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Poisoned in 5e – Potential for Deadly Effects

The official description of poisoned is as follows: (Source – Roll20)

  • A poisoned creature has disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks

It uses a Constitution Saving throw in most cases.

Causes of Poisoned:

A Red mist cauldron of poisoned liquid

Poisoned is one of those conditions that can apply other conditions, such as blindness. A different kind of poison instead deals a certain amount of damage. What it does is determined by the poison source, and there are a lot of monsters that inflict the poisoned condition.

Their effects vary greatly in severity, depending on what inflicts the condition. And There are a lot of causes of the poisoned condition.

Monster Abilities

  • Giant Spider {Bite} [Player’s Handbook Pg 306]
    • Applies Paralysis for poison’s duration if reduced to 0 hp with the hit. Target is Stable (No death saves needed) (1 hour)
    • DC 11 Constitution Saving throw
  • Imp {Sting} [Player’s Handbook Pg 306
    • 3d6 poison damage on failed saving throw, half for successful save
    • DC 11 Constitution Saving Throw
  • Poisonous Snake {Bite} [Player’s Handbook Pg 308]
    • 2d4 Poison damage on failed saving throw, half for successful save
    • DC 10 Constitution Saving Throw
  • Pseudodragon {Sting} [Player’s Handbook Pg 308]
    • If failed saving throw, becomes poisoned for 1 hour. If Saving throw is 6 or lower, target falls unconcious for the poisons duration until it takes damage or another creature uses an action to wake it.
    • DC 11 Constitution Saving Throw
  • Quasit {Claws} [Player’s Handbook Pg 309]
    • Poison Damage over time (2d4). Saving throw repeated each turn for the poison’s duration. Lasts 1 minute.
    • DC 10 Constitution Saving Throw
  • Sprite {Shortbow} [Player’s Handbook Pg 310]
    • Inflicts unconscious for 1 minute if failed saving throw with a value of 5 or lower
    • Unconcious can be ended early if inflicted target takes damage, or another creature uses an action to wake it up.
    • DC 10 Constitution Saving Throw
  • Carrion Crawler {Tentacles} [Monster Manual Pg 37]
    • Inflicts Paralysis for 1 minute if failed saving throw
    • Target can repeat saving throw at the end of each turn, ending poison on first success
    • DC 13 Constitutuon Saving Throw
  • Chuul {Tentacles} [Monster Manual Pg 40]
    • Inflicts Paralysis for 1 minute if failed saving throw
    • Target can repeat saving throw at the end of each turn, ending poison on first success
    • DC 13 Constitutuon Saving Throw
  • Couatl {Bite} [Monster Manual Pg 43]
    • Inflicts Unconsciousness for 24 hours, unless awoken by an action to shake by another creature
    • DC 13 Constitution Saving Throw
  • Dretch {Fetid Cloud} [Monster Manual Pg 57]
    • Prevents the use of an action or bonus action while afflicted (choose one)
    • DC 11 Constitution Saving Throw
  • Hezrou {Stench} [Monster Manual Pg 60]
    • Basic Poisoned Condition (See the beginning of the article)
    • DC 14 Constition Saving Throw
  • Vrock {Spores} [Monster Manual Pg 64]
    • Damage each turn until removed or saving throw success
    • DC 14 Constitution Saving Throw
  • Yochlol {Mist Form} [Monster Manual Pg 65]
    • Incapacitated while afflicted
    • DC 14 Constitution Saving Throw
  • Bearded Devil {Beard} [Monster Manual Pg 70]
    • Can’t regain hit points while afflicted
    • DC 12 Constitution Saving Throw
  • Bone Devil {Sting} [Monster Manual Pg 71]
    • Basic Poison (See beginning of article)
    • DC 14 Constitution Saving Throw
  • Erinyes {Longbow} [Monster Manual Pg 73]
    • Infinite Duration Poison until removed by lesser restoration or similar magic
    • DC 14 Constitution Saving Throw
  • Pit Fiend {Bite} [Monster Manual Pg 77]
    • Prevents healing, deals damage at the start of each of it’s turn to poisoned targets
    • Effect ends on first constition saving throw or magic that removes poison
    • DC 21 Constitution Saving Throw
  • …And Many more (This is getting a bit too long.)

