Poisoning People with Mundane Poisons

Let's suppose I want to poison someone who has at least some degree of magic resistance (whether that's due to being a magus, or from divine protection - most kings will have magic resistance, after all).

I want to use an ingestive poison, and I want it to have a decent chance of doing something useful. Going to a lot of effort to give someone a medium wound is not going to achieve much in most circumstances - I want Fatal or at least Incapacitating. The target also needs to fail their Stamina roll against the poison - assuming they have confidence points and a moderate stamina, that implies an EF of a minimum of 9, and preferably at least 12.

Let's say I try for an Ease Factor 12 poison that does an Incapacitating Wound. How can I build a character to achieve that (preferably that isn't hyper-focussed on it)?

For a Hermetic maga, I could do it as a CrAq ritual. Base 20 + 1 Touch + 3 EF = 40 for a single dose of poison. That's extremely expensive, but it's fairly doable, and gets more efficient if I up it to Group.

If I'm not a maga, the other two ways to potentially do it that I can see are Mythic Herbalism, and using the Theriac rules in Art & Academe.

Using Mythic Herbalism, it's EF 15 to create a poison doing a Incapacticating Wound with EF9 to resist, so say EF 18 for EF 12. So I have to beat EF 18 with Mythic Herbalism + Int +die. With an Int of +3, that means I need a Mythic Herbalism score of at least 10 if I want a decent chance of success - that's pretty high, but not undoable. However, it's not clear whether Mythic Herbalism circumvents magic resistance - it is a Supernatural ability, and unlike Mythic Alchemy I can't see that it explicitly says the result is non-magical.

Using Theriacs, you need a Formula of Base 10 + 4 Mighty =30, against a Lab Total of Int + Medicine + Max(Medicine) in Philosophic Bonuses. That's extremely hard. Assuming an Int of +3 again, and that you can max out your Philosophic Bonuses, you need a 14 in Medicine to create it - not exactly a low score, even allowing for a speciality and Puissant to bring the effective level down to 11.

Should the creation of Mythic Herbalism be magically resisted? Is there a way of making poisons in an easier fashion / adding bonuses that I've missed?

It feels like creating deadly poisons should be easier than this - yes it's a skilled job (especially if you're trying not to kill yourself in the process), but you shouldn't need to be in your late forties to achieve it. I don't know if part of the reason for it is a feeling that having your character murdered by poison is pretty much never going to make a player happy?

Mythic Herbalism is sufficiently difficult that it probably doesn't need resistance.

Other methods - Arsenic is listed in the main book, and can frequently be found in association with lead, silver or gold mines. Give them a medium wound. Give them another. Give them another. Keep going until they fail recovery rolls and they worsen into worse wounds. Cut up destroying angel mushrooms and put them in their food. Sweeten their food with "sugar of lead" (lead acetate). Yes, trying to poison people is not going to give you the quick, cinematic kill - it's more likely to have someone agonisingly dieing over several days, offering a chance for someone to bring a holy relic/pray for intervention (entirely in keeping with the medieval mind) or to use wizardry to cure (in keeping with the themes of Ars Magica, if anyone has a CrCo specialist handy).

If you really want to kill someone quickly and mundanely with poison, get an asp and hide it in their bed.

Let me check my notes and I'll come back to you on how to get better Theriac totals.

Your philosophical formula lab total can be boosted by Shape & Material Bonuses, Risk Modifiers, and Lab bonuses.

Don't use a risk modifier with poisons - a botch will poison you.

Shape & Material bonuses - the commonly used ingredients bit in the apothecary section of A&A mentions components, and they can add to your S&M bonus. (Is this why some ancient roman recipes involve putting a scorpion's sting into a mix of toxic salts and plants? Were they trying to minmax their S&M bonus?) For instance. millipedes have a hot 3, moist 2 and affect kidneys & liver - this could be used to give a +3 to a poison to destroy someone's kidneys and liver. Henbane has cold 4 and is a narcotic, so could add +4 to making a theriac so potent it puts you in a coma (incapacitating wound). Bloodstone in the core rules has a modifier of +4 blood and wounds - could give a +4 bonus to poison someone's blood.

Lab bonus - there's a bit on labs for philosophers where it says the bonuses apply at the discretion of the storyguide, so build a PeCo specialist lab and claim this applies (in fact, for theriacs build a lab that looks like an experimental hospital and claim every Corpus bonus you can).

Even without enchanted devices, one could probably get at least +8 from laboratory bonuses,(split between general quality and an applicable activity specialization) much much more easily than you could from pumping xp into abilities.

Edit, I see that I was beaten to the punch by a few minutes.

I was already allowing for this - but the total combination of the various Philosophic bonuses is capped by your Ability score. That's why a lab total of 30 "only" requires a Ability score of 14.

With the "give them another" suggestion with Arsenic, are you meaning repeatedly poisoning them over an extended period of time? My concern is that Medicine also adds to Recovery rolls from poison, so a lot of the people who are likely to be targetted in the first place for poisoning will be able, given time, to get a sufficient bonus on their Recovery rolls that they're largely only in danger from botches. I suppose people with negative Stamina will have a bit more trouble, but it still feels like being subject to a protracted poisoning campaign is a significant inconvenience rather than a fatal threat.

For the approach of using other random poisonous things - how possible is that under ArM 5 rules without processing them? A&A (page 65) states that knowledge of poisons is covered by Profession: Apothecary, but that they can only make Light Wound poisons with EF <= 6 without a specific formula.

