100 gold coins as an improvised weapon. If the poison only lasts for a single hit, it’s barely worth the encumbrance… but only because it’s weightless.

    The poisons from the Dungeon Master’s Guide are a completely different story, however. The high DCs and damage suggest that they should certainly only be triggered once.

    • David says:

      Except that doesn’t really deal with the 3 pieces of ammunition, one melee weapon disparity. Melee poison should definitely last longer than one hit if you can envenom 3 pieces of ammuntion. Yes, once you get into multi attacks it starts to get out of hand.

      I think the solution probably is to set some kind of limit on how many hits with a melee weapon it takes before the poison is no longer effective, but “one” isn’t that number.

  3. Kyle Congdon says:

    Make it work like certain other “Increase to DPR” damage abilities/types. Limit the dmg to once per turn. As for the 3 hits/1 min rule… I dont think it needs to be addressed. I think 3 pieces of ammunition retaining their poison potency for a full minute is … interesting when fighting in the Evil Monk Temple. When the Assassin is brought to bear against the Assassin and they can each use each other’s ammunition.

    In all honesty it’s parts like this where balance just gets hazy. So much of it’s potency is situational. You have to pay for it… or milk the monster. Make it from scratch so long as you have the scratch to make it. Maybe it’s just me but in my experience at the table running games poison, no matter how potent, was really my realm of interest for various plot points. Rarely did players have an interest due to the money cost (and implied limit of monetary gain via CWBL) but maybe 5e is a different beast.

    Regardless I think making the change to dmg once per round (and slight maybe) giving each poison a separate number of round to round net successes needed to fully shake the effects.

    No matter those numbers on those poisons and their dmg output how often do you see poisons enter play? Especially the most virulent of them?

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