We’ve gained notoriety,
And caused much anxiety
In the Audubon Society
With our games.
They call it impiety,
And lack of propriety,
And quite a variety
Of unpleasant names.
But it’s not against any religion
To want to dispose of a pigeon.
So if Sunday you’re free,
Why don’t you come with me,
And we’ll poison the pigeons in the park.
And maybe we’ll do
In a squirrel or two,
While we’re poisoning pigeons in the park.
We’ll murder them (all) amid laughter and merriment.
Except for the few we take home to experiment.
My pulse will be quickenin’
With each drop of strychnine
We feed to a pigeon.
It just takes a smidgen!
To poison a pigeon in the park.
(Tom Lehrer’s “Poisoning the Pigeons in the Park” is a sardonically funny little ditty. For the complete version by the master sage himself on video, go here.)
Update 19’s changes are far sweeping than any update I’ve experienced in my three years of game play.
One of these changes is the significance of poison.
Before Update 14, poisoning was merely a nuisance for most players. You’d find and use a Proof against Poison item to give effective immunity to what poisons were out there. Monks gained early immunity to all poisons. Poison was just…poison. There weren’t any variations I can remember from back then. By the time your character’s Fortitude saves were sufficiently high, no one worried about poison again until they reincarnated.
And then the Menace of the Underdark expansion appeared and things–that is, players–took on a different shade of green.
The Proof is in New Poison Types
Poison gained three new variations: Natural, magical and supernatural. Proof against Poison items now only protect you from natural poisons and gave you saving throws against magical poisons based primarily on the Proof gear plus your Fortitude save.
As many a player learned quite quickly when fighting the Spinner of Shadows in the quest of the same name, your natural and magical poison resistances and immunities did nothing against the Spinner’s Strong Spider Demon Venom, a supernatural poison that would absolutely kill you if you didn’t loiter around the fragment of the Silver Flame to rid you of the powerful effects.
As for my characters, I didn’t worry about poison at all to this point as Monks gained poison immunity. So it was quite the shock when the Spinner’s poison took me down fast and brutally. As I learned later, the Monk’s granted feat against poison, Diamond Body, was reworked with Update 14 to protect a Monk only from natural poisons.
Over the last few updates, players were a bit more careful around the Spinner but weren’t that concerned about poison damage from anywhere else. With Update 19, that thinking has got to be changing rapidly.
Poison is now a significant and increasingly common damage effect that comes from many sources and forms.
Many natural poisons are warded off with a Proof against Poison item, as in the past. These include bites from spiders, spores from zombies, scorpions and bugbears.
And then comes the pain: Magical poisons are abundantly found in several enemies. Thankfully, some Monks can take advantage of their own abilities in this realm.
(FuzzyDuck81 noted an omission to this article on its first posting.) Thankfully, Poison Neutralization potions and spells rid you of the long-term effects of most poisons and give you temporary immunity from that poison for a time. But it won’t remove existing damage caused by the poison. You’ll need Restoration or Panacea for that.
In the past, poisons didn’t take hold as well from enemy attacks. Today, with the delineation of poisons, enemy weapons will deliver specific poisons that primarily target your ability stats. Some of these poisons give a one-time damage effect that reduces that ability until you use a poison neutralization spell or potion, such as from poison traps. If you are poisoned, that familiar greenish “H” appears over your head, telling you that you should drink that potion right away before you’re forced to use some kind of Restoration spell or potion to cure what damaged you.
But now some poisons deliver a damage-over-time, or “DoT” effect. As anyone who has or knows of a Cleric and their Divine Punishment spell, a DoT attack sends stacking, cumultative damage as often as it is applied, often causing damage to enemies even if they have run away or when they aren’t receiving any other attacks by your party.
Attacks from these enemies will cause a special untyped DoT effect if you are unfortunate in being attacked.
- Green Dragon Poison: “This powerful and magical poison of the dragon attacks your body.” Can stack multiple times, damage over time effect. The quest “Don’t Drink the Water” has a dragon that delivers this in spades.
- Drow Weapon Poison: Can stack multiple times, damage over time effect. Found on the Faerun Drow.
- Purple Worm Tail Venom: “This underdark creature has a powerful poison!” Can stack multiple times, damage over time effect. Found on the worms of the Faerun Drow in the Underdark and in the quest “In the Belly of the Beast.”
Anyone that has an Epic character now has experienced the Drow poison effects more and more now. Even if you can absorb physical and magical damage, their poison will eat at you for additional nastiness. Fighter weapons are coated with it. This is especially bad against your hirelings since they cannot react as well to DoT effects.
Most magical poisons, like most natural poisons, give a one-time effect. The difference is that few, if any characters have immunity to magical poisons and must rely on their enchantment resistances and other abilities to slow down, if not stop, the poisons from toxifying them. These magical poisons include:
- Arcanaloth: You have been poisoned by an arcanaloth and may soon suffer additional Strength damage. (These are known more popularly as Yugoloths, the dog-like sages hanging about in Amrath and the Demonweb.)
- Fire Reaver: You have been poisoned by a fire reaver and may soon suffer additional Strength damage.
- Flesh Render: You have been poisoned by a flesh render and may soon suffer additional Constitution damage.
- Iron Golem: You have been poisoned by an iron golem and may soon suffer additional Constitution damage. (A golem isn’t organic, but obviously their metal is tainted.)
