Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Rerun: Back to the Cupboard

Since the response was positive to the insinuative-type poisons, I’ve decided to post the second half of my big list of poisons. Below you will find toxins of a gaseous and contact nature. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly after reading.

Gaseous and Contact Poisons

Unlike the more common forms of insinuative and ingestive poisons, toxins dispensed in a gaseous or contact form are of only two intensities: debilitative and deadly. This is due to the increased chance of accidental exposure to both of these forms of poison. By creating a minor toxin that is easily survivable, yet still powerful enough to be used as a deterrent, the chance of inadvertently killing an overcurious visitor is avoided. In the case where the poison-user is determined or paranoid enough to protect his treasures at all costs, the unintended loss of life is not a concern. Such is the cost of security.

As with insinuative poisons, the format here is the poison’s name followed by brackets. The information within the brackets is laid out with damage being represented by two values separated by a slash. Values preceding the slash is the damage taken if a save against poison is failed. The value after the slash is damage taken if the save is successful. After damage, an onset time is listed. This is the amount of time that passes before the victim begins to feel the effects of the poison. This type of information comes in handy when determining how long the party’s cleric has to drop a neutralize or slow poison spell on the victim. In the case of gaseous poisons, a third entry lists the duration of a poisonous cloud when dispensed in its 20’ x 20’ x 20’ form. Spells such as gust of wind and the like will reduce this duration as the DM desires. Poisonous gas dispensed in a 5’ x 5’ x 5’ cloud rarely last longer than a few moments.

Gaseous Poisons

Gas-based poisons are quick-acting toxins that are either dispensed in small puffs of vapor intended to affect only one or two individuals; usually those attempting to gain access to a locked container, or in large clouds designed to affect as many people as possible, such as when employed as a room trap. For simplicity sake, assume that a trapped container produces a 5’ x 5’ x 5’ cloud directly in front of the trap and that a room-based gas trap produces a 20’ x 20’ x 20’ cloud. Anyone caught within the cloud initially must make a save against poison to avoid the effects of the gas. If a person willfully enters an area occupied by a poison gas cloud, he or she may be granted a +4 to their saving throw based on the assumption that they’re aware of the gas’ presence and are taking appropriate measures to protect themselves (i.e. holding their breath, covering their mouth, etc.).

Debilitative Gases – These toxins are most commonly used by those who wish to protect themselves and their possessions without causing the loss of life. These poisons are designed to incapacitate or assist in the apprehension of intruders. Because of their non-lethal nature, most of these poisons may be used by characters of Good alignment, excepting paladins.

Generic Debilitative [Damage: Unable to perform any actions for 2-5 rounds/no effect. Onset time: Immediate. Duration of cloud: 10 rounds] – This blue gas smells of sulfur and fecal matter. While of mundane origin, the gas works as if it were a stinking cloud spell. Anyone caught in the initial cloud is only affected for 2-5 rounds, even if the cloud has yet to disperse at that time. It is assumed that the gas has become diluted enough that the victim’s body has acclimated to the toxin. An individual entering the cloud for the first time after it has been triggered, but before the cloud’s ten-minute duration has expired, must save as usual – with a possible bonus (see above).

Lungburn [Damage: -1 penalty to AC and -2 to hit per round exposed to the gas/no effect. Onset time: Immediate. Duration of cloud: 20 rounds] – This grey gas smells of ammonia and attacks the victim’s lungs, causing hacking, coughing and vomiting. For each round the victim is caught within the cloud, he or she suffers a cumulative penalty to Armor Class and attack rolls. The effects of the gas last for a full turn after the victim escapes the cloud.

Tell-tale [Damage: Blinded for 2-5 rounds & stealth penalties/no effect. Onset time: Immediate. Duration of cloud: 10 rounds] - Not so much a cloud as an explosion of reflective particles, this gas appears as a shower of tiny glittering flakes – gold, silver and mica being the most common. The glittering particles cause blindness to anyone who fails their saving throw while engulfed in the cloud. Additionally, these flakes are highly adhesive and will cling to clothing, armor, hair and skin. Any invisible creature caught within the cloud will instantly become visible as they are coated with glittering color. The flakes are very difficult to remove once they’ve attached themselves. Simple soap and water will not suffice. The adhesive that holds the flakes in place is alcohol-soluble and washing oneself in strong spirits is enough to remove the glittering particles for good. During the time the flakes are attached to the individual, he or she can only surprise opponents that use sight as a primary detection sense on a roll of a 1 and thieves incur a -40% penalty to any attempts at Hiding in Shadows while sparkly.

Trog Musk [Damage: Lose 1 Strength point per round/no effect. Onset time: Immediate. Duration of cloud: 10 rounds] – This sour, brown gas is derived from the musk produced by troglodytes and acts as if the victim had been exposed to those nauseous creatures. The victim loses 1 point of Strength per round for 1-6 rounds, cumulative. This penalty remains in effect for ten rounds after the final point of Strength has been lost.

