PoisonedTLDR Here's a variant rule for running poisons that doesn't make them much less lethal but lends them a bit more dramatic flare.
I run a Lamentations of the Flame Princess play by post game. Recently, as the party was working their way through a cave/dungeon complex, a random encounter put them face to face with a trio of crab spiders. I pulled out their stats to run them and saw that they have an interesting poison. It’s save-or-die but not immediate. It takes one to four turns for the death after the missed save. I liked the flavor of it but it got me to asking some questions like what happens for those one to four turns? As is not unusual for OSR rules, nothing is said. That’s fine but I decided that I wanted a bit more.
After pondering things for a bit, I wrote up a couple of easy, mechanical but flavorful options and put them together into a one page variant poison broadsheet. It keeps poisons pretty much equally lethal but adds a bit more mechanically supported spice to how they work.
It’s only a page, and free/pay-what-you-want, but for the extreme TLDR crowd, here are the highlights:
- no longer save or die;
- victims suffer damage directly to their Constitution;
- fast poisons inflict their damage all at once;
- slow poisons inflict their damage over time;
- secondary effects, visible poison symptoms;
- a fighter ability for temporarily fighting through poison trauma, at a cost; and,
- an option for permanent post-poison damage, assuming the victim survives.