If your character eats a poisonous mushroom with no processing or you botch your Survival roll while gathering food, it's up to your SG to assign an appropriate Ease Factor and damage level to the random poison. Therefore, you can gather various things you know to be poisonous and hope you get lucky. No, without serious levels of medicine you can't get the guaranteed Incapacitation. If you want to poison someone with a good doctor, either bribe the doctor to not help or switch their apothecary ingredients for similar-looking ones which are harmful.

Without serious levels of medicine or someone willing to spont a few Intellego Herbam spells for you that is.

What about a Bjornaer magus with a Heartbeast that possesses the Venomous Quality? Could s/he milk him/herself for venom? Could one make the venom more toxic by initiating extra Venomous Qualities in the Inner Heartbeast (similar to the Venomous Quality description for Muspelli Etin-Mods in Rival Magic, page 84)?

Could the Virtue Potent Sorcery(poison) (RM, page 11) work with Mythic Alchemy or Mythic Herbalism?

That's an interesting idea - and it looks as though the definition is "using" a tool is fairly broad, if brandishing a dagger whilst entrancing someone counts. The only thing I'm wondering is whether use of Mythic Herbalism counts as a Casting Total - it takes place over several days and then culminates in a roll that isn't affected by the aura. It's not clearly a lab total either.

The Venomous approach works, I think, but it very narrowly applicable. Still, I like the idea of a Bjornaer gradually making himself more and more deadly. Bonus points if it then turns into a Great Beast...

Oh poisons...
Quite interesting considering a players new magus is realy going for a ...collect venomous critters, control, enhance, milk, make lethal small allies that can sneak into someones pisspot... type of interest...
...I have a creeping felling it'll turn into something nasty down the line, growth of creeping things inspired it all; "So... I can get realy realy venomous scorpions and snakes by growing them.. interesssting'
praise the zerg...

The rules for this all in A&A always wrecks me with confusion on what bonuses are available, how they stack, is it a standard limit form&shape&etc on this ability, does this precious ingredient hotness +99 come cumulative above that...
Now I got someone that actually wants to poison people... albeit with critters so can just hipguesstimate something plausible Sta 9+ or Incap else Medium wound rather then digging to deep into the cumbersomeness I personaly feel with A&A :stuck_out_tongue:

Didn't Salutor cover that already in this thread?

You can also look it up yourself at A&A p.70f Concocting a Formula The Lab Total: Shape and Material Bonuses, Risk Modifiers and Laboratory Bonuses all are Philosophic Bonuses, hence their sum is capped by the Ability used in the formula.


The Ior rune guidelines on page 142 of Thrice Told Tales can make substances more toxic (and this counts as a natural change for MR purposes?)

Reading the guidelines - that actually gives you two ways of approaching the problem - either you make a substance do an Incapacitating Wound (not clear what ease factor?) or you use the General guideline to give them a penalty to poison resistance rolls, and therefore reduce the Ease Factor you need on another poison.

And all you have to do is be Damham-Allaidh!

That said, the approach of sabotaging the poison resistance roll does have potential, although I suspect most of the alternative methods are going to need to penetrate. Hex can do it at quite a low level, and I'm sure there are other luck manipulators that could be used.

There is a level 25 Cr(Re)An spell in True Lineages which invokes an asp. It is a spell but the snake's venom purely is mundane.

I don't think it would be for a recently created creature. You could maybe argue it would be in the snake had been around long enough that the "venom" was processed entirely out of mundane materials, but I think you'd be pushing it.

Then again, there is that thing about Alexander's venom not disappearing when he transforms back from being an asp (Magi of Hermes page 13), which you could read as implying it's mundane venom. Doesn't feel right to me, though.

I think that there is no other possible interpretation - Alexander's venom is mundane.
I agree it does not feel right, and it's somewhat open to abuse (want milk? create a magical sheep for D:Diam, milk it, and there you are).
Then again, it's relatively easy and clear cut.

My personal preference is that in order for a magical animal to produce mundane stuff, it must first eat (and "digest") a good mundane meal.

I mentally cheat this by pretending that is a beneficial side-effect of experimentation, even though it's never really stated thereof. That particular can of asps was brought up before during the 'byproducts of muto' thread. (Byproducts of Muto?) I believe Fafnir was quite instrumental in that one, where as I mostly posted when I was up past my bedtime.
Or at work. >.>

True Lineages explicitely states the invoked snake is mundane and gets venom.
When the invoked beast has no Might then it is mundane. And the Animal spell guidelines say if the invoked beast get Might or not. It is as simple as that.

A Maga could invoke a slow worm, a garter snake, an asp or an anaconda for the same magnitude. All would have their respectivr proper characteristics, abilities, virtues and special skills. A slow worm could nom nom your finger without harm you, an anaconda could suffocate an enemy and an asp could poison at first bite. All of that is mundane behaviour for each of those species - nothing magical.

If the poison is a magical effect then you must use the appropriate "create an animal with additionnal magical qualities" in Animal spell guidelines (with maybe Aquam requisite for poison). That would be a very high and useless level spell.

Could you give me a page reference for that? I can't see it on a quick look.

Note that I am assuming that when you are talking about creating animals, you mean ones temporarily created using a spell with a duration, not an instantaneous ritual - I agree that the latter is wholly mundane, but they're also a lot of time and vis for a relatively low payoff.