Consumable Items

  • Poison, Basic (Vial)
    • DC 10 Constitution Saving Throw
    • 1d4 Poison damage per turn, con save applies each turn
    • Lasts 1 minute
Advanced PoisonsAdministered byCauses
Assassin’s Blood{Ingested}Extra Damage
Burnt othur fumes{Inhaled}Extra Damage
Carrion crawler mucus{Contact}Paralysis
Drow Poison{Injury}Unconsciousness
Essence of Ether{Inhaled}Unconsciousness
Midnight tears{Ingested}Extra Damage
Oil of Taggit{Contact} Unconsciousness
Pale tincture{Ingested}Can’t be Healed, Extra Damage
Purple worm poison{Injury}Extra Damage
Serpent venom{Injury}Extra Damage
Truth Serum{Ingested}Prevent Lies
Wyvern Poison{Injury}Extra Damage
Dungeon Master’s Guide Pg 258


Class Features

  • Wild Magic Surge (73-74)
    • A random creature within 60 feet of you becomes poisoned for 1d4 hours.
    • See start of article for what the poisoned effect itself does
    • DM Can specify a specific type of poison effect if they wish

Magic Items

Dungeon Hazards

Spells that Inflict Poison Damage

There are some spells that inflict poison damage that doesn’t inflict the condition. I’ve included these separately for those of you who want to build a poison-themed character.

How Poisoned Can Be Used for Storytelling:

Like many others, the poisoned condition can easily be applied to an NPC permanently until the party figures out a way to cure it.

Perhaps a farmer was bitten by a rare poisonous snake, and the traditional Anti-toxin formula is ineffective against it. You could send off the party to search for the rare snake, with the condition of capturing the snake alive to use a sample of its venom to make a specialized anti-toxin potion. Barring that, they could seek out a cleric or some less savory solutions – such as the local hedge witch as a last resort.

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Maybe the local aristocrat was attacked by an assassin that used a particular poison on the blade. As a result, the aristocrat’s wife could hire your party of adventurers to seek out said assassin. Perhaps the assassin demanded a ransom for the antidote, which is given to the party for exchange. But, of course, they could always opt to kill the assassin instead and keep the ransom money for themselves, should they be playing the more evil murder hobo-type characters.

Or, if the party has a member who can cast a spell that removes the poison effect, they could do it themselves, circumventing the entire plot you set up in the first place. (Maybe you could tie the assassin scenario into him seeking the party out for foiling his plans if that NPC is necessary for the plot. As for the rare snake? Sorry, save it for the next group.)

What Counters Poisoned?

Healing Spell in 5E DND

There is a surprising number of counters to the poisoned condition, but given that there are also a lot of different ways that the condition can be applied, I’m not all that surprised. From Half damage, advantage on saving throws, and immunity, to suppressing the effect of or outright removing it, there are a bunch of options just within the Player’s Handbook. Never mind any other book that expands the spell list, races, and monster types.

However, these counters are somewhat important in many cases of poison being applied to a member, as the effect can last as long as several days in some instances and cause some severe issues. This is because the poisoned condition throws on other conditions that can be serious, such as petrification.

It is also the only condition that can inflict just about every other condition, save for maybe grappled or restrained.

Grants Advantage on Saving Throws & Half Damage

Half Damage

Gives Advantage on Saving Throws


Suppress the Effects

Grants Immunity

How Bad is the Poisoned Condition?

The severity of the poison very much depends on the toxin itself. A weak poison effect simply gives disadvantage on attack and ability checks. However, the poisoned condition can inflict almost every other condition type in 5e Dungeons and Dragons. This can make it as dangerous as any of those conditions it applies, so you’ll need to be vigilant against it.

But given the sheer number of counters to poison available, there is a lot you can do to resolve this issue, making the condition itself relatively easy to contend with. However, for an unprepared party, poison can be devastating.

Next up on the list is Prone!

Devon Kubacki

Devon Kubacki

Hi there, I'm Devon, nice to meet you! I am the founder of Notes of Yore, and I'm an avid fan of tabletop games, particularly Dungeons and Dragons. I've been playing for just under two years now, and can say that I am hooked...or rather grappled by it. I hope you find my work here on NoYo helpful, and thank you for reading!View Author posts

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