Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Another Optional LL: Save or Die Poisons

So I'm not a fan of "Save or Die" poisons, for two reasons.

  1. Save or Die effects remove any player agency or chance to survive certain encounters and generally make a player feel arbitrarily hosed simply for one poor roll.
  2. The number of poisons in the real world that kill you in a minute or less are extraordinarily rare. Granted, getting bitten by a spider the size of a pony will likely inject someone with enough poison to kill them, it's just odd for them to just drop dead on the spot.

Debbie is a fan of Save or Die Poisons
So, here's my house rule:

Save or Die Poisons: If my players fail their save to resist a "Save or Die" poison, then they're definitely going to die - but not instantly. They've got a number of turns equal to their Constitution score before death. While poisoned, they suffer a -2 penalty to all attack rolls, and -2 to all ability checks related to Strength and Dexterity.

That way they have (hopefully) at least an hour to solve the problem - whether that's lopping a limb off or rushing to find a cure - well, that's up to them.


  1. Other options for Save or Die:

    Save or Coma
    Save or Insanity
    (see also: Save or Radical Alignment Change)
    Save or Terrible Curse

  2. I'm quite fond of poison doing Xd6 per round until the player makes a successful save.

    1. it eliminates the "one bad roll" complaint (and most of my campaigns lack any Raise Dead option)
    2. it mimics the progressive action of many RL poisons
    3. it doesn't shift the balance of play for those fragile level 1 and 2 characters (for whom 2D6 damage is the same as save or die anyway)
    4. it creates an opportunity to administer expensive antidotes or race against the venom with healing spells (creating a nail-biting tug-o-war if the character hasn't made a save yet)



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