Andula [Damage: 1d6 h.p. per round/no effect. Onset time: Immediate. Duration of cloud: 30 rounds] – This red cloud smells acidic and affects the blood of the victim. Each round the victim is within the cloud, he must save against poison or lose 1d6 hit points as he begins to bleed out of his bodily orifices. Andula is the sole debilitative poisonous gas that inflicts actual damage. Its origins lay back in the final days of Xoryphaal, so adventurers exploring the ruins dating from those shadowy years are advised to beware.

Deadly Gases – These poisons are meant to kill anyone careless enough to trigger them. These toxins are used by those who are either determined enough or cavalier enough to risk the accidental death of others in order to protect their goods and holdings. These poisons are fast-acting and rarely anything less than fatal to anyone unlucky enough to catch the full brunt of them.

Generic Deadly [Damage: Death/0 hp. Onset time: 1-6 rounds with unconsciousness immediately following exposure. Duration of cloud: 10 rounds] – This green gas smells of bleach and is the most common of deadly gases. Anyone exposed to this gas immediately loses consciousness and will die within 1-6 rounds.

Gorgon’s Breath [Damage: Turn to Stone/0 hp. Onset time: 1-2 rounds. Duration of cloud: 1d4 rounds] – Whether or not this poison is the same as that produced by the legendary iron bull is up to debate. What is not disputed is the effects of the gas. Like the breath weapon of the gorgon, anyone who fails a save against poison when exposed to this white, rust-smelling vapor is almost immediately petrified. At that point, a neutralize poison spell is no longer effected to ward off the poison. Only a stone to flesh spell will suffice.

Nan-vyl-nah [Damage: 1d4 hp of damage per spell level memorized/1 hp of damage per spell level memorized. Onset time: 1-4 rounds. Duration of cloud: 5 rounds] – This purple cloud smells of a spring forest and is initially quite pleasing to the nose. That pleasure ends 1-4 rounds later if the victim is a spell-caster. This magically-created toxin reacts with the stored spell energy of any memorized incantations or prayers possessed by a spell-caster, causing an internal eruption of mystical energy that incinerates the victim from within. For every individual level of spells currently memorized, the caster takes 1d4 points of damage. Thus a 5th level magic-user with a full allotment of four 1st level spells, two 2nd level spells and a single 3rd level spell would suffer 11d4 points of damage on a failed saving throw. Should the spell-caster survive this internal inferno of spell energy, he will find that he has lost any and all memorized spells in the conflagration. On a successful save, the caster still suffers damage, but it is limited to a single point of damage per level of memorized spells and he retains them in his memory. The mage in the above example would take 11 points of damage and still have access to his full collection of spells had he made his save. This nasty toxin affects only spell-casters and a DM may rule that clerics, druids and paladins are immune to the effects at his discretion. This gas is believed to be a creation of the Unseelie Court of the Kind Ones; created in jealousy of Man’s mastery of magic.

Yellow Mold Spores [Damage: Death/no effect. Onset time: Immediate. Duration of cloud: 1 minute] – This cloud is nothing more than the spores of the ubiquitous dungeon-dwelling yellow mold preserved by artificial methods. When triggered, the gas acts just as if the victim had been exposed to yellow mold: save against poison or die. In the case of death, both a cure disease and a resurrection spell are required within 24 hours to resuscitate the character.

Contact Poisons

These potent poisons work through mere skin contact and, like gas poisons, run a high risk of accidental exposure. Because of this risk, contact poisons are manufactured with either an eye towards dissuading the curious from handling things that don’t rightfully belong to them, or mercilessly slaying any who’d even entertain the idea of robbing the rightful owner. In most cases, contact poison can be avoided simply by wearing gloves when handling an object smeared with the substance. A few of the more dangerous contact poisons, nevertheless, eat through any material protecting the skin and exposing the wearer to the poison’s full effects.

Debilitative Contact Poisons – Like their airborne cousins, debilitative contact poisons are designed to dissuade or incapacitate those who are exposed to them. Many a less-than patient or trusting noble or mage has utilized debilitative contact poisons to keep the help and their students from touching valuable heirlooms and potent magical items. Most contact poisons are a clear liquid, oil or gel, making them blend in with the item that they coat but not rendering them completely invisible. Due to the slightly reflective nature of these poisons, anyone taking the time to examine an item coated with a debilitative contact poison has a 50% chance to notice that something seems odd about the item. Common signs that an item bears a contact poison are slight discoloration, a seemingly wet sheen to the item, a faint out-of-place odor, or a mottled pattern of dust clinging to the item’s surface.

Generic Debilitative [Damage: Paralysis for 2-8 turns/no effect. Onset time: 1-2 rounds] – This poison bears a faint aroma of apples to it, so those with a keen sense of smell may be alerted to its presence.

Fool’s Gold, Lesser [Damage: Sleep for 7-12 turns/no effect. Onset time: 1 round] – Commonly used to either protect objects crafted from gold or to turn worthless objects into a tempting prize, fool’s gold is a gleaming, golden paint-like poison that fully coats the object. When used on an item made of gold, the chance to detect its presence is a mere 20% due to its close similarity to actual gold. If placed upon an object made of other than gold, the standard chance to detect its presence apply.

