July 20th, 2010

Voodoo Dolly

Rant: Poison

Remember a time when poisons actually killed people?  Or at the lightest, seriously inconvenienced them?  Apparently, this is a thing of the ancient past.  I've only seen very few poisons in RPGs act as a threat to characters in recent times, and interestingly enough, these games were all written by John Wick.

I was running Scion this last weekend, and two of the PCs had to fight a pair of serpent people (also Scions).  One of them had a venomous attack.  When he bit the PC, I did a quick check of the rules, and noticed unless I used the most lethal venom in the game -- the stuff reserved for the World Serpent, the character was going to, for the most part, ignore it.  The second most lethal had the player roll Stamina + Fortitude against a Difficulty of 3.  Every three successes degraded the venom (Lethal to Bashing), and then you rolled one die for 6 actions to inflict damage.  Yes, he gets a -5 die penalty on all his actions for the next little bit, but through the entire fight, he took all of 2 wounds for his troubles.

This is the second most lethal poison in the game, reserved for (of all things) Titanspawn, who are supposed to be actual threats to the PCs. Let's not even get into Exalted, where it seems this supernatural world is completely incapable of doing anything to the PCs.  Environmental damage?  Feh.  Poisons?  Feh.

Apparently, the days of people actually worrying about entering a region with poisonous creatures is in the past.  And before I get the argument it isn't epic, let's try Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  Sure, the girl failed to save the guy, but the fact he was poisoned and dying was a dramatic thing.  Then there's Iron Monkey.  Poison is dramatic.  The chance of it actually killing creates dramatic tension.

Why are games completely wussing out on this kind of thing?

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