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D&D 3E
A problem that's come up a few times. 
21st-Apr-2005 04:23 pm
Logo.
In D+D there are various spells and effects that work on poisons.
The problem is what exactly counts as a poison?
The one that's caused the most bother is ALCOHOL; it is a poison, but does it count for these effects? Does immunity to poison mean you can't get drunk, does detect poison only show the presence of alcohol if you have poison in the glass?

Logically it probably should count, it can, after all, be fatal; however it clearly isn't usually used as such. Almost anything can be a poison to the system in the right dosage(vitamins etc). So do these effects somehow judge intent; are they effectively fairly useless.

What opinions - or even better, rules- apply here?
Comments 
21st-Apr-2005 03:26 pm (UTC)
I play alcohol=poison. This seems to work well. There is really no reason it should matter all that much unless your players are the "am I getting drunk yet" variety.
21st-Apr-2005 03:34 pm (UTC)
I do agree, technically alcohol is a poison, in that it is a substance with detrimental affects on thr body when consumed, whether or not those effects may still at times be desirable.

I don't know that I've ever seen a rule on it, but I would have to assume that, for example, Neutralize Poison would prevent one from getting any more drunk than you already are on the alcohol you've already imbibed. Note that it won't necessarily sober you, since it doesn't cure the damage already done (I think anyway, I don't have the books in front of me).

Intent shouldn't enter into it. Basically, I'd say that anything that is not living (i.e not a disease) that can have a deleterious effect on the body, that the body doesn't actually need in some quantity, is a poison.
21st-Apr-2005 04:07 pm (UTC)
I'd say no. Here's the problem, from three perspectives:

From a modern understanding of poisons:

Water is a poison. If given in sufficient quantities, it has negative and possibly deadly affects on the human body.

Nitroglycerin is both a poison and an explosive, yet it is used in small amounts to control a heart condition.

Analgesics (pain relievers) are also poisonous and are sometimes used by people attempting to commit suicide. In small doses, it relieves pain.

Studies have shown that people who consume beer in moderate amounts are less likely to develop a heart condition later in life.

What makes a poison a poison is a combination of the toxicity (how much it takes to cause serious problems in a human body) and quantity. Anything, in sufficient quantity, when introduced into the human body, is a poison.

Those things we normally consider a poison have a very high toxicity level, meaning that it is harmful to humans in low quantities.

Personally, I don't much prefer going for scientific explanations for things because, well, magic isn't based on science.

From a medieval perspective:

It was believed that Ale and Beer are not poisons but required to be healthy. Water was considered poisonous if consumed. One of the reasons for this (besides poor sanitary practices) was because when a medieval man ate his meal, he'd get sick if he drank water, but not if he drank ale. He didn't realize that it was because the food he was eating was turning green and the alcohol helped kill the crud on the bad foot; water, did not. Thus, he got sick when he drank water.

From a rules perspective:

D&D identifies poisons as those substances which do ability damage to a character. As alcohol is not listed as one of those substances, it is not considered a poison under the rules.

Lucifer >:}
21st-Apr-2005 04:11 pm (UTC)
Actually, WotC has actually published rules for inebriation in the 3.5 Arms & Equipment Guide. It's a Fortitude save, as I recall...and the rules take into account that those who drink too much can do themselves actual physical damage.

When I can actually put hands on the book (at home, cause I'm currently at work), I'll post the referenced mechanic if anyone wants me to.
21st-Apr-2005 04:14 pm (UTC)
So an assassin's poison use also means he's pretty slick at mixing drinks? Not that the assassin/bartender is a bad idea...
21st-Apr-2005 04:25 pm (UTC)
It just means he won't get any on him when he pours it ;)

Lucifer >:}
21st-Apr-2005 04:26 pm (UTC)
No quaffing for assasins.
22nd-Apr-2005 05:44 pm (UTC)
Can anybody imagine a quaffing assasin? That could be hazardus on the job. *snickers*
21st-Apr-2005 04:39 pm (UTC)
It can get more complicated when you introduce allergies into the mix. For example, a suspension of silver in your drink would probably be fatal to a lycanthrope and relatively harmless to a human. Does it register as poison? What if I have a shellfish allergy? Can I use detect poison to ensure no one's spiked my soup with oysters in an attempt to kill me?

I'm not very helpful, am I.
21st-Apr-2005 09:14 pm (UTC)
My point to consider on whether or not you can detect or dispel or cure or remove it: In the quantity available, what happens within the next six seconds if you drink it? Do you have to save against it this round?

If it's everclear (200 proof alcohol), it's probably a poison, and darn dangerous if you're carrying a torch at the time.

If it's wine or ale, it might be diseased, but it's not a poison. More of a role-playing aid than anything else. My general experience is that people who know what happens to them when they drink can role-play a drunk character. If they don't know, all the game mechanics in the world won't help them ("... but why can't I walk the tightrope? I've only got a -5 to my skill even though I'm hammered, and I've still got a net +12!")
22nd-Apr-2005 06:52 am (UTC)
That sounds sense, it'll certainly do well as a house-rule for my lot I think.
21st-Apr-2005 09:24 pm (UTC)
Big problems with considering alcohol as a poison arise when you try to assign damages to it. Certainly alcohol's effects do stack with the amount consumed, much like an ingested poison, but would it do Wis and Dex damage? Ability damage recovers at a rate of a point per day and a person can recover from inebriation in a matter of hours, given the character's not on too much of a bender.

If I could make suggestions, I'd say that alcoholic beverages causes nonlethal damage with a failed fort save. This would give the desired passing-out mechanic after dirnking too much. Might add a concealment chance on all attack rolls though.

The other sticky part of this is the classic tendency of some beverages to affect certain races more than others. Elven Feywine was described back in 2e as being a delicacy for elves, but any other race that drank it would be floored rather quickly, partiuclarly humans. It brings to mind the deleted Legolas/Gimli drinking contest scene in RotK, but then Tolkien Elves aren't quite the -2 Con type.
22nd-Apr-2005 01:57 pm (UTC)
I created a potion of sobriety for my campaign. Smells and tastes like coffee. Drink it before drinking alcohol and you stay sober no matter how much you drink in the next 12 hours. (You still have to pee from drinking large quantities of beer) Drink after getting hammered and you sober up in one round, with no hangover.

If only it was real.
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