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Pathfinder Reference Document
Pathfinder Reference Document


A poison is a substance that interferes with the natural functions of a living creature's body, causing injury or death, typically requiring only a very small amount. The target of a poison may resist with a successful saving throw. Poisons can be delayed or cured with spells such as delay poison and neutralize poison. Poisons have four categories, based on how they reach the target: contact, ingested, inhaled, or injury.

Contact: These poisons are delivered the moment a creature touches the poison with its bare skin. Such poisons can be used as injury poisons. Contact poisons usually have an onset time of 1 minute and a frequency of 1 minute.

Ingested: These poisons are delivered when a creature eats or drinks the poison. Ingested poisons usually have an onset time of 10 minutes and a frequency of 1 minute.

Inhaled: These poisons are delivered the moment a creature enters an area containing such poisons and do not usually have an onset time. For most inhaled poisons, 1 dose fills a volume equal to a 10-foot cube. A creature can attempt to hold its breath while inside the area to avoid inhaling the toxin. A creature holding its breath receives a 50% chance of not having to make a Fortitude save each round. See the rules for holding your breath and suffocation. If a creature is holding its breath and fails the constitution check to continue doing so, rather than suffocating it begins to breathe normally again (and is subject to the effects of the inhaled poison if still in the area).

Injury: These poisons are primarily delivered through the attacks of certain creatures and through weapons coated in the toxin. Injury poisons do not usually have an onset time and have a frequency of 1 round.

Applying Poison

One dose of poison smeared on a weapon or some other object affects just a single target. A poisoned weapon or object retains its poison until the weapon scores a hit or the object is touched (unless the poison is wiped off before a target comes in contact with it).

Applying poison to a weapon or single piece of ammunition is a standard action. Whenever you apply or ready a poison for use, there is a 5% chance that you expose yourself to the poison and must save against the poison as normal. This does not consume the dose of poison. Whenever you attack with a poisoned weapon, if the attack roll results in a natural 1, you expose yourself to the poison. This consumes the poison on the weapon. If you have the poison use class feature (such as from the assassin prestige class or the alchemist base class), you do not risk accidentally poisoning yourself when applying poison.

Multiple Doses of Poison

Unlike other afflictions, multiple doses of the same poison "stack," meaning that successive doses combine to increase the poison's DC and duration.

Making your initial saving throw against a poison means stacking does not occur—the poison did not affect you and any later doses are treated independently. Likewise, if a poison has been cured or run its course (by you either making the saves or outlasting the poison's duration), stacking does not occur. However, if there is still poison active in you when you are attacked with that type of poison again, and you fail your initial save against the new dose, the doses stack. This has two effects, which last until the poisons run their course.

Increased Duration: Increase the duration of the poison by 1/2 the amount listed in its frequency entry.

Increased DC: Increase the poison's duration by +2.

These increases are cumulative (a third dose adds another 1/2 of the frequency to the duration and +2 to the DC, and so on). When affected by multiple doses of the same poison, you only make one saving throw at this higher DC when required by the frequency, rather than one saving throw against each dose of the poison.

Multiple doses do not alter the Cure condition of the Poison, and meeting that Cure condition ends all doses of the poison.

Applied contact poisons and injury poisons cannot inflict more than one dose of poison per weapon at a time (because the poison on the weapon only lasts for one successful attack before it wears off). Inhaled and ingested poisons can inflict multiple doses at once.

Doses from different poisons (such as an assassin with greenblood oil on his dagger and Medium spider venom on his short sword) do not stack—the effects of each are tracked separately.

Example: A fighter is facing three Medium spiders (which inject Medium spider venom on a successful bite). Medium spider venom normally has a frequency of 4 rounds and a DC of 14. On the first round, all three spiders bite him and he fails all three saves. The second and third doses each increase the total duration by 2 rounds (half of the 4 round frequency) and the save DC by +2, for a total duration of 8 rounds (4 + 2 + 2) and DC 18 (14 + 2 + 2). Fortunately, Medium spider venom is cured after just one successful save, even though the fighter is battling three doses at once.

Example: This time, the fighter makes two of his initial saves against the spider venom, so he only has one dose active in his body. He fails his save on his turn. On the spiders's turn, two of them bite him, and he fails both saves, which increases the duration to 8 rounds and the DC to 18, just as if he had failed all three saves in the same round.

