Role-playing Games Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for gamemasters and players of tabletop, paper-and-pencil role-playing games. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I thought I recalled in 3.5 poison use was considered an evil act. Is this the same in Pathfinder? I looked through the poison rules and didn't find it.

Defining poison use: The act of using poison against a creature purposely. Like applying it to a weapon and striking with that weapon or putting an ingested poison into foods

share|improve this question
Cataru/Cataru Moore/WarriorKing9001, please merge your 5 accounts by following these instructions. – SevenSidedDie Mar 5 at 4:53
up vote 14 down vote accepted

It is not per se defined as evil in the rules. However, it is often considered evil by normal people in the game world and certainly is considered dishonorable by those who worry about honor.

Relevant references:

  • Poisoner rogue archetype: "Some consider poisoning an evil act. The poisoner knows poison is just a tool toward an end..."

  • Alignment: "...alchemists (especially poisoners) also make great choices for neutral evil characters..."

  • When removing alignment from the game "The paladin's code of conduct becomes "A paladin's code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth)..."

  • The poison spell (and most other spells that inflict poison) do not have the [evil] descriptor.

  • Some animals and plants use poisons, and they are neutral in alignment. (This may or may not prove anything, as they are also not intelligent enough to really have morality.)

Some Golarion-setting specific references:

  • Only evil powers claim poison as part of their portfolios. Specifically the gods Norgorber and Ydersius, as well as the demon lord Jubilex, the daemonic harbinger Vorasha, and the Malebranche known as Scarmiglione.

  • There may be some cultural variation across Golarion. Blowguns, for example, are often used with poison needles in the Mwangi Expanse, Tian Xia, and the jungles of Vudra.

  • All known providers of poisons in Golarion are one version of evil or another (typically neutral or lawful), such as the Nightstalls in Katapesh, specific alchemists with a side-line of illegal wares, Poison Maker's guilds, Assassins guilds etc.

share|improve this answer
Thank you for clearing it up. I was just curious about it because I thought something was there about it, but this answers the questions I have. – Cataru Mar 5 at 5:15
This is a great answer because it backs up a statement that sounds vague and just an "opinion" with references. However it would be even better if there were book references. I'm guessing they are all in core? – Oxinabox Mar 5 at 9:26
Define "core?" Poisoner is in APG, the next quote is from the evil splat they did recently, removing alignment is form Unchained, and the last is an induction from what core does not say. This is a "prove a negative" problem; it does not say poison is by-the-rules evil in Core or anywhere else. – mxyzplk Mar 5 at 14:07

Paladins can't use poisons in Pathfinder, but that has more to do with the Paladin's Code than alignment itself. Intent is important when you're considering if something is evil or not. If you're poisoning the evil king so you can free the princess, it's probably not an evil act, unless your motivations are driven by evil.

share|improve this answer

Poison in 3.x

Poison has generally been 'considered' evil due to lingering ideas about 'honour' from the middle ages when it wasn't in the interest of the people in power to allow the use of poison (and assassination in general) to go unpunished.

This is a bit of a poser for dnd (and other genres of entertainment) trying to incorporate the 'cunning hero' archetype into their piece of fiction. Having Poison Use be a special ability you need to be an assassin or Red Mantis Legionnaire or whatever with magical powers and being an 11th level character to be able to put some rat poison in someone's stew without accidentally eating some is largely due to this conflict.

Thus various authors have used 'poison' as an example of an evil act in the same game where Rogues regularly 'sneak attack' their foes, and player characters as small groups fighting larger ones entirely rely on confusion, stealth, and guerilla tactics, divorcing some aspects of 'cunning' warfare from others to legitimatize it as a hero type without going too far into murky waters. Similarly, the playerbase (and gmbase) has latched onto that and accepted it as read that while poison is evil, knifing a goblin sentry through the throat from behind is just fine.

Putting poison into someone's food can be either good or evil. A captive princess putting poison into the food of an evil, psychotic warlord knowing that his followers will kill her in the most horrible ways for her act, even as it saves countless others, is good. Exalted, even. A jealous brother putting poison into the food of his older sibling, in order to steal a princedom, is evil. It could even be neutral - making someone sick so they won't go to war, because you care about them.

Basically, there is no direct RAW indication that using poison is always evil in pathfinder, and even if there was, you should ignore it. Alignment is explicitly - and has always been explicitly - something the GM needs to decide based on the individual situation of the action.

share|improve this answer
I would upvote this answer, except for the "ignoring the rules" clause at the end that makes it not fit for a RAW question... – Shalvenay Mar 5 at 12:43
Why is this D&D 3.x answer here on a PF question? – SevenSidedDie Mar 5 at 21:52

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.