I’ve been rereading A Song of Ice and Fire lately (in order to prepare for the whirlwind tear through A Dance with Dragons that I just finished), and one of the many cool things in the novel is the breadth of poisons.
D&D 3e’s poisons are kinda lame. Almost all of them are a small amount of ability score damage dealt a couple of times after a couple of minutes (Pathfinder increases the chance that they’ll do more, but not by a lot: almost all are done after 1-2 successful saves). That minute is forever in combat. More importantly, their reliance on ability score damage makes them next to useless for PCs, as the ability damage is really only useful in a long fight against a significant foe (even then, boss enemies are likely to save out). Against PCs, poisons are merely a mounting annoyance requiring recalculation of ability score bonuses. Major toxins with high save DCs are a threat, as is a dungeon full of poison-users where the failed saves eventually stack up, but most poison situations aren’t a real threat.
So below are a handful of new poisons that are, foremost, intended to be attractive to use… either by the PCs, or by their enemies. Since there’s no useful guideline for pricing poisons, I’ve made my best guess. A lot of these are probably the purview of secretive cabals of assassins that are given away or used only sparingly.
Distilled from the saliva of stirges, this poison prevents wounds from clotting, causing them to bleed freely.
Deeper wounds typically receive more of the toxin, thus the save DC is equal to 10 plus the amount of damage showing on the weapon damage dice (disregarding bonus damage). For example, a 6 damage hit from an attack that dealt 1d8+2 would be DC 14, and if that same attack crit for 13 damage (out of 2d8+4), the DC would be 19.
Unlike normal poisons, the durations do not stack. Instead, each poisoned wound is tracked separately.
Since forcing the wound to heal over will halt the bleeding, a healing spell that heals more than the original damage of the wound immediately ends the bleeding. For multiple wounds, track the healing total across all: if the character was poisoned by a 3 HP wound and 6 HP wound, both are cured after 9 HP are healed.
Type poison, injury; Save Fortitude DC [special]
Onset 1 round; Frequency 1/round until cured
Effect 1d4 bleed damage per round; Cure 1 save or special
Cost: 100 gp/dose
This poison is brewed from several hallucinogens and then distilled to isolate their more subtle properties. It has a sweet, distinctive flavor; since its effects resemble extreme intoxication, it is almost always mixed in wine or other strongly flavored alcohol.
In addition to its damage to Charisma, those under its effects find it almost impossible to remain silent when asked a question (particularly one phrased in a subtle manner). The subject must make a Will save (DC equal to the questioner’s Bluff + 10) to avoid answering. The subject is not compelled to tell the truth, but the damage to Charisma will make it harder to tell believable lies.
If the subject is reduced to 0 Charisma, he or she becomes unconscious and will not remember the period when affected by the poison (exactly as if blacked out drunk).
Note that this poison benefits strongly from the stacking effects of poison: each subsequent dose ingested increases the save DC by 2 and extends the period by 30 minutes.
Type poison, ingested; Save Fortitude DC 14
Onset 10 minutes; Frequency once per 10 minutes for 30 minutes (i.e., 3 saves per dose)
Effect 1d3 Cha damage and special; Cure 2 consecutive saves
Cost: 150 gp/dose
A close cousin to Nightmare Vapor, this toxin is distilled from certain jungle mushrooms. Those afflicted by the poison see phantoms and other threats all around them, and have great difficulty telling friend from foe.
Note that this poison benefits strongly from stacking to increase its DC and duration. It is often used against more powerful foes by gangs of murderers that cooperate to assist one another as they each attack with pre-poisoned blades. Others coat it upon a brace of darts, and render their target senseless before he or she reaches them.
Type poison, injury; Save Fortitude DC 14
Onset 2 rounds; Frequency once every 2 rounds for 6 rounds (i.e., 3 saves per dose)
Effect 1d2 Wis damage and confused; Cure 2 consecutive saves
Cost: 1,000 gp/dose
A carefully brewed cocktail of toxins with a faint metallic taste, this poison provides an intoxicating euphoria in a conscious target. If the subject becomes unconscious (either through reaching 0 Wis or other means including natural sleep), the toxin takes advantage of his or her slowed metabolism to have a much more insidious effect. Those that are reduced to 0 Con die peacefully in their sleep, apparently of heart failure, likely never having realized that they were poisoned.
A victim of this poison will typically heal 1 Wis after 8 hours of sleep, and afterwards can be woken normally (and will likely wake on his or her own in 1d4 hours after healing). If the lucky subject has not been reduced to 0 Con by this point, the poison is quickly eliminated from the once-again-active system. The remaining ability damage may simply be regarded as the results of an ill-advised bender.
Type poison, ingested; Save Fortitude DC 18
Onset 20 minutes; Frequency once every hour until cured
Effect 1d4 Wis damage when awake, 1d4 Con damage after unconsciousness; Cure 2 consecutive saves or special
Cost: 5,000 gp/dose