Suggestions for Ninjas and Poison, please

Hi all,

I've just started a modern juncture Feng Shui game, and it's going swimmingly so far. However, a late entrant has chosen Ninja, and is asking me about using poison on weapons (Shuriken and crossbow bolts, mainly). As far as I can tell, there's some listings for poison damage in the book, but I'm hoping these are for big doses of ingested poisons (because otherwise a dam 22 shuriken is a bit much!).

My current thoughts are that I don't want him to just have super-poison shuriken available at all times, so it'll need to be applied, and only last a short time (so if you've prepared a batch, they only last for a sequence, or something, before losing potency). Another suggestion from my group was letting some poisons add * to weapons. A handful of poison shuriken taking down some charging mooks seems quite reasonable to me.

So, any suggestions of how people handle poison in their games?

All ideas gratefully received, Mark

Poison and disease are often resisted with Con rather than Tgh. So you could always let them do regular shuriken damage but have the victim soak with Con. Adding a star or two against mooks is also a grand idea.

Use the Poison from Supernatural Creature schticks as a guide. A standard off-the-shelf contact poison should be about 10 damage, resisted by Con. You may want to consider actually having him buy a schtick in Poison, and have him designate one of his weapon attacks having that ability (either shuriken or one melee weapon) as if he were a supernatural creature (but call it an Auxillary schtick or a Ninja Unique schtick). However, since the Ninja might be slightly underpowered, you might consider just giving him the first Poison schtick free, and if he wants to up the damage, have him buy more later.

For mooks, keeping track of Poison damage is going to be pointless, so you might want to modify the Poison mechanics a bit and say against unnamed characters they reduce the outcome needed to defeat them by 1 (same as if a weapon had * next to the damage). If the player wants a stronger poison against mooks, have him buy another schtick to increase it to **, but buying more schticks after that should only increase the Poison base damage.

Thanks for the useful suggestions, Darrin and Queex.
I'm probably going to define a range of poisons, and let him have reasonable access to the basic one (bringing the Ninja a little better in line with other archtypes, as you say Darrin), and let him roll to have 1 or 2 doses of the good stuff to use.
If I combine that with saying the weapons have to be coated shortly before use, and it quickly dries off (say within a sequence), it may be balanced.
We'll see how he stacks up against the Old Master on Thursday.

Thanks, Mark

I'd lean away from a poison mechanic that would require tracking of whether a given weapon has been poisoned recently, has had its poison wear off, or what-have-you. That seems very fiddly -- not really in the spirit of the game.

Instead, I'd use poison for special effects. Maybe a poison schtick the ninja can buy, and each schtick he spends gives him access to another special effect. And just let him choose the special effect as he makes the attack. Some ideas below. Just spit-balling, obviously; none ready for prime time. All of them probably would allow a Con check of some kind to avoid the effect (though maybe not for mooks).

Incapacitate: The poison incapacitates the body part it hits at the beginning of the next sequence. (Intended for limbs, not as an auto-kill for head/torso.)

Frenzy: Makes the target utterly spaz out, doing random and dangerous things.

Stun: Knocks the target out.

Death: Kills the target, but not immediately. Five minutes, maybe, or 24 hours, or something interesting. (It's interesting because the target can realize he's been poisoned, and race for an antidote.)

Infection: Gives the target a wound that will develop a horrible infection. (More damage down the road, potential for amputation, etc.)

[color=darkblue]For simplicity's sake, just have the weapon give a point of Impairment. (Not with each strike; the poison only works once, or at least once per target.) So Named baddies get a teeny bit weaker if they fail their Con roll, and Unnamed become more gnat-like in their futility. (Really, why waste a good poison on a mook, though?) :stuck_out_tongue:

Because I'm into the Crunchy:

Poison Use: Count as a Weapon Schtick or Gun Schtick, depending on what sort of weapons you put the poison on (if you use both blowguns AND a poisoned dagger, you'll need to take this Schtick twice, once in each category).
Base effect allows you to have a ready supply of poison for your weapon (if a dagger/sword, it's probably a trick sheathe that coats the blade as it's drawn; if it's a blowgun or shuriken sort of deal, then you just keep your ammo stuck in some sort of poison-tainted holder). The poison will only take effect if the base damage of the weapon, plus the Outcome of the attack made with it, exceeds the target's Armor (but not Toughness). The base poison does a flat 10 damage, which is reduced by Constitution rather than Toughness.
As with the Poison Creature Schtick, additional Schticks will add 2 to the damage. Ninjas get one Schtick in this for free.

