The complexity of poisons

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Enword.org wrote:
Drow Paralysis Poison: Fortitude save DC 18, 1 point of paralysis. Each point is –1 square movement, each 2 points is –1 attacks and AC. If points are greater than Constitution bonus + 2, save at start of turn or be paralyzed for 1 round, save every round. No secondary effects, fades in 5 minutes.

Poisons appear to be quite complex now with several potential effects that have to be compared against different totals (points, per 2 points, versus Con bonus +2), potentially secondary effects and variable fade rates.

This could potentially complicate poison encounters -- particularly those encounter with multiple poisonous opponents -- say a drider, a few spiders and an ettercap.

The last thing I want in the game system is to track yet another set of "damage" and check character status round by round and hit by hit.
Both ENWorld and Mearls mention the fact that this is for 3.5.

Given the "simplify, simplify, simplify" mindset of 4E design, I doubt something this complicated would make it in.

Fairbanks
Fairbanks, level 5 Human, Slayer (Multiclass: Cavalier) Human Power Selection Option: Heroic Effort Background: Blademaster (Acrobatics class skill) Theme: Neverwinter Noble FINAL ABILITY SCORES STR 18, CON 10, DEX 17, INT 10, WIS 10, CHA 13 STARTING ABILITY SCORES STR 16, CON 10, DEX 16, INT 10, WIS 10, CHA 12 AC: 20 Fort: 19 Ref: 16 Will: 14 HP: 49/49 Surges: 6/9 Surge Value: 10 [X] Action Point [] Second Wind TRAINED SKILLS Acrobatics +10, Athletics +11, Diplomacy +8, Endurance +7, Intimidate +8 UNTRAINED SKILLS Arcana +2, Bluff +3, Dungeoneering +2, Heal +2, History +2, Insight +2, Nature +2, Perception +2, Religion +2, Stealth +5, Streetwise +3, Thievery +5 POWERS Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack Card Link Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack Card Link [] Human Racial Power: Heroic Effort Card Link [X] [X] Multiple Class Attack: Power Strike Card Link [X] Fighter Utility: Duelist's Assault Card Link [] Fighter Utility: Mobile Blade Card Link [] Level 2 Utility: Honorable Challenge Card Link [] Neverwinter Noble Utility: Take Heart, Friend! Card Link Multiple Class Utility: Defender Aura Card Link [] Paladin Attack: Righteous Radiance Card Link FEATS Level 1: Heavy Blade Expertise Level 1: Armor Finesse Level 2:Heavy Armor Agility Level 4: Squire of Righteousness ITEMS Dagger x3 Adventurer's Kit Aecris Black Iron Scale Mail +1 Horned Helm (Heroic Tier) Holy Symbol of Bahamut 1 Opal 73g 145s 50c
Poisons appear to be quite complex now with several potential effects that have to be compared against different totals (points, per 2 points, versus Con bonus +2), potentially secondary effects and variable fade rates.
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The last thing I want in the game system is to track yet another set of "damage" and check character status round by round and hit by hit.

I already find this to be an improvement in simplicity over the way 3e handles poison -- that is, ability damage. Consider tracking Dex damage. Every 2 points, it changes AC, ranged attack bonuses, initiative (generally not a problem in an active combat), and numerous skills including some used in combat (like Tumble). If you Dex drops to zero, you're paralyzed until the damage is healed.

The main difference here is that this new poison (a) tells you directly what it modifies instead of using cascading modifiers, (b) modifies movement, (c) has a different threshold for making you be paralyzed with a chance to make a save and escape its effects each round, and (d) goes away between encounters without need for magic.

If this is where poison is going in 4e, I'll be a lot happier than if creatures continue to do ability damage/drain. 3e rules are not simpler because they hide their complexity behind cascading changes, and they are far more debilitating, creating a lesser category of "save or die" effects.

I hope we see similar changes to things like entanglement which in 3e:
  • Changes your speed and limits available move actions.
  • Applies a -2 to attack rolls.
  • Applies a -4 penalty to Dex with all the changes which that entails (another -2 to ranged attacks, -2 AC, -2 Init, -2 to Dex skills, possible paralysis).
  • Forces Concentration checks (DC 15 + level of spell being cast).

My only complaint will come if poisons are inconsistent or we otherwise gain a laundry-list of unique status ailments for each creature we run across that each require special handling. That would be a major backslide. I hope to see simplified and standardized status ailments.

I mean, as a spellcaster, I had to make a special sheet to keep track of the effects of all the ailments I was capable of inflicting or suffering just to keep us from having to dig through the glossary each time something came up. I mean, look at spells like Orb of Electricity which applies all that crazy entanglement math to a creature for 1 round if they fail a save! What a senseless drag on gameplay, if you ask me.
Well put. I hated the "save or die" poison rules of 2e, but the 3e poison rules are too confusing to keep track of. How can a poison reduce DEX without reducing STR, too? Why have two saving throws? I have never read a SF book where a character is poisoned but the poison doesn't work because they are so tough. A successful save should mean the poison has less effect or last for a shorter duration, but it shouldn't mean the poison just doesn't work.

I could see poisons being catagorized in 4e as follows:

Paralysis poisons: instant paraysis (no "second saving throw"); a successful save reduces the length of time of the paraysis or instead just slows the character down (lower AC, lower speed, to hit penalty). It doesn't seem realistic that a character who gets poisoned can "save" like the poisoning just didn't happen.

Stupidity poison: inability to cast spells of high levels, penalty to skill roles; a successful save reduces the length of time of the paralysis or reduces the severity of the spell level cost.

Sickness poison: lowers AC, to hit rolls, and speed, and causes HP damage; a successful save reduces the severity of the effects, but doesn't make them disappear. ONE SAVING THROW ONLY!

You get the idea.
Actually, they are changing that up quite a bit. Poisons will attack fortitude now. We have at least one confirmation that poison will inflict some sort of status. The Spined Devil inflicts a slow status (possibly for 5 rounds) with its poison.

Personally, I'd prefer poisons that drop you to the bloodied status, or that deny attack actions or move actions, or that give you flat penalties (-1 to -6), posions that knock you out, and poisons that grant negative levels until you die (the most severe of poisons, of course).
I suspect that poisons will resemble what we saw of the flesh to stone effect in the beholder video.

The poison will have progressive effects which basically reduce some stat over a set onset period. Each round you are poisoned, you make a save to see how badly the effect is. Once the onset is finished, the effect lingers for an established duration (maybe the effects lessen one hour at a time).

The stats that might be reduced are...
  • Movement (leading to paralysis at 0 move)
  • Ability (with death an effect attributable to Con poisons)
  • Level/HD, applying negative levels (also leading to death at 0 level)

In addition there may be progressive effects
  • dazed/dazzled/stunned/helpless
  • shaken/frightened/cowering/panicked
  • exhausted/fatigued/staggered/asleep
  • queasy/nauseated/sickened/disabled

Each failed Fort save moves you to the next most serious condition.
  • Movement (leading to paralysis at 0 move)
  • Ability (with death an effect attributable to Con poisons)
  • Level/HD, applying negative levels (also leading to death at 0 level)

In addition there may be progressive effects
  • dazed/dazzled/stunned/helpless
  • shaken/frightened/cowering/panicked
  • exhausted/fatigued/staggered/asleep
  • queasy/nauseated/sickened/disabled

Each failed Fort save moves you to the next most serious condition.

Got the 3.x order of operations wrong on some of these ;)

  • dazzleddazed/stunned/helpless
  • shaken/frightened/cowering/panicked
  • fatigued/exhausted/staggered/asleep
  • queasy/sickened/nauseated/disabled


In order of severity, that is how it works.
I stand corrected! :D
I like NRT's idea of the flat penalty -1 to -6. As long as it is easier to keep track of the effect of the poison. The bottom line -- I want to play D&D while drinking beer, and if the rules and record keeping are too complex ... I can't. Simplify poisons!
I'd also like to see a compounding poison. Say, you attack the fort. You have a-1 cumulative penalty for 5 rounds. So at round 1, -1, round 2, -2, and so on. That would be a heavy incentive to cure it. ;)
It looks like Poison 5 doesn't describe an effect so much as is an effect.
Interesting. I wonder what "save" means in the context of the doomspore? A type (Reflex, Fort, or Will) isn't listed, and we know characters have Defenses now. Is a save independent of any DC and costs the player a resource (action point)?

Also it seems like poisons (or at least this poison) last until the end of the encounter. If the ongoing poison deals hp damage per turn, ending with the encounter seems odd. Maybe you take hp damage if you take a strenuous action, so after the encounter you would presumably rest. The other option is a penalty of some kind, but a 5 penalty to anything is pretty harsh.
Interesting. I wonder what "save" means in the context of the doomspore? A type (Reflex, Fort, or Will) isn't listed, and we know characters have Defenses now. Is a save independent of any DC and costs the player a resource (action point)?

Also it seems like poisons (or at least this poison) last until the end of the encounter. If the ongoing poison deals hp damage per turn, ending with the encounter seems odd. Maybe you take hp damage if you take a strenuous action, so after the encounter you would presumably rest. The other option is a penalty of some kind, but a 5 penalty to anything is pretty harsh.

It could be as simple as the 'save ends both conditions' being automatic once the encounter is over, assuming that once you're resting, less active, and able to tend to yourself (bind wounds, wash off spores), ie, not in combat, you have time to stop the poison. After all, without a monster threatening to finish you off, stopping poison is not adventurous, it is first aid.

As to cumulative, if you are hit more than once by the poison, it stands to reason you would lose 5hp/round for each, not just for one. In 3e terms, they stack. Now, get poisoned three times, you're taking 15hp/round, you're on a very serious clock.

In combat, things like antitoxen could be written to 'end one poison effect', but the spell 'neutralize poison' could be 'end all poison effects'. The spell 'slow poison' could be 'gain 'Resist Poison 5' for the encounter'.

Add a little poison marker to place on/near the mini for a mnemonic reminder, and you're done.