The Pseudodragon's Sting attack says:

the target must succeed on a DC 11 Constitution saving throw or become poisoned for 1 hour.

It's worth noting that no additional save is permitted.


If the saving throw fails by 5 or more, the target falls unconscious for the same duration.

There is no mention of being Poisoned and indeed, it seems like they indicate this as a different effect that just runs for the same duration.

Being unconscious in combat can definitely be bad, but I think there are a lot of instances where being Poisoned for an hour with no additional save is worse.

Is this interpretation correct, or are you also Poisoned for 1 hour if you fail the save by 5 or more?

Compare this to the language used by the Ghost's Horrifying Visage:

...succeed on a DC 13 Wisdom saving throw or be frightened for 1 minute. If the save fails by 5 or more, the target also ages 1d4 × 10 years.

And the drow's poisoned crossbow:

...the target must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1 hour. If the saving throw fails by 5 or more, the target is also unconscious while poisoned in this way.

The exclusion of any language linking the latter effect to the former makes it seem like Pseudodragons follow slightly different rules.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think that it would help to add the information that the unconscious condition from that attack can end early ("...the target falls unconscious for the same duration, or until it takes damage or another creature uses an action to shake it awake.") to make it clear why it definitely matters whether they are also poisoned (which doesn't provide a particular way to end early). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 30, 2018 at 14:27

2 Answers 2


You are definitely Poisoned

As PJRZ pointed out, failing the saving throw by 5 or more is an example of failing the saving throw. As such, you will both be unconscious (because you failed the save by more than 5), and poisoned (because you failed the saving throw at all).

It is very reasonable for you to ask why some other game features would include the poisoned condition in the unconscious one, such as the Drow crossbow, which states (MM, p 128, bold added)

If the saving throw fails by 5 or more, the target is also unconscious while poisoned in this way.

The distinction here is that features defined like the Drow crossbow require the target to be poisoned to be unconscious, while the Pseudodragon's sting does not. Anything which cures or prevents the poisoned condition will cure or prevent the unconsciousness condition created by its poisoned crossbow. RAW, the same is not true of the unconsciousness caused by the pseudodragon's attack.

For example, if a 10th level Monk was shot by a Drow's poisoned crossbow, and failed his saving throw by more than 5, he would not be unconscious because his Purity of Body feature means he was never poisoned (and is only unconscious "while poisoned"). However, if he was to be stung by a Pseudodragon and fail the save by more than 5, he would lose consciousness (though he would not be poisoned).

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    \$\begingroup\$ While I appreciate the endorsement of PJRZ's answer, yours deals far better with the purpose of the question: In it's current form the question asks "is x y? It would seem so, because z." and PJRZ's answer says "No, x is never y" whereas yours says "X is never y, and z does not change it because of the following..." \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 30, 2018 at 0:51

Yes, you are also poisoned.

If you fail by 5 or more you fall unconscious, but no matter how much you fail by you have still failed and so suffer the normal consequences as well.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm going to edit something into my question that may change your answer, but the key thing to note is that the two effect statements, as written, are discrete from each other with no language that links them together. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 29, 2018 at 19:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ I see your edit, and see that other places sometimes use the word "also", but I do not believe that changes my answer. If you fail a save then you fail the save. I think it is clear in the English context that any sentences that says "if you fail by X or more then...." are in addition to any standard consequences of failure, regardless of whether they use the word "also". Plus - it makes no logical sense to not still be poisoned if you really fail the save! \$\endgroup\$
    – PJRZ
    Commented Jul 29, 2018 at 19:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Normally, I would agree, but the specific way the secondary effect is written makes it seem like the intention was to supplant the former effect. I think from a RAW perspective, you'd have to state that they are separate and distinct. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 29, 2018 at 19:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Why? I have given my considered answer. My answer seems clear and logical and still follows my interpretation of RAW. \$\endgroup\$
    – PJRZ
    Commented Jul 29, 2018 at 19:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think that PJRZ's answer is accurate, and the most complete answer necessary. I've given my own answer to address what I see as the point of confusion that generated this question, but I've upvoted and endorse PJRZ's answer as correct. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 29, 2018 at 20:10

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