Advanced Poison Use:
Characters with at least one Poison Use Schtick may also purchase Advanced Poison Use; advanced Poisons use the base effect value of the Poison Use, but instead of damage, after subtracting Constitution from the value, divide by 3 (round up). This value is applied as Impairment to a single secondary trait under Reflexes or Mind (this is determined when you take the Schtick; you may take APU multiple times, and each time it can add another type of poison available to you--you can change which type you're using as a 1-shot action).
This Schtick can also be taken by Supernatural Creatures with the Poison Schtick; again, changing the 'type' of poison being emited by the Creature takes 1 shot.
Weapon-based Poison Impairment goes down by 1 at the end of each Sequence after the one in which it was inflicted; multiple doses of the same variety of poison do not stack, but they will reset the duration.

Alternate Vector:
Characters with Poison Use may take this Schtick to give an additional means for administering the poison. Select one for each Schtick in Alternate Vector:
Ingested: The poison can be spotted on a Difficulty 7 Perception roll; each additional Ingested Vector Schtick adds 1 to this Difficulty. The poison can be set to take place anywhere from instantly up to the poisoning character's Mind/Intelligence in hours. Ingested Poison Impairment lasts until the end of the session.
Inhaled: Smoke pellets, or perhaps crystals or oils that need to be burned. Base value is lowered by 3, due to the diffuse nature, but there is no need to hit with a weapon. The base cloud covers a one-meter radius (enough for a single target); each additional Inhaled Vector Schtick adds one meter to the radius. Inhaled Poison Impairment fades at the rate of 1 point per sequence.
Contact: The base Perception Difficulty to spot the poison before touching it is 5, but is raised by 1 for each Schtick in Contact Vector. Otherwise, use the rules for Ingested poisons, including recovery.

Characters without the Poison Use Schtick who pick up a poisoned weapon and attempt to use it will always nick themselves on a Fumble, suffering the full effects of the toxin.
Characters being attacked by a melee-weapon wielder who has a poisoned blade can spot the poison with a successful Perception roll, Difficulty 5.

Some thematic Weapons for poison-wielders:
Hollow-hilt Dagger: This dagger uses the same value as the normal sort; however, the hilt contains a space that allows poison to dribble down the blade at the press of a button. Because of this, the target of the attack gains no Perception roll to notice that poison is being used.

Blowgun (0/1/1): Takes 3 shots to reload. Note that you MUST score a positive Outcome in order to actually have the poison dart take effect (since a straight-up hit will still not do any damage). If your target is armored, you'll need to overcome that, as well, with the Outcome.

Shuriken (Str +1/1*/1): Shuriken have a Concealment rating of 1 for every 10 carried; if a Shuriken-Wielder has 3 or more Schticks in Lightning Reload, then they are assumed to be carrying 10 for purposes of Concealment.

Borgia Ring (0/0/1): This little piece of nastiness is virtually undetectable before you flip open the top and attack someone with the tiny poison-laced needle hidden beneath the setting. It takes 3 shots to 'reload' the ring once it hits, but until a hit is scored, it won't empty the poison from the ring's cavity.

Hypodermic Needle (Str/1/3): The weapon of choice for orderlies and nurses of corrupt psychiatric institutions the world over. Jab a difficult patient with a Martial Arts roll, push the plunger (this is a separate 1-shot action that anyone can take; the needle will stay 'in' for a number of shots equal to the Outcome of the attack roll).

Tranq Pistol (5/2/1): Reload Time 2 shots.

Tranq Rifle (7/5/1): Reload Time 2 shots.

(Note: All weapons were pretty much spur-of-the-moment in design; if anything stands out as particularly screwy, let me know.)

I would use medical skill. Difficulty = damage of poison dose. He could poison any and all of his weapons on a success, but additional doses would be treated as clips for concealment.
Vs. Named target; If the basic weapon succeeds in causing a wound, it does additional poison-CON damage.
Vs. Unnamed, I would probably give it "**".

I considered basing the damage on a skill for my rules, too, but the problem there is that it makes it several times more potent than the Poison Creature Power Schtick, which starts at Damage 10 and goes up by 2 per Schtick. It's not hard to get a starting skill of 14 or so, and it would go up from there. (Imagine a Techie who specializes in making exotic poisons, for instance.) And that would be on top of the damage caused by the weapon itself. At the very least, I suggest making the damage of the poison equal to the outcome of the Medicine roll, with a Difficulty of 5 for 'basic damage' and 10 for Impairment poisons (in which case, the poison inflicts one impairment for each point above the target's Constitution).

Let the player do a Fix-it roll for the poison (because poison is for teh ninjah!) during the any time of the battle (let it take 3 shots). The outcome will be extra damage on the next roll. When it comes to mooks the poison lowers the difficulty with the Outcome.

For example. You decide that the difficulty on the Fix-it roll is 10 and the outcome turns out to be 4. He can pick out mooks on an outcome of (5 - 4=) 1 or more nor can do 4 extra damage to a named character.