- Medusa Snake Venom: You have been poisoned by the snake bite of a Medusa and may soon die. Deals Constitution damage. (Plenty of medusas appear in the Lordsmarch and “Lord of Eyes” quest series.)
The ultimate poisons basically kill you by blowing your HP away with DoT effects or a massive cyanide-like shot to your brain to end you immediately. Thankfully, there are only four kinds. The bad news is that you’re likely to encounter every one of them at least once in your character’s life–and one more often than all others.
- Cursed Contact Poison: You have been poisoned by cursed contact poison and may suffer additional damage until you are cured or you die. This is a curse and a poison effect. Dealt by Glittering treasure near the Horn of Endurance in “The Crucible.” This one’s easy; don’t be greedy.
- Strong Spider Demon Venom: This spider’s poison is a force of pure evil and unaffected by normal remedies. It’s slow but lethal. This is the unhappiness given to you freely by the Spinner of Shadows. Only the Fragment of the Flame will rid you of it.
- Weak Spider Demon Venom: This spider’s poison is a force of pure evil and unaffected by normal remedies. It’s slow but lethal. The Spinner’s little friends, the Flame Eater and Bloated Flame Eater spiders, also give off nasty damage that only the Fragment of the Flame can remove.
- Pit Fiend Venom: You have been poisoned by a pit fiend and may soon die.
Of these, you’ll likely find yourself a surprise victim of Arraetrikos with his potent poison attack with Update 19, anytime you enter the most popular raid in the game, “The Shroud.”
Quintessica and a well-fortified paladin were in a losing fight against Harry in Part 4 not long ago. One moment I was fine, and then I was a soulstone in the penalty box of Part 5. A quick check showed that ignoring the poison indicator above my head was unwise:
- Poison Injury: Fortitude DC 32 to save. Initially, you get 1d6 CON damage. Untreated, secondary 1000 CON damage.
In the past, I don’t think that damage went off as virulently. But now, I’m carrying stacks of neutralization potions, not only for Harry, but for everything.
But enemies aren’t the only ones that can dish out poison damage.
Update 19 moved the elemental debuffing enhancements of the Dark Monk into the Henshin Mystic tree, replacing them with Ninjitsu, abilities that can (among other things) inject or forcibly remove Ninja Poison, a DoT poison with powerful cumulative effect.
- Ninja Poison: Target takes 1d4 points of Poison damage every 3 seconds for 15 seconds. The target’s vulnerability to poison is increased by 5%. This ability can stack up to 20 times. On timer expiration, 5 stacks of Ninja Poison are removed at a time.
Ninja Poison is delivered only with piercing and slashing weapons of a Ninja Spy. You can also use the core ability, Poisoned Darts, to spit a cone of darts. I’ve not had much success with them as the targeting of these things isn’t very good. Further, anything you hit will attack you, so it’s likely an attack that works only if your enemies can’t reach you while you watch them weaken.
You can start your poisoning by using the Ninjitsu ability, Poisoned Soul, to inflict stacks of poison every 6 seconds for 30 seconds. Do the math: It’s 1d4 times 5, or 20d4 that’s sizzling the hell out of what received it, every 3 seconds. By the time an enemy gets the maximum of Ninja Poison stacks (20), the DoT effect is clearly doing dramatic damage.
You can also forcibly pull Ninja Poison out for dramatic damage using Poison Exploit, another Ninjitsu ability. This one’s only useful in prolonged fights–and which fights are those? Orange names, maybe?
Later, ninjas gain the Sting of the Ninja, a weapon stance which adds a stack of poison on critical hits from any piercing and slashing weapon, including ranged weapons such as shurikens.
All of my ninjas use their shortswords but will be using them more to deliver poison more often. While general mobs aren’t going to live long enough to get its full effect, some persistent enemies could stand a DoT. I suspect some players are “meh” about it since poison isn’t an immediate kill effect. But when you encounter those orange-named guys or red-named bosses that do not have poison immunity, you’ll be glad to have this option.
My new Drow thrower, Szyncletica, loves to watch Ninja Poison at work. She can target at a very great distance. As the Ninja Poison accumulates and their vulnerability is increased, the poison damage indicator over the enemy’s head goes from normal to purple damage. With additional stars thrown per attack, the odds of anything getting poisoned increase while Szyn takes little or no damage.
And now I’m forcing myself to learn how to circle strafe–running around an enemy or mob, flinging star after star.
You’ll recall the giant fight in the 2nd part of “Redwillow’s Ruins”? You’re mobbed immediately by many giants, trolls and hobgoblins. With a Snowstar in hand, I gathered them and spun the mob to death.
Strafing like this is all too easy to kill a mob since they often cannot keep up with you and haven’t the AI smartness to try to break out of the circle. But it was physically hard to play it at first. I had to hold down my right mouse button and left button while pressing the forward and a side movement key at the same time. Even with a Logitech gamepad, its brutal to do since I have to move the mouse and pick it up carefully to keep the strafing.
Some quick research tells me that the Mouselook key is what I need to touch next time. That’s the one I accidentally touch that ticks me off when my left/right turn keys suddenly go side to side. This way, I should have less cramping and more effective circles, the tighter the better, I think, against single bosses with better speed.