Crafting Poison

You can make poison with the Craft (alchemy) skill. The DC to make a poison is equal to its Fortitude save DC. Rolling a natural 1 on a Craft skill check while making a poison exposes you to the poison. This does not consume the poison. If you have the poison use class feature, you do not risk accidentally poisoning yourself when applying poison.

The sample poisons on the next page represent just some of the common poisons available in cities. Of course, most cities have laws against buying, selling, or crafting poison.

PoisonTypeFort DCOnsetFrequencyEffectCurePrice
Black lotus extractContact201 min.1/rd. for 6 rds.1d6 Con2 saves4,500 gp
Dragon bileContact261/rd. for 6 rds.1d3 Str1,500 gp
Malyass root pasteContact161 min.1/min. for 6 min.1d2 Dex1 save250 gp
NitharitContact131 min.1/min. for 6 min.1d3 Con1 save650 gp
Sassone leaf residueContact161 min.1/min. for 6 min.2d12 hp/1 Con1 save300 gp
Tears of deathContact221 min.1/min. for 6 min.1d6 Con and paralyzed 1 min.6,500 gp
Terinav rootContact161 min.1/min. for 6 min.1d3 Dex1 save400 gp
ArsenicIngested1310 min.1/min. for 4 min.1d2 Con1 save120 gp
BelladonnaIngested1410 min.1/min. for 6 min.1d2 Str, see text1 save100 gp
Dark reaver powderIngested1810 min.1/min. for 6 min.1d3 Con and 1 Str2 saves800 gp
HemlockIngested1810 min.1/min. for 6 min.1d6 Dex, see text2 saves2,500 gp
Id mossIngested1410 min.1/min. for 6 min.1d3 Int1 save125 gp
Indigo dreamsIngested1310 min.1/min. for 6 min.1d3 Wis2 saves150 gp
King's sleepIngested191 day1/day1 Con drain2 saves5,000 gp
Lich dustIngested1710 min.1/min. for 6 min.1d3 Str2 saves400 gp
Oil of taggitIngested151 min.Unconscious 1d3 hrs.1 save90 gp
Striped toadstoolIngested1110 min.1/min. for 4 min.1d3 Wis and 1 Int1 save180 gp
Swampseer poisonIngested1810 min.1/min. for 3 min.1d4 Wis/1d2 Wis and confusion 1 min.2 saves400 gp
WolfsbaneIngested1610 min.1/min. for 6 min.1d3 Con1 save500 gp
Azure lily pollenInhaled151/min. for 2 min.nauseated 1 min./paralyzed 2d4 hrs.1 save1,500 gp
Burnt othur fumesInhaled181/rd. for 6 rds.1 Con drain/1d3 Con2 saves2,100 gp
Insanity mistInhaled151/rd. for 6 rds.1d3 Wis1 save1,500 gp
Nightmare vaporInhaled201/rd. for 6 rds.1 Wis and confused 1 rd.2 saves1,800 gp
Ungol dustInhaled151/rd. for 4 rds.1 Cha drain/1d2 Cha1 save1,000 gp
Black adder venomInjury111/rd. for 6 rds.1d2 Con1 save120 gp
BloodrootInjury121 rd.1/rd. for 4 rds.1 Con and 1 Wis and confusion 1 rd.1 save100 gp
Blue whinnisInjury141/rd. for 2 rds.1 Con/unconscious 1d3 hrs.1 save120 gp
DeathbladeInjury201/rd. for 6 rds.1d3 Con2 saves1,800 gp
Drow poisonInjury131/min. for 2 min.Unconscious 1 min./2d4 hrs.1 save75 gp
Giant wasp poisonInjury181/rd. for 6 rds.1d2 Dex1 save210 gp
Greenblood oilInjury131/rd. for 4 rds.1 Con1 save100 gp
Large scorpion venomInjury171/rd. for 6 rds.1d2 Str1 save200 gp
Medium spider venomInjury141/rd. for 4 rds.1d2 Str1 save150 gp
Purple worm poisonInjury241/rd. for 6 rds.1d3 Str2 saves700 gp
Shadow essenceInjury171/rd. for 6 rds.1 Str drain/1d2 Str1 save250 gp
Small centipede poisonInjury111/rd. for 4 rds.1 Dex1 save90 gp
Wyvern poisonInjury171/rd. for 6 rds.1d4 Con2 saves3,000 gp