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Optional Poison Rules

Copyright Lynn Parnell ©2002

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

I created the following rules because I do not like how poisons are handled in RM2, RMSS or RMFRP. The following rules are based on several assumptions.

First, poisons are toxins that effect through bio-chemical means and are very difficult to resist. Also, if poison is injected, then the minimal effects will take place because the body is not immune to toxins and poisons. (The GM may declare there to be exceptions. In my game, a Dragons blood destroys all poisons. Many demons are also immune or highly resistant to poisons.) Finally, poisons are dangerous.


Because of the nature of poisons, all targets make RRs at level one against them, regardless of actual level. Co x 3 is used to modify the RR, as is any racial bonus. A character could also develop Resistance skill as outlined in the School of Hard Knocks at GM discretion. Certain races may be assigned a higher level of resistance by the GM. Typically though, all targets make RRs versus poisons as a level one creature.


The real question about poison is this: Has the poison entered the targets system? If the answer is yes, then the target will suffer at least the minimum effect of the poison, as outlined in Gamemaster Law. Special poisons created by the GM will have their own effects, but it is assumed here that Gamemaster Law (or the standard poison/disease guidelines that have been in RM for a long time now) are being used to help determine onset time of the poisons, effect, etc. To know the penalty for the RR, first we have to find out just how badly the target was poisoned.

When an attack with poison strikes, use the following guidelines to determine if the poison enters the wound. (Note: depending on the critical damage and the form of the attack used, you may want to declare the target will automatically be poisoned, in which case proceed with the RR but the target will suffer the minimum effect of the poison even if he makes the RR.) If the attack delivers hits but no crit, then the probability of the poison entering the system is equal to half the hits delivered.

If a tiny crit results, the chance is 25% per severity of the crit (e.g., a B crit would transfer the toxin 50% of the time, an E crit 125% of the time). If a normal crit is delivered, the chance is 30% per severity of the crit. These percentages are smaller for Large and Super Large foes. Large creatures have a 15% chance per severity of the crit while Super Large have a 5% chance per severity of the crit (regardless of type).

Also, certain types of attacks and critical results (based on damage, not color text) will increase the chance of poisoning. This is the GM's call. As a rule of thumb, I increase poisoning chance by 5% per point of bleeding delivered by a wound. One final thing that can greatly reduce the chance of poisoning is armor. You will want to pay close attention to the damage listed on the crit, and may want to lower the chance to be poisoned by a percentage equal to the target's AT. This bonus should not apply to natural ATs.

After the target has determined the chance to be poisoned, he rolls percentage dice (open-ended) and records the result. This number is subtracted from the total chance to poison, which gives the penalty the target will suffer when making his RR. Please note that if the target fails to roll above the chance to poison percentage, then he is poisoned, and even if he makes his RR, he will suffer minimum poison effects. These effects are halved if the target made his RR, including penalties, duration, etc., but not onset time.

As an example, consider an Orc warrior named Gorbag using a level 10 poison called Sharkasar. This poison is a paste that causes 1d10 concussion hits, a maximum of moderate effects, and is a circulatory poison. Gorbag coats his arrows with it and, while out hunting, stumbles across a hapless adventurer that he shoots for 17D crit. The crit is a 53, and as Gorbag sneaked up behind the PC, the GM rules that the PC is shot in the side of his leg for +5 hits, one round must parry, bleeding 3 hits/round and a 15 to activity. The GM calculates the chance to be poisoned as 135% (30% per severity of the crit = 120% + 5% per point of bleeding). The player rolls and gets a 67, which is then subtracted from the 135% chance of being poisoned. This results in a 68 to the RR. Our hero, who has a +8 Co mod, receives a +24 to his roll, with an additional +20 for an amulet that protects against poisoning. Against a level 10 attack, he needs an 85 or better to save. He rolls a 58 (+ 44) 68 = 34. This fails by 51 points. GM Law, page 89, shows this as severe failure, but the poison can have no greater than a moderate effect. So, the PC will begin to suffer the effects of the poison in 330 rounds, which will last 150 hours (page 93 of GM Law).

I will point out that these optional rules are unfriendly. They are designed to be. Every year several thousand Americans die from poisoning, many of them children. Fact is, once a toxin hits the system, it will run its course without serious medical attention. Poisons and venoms are serious stuff, often lethal. GMs can, however, easily alter the danger level of poisons by assigning different probabilities of poisons entering the system. This could be used to represent weak poisons, or even poisons with a high potency that are difficult to get into the system of the target, as when a PC throws a vial of venom at a villain. The major point of the rule is to express that if a poison is ingested or injected, it will have an effect, period.


Editor's Note: The mechanics presented here can be simplified to a single RR. The target rolls and subtracts the percentage indicated in the article. If the result is positive, the poison does not enter the system. Otherwise, add 50 and all other modifiers. Treat this as the final RR. As indicated above, even if the RR is successful, the poison will still have some effect.

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