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Clarifications on poisoned darts

Posted: Thu Nov 24, 2016 3:30 pm
by kracht
Hi everybody,

I would like to ask a rule clarification on DD to you readers or, why not?, the author himself. I was wondering if there are any guidelines on how to use poisons with blowguns. The Rules Cyclopedia had a table on page 80 that gave the damage of poisoned darts depending on the victim's Hit Dice. I cannot find anything along these lines in DD, so I was wondering: should PCs be allowed to buy or create poisons modeled on the venom of some creatures from the Monsters chapter (i.e., snakes etc.), with the same effects? Should the effects be modeled after poisonous potions, as per chapter 19? Or what else? Any suggestions are very welcome. Thanks a lot in advance.

Re: Clarifications on poisoned darts

Posted: Thu Dec 01, 2016 2:17 pm
by Blacky the Blackball
Poisons are always a bit of a tricky issue in D&D, particularly in the older editions such as the one that Dark Dungeons emulates.

Most poisons are of the "Save or Die" variety, where you make a saving throw versus poison or you die. The problem with allowing that sort of poison to be applied to a blowpipe dart is that it's a really, really powerful effect that will easily dominate the game. Being able to kill foes with these is such a good tactic that players will want to use it all the time. Open fights will be rare as the players want to use blowpipes to assassinate their potential foes from the darkness (or, at higher levels, from invisible and/or flying positions).

So what can be done about it? Making poisons expensive is one potential solution, but then you've still got the issue that the players will want to "milk" monsters for poison or extract it from their corpses and will want rules or on-the-spot rulings for that.

Given what I've said above, my personal opinion is that the use of poisoned darts from blowguns - and, in fact, poisoned weapons in general - should be restricted to jungle tribes and the occasional NPC assassin. As such, poisons shouldn't generally have a price and players shouldn't be able to create them. Under these conditions, I wouldn't expect any player to use a blowgun (or to want to use one).

If you really want your players to use poisoned blowgun darts, I'd suggest simply letting a blowgun do the same damage as a longbow on the assumption that the damage is caused by the poison rather than the dart itself. I'd give a saving throw for half damage (with immunity to poison negating the damage completely, of course) and suggest that on a failed save the target won't know where the damage has come from. The increased damage at higher levels of weapon mastery would represent an increase in proficiency in applying poison to the darts.

I just came up with this on the spur of the moment, so it's not play-tested or anything, but it seems reasonable to me. It makes blowguns useful without making them overpowered. In most situations they'll be strictly inferior to a long bow (they don't get the "delay" effect and the target gets to save against the damage) - so they won't dominate the game - but if stealth is required they can be used for assassinations that are far more subtle than shooting someone with an arrow.

Re: Clarifications on poisoned darts

Posted: Fri Dec 09, 2016 11:06 pm
by kracht
Hi Blacky,

thank you SO much for your answer! I wasn't online very often last week, so I only happened to read it now. Very solid advice, I will keep all this in mind.


Re: Clarifications on poisoned darts

Posted: Sat Dec 10, 2016 12:42 pm
by Big Mac
I suppose that a poison on a dart is only going to be a fairly small amount of poison, compared to what might be delivered by other methods.

There is also the fact that, if players can use poison darts with a blowpipe, they might well also ask if they can use poison arrows with a bow or poison bolts with a crossbow.

Re: Clarifications on poisoned darts

Posted: Sat Dec 10, 2016 4:56 pm
by kracht
I agree, poisons as "shortcuts" to insta-kill (comparatively) powerful opponents might be a real problem. I was curious because Blacky, by staying faithful to the RC, listed the two varieties of blowgun in the Weapon Mastery (Feats) Chapter. So I was wondering if there were any semi-official houserules on how to deal with poison: now I know it is sensitive matter :) Thanks to you both!

Re: Clarifications on poisoned darts

Posted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:56 am
by LimeOdyssey
Looking at poison from within what Dark Dungeons gives us, there are snake poisons which are lethal over short periods of time, and some other "poisons" that other creatures manifest.

Assuming that the process to obtain these poisons from the creature is not foolproof or perfect, it would need a Craft (Poison - specific type eg Snake Poison) to obtain the raw material, then a separate Craft (Poison) roll to refine it for use PER DOSE, with one dose needed for a blowgun dart and multiple doses for other weapons. Also the poison obtained from the monster should be weaker than the poison the monster itself manifests. Maybe have the poison simply do more damage or do stunning damage instead of being lethal if a saving throw is failed.

It's easy enough to work out a save made / save failed matrix for poisons - save made: damage taken / save failed: stunning damage etc.

Another option would be a choice under a Craft (Poison) skill of specifying what type of effect your SINGLE DOSE of poison would have on a man sized or smaller target - Petrify, Paralyse, Kill, Stun, mere damage or hallucinations. Difficulty of making the SINGLE DOSE could be modified skill roll with penalty of 6, 4, 2 or 1 by type. Scrolls might contain a recipe for one of the poisons.

"Poisons" would include beneficial herbal remedies too, such as sleeping potions, anaesthetic potions and so on.

To the extent that it's a form of the Craft, Chemistry or other skills I would allow it, I just wouldn't allow it to be unbalancing. Put the effort in, roll to make it, use it within a game week or it expires in potency.