Numb Limb [Damage: Incapacitates victim’s limb(s)/no effect. Onset time: 1-6 rounds] - This odorless poison acts as a powerful anesthetic, rendering the limb or limbs that touch it unusable for 2-24 hours. In the case of the victim’s arm being rendered numb, he accrues a -4 penalty to all attacks made with his off-hand, may not use two-handed weapons (including bows) and may not use a shield. Spell-casters attempting to use spells that require a somatic component are either unable to do so or suffer a 50% chance of spell failure – DM’s prerogative. If the limb affected is a leg, the victim’s movement rate is reduced by half. If the victim somehow manages to affect his head with this substance, he’s struck unconscious for the duration of the toxin.

Screecher [Damage: Uncontrollable screaming/no effect. Onset time: Immediate] – This musty-smelling poison causes the victim to go into an uncontrollable screaming fit that lasts for 1-4 rounds. The victim is unable to stop himself and the violent convulsions that accompany this fit make it impossible for him to stifle his screams on his own. These screams will alert any nearby creatures to the victim’s presence. In dungeon situations, the screams act like the effects of a shrieker; increasing the chance of a wandering monster encounter to 50% for each round the screaming occurs.

Struck-dumb [Damage: Mute/no effect. Onset time: 2-4 rounds] – Devised to inhibit spell-casting, anyone who touches struck-dumb and fails their saving throw will find that they are unable to utter a single word. This makes the casting of any spell with a V component impossible, as well as creating communication issues within the party. This lemony-scented poison remains in effect until a neutralize poison is cast upon the victim.

Deadly Contact Poisons – These vicious poisons are the product of both alchemy and magic, creating a nasty brew. Because of their partly mystical origins, a detect magic spell will reveal a faint magical aura surrounding any object that has been coated with these poisons. This could lead to some interesting false conclusions on the part of the adventurers. Like debilitative contact poisons, deadly poisons might be noticeable by someone taking the time to inspect a treated item before handling. However, in the case of deadly contact poisons, the chance to notice something amiss is only 25%.

Generic Deadly [Damage: Death/6-48 hp. Onset time: 1-2 rounds] – This poison is crafted from the natural venom of sea-dwelling spiny fish and amplified through sorcery. A faint odor of fish and salt-water accompanies the poison. A successful check to notice the poison will reveal that the object has a slightly-incandescent rainbow hue.

Devil’s Hand [Damage: (Constitution)d10 hp/ ½ damage. Onset time: 1-2 round] – This toxin ignites when it comes into contact with exposed flesh. Once burning, this cinnamon-scented poison begins feeding on the victim’s health, turning his body into a living wick. The victim suffers damage equal to his Constitution score in 10-sided dice. The healthier the victim is, the more fuel is available to feed the flames. The fire is considered magical for determining the value of various fire protections and cannot be extinguished through normal methods. However, a feign death spell will suppress the victim’s health to a point that the flames cannot gain purchase. Should the victim survive the flames, he will be horribly scarred from the encounter, resulting in a loss of 1d6 points of Charisma.

Fool’s Gold, Greater [As generic deadly contact] – Like its less-deadly sibling, greater fool’s gold is used to protect items made from gold or a bait for thieves. When applied to gold items the chance to detect its presence is a mere 10%. Otherwise, standard detection chances apply.

Nefrusobek’s Curse [Damage: As mummy rot/0 hp. Onset time: 1d4 days] – Perfected by the necromancer Nefrusobek, this toxin replicates the effects of a mummy’s touch. Anyone failing their save against poison will die in 1-6 months and for each month the rot progresses, the victim loses 2 points of Charisma. In addition, the rot negates all cure wounds spells and slows natural healing to 10% its normal rate. Like the normal version, this condition requires a cure disease spell to remove. The poison has the slight odor of dust and spices surrounding it.

Sloughflesh [Damage: 3-24 hp per round/ ½ damage. Onset time: 1 or more rounds] – This poison smells a bit like rotted meat and for good reason. Exposed flesh coming in contact with this toxin begins to putrefy and drop off the bones of the victim, inflicting 3d8 points of damage each round it is in effect. This poison is so acidic that it will instantly eat through cloth or leather gloves. It will dissolve metal protection in 1 round plus one round for each +1 magical enchantment the metal might possess. A neutralize poison spell will stop the damage, but until a heal spell is cast on the victim, he cannot regain any lost hit points. Should the victim die from the effects of this poison, all that remains of them is a faint jelly-like smear on the ground. Nothing short of a wish spell can raise them back to life.


ze bulette said...

Most excellent! Have added these and your earlier ones to my Young Poisoner's Handbook. Cheers!

Peter Fitz said...

My players are really going to hate you for this :)

Rick Marshall said...

Dear Mike,

I like the mix of logical extensions of poisonous monsters mixed with especially interesting flights of fancy. It will make for some very entertaining encounters.